“Jesus hates your jeans.” An ode to church leadership.

I was hurt and sad tonight, but this post is not at all to hate on anyone specific or the church at large, even though this is about a very specific conversation I had tonight with someone representing the church. I hope with this post someone in that seat I was in feels understood and heard and I hope someone in the opposite seat as me thinks about things differently.

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Temple recommends. Temples are beautiful and I love them. I love the ceremonial aspect of it all and how ‘not in the world’ it is inside those blessed walls and I love to sit in the celestial room. I’ve had so many good experiences and I feel like I’ve grow closer to my Savior when I go to the temple and am able to find peace and comfort when I am super down and sad. I’m grateful I get to go and it’s part of my life to live worthy to be there. The LDS church only allows members abiding by the church rules and commandments and those that can answer the questions of the temple recommend to obtain a pass to enter. These questions are about faith, your commitment to the church, your habits with alcohol and premarital sex, if you’re honest, and other things of that nature. First you meet with the Bishop, the leader over the congregation that you go to, and then you meet with your Stake President, the leader over multiple congregations. Then you have a recommend for a few years before it expires and you go meet with leadership and answer the questions again.

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This last 15 months, I have probably only been in the country 4 of those. It’s been crazy and I feel tired and like I just want to eat salads all the time when I’m home (those are hard to safely come by in the third world). When I was in the Philippines this last January, I had already been a lot of places and I was behind back at home.  I had a really rough couple days where I was feeling inadequate and unsure about life and work and just all the things – one of those “the world hates me days”. One of my favorite things about being Mormon is the world wide church that makes me feel at home everywhere I go. The lessons are the same in every congregation all over the world. The leader is the same. The buildings are the same. You have an immediate family and help, and it has been such a blessing for me as I travel. I knew there was a temple close by where I was staying in the Philippines,  so I went to it that evening, and it was exactly what I needed. More so than anything else, I needed the renewal and peace of the temple and the calm and clarity I immediately felt as I entered and went through the ceremony.  While I was there, one of the temple workers pointed out that my recommend was going to expire soon and I made plans in my head to renew it as soon as I was home.

 

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In between the Philippines and my next trip I was in the US of A for only a couple days. One of which was Sunday where I met with my Bishop and got the first part of my recommend. I wasn’t able to get the second part unfortunately, and was really sad about not being able to visit the Fijian temple while I was there. Fiji was crazy with the recent cyclone that hit and it was a busy few weeks. When I got home a couple days ago, I realized that I had somehow lost the first part of my recommend from my Bishop, which brings us to today. Today was fairly hellacious. My main coworker is gone again (we tag team in and out of the country a lot), I have 800 emails (I wish I was exaggerating that), And I have piles of clothes and stuff from the last three trips I’ve taken that I haven’t had time to unpack. (Update* I’m traveling because I work for a non-profit that focuses on aid relief in natural disasters and international development – www.help-international.org – I didn’t think anyone but my mom would read this who knows why I travel… not trying to sound pompous… )

It was a day full of stress, feelings of inadequacy, homesickness for my wonderful mom and dad that always make things better, and the sadness of always being behind. Also no one ever thinks I’m home, so sometimes when I first get home the lack of friendship I feel is also sad, even though I know that’s not really true and I have people in my life that care about me. Don’t Satan and bad feelings just suck? Bottom line, I want to go to the temple. At 6pm I was really sad I didn’t have a recommend and in between doing a million things I stopped by to see if our Bishop was in his office at the church. I was wearing jeans, strappy sandles, and a long sleeve crew cut shirt and I wondered if it was okay if I was there. I had been told that there was institute (a casual dress Sunday school class during the week)  going on and I could just stop by Tuesday nights, so I hoped that since I was just going to have him copy things over from the record from my old interview it would be okay. I remember my parents having us dress up for tithing settlement and other meetings with the Bishop, but I just didn’t have time to go change and I was so stressed out and behind and I didn’t feel like it would be a big deal. Luckily he was there! He copied my info over and gave me the first half. We chatted about basic things and he asked me how Fiji was. I don’t get to come to my home/Utah church congregation very often and just feel lucky he knows my name. I was so excited that it worked that when I saw the Stake president’s office open too I asked if there was someone who could give me the second half of the recommend. They ask you the same questions and then sign it and you’re good to go! One of the members of the Stake Presidency whom I had never met said yes and took me to a room so he could ask me the personal temple recommend questions.

We sat down and he turned to me: “Sister Whitehead, I’m glad you are here getting your recommend. Do you know who these questions are from?”

Me: “Umm… God?”

Him: “That’s right. God. God and Christ run the church. They want us to ask you these questions to make sure you are fit to enter Their house. So this isn’t an interview with me or anyone else – it’s with you and God. Do you understand that?”

Me, kind of confused at why he was telling me all this: “Um, yes.” 

Him, rather smugly like he had just caught me in a trap: “Do you think you would so casually approach the Savior?”

This caught me off guard. Super off guard. Honestly, I had completely forgotten I wasn’t wearing a dress. I just wanted a temple recommend. I immediately felt incredibly embarrassed as he stared me down. I don’t think I’ve ever been reprimanded for anything ever. I’ve always been a church rule follower and suddenly I realized that all the fluff about this interview not being with him was only to put me in my place where I would feel guilty and bad for what I was wearing as if I didn’t respect Christ enough rather than him wanting me to know this was a symbolic Q&A with God. I thought immediately of my Savior. All of the church movies and posters collided into a vision of Him and I thought about walking into this room to see Him instead of this man. I thought about times in my life when I have symbolically really needed to come to Christ and what a wreck I was at those times and how I never waited to be “dressed up and put back in order” for Christ but came to Him as is. I thought of my Dad. I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with my Heavenly Father from my wonderful relationship with my earthly father and suddenly I felt homesick and sad and remembered how all growing up he always let me know I could come to him. He told me if I messed up, if I got drunk, if I was in a bad place, I could always come to him or call and he would treat me with love and come get me. Although I was a good kid growing up, I had so much confidence that if anything happened and no matter what choices I made, he was there for me. My dad taught me that He was also there for me. This man in this suit didn’t know me. He didn’t know I was barely in the country a couple days and was super behind, going through a lot today, and hadn’t planned on being here, and hadn’t even had time to eat lunch or dinner yet and just wanted to go to the temple in the morning. He didn’t know my relationship with my Savior.

Me: “Yes, I would.”

Him, eyebrows raised and not hiding his shock: “OH! Well…. no one has answered like that before. Most people understand how they should humbly approach the Savior in their best dress.” 

I stared at him staring at me and felt so sad for everyone who has sat in an interview and felt judged. Felt like they were being put on the spot and made to feel small, talked down to rather than the accepting, loving community that I know is what Christ would want us to feel. I thought of my friends who have left the church. The ones who feel like the church is against them, that church leaders are offensive and not understanding or caring enough. I felt the pain of people that have sat in the seat before I sat there and tears started to build in my eyes.  I remembered stories people have shared with me about not being able to answer questions for their interviews and the anguish it brought them or trying to repent and having a hard time talking to their priesthood leaders. As I started to cry, the man started to look uncomfortable. I stared at him with a few tears starting to creep down my face and then I felt strength. I felt an outpouring of God’s love for me and for the people that would come after me that maybe weren’t as strong or as sure as I was.

Me: “I can come back if you think I’m being disrespectful like this.”

Him: “Oh! Well….No. let’s just go through these.” My tears and solid stare were making him uncomfortable. “You don’t have to leave. I mean, sometimes we make people leave and go change… but since you’re here let’s just do it.”

