New ward, new you?

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BeJoyful
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New ward, new you?

Post by BeJoyful » 15 Apr 2018, 11:36

After months of being in limbo, we have finally started a new chapter of our lives in a new state, new job, and obviously new ward. Now we're in the precarious position of setting boundaries and expectations in our new ward, but not wanting to give so much information that we regret it. Our bishopric is new from the beginning of the year, and eager to welcome us into the ward and put us to work.

Some concerns:
In my temporary ward, my last bishop called me to get to know our family so he could give my son a temple recommend. My son attended mutual the day after we moved in, before we attended church, and there was a temple trip that week and his recommend had just barely expired.
Bishop said, "well, tell me more about you- you sound active, and I see you have a TR" and caught off-guard, I responded, "well, we're a bit different. But (son) loves temple trips and is a great kid. He is looking forward to YM, etc. "
The "we're a bit different" comment earned me a trip to the Bishop's office, after putting him off a few weeks. By this time, we'd been to church a few times and my husband had played church basketball a few times, with his tattoos visible in gym shorts and tshirts. We'd seen people treat us differently- I'd been asked to give prayers, substitute in primary, etc., but husband had been almost shunned in class- no one talked to him, invited him to help with quorum duties, etc. (And he swears he got purposefully fouled more at church ball! Ha!)
Bishop, desperate to help correct the path of a wayward member, asked me to write down a list of my concerns, and I responded "I'm happy with where I'm at and I'm not seeking counsel outside my own study and prayers right now." Bishop was pretty unhappy, and insisted I write a list of concerns. I responded, "My concerns are not enough to keep me away from church right now, and I am protective of the testimony I have built. I don't want to share my concerns with anyone outside my husband." After a few more comments insisting, I said I had to go (4 kids waiting in the car, starving and bored).
Bishop never asked to talk to my husband, never tried to extend a calling to him, never asked him to offer a prayer, etc. But actively pursued me. I felt like the assumption was that my husband was a trouble maker because they could see the evidence of it (tattoos), but maybe I'm making an assumption there as well.
The funny thing is- if it were up to me, is probably have thrown my hands up and walked away by now- it would just be easier than having to navigate and tiptoe. My husband is the one pushing for church, wanting our kids to grow in our faith tradition, wanting to stay. Doctrinally, he has far fewer problems than I do, and the problems he has, he has no interest in exploring.
I'm frustrated that the assumption is made on him being "a fallen husband" and me being the one who can be rescued. We've seen it in our past 2 wards and in our new ward as well- I've been contacted a dozen times by ward and leadership members, extended a calling, invited to the ward, etc. While husband hasn't had any contact. We had the HPG stop by when they heard we were unloading our Uhaul and he met 2/3 bishopric. He's a pleasant, personable guy, he doesn't give anyone a reason to shy away from him. His contact info is available as much as mine is. It's just an irritation, but there it is.

Outside of me venting on assumptions, I'd love some input.
I'm trying to find a balance between not sharing too much but not living in the closet. I won't throw a t-shirt on if I hear a knock at the door to cover my tank top and shoulder tattoo if it happens to be a ward member- but I also won't wear a sleeveless dress to church. Does that make sense? Not saying anything and just going about my business works, but what about when asked (like in my previous ward) by bishopric or others? How much do I share so that I'm not being duplicitous, but not invite interventions?

Also, on boundaries. We have afternoon church, which for some reason means people want to stop by unannounced on a Sunday morning. I've told the primary president and bishopric that we don't schedule meetings or visits on Sunday because that's a day we keep for home and family, and that we're pretty private people and would like phonecalls or texts before someone stops by. PP asked again if she could stop by this morning, saying it would just be for a few minutes to welcome the kids to primary. I appreciate her wanting to welcome our family, but I also feel the need to keep boundaries in place. They seem to be honoring the phonecalls before visits, but I've had 2 phonecalls since 9 this morning asking for morning visits and even insisting when I say no. How do you set healthy boundaries on your time and space without being rude?

TL;DR: in a new ward, how do you set boundaries and expectations?

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DarkJedi
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by DarkJedi » 15 Apr 2018, 13:12

New ward and new starts are great. You're in a good position to do as you want and set boundaries.

