Monday, January 18, 2010

The Beginning to an End

I feel like I need to share a story, though it's not a "feel good" story. It's a "feel pretty bad" story but I guess you should know that I don't have a perfect life (read my disclaimer). There is a moral to the story though.

When I moved back to the states after living in Australia for seven years, we were in a very big ward. One could get lost in a large ward and I welcomed the break. Anyone who has had a break with church duties knows it gets pretty old after awhile and you start feeling like you're running low on fuel for feeling spiritual. I decided to put my energy and talents into our local PTA.

PTA was a wonderful experience. I worked with the best group of women in the state, I'm sure. Our PTA ran very successfully and I actually thought all PTAs ran that way. They asked me to be the president, but I felt with a new baby (Mimi) I wouldn't be able to juggle it. So I declined. They asked again the next year so I committed myself and spent a year as President Elect.

I wrote skits for our "Back-to-School" night to explain what the PTA does and our membership drives were very successful. The children were the stars in the skits and the school faculty were so supportive. We had very successful fund-raisers, the best the school had seen. Our PTA board got along famously and there was no ill feelings amongst any of us. I adored our Principal and the teachers.

Spiritually I was doing fine, I'd even say I had a strong testimony in the gospel and sometimes felt my testimony was rock hard. I had been recently released as the Primary President and was happy with being a visiting teacher. I'm not an overly judgemental person and I try really hard not to be because I find every time I have even the slightest judgement, I will be faced with the same situation.

One day a neighbor, friend and a lady who was my Visiting Teacher for five years asked me my opinion about something. It was something that I personally didn't have much of an opinion about and I should have left it at that. She thought where I was the PTA President maybe I would have an insight about something. Being neighbors, friends and she had come into my home for parties, get-togethers and on a monthly basis with a spiritual message I thought it was okay to share this insight.

She (I'll call her "Tina") asked me what I thought about a certain teacher. I didn't personally know this teacher, but I did know that another very well-liked, popular teacher quit her job at the school because of her. I didn't know the details but I knew a lot of people were upset because of that.

Okay, here's where the story starts to give me a sick feeling in my stomach. I could never understand people who went inactive from the church because another person offended them. I believed it displayed a weakness in character, for how can a person let someone else stand in the way of their relationship with the Savior? It's not worth it, right? Isn't the church and gospel all about forgiving people?

A couple of weeks later, Tina went to the school and told this teacher what she had heard. The teacher was rightfully upset and asked who she had heard this from. Tina, putting aside the neighbor, friend and sister whom she Visit Taught for five years answered, "Well.....it was the PTA President." I hope you just gasped and I hope you understand the little stab I felt in my back.

The Principal (I'll call Mrs. P), who is a woman that I have a professional and personal relationship with and whom I still put on a pedestal, called me. This wasn't a phone call anyone would like to have. Mrs. P said this teacher had told her that someone had told her that the PTA President was spreading a rumor throughout my neighborhood about her. That I had said I wouldn't even put my own child in her classroom. My heart sank. Not only for my own humiliation but for the teacher who had been hurt, too. I did what I could and spoke to the teacher and the Principal. I also searched my mind of who would say this.

If I was the gossip this person accused me of being, it would have been harder to track down who said it. I could only think of one person who I had discussed this teacher with. I called Tina and asked her why she went to the school and betrayed me. I already knew why. There's really only one motive of why a person would want to do that. What good comes from telling someone something hurtful about them? There is no good. It was to get the PTA President in trouble and do it anonymously.

The confrontation was horrible - my friends know I am not a fighter but this was my reputation that I worked years to build. I remember saying to Tina, "Mrs. P said you said I was spreading a rumor around in my neighborhood. You're the only person I told so unless you told someone else you're the only one who knows." She admitted she told someone else. A rumor starts with just one and I was the one. Even if she was a neighbor, friend and Visiting Teacher for five years I should not have said what I said. She denied saying I wouldn't put my own child in her class and thinks the teacher may have just added that in her emotion. But that's what rumors do, they grow.

I felt personally attacked, like Tina just wanted to see me, the PTA President, fall. I went to church and when I would see her I would almost feel physically sick. In Relief Society we would be in the same room and I would think about how she betrayed me as a sister in the gospel. I would come home from church crying because I could no longer feel the Spirit but only anger when I went.

This started my inactivity. How could a person let another person stand between them and their relationship with the Savior? I can understand now. It took me a couple of years to get over this. It's not that I like holding grudges, I'm usually too dense to remember when someone has offended me. This had affected me to my very soul. I'm not saying that it was right. You may have heard or experienced that a person skips a few Sundays at church, it turns into more Sundays and it turns into months and pretty soon you forget why you even went.

I found the best way for me to heal from this was to move away from the neighborhood after two years. Time has healed me, I have forgiven her and I don't have any animosity toward her. I actually love her now. We won't be doing lunch but I feel I am over it. I am very leery about what I tell anyone, however. Even a neighbor, friend or Visiting Teacher for five years. My husband said not too long ago that he doesn't think I ever recovered from this even though I feel at peace. My testimony wasn't rock hard and maybe no one's is. Chalk one up for experience.