Me: “No, no I think if you feel so passionately about it I can go and just do this on Sunday when I’m in Sunday dress.”

Him: “No, I’ll just ask you the twenty questions. I’m just doing what I’m told. I didn’t mean to make you feel guilty or bad or offend you. In a few questions I’m going to tell you how much God loves you and how special you are.”

Me: “I don’t need you to tell me I’m special. I know God loves me. And I know God loves me whether or not I am in jeans or Sunday best. And I get that there are policies and best practices, and I’m sorry I’m not dressed appropriately but you can’t talk to people like that – it hurts.” And immediately all the feelings I’ve wanted to say to the church leaders I hear in stories that push and hurt people away from the church came out and as I cried I just wanted to help him not hurt people who sat in this seat next. “What are some better ways you could have gotten that point across to me?”  We talked about maybe just doing the interview if he wasn’t going to make me go change and then having a loving conversation about it afterwards after we’ve already talked and established a relationship between us. I told him for all he knows I don’t have a skirt or something and he should seek to understand why I’m not in a skirt before he just assumes I’m out disrespecting God on purpose. We talked about maybe just contacting my bishop so he could have the Relief Society touch on it in a lesson and explain the principle. He could have just told me when I had walked into the office that folks needed to be in Sunday best to get an interview for a temple recommend. I told him about my friends and people I know who are leaving the church and how it’s the feelings of nonacceptance that really drive people away. How starting our interview off like that without even knowing me or my situation wasn’t creating acceptance or love or community and how you can get people to change or adjust without telling them they aren’t humble enough or respectful enough etc etc.

I answered the questions and then he handed me my recommend and then I left. I know some of you reading this probably think I’m stupid for going to a temple recommend interview in jeans and then stupid for being upset when they tell me that’s not appropriate. But this was more than that. It was the delivery, the way that things were said, the way I was caught off guard, the way I wanted to walk up and not come back, the memories of other people’s stories, and the sadness I felt when I feel like God let me feel how others may have felt in similar situations. I know that man is probably super nice and someone’s favorite grandpa, and I’m not mad at him. But I guess the take aways are this:

1) It’s a choice to be offended. I felt sad and hurt and I know that we can’t control our feelings, and I feel like I was justified in feeling the things that I did, but we can always choose how we react to our feelings (If I could have said feelings in that sentence again I would have. Feelings.) In the end, I know that what he said and the bad feelings I felt weren’t true. I know God loves me and I don’t really think He cares about small things like jeans vs a skirt. I think He cares a lot more about my testimony. Do I think it is asked of us by our leaders to dress up? Sure. Do I personally believe it matters, no. There are some things I do because I believe that it is eternal doctrine and other things I do because I believe it’s being asked of us right now. Trying to run a church with this many millions of humans all with different weaknesses and needs has got to be hard. Be forgiving of people that they don’t understand the love of Christ rather than angry at them for being harsh and wrong. When you are offended or if someone is saying something wrong, speak up and protect people that may not be as strong as you. I get a few texts a month from Sunday school classes that start, “I wish you were here. You’ll never believe what this human is saying and I know you would stand up and say something.” Be the people to stand up when something is wrong. Tonight I felt embarrassed and upset and I wanted to just leave. But I stayed, felt supported by God, and then hopefully had a conversation with someone who will be talking to a lot more people that may need him to be more kind and understanding than he was with me tonight. Choose to feel and acknowledge your feelings, but also choose to forgive immediately and be strong to stand up for what is right.

2) Church leaders, be more kind. Accept first and then lead. Don’t correct before you know what’s going on. My mother always taught me that you can’t help anyone until you love them first and that has been the truest thing for me to live by. Be patient and kind with people as they work out their repentance and their answers to questions. Don’t say sweeping statements or tell people they just need to pray and read scriptures more and write them off. Seek to really love and understand people and then good changes will happen naturally. Please let people know they can stay in the church and we want them to stay, even if they can’t have recommends or if they aren’t doing things perfect or they have big doubts. We have to be better at building a community rather than a place for people to come once a week to mark it off their righteous checklist.

“36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 38 This is the first and great commandment.

 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

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For more beautiful temple pics check out: http://www.jarviedigital.com/

115 Comments Add yours

  1. Michelle Staudaher says:

    You amaze me sometimes. Very well written and honest. People are people and we have room to grow and learn even those in “authority”. Love you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thank you, Michelle! Love and miss you so much.

      Like

  2. Gillian Moss says:

    Suzanne this took a lot of courage to write. I’ve always admired your strength as an Latter Day Saint living in a hectic world. You live your religion, are compassionate and are an amazing example to all of us. I’m saddened you were treated this way. Thank you for writing this article. I hope those who read it will feel compassion the next time they are faced with any situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thanks, Gillian. I’ve always looked up to you and loved how real you are. You are one of the people in my life that I think of often! ❤

      Like

  3. Rebekah says:

    Love this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. K says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It both hurts and helps my heart to read it and know that there are others out there who feel and react and still try the way I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      ❤ Keep on keeping on

      Like

  5. Iain Banks says:

    To be honest, he was very much in the wrong. Stuff about the clothes that we wear is cultural Mormonism. If he referred to the Book of Mormon, he would find example after example of people being called out for being more concerned about fine clothes than sincere beliefs and actions. To say that we “must humbly approach the Saviour in our best dress” is not doctrine, and it is rejected in scripture. It is what is in our hearts that counts, not what we are wearing.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Cici DeWaal says:

    On a positive note about church leadership and jeans, there was a time I was traveling and hadn’t brought a skirt. I called the temple and said I really felt like I needed to come that day, but only had jeans, and asked if it would be possible for me to worship. The woman on the other end of the phone was so warm and said yes, of course I could come, and that I was needed.

    You’re right, we can do a better job about accepting other’s best. I’m glad that woman saw I was trying my best and was welcoming.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. szmclennan says:

      I agree and you made a good point. You called ahead, and gave them a heads up. That was fair. While I truly feel for Suzanne, I must admit I think we might want to look beyond others accepting us, but also recognize if we are putting them in an awkward position. If the bride showed up at a church in shorts and T-shirt running late regardless of her plight, would she just run in and start her walk. Not likely, she would more likely, recognize something is off to all groom and everyone else. Should she blame everyone for looking at her in disbelief if she just plowed ahead. Would she be right to expect the groom to just move on without any questions or suggesting a delay. Would he be unfeeling and hurtful. I don’t think so. She mentioned he didn’t know her. We live in a world where people will dress to the nines to go to a celebration or wedding, yet churches across the country are filled with people in flip flops, shorts, and all manners of casual dress, with the concept, that God loves them and he doesn’t care. I think the greater issue is should we take the stand he isn’t a loving God if that matters. More important is how we are affected when we reverence him in every way we can. Our experience is richer when we do. I guess the point was not about her unusual set of circumstances, but his thought of members of the church who push the casual line in the name of God loves us no matter what. I do need to get to bed at a reasonable time because it affects my time and preparations for the Sabbath. The standard has dropped in attire and he likely, felt he needed to address it, but unawareof her unique set of circumstances and clueless about an appropriate way to address it. He judged a book by its cover. Just saying a brief sentence to clue him in, such as I know I am not dressed for am interview today, but any chance I could squeeze one in. That would have addressed his concern of reverence immediately. I expect that interview would have gone in an entirely different direction. This is not to say people aren’t thoughtless and unaware of what they say and how it comes across. We all know the church is filed with people who need the great physician for one thing or another. Don’t get me wrong, I think we do need to take courage and speak up when there is a need. I have no doubt he feels horrible.

