Today’s guest post is from Jon G.
Like many of you, the fifth Sunday lesson in my ward was on Sabbath day stuff. That’s fine, and it troubles me not at all. In fact, I think that it would be of great benefit to make our Sabbath worship more meaningful.
However, we watched a clip of David Bednar addressing some general authority group talking about the demographic that most frequently leaves the church and he made a statement to the effect that if teenagers (the aforementioned group) leave the church it’s because of inadequate gospel teaching and living in the home. To me, this was nothing more than a serving of guilt-pie. But the kind that I’ve grown accustomed to ignoring.
But then I looked at my wife sitting next to me as she tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears of pain as she wrote a note to herself: “We said family prayer. We went to church. We did family home evening. We did weekly service projects during the summer and holiday season. We read scriptures, and my son left the church. WHAT ELSE CAN I DO? We taught him to think for himself. We taught him to ask questions and not accept easy answers to difficult questions. I taught him to use his agency. I would NEVER change that. Does he make choices that are different than the ones I might have chosen? Yes. But does that make those choices wrong? NO.”
Looking at my beloved suffer was more than I could bear, so I raised my hand.
I called Bednar’s statement “a steaming heap of guilt crap served up to parents who don’t know what to do with what is already on their plates.” I stated that I’m willing to grant Bednar good intentions, but sometimes hurtful statements are just hurtful statements. I said some other things, but in my emotional excitement, I don’t remember them.
The member of the stake presidency who was teaching the lesson tried to shut me down…maybe I was misinterpreting…maybe I misheard…maybe…
And then the craziest thing happened. As the brother from the stake was trying to close down what I was saying, someone else interrupted him and said, “Jon’s right. That’s what he [Bednar] said, and it’s garbage. God lost 1/3 of his kids, does that mean he wasn’t teaching and living the gospel well enough?”
Then the floodgates opened. Parents weeping. People that NEVER agree with me came up and touched me in a display of fellowship, with tears in their eyes, saying “if you haven’t lived it, you just don’t know.” Mothers saying that “the burden of guilt on top of everything else was too much weight to carry.” People saying that “we have to let go and let God be there.” “We need to trust in the savior and trust that God’s view is broader than man’s.” “We raise our children as best we can, then we let them go, loving them, giving them a place to return to that is safe should they need it, and letting them walk their own straight and narrow path, a path we all walk alone, with only the light of goodness and grace to lead us home.”
I cannot adequately state the feelings and power in that room. A group of saints took ownership of their faith for a moment. It was not a rejection of the teacher or Bednar so much as it was staking an individual claim to the grace of God.