7.18.2007

Singles Survey: How is your ward?

Ok. I did expect to get negative feedback on my last post, but I did not expect that much. I am frankly surprised by the hostility. Why does my frustration call for other's fierce reprobation? One even went so far as to blame my singleness on my bad attitude. (Thank you for that, by the way.)

So, fine. Let's hear from the rest of you singles. Is my isolation from the family ward a singular experience (ha,ha)? Is the marginalization of single mormons merely a local cultural problem, or a more universal institutional one?

If you have a few minutes, and you are a single mormon, please answer the questions below in a comment.

If you think I am a whiney loser, who expects too much from church (like loving fellowship and inclusion), you may be right. Read the comments from other singles. You will either feel vindicated in your righteous judgement of me, or you might have your eyes opened to something which might be a real problem.

1. What is your age, sex and single status: never-married, divorced, widowed?

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?

3. What is your current calling? How long have you had it?

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? How was it? AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward?

5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)?

7. What is your favorite part of church?

8. What part of church do you wish would change? How would you change it?

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?


My answers:

1. 31, female, never married;
2. I was last asked to speak 5 years ago when I moved into a branch in the city.
3. No calling. I haven't had one in 3 years, despite asking 4 bishops for one.
4. I was a counselor in the primary. I loved it. It was a struggling branch.
5. I haven't been a visiting teacher since I was in a singles ward 6 years ago.
6. No friends. I tired making friends in the ward in Florida, but no one was interested.
7. I like singing the songs.
8. See post below for what I would change.
9. I do not feel included
10. I'm not enlightened.
11. No.

Feel free to skip any questions. Thank you for your time and input! Can't wait to see the answers. I hope it is my fault that I find church so unpleasant, because it's a lot easier to change myself than the whole church.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I somehow got married, but I spent 7 years as a single in Manhattan. I'll answer the questions as I would have before the wedding. . .

1. Was never married

2. Thanksgiving Sunday, 4 years ago

3. Flip-flopped between Sunday School teacher or Family History Consultant. Normally didn't last more than 1 year.

4. hmmm. I was RS Secretary once in my first 4 months as a single in the 8th ward. Then the RS Pres moved so we all got released. It took months to get another calling.

5. Yes. Never had this issue.

6. One or two with people that I have known for all 7 years I've been here. The others are nice to say hi to but nothing deeper.

7. At the time, going home from church was best. . .

8. There were so many things, but the biggest one was the whole "old maid" syndrome. Or the marriage talks. Those were painful.

9. An outsider amongst people I've known in a cordial way for years and years. It's amazing how alone I felt in a room of people I'm supposed to know and love.

10. I didn't. I withdrew. I got a dog. :)

Anonymous for now said...

1. 28, female, never married
2. 4 years ago? I think
3. 2nd counselor in the ward relief society presidency. A couple months. I was called to this position after two months of complete inactivity.
4. This one. it's a kind of small college ward.
5. yes
6. no, not really. There is one person I'm friendly with and occasionally see outside of church / callings.
7. singing hymns
8. oh man. what a big question.
9. outsider
10. n/a

Anonymous said...

1. 51, divorced
2. 10 years ago
3. Don’t have one.
4. Chorister, I liked it at the time, It was 30 years ago when I was in a singles/students branch
5. Visiting teacher
6. No
7. Reflection. Also, once in a while, a young woman will come to me with a question she wouldn’t dare go to anyone else with. I love that.
8. It’s conservatism, elitism and ostracism.
9. I feel like a complete stranger
10. I quit caring about feeling more included. I had nothing in common with anyone, so it was easier not to be with them.
11. Chase Petersen was my branch president when I was a young single woman. I had an enormous amount of guilt because I would masturbate, so I went to confess to him. He told me he would never refuse anyone a temple recommend because of masturbation, that it was perfectly normal, and to quit worrying about it. I did, and that was that. Never worried about it again.

Anonymous said...

I'd worry about it.

Anonymous said...

I'm 26, female, never married. I hope to marry the man I'm dating now. He's not a member and I prefer it that way. I last spoke in church on Christmas. My last calling was gospel doctrine teacher which I asked to be released from in February. Anyway, I agree with you very much. Something needs to change. My mom and Dad were never very active but would make it to Sacrament 75% of the time with me. My Dad isn't a member but would still come with us to church. Because of this, because my father wasn't a member of the priesthood let alone a member of the church I definitely felt like an outcast.