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      1. suzannemarie says:

        Someone on my Facebook commented something similar to what you wrote here. My friend Austin responded with this and I feel the same:

        “Sorry. You’re 100% wrong. Saying “you never should have put him in that position” is saying “it doesn’t matter what is going on in your life or how chaotic things are or what issues you might be dealing with – what really matters is what clothes you wear to an interview as opposed to what’s in your heart”.

        It’s ridiculous to assert that what someone is wearing to an interview accurately reflects what kind of person they are. Similarly, bishops and stake presidents are expressly forbidden from injecting their own views and opinions into the interviews – which is why they have to stick to the list of approved questions. There is no guidance from ANYONE suggesting that someone wearing jeans should be disqualified from their recommend interview and a leader who tried enforcing that policy would quickly find himself overturned.”

        When I stepped into his office to ask if an interview right then as I was headed back to work would be okay, he could have told me sure but I wold have to change first. I didn’t have a set appointment that I was being casual and disrespectful towards. And honestly, I never told him he was wrong or that I could wear what I wanted. You’ve missed the whole point. The point isn’t in what he was correcting it was how he was correcting.

        Like

    2. suzannemarie says:

      Love this comment. Thanks for sharing it, Cici!

      Like

  7. Tamara Springer says:

    Thanks for your honesty. I am a convert, and one time while doing temple baptisms I actually had came from work and was in pants and a shirt and jacket going into the temple! The temple patrons checked my recommend and let me walk right in, when I noticed how everyone else was dressed I felt horrible and foolish, but they all just smiled, totally welcoming. When we were able to get into our temple baptism clothes I felt so much better, but I was always amazed at the kindness and how non-judgmental the temple workers were.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Loved that you shared this. Thank you!

      Like

      1. Tina says:

        I’m am a temple ordinance working in the Laie HAWAII temple and we are instructed to NOT comment or tell any patron anything about how they are dressed when they come into the temple. If we witness something outrageous or very distracting we are to tell the temple presidency and they will decide if it is necessary to have a discussion with that person. There are many tourist that frequent the temple and sometimes the are on the north shore for other activities and they decide to come to the temple, and they are not dressed appropriately because their hotel is an hour away; the point is we never know why someone is dressed the way they are, so we are instructed to not comment; so we are never the ones to ruin someone’s potential spiritual experience. I think that speaks for how the Lord wishes that we are treated by his leaders.

        Like

  8. Lisa says:

    Really, just such a great commentary! I’m so glad that you are strong in your faith. I hope that the leader learned from you and will be better in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Caitlin says:

    Suzanne you are the one of the sweetest most sincere humans I have ever met. I love everything you wrote, and how well it was delivered. and….AMEN to all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I love you! ❤ ❤ ❤ Thanks for always being such a good friend to me.

      Like

  10. Wow, Suzanne! This was super powerful. I had a similar experience, in that I had to get a temple recommend that moment and I was running around late, trying to get everything done, extremely stressed, and simply forgot I wasn’t in church clothes. But I was there, and I was happy to be there. The stake president also made me feel extremely guilty and sad, despite the fact that I tried to explain to him why I came in the clothes I did. I still think about that to this day and wish he would have treated the situation differently. It was my first time getting my full temple recommend, and though it’s a happy memory–it’s also marked with those sad memories of judgment. He didn’t know my situation, as yours didn’t know your situation. I so wish I would have treated that experience like you did. To be honest, I’m sure if you were anywhere else in the world, they wouldn’t have batted an eye at what you were wearing, but would have welcomed you in with open arms. Sometimes, church members in Utah have a hard time differentiating between the true gospel truth and the culture surrounding the church. You are awesome for standing up for yourself and I loved this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Man, that sounds rough 😦 Especially your first time! I hope that with sharing more stories more leaders realize how impactful and hurtful their words can be and how there is kinder and more gentle way to guide and lead.

      Like

  11. Wow, Suzanne! This was super powerful. I had a similar experience, in that I had to get a temple recommend that moment and I was running around late, trying to get everything done, extremely stressed, and simply forgot I wasn’t in church clothes. But I was there, and I was happy to be there. The stake president also made me feel extremely guilty and sad, despite the fact that I tried to explain to him why I came in the clothes I did. I still think about that to this day and wish he would have treated the situation differently. It was my first time getting my full temple recommend, and though it’s a happy memory–it’s also marked with those sad memories of judgment. He didn’t know my situation, as yours didn’t know your situation. I so wish I would have treated that experience like you did. To be honest, I’m sure if you were anywhere else in the world, they wouldn’t have batted an eye at what you were wearing, but would have welcomed you in with open arms. Sometimes, church members in Utah have a hard time differentiating between the true gospel truth and the culture surrounding the church. You are awesome for standing up for yourself and I loved this!

    Like

  12. Kathryn says:

    There is a kids song (Veggie Tales) that I have always loved, and I can’t even remember the name of it right now but my favorite line in the whole thing is, “You can’t get to heaven in a washing machine ‘cuz God don’t care if your clothes are clean, all my sins have washed away – I’ve been redeemed.” God takes us at our worst. That is the beauty of grace. We don’t need to be clean and perfect to approach God (in our souls or our attire). That’s what He does for us. Legalism is one thing Christ definitely opposed. You handled that much better than I would have. Well done sister, that man probably really needed to hear that in the way you approached him. I love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ToniAnne says:

    Hi, you know that song; ‘I can only Imagine’? When I heard that song, and the questions it asks about what I will do when I meet Jesus, I can only think that as imperfect as I am, I love Jesus, and no matter what I’ve not done right, he will be as happy as any brother to see me, and I will be wanting to hug him and be hugged back. It won’t matter if I’m dressed in white or jeans, or tatters. When Christ returns, it is said no one will know the hour of his coming, so we’ll be in our everyday clothes and he’ll love us anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Perfect, perfect! Thank you for this. Big hugs from Arizona. You go girl! 🙂 Judge not…Love first. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      thank you!! 🙂 ❤

      Like

  15. bethroot1 says:

    This is so well written. While I do believe it is most appropriate to approach meetings and interviews like that in Sunday best, by no means would Christ EVER refuse someone because they were dressed casually. What’s to be judged in this circumstance was the state of your heart. Your incredible desire to just be at the temple. How good of you to point out the difference between doctrine and applications. The doctrine that God loves us, and loves us enough to enter into a building such as the temple. The application of , well, dressing nicely for those interviews. Not a doctrine. Not an eternal principle of the Gospel. Not something that will keep us out of God’s presence. If more members understood this, there would be a lot less offence and a lot more love. Thank you for having the love and courage to write this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thanks for the support. I also have zero problem with dressing up for interviews and such. It just was a bunch of unfortunate circumstances that led to some rough comments. Hopefully, it leads to more love and understanding in the future.

      Like

  16. Miles Williams says:

    This was awesome! I appreciate that you voiced your concern with the way a church leader handled the situation, but didn’t use that to fuel a negative view of the Church as a whole.

    I had a similar experience as a teenager. Not involving not wearing a skirt, obviously haha. It was over the fact that I hadn’t cut my hair in a few months. I remember being so mad and upset that something so small mattered to a Bishop. Since that experience I have been happy to see deacons passing the sacrament with all sorts of hair styles, non white shirts and other things that are not LDS custom. To me it is the most beautiful thing when a recent convert passes the sacrament in jeans and a white shirt. How amazing that just last week that convert was burdened by his sins, and now he is clean and has the authority to pass the sacrament to others.

