Monday, March 22, 2010

The good and bad of living passionately...

Yesterday, I did a stupid, immature, and inappropriate thing. Something happened that I don't think I've ever done before. Maybe I'm just a pathetic "drama-queen", but I couldn't take it anymore. I stormed out of Priesthood Meeting, and not quietly, slamming the door behind me on the way out! I'm not sure how I can go back (at least not immediately) and I'm in the quorum leadership!

It really came down to the instructor (my neighbor that loves to push my buttons about homosexuality) belittling my comment that I made pointing out a different position than he was espousing, and then telling me that I should "listen better" and maybe then I would correctly understand.

Passion is a great way to live! I feel passionate about many things, including my beliefs in gospel principles. But, like any great passionate person, the good passions (love, affection, connecting and caring, risking etc.) are countered with bad passions (anger, combativeness, ease to take offense, etc.). I feel and am grateful to have feelings! Much rather be a feeling person than a non-feeling lump.

But why now? Why did I explode, and do so so dramatically? I can't help but feel my insecurities of who I am are at the foundation of this personal battle I have with this particular instructor.

I couldn't sleep last night... so I wrote the following to the group leader:

Dear Brother ________:

I've had a rotten Sunday! I've allowed what happened at Priesthood Meeting today to fester within me and I'm still feeling upset about it, and I can't get to sleep without unloading, so I'm going to unload on you.

First of all, regarding "passion", I guess it can be a good thing and a bad thing. I've learned from experience that as passionate as I am about some things in a good sense, I've also got a bad temper and I allow my passion to overwhelm me in a bad sense, too. I recognize this and am trying to curb my taking offense so easily - obviously I've got a lot to still work on.

But I am currently feeling like I am more of a liability to you than an asset. My dramatic exit from the quorum meeting was immature and inappropriate. I know that. Yet, it was how I felt at the moment. You see, I've had run-ins with Brother______ several times in the past, and every time I come away with feeling like I was made to be stupid or feel inferior, and he coming off as omniscient and superior. His arrogance and superiority push my buttons and I erupt. I am sorry for that. What I am not sorry for is being told that what I feel passionately about, having felt the Spirit personally teach me in my personal scripture study, is not of value, and that I should "listen better" to his instructions. This is insufferable. Many times with lessons in the past I have felt to say something but bit my tongue. I guess I should have bit harder this time.

That said, I know I am in the wrong. I am the one that lacks humility. I am the one who takes things too seriously. I am the one who doesn't see the humor in such exchanges. As such, I don't know that I feel like I can stand in front of the brethren with any kind of authority as part of the group leadership, and I feel unworthy or unable to do so. Maybe it is time for me to move on and slip into the back row or disappear from quorum discussions all together. I don't know... maybe after conference if I conduct in April, all will be forgotten and we just move on. Fortunately, I'll be out of town next time that Brother______ teaches so that gives me two months to heal my bruised pride and ego.

Bottom line... I'm sorry for my outburst, but I'm not sorry for feeling passionate about things.

Thanks for listening,

I can't help but feel that something has changed within me. I'm a fighter, but good grief, I've got to pick better battles...


str8ontilmorning said...

I nearly walked out of stake conference - so I hear you. I think your e-mail was generally good, too. Hopefully things will settle out a bit.

Scott said...

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

("Defying Gravity", from Wicked)

(Your last couple of lines brought the song to mind--it's one of my favorites) :)

Anyway... Possibly your reaction was inappropriate...

But it's also possible that it's exactly what was needed to help someone--or more than one--in the group open their mind and realize that we can think for ourselves, and that we can get our own answers to prayers, and that "pray, read your scriptures, and be a good boy" might work for every softball question in sunday school, but that it doesn't answer all of the questions in real life.

You never know what good might have come from it. (And you might never know). At any rate, you've at least demonstrated to the instructor that his words have a real effect--and not always a good one. Possibly that won't make any difference, but maybe he'll think twice before his next belittling comment.