I see this happen now, not with me, but with others. My roommate's parents invite us over for dinners and get togethers with some of their ward members. They belong to a clique of about 5 families of all different ages and I see how they do "charity" for the kids of single parent households or for single adults, but these people are not part of their clique, they don't consider them equals or friends. The singles get pity invites. It disgusts me.

Lollygagger said...

1. What is your age, sex and single status: never-married, divorced, widowed?

I am 28, female, and never-married

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?

I think sometime in the last six months or so.

3. What is your current calling? How long have you had it?

I do the programs. I've been doing this since about October

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? How was it? AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward?

I was compassionate service leader for a while. It was a singles ward. It was okay, though I had a very hard time with some member of my committee, whom I didn't really have much of a voice in choosing.

5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)

I'm a VTer

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)?

My closest friends are not in my ward, but I have one or two people I'd consider real friends.

7. What is your favorite part of church?

Singing.

8. What part of church do you wish would change? How would you change it?

RS and Sunday School. I would have us do much more interactive, hands-on learning activities like in Primary. I get supremely bored by the audience/teacher divide.

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?

Depends on the day! I feel a little wary to reveal what may really be going on with my life. Generally,though, I think my ward is full of people who are striving to be kind.

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?

I don't know. I have decided to stop hating other women for being beautiful. It's very hard for me, and is easier now I'm in a relationship. Date nonmembers is you can't get a date. You won't feel so effing desperate. Even if you didn't think you are desperate (which I didn't think I was), I just think there's an element of that.

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?

I decided once that I was going to go on a date every month for a year. I usually had to ask the guy, and sometimes I had to ask multiple guys before I was accepted. I think the record was asking 7 guys before one would consent to being my date to a dinner party.
Is this a relevant anecdote? I don't know. Most of these guys were in my ward and seemed to be horrified by the thought of going out withe me. But I'm not in that ward anymore.

Lollygagger said...

can I just say I have gotten very little sleep in the last 3 weeks and that is why the above was riven with typos and incoherence...

Maryanne said...

This is really a response to the last post but I didn't want it to get lost in the sea of negativity-- just thought I'd give you the link to a post asking questions about the same things you've discussed, with tons of comments saying the same things you're saying-- you're not alone.

http://segullah.org/segullah-article-discussions/a-living-sacrifice-part-ii/

I didn't write it, but think it's good.

Being single is hard. Somehow, when people get married they forget that. (I'm married, and I forget it from time to time, but try to remember as often as I can- getting married "late" as I did.)

Glad to see you posting again!

Tammy said...

1. 34, married almost 2 years

2. I last spoke in church about 4 months ago after telling the bishop that I wanted to.

3. I have been a RS teacher for 3 months.

4. Hard to say. I think the most important one was one I gave myself, or at least pestered the bishop/stake president into giving me. It involved hosting activities for a midsingles group I created.

5. Yes

6. No, I'm still working on that.

7. For the first time in my life, Relief Society is my favorite part of church,

8. Since I was in a Singles Ward for 15 years or so, I would make family wards more like singles wards. There would be a lot more fun activities and opportunities to make friends.

9. I feel loved and accepted, but I am still an outsider. I thought getting married would automatically get me into the club, but it seems like you need kids to be a full fledged member.

10. I plan activities. This has always been my policy. Instead of waiting to be invited along with everyone else, I try to plan something that they want to be invited to. So far, in my new ward, I've planned outdoor movie nights, game nights and dinners. It isn't a quick fix, but I'm slowly getting there.

11. I guess I just want to say that I do understand what you are going through, however try not to think of the "marrieds" as your enemies. Many of them were married so young, they forgot what it was like to be single in this church (or else they've blocked it out).

As hard as it is, you need to reach out to them. One thing I've noticed lately is how overwhelmed many of the mothers in our ward are. I don't think they mean to exclude anyone, they are just so wrapped up in day to day stuff, they don't notice anyone else. They are friends with each other mostly because of their kids.

I've been in a new ward for about a year now, and I have been struggling to find some good friends. Then I noticed some women who had just moved into the ward who already seemed to know and be friends with everyone. I couldn't understand what they were doing and I wasn't. Then I realized. Kids. Primary activities, play dates babysitting exchanges, etc. Their friendships have formed through these common experiences.