    Too often we chose to be offended and are too hard on church leaders. They are imperfect just as we are, and that should never shake your testimony!

    Great post Suzanne!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thanks for the comment and support. I think realizing leaders are human and make mistakes is so important, but also that we all can help each other be more understanding. I love the church and would never want people to think I’m casting blame and negative attitudes for the entire church leadership. I loved what you shared. ❤

      Like

  17. Brady says:

    I love your approach and response to resolving your concern with your leader. The culture in the church, especially when displayed by those who are old fashioned or traditional, can too often be off putting and overly judgmental. The culture is not the Gospel. A friend of mine wasn’t allowed to pass the sacrament because he wasn’t wearing a white shirt. When I was 12 I thought it was a commandment, now I know it was just an encouraging word from our church leaders to better observe the Sabbath and the covenants we have made. Our leaders are human too, and they also need to be humbled and corrected. I’m sure you made an impact on the way he will conduct future interviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I hope so! I know that my tears and comments caught him off guard, and when he apologized for making me feel bad I tried to make it clear that I forgave him and wasn’t upset but just wanted to talk about it for future reference. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  18. Ryan Bastian says:

    Pretty great that you had the strength, composure, and LOVE (for the man and the “next person in that seat”) to communicate to him and TEACH him how he can be a better representative of Jesus.

    Did he seem receptive/teachable?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      He didn’t agree or disagree with what I said, but he listened and apologized for offending me. I’ve gotten a few messages that this has happened with this man to other girls in the stake, so it may be a more deeper fundamental issue in what he thinks or does than just misspeaking a comment to me. I hope it was helpful though for the next people he interviews.

      Like

  19. Laura says:

    I’m sorry you chose to be offended, but in my humble opinion this got way out of control when you answered “yes, I would.” Had you just taken that moment to explain why you were there at that very moment – everything you had written up to the point of relating the interview – I think he would have not only understood, but would have admired your resolve to hold a temple recommend and he probably would have be chastened in his heart for his initial presumption.

    Like

    1. Monica says:

      I think what ideas you offered actually were fulfilled, on both sides, at least from what I read! I see a lot of kindness on her side, of compassionately accepting that the is her leader, that he is imperfect (as we all are), and that he is doing what he thought was right, even if it was done insensitively. I don’t see anything wrong with the conversation that followed and feel that they both benefited from it. Even our wonderful leaders need guidance in improving their practices, and I feel like she did so without intentionally stripping him of his dignity.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Susan says:

      I feel a need to point out that she was momentarily hurt and has not let the situation escalate and has not nursed an offense. I thought “Yes, I would” was exactly the right answer. If I saw Jesus, my first thought would not be to run home and put on my best dress and pantyhose and heels so he would be impressed. I would know I could run to Him in whatever state I might be. I don’t think it got out of hand at that point. I think that and letting the leader see her tears and her heart is when it started to improve and perhaps he started to understand.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. suzannemarie says:

      You’re probably right that I could have apologized and tried to explain – which I later did do when I was talking to him about different approaches. I think for me it was a very spiritual experience with me being caught off by his comment and then immediately having a moment with my Savior and thinking about how I would actually act, feel, and treat Him and how He would treat me. Also, I think that the way he said these comments (pretty harsh and condescending) also led me to want to respond that way. Not in a prideful or snippy way as I took a moment to think about everything that was happening before I responded, but in a very real and honest way.

      Like

  20. fishgutts says:

    I was once told as a father of 5 I wasn’t attending the Temple enough. He encouraged at leas once a week attendance. The leader was many, many years past having kids in elementary and middle school like mine were. Nor did he know, or even care to know, that I was balancing 4 jobs to make up for child support that wasn’t coming in to take care of my kids.

    Great job not being offended. Great job educating people-skill-less Church leaders. Most leaders have no clue how to be good leaders let alone being like Christ in their stewardship.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I wish we had more leadership classes for church leaders. I used to train at EFY for the church and think that more classes and generational gap fixing could go such a long way! Thanks for your comment – I appreciated it ❤

      Like

      1. Susan says:

        We need way more training for leaders! When I was called as a Relief Society President at what seemed to me the tender age of 35, I remember my first thought being that everything I said from then on could be repeated as having come from the RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENT. What I heard (and felt) when I read your post was your empathy with those who don’t have strong faith who are subjected to unfair judgments. I went for an interview with a member of the stake presidency right after my divorce. In spite of all the crap, I qualified for a temple recommend, and had been doing my best not to be angry and bitter about judgments and comment from people who knew nothing of the situation. I desperately needed the strength of the temple. After the interview, Pres. X asked if he could council with me for a few minutes. I felt a wave of relief pour over me. Yes! I so needed some loving council and reassurance, an acknowledgment that I was still in there trying even when things had not worked out in my marriage. But it turned out he wasn’t listening to the spirit. No. He had a pet peeve and he liked to ask everyone about it, I found out later from several other people. “Sister, do you drink Coke?” Having just answered the question about honesty, I answered him quite honestly. “No, I do not.” I wish at that moment that I had had your courage and would have said to him what was going through my head. “I drink Pepsi. And if you were truly inspired in asking this, I would think the spirit would have confirmed that to you.” Really? My life is falling apart. I have been both widowed and divorced by the age of 40. I am a single parent again, with no financial support from husband #2, who is so busy and burdened meeting the responsibilities for his three children that my son never got the attention he needed and I made no financial demands of him. I am trying to get my son on a mission, and I am trying to understand and be obedient to the rule that say as a single woman I can no longer feed the missionaries, even though my son desperately needs their fellowship. Even though several friends have told me that all I have to do is have an adult male there. Because I learned as a young widow that women love it so much when you borrow their husbands. (That’s a whole other article.) My bishop’s main concern seemed to be that I was planning to become a welfare burden on the ward. I worked at times three jobs to keep that from happening, but nobody much knew because nobody was checking in on me. Did any of them know that the death blow to my marriage was when I refused to invest my son’s mission and college fund in my husband’s failing business? And he wanted to talk about soda pop??? So yes, after that I spoke up when someone was being clueless. And when I had a t-rec interview, I could see them trying to hand me off to each other. “I interviewed her last time. It’s your turn.” I wish the Church would take some of these experiences and do what they do best, make a short video showing mishandled situations and then show them to leaders as part of their training. So. Many. Stories. And yet I am still here. I survived them. And they survived me. And I hope I was part of their learning curve. And now I am going to breathe deeply and congratulate myself (and my church leaders) for 15 years (and counting) of not taking any leader to task.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. chloebethjensengmailcom says:

    Go you! I am so impressed with how you handled that situation! I would have been so tempted to keep my mouth shut to avoid combative language or get up and leave, but that wouldn’t have helped anyone understand me better, and it wouldn’t have helped those who came after me. I’m going to have this in my the next time I find myself in one of these situations, and hopefully it’ll give me the strength to communicate with love as you did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thank you! I’ve always been taught to stand up to anyone that makes me feel like that, regardless of who they are so I feel like I have some practice in that department. I hope if you ever find yourself there you know that you’re not alone and your voice and feelings matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Becca says:

