Thursday, April 30, 2015

Your Baptism Doesn't Count

So I had this weird experience this last month that really got me thinking.  When we went to sign for our house the lady we were buying for told me about this group MOPs (Mother's of Preschoolers).  It is a Christian organization that meets twice a month.  Our children go to play and we sit at tables with other woman, eat good food, play games, listen to speakers, do crafts, and just hang out.  For those of you who are LDS, I'd say it is like the best parts of Enrichment.  I loved it.  My first year I had an amazing table.  They were so fun and they made my move into town so much easier.  When I ended up in the hospital on bed-rest they came and saw me and brought me meals and hung out.  When my daughter was born and I had to spend months traveling between our house and the hospital they watched my kids, they brought meals, they helped my mother in law out.  I love those girls.  They were God's Angles on earth.  The next year my table wasn't quite as close but I still loved the companionship and because my group meets at the most popular church in my town I felt like I had instant friends.  I couldn't go to Target, or join the gym, or send my kids to preschool without seeing other mops moms.  The playgroups and mom's nights out were water to the desert loneliness of motherhood.  My third year in MOPS I decided to join leadership, the wonderful group of woman who plan all our activities and in this my final year of mops I continued in leadership.  But this year hasn't quite been as magical as the previous three had been.  Every two years the co-leaders who run the group change and this year there have definitely been some growing pains.  For the most part I tried to be patient with them but at the end of the year we had this thing happen that made me super sad.

When the new leadership forms came out there was now an asterix next to certain positions, most of the more prominent ones, special events leader, mom's night out leader, crafts leader (crafts team is where I've been working the last two years), DGL (discussion group leader, there is one of these at each table and it is a position I wanted this year but they didn't give me).  Next to the asterix was the words, these positions can only be held by a born again Christian.  The first I heard of this was the day the forms came out.  I had taken my kids to the library after mops and one of my good friends was there and very upset about the form.  She'd planned all our special events this year, the Fall party, the Christmas Party, The Getting to Know you party, the Easter party, and when she went to get her form one of the co-leaders had come up to her and told her she couldn't have her position again next year because she hadn't been baptized.  This came as a shock to my friend because she had been baptized as a baby.  And with this interactions began of a month of lack of clarity.  Our main group did not meet again for almost a month because of Spring Break but small groups of us met for playgroups and many of us were a little unclear on what it meant for us.  A few girls like my friend had been baptized as children but didn't attend church as adults, a couple like me have been active since childhood and have continued into adulthood in the church we were raised in but it wasn't one that would use the term born again Christian.  I'm Mormon, there are girls in group that are Catholic, girls that are Lutheran, girls that are Methodist.  All of these churches follow slightly different protocol.  For me I was baptized by full immersion at eight.  One of my friends was baptized as a baby, confirmed at a older child and has been going to church ever since.  She called our group leaders and asked what they were trying to say.  The group leader told her that she just wanted people who had committed to Christ as adults so that it was obvious it wasn't just their parents choice.  She and I were very upset.  Both of us take our four crazy kids to church every week.  I usually do it alone.  We have callings, pay tithing, are very involved in our church and our religion and felt like our lives should be testaments to our dedication.  It was exceptionally frustrating.

Finally we meet together as a group again.  Many of us voiced out concerns.  After the meeting I came home and my husband asked me what had happened.  I said I honestly couldn't tell.  They acted like they heard us, said that the asterix had been a mistake but then it was never taken off of the sheet and they continue to pass it out unchanged.  Two of my friends quit mops, things got so stressful and crazy and honestly just not nice at all and I'm not surprised they made that decision.  It makes me sad though.  They are some of my best buddies here and not seeing them on mops days always makes me sad.  I have a couple friends who are going to take a year off leadership until new group leaders are put into place. I'm moving so the choice doesn't really affect me, but it did hurt me and I know if I was staying I wouldn't do leadership again.  How sad right?  This is not the feeling I received the firs three years in mops and I'm pretty sure it's just something happening in my own group, not the awesome organization as a whole.  Thank goodness, but on this local level it was painful, something I loved so much suddenly being uncomfortable to me because someone choose to question my dedication to Christ because I didn't worship in the exact same manner as them....and then it hit me, how does the rest of the world feel when we as Latter Day Saints tell them that their baptisms don't count.  I never served a mission and so it hasn't been me telling people they needed to get re-baptized or that their baptism doesn't count so I went to my husband and asked, "How do people take it when you give them that news."  "Well," he says, "A lot of times they get really offended."  It was a light bulb moment for me.  I don't know why it took me so long to see it.  I guess you just are immune to things that you don't have any experience with, but it actually is really offending.  What right do individuals have to decide who is and who is not a Christian.  Isn't Christianity suppose to be your own personal relationship with your Lord and Savior?  I don't have any real answer for what that means in terms of my own church but it definitely put me in the spirit to be more inclusive and more sensitive to the feelings of other people who are finding love and success in their own faiths.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting! I like how you turned what you experienced into something relating to your own faith, and how you (collectively) might come across to others who aren't baptized the same way.

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  2. A couple of thoughts:
    1. 1 Nephi 11:17 --I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. God loves all of his children. People put people into categories and sometimes make unfair and unrighteous judgments about each other. Our kids have certainly seen the down side of that, like our born-again neighbor telling our older girls "I just love you girls so much! It makes me so sad that you are going to hell!" or Nancy's little friend at school telling her that they can't play together anymore because Nancy is the wrong religion. When we moved to Utah, I was surprised to see the flip side of that--Patrick's best friend was one of the only non-LDS kids in the neighborhood. His mom was so HAPPY that he and Patrick had each other to be friends with. Did the people in the neighborhood even realize the rejection that the non-LDS kds felt? I don't know, but the alienation I could see, the reverse of what my kids had experienced elsewehere--it is just WRONG.
    2. As my brother said in his talk post his senior mission with his wife to Mauritius, the answer to how many plans of salvation are there is there is one plan of salvation...per person. Jesus saves us each individually, according to the plan that works for us. Some people really need the LDS missionaries as a part of their salvation, and so our missionaries are out there sharing the gospel. Some people need other experiences in their plan. Only God is the judge of all of this. Our role is to love and forgive.

    Me saying this does not mean that I am perfect at this by any means. But it is what I believe.

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