I have, recently, been the recipient of many re-activation efforts from members of the Mormon Church. I have not been attending since July, and this is the first real wave of "please come back, we miss you" that I've seen. For example:
My Visiting Teaching companion, who has said maybe 6 words to me in the entire 3 years I was in the ward, and the sister missionaries, dropped by my house last week. Thankfully I wasn't home, so they stuck a note and a talk to my door. The note said: We miss you and hope to see you again soon. My mind was boggled that somebody who had rarely spoken to me can claim to miss me. Perhaps she missed my commentary? My amazing shoe collection? My incredibly dramatic makeup looks? I'm not sure, but I know she couldn't have missed me, as a person, because SHE DIDN'T KNOW ME.
I helped a lady from the ward (who is a friend) clean her house before she moved last Saturday. The Relief Society President was there, along with one of my more liberal church friends. My friend and I ended up discussing women's ordination, our views of God, Wicca, Mother God, and a lot of other things. It was nice, because when I said that I was done with the Christian God and that I was happier than I had ever been, she didn't condemn. She was happy that things were going well.
However, the Bishop called the next day. First time he's ever called me. I'm not kidding. My husband answered the phone, and told him (politely, because my husband is a very nice man) that we weren't interested. He told him this 3 times. Then the Bishop asked if we were offended in any way. My husband replied that our being done with the church had nothing to do with offense, and that we want to be left alone.
I'm unsure how to feel about these re-activation efforts.
First, I'm a bit annoyed that it took this long. Seriously, it's been 5 months. Where was all that concern 4, even 3 months ago, when I could have used it? I understand that it's a big ward, and there are lots of people and needs, but if you're going to drop a note by my house telling me that I'm loved and cared about, perhaps showing that while I was attending should have been a priority.
Second, I'm annoyed. 5 months. It should be clear that I am done. My Facebook status clearly shows that I no longer consider myself a member. We've stopped paying our 10% in tithing. If I'm asked to attend an activity, I say "I'm not interested." Sometimes I just want to scream "TAKE A HINT AND BACK OFF!"
Third, the hypocrisy is driving me bonkers. One of the reasons I left was because I felt socially isolated and shunned, because I had (very loud) differing opinions than most people in the ward. People would literally look away if I made eye contact. And yet I'm getting notes and emails telling me that I'm loved and missed. Sometimes by the very people that couldn't look at me! It's mind-boggling how they don't see this as wrong!
Fourth, I'm grumpy that very few people want to hear my real reasons for leaving. Outside of my therapist (who gets paid to listen to my reasons), my husband (who is my sounding board), and my aforementioned friend, people just want me to say that I was angry about a little thing, and am coming back. They don't want to feel like I have legitimate concerns. They don't want to acknowledge that my experiences, while possibly different, are valid.
The funny thing is, I've been on the other side of the re-activation table. I've sat at a table and said "Oh, yeah, I'll send her a card, so she knows we care." From where I am now, I can see how incredibly...stupid that is. I don't have statistics, but I'm sure most people don't leave because they don't feel loved. It might be a factor, but what I know now is that leaving is complicated.
My therapist -who is Mormon, incidentally-said that most people leave for either doctrinal reasons (like they hear about polygamy or the Book of Abraham), or cultural reasons (can't fit into the narrow mold). Sometimes it's both reasons. Sometimes it's neither. But the point is, people leave for lots of different reasons, and no amount of cards or visits will change that.
I had thought, for a long time, about what my concise answer would be when I'm asked why I don't go to church anymore. It's all well and good for me to have a laundry list, but people don't want to hear it. So I've been racking my brains for a Cliff's notes version. This Saturday, I finally thought of it. It just popped out of my mouth when I was asked why I hadn't been attending church.
"The church doesn't have my heart, my mind, or my soul. And this is not a discussion."