Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Where I Am?

*Warning --if you live in my ward and read my blog, you may want to just ignore what I'm going to say, or not read it. This has nothing to do with you personally (I don't think? I mean, half the time, I have no idea who reads my blog!), and I'm not really looking for answers with this one --I know I could start a play group or do something pro-active. I also know how much I love Provo. See, I know the answers. I just need to get my feelings out.

I read a really great post today about moving, homes, and hearts --and it struck me hard right between the eyeballs. Not really a revelation about my current situation per se...just, well --it really hit a nerve. It hit something I hadn't thought of in a while (meaning a few months?).
Here's the post.

Anyway, my thoughts have been thus:
I don't know if we're supposed to stay in Utah much longer.
But then again --I don't know if we're supposed to ever leave, either.
See, the thing is, if I had my choice, we would experience many places. We would live back East, near Seattle, a few years in the South (Tennessee is gorgeous!), England for a year or two, maybe Texas for a while --and eventually get back to the Bay Area (San Francisco). I think this is why I was so devastated last year when the answer was not to take the Boston job, but to go back to Provo.
I mean, I want to do what the Lord wants me to do. I want to be where He wants me to be. And if that means I live the rest of my life here in good ol' Provo, then so be it. I will do it. And I will be happy about it, too!
I really think I could.
But then I look at myself and my life and the things I learned living away for a year, and I yearn for more. Before leaving for the Bay Area, I don't think I truly understood "ward family" in the way it was supposed to be understood (I'll explain more of that in a minute). I didn't appreciate sacrifice for things which I take for granted here (such a strong LDS community, support for big families, easy access to LDS stores, etc.). I also wouldn't have made the friends I did who belong to other Faiths --because right here where I live, there really aren't people of other faiths, you know?

But I think the worst part for me has to do with my friends (thus the warning above). I really felt comfortable with all of my friends here in Provo (particularly our ward), but after I moved they actually went on with their lives!
Can you believe it? (please note the sarcasm)

When I moved back, they had moved on, and I think for them it was kind of...awkward that I was back in the ward. I had changed, you know. Changed quite a bit:
*I was suffering from Depression, which got worse when I moved back (apparently, even with all my proclamations of wanting to move away and try new things, change does not sit well with my brain).
*I had lived in "the mission field", and therefore my perceptions were greatly altered.
*I had friends in the Bay Area from all different faiths and cultures --and I loved it!
*I couldn't understand why everyone had to do everything with their families in Utah --we have no family in Provo (I mean, we do have family in Utah, but not down the street), and we had very little family in the Bay Area. The difference is striking: In the Bay Area, whether you have family living down the street or not, your ward becomes your family. You take vacations with your friends. You have friends over for everything, and you share your lives with each other. There is no awkwardness, there is no apology --you hang out with each other! In Utah? At least in Utah Valley? You don't hang out with your ward. Why would you? You see them every day. They are your neighbors, school-mates, etc. So, you hang out with your family. You never have friends over for Sunday dinner --you invite your family. You never take vacations with your friends --it's family. Friends are casual; family is forever (please note: this is a generalization and my overall experience --I know that isn't how it is for everyone in all of Utah).

Anyway, so I came back different, and in a way, I felt ignored. But maybe it was me? I'm not sure if I turned everyone off (maybe I did it subconsciously on purpose?!) and I really don't think they have chosen to ignore me! I think it had to do with three things:
1. They moved on, remember?
2. They have their families.
3. I'm different (is there an echo in here?)

I guess I just never noticed it before --this difference between "there" and "here." And me "there" and "here."
And now that I know it, which place do you think I actually prefer?
Seriously, as much as California scared the crap out of me with the hostile neighbors ("You belong in a cult!"), rude, rude, rude comments about my children ("you know what causes that, right?"), awful DMV laws, and the expenses, I still loved it. Adored it, really.