    I love this! Thank you for standing up and educating him rather than responding in anger & hatred or shame. Some of my worst memories from growing up in the ward I did revolve around judgment and lack of acceptance in those not in “Sunday best” at church or meetings, or not modest at youth activities. Often times these were less active or non-members visiting the church and it always made my heart churn that anyone cared what clothes they were in! I love the church & gospel, but many members (including myself at times!) forget the importance of loving others over correcting/judging others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Its hard to grow up teaching your children to be accepting while also telling them to “choose good friends.” My sister started to wear dark clothes that made her not fit in as much and all the other young women started to pull away from her. She ended up leaving the church and it makes me sad to think about. I think so much changes when we reach out constantly in love and teach church members that loving and accepting people doesn’t mean you love and accept all the choices they are making. Seeking understanding will always be one of the most important things I strive for – I wish we would have been in the same ward to love on and accept people! 🙂

      Like

  23. Bob says:

    Meh, I skimmed your post. A) You took too long to make your point. B) Sure the dude was being passive aggressive, but you wouldn’t go to a job interview in jeans, so reverence aside, I don’t think it’s that unreasonable to treat a temple recommend interview the same. C) As a member of the church, you are well aware of the orthodoxy that exists in certain factions of the church. Sure, it bugs all of us who don’t adhere to it, but most of us just put up with it without going on a millennial-esque “I’M OFFENDED” tantrum blog post. When you encounter that type of orthodoxy, you are better off to laugh it off than to turn into into some massive thing that you have here. Just my 2 cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      haha well I skimmed your comment 😉

      A) My post was written for me. Who knew some random man named Bob would read it and think that I wasn’t concise enough. But welcome, Bob!

      B) Not a very fitting analogy on any level. I wasn’t headed to a job interview with a potential boss to complete a future “task” – nor can we really compare a job interview where only one, maybe two are selected to a temple recommend interview where all are accepted and judged solely off our testimonies. I wasn’t even headed to a stake president’s interview purposefully. You probably missed that in your skim.

      C) Posting comments about me being a tantruming millennial sadly just makes you part of the problem. You obviously didn’t read any of my main points or take aways about choosing to be offended and how I’m not offended or mad. This post isn’t about me complaining. And yes, being a member my whole life has made me aware of the differing orthodoxies as you put it, but that doesnt make them right, and I believe in standing up against things I think are wrong. You and I may be able to shrug that off and not let it get to you. You may be able to laugh it off and move on. But for many, many people this stuff is really hard and really painful. I have had many people in my life tell me about times they were not able to stick up for themselves when wronged and how lonely they feel. Standing with my brothers and sisters is something I feel like we all committed to in our baptismal covenant and for me that means helping leaders get better at being less harsh and judgmental and me learning to be patient and respond with love.

      Like

    2. Angie says:

      If only there were a temple recommend question that asked “Are you a sanctimonious mansplainer?” Wonder how you’d answer that one, Bob.

      Like

  24. Random says:

    My teenage daughter recently asked for, and got, a purple stripe in her blonde hair. I love it, she loves it. While in Salt Lake, she and her cousins and brother wanted to go to the temple. Mortified, she thought about the stripe in her hair and begged my mother, a temple worker, to call the Baptistry and see if she could go. My mom called, and was told “If we work with youth, and we do, we have to get over ourselves.”y daughter went, had a memorable time, and I appreciated the workers knowing that it truly was who she is that matters, not her purple streak.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I loved this comment! Thanks so much for sharing!! 🙂

      Like

  25. Monica says:

    Thank you for this post! It takes a lot of courage to call it like you see it, but still be perceived as a faithful member. I loved it and am grateful you would take the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I appreciate the support! 🙂

      Like

  26. Cindy says:

    The questions are supposed to be asked as they are stated on the form the leaders read from… there should be NO variance, just the questions asked and a follow-up if necessary to access things like “tears” or other emotional response. I went one time with my husband and he came out, recommend in hand and then I went in. I was actually asked if I did my Visiting Teaching regularly… to which I replied that I did {I LOVE vt}. I thought it might be a new question on the form… so I didn’t think anything about it until I asked my husband if he had been asked if he did his Home Teaching. when he said NO, I realized that this was an additional question and not part of the actual questions to be asked. {Though I do believe it is a GREAT question to ask}, the fact is, I was asked and my husband was not… so WHY was it asked? I don’t know, but for me the double standard was not a comforting thing. Yes, I was proud to say I did mine, but it shouldn’t be asked if it is not part of the requirements to attend the temple. I have since received many other recommends and have never been asked that since.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Kate says:

    This was way way way over the top… I’m amazed that you felt so “judged”. Why do you care? Do you have any idea the kind of people and interviews a stake president has to sit through and with day in and day out? I think he should be applauded for his expectations, not ridiculed. Christ has also taught us to not be so easily offended…

    Like

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Kate… did you read my post? It seems that what I wrote was not what you took. I’m confused that you would say that the “kind of people” and amount of interviews a state president has to “go through” should have any bearing on the type of respect and love he gives each one. I never ridiculed… I’m both aware and totally okay with the expectations of a temple recommend interview. Perhaps you should read my post more carefully. Also… I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that I DO know what Christ has taught about being offended and thus teach those very principles in my first take away at the bottom of the post. And why do I care? Because unless you are very out of touch with current trends and issues in the church, many of our brothers and sisters are leaving and feeling hurt and offended and that there is no place for them in the church. My first point is to them, not to be offended and to chose forgiveness and love. My second point is that who is going to stand up for people that are not as strong and are in need of support? I have had many many messages today from people telling me about times they wanted to stand up for themselves and others but didn’t have the strength to and thanking me for this post. I think sharing our stories makes people feel not so alone. And you and I both covenanted when we were baptized to be there for our brothers and sisters in the church. To love our neighbor, and so serve God’s children. Like we learn at the waters of Mormon in Mosiah 18 –

      8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
      9: Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

      Like

  28. Lily says:

    When I was a Temple Worker we were EXPRESSLY told to never, ever comment on what anyone was wearing in the Temple. If they had a recommend and are there, that’s all that mattered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I love that they teach that! That makes me happy and comforted. I’ve loved the stories shared with me today about good, understanding leaders and examples in the church. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  29. Spencer O says:

    Thanks for your honesty and feelings. These are valuable so I hesitate commenting, so please just know I care and respect you. I just wanted to suggest that your pride may have motivated a response to the situation that was more pointed than necessary and motivating a blog post where you criticize your leader and counsel all leaders. This is a lesson that I learned: submit to the counsel of your leaders. Christ submitted to traitors, thieves and murderers in perfect meekness. And this man had no evil in his heart, but was your priesthood leader. Accept his counsel. This takes strength this world doesn’t have anymore. Submit yourself to every teaching. You will feel the Spirit every time, you will grow in grace and meekness as the Savior had, and if you follow his counsel he gave you (in albeit very imperfect means) you will have the reach blessings of obedience and understanding. This humility is dying in the church, and has already died in the bloggernacle, but I hope we, and most especially myself included, can continue to accept correction from this Church leadership before it grows too late.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Spencer, thank you for your kind approach in helping me here. I genuinely appreciate honest and sincere feedback. I have been known to be prideful, but this didn’t feel like a prideful moment for me. I was genuinely shocked and tried to respond in a very real and honest way after taking a couple silent moments to evaluate how I would act around my Savior. It was a very spiritual experience for me that I know I will always be grateful for as I try to be a good example in the future of both empathy for others and seeking to understand those around me. In my post, I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t trying to push any boundaries. I normally would dress up for an interview – I was just excited to finally get a recommend and jumped the gun. Submitting to the counsel of our leaders is so important when they are teaching us – and I never once told this man he was wrong to tell me to dress up or that I didn’t have to. That would have been prideful of me I think. I only talked to him about the approach in which he communicated with me. I have had other messages today from girls in our stake sharing similar stories where this man was very rude and harsh to them as well -really good, righteous girls. He may not have had evil in his heart, but there was no love or compassion or understanding either. The point of this post is not to say “He told me to wear jeans and screw that I do what I want and Jesus loves me.” The purpose of this post was to share how I felt being on the side of some very harsh comments that made me feel hurt, disconnected from the church, wrongfully judged, and embarrassed. Where I feel the exact same council could have happened having the exact opposite response. Hope that helps clear some of that up for you! Best of luck.