I think the thing with your husband being seen as the one "pulling your family away" is kind of an old school traditional view of things because everybody knows women are more spiritual than men. And it's hogwash. Granted the ink probably doesn't help but it is what it is. Jesus hung out with sinners, harlots, and publicans - you and your husband are relatively tame in that respect. I might not be shy about pointing to key ward leaders out how judgemental this might be. There is no TR question "Do you have a tattoo?" although there may be something in some handbook - but it's still not a question.

So to answer your question, even if my answer is lame and others will do better. Keep doing what you're doing. You might have to be a little assertive and maybe not answer the door - eventually they'll get it. You could also be proactive with your bishop and set up an appointment to go and meet him, very nicely setting some boundaries. Leadership roulette plays a part there, but a good one will honor your requests and pass them along to the WC (and you might still risk becoming a project). And sometimes we need to be very assertive as in "I told you before we don't do Sunday visits and despite your good intentions this really bothers me, so please honor my wishes" or maybe even "I've seen people leave the church for less than this." Honestly I'd ditch the phone call thing - in their minds that means they can still come if they call as opposed to no, they can't ever come on Sunday.
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nibbler
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by nibbler » 15 Apr 2018, 15:50

I think any time you're new to a ward it's natural for a few things to happen, more because you're new than anything else.

1) It will be hard to work your way in socially (at least it would be for me). You're entering an environment with established relationships. One where you may be seen an outsider for a while. The extreme example of this would be one of those Utah wards where 75% of the people are all extended family. You're an outsider invading home turf. ;)

or

2) Lots of people will come up to you asking lots and lots of questions in an effort to get to know more about you.

or some oddball mixture of both.

I'd also anticipate the primary president, the YM/YW president, the EQP, etc. trying to make lots of contact, even in-home contact, because they want people to feel welcomed, especially the youth. There might be a period of time when you're new where you have to muscle through that stuff until you become old hat and everyone starts taking your presence for granted. ;)

There's a difference between saying, "I'm doing really well." vs., "I'm doing really well navigating all of my concerns on my own."

Adding that "...navigating all of my concerns on my own." tips the bishop off that there are concerns and now he feels an obligation to resolve them (or takes it as a personal challenge).

That said, I get the desire to communicate boundaries and it's hard to do that without letting leaders know where you stand. It's different for everyone, it's even different for the same person interacting with different people, but details do tend to invite attention. A quick, "No thanks." or "We're fine, thanks for asking." with absolutely no elaboration given, even when pressed, gives someone less of a toehold to go into fix it mode.

Roy
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by Roy » 15 Apr 2018, 15:54

I try hard to assume the most charitable circumstances possible for people that interact with me. This is for my own personal sanity. I just assume that most people are busy, preoccupied, unaware, and even a little clueless.

As for the ward contacting you, my cell phone number is listed for the household contact and I get calls all the time for people wanting to talk to DW. I hardly ever get contacted by church members myself (not that I want to be contacted, usually they want something... :lolno: ). I assume that part of this can be explained by differences in how the men and women organizations operate in the church. DW gets called at least monthly by the compassionate service leader and the feed the missionaries coordinator - I never get those calls. Actually I do get the call and then they ask for my wife and then I give them her cell phone number. :lol: She gets invited to relief society activities. I do not think we have any EQ activities. Even when we have father and sun campout, it is up to you to look at the stake calendar. I have never been personally invited

As for boundaries, I believe that they are important and healthy. With the church it can be important to understand how you will contribute/ be imposed on by the church and how you will not. It may be helpful even to push for the calling that you would do rather than repeatedly saying no to what you won't.

I also believe that there is benefit to building on common beliefs. This means that if other people assume that because I am Mormon I believe in XYZ, I will not tell them otherwise. There can be more than one way to Mormon, but people are not going to thank me if I am too flagrant in our differences.

Finally, I have had to accept somewhat of a second class citizenship in the church. I believe that this is the natural consequence of my not being "all in". I am not in the "inner circle". I establish boundaries and the church more or less honors those boundaries and a little distance is created. I have come to accept my own "arms length" relationship to the church.

I hope that makes sense and is helpful in some measure.
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dande48
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by dande48 » 15 Apr 2018, 16:51

Getting tattoos is one of those few "mormon-standards" that does not keep you from getting a temple recommend. With that in mind, it's funny that people place such a huge emphasis on it. Maybe it's because the more apparent the sin, the easier it is to focus on it.

