What would comfort you?

November 1, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 7:53 am   Category: Life

All of us have burdens we carry. Most of us have burdens we carry which we wish our faith would address in some specific way. Some have burdens which have lead them into inactivity, others, into the foyer with tears in their eyes, and others into shouting expletives on the internet.

So today I am curious, what would comfort you?

What could I do to comfort you as just a lay member?
What could that speaker do in Sacrament?
That teacher in Sunday School?
The General Authorities in conference?

Today my burden is that you are not comforted, and the only solace I see is to wear out my life seeking balm for your wounds.

But I don’t know how. So I am sincerely asking, what would comfort you?

18 Comments »

  1. Hello Matt. I have found my comfort in knowing that God accepts me just the way I am. That knowledge is very liberating. It allows me to do and be more than I ever could trying to perfect myself. I just wish more members in my area could believe the same. But this is just me, others will see this differently.

    Comment by CEF — November 1, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  2. Great question. I can’t really ask it specifically about you, Matt, because I don’t know you in real life. So I’ll answer as though you had been someone in my ward at the time when I really needed comfort (i.e., that time has long passed, thank God):

    Stop telling me that everything is so great and the Church has the answer for everything when you haven’t even bothered to ask what is going on. And stop saying what “we” believe when you haven’t found out what I believe (it isn’t always the same as you) and especially when our beliefs diverge on the very points that you are trying to proof-text into yielding a “happy story.” And don’t testify to me that you know that everything will be fine (especially don’t add the “if I’m just faithful/righteous” part) unless you have some very compelling and insightful reasons that will demonstrate to me that you actually have a testimony (in the legal sense of the word, not in the faith-promoting-if-I-say-it-enough sense) of something that is personal and specific to me.

    And lastly, give me an opportunity to be of some real, meaningful use to someone else. To lift their burden so that even if I feel like hell, I can take comfort in helping someone else.

    Comment by BrianJ — November 1, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  3. If you could just talk to her and let her know that the harder she tries to force my daughters to like young women’s, the further she pushes them away.

    If you could just let her know that my goal as a parent is to not have my kids ditch church the minute they turn 18, and all she is doing is giving them more reason to leave.

    If you could just let her know that my goal as a parent is to prevent teenage pregnancy in my daughters, and when her creep of a 14 year old son keeps asking my daughters to send topless photos of themselves to him over facebook, it really isn’t helping.

    If you could, let her know that all of these things, along with her snide remarks, sideways looks, and judgmental comments are the reason we only attend sacrament meeting, because I can’t stand the fact that my daughters have to take that kind of abuse from their young women’s president.

    Anyway, if you could take care of that, you’d be lifting a huge burden from me.

    Comment by LD — November 1, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  4. This is really good. I’m having a hard time thinking of stuff for me, that I would want. But here are some things that I think would be great generally speaking. I’ve never sat and down and thought hard about this. Thanks for posting it.

    So today I am curious, what would comfort you?
    I think a lot of people who end up in tears or swearing don’t feel like there are enough friends “who get them.” Real friends. Someone who is like, dude, let’s go catch the new movie coming out.

    What could I do to comfort you as just a lay member? Ask people what their biggest goal is and how they can help. If they don’t share that much, keep coming up with ways to help.

    What could that speaker do in Sacrament?

    Mix it up and not be so stiff and formal. Go and talk with those in the audience. Be really open and share their weaknesses and biggest problems and how they are seeking God’s help in those areas.

    That teacher in Sunday School? Take the class on a field trip and go outside. I would love it if you took everyone on a walk and picked up litter or cleaned a neighbors yard instead of class.
    The General Authorities in conference?

    Comment by Rob — November 1, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  5. Show me that your wellwishes are more than just politeness, and extend beyond the few moments we’re in each other’s company. Read something I write, and come to hear me speak once in a blue moon, rather than just say how awesome it is to have a real live historian in the ward. Don’t just say “Great class!” — read the assigned scriptures before coming to Sunday School so I know you’re not just there to be entertained but to contribute, and that my preparations are worth it.

    For others in the ward, I need to make a mental note to ask a couple of weeks after someone has borne a testimony how that sick grandson is doing. I need to refer in this week’s class to something someone said two weeks ago to let him know that I’ve been thinking about that point he raised. I need to speak to that sister in the foyer before she speaks to me, so that she doesn’t feel like she’s always the one initiating contact.

