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Last week the BYU Women's Conference was held with the Relief Society General Presidency leading the attendees in an exercise, that would seem pretty simple, and yet was shocking.
Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto presented a variety of situations and gave two options for how to respond, asking the audience to choose between them. For example:
“You see a young adult couple you know who are out on a date.”
Option A response: “It’s great to see you two. How are school and work going?”
Option B response: “Hey, do I hear wedding bells in the distance?”
The answer to this one (Option A) may seem fairly obvious, but as the exercise went on the choices became trickier.
What is interesting is that when reading this question, the OBVIOUS answer is Option A, and yet my whole entire life I have heard Option B. This is also the case when questions like:
- "So when are you having kids?" right after getting married.
- "When will you have kids."
- "Enjoy this time not having kids."
- "Why aren't you married yet?" when Single Adults attend Family wards
- "So when are you going on your mission?"
- "You've been dating for quite awhile."
These questions, which are very common to hear at Church and in the LDS culture, just showcase some of the behaviors that have been allowed to foster over the years. While these questions might have good intent, they can also be very insensitive.
I remember taking on a new job and meeting with my new boss. When we were talking we discussed family, my new wife, and our personal beliefs. I remember asking him if he children, in which he said no. I then asked when he was planning on having kids with his wife. He replied that he didn't know. I then made a passive joke that was in essence "well hey, must be nice having some peace and quiet at home."
Although this "joke" wasn't said in malice or to hurt, but instead it was said through "assumption." I assumed that him and his wife would or were thinking of having kids and that eventually they would have children. Why wouldn't they? They're Latter-day Saints and that's what we do?
Months later I found out that him and his wife had had a child who had died at birth, and since then have not been able to get pregnant. I felt terrible knowing that my questions, my jokes, and my assumptions during that conversation were just opening wounds and sad memories of his life.
The conversation to be more sensitive to other people's situation at first might make people say, "get over it," or "have thicker skin," but really what I think this cultural shift is happening with the Church is allowing us to be more like the Savior. He wouldn't want us to hurt individuals nor would he want us to disrespect them. The Savior would want us to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort."
So during this cultural shift in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask yourself if you're doing your part to open your arms and allow people into the fold.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!