Defusing the love bomb

I was reading The Liberal Agnostic Who Could as she discussed the dilemma all inactives face — what to do with the poor wankers who show up on your stoop to home teach you in an effort to achieve 100% for the quorum and create one more heartwarming tale of reactivation. They are just trying to fulfil their obligations and it’s bloody awful dealing with the guilt of shutting them down. So usually inactives make a half-hearted effort to be civil without allowing any copies of the Ensign to actually be waved at you. It’s exhausting and annoying.

This happened to me periodically until I managed to get to the point where the church no longer had my current address and mobile number. That isn’t to say they didn’t try contacting me at work, but that’s another story. The last time this happened the bishop assigned some bloke who was the second counsellor in the singles ward and an LDS Social Services therapist. Clearly I was an extra special case to warrant his attention. His epic failery at being genuine was baffling. My reaction to this e-mail is, two years later, still a cause for laughter:

[My name, misspelled] – Hello! Just wanted to check in with you and see how things were going. πŸ™‚ My home teaching companion just moved back to Taiwan, so I’m solo for a while. How was your holiday? For once, I didn’t travel far, but just stayed local and had a nice dinner with friends. πŸ™‚

Is there anything I can do for you at this time? If you have any time this month, Id love to get a chance to meet you. Take care and have a wonderful day. πŸ™‚

[Home teacher’s name and mobile number]

Ugh. How . . . insincere and obligatory. Forget the horrible grammar and the fact that the wanker didn’t even spell my name correctly. There is a universally accepted limit of no more than one smiley per 100 words of text. It should never be violated. I pondered what to do. I could ignore. I could engage. I could shut him down. At this point I had no meaningful social relationships with anyone in the church other than my family and the ward I grew up in. But they were far away, and I considered a novel approach to the situation. I really didn’t feel I had anything to lose.

Hi,

Thanks for the message. Please don’t mistake my meaning because I don’t want to ever come off as hostile. I just want to be really honest here so nobody gets their time wasted. If your purpose in reaching out is part of some reactivation effort, I’m not interested in going to church. I haven’t been offended, I’m not sinning, and I’m not full of pride. I just disagree with church doctrine, teachings and policy enough to where going to church serves no purpose. If it works for other people, great. I’ll never tear them down. But it’s not for me and the causes of my objections are unlikely to ever change.

I’m sure you have the best intentions. I realise you’re in the difficult position of needing to do your home teaching and me shutting you down prevents you from fulfilling your assignment or hampers ward goals for reactivating members. But I am not up for an awkward one hour visit where you show up in a suit and read something out of the Ensign and ask me if there’s anything you can do for me and I say no, but thank you for asking. Again, not trying to be rude here, just honest because I’m sure you’re as busy as I am.

That being said, if you actually want to meet me, I am always up for making new friends. I live in [redacted], so I’m sure it would be easy for you to join me and my friends when we go out sometime. I’m glad to hear your holidays went well.

I never heard back from him. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed. It proved that this bloke really had no interest in me as a person. I was a project. A statistic. Not a friend. I stood my ground and offered the chance for him to get to know an uncompromised, authentic me. And he refused to take the opportunity because, if I wasn’t going to fit neatly into his worldview, he wasn’t going to be arsed to try to be my friend.

I was also a little disappointed because it would have been fun to find out what his reaction was. Shock? Bafflement? Anger? This level of frankness is not part of The Unspoken Order of Things in LDS Chapels. Fakey-nicey-wicey is. I disrupted the hand-wringing, obligatory way that Mormons interact with one another and took personal responsibility for my behaviour and interactions. Perhaps that’s just too scary for an LDS man to see in a woman.

Either way, it worked. I never got love bombed again.

16 thoughts on “Defusing the love bomb

  1. jesus, i feel stupid. i had a feeling i might, but i haven’t learned yet that that means “sit on it a while” or “do the opposite.” after all, i could’ve emailed her later and said “whatever, i live here” but I can’t take it back now. it’s a little thing, sure, and i was short and fairly emotionless–which i of course feel a little guilty for, like you said, she’s just doing her duty–but i still gave it to them.

    the only thing that would make this better is if someone ignored my friend and actually showed up at the door or emailed us or some other bullshit.

    no. really, the only thing that would make this better would be to fucking resign. still waiting. i don’t want to push him, but i’m drooling over it.

    thanks for the comment and this reply. i’m always flattered to inspire posts and conversation ❀ it's also just good to know i'm not alone.

  2. The last time a home teacher called me (I think nine years ago) I said “Tell you what, if you don’t home teach me, at the final judgment I’ll lie to God and tell Him you did.”

    He never called back and put me on the no-contact list. (We since moved, but our new ward completely disregards all notions of fellow shipping the inactive. We’re in Utah and do get the deacons every fast Sunday, but they are easily dismissed.)

    • It’s far more fun opening the door and saying something like “oh, Mormons, cool. There are a couple of ex-Mormons in my Satanist congregation . . .”

  3. Great story. He really could at least have acknowledged receipt of your email. You are absolutely right that “This level of frankness is not part of The Unspoken Order of Things in LDS Chapels. Fakey-nicey-wicey is” and that you “disrupted the hand-wringing, obligatory way that Mormons interact with one another and took personal responsibility for my behaviour and interactions.” We call this the Mormon “dance”. We had a similar experience where the missionaries were recruited to find out what was with us and we laid it out for them (Joseph Smith polyandry, Book of Abraham, the whole nine yards). I’m sure they mistook their cognitive dissonance for the spirit of Satan entering the room and they quickly excused themselves and haven’t been back.

