Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making Priorities


I try not to dwell on the tender feelings I have about cutting ties with my family. Sometimes I want to blame them for everything, and other times, I feel like everything happened due to my decisions. I know that I am where I am due to a mixture of choices on their part, as well as mine. But sometimes the emotions just get the best of me.

Choices, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time, sometimes change the course of things so drastically, that there is no way to return to the course that was once planned.

My brother asked his girlfriend to marry him in May of 2008. I like to think that was an awesome decision. She was sweet, pretty, funny and loving. They were sealed in the Newport California Temple in September 2008.  I had the privilege of throwing her a Bridal Shower at a local Tea Parlor a few weeks before the wedding. (I made sure they had herbal tea before booking). 

The thing about his marriage to his now wife that broke my heart is that, even though I was Mormon, so was my husband, and so was my youngest brother, that we couldn't be present at the temple sealing. Heck, we weren't even allowed inside the temple.

My middle brother was able to see his older brother get married because he had served a mission and had temple garments, as well as a valid Temple Recommend. What is a Temple Recommend? Good question.

A Temple Recommend is require to gain entry to a Mormon Temple. You need to interview with your Bishop (he is like a pastor) and he determines whether you are worthy to enter into the 'House of the Lord', or as most call it, The Temple. If, lets say, you have had a beer and a few packs of cigarettes, he may decline to give you a Temple Recommend, or lets say that you killed your brother, he may also find you unworthy for the temple. Or in my parents case, they were behind on paying the church their tithing, so the Bishop told them that he would not give them a valid Temple Recommend to see their son get married until they caught up.

I am sure most people are familiar with the word tithing. But in the Mormon church, you are required to give 10% of your income to the church. I remember sitting in the Clerk's office at the end of 1997, as a 17 year old, going over my tithing receipts to be certain that I had paid at least 10% of my $4.25/hr pay to the church.

So when my brother got engaged, and once they had set a date, my parents knew that they had to get their tushies in gear to catch up on their 10%. The thing that still resonates with me is that, instead of paying their mortgage in August and September, they decided to pay their 'back tithing' to see their son get married.

Now I am not saying that I wouldn't kill small gutter snipes to see my children get married, I would. I would have probably made a similar decision in their situation. The part that bothered me then and still bothers me now is that they ended up losing their home and the two months they went without paying was the start of a snowball effect, in which they never were able to catch their mortgage back up. When they made the decision to 'pay god first', they kept saying that it was okay, that god would provide. They knew that if they were righteous and made righteous decisions that everything would be okay.

Well, there was no doubt in my mind that everything would be okay. My parents are resilient, I knew that even if they lost their home that they would be okay. My dad is a very hard worker, he loves his job as a nurse at a children's hospital.  But the fact that their religion put them in a spot to choose between their son or their home, didn't sit well with me.  It still doesn't.  The fact that their priority was seeing their son get married isn't the issue, it's that the church put them in a spot where two things that had nothing to do with the other became a conflict.

I didn't get to see my brother get married because my husband and I didn't get married in the temple and hadn't done what the church requires for us to have taken out our endowments. My youngest brother didn't get to see his brother get married because he had not gone on a mission due to health reasons. We all stood outside the temple waiting for them to come out after they got married.

It still is a painful reminder of the mentality of the Mormon church, how my parents were put in a place to make such a ridiculous decision.

Granted, 5 years earlier when my husband and I eloped to Vegas, and we invited my mother and father to come along and see us get married, they graciously declined. I guess if it's not in the temple, it's not worth rearranging plans for.

(photo) Me and my husband on our wedding day in Las Vegas, Nevada 2003.


Mae said...

I know i've said it before, but i really enjoy getting a full understanding of how the mormon church works, since I don't have any mormon friends or family to ask directly. I'm not even sure it's something they are allowed to talk about?

Either way, it's an insight I appreciate. Thanks for sharing.


Lori said...

That's so messed up! That's a reason why I quit going also. If you're not loaded with money, your considered less than in the Mormon church.