Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rachel's Rage

It's about to get real.  

Today, church made me really angry. 

We've moved to a new place, and that means a new church congregation.  Being Mormon means that our congregation has been predetermined for us based on where we live, much like school districts are drawn.  So, due to illness, visiting family, and other factors, it was our first week in our new ward.

First, a bit of the back story: 

The Church and I are not as good friends as we used to be.  In high school, there was early morning seminary.  At BYU, it was all but unavoidable.  In the UNT Singles' Ward, they do a pretty good job of inundating you with activities and Institute classes . . .

. . . and then you get married, and you're left to your own devices. 

We went to one Institute class when we were in Pittsburgh--unfortunately, the first one we went to was (unofficially) the "stay-at-home Mom" class, so neither of us felt comfortable there, and we never went back.  Then, we got busy with work and school, and Institute fell off the radar.

At the same time, we started to have jobs that required us to work on Sundays, making it impossible for us to go to church for weeks at a time.  We fell out of touch with our ward.  I think that was the beginning of it. 

As weeks would pass and we would have no contact with our ward, I felt less and less a part of the church at all.  Yes, I self-identified as Mormon.  Yes, I still held to the basic tenets.  But the more time I spent away from the church, the more I realized that my core beliefs were no longer the same as those I'd been taught in Sunday School. 

Anyway, this brings us to today.  To a Rachel who is probably less "Mormon" than she's ever been in her life, who is trying to make sense of it all, trying to figure out if she is going to dive back in or run away from everything . . . and who is visiting her new ward for the first time.

I am an introvert.  And I don't just mean that I prefer staying at home and reading to going out and partying.  I mean that new people make me really, really, really, REALLY uncomfortable.  I don't make eye contact.  I try to be unseen.  I don't talk, or if I do, I mumble.  So, going into a new social situation is already a terrifying experience for me.  Add to that the anxiety I felt about trying to figure out where I stand, and what kind of Mormon I'm going to be from here on out, and you might imagine how I was feeling this morning.

We went unnoticed in sacrament meeting, and snuck into Sunday School with little trouble.  But after Sunday School, we were immediately bombarded.  "Are you new in the ward? Are you visiting?  Are you investigating? Where are you from? Do you live here?  Where do you live? What is your address? Are your records here yet? Can we take your picture for the ward directory?" So, in the ten minutes between Sunday School and the third hour classes, I met more people than I cared to on my first day.  And was introduced as a new sister in Relief Society.

Thanks.  I was trying to lie low.  

"Raise your hand, Rachel, so everyone can see you!" I raised my hand, sheepishly.  "No. Higher!" I want to die.  I have never felt so uncomfortable. 

. . . at least until after church.  One of the lead question-askers from before came up to me, and asked a few more questions. I walked around the building, and she kept popping up out of nowhere, like some sort of wizard, asking more questions every time. Then, she said, "Oh, let's go see if the Ward Clerk is here, so we can get your records here."  I don't want to. Luckily, he wasn't there.  I found Andy and we made a break for it. 

As we left, I found myself very angry.  I guess I don't take well to being man-handled when I'm already feeling extra-vulnerable.  Luckily, though, my rage has been tempered by a tuna melt and some vanilla wafers, so I think I won't go all Hulk on anybody anymore. 

So, how was church for you today?