But gosh darn it! I was all set to be happy here in Provo.
And then I saw Lindsay and Emily at Women's Conference (friends from the Bay Area).
And Janelle was at my Las Vegas Birthday weekend (friend from the Bay Area).
And we hung out with my brother and SIL in San Francisco a few weekends back.
And my friend Michelle moved to Connecticut (still sad over that one).
And Brandon is leaving for San Francisco again today (school).

And I want to cry. Because I want to go home! But what if I am home? Am I? And if I am, I should just be happy about it, right?
That, dear reader, is the ultimate question...

Do you feel like this? Displaced? Trying to be happier than happy (and succeeding 98% of the time!), but then longing for somewhere else? Something else?

30 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

I think a lot of that makes sense.

Odd thing--my ward has a lot of people who do go on vacations together and hang out w/ one another. Yep, here in Utah. It's the only ward I've ever known like that. I watch them and actually get a little jealous of it. I wonder what it would be like to be part of that. (No, I can't just butt in. That's not who I am, and my husband probably wouldn't want to be part of it, being a homebody. But it's an interesting thing to watch.)

Amanda D said...

A lot to think about here, Cheryl. I have to admit that I really miss Utah because I miss going to church with my neighbors and seeing them. I miss knowing that my kids are being raised with the same values as the kids at school. I'm having a hard time here for the opposite reasons, I guess. Maybe, for both of, the grass is greener on the other side?

We did more with friends in Utah than we do here because here everyone has family around! I guess we need to find some friends that don't have family close and start hanging out. Maybe we should challenge each other to invite someone from church over for a night of dinner and game playing?

Summer said...

Well your feelings make sense to me. This right here:

"I couldn't understand why everyone had to do everything with their families in Utah"

is one BIG reason I don't want to go back to UT. Our family is not one big ole connected thing anyway so even if I went back I wouldn't always have them and I would want to keep hanging out with friends, inviting them over and such. But I've experienced the fact that most Mormons in UT just don't do that because they have families around. Yes family is the most important thing but reaching out to those who haven't got that connection is good too, you know?

Jill said...

Where to start? This is long and rambling, sorry! We've lived the past 9 years not in Idaho (similar to Utah, I'd say, though I've never lived there). We lived in a small branch in Nebraska and that was much like you described in SF. No one had family near by and we got together with friends. Holidays, birthdays, etc. We had lots of missionary experiences there.
Now we live in Texas and our ward is very different. Nearly everyone in our ward has family (parents, siblings, cousins, etc), so we're very much on the outside when it comes to dinner invitations and such. Which, I'm not thrilled with, but I am trying to get ok with it. On the flip side, we do have lots of opportunities to have missionary experiences. And, we have a great play group with a few girls who are not members, and we've had some good conversations. Now, don't read this as Jill has no friends and is feeling sorry for herself, because that is not the case. I have some GREAT friends here and I'm very blessed.
I think the dynamics of each ward are different, so I don't think that because your ward is not as "friendly" and your neighborhood is not as full of missionary opportunities as you'd like, that's not the case everywhere. Or, that you can'd find both of those things where you are. What about a city story time or library book group? These might be chances to meet people who are also looking to meet people. Is there a family or two in your ward who doesn't have family that you don't know well?
I don't think we're "home" but I don't know where our home is or when we'll find it. But, for the time being, I am happy here. Good luck Cheryl. Even knowing what I know, I have sad days too!!!

Ann said...

I've felt that longing since we moved back. Maybe it's one of the reasons we moved 2 months ago (even if we didn't move out of UT, we're now in a new ward). And so far this ward has been pretty good, but I can already see how "different" I am here too. And for the most part it's fine, you know? I'm comfortable in my own skin. I know who I am. But yeah, I feel the desire to belong to a ward family again. And while that may happen once in a blue moon here in UT, it's certainly not the norm. So as much as I love my new house, I don't know that we'll be here forever. I will always have that desire for change, for new things, for new experiences, and for new people. In other words (you already knew this, anyway), I feel ya! And I'm right there with ya! (Especially because I KNOW your ward.)

