Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Some third person decides your fate: this is the whole essence of bureaucracy." Kollontai Alexandra

I'm having a frustrating run in with bureaucracy this week.  In my church we baptize children when they are eight.  Gigi will be nine come December and she is still not baptized.  At first we pushed back the baptism because we knew we were going to be so much closer to home by the summer and so we figured if we waited six months it would be easier for family to get here.  That folks was our fault.  Then J needed to get his temple recommend renewed.  He tried to get it done before we left Indy.  He even schedule the appointment but work got in the way and then we were moving and well it just didn't get done.  Then I took three trips this summer and J worked and studied for boards and we just finally got in and got those renewed it was this month.  Meanwhile I went to talk with the primary president about getting her baptized.  I figured we had three months, surely we could get it done in that time.  Well you would think so right but the thing with my church is a few years ago they decided that all children of record (meaning children born into the church) should be baptized on the first Saturday of the month for convenience sake.  I pulled out J's schedule and he is working every Saturday that is available.  Well not this coming up one, this coming up one he is free, but because our General Conference is being held this Saturday they are doing baptisms next Saturday, a Saturday when he is working.  I talked with the stake primary president when she called to schedule Gigi's baptism and she told me, "No problem.  You will just need to get your bishop to schedule a font in one of the buildings (just so you know we don't have a font in our building or the other building in our town...we actually have to drive to the town over) but you need to have him hurry because they fill up quickly."  So I went through J's schedule and I wrote down every day he was off until her birthday marking the ones that were weekends (just because I thought they might be more convenient) and I went to the bishop.  He refused to call and see if any of the days were available.  He told me that the stake didn't like them to be scheduled like this and I told him that I'd already spoken to the stake and they said it was fine.  He asked me why J couldn't just take a day off and I swear at that moment I wanted to punch him.  
You know it seems like a totally reasonable question right, why can't your husband just take a day off, but my life is anything but reasonable.  How can I explain that to someone.  How can I make someone understand that my husband has worked the last two Christmases in a row.  How can I make them understand that when I was on bedrest in the hospital that he worked every day but the two until his mom got there.  That when our daughter was born 10 1/2 weeks early and spent the next 2 1/2 months of her life in the hospital that he didn't take a single day off, a single day, that I did that alone with the help of my mother-in-law and that when she left we were just ships in the night, I would go when he was home from work stealing hours while my family was sleeping to be with my baby.  When I had my miscarriage I went to the hospital alone and had to have a friend tend my kids because J was working.  I've gone to almost every soccer game, piano practice, school play, ward party, doctor's appointment, parent teacher conference, family pictures, family vacations alone.  I had to get four kids immunized to travel to Kenya alone.  Shot they even called us to co-teach a CTR class in this ward and so far I've taught all but one lesson alone.  I am always alone.  It's not like my husband is some derelict, he just has a job that never ends.  He works in the ICU.  He cares for people who are so ill that some will die and some will just be patched up enough that they are just postponing death a few days, weeks, or months.  They can't schedule their illnesses to be convenient to him and my part in this life we have chosen is that I have to be the one who is available to do the work at home while he does the work there.

I tried to explain to him that yes it is sometimes possible to get a day off, he had actually gotten one that Friday to attend his grandfathers funeral....but he got it to attend a funeral.  Someone else had to be inconvenienced, to work 8 shifts in a row, had to do him a favor to make that happen.  Plus and I didn't even remember this until yesterday but my husband actually gets paid by the shift so taking that day off actually cost us a significant amount of money.  It is not something one would want to make a habit of and since the stake has already told me it was entirely possible and ok to move it to another day why wouldn't I make that choice.    He responded that "well first let's just schedule her to do her bishop interview because that needs to go first and then I'll talk to your husband to see if it is really impossible for him to get a day off and then I'll schedule the baptism."  

I almost cried scheduling that bishop interview and then I cried all the way home.  Then I called J and cried some more.  The day of her appointment was yesterday.  Thirty minutes before we were suppose to go the clerk called and said we needed to reschedule because something had come up for the bishop.  I was really angry hanging that phone up.  I realize the bishop probably had no control over when things come up and I don't mind rescheduling the appointment but since he refuses to talk about scheduling the building until he's done the appointment and every day means another chance the font will be booked when we could possibly use it I'm a little on edge.  
Enter a body full of frustration.  I'm not asking for an exception because I want to take her out of state to baptize her where our whole family is (although really what the heck is wrong with that, why shouldn't people be able to do things convenient to their family) and I'm not asking to pick a date when all my family could even come (I was just going to find the one that worked for J and then invite family to come if they could and apologize if they couldn't), I'm just asking to schedule a font for the day my husband is around to baptize our daughter.  I don't need some program put on by the primary presidency.  I don't need a bishopric member to come and welcome her to the ward.  I don't need cupcakes or fancy invitations.  I need a font, my husband, my daughter, and two priesthood witnesses who honestly if we could get a date maybe we could round up and if not I'm sure two missionaries could be asked to fill in.  If we lived in the time of Jesus or the time of the early church (shoot even 20 years ago there was much more flexibility on this) I'd just have him take her down to the river that goes through our town and baptize her there.  No font needed, no special date needed just getting it done when the spirit drove her to ask to be baptized.   Look I understand that as churches grow that they need a certain amount of rules in place, the bureaucracy to keep things functioning and keep things similar but when there is no room for exception, no room for spirit, no room to lift my burden for just one thing, make my life easier just one time well then Houston we have a problem.  


  1. Too often, our church leaders forget what it means to minister. President Monson often says, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

    1. Well said, Karen. Maybe talk to the counselor over Primary? Call and schedule the other building yourself?

  2. They're not that strict about it here. We baptized Rachel on a Tuesday. Her friend Callin was baptized out in AZ this summer. People go to the beach to get baptized. We're kind of given free reign.

    So don't feel it's a churchwide thing. It's really a local-level thing. And like Karen said...sometimes leaders forget how to minister.

    Keep strong and carry on. Wish I was there to lend support.

    Maybe ask the stake leadership to send an email to your bishop explaining that it's all cool. Or send an email to the person you talked to and CC your bishop and say, "My bishop says we can't do this, but from our discussion I was under the impression that we could..."

    I totally would. But my bishop is the kind of bishop that would shrug and said, "Sounds good then." Not all bishops are.

    Best of luck!

  3. Your bishop sounds rigid. Hope it's worked out well by now, and Gigi has a baptism date!

  4. This sounds insane to me. In Sharjah one time, they baptized someone in a bathtub because the "font" (the swimming pool) had an algae problem at the last minute. A bathtub! No need to make things complicated, people! I was brushing up on this before I read the conclusion you posted today. Off to have my indignation calmed...I hope...

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