      Like

  30. Dave says:

    Your leader could have been more sensitive, but so could you. You could have apologized for being casually dressed, and explained the reasons you list so eloquently in your story. That would have made it easier for him to have compassion.

    Not saying he was right, but if you shared with him what you shared with everyone else, he probably would have behaved differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Very true! And I did share that with him as we talked about the approaches I felt would have been better and more loving to take. When I popped my head into the main office and asked if it was possible to get an interview last minute as I was headed back to work, I wish he had just told me that I could but I needed to be dressed appropriately. That would have avoided this whole thing.

      Like

  31. MKC says:

    I am a brand new member of a stake presidency. I’d like to think I would see the heart of every member who presents themselves for a recommend – and not the state of their dress. But there are many, many other ways to be hurtful in our words and actions. I’m happy to have received your counseling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thank you for reading this and caring. I’m sure you will touch the hearts of many as you listen to them and care about them. Best of luck to you!

      Like

  32. Jmi says:

    Had Christ been the one to interview you, He would have known you, and your situation, and your heart, as well as understood that you WERE approaching in humility. You were making the interview a priority, rather than missing it because you were not fancy enough. I think it is a good thing for those in leadership callings to remember that Christ accepted people based on their hearts and faith, not wardrobes.

    That brother lacked humility that night. I am sure your much needed reminder will make him more humble in his role, going forward. And thankful for your humble explanation, rather than offense.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Susan says:

    I call this “paving it forward.” I look back now on situations where I did something like this and other times when I wish I had not just sat there suffering in silence. This post was written with respect toward the church and the leaders, not in an attempt to stir the pot as I see so many doing, but to help someone look more carefully at how they handle things, but there will always be those who circle the wagons at the least snap of a twig. Yes, leaders have lots of people to see. I heard a term called “compassion fatigue” used recently. It was meant to describe those caring for a loved one who is ill or otherwise indisposed, but I think we must also guard against it as leaders and teachers in any capacity in the church. I am planning to print this out and give a copy to my bishopric and stake president. If you are willing to share an email address , I would love to share a couple of my stories with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I loved this comment. I have never heard about compassion fatigue but that is such a real thing. I work in the non profit world and it is such a high burn out field. It gets to a point where its so emotionally draining to keep caring and being invested and not being able to change enough or do enough that people break down or get callous. I would love to see more of a support system and educational system for our leaders.

      Like

  34. Random says:

    This was so beautiful. I totally can relate to some of the feelings you have mentioned! Thank you for sharing and thank you for being strong enough to stand up. You saved a lot of people to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thank you for those kind words! They are appreciated.

      Like

  35. Angela says:

    I think if Christ was the one in that room giving the interview, he wouldn’t even notice what you were wearing. He’s just be happy you were there.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Random Reader says:

    Isn’t this whole article all about you and justifying your response to your leader? Sounds like you are just trying to validate how you responded and your hurt and offended feelings. Christ would not have answered as you did. And why share such a personal story so the world can read it? Feels like another attempt to make yourself feel better. Maybe apologizing and explaining the situation would have been more Christlike.

    Like

    1. David Fletcher says:

      I am grateful that you have been given the gift of correction. I am a better person for having witnessed your talent in all its glory.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. suzannemarie says:

      Dear Random Reader,
      You sound angry that I shared a personal story. This is a personal blog (who knew anyone but my mom would read this) and part of helping people is sharing stories. I did feel a lot better after expressing myself. I think you should watch this TED talk and have a good cry and look at your soul: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

      I have had many, many messages today from people telling me that this blog post was helpful for them. Apparently, you are not one of those people. And that’s totally okay. Maybe you’ve never had someone hurt someone you love? Or been made to feel embarrassed on purpose? That’s so lucky. I do think, however, that you might be in need of a reread of this blog post that talks multiple times about how I’m 1) not offended and 2) others shouldn’t be either. This post is about acceptance, love, and seeking for understanding with whomever we interact. How do you feel Christ would have responded? I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts. So someone asks Christ “Can someone so causally approach you?” And His response would be……. ?

      Like

      1. Stephanie Fisher says:

        Exactly! “Can someone so casually approach you?” Um…that’s exactly what the woman taken in adultery did. The woman who had an issue of blood. The children in Judea. The multitudes that attended the Sermon on the Mount.

        Like

    3. Stephanie Fisher says:

      It may have been more Mormon (the Church is sooo great at apologetics), but not necessarily more Christlike. She did apologize and explain the situation. She should not have had to. He was behaving like a Pharisee, and she defended her position. She did not indulge in taking offense.

      Like

  37. I’ve been on both sides of this fence. Church leaders are called of God. Inspired and led by God. They’re are sanctified by God. And God knows they’re not perfect. God knows sometimes they could handle things or say things a little bit better. Sometimes things are said and or done with no malice, but hurt just the same. Sometimes the student is the learner. Sometimes the teacher who is the learner. God looks to the heart, not the apparel. Sounds like you did what you were moved upon to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      I loved your comment. Having never seen both sides, I know there is a lot I don’t know. I can’t imagine the pressure of our leaders and I’m grateful that they choose to accept callings. I had so many wonderful church leaders growing up and I feel very grateful for that.

      Like

  38. Chris says:

    I think this story is made up. There are inconsistencies with how things actually are- recommends last a few years; twenty questions; in a few questions im going to tell you how special you are….
    People are trying to stir up animosity against church leadership in anyway they can these days.

    Like

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Chris! I’m not going to lie, your comment made me laugh. Like I would actually make this up and post it to my personal facebook? Here is a link to my fairly public Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.m.whitehead. If you look at the comments there are other girls from my stake that commented and had the same experience as me. I promise I’m a member of the church and this happened to me last night. I guess I should have said a couple rather than a few and I don’t know why he said let’s just get through these 20 questions. He said he wanted to get to the question about the Law of Chastity to tell me how amazing and special I was that I answered that question correctly that I was keeping it and so many other people in the world could not. It was weird, as I have stated already. I would hope that in reading this you would not think I am trying to stir up animosity against the church – I tried to be pretty pointed in that that is not the intent. Best of luck to you!

      Like

  39. crbondur says:

    I think this was a wonderful opportunity for this counselor (I’m pretty sure the Stake Pres. wouldn’t be so callous) to learn it’s not about appearances, it’s about the intents of our hearts. Yes, we’re supposed to do out best, but my best doesn’t look like you’re best. Some of us don’t even OWN a suit for Heaven’s sake.

    This also reminds me of something Elder Bednar said when he stated we’re all practicing this religion on each other. None of us are perfect amd we should all extend grace and forgiveness to each other and try to help our brothers and sisters see a better way, just as you did.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Dan says:

    Isn’t it a little interesting that this blog post criticizes church leaders, when the author was interviewing to enter the temple where sacred covenants are made regarding such things?