Cardalls said...

I did NOT want to move away from Utah and family etc when we moved 8 years ago. But it has been the BEST thing we have ever done because of my own personal growth, our marriage is so much stronger, I love living in the "mission field" and having that diversity etc. I know exactly what you are saying about the ward family etc. I don't know that I ever want to move back to Utah (even though I LOVE it there, I miss family and the beauty etc). I guess my Mom's old saying of "Bloom where you are planted" applies to me when I moved to Las Vegas of all places...did NOT want to raise a family here...but now I love it and the church is amazing here...and it applies to you in good old Utah Valley. I have spent almost 1/2 our time here trying to figure out how to get out and go somewhere...anywhere else! But 2 years ago I had an "epiphany" and realized this is where the Lord wants me and so this is where I want to be. since then I have felt very happy and content living here. "I'll go where you want me to go" has new meaning (even if it's Vegas...Provo..Timbuktu!)

Cardalls said...

Just read the article...LOVED it. It said exactly what my heart has felt so many times!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I love that living in different places has brought me so many different friends. Having said that, it's weird for me living in Utah, because "we" have tons of family nearby, but it's all my hubby's family...who are great, and I love hanging out with them....but sometimes you just want your own siblings/parents/cousins/etc., ya know? I do really miss Texas.

Michelle Walker said...

I miss you so much. I had some snotty rich lady look at me like I was the trash of the earth. I know we are supposed to be here, but I miss you and Liz. And raspberry muffin tops from Kneaders. :(

I have a feeling that the Lord isn't ALWAYS so particular where you live--sometimes that's YOUR decision. Sometimes the Lord wants us to make our own choices. I know your sweet heart, Cheryl and I know you also have such an adventurous side to you--the Lord MADE that a part of you and knows that makes you happy (eventually :) and I think you guys will go somewhere after Brandon graduates. Hang in there! Love you!!! So much. {Sorry, know you didn't want advice!}

Janelle said...

Ummm. Since I live where I am from I feel really comfortable here.

I have my family and my friends. But I think Alex would really appreciate this post.

Nancy said...

Interesting subject. As a new transplant TO Utah I have to say that although the ward people, neighbors, school folks, etc are very nice they aren't as friendly. It's like everyone's "friend card" is full. There are also many multi-generational families if not living within streets of one another, they live in the same city. It's been an interesting dynamic. Can't argue with that because of course family first but it seems pretty exclusive at the same time. I don't have any close friends but that's okay too because I just focus more on my little family.

Rachel said...

Question for you, Cheryl, and your readers:
I am not LDS, and I don't live in Utah. I am a strong Methodist have no qualms about my faith. I have several Mormon friends, and completely respect their beliefs. We have civil conversations about our differences, and most of the time we make peace about it.
However, one of the friends makes it her personal battle to convert me from things I feel so strongly about. She consistently tells me why my faith is wrong. Frankly, it's offensive and hurtful.
I know my mom felt the same way about one of her LDS friends- a few years back, my parents moved from where they had lived for many years. They were great friends with their neighbors, who were LDS. For my mom's going-away gift, this lady gave her the Book of Mormon and told her "i know this to be true"...(the lady was fully aware that they were faithful members of a methodist congregation). My mom was completely turned off and couldn't believe this friend of so many years would do such a thing.
I know you respect and enjoy diversity, but what are your thoughts here? Do most Mormons take it upon themselves to convert other Christians? Is this taught as part of the LDS culture? Am I the only one who finds it to be disrespectful and offensive?

Cheryl said...

Rachel-
First off, welcome! I'm glad you felt comfortable in leaving a comment --I love new comments. :)

You have very valid questions, and I can understand the frustration. In fact, I'm not sure how to answer it without making you more frustrated. But I'm gonna try!