On setting boundaries, I think it's important to be clear and explicit. If those boundaries aren't respected, it's one of the few times where it's okay to get a little mad. Make sure they understand that breaking the boundaries you have set is unacceptable, and you won't tolerate it. If they show up on Sunday unannounced, kick them out. If they keep pushing, after getting a clear answer, walk away. While I am an advocate of being kind whenever possible, and especially don't feel it's right to be rude to a well-intentioned member who didn't know better, those who have been given clear boundaries should respect those boundaries.

Explicitness is the key. If you give someone wiggle-room, they are going to wiggle. You're free to give them exactly as much detail as you want, and if they press for details you don't want to give, stick to your guns. You always have the option of walking away, and don't have to attend any meeting you don't want to be a part of.
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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 15 Apr 2018, 21:34

You've set some good boundaries there so far, and made them known. Keep doing what you're doing. People will need to be reminded though and it's not like you can tell the bishop something and everyone in the ward will get it and abide by it. You'll have to set the boundaries with everyone individually.

I'm not a fan of the pop in visit. Even as a former HT i didn't like to do it. So the Sunday morning thing, of you've told people already, just don't answer there door. They'll get it eventually, might need a reminder though.

I live in socal, so I don't get the aversion to tattoos. Maybe it's just me but I don't see them as a problem or taboo.

Keep it up!
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Rumin8
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by Rumin8 » 17 Apr 2018, 21:54

My best friend in my ward has a boatload of tattoos. He’s very sensitive about them, but I’ve honestly thought they were pretty cool. Cool enough that I’m considering a few of my own someday. It really is a travesty that we all focus so much on what I call the so-called “visible“ sins. Such as WoW, Sunday activities, and in this case, tatoos.

I’ve been in my ward for 15 years, and feel like I’m constantly setting boundaries. I nearly stopped talking to my best buddy from high school for 5 years when he was called to the bishopric in my ward. I always wondered if he was talking to me as my buddy or as a representative of the bishopbric. I recognize this was my problem, not his.

Good luck with your ward transition. I had one of those very awkward visits with a new bishop a few weeks back after putting him off for weeks. It was extremely hard to keep my comments vague and general without them sounding that way. I don’t think I was successful as we were supposed to get a visit from our bishop and SP tonight as part of ward conference. Thankfully we had other commitments and they went elsewhere. The one specific item I mentioned to my bishop was that the first time I hear that I’m on a ward council list is the last time he’ll see me on the list. Oops. Probably tipped my hand on that one.
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BeJoyful
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by BeJoyful » 19 Apr 2018, 17:21

DarkJedi wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 13:12
There is no TR question "Do you have a tattoo?" although there may be something in some handbook - but it's still not a question.
There's nothing in either handbook, from what I can find. However, True to the Faith is pretty clear: "Latter-day prophets strongly discourage the tattooing of the body. Those who disregard this counsel show a lack of respect for themselves and for God." There's also Ensign articles and a page about tattoos and missions.
We both have tattoos that we have gotten within the past 6 months or so, and we feel very different about tattoos (obviously) than the church at large. Mainly that they can have cultural, spiritual, and personal meaning and can thoughtfully adorn our bodies rather than defiling them. But we knew when we got them that they would cause raised eyebrows or more. Mine are covered unless I'm in a tank top- which it so happens I was during the 2 separate drop-in visits within the past 3 days- one visit at 9:15 at night, oh dear. So maybe with that we'll see less stigmatization of my husband, but who knows?
DarkJedi wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 13:12
Honestly I'd ditch the phone call thing - in their minds that means they can still come if they call as opposed to no, they can't ever come on Sunday.
I should have been more clear- we don't do visits on Sunday. If someone would like to visit another day of the week, we would like a phone call beforehand.

I like your idea of talking to the bishop and setting boundaries to be passed on to the WC. That way, anyone in WC (and the people in their stewardship who would be asked to visit us) would know our boundaries, even if they choose not to honor them.

Thanks!

