Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Felt as if I Didn't Matter to You

Dear Bishop,

I remember sitting there as the shock and confusion set in. Waves of it. I had asked you offhandedly in the past, a few times, if you would be willing to listen to my Step 5 once I got to it. You knew my plans regarding my support person listening to my Step 5. I wanted to make sure I scheduled time with you, too. I didn't want to let it sit for too long. I didn't want to lose my courage once the time came; once I was ready to do what I knew I needed to do.

Each time I had mentioned it in the past, you had replied with, “what’s that?” I would smile and patiently answer the question again. I read from the ARP manual and explained what my part was. 

You asked, “so, what will I need to do?” 
“Just listen” was always my response.

I hope you can understand why I would be so overwhelmed with shock, confusion and hurt when I attempted to schedule my Step 5 with you. You told me you were already quite sure my confession was complete. You opened the manual to Step 5 and quoted: "Occasionally you may observe individuals in recovery meetings or in other situations who seem to rehearse continually their sins and shortcomings or the sins others have committed against them. They are always confessing but never finding peace." You then stated a grand assumption, that the only thing I was not complying with was not letting peace come into my life. 

I was put off to say the least. I felt I had truly humbled myself just by asking for you to simply listen to one of the hardest things I had ever done, Step 4 – making a fearless written moral inventory of myself. There I was doing my very best to follow this step to exactness: "Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs," and you would not listen to me.

How did you know my confession had been complete without listening to what I had to share? I don't understand that. I had confessed to you months and months before, yes, but I did not feel it had been complete. I wanted to experience the miracle of a complete confession, and you denied me that… my own bishop. You denied me something that the Church has created as a step to my healing. Why would you do that?

I felt as if I didn't matter to you. I felt like someone you didn't want to worry about, and that you wished I would just 'get over it;' just 'go away.'

Fortunately, God made me resilient and I did not let this roadblock hinder my progression. I contacted my stake president and explained the situation to him. He was understanding and compassionate. He not only agreed to listen to my Step 5, but he expressed genuine happiness to do so. He even told me he was grateful for the opportunity. 

Prior to sharing my Step 5 I was bound by shame and fear. But afterward, I felt like I was allowed to move on. Like the obstacles in my way had been removed, or at least made smaller. Maybe, I was made stronger. I felt like I had been unshackled; released from the bondage of my sins. It was then that I finally felt the peace you said I was denying myself.  

A week or two after meeting with my stake president, you approached me at church and asked if you could speak with me. Reluctantly, I agreed:

“I hope you don’t feel like I abandoned you for not listening to your Step 5” 
“I do, actually” 

You spoke more, I listened.  But before we ended, I'd remembered my stake president had encouraged me to make amends with you, reach, and ask to meet with you on a regular basis.  My fear of rejection was validated by your response:

"No, I don't feel it is necessary.  I have a lot of people I need to meet with.  But (hesitantly), I will meet with you if you want to."

Sadly, I no longer want to.  I've given up trying.

I feel sad that you don’t seem to be interested in assisting me in my recovery. Your resistance, and outright refusal to help me, has created a wedge between us; a wedge between me and you who represents my Savior. Fortunately, you aren't the only one who holds keys for me, and so I am still able to call on His atoning power.

Addiction is real. Sexual addiction is real. Sexual addiction among LDS women in your own congregation is real. As Elder Bednar said in the most recent General Conference, “Serious spiritual wounds require sustained treatment and time to heal completely and fully.” Step 5 was a huge part of that treatment and healing. I wish you would see that.

Sincerely,

A frustrated daughter of God in need of Priesthood support

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"