Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"I just can't take this anymore"

"I just can't take this anymore," she said with disgust and started to get up from her seat.  I touched her arm to get her attention and asked if we could talk to her after the meeting was over.  Jovita sat back down but  continued to fidget as more people got up and shared their feelings about the gospel.

It was fast and testimony meeting.  This was Jovita's first visit to the ward and as missionaries it's always a little nerve wracking.  You hope and pray that no one in the congregation, though well meaning, will say anything foolish or embarrassing or just plain weird.  I quickly took inventory of all that had been said up to that point and I could think of nothing that would cause such a reaction.  In fact, we hadn't had such a good fast and testimony meeting in quite some time.

As the meeting continued I could tell that it was taking a Herculean effort on Jovita's part to stay with us.  She was clearly upset by what was happening and there was disgust written all over her face.  My companion and I were trying to think of something that would buy us some time with her.  Some time to talk about her feelings, about why she was reacting the way she was. 

The organ sounded the first chords to the closing hymn "Lord I Would Follow Thee".  I held the book out to share with Jovita and we began to sing.

"Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee-
Lord, I would follow thee."

Jovita began to relax.  She visibly calmed as she sang and listened to the words of the hymn.

"Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another
Lord, I would follow thee."

The meeting came to a close and we all left the chapel and found a quiet spot on the lawn to discuss what had happened in the meeting. It was the perfection that got her.  Jovita was a single mom struggling financially and with her son.  She didn't see a lot of good things in her life and she was thoroughly disgusted that so many people could get up and publicly share how thankful they were for a good family, health, and prosperity.  She had been deceived by churches before. She said it with bitterness and envy.  She didn't want any part in a church who's members were "perfect".

I honestly don't remember how I or my companion responded to her that day.  We were able to see her a few more times so we must have said something right.  I do remember how sad I felt for her.

The people who shared their feelings that day about the gospel and families and health, were the very people who had been without the gospel or families or health.  They had overcome obstacles in their path.  They had learned to be thankful for the health and prosperity that they had been blessed with not because they were perfect, but because they were imperfect.  Because they knew what it was like to be without.  Because they were still dealing with being without. 

It was a hard day when Jovita asked us not to come around anymore.  We had come to love her.  She had a wonderful tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and there was so much happiness that we had to offer her.  So much pain we knew the Lord could heal if she would just open her heart.  Instead she thanked us for the "Dog and pony show" and informed us that it just wasn't for her.

That was just over 12 years ago.  Times have changed, we've all moved on with our lives. Every once in awhile I wonder what happened to her.  Did she ever change her mind?  Did she find happiness in her life?  Was she able to be at peace with herself?

Then again we could ask ourselves the very same things.


  1. Have you ever tried to find her?

  2. I haven't. I should look her up on facebook or something. That would be interesting wouldn't it.

  3. Lora, this is so good. It has a strong beginning that draws the reader in; it follows a clean narrative arc that moves the characters from one place to another; it shares a moral without 'moralizing,' a technique that demonstrates confidence in the intelligence of your readers. If this is a true story, and if it happened to you, it would be great in a collection of essays! You're a very strong writer. Keep at it!

  4. Thank you thank you thank you! That makes my day!