Most Church members appreciate the courage of those who come to church who may be different or struggling with heartbreaking challenges. We want to reach out and show our love, but sometimes social awkwardness or lack of experience keeps us from truly reaching out and relating. How can members and those who don't want to go to church anymore both get over this divide that separates us? That's something the Unconquerable Soul tackled in this powerful article:
In church, we don’t discuss much [beyond common problems]. We don’t often talk about how we have been doubting certain parts of the gospel. We don’t talk about how we might struggle with divorce, sexual issues, infidelity, porn, alcoholism, or drug addiction or the fact that we have few friends. We don’t talk about how our kids might have been sexually abused or that they might be homosexual or that they were sent home early from a mission. Many people who attend church regularly don’t personally struggle with these issues. But many do. And they often suffer in silence. These are issues within the church that we don’t talk about.
There are logical reasons why we don’t talk about these things. They aren’t typically common issues for active LDS members. And also, we don’t want to talk about them too much so that our youth conclude that “well they did that and they turned out to be fine”. So to some degree, I understand our silence and lack of depth. But there is more. There is an entire realm that we just don’t even touch. And it has to do with everyone who isn’t there with us at church.
Mostly in the church, we stay within our own little circle. It’s comfortable. We’re familiar with the Mormon culture. Those who go to church are often more like us than those who don’t go. For Utah and Idaho members, extended families live relatively close by, so instead of spending significant amounts of time with friends, members are often to be found hanging out with their family. All. The. Time. This is great. It’s a wonderful thing. Family is one of, if not THE, greatest blessings.
But as I sat in Relief Society one day, listening to everyone talk about their problems, a thought occurred to me. Yes, but what about everyone else? What about everyone who’s not here? Those are the ones who are really struggling. Sure, we all have our problems, but at least we have the Gospel and we have each other. We have a support network.
What about those who are sitting at home right now in a drunken, sobbing stupor? Whose friends and family have given up on them? What about those who smoke ten packs a day and feel like there’s no more hope left for them because they’ve done too much damage? What about the returned missionary who can’t stop having sex, who doesn’t want to come to church anymore because he feels stupid or because he thinks everyone knows what he did? What about those who refuse to come because they think we hate gays or because they think we don’t empower women? What about those who are truly, truly hurting and confused? Why is it that we only stay within our little circle?