You have to understand that as Mormons, we honestly believe that we have knowledge that was restored to the Earth. We're not alone in that regard --I mean, there are millions of missionaries all over the world preaching what they believe to be true. In fact, let's look at it from this perspective:

My Step-FIL is an atheist. He has tried to tell my husband and I that we are wrong in having so many children. He thinks over-population is real, will destroy our planet, and he's very upset with us personally. But I totally get it --I see it from his PoV: He believes in no God, no afterlife (no before-life), and so this is his reality.

Now, look at me (a Mormon): I believe that we lived before we came here, we will live when we die, that families can be sealed together forever through the power of God, and that our lives have purpose and meaning. Thus, having children is a blessing --not the literal end of the world. I also believe this so much, I want to share it with everyone! I do--and we're told to spread the news.

Thus your mom's encounters with zealous Mormons.

I mean, we've all encountered a zealous Jehovah's Witness, right? Evangelical? Baptist? I mean, my SIL was told over and over and over in Tennessee (where she's from) that unless she left her Mormon Cult, she would burn in hell forever. Which is a tad mean, right?

But for your mom's sake, I would view it differently --what if a Jehovah's witness politely and gently shared something they believed to be true with you in friendship and love without pressure? I guess that's how I view your mom's LDS friend's gift. She was sharing something that meant the whole entire world to her (I'm guessing). That, to me, is the ultimate compliment of friendship --to want to share what's important to us with each other...

I don't know. Maybe I'm not making any sense, but that's the best way I can describe it. Maybe someone else can answer it better...?

In the meantime, Rachel, dude! Write me an email! I would love to hear how you found me and where you are from and I PROMISE!! No underhanded manipulations to "convert" you will occur. :)

(happymeetscrazy at gmail dot com)

Cheryl said...

P.S. Oh! And your friend who tells you that you are always wrong? That's not something our Church advocates, just FYI.

Never A True Aggie said...

I agree with you. I have lived in many wards outside of CV1 and that ward just has a certain mojo that ruins it for all other wards. I also feel the same way about friends. We have had similar experiences here. While I totally love and appreciate those in my ward, we haven't really hit it off with anyone like we did there in Concord. So, I keep trying...Luckily, we have these blogs so I feel a little less lonely.

m_and_m said...

Rachel, can I take a stab at your question?

Yes, we are encouraged to share our faith and beliefs and even the Book of Mormon with others.

But we are also encouraged to not force our beliefs on others. And to be respectful of others' beliefs.

And, unfortunately, sometimes, we aren't so good at sensing where the boundary is between those two things.

I'm sorry you and your mom have felt offended by LDS people trying to share with you. Sometimes we don't approach it well, but fwiw, almost always, Mormons share their beliefs not to be offensive, but because they honestly just want to share what means so much to them. (I think once in a while, you get a Mormon who is more in "I'm going to prove to you that I'm right" mode than "I'm sharing out of love" mode. But that is so far from where we are counseled to be!)

I don't want to minimize the subject matter by this analogy, so take it for what it's worth. It's a bit to me like finding a recipe for something that is more delicious to you than anything you have ever tasted. You make the food for your neighbors as a gesture of love.

But you didn't think through the fact that they are actually vegetarians, and it's a dish that contains meat. Or you don't think through the wheat allergy that they have and it contains flour. Or something like that. Maybe you have known about the dietary restrictions for years, but in your exuberance to share, you just don't think.

Sometimes we don't think, or aren't as sensitive as we should be out of our exuberance for what we believe. Sometimes it's not obvious to us that sharing our beliefs, the Book of Mormon, inviting someone to a church meeting, etc. would actually cause pain, because in our hearts we just want to share what means so much to us. I suspect that is what happened with your mom's friend. For most active Mormons, our beliefs are the most precious thing in our lives, and it's hard sometimes to not overdo it in wanting to share. Or to not really understand that it might be offensive to some to share what we believe. (I was grateful for a friend of mine who kindly but clearly helped me know that boundary in her life when I invited her to listen to the missionaries. Sometimes we need a little help knowing where those boundaries are!) :)

As to the situation with your friend, it sounds to me like your friend is not approaching things the way she should. It sounds to me like it might be time to just say, "Let's just keep this off the table, and appreciate our common ground, ok?" Again, you can help her understand your boundary. You don't force-feed someone your favorite food. If they want to taste it, great. If not, a good friendship should respect such a choice. I hope you can know that not all Mormons want to force feed their friends. FWIW. :)

Janelle said...