    Like

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Hi Dan! I’m sorry that’s what you took away from this. The first line of this post is about how this isn’t an attack on any one person or with the church at large. This post is about how important I think it is to seek understanding first and then lead with love for leadership callings and how for those that are hurt and offended to choose not to be so and instead learn to forgive and patient. Those are the points listed in the two take away points I share at the end. Maybe you missed those 🙂 Best of luck to you!

      Like

  41. Eileen Boinay says:

    I enjoyed your story and I am sorry you had to experience what you did. I’m in the camp of the stake presidency member needing to be more sensitive and treating the recommend interviewee with more compassion. I know my stake presidency would not treat our stake members like you were treated. I live in Oregon. It reminded me of a girl I know who, many years ago, after having lived away from the Church for awhile decided she wanted to come back. She attended a ward the next Sunday (not her home Ward, where she felt uncomfortable) but a random Ward. She asked to see the bishop of that Ward because she wanted to talk with him and begin the repentance process and get some counsel. The bishop angrily chided her and told her she had to go see her own bishop if she wanted to start coming back to church. While that may be true he seemed to be an insensitive boob and she ended up crying in the restroom. A woman from the Ward comforted her but she never returned to church and still doesn’t attend to this day. That bishop and your stake presidency member will need to account to the Lord for their behavior. Now this brings me to our stake YW’s camp. We follow the standards in the For the Strength of Youth book, which includes not allowing immodest clothing at camp, smoking, drugs, innapropriate music, or body piercings. We have a few young women in our stake who have chosen to pierce their noses and maybe other body parts, but still feel that the standards do not apply to them. Yes, Jesus loves and accepts everyone, but we who make covenants and promises to be obedient have standards to live by; we choose our behaviors and make our own decisions and we have to accept the consequences.
    You have a fascinating job by the way, and it must be very rewarding but it sounds exhausting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Thank you so much for this comment! I used to run the church’s EFY program in California and this was a common problem we faced. How do you teach principles without people getting offended? In the end, we do need to be modest and we do need to follow the councel of the Lord. I know that some of the girls that showed up to our sessions “inappropriately dressed” were wearing the most modest clothes they had and had no idea they were wearing something not okay. I know a lot of these girls aren’t being taught to know.

      For me when I am in a position of leadership and I need to correct someone’s behavior, I always ask “Is this a character issue or is this a competence issue? Does this person know they are doing something wrong or not?” If we treat someone like they are having a character issue (wearing booty shorts to church rather than a modest skirt because they don’t care) instead of a competence issue (Wearing booty shorts because that’s what their mom packed for them and all their friends wear back at home and they had no idea) people get completely crushed. I saw missionaries on my mission get crushed when they were told they didn’t have enough faith (character) rather than helping them learn how to gain the skills to contact and teach better (competence) and it hurts me to see.

      Our first day of EFY we would have everyone put on their EFY shirt they were given so everyone looked the same and we talked about standards of dress in general. I always said that if they needed clothes they could borrow some from me and I always treated everyone like they were unaware and not making bad choices on purpose. This lets people be good people. I love the youth of the church so much. I miss working with them and helping them take out their nose piercings by testifying of the prophets and teaching them how they can gain their own testimonies about what is true and not true in the world. I love challenging people to pray and come to their own conclusions rather than saying, “Take that out. Why would you wear that here? It’s not allowed.” I think taking the time to understand where people are at in life and WHY they are doing the things they are doing is one of the most compassionate things we can do for each other. I would take those young women in your stake and love them and treat them how I wanted to them to be and find out why they pierced their bodies and what it is that they believe. That will help you know where to start the teaching. Just some random thoughts, but I always have lots to say about the youth of the church! They are the best.

      Like

  42. J says:

    The story is told of a council meeting involving the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Twelve Apostles. During the meeting, the Prophet rebuked Brigham Young from head to toe in front of the others, accusing him of something he had not done. When Joseph had finished his rebuke, the other brethren sat silently awaiting Brigham Young’s response. Brigham Young rose to his feet. He was a strong man. He could have reacted and said: “Now, look here, haven’t you read how you’re not supposed to rebuke in public, but only in private?” Or, “Brother Joseph, doesn’t it say something in the revelations about persuasion, and long-suffering, and gentleness and meekness?” Or, “Joseph, you are dead wrong. I would never do that.” But Brigham Young did not react in any of those ways. He acted and said simply, “Joseph, what do you want me to do?” Joseph burst into tears, approached Brigham Young, threw his arms around him and said, “Brother Brigham, you passed [the test]” (See Truman Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, p. 88).

    It’s all a test.

    Like

  43. Carol says:

    There is always something to be learned in every situation. Both of you could have handled things better. Both of you should have apologized for actions that could have been better.
    I know you would dress your best if you knew you would see the Savior, and also would have if you had known about your interview. I got the feeling that you really didn’t care about doing your best. And I think the President may have thought the same thing.
    If you did care and would have done differently, an explanation was due on your part and I believe he would have understood. However, “standing up for yourself” is good only when you make sure you are standing up for the right reason.

    I’m afraid that a little guilt and pride did play a part. Taking no offense, all you had to do was say that you were not comfortable coming to him that way but…..
    I’ve lived a long time and I certainly have made my mistakes along the way, but I have learned to look for the good and how to do better in all situations. I have also learned that very few things are worth getting offended over. The only thing I want to do is keep my testimony strong and serve the Lord while I am here.

    How can you do better? What have you learned? Well, I hope you have learned to not lose any part of your recommend. And did you know that you can get it renewed a month or two before it expires.
    But most of all, be honest with yourself as well as others and after hearing all you have had to say, my reply is, “Get over it”.

    Like

    1. suzannemarie says:

      It’s 2:15am and I’ve been responding to messages for hours, so I should probably respond to yours after I leave my office and go home and sleep, but it’s just such a perfect example of everything this blog post is against. Disregarding everything I said and how I felt. Ending with a snippy “get over it” you lack understanding, love, compassion, and even basic kindness. You are the perfect example in this comment of what I’m trying to get leaders not to be so I hope to God you never have a leadership role in the church so you don’t hurt people. You claim that you just want to keep your testimony strong and serve the Lord. I think practicing charity and being non judgemental is a pretty good way to keep your testimony strong and serving the Lord often looks like serving and being kind to His children, both of those things you failed to do here.

      Like

  44. Rich W says:

    My thoughts: Temple workers (I have been one for 6 years) are always told never turn any one away from the Temple because of the way they are dressed. If they have a valid temple recommend, that is only key. Priesthood blessings have been given in the heat of battle in dirty military fatigues and on job sites in working clothing. I had a hunting accident about three months after returning from my mission. My father (in dirty farm clothing splattered with my blood) , an eye surgeon, and oral surgeon (in hospital clothing splattered with my blood) and my institute director (wearing a suit and tie ) all gave me a priesthood blessing. That blessing was miraculously effective on my behalf. Given a choice, I like to wear a white shirt and tie to give a blessing. Putting on the white shirt and tie gives me time to prepare by contemplating the Savoir, priesthood power and the purpose of the blessing. For me it is a matter of reverence and personal preparation. But that is just me.

    Like

  45. Rich W says:

    My thoughts: Temple workers (I have been one for 6 years) are always told never turn any one away from the Temple because of the way they are dressed. If they have a valid temple recommend, that is only key. Blessings have been given in the heat of battle dirty military fatigues and on job sites in working clothing. I had a hunting accident about three months after returning from my mission. My father (in dirty farm clothing splattered with my blood) , an eye surgeon, and oral surgeon (in hospital clothing splattered with my blood) and my institute director (wearing a suit and tie ) all gave me a priesthood blessing. That blessing was miraculously effective on my behalf. Given a choice, I like to wear a white shirt and tie to give a blessing. Putting on the white shirt and tie gives me time to prepare by contemplating priesthood power and the purpose of the blessing. It is a matter of reverence and personal preparation.

