Though we've been taught these principals in Sunday School and though our heads might know, sometimes our hearts and personal experiences blind us from truly believing. We get so caught up in the moment of our own personal struggles and anguish we sometimes don't have the energy to realize that these myths we've come to feel and believe are harmful and keep us from receiving the healing we need.
I love the quote of Winston Churchill, when his Conservative Party was voted out of office and his wife suggested it could be a blessing in disguise. Churchill (paraphrasing) quipped, “If so, the disguise is perfect.”
And sometimes life offers us circumstances that truly do look one way, yet are entirely the opposite. I’ve found at least five situations in our church, which are impeccably disguised:
1. The ward is full of perfect members.
I hear this frequently from those reluctant to attend. They have somehow concluded that all the families at church are intact, inimitable, and infallible. All they see are happy couples stroking one another’s backs during Sacrament meeting, obedient children smiling up at their parents, and folks dressed to the nines, clearly blessed in every way imaginable. No addicts, no liars, no depressed folks, nobody lonely or disillusioned, no one grieving, nobody broke, nobody divorced, nobody struggling. And I want to say– no shout– “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do you need your eyes examined? Are you hallucinating?”
But, of course, I don’t say any of these things. Each ward is filled to overflowing with problems—just ask any bishop, who weekly sees “pain in every pew.” Every individual and every family struggles, often in multiple ways at once. If we were perfect, we’d be translated beings.
We’re there because we’re imperfect and we’re trying to repent, renew our baptism covenants, and be nourished by what we hear and the people we meet. We’re all striving, getting knocked down, and then getting back up again. If any of us come off as Mary Poppins (“practically perfect in every way”) it’s the magic act of the century. So I explain that every problem they’re facing has been faced before, and that people at the ward will rush in to help them both from faith and experience. The illusion of perfection is a mirage. As the Welsh proverb goes, “If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings.”