Wow Rachel, you and your family sound like wonderful Christians. I guess sometimes we LDS people think that when we find birds of a feather they should just all just join the same flock (Ours... smile)

Living in CA, I have come to appreciate the way different flocks (or branches of Christianity) can complement each other. We have recently learned to lean heavily on each other in my community.

I just moved 3 months ago, but my next door neighbor was a Baptist Minister. When he purchased the home next door the first thing he did was have his congregation canvas our neighborhood with Anti-Mormon literature. His congregation offered classes on the frailty of our Doctrines and showed misrepresentative movies about our religion to as many as would attend.

We had a choice. We could choose to be offended and not communicate with this neighbor or live in such a way that he would no longer see us as threatening as his cartoon literature suggested. We chose to be friendly. More than friendly. After 5 years of living next door to people who they deemed belonging to an "occult" I think my neighbor's perceptions were changed. At least the anti-mormon literature ceased to be distributed, and we socialized regularly.

I can see both sides of the situation that you presented. Yes, it is offensive to be constantly berated for what you believe. That would bug me too! But, in the case of your mother, I imagine the woman who gave her the Book of Mormon was actually trying to say that she respected your mom so much that she wanted to share more of herself, which happens to be intricately intwined with a religion. I'm sorry your mom felt slighted by her neighbor.

Have you had a serious talk with your friend about not trying to convert you? Is there no way to agree to disagree? I'd hate to see a friendship end over things like this. Put a hiatus on doctrinal discussions and get back to the things you have in common, like being good Christian women.

Good luck Rachel! I hope your friendship improves instead of disolves.

rachel said...

first of all, THANK YOU for your stories and understanding.
My bad experience with Mormons certainly doesn't affect the way I see all mormons i come in contact with. I know that there are boundary-knowing LDS people out there...this discussion being evidence.
I completely understand the desire to share what you find to be so true, so meaningful. I have it, too! And I love to share my faith with those who aren't already committed to a faith of their own. But my problem lies with the fact that these people went overboard, crossed the line from my and my mom's perspective. Even though they (and other mormons) believe that their religion is the ONE true religion, SO DO I! I have the same feelings about the faith I have been raised to live.
But that doesn't mean I have to "force feed" (loved that analogy, fits the situation perfectly). Janelle, the Baptist minister you mentioned clearly crossed the line, as well (and the people in your SIL's situation, too, cheryl). You see, this situation would offend me (well, maybe 'BOTHER ME' is the right phrase there- i wasn't as much angry as i was bothered) if it happened in terms of ANY faith! I would be bothered if a devout Catholic forced the no-birth control policy on me. I would be bothered if I was forced by a Muslim woman to wear a head scarf. See? Even though the LDS people I have referenced have not forced me to do one particular thing, I feel like they have all attempted to infringe on the faith that is so well established within me.
I think it is great that your church has missionaries in all corners of the world bringing Christ to those who don't know Him at all. I think it's peachy that I, every so often, get a Jehovah's witness at my door, looking to share their faith with a non-Christian. But look, I AM a Christian. While all of my beliefs may not be the same as yours, I know Christ and I know a faith that I believe to be true. And that should be enough.
Like I said, I have perfectly civil conversations about religion with most of my mormon friends. we each openly share our beliefs, discuss, and at times have a friendly debate. I am not opposed to these conversations, and think that they ARE the way that two friends of different faiths should handle things.
My mom certainly remained friendly with the woman i referenced, and I believe they are still in contact today. My mom did not by any means want the friendship to end because of the parting gift incident. She was just a little turned off.
But, let me change perspective here...what if you had a great neighbor or friend who was Muslim? What if that person had FULL knowledge that you were content in your Mormon faith? And what if they knowingly presented a Qur'an to you as a parting gift, in a last ditch effort to share their beliefs? Would you not feel bothered by this, like they had betrayed the trust and companionship of your peaceful disagreement?
See, I would never go giving Bibles to Muslims or Jews. It just doesn't seem acceptable to me.