    Like

  46. Brad says:

    My father always said we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. It seems to me that you had very righteous intentions (obviously, since you were going to renew your temple recommend!). You are obviously doing your best to be a disciple of Christ. You also imply that if you knew you would be interviewing that night to renew your recommend you would have ‘dressed up’. I do believe it is important for us to dress in our best as we approach the Lord for the same reasons the saints in the Old Testament used to sacrifice their very best to the Lord and why temples are made of the finest materials. Intentionally approaching the Lord casually will not make Him love us any less, but it may indicate that we are also approaching our covenants casually which would be a concern. I don’t believe you were doing this.

    However, it also appears that the member of the stake presidency had righteous intentions as well. It seems like he assumed based on your dress you were approaching the temple casually. With that incorrect diagnosis, he tried to teach the principle of approaching the Lord in a respectful and reverent manner. Now, from your post, it seems like he didn’t do that as well as he could have. The fact that he immediately changed course and expressed how much the Savior loves you indicates to me that he didn’t intend to be unkind or to offend but rather to simply teach.

    Now, to my point, I think he judged you on your actions of walking in with casual dress instead of judging you on the basis of the intentions of your heart. However, I believe you are now judging him based on his actions rather than the intentions of his heart. When we judge the judgmental, we become the judgmental. I’m truly sorry this happened to you, and I’m even more sorry if my comment or any of the other comments have hurt your feelings. We are all just trying our best.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Sooo…. I understand your pain as I am waiting for a sealing clearance to be married in the temple to my Nepali fiance and the only one that knows me out of the three parties involved in the issue is the bishop. The Church HQ don’t know me and the stake president is new too. I started this process 5 months ago and it has dragged on for some inscrutable reason.

    I got hurt, angry, bitter, started to write a similar letter/blog and then I just let it go.. If God want’s us to get married in the temple now vs. in a year then it is up to him. I have done what I should have, am worthy, submitted everything in order and am just waiting and waiting and waiting.. When I let it go I felt peace and harmony and most importantly the spirit again.

    You spent hours on this.. I think that the main issue is with you.. If I am hurt or bitter then the issue is really with me..

    Every church leader from the prophet on down is a man and full of imperfections just like I am and just like you are..

    How would you feel if in one of your more “moments” someone did a word for word play by play on your actions? And then spent the 2-3-4 hours putting it out there in the blogosphere for everyone to read about and many to know that it was you by association etc..

    Telling him your feelings is adequate, calling him to repentance may be justified in person. Jeans, whatever have nothing to do with testimony or righteousness and you know it and so does he.

    We should never criticize unless we have a solution and frankly moaning in public is just well….un-Christ like. He hasn’t trumpeted your shortcomings to the world ( yet) so have some compassion for the poor smuck that was called to that calling and is doing the best he can not to be a dork in a position that everyone takes pot shots at.. He felt bad that you felt bad and gave you what you wanted. Be kinder..

    Like

    1. suzannemarie says:

      Haha I know who you are. You’re the random white guy that showed up in Nepal to marry Usha. I was living there for months to do Earthquake relief and working with victims of sex trafficking in the city. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know your exact situation specifically but there is a huge problem generally speaking with girls in Nepal being preyed on by older white men who find them online or show up in the city for a wife and if the church is taking a while to sort out details and make sure everything is okay with your relationship I think that’s a great thing for the sake of all of the victims I worked with who were trafficked and assaulted and tricked into marriage with promises of a better life. We were all concerned when you came because we were very protective of that small branch and its girls. Sounds like things are fine and working out, but its actually nice to hear leaders are being cautious.

      As far as your comments – sorry you think me bringing up valid concerns and sharing a personal experience is un-christlike. It sounds like you didn’t read my post with my take away points and solutions. I didn’t spend hours writing this post, but I have spent hours and hours responding to messages from people that went though similar situations and have thanked me for helping them feel not as alone and addressing a larger issue that is going on – hurt feelings from experiences with leadership, a lack of attempting to understand before we judge and correct, and members (proved by comments such as your own) that look the other way or chastise when someone raises a genuine concern or story that hurt them.

      Like

  48. Sterling Glover says:

    I’m lucky. The Bishop that interviews me shows up in sweats and flip flops sometimes. On Sunday’s he doesn’t, but during the week he doesn’t dress up.

    Like

  49. Zach says:

    I’m 21 yrs old and served an honorable full time mission to Russia. I see somethings that I have related to. I wish to edify, not the opposite.

    To start off, I see that you are very busy, and at times you make it seem that you are the busiest person alive. You may need to take time to slow down, so that you can catch up. I also see that there is a pattern of sadness if your life. This sadness includes: homesickness, inadequacies, stress, and feelings of always being behind (maybe this can cause a lack of motivation?). Could these be a sign of unhealthy living? One last thing I see is that you are critical of your leaders and (spesific in this post) that they are out to get you.

    On my mission, I had similar feelings. I was very critical of my leaders because they are human and make mistakes. I obeyed them, but at times it was hard to push forward. I struggled with what I call minor depression, where I was more sad than happy, in which times made me more tired because of all of the stress that goes on serving a mission in Russia. In the end, I had to return home early to get some help. I went to couciling and I learned that some of my thought patterns were unhealthy and even holding me back from becoming a better person. So over several months and 6 sessions, I made corrections.

    I became a positive thinker from these events. I rooted out the bad and raised up good. I assume good intent always, and look for the best in people. Yes, it is hard sometimes, but temperance is a gift from God. Because of this new perspective, I have been promoted 2 times in the last year at my current job. I also learned that balancing all different types of health are crucial in staying healthy.

    I wish that you may be happy and try to follow some of what I mentioned above. I may not know exactly what is up, but you wouldn’t of had this experience if you assumed good intent (thinking more like, “I know he didn’t mean to hurt me with what he was saying, but he intended to make sure I felt comfortable in an interview with a representative of the savior in my current attire.”). I am only telling you these things because I have been in similar situations and I desire you to be healthy. I have personally seen that when I balance my health, I am happy, positive, and can more fully take on any challenge, whether it is a customer who is yelling at me or my boss yelling at me, or a person cutting me off and almost causing a massive car wreck, all in a more composed and positive way.

    I ask you to reread your original post and honestly reflect if what I am saying is accurate. If it is even remotely accurate, seek help because it will greatly benefit your life, as it did mine.

    I most likely won’t see any comments or any replies, but if you wish to reply for future viewers, go for it.

    Like

  50. Stephanie Fisher says:

    I’m sorry for your experience. I am glad that you stood up for yourself! That was awesome. Utah Mormons are sometimes the worst. I know, I was born and raised in Salt Lake. I have been very poor and I one time asked my bishop if I could pay tithing “in kind” — donate food to the Food Bank or donate time at the Bishop’s Storehouse or something, anything. He said no, it had to be money or nothing. That devastated me. This was a very kind man who DID know me, but I felt that he had not acted as Jesus would have. Due to many other instances, a TON of thought, pondering, praying, soul-searching and research, I have decided that the LDS Church is far more focused on material wealth (City Creek Mall, temples in Tijuana and Haiti) than on love and truly helping people. I have decided to leave, but I respect those that stay. Live your truth, Suzanne. Be authentic. Be a good human. That’s all anyone can EVER ask. ❤

    Like

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