Abelard Enigma said...

I do want to disagree with you on one thing - I'm not convinced you were wrong or took things too seriously. Priesthood quorum meeting is supposed to be a brotherhood - nobody should ever be made to feel stupid or inferior. If anyone was wrong, it was brother _________.

A couple of things struck me as odd from your account - although perhaps you didn't provide all of the details

* nobody followed you out to make sure you were all right

* nobody called after to make sure you were OK

If both of those are true then, frankly, it doesn't speak very highly of your quorum members. Even if you were wrong and just acting silly, you were still a brother who needed a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on - and nobody responded to your need.

If I had been there with you - I would have followed you out - and then slammed the door - twice - just for impact.

btw, Scott's comment reminded me of something I posted a couple of years ago.

Beck said...

STR8: Yes, things will settle out a bit in the end... but right now it still is bugging me that I can't seem to let it go.

SCOTT: I didn't think about it that way, but I guess I took a leap - not sure it was a good leap to take, though. Whether it made a good point or had an effect of positive reinforcement for each other even if we disagree - remains to be seen. But, I do hope that he will think twice before belittling again...

Beck said...

"... nobody followed you out to make sure you were right..."

That is correct. No one! I wasn't expecting it really, and I'm actually glad because if someone had tried to contain me I probably would have wrestled right then and there.

We have priesthood first in the block, and so instead of leaving the building, I moved straight into Sunday School and no one approached there either, or after Sacrament Meeting.

"... nobody called after to make sure you were okay..."

No... nobody. Maybe they were scared to do so? Maybe I was so rude it was best to just leave me be? But, I thought I'd get a call from the group leader or a friend or two. But, no... nothing. Hopefully I'll get a response from the group leader, but I'm a big boy... I don't need to be coddled.

BTW, your comment of following me out and slamming the door TWICE has put a smile on my face! Thanks, my friend.

Beck said...

P.S. I did receive a note passed to me in Sunday School that was written by a recently activated couple that obviously sensed something.

It read: "Your passion for the gospel is contageous. Much appreciated!"

The wife came up afterward and gave me a hug! That hug from someone who has had recent major testimonial trials was the only one - and she wasn't even there - she just felt inclined to reach out.

I don't expect much from my "brethren".

recover and thrive said...

I think sometimes you just need to storm out and its ok - I wanted to once a few months ago, and wish I did -I held my tongue (which is all too easy for me) - but at times I regret being so complacent -so I think your behavior at least stirs up some conversation - which is much needed in the church

str8ontilmorning said...

Storming out doesn't have the same oomph for me, since I regularly have to get up with Ginta and Marko being in diapers (although Ginta looks to be graduating finally!).

If I were in the same position as you, Beck, I'd totally have done it.

Sean said...

I wouldn't worry about it too much. Yeah, you could have done it in a better manner. But from the sound of the whole situation, the guy was seriously offensive and not respectful of others' opinions. He is not being Christ-like at all. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Anyways, I don't think you should be out of the leadership because you lead the group by leaving. If anything, I think that it showed that people need to be a little bit more respectful of others' opinions so things like this do not happen again. Maybe that's just me though. You showed that it is improper to belittle and attack others' opinions. If that's not leading, I don't know what leading is then. ;)

Ned said...

We had a guy storm out of Quorum a few years ago and it had the effect of sensitizing all of us to his issue. (He'd been hurt by a Bishop who refused to help him when he was unemployed and we were having a discussion about welfare and he just couldn't stand ithe pain it was causing him anymore, so he stormed out.) So perhaps, like in our case, your action will actually be viewed as a good thing when put in perspective.

In the meantime...big Beck-like hug to you. And then another one. And then one after that. And then a smile. And another hug. That's what I'd give you in person if it were possible.

So hang in there my dear friend. This, too, shall pass.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I don't know that I agree you were in the wrong, either. I would have had to have been there. However, I think church should be a place where we go to worship, learn, and grow. Perhaps this brother lacks the humility you accuse yourself of lacking because of his superior attitude. And perhaps it's good for him to know that his behavior can be offensive. Like I said, I wasn't there, so I don't know, but sometimes I think it's good to rock the boat a bit.

robert said...