Cheryl said...

I had a Hindu friend who brought me back something from India while she was there. Although it wasn't necessarily religious, I thought the gesture rocked!

Honestly? If somebody shared their religion with me out of trust, friendship, and love, even while knowing full well I wasn't going to change my own religion? I would have no reason to be offended. I honestly don't see the harm in learning from each other, or about each other. Giving each other gifts isn't the same as debate and contention.

Maybe it's because I know how it feels to be lectured constantly about how my religion is wrong. Most Mormons have, you know. I'm not trying to play the martyr card here, but we have been told over and over by governments and other Christian religions that we are in a cult, and that we are going to hell. And yet what does our Church teach us in how to respond?
As Christ would. With patience, forgiveness, and love. And so most of us have. Most of us share our religion in the same way. Our Doctrines and Policies have never advocated hatred, nor have they indicated rude behavior (or over-zealousness/pushiness in spreading the Gospel message). It defeats the entire point of Christ's teachings.

So, if my Hindu friend offered me a book about her religion, I would be flattered! I wouldn't see it as an offense, because I would understand her perspective --I would see that she is just trying to do what she feels is right.

That's how I feel about my Step-FIL's atheism, too. And about my MIL's decision to leave the Mormon faith. Sure, I don't agree with their decisions or religions, but I sure as heck love 'em! And they love me. So, we're all good, you know? Even when we try to convince the other about certain things (like my Step-FIL trying to tell us to stop having children).

I guess my point is we need to decide where are own personal line of forgiveness is --where does it become "Oh. Cool. Thanks." from "how dare you!?"

And hey, Rachel, if you want to continue this discussion could you please email me? Because although I don't mind talking about these things on my blog (I really don't), this isn't a community forum (it's my journal/scrapbook/socialization/writing-practice blog!). So, could you email me? I promise I'll write back!

Emily & Co. said...

Rachel - I just have a minute, so I hope this comes out okay! :) I think most Mormons are excited to share the Book of Mormon with their Christian friends because it is a book about Christ. Instead of thinking to themselves, "My friend is perfectly content with his/her own religion, they probably won't be interested in this book.", they think "My friend loves Christ and this books is all about Christ, and if they read it, they're going to love it as much as I do." So that's why we love to share it - never w/the intention to offend. I'm sorry that you've had negative experiences w/that.

Also, one thing that I love to see in others is dedication to their God and their religion, so I would personally be flattered if someone cared about me enough to give me information (books, movies, etc.) about their religion that they love and hold sacred. But I know that everyone sees that differently.

Janelle said...
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Janelle said...
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Julie said...

Great discussion. Thanks to Rachel for giving a different perspective!

As to your post --

I wish I had something profound to share on this topic, but I'm just plain happy where I am.
I loved living away from Utah and I love living in Utah. I loved having friends as family and I love having my family as friends.
I love the neighborhood we're in now and feel it's unique. We don't have playgroups and such, but we do go out together on occasion (all different groups of couples/people). We don't have amazing ward parties, but we do love each other and help when help is needed. We don't know all of one anothers' business, but we all watch out for each other. That goes for LDS members, non-active LDS members, and neighbors of other faiths or no faith at all. We are a neighborhood before we are a ward and I love that. I love that I can be a total hermit homebody and not talk to anyone for weeks and then start up right where we left off without any weirdness. It's perfect for me.
But then, everywhere I've lived has been perfect for me, so I guess that just goes to prove my original point:
I don't really have anything profound to say.

