Sorry for our recent silence. We promise more content soon.
I absolutely detest visits to inactives. I hate it. I had an experience a couple weeks ago where I skipped church (not for the first time, I’ll admit) and found the Elder’s Quorum Presidency at my door, waking me up from a nap. I wrote a post about this, but didn’t put it up on the basis that it was too bitter and just made me madder and madder. But, I would ask you to consider the following:
I had worked until 5 AM the previous night.
I live in the athletic dorms here at OU. You have to be a resident with a valid ID to even get in the door. So, they waited for someone, snuck in, and then knocked my door.
They tried to call first, but got no answer (you know, since I turn my phone off when I sleep after working ALL THE LIVE-LONG NIGHT!). Either I’m not available or I’m specifically avoiding you. Which one justifies bothering me?
But I’m not bitter.
I don’t really resent the EQP for caring. I do resent him doing something that he knows I won’t respond well to. So, last Sunday I talked to him about it and let him know that spiritual nagging isn’t appreciated on my end. I was quite charitable and I feel the conversation went well. The guy’s still trying to be my best friend, but I don’t think he’ll be doing any pop-ins in the future.
All of this makes me think…..I can’t be the only one with a problem with this. I used to be EQ secretary. I’m currently one of the ward executive secretaries. Point is, I’ve made these visits. I’M MAKING THESE VISITS. Mike, our esteemed co-blogger from whom we never hear (passive aggression meter: 4.5/10), likened this scene unto “Singles Ward”, where the guy “knows all their tactics”. And I certainly do. I’ve done and am doing the same things they are. Aside from the hassle that it was, it’s an insult to my intelligence. I know what’s going on. It’s just a little transparent when the EQ presidency shows up in suit and tie an hour after church. They didn’t just come by to chat. They came to interview.
Webster’s dictionary defines interview as: “1. A conversation between an inquirer and an inquiree in which the dialogue takes the primary form of questions and answers. 2. Any conversation in which a Mormon that thinks him/herself to have a stewardship judges you. 3. Any conversation in which a Mormon judges you. 4. Any conversation with a Mormon at church. 5. Any conversation with a Mormon.”
I do personally resent the EQ president for reasons external to this. He’s a good person that does things in ways that just make me simmer. We’re very different people and I’ll leave it at that. His counselors, as near as I can tell, are good kids that are trying to do their job and just don’t know any better.
So, you say, why is D-Train making visits like this when he hates them with a purple passion? The answer is that I’m a hypocrite. Pure and simple. I hate it and I do it to other people. I think it’s wrong for other people to do it to me and I do it to other people.
But there is a silver lining: I’m really conflicted over it. If it were just up to me, I’d talk to these people and say: “Look, you know why I’m here. You know that I’m here to ask you to come to church. I do honestly want you there and think you should come. But I also know that you didn’t just forget to come to church for six months. I know that you know that I’m here because your name is on a list and not because I’m in any position to offer you advice. Please come back, but I’ll understand if you don’t. I don’t like it all the time either. I believe the Book of Mormon and the Bible to be the word of God. Please read something from one or the other every day and pray about what the Lord would have you do in your own life. Here’s my number and please call me if you ever need or want anything. I’ll probably be back in a few months, but I won’t get mad if you don’t answer the door.”
And I’d go in a T-shirt and jeans. I know that you probably think that’s pretty callous or cold or whatever. And it might well be. But here’s the point that I want to get across: these visits really are pretty transparent. Even when you sincerely mean it (and I have, on a couple of occasions), the people that you’re trying to help know why you’re there, even if what they know isn’t really what’s going on. Above all, I just hate nagging people. For the most part, people can make their own decisions.
I’m sure these visits help some people. As I said, I’ve made a few visits that I felt really good about. The Spirit was there and they did help. But I’ve made a lot more where it’s obvious that even when we really cared about doing it and doing it to serve our brother or sister, they just did not want us there. When people don’t want you in their lives, you only make them more bitter by pushing your way in.
I don’t have an easy answer. I’ll probably just keep making the visits even though I don’t want to, seeing as the alternative is to give up my calling entirely (I have to go with a bishopric member, which means I can’t even introduce a hint of the above on my own initiative). I totally understand if any of you think I’m just a jerk or an apostate. But, I can’t help but think of how I felt when I opened that door and saw the EQP, knowing full well what he wanted. I have to believe that for people that are actually inactive, that feeling can be a million times worse. If nothing else, let’s leave the ties at home. Let’s at least pretend that we’re just regular guys coming by to check on a friend. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what we actually are. We just need to work on putting on a decent show of it.