Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tonight's meeting with Bishop was a game changer

I have come to realize that I am incredibly blessed with the priesthood leadership I have.  I've heard so many people say that they'll never tell their bishops anything again for fear of being lambasted, bullied, demonized and unfairly punished. This phenomenon was on my mind as I went to see my bishop today.

I've never been scared of him. He's never dealt with me unjustly. In fact, he usually ends up talking me out of whatever punishment I've given myself. But still, those sad experiences of others were on my mind as I gratefully entered my loving bishop's office.

He asked about my holidays, what I did for New Year's Eve, if I was working, et cetera.  I gave him polite answers.  We had a perfectly normal conversation until he asked why I wasn't returning to school this semester.

I dropped my shoulders, looked down, and said, "I don't know."
He continued to inquire about my life in greater detail, wondering about graduation, a mission and the temple, and to each of his questions, I responded ambiguously. Finally, after a pause, he said, "I'm sensing a lot of anxiety.  Are you okay?"

At that, I broke down. I stifled my sobs as best I could and held back as many tears as possible, but it was clear to him that I wasn't okay.  I told him that I wasn't returning to school because I wasn't living the Honor Code (my evaluation, not his) and that a mission was rendered out of the question for another three months for the same reasons as my Honor Code violation, and likewise with the temple.  I said I didn't know when I'd return to school because of my continually-deferring mission and told him about how sad I've been feeling for the past several months every time I attended church or prayed or read my scriptures.  I expressed my doubt in the truthfulness in the LDS church and my lack of faith that a life of celibacy would be worth it in the end. I told him that my periods of satisfaction with my life are bookended by periods of despair and that I didn't want to serve a mission in such a state. I bore my soul and told him just about everything.

And then he said the most perfect thing he could have said:  "You're not going on a mission."

I didn't quite know how to respond.

He told me that I had way too much on my plate and that preparing for a mission was only causing me unreasonable anxiety and pain, that I was stressing myself out for something that wasn't that important. He related some of his experiences, that a mission would be a great opportunity to learn some things, but that it wouldn't define my relationship with God or my membership in the Gospel.  He went on and on about how he should be telling me to get my act together and serve a mission, but that he understood that my particular situation is difficult and I shouldn't feel any pressure to serve.

He likewise said the same thing about going to the temple, that it could wait and that I shouldn't rush it or feel pressured into it.  He underscored the importance of it several times and the blessings that await me therein, but he recognized that it wasn't in the cards for me in my near future and released me from that obligation.

Instead, he counseled me to finish school and get that taken care of, and while doing so he told me to stop worrying about my obedience to the laws of the Gospel and instead focus on my relationship with Heavenly Father, the Heavenly Father that is available to everyone, not just Mormons.  He told me to remain a good person, but to stop worrying about all the rules that the LDS church has and instead improve my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

He was cautious not to give me a blank check for frivolity, selfishness and sin, but very realistically acknowledged that I need to find peace and joy on my own and in my own way, without following any prescribed route that sometimes weasels its way into LDS culture. He said that he'd let me bring up the mission and/or temple option later, but that he wasn't going to hear me talk about it until I'd gotten something else off my to-do list.

Hearing my bishop tell me he wouldn't let me serve a mission should have been the saddest night of my life, but instead, I feel so amazing, like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. He knew what I needed to hear and he said it, in spite of what unconventional advice it was for a bishop to give. So until further notice, I am no longer a prospective missionary, and while that is somewhat sad to think about, it's just the relief I need to stop worrying and move forward in my life.


  1. This makes me super happy. I'm glad that you feel good about the advice he gave you and where you need to focus. Bishops are the greatest, are they not? Sidenote: You should know that you are kind of an inspiration. Your constant search for truth and your continual striving to improve motivates me to do better in all areas of my life. Things will work out, because they have to.

    (Still waiting on that codec for the snow, btdubs.)

  2. Wow, sounds like a great bishop. :)

  3. that sounds like a lovely conversation.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Glad to know that there are good experiences being had with Bishops.

  5. I love his words of advice. I received the same advice from my Mission President. After discussing my struggles, he told me, "The Gospel isn't meant to be an obligation. It is meant to be a blessing. Stop worrying about what you feel obligated to do, and focus on what you and the Savior can do together. You can't know what He wants you to do if you are constantly discouraged in yourself for failing your own high standards. This will continue to lead you in a destructive cycle. Remember that the First Great Commandment is to 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.' The Second is 'like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Your current way of doing things is not letting you do any of these, it is causing you to hate yourself even more. Find a way to Love the Lord, love your neighbors, and to love yourself. I am confident that things will work out."
    After we met, he immediatly wrote it all down for me. When I feel discouraged I read his words and it really helps me out.
    Good Luck, we are all rooting for your happiness!

  6. Your bishop sounds fantastic. I'm so happy for you. His words are a bit inspiring to me too.

  7. Sounds like you have a great bishop. Sometimes losing what we want for ourselves is the best thing that can happen. I've found that those moments help me sort out what I really want for myself, vs. what others want for me and that sometimes those two things will be more different than I ever would have allowed myself to believe.

  8. You've been quoted!


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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