Except, YAY KRIS!!!!!!!

Sara said...

i have loved making those kinds of friends here in missouri ... the "family" type friends. i never had friends like that in utah.

and i always say, when someone asks whether i like utah or missouri better, "you can be happy anywhere." and i think it's true. it's just always a choice and sometimes it's easier than others.

Cardalls said...

I would hope when I share my faith and beliefs with someone they know the intent of my heart. It's not to manipulate or offend or even convert, it's to share something that is so sacred and important to me that I want to share with my good friend. We as LDS people are counseled to share our faith with others, but hopefully it's in a loving and kind way, in fact most of us DON'T share because we are afraid of offending others. We have neighbors who pretty much don't agree with us at all with regards to religious beliefs, they have proselyted to us at various times and we could have taken offense because of the way in which it was done. We have tried to be Christlike and just smile and thank them for sharing with us. We actually have a good relationship with them, they finally let their kids play with ours because they see we are good people. I think with maybe your friend and your Mom's friend, the delivery wasn't the greatest, but look at the intent.

Anonymous said...

Rachel,
I think that at some point, it just helps to give people the benefit of the doubt. If a friend gave me something from their religion, I'd probably just try to step into their shoes and trust their heart. A friendship requires give and take on both sides. If I were your friend, I would be hurt by how upset you are. I'd also wish that you would tell me kindly in person. Not to be snarky, but it can all go both ways, ya know?

Even *if* they did something you *think* is inappropriate, it doesn't help you or them for you to hold a grudge. Maybe your friend or your mom's friend doesn't see it as you do.

If you are really THAT upset, I think it's important to say something, kindly and clearly rather than just assuming she should just know how you feel, or silently simmering in anger or offense. That doesn't help you or anyone else.

Anne Marie said...

I LOVED reading this post. I can relate to so many of your feelings and questions. I feel like you captured my thoughts so well with your words. I grew up in the northeast but have lived in the west, midwest, and now the south (plus a summer spent on the Pacific Coast in between). Really, I feel like I've seen a lot of the U.S. and each place has felt very different for us as a family. Where we are right now is really not my favorite place we've lived, but with the economy being what it is, I just don't see us moving anytime soon (just grateful to have a job and not have to sell our house). We don't have any close friends as a couple (I do have a few friends myself, but my husband feels totally lost here). And, I wonder if part of that is just the fact that now we have four kids and it's so much harder to socialize. Either we have to get a babysitter or then we invite friends over and they have several kids and it feels like a zoo...fun, just not the same kind of socializing we could do when we just had two kids (like put movies on for the kids and play Settlers of Catan or Acquire or something). And, I think people just get busier as they have kids who are old enough to be in piano lessons and basketball games and scouts, etc. We, parents, are just more tired and feel happy to just sit on the couch on a Friday night instead of staying up late with friends. So, maybe part of it's that...more kids, less time and less energy for all your friends. Connecting with friends is one of the most important parts of our lives, and sometimes I do think that it's hard to find those people who listen and seem to understand us in the most significant ways. I have a sister who's lived all over the world with her family (Africa, Brazil, Europe, and all over the United States too), and I think it's been much less exciting and glamorous than she had hoped it to be. She's finally ready to come back and settle down in one place for a while. Anyway, I've been totally rambling. Sorry, but I hear my boys in my backyard, and I better find out what all the noise is about. Best wishes and good luck finding "home". It's a hard time in the history of the world to create such a thing. We're all so nomadic and often disconnected from our neighbors. Enough philosophizing...but I do love your blog's openness and honesty. Keep it up.

Anne Marie said...