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BeJoyful
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by BeJoyful » 19 Apr 2018, 17:40

nibbler wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:50
1) It will be hard to work your way in socially (at least it would be for me).
True, but I actually don't have a need/desire for social activity within the church- that was beaten out of me in my last ward! Even in my in-between ward, I tended to sit by myself and didn't seek friendships/playdates/etc with those in my ward. I am a friendly person, and don't shut people down at all in the moment, but I've been known to politely turn down dinner invitations in favor of staying home.
nibbler wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:50
I'd also anticipate the primary president, the YM/YW president, the EQP, etc. trying to make lots of contact, even in-home contact, because they want people to feel welcomed, especially the youth.
Lots of this already- which is great- it beats being ignored or outcast. I do think that as Mormons, we tend to ignore rules of courtesy because we're all part of the same club, so you don't treat the perfect strangers who just moved in as a stranger- why wouldn't it be okay to drop by at 9:15 unannounced when the house is completely dark on a school night? Lovely people, lovely sentiments, lovely brownies, but still not appropriate, at least to the non-Mormon societal standards- I just can't see someone dropping by a stranger's house late at night, even if they were new in the neighborhood- they would make sure they went when it was appropriate, I think.
nibbler wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:50
That said, I get the desire to communicate boundaries and it's hard to do that without letting leaders know where you stand. It's different for everyone, it's even different for the same person interacting with different people, but details do tend to invite attention. A quick, "No thanks." or "We're fine, thanks for asking." with absolutely no elaboration given, even when pressed, gives someone less of a toehold to go into fix it mode.
This is the problem!
Information+boundaries=expectations that I at least have input on+intervention
where
boundaries+no information=less intervention+perhaps ill-informed expectations

I'm not sure. Which is the lesser of two weevils? :angel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4PzpxOj5Cc

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BeJoyful
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Re: New ward, new you?

Post by BeJoyful » 19 Apr 2018, 18:06

Forgive my multiple posts as replies. I hate typing on my phone, but my computer isn't as handy to quote with.
Roy wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:54
I try hard to assume the most charitable circumstances possible for people that interact with me. This is for my own personal sanity. I just assume that most people are busy, preoccupied, unaware, and even a little clueless.
I'm trying- it's difficult when you see behavior that is remarkably different than previous wards (and we've been in 2 dozen) repeated in multiple wards. My perception of the possible assumptions towards my husband are bothering me- because the stereotype that is assumed is not at all what is happening with us. I don't want to be seen as the saintly wife who is standing by her heathen husband. I need to work on (a) giving more benefit of the doubt and (b) just not caring.
Roy wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:54
As for boundaries, I believe that they are important and healthy. With the church it can be important to understand how you will contribute/ be imposed on by the church and how you will not. It may be helpful even to push for the calling that you would do rather than repeatedly saying no to what you won't.
I don't know what to do about a calling. I was asked over the phone by BP1C if I would accept a Sunday-only calling to partner-teach youth. He told me not to say no over the phone but that I could say yes over the phone. I had tried to tell him no as I had planned on not holding a calling for a while due to mental health stresses, still unpacking, starting a new job, etc. and wanted to find balance first. He called/texted a few days later while I was at work asking for an answer, and I told him I didn't have one yet. I don't know what calling I would do right now- the thought gives me anxiety on a number of levels.
Roy wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:54
I also believe that there is benefit to building on common beliefs. This means that if other people assume that because I am Mormon I believe in XYZ, I will not tell them otherwise. There can be more than one way to Mormon, but people are not going to thank me if I am too flagrant in our differences.
I absolutely agree. At church, I tend to be quiet if I disagree/don't believe in a statement and contribute on common testimony. The exception is when someone says something that can actually hurt others- such as the RS comments from the SP's wife that "Those people who have depression can't even feel the Spirit" and "They keep putting these medications into their bodies that do more harm than good, when they should just pray more and get some exercise." I speak up (kindly, I hope) on those things because it is actively hurting people we should be loving, and I have the experience and knowledge to back up my statements.
Roy wrote:
15 Apr 2018, 15:54
Finally, I have had to accept somewhat of a second class citizenship in the church. I believe that this is the natural consequence of my not being "all in". I am not in the "inner circle". I establish boundaries and the church more or less honors those boundaries and a little distance is created. I have come to accept my own "arms length" relationship to the church.

I hope that makes sense and is helpful in some measure.
I agree and feel the same. I'm alright with 2nd class citizenship, I'd prefer an arms length relationship. I'm not as comfortable with the stigmatization towards my husband and kids because of my not being "all in" (though my husband is in the same boat as me on actions, if not beliefs)

That made sense and was helpful. I so appreciate the reminder to give benefit of the doubt and see through lenses of love instead of judgement, and trying to assume that others are striving for that as well. I needed that.

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