  4. I had an unpleasant missionary experience. They came; I said, basically, this is my position on the church, for x, y and z reasons, but I realize you’re just trying to do your job, and you don’t know anyone, and you’re lonely, so if you’d like to come in for (herbal) tea and cookies, you’re more than welcome. At this point, you’re probably thinking, God in Heaven, is she naive. And maybe I am–but I was trying to be nice.

    So much for that. They came in; it was fairly pleasant, but a little awkward. I think they were worried that they could catch apostate. I thanked them for coming and wished them luck; they left.

    The next day, they were banging on my door. I could see them peering in the windows. Eventually, they left…only to come back a few hours later. This went on for days. My neighbors began to complain. One neighbor, in particular, called me with concerns that “strange people sat on your front steps for five hours today”. I’m sure he was exaggerating on the time…but…

    Well, maybe not. They started leaving cookies, and other baked goods, on my doorstep. I gave them to friends. They refused to eat them; one cited concerns that they might be drugged. He’d been over during one of the “ring the bell and peer through the windows” episodes.

    Finally, I confronted them. I explained, look, I invited you in out of a desire to be friendly, however, I really have no desire to talk to you further. Oh, no, they told me, I was now obligated to have the discussions. I *had* to let them in. I assured them that, no, I did not. They became somewhat verbally abusive. My soul was at stake! I’d agreed to meet with them, I *had* to let them in. At this point, I explained that, actually, I was a lawyer, and, moreover, I had my wits, and, no, I absolutely, positively did *not* have to invite them in.

    Mr. CJ, who escaped the church some years before me, was incensed. While he ranted on about restraining orders (Mr. CJ is also an attorney), I wondered, is this what comes of trying to be pleasant to people? I have rarely felt so punished for just trying to be genuine and pleasant.

    The whole thing just made me feel bad.

    • Cor. Stalking should never be mistaken for fellowshipping. Sounds like you could make a film out of that and call it Night of the Semi-Living Mormons.

    • Well duh CJ, you’re a woman. They’re not going to listen to you, as soon as you open your mouth all they here is “baking cookies blah blah babies blah blah home decor blah blah blah.” It’s a good thing you’ve got somebody with a penis to take care of you. πŸ˜€ haha!

      I have express permission from my husband to “handle” him in front of chauvinists. He thinks it’s funny.

    • Wow. That whole “you invited us in” business sounds a bit vampire-y to me. I think you were very gracious in the way you handled the situation, CJ. Sorry they turned out to be rabid…

      Thanks Molly, for the blog and to everyone else who comments here, too. I’ve been struggling a lot with leaving the church. I don’t really know where to turn; I can’t talk to Mormon friends about these things, but my friends who aren’t Mormon don’t entirely understand either. I’ve been reading the blog for a while without commenting, so I just wanted to say thanks for giving me a cyber-network of shoulders to “lean” on.

      I was already “inactive” by the time I left home for college, but a mixture of homesickness and maybe full moon-crazy sent me running back to church again. For some reason I thought that Austin Mormons would be more liberal? Now, there’s a laugh. After a few months I realized that it had not in fact been the Holy Spirit that brought me back to church, but sheer loneliness, so I left. Since I hadn’t been around long, no one really noticed or tried to contact me, but to the few who did check up on me, I sent a very nice, “If you still want to be friends, that’s absolutely fine, but please do not contact me because of church” message. Most people shut up after that. I had a home teacher who insisted that he really was my friend. However, he only contacted me once a month, and at the end of the month. I pointed this out to him, but he swore that he wasn’t trying to meet his priesthood-ly quota or whatever it is you call it. He would show up at my dorm toting free Jamba Juice and a big gooney smile, and, thankfully enough, never brought up church. I was beginning to think that maybe he really did want to be my friend.

      Then he got married and moved to a family ward. Haven’t heard from him since.

      I did see the missionaries once on campus. I chickened out and told them I already was Mormon so they would go away. I don’t think they believed me, actually, but it still made them leave. Next time, I think I’m going to tell them I’m a lesbian, just to see how they react…

      • Welcome to Outer Blogness. The feelings of loneliness you have are a very common experience. Even though most of the contacts I’ve made online have been anonymous, they have helped me immensely with processing feelings and validating what I am going through.

  5. Awesome post. Love the comments. Very entertaining. πŸ™‚ Also LOVE the term “bloke.” New New Year’s resolution: start calling people blokes!

  6. I’ll try some of those tactics next time. When I first moved to this address, they sent ward members, then missionaries (not random, they know my name and church history) then RS sisters, then female missionaries…nothing I’ve said or done so far has dissuaded them. I rec’v letters, too, which I’m keeping in a file. They seem to know my husband’s car and come when he’s not at home. creeps me out.

  7. If you don’t want to be contacted by the church, ask that you be put on the no contact list. Most bishops will respect this. Unfortunately, enthusiastic missionaries and members may not (or may not know about the request.)

    Do be aware that accidental contacts may occur–missionaries may just be in the area and knocking doors. Just say “no thank you” and close the door. Frankly, I find Mormon missionaries far less annoying that kids selling magazines.

  8. Pingback: Sunday in Outer Blogness: Feminists, Homosexuals, and So-Called Intellectuals Edition! | Main Street Plaza

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