Sorry to add more...my boys came back inside, and I thought of 2 more things. I've been in wards in Utah and outside of Utah (far more years spent away from Utah), and I would say one thing I've noticed...in a place where the LDS population is lower, the ward is generally tighter knit. I feel like each individual member is more likely to feel needed in the ward (okay, sometimes downright desperate...one ward we moved into in California had callings for us within 1, maybe 2 weeks of moving there...they seemed downright thrilled that there was an active family that had moved in). I know this is not the case everywhere, but much more often than not. And, then the quality of time with grandparents actually feels higher since moving away. I really do miss my kids having grandparents close, but I feel like the visits we receive or make give them great, focused time, whereas when we've lived closer, it sometimes feels like my kids are just part of a pack of grandkids. I know others may feel differently, but this has been my experience. I promise I'm done rambling:)

Cheryl said...

Anne Marie-
Wow! I loved your comments. Thank you so much for sharing --and for reading. You are welcome to come and ramble anytime. :)

Lizzie said...

Ok, so not to continue turning Cheryl's personal blog into a public forum, BUT...

I actually had an experience exactly like Rachel's "what if" scenerio.

At the end of highschool, I was presented with a parting gift from a very casual friend of a different Christian faith (I am LDS). She gave me a booklet on her faith and a beautiful cross necklace. Now, we of the LDS faith do not wear crosses. This was not the first time this girl had attempted to fellowship me into her faith. I was frequently invited to accompany her to her youth group activities, which I politely declined. I simply was not interested in changing religions, as I have a strong testimony of my own. However, I enjoyed her company at school, seeing as I grew up in a community where there were not a lot of religious teenagers.

Now, I could have chosen to be offended by her parting gift. In my religion, we do not wear crosses, so I could easily have chosen to see the necklace as either a slight on my own faith or a last-ditch effort to 'bring me to the light'. But like so many things in life, it's all in the interpretation. What did the cross really mean? Did she tie me down and force me to wear it? Did she throw a bag over my head, chain my hands behind my back, and drag me into a river for an impromptu baptism into her faith? No. She gave me a gift, and seeing as her faith was something she held dear, it was a gift from the heart.

So, to answer the hypothetical question, would I be offended: No, I was not. Did I wear the necklace? No. It's not something we do in our faith. But did I toss the necklace in the garbage, grumbling about how she should have known that we don't wear crosses, or theorize that she DID know that we don't wear crosses and was out to offend me? No. I actually kept it for a while before it got lost somewhere between the 8 moves in the last 8 years. It was simply a well-intentioned gift.

I think the root of the issue is that what is and what is not 'offensive' is highly subjective. Just becuase something offends you, does not make it offensive. But if it IS offensive to you, you have every right to that opinion. If someone does something to you that you find offensive, but it was intended to be unoffensive, a rational, mature adult can say "Excuse me, Person B, but despite your good intentions, I find that action offensive." . And if Person B is also a rational, mature adult, they can say "I am so sorry I unintentionally offended you. Now knowing that such action is offensive, I will not offend you again." Person B cannot be held at fault for offending you at first when they had prior knowledge of your discomfort, and their actions came with the best of intentions. Does that make sense?

Humans are complex creatures, and no two are exactly alike. It's unfair to assume that what you, or anyone for that matter, believe to be the correct social behavior and/or social rules is the same for everyone else. It's simply not true. Sure, there are some basic principles we all subscribe to, i.e it's rude to purposefully stomp on someone else's foot, but for everything else, it just about communication.

And of course, you will always find those too-pushy people in almost every segment of society. Mormons, Catholics, Buddists, Vegetarians, Hunters, Environmentalists, Mayonnaise-lovers (and this group is AWFUL! Seriously, guys, it's gross and it's bad for you. Stop trying to force it on me! I like being healthy!!), etc.

I think also, too many people (and this is in NO way aimed at you, Rachel, just the world in general) are too quick to be offended. SO many people are so callous these days, so quick to judge, always assuming the worst intentions of everyone. I'm not saying we all need to walk around in rose-colored glasses, but why not choose to be less critical, not so easily offended? Why not choose to assume the best in people, even when they may unintentionally act like idiots? Do we really need more things to stress about? I certainly don't.