Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I Will Never be the Relief Society President

I am, always have been, and always will be, one of those "rock the boat" types of people. I try to be tactful about it, but sometimes I am not, and sometimes I don't try to be. Sometimes being blunt is just the way to go in order to get through thicker heads. And my head is the thickest. I can accept that.

Our ward is having an EQ activity on Friday night. It's basically a cooking competition between the men in the ward. An announcement was made in RS that it was for "couples", not kids. I wasn't there when the announcement was made, however, as a former older single person, I know the hairs on the back of my neck would have been raised had I heard that. Especially considering my mom is in my ward and is single. Now, I realize that it wasn't an intentional slight, however, it is all too common in our blissfully, happily married church. I have many friends that are single that experience being excluded weekly in their wards. Weekly.

But wait, there is more. Because this is my blog and my rant. Not only is it for couples, but babysitting isn't going to be provided. So everyone in the ward who wants to go, has to find a babysitter and then provide a meal worthy of competition. When I mentioned that it would be difficult for people to go because we don't have a lot of babysitters in our ward, a friend said, "Don't you have a built in babysitter?" Again, my mom is in my ward, and therefore invited to the activity! I should ask her to stay home and babysit my kids for free instead of going, right?

I do not think that people should ever be asked to find babysitters in order to attend a Church sponsored activity. Ever. I know of several members of my ward struggling financially with a few kids. They are supposed to spend $15-20 on babysitting to go to a ward activity? And cook for it? So now they are out $30? How does that make sense? It doesn't to me. Thick skull that I am.

I'm just raining all over this parade, aren't I? Poor EQ - they just wanted to have a fun party and in the process here I am criticizing their invitation methods as well as their planning methods.

But in a world where a growing majority of the Church is older and single and struggling to find where to fit in, it pains me that there isn't more sensitivity and thought put into things like this. And in a world where friends are losing jobs and struggling to make ends meet, I find it sad that they might be excluded from spending an evening with friends because they can't afford to pay a babysitter.

Please - be sensitive!!! People have left the Church over situations like this because it was just the last straw. We are not a society exclusively of young marrieds with little kids. There is much to be learned and admired about men and women who stay active and strong in a Church that is centered around families. The more all are included, the better off we will all be.

Rant over.


Casey Davison said...

I understand your point EXACTLY!!! My mom had something similar happen to her.
She started going to church again several years after my dad died. She then got an invitation to the revival addressed to Mr. & Mrs. She was so hurt and offended. As far as anyone there knew she was just Ms.
Knowing that it was just a form label they formatted it would have just blown right over me, but it really offended and hurt her. Now I see her point of view.

Real said...

I struggle with all the things we have to pay for in church. I feel like our family needs to attend every church sponsored event that we can. But the scout uniform and books cost a LOT of money and i have four boys in a row. Scout Camp. Cub Country. Girls Camp. Youth Conference. That all adds up. And i know it's cheap by comparison. But sometimes cheap isn't even enough.

Right now for this temple dedication celebration I have 3 youths in it for whom we are supposed to provide parts of the costumes. The Stk President has said he doesn't want anyone spending any money on these items. We are supposed to borrow them from family members, ward members, neighbors. But since our entire stake/neighborhood is involved, EVERYONE needs those items. Who can I borrow from? We have no other family here and even if we did, what is the likelihood that they have the right size black shoes with straps for my daughters to dance in?!?! I don't know what we're going to do.

Sara said...

I do not think that people should ever be asked to find babysitters in order to attend a Church sponsored activity. Ever.I cannot tell you how many Relief Society or church events I've missed because I don't have a "built-in" babysitter.

What irks me even more? Church policy says that babysitting should be provided for "adult only" events (including RS activities) and members aren't supposed to be asked to bring ANYTHING.

There have been times when I haven't attended an activity because I haven't had either the time or the $ to bring what was requested.

And the couples thing? I wasn't an "older" by church standards single, but I spent 2+ years in a family ward prior to getting married and you feel so isolated.

There. Guess I won't ever be the RS president either.

On The Go Family said...

It's tough. I'm sure, like you said, that the EQ thing was so well-intended. I have a little compassion for the EQ because my husband has been EQP for 6 of our 7 years of marriage (in three different wards). And they always face this exact issue. There are a few people who adamantly want to do date nights -- but then nobody ever shows up due to babysitting issues. I know we've missed ward parties for the same reason.

Last weekend our EQ did a family talent show and it was splendid. We had better turnout than any other EQ activity -- ever. I think a lot of it was because it was a) free b) fun and c) a family-event that everyone could attend.

Donna said...

Heidi - I couldn't agree more with your "rant". To me, it sounded like good ol' common sense!

Melissa said...

You go girl.

As the great Pere Henri said in the BEST. MOVIE. EVER., Chocolat,

"I think... we've got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create... and who we include."

I love that you are sensitive to your mom's needs and are always thinking about other people. One of the many reasons why I love ya!

erinannie said...

As one of the singles included in the "never quite really involved in my ward" category, thanks for sticking up for us.
I love my new ward. They have reached out and really tried to be my friend. But there are times when it is so obvious that I don't fit in. I moved in in February. Our March RS activity was titled "Family HOme Evening." I was disappointed to find out this is a night where all the women bring activities and lessons and swap them. They divide into groups according to children's ages. So count me out.
April activity was advertised, "All Children and Parents" were invited to an Easter Egg hunt. Again, count me out.
May?? Date night- "Adult Luau and Dance." I'm pretty sure that would have just been horribly awkward.
As for singles activities? None. No one has even told me where to look to find one.
Ugh. Its too bad we all want church to be the one place we are all included, and yet, the more we try, the more obvious it becomes when we are left out.

Allison said...

First of all Heidi, never say you won't be RS President. :) You usually get those callings that you don't think you will. (And I think you'd be a great RS Pres.) Second I think that all people need to be aware and sensitive to the individuals needs. I think that the brethren and the general RS Presidency are aware of this and want the members to be aware of it as well.

I must say that I agree with most of what you have said and the comments made. I agree 100% that no church activity should cost the family a penny. That is why each organization has a budget. That being said, to play devil's advocate I must say one thing. If we focus on the reason that we go to church and/or church activities, which should be Christ, then maybe the rest won't matter as much. Will people still feel left out and get offended? Of course. But I think it's a chance to "rise above it" and maybe think that there is something to learn from it.

Bon said...

ya, that's exactly why you WILL be a RS president. cause you think of those things