    In other words, what would comfort me, and what I imagine would comfort others in my place, is to let me know you don’t forget about me the instant I’m out of your line of sight. The physical, practical challenges of life I can handle by gritting my teeth and pressing on; it’s the aloneness that I can’t cure on my own.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 1, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  6. CEF- that is comforting knowledge, to know you are loved and accepted of God. How do you spread that soul-strengthening knowledge?

    BrianJ- got it, I will try to listen before I speak

    LD- do you seriously want me to e-mail this person? Would that really comfort you? really? I am afraid I would only make things worse, but if you think it will help, I will email you for specifics (how to contact them, etc). Maybe you could have a bishop, home teacher, or high priest group leader step in in my place? It does sound like a major issue and it does need to be addressed. If this boy is sexually harassing your children via the internet, getting police involved is not out of line.

    Rob- thank you for your comments. I will try and be a better friend.

    Ardis- There are very few reasons I would ever consider living in Utah. 1. So my wife could sing in Motab. (luckily, she’s never asked for this) 2. So summers wouldn’t be so miserably hot. 3. To visit Ardis.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 1, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  7. No Matt,

    I don’t expect you to do anything. It just felt good to vent anonymously via the internet.

    Bishop and others are aware, however this nightmare only gets worse.

    Thx for listening.

    Comment by LD — November 2, 2011 @ 5:20 am

  8. Well, here are my thoughts:

    http://ethesis.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-can-i-say-to-comfort-you.html

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — November 2, 2011 @ 5:54 am

  9. LD- Anytime you wanna vent, this thread will remain open. I am sorry there isn’t much more I can do.

    Stephen M- I read your post. Thank you.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 2, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  10. This thread is a good example of something that comforts me. There’s no way to say this except to sound really cheesy, but oh well:

    Matt, one of the things that brings me comfort is knowing that there are people like you in the world, and that the Gospel attracts and refines such people.

    Comment by BrianJ — November 2, 2011 @ 7:41 am

  11. Matt asked – “that is comforting knowledge, to know you are loved and accepted of God. How do you spread that soul-strengthening knowledge?”

    CEF- One would think it would be easy to share/spread that knowledge, but it has been my sad experience, that it is not easy at all. So I quit trying.

    Members in this area, are too fixated on perfecting themselves. All to often in Sacrament Meeting someone will talk about how they worry if they are doing enough to make it back to live with HF. I honestly do not know how to help them.

    Comment by CEF — November 2, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  12. Dealing with toxic leaders is hard. Most of the time there is such a shortage of people to serve. I hear these stories and I feel so inadequate to answer with any good advice.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — November 2, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  13. LD,
    Wow, I have rarely heard such complaints about a YW president (without a change coming quickly). Have you told her that you want the best for your daughters and that is why they are not attending? Maybe share D&C 93:43 with her the next time a snide remark comes your way.

    General,
    Sacrament meeting talks with lots personal experiences that apply are so much better than the average talk. Reading verbatim from the last GC = weak.

    Comment by el oso — November 2, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  14. el oso — /sigh — I’ve known equally bad or worse — without anyone to replace them with for a long time.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — November 2, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  15. When I was a teenager, crying in the hallway at church, my yw teacher’s husband skipped his class and sat on the steps just to talk to me. It was incredibly comforting that he Noticed that I was sad, and that he actually, Voluntarily, took time to show me I wasn’t invisible. He wasn’t my home teacher or *responsible* for me. Just being a caring friend. I have remembered it for over 35 years. It was especially significant to me because I had no father and felt that I wasn’t important to Heavenly Father, so the fact that he was a man was important in my situation.

    Comment by kate — November 3, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  16. Never having to cook or wash-up again.

    Not to make light of what’s actually a rather touching post but tonight when I saw the title, that’s what popped into my head. :D

    Comment by proud daughter of eve — November 4, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

  17. I sure need comfort. I need to be more aware of others’ needs for comfort. I just want to be good enough in all I do.

    Comment by Kris — November 5, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  18. What a great question to ask. It shows compassion that I find lacking in many members, perhaps there is your answer.

    But here is what would comfort me. Transparency in tithing accounting.

    More funds spent on people not projects (Mall anyone?)

    A return to “big tent mormonism” where dissenting opinion is not viewed as a threat but as an opportunity to learn together without preconceived notions of bringing the other “into the light”.

    The list goes on and on but these things would bring me comfort. Unfortunately that comfort doesn’t seem to be on its way, so I’m beginning to go from crying in the foyer, to screaming in my car, to driving home, and staying there.

    Comment by lurker — November 16, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

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