Moral of the story: Beware of tongue - slippery when wet.

9 comments:

  1. Krista, you don't have to carry burdens a lone either. That's what family and real friends are here for. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. You are such a kind person!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing this. You are an incredible person for doing so. I was raised Baptist and joined the church when I was 16. I served a mission and married a wonderful man in the temple. We have an 8 year old that keeps us on our toes. I am still the only member in my family and love the gospel.

    I was grateful for a wonderful home teacher who taught me at an early age: "The gospel is true, the people are still growing. They are not and will not be perfect. Don't expect them to be."

    I have had some struggles with folks throughout the years and sometimes felt lonely. I love the gospel with ALL my heart . . . I just wish I didn't have to deal with some of the people.

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember this experience with you. To feel your pain as it mirrored my pain at the time was very difficult. But if it's any consolation, you helped me at that time in more ways than you will ever know! And I will be forever grateful to you for that. You are stronger spiritually than you realize. I truly love you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. So I wrote a letter to the General Board of the YW when I was put in a few years ago about some questions we had that our bishop didn't have an answer to and it was opposite of what our stake leaders told us. I told them of our concerns and asked what they'd have us do. They told us to listen to our priesthood leader-namely our bishop, which thrilled us, as we wanted to do so. The Bishop found out about the letter-because we told him about it excited. He called our entire YW leadership into his office and proceeded to TEAR UP THE LETTER and told us never to mention it again. AND I SAT THERE ABSOLUTELY HUMILIATED while a couple other ladies who KNEW I was writing the letter, threw me under the bus and acted upset I'd written it. Yeah. Good times. I sobbed.

    And I felt like you~hard to look them in the face when I knew what they'd done to me. But there was one woman in that room that I'd considered a friend up until then, but afterward considered her much more. She waited until all of the horrible things had been said and then raised her hand at the end of the meeting and said, "I want you to know, Bishop, that I felt peace when we received the response to that letter. I am glad she wrote it and feel she did the right thing." Well, wow. First time I ever understood what a real friend does. I love that woman now and forever, even though she's moved away. Our hearts are knit together.

    Anyway, I feel your pain. And sadly, I've caused my fair share. But I'm trying...just like you. And I'm getting better...just like you. And that's what this life is about...progress. Not perfection, YET, but for now, progress. Consistent and striving to be like our brother. Love ya!

    ReplyDelete
  5. “The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life.” Those who choose the path of humility during times of crisis will find a loving and kind God if they are looking. What they discover as they kneel in humble prayer with an open mind cannot be described in words. If consistently seeking help from the Almighty they will hear His voice and feel the comfort in their hearts.” -
    -Leo Tolstoy

    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.
    -unknown

    What I do today is important because
    I am paying a day of my life or it.
    What I accomplish, must worthwhile
    because the price is high.
    -unknown

    ReplyDelete
  6. These are VERY hard lessons. We have to be very careful to speak positively about people behind their backs because the most cautious and subtle of disapproving statements tend to be believed the most and then they are blown clear out of proportion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Krista,
    I appreciate you sharing this post. I'm sure it took some courage for you. Let me tell you, I understand somewhat of what you are going through, because I too was the victim of cruel gossip which lead to ridiculous rumors about me that spread through our entire neighborhood, and I found out about it all because one day I was called in by the bishop and he asked me if all the horrible rumors were true.
    I was absolutely floored!!!! I was hurt and humiliated, similiar to the way you shared, and I too have had a hard time facing these women in church who nearly destroyed my life, as well as my reputation.
    I despise gossip, and I cannot believe that the very individuals that profess to be our "friends in the gospel" could do such cruel things to their neighbors and supposedly friends.
    I too am still having a hard time forgiving. It has been about six years now and I still struggle with feelings of bitterness. Slowly it has gotten better, but I have slipped into the background and do not attend any extra meetings or ward gatherings outside of sacrament meeting, if I don't have to. Part of that is due to my poor health, but I'm glad to have that as an excuse so I don't have to face those women sometimes, as well.
    I feel for you. I hope things are a little better:). I wished so bad for a long time I could move away from my neighborhood, as well. But that wasn't a feasbile option for us do to my husband's employment.
    Time does heal, but as has already been said, Christ is the ultimate healer, and it has taken a lot of prayer and humiliation, as well as a lot of guts to overcome the pain of it all. The funny thing is the Lord has placed me in several situations where i had to face the people and learn to work with them. He was forcing me to face my problem instead of back away from it.
    I too try to remember that people are not perfect, but the gospel is. there is hope for any situation because of that.
    Keep smiling:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I so needed this story! Thank you from the tip of my tounge (that so needs to mind its manners!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. A true friend always has your back... especially when others are trying to stab you in it. (File under "Fatherly wisdom")
    You did nothing wrong, and I'm sorry it took you such a Herculean effort to get out from under the effects.

    ReplyDelete

It's nice to share, so please share your thoughts!