Boats need to be rocked from time to time to test their sea worthiness...In AA meetings every now and then a person will say something about how much they hate AA and everyone in the room and God, etc. The common group reaction is to just smile and someone says "keep comin' back". I love that. It just means we are all distorting everything all of the time there is no "right" way to be.

Bror said...

Your neighbor can go to hell as far as I am concerned. :) I am proud of you.

Beck said...

R&T: I hope it can be seen as a stirring up. Sometimes, particularly with a priesthood quorum discussion, complacency is the norm. I hope we can all move on in a positive stirred up way!

SEAN: I'm over it and moving on. I've been told by my next door neighbor (not the belittling one down the street), that the offending instructor was corrected by the group leader and was asked to apologize to me. That was comforting to know, but so far, no apology and frankly I don't want one - for it's done and I've moved on.

NED: Big Beck-hugs back to you my friend. I know you'd have been there with Abe following me out the door! :)

CODY: I agree that the occasional rocking-the-boat is called for at times, and I'm obviously more than willing to be the instigator of the rocking, but I need to also realize that too much rocking makes everyone seasick - so all in stride.

ROBERT: This seaworthiness analogy is catching on! I think the quorum is still seaworthy as a whole. We'll see next week what ribbing or jabbing I receive or whether my eyes and "his" connect and we are able to still be brothers.

BROR: Don't go that far! I don't wish ill of him, but I do want some kind of correction taken in his approach to his teaching in the future. Going to hell is nothing any of us want - I know you're just being emotional like me and I appreciate your "passionate" support!

Beck said...

For what it's worth, I received two responses - one from the quorum leader and one from a ward friend:

"Storming out of the class may not have been the best approach, but I think it served an important purpose. I was uncomfortable with (his) handling of the lesson and superior attitude and I think many of the brethren were. I was proud of you for speaking up and I was not proud of (his) arrogance. I felt like he drifted or drove off the main issues intended in the lesson, and had a discussion with him to that effect, and his behavior, following the meeting. I have had similar feelings at times in the past. He seems to recognize the error of his ways—we shall see.

In the meantime, don’t lose any sleep over it. It was an appropriate time to be passionate. You are in NO WAY a liability; I very much appreciate all you do and our friendship."

And this one...

"I really hope you aren't beating yourself up too much. Actually I applaud you for being willing to challenge him. I wanted to, because I also strongly felt he was leading the discussion into territory that should never have been discussed in a priesthood setting, but I did not do it because I feared the consequences. As you said, he can be a very intimidating person especially when being challenged. Here we are setting by a newly activated brother whom we are trying to get to the temple and our instructor is teaching that the temple ceremony is structured to teach us what the brethren want us to hear and not actually as the scriptures teach. That simply should not happen. I wish I felt confident enough to have said something directly to (him) myself. So I guess in a way you are feeling some remorse for acting/speaking out and I am feeling remorse for setting there and saying nothing. Anyway, as for being a liability, I personally appreciate your thoughts and I know that you do not speak without first putting in the effort to have a personal conviction about what you are teaching/speaking. I do not see you as a liability at all. I encourage you not to dwell on what others may be thinking or feeling about this. None of what they may or may not be thinking really matters. What I saw was a person with strong feelings and testimony challenge an instructor with a strong feelings and testimony. I do not believe you need to address anything to the priesthood body and I certainly do not feel you should let this be a reason to be released. Quite the contrary, I suspect you were the voice for many of us feeling the same way. Carry on good Brother and never stop being the (man) we all know and respect. We are all taught to have our feet firmly planted in the gospel and its teachings. Who knows one day someone who was in that meeting just might use this as an example of that very courage and strength we are supposed to have. You're a good man with a heart in the right place and you have a great family. Life doesn't get any better than that."