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.
12 hours ago