Smash said...

I'm nearly 28, never married. I have never made good friends at church. I have had good friends that were church members, but I met them through other channels--and they were not in my ward. I gave up on dating church members about 3 years ago and I have been a million times happier.

You are correct that alienation of "older" (meaning, older than 22) singles in the church is a major problem--a problem that the married people believe is in our heads (which is insulting, at best. Self-righteous, judgmental, and arrogant is more accurate).

If you've been searching for companionship at church for so many years, and haven't found it, I would suggest looking elsewhere. I did and I'm a lot happier.

Zannah said...

1. 26, female, never married

2. May, but I declined due to language insecurities. They asked again, but I was going out of town.

3. Nursery/Sunbeam teacher (the only teacher). Had it a few months. Also, I live in Paris and my French, while good, still isn't quite up to, say, teaching Gospel Doctrine. (Also, about this ward: the RS and Primary presidents (and maybe even YW pres) are both single women in their late 20s; we're not marginalized there).

4. Umm... ward information committee chairperson? I had to go to ward council for that one. It was in a BYU ward. The current calling is the only one I've ever had that didn't involve running a committee. This is also the first time I've been in a family ward since I was 17.

5. Yes.

6. Yes. My closest is definitely the woman who is the RS president. Overall, though, my ward is very welcoming; any outsider feeling I have is related to being the only American woman, one of two native English speakers, not being of African descent, etc.

7. The French practice, the singing, the socialization, and the talks... when they're good.

8. Can I choose... some of the people? I would love to have everyone who talks really understand the gospel, so that lessons and talks were full of spiritual meat, free of speculation, and a lot more blunt. I'd like some real preaching from the pulpit, a call to repentance even. Quit with the telling nice stories and shallow answers to everything.

9. I feel accepted and loved, but only after I made a point to *let* my ward accept me and love me. I didn't talk to anyone for the first few months I was in the ward, but when I decided I needed to get more involved, and they all knew who I was, they started going out of their way to love me. Now, I get serious love from a bunch of the kids, the bishopric has given me a nickname, and the RS sisters go out of their way for me. Love it.

10. Um... see above answer? Honestly, I think that what they really need is to know that YOU want to be accepted and love. Show up to everything, take part in activities, even if you feel dumb. Strike up conversations with people you don't know, take an interest in them, remember details... all of those hard to getting-to-know-you things. I hate talking to people I don't know, and I hate it even MORE in a language I'm barely fluent in, so no complaining that it's hard. If you give other people a chance to include you, they'll usually take it (assuming they're not all a bunch of rat bastards. And most people aren't).

11. My RS-president friend roped me into participating in the ward talent show doing a dance with 5 other women in the ward. I hated it, and I felt dumb the ENTIRE time, but the ward thought it was cool. After the talent show (just like after all the activities) they started the usual dancing, and this time I joined in. I may not be able to dance as well as the rest of them, but being willing to try and being a part of things made me a real part of the ward.

Susannah said...

1. What is your age, sex and single status: never-married, divorced, widowed?

23, female, single

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?

Over five years ago

3. What is your current calling? How long have you had it?

Don't have one.

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? How was it? AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward?

Visiting Teaching Supervisor

5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)

Nope, about a year ago.

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)?

Had one, but she moved away.

7. What is your favorite part of church?

Sacrament Meeting

8. What part of church do you wish would change? How would you change it?

--

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?

I definitely feel like an outsider.

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?

--

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?

I am asked to introduce myself (as a new member of the ward) every few weeks.

noelle f. said...

1. 35, Female, Single, Never-Married.

2. Probably within the year. But, that's only because my ward is super tiny--and they go through speakers (the entire ward) about every 6 months. No joke.

3. Primary Pianist. TOO LONG I've had this calling. Oh, and Single Adult Representative.

4. Ward Employment Specialist. In my ward--a female should not be doing that job. And, said female shouldn't have 2 other callings, too.

5. I am a VT. She's a contact only by mail. I admit, I'm a huge slacker at this. I don't know this woman from Adam OR Eve.

6. I do. And, it's pretty much only because I've grown up in this ward. It's also pretty much the only ward I've ever been in. When I lived in Utah in 2005 for 2 months, now that was another story. That ward (for me) was awful! Not one person (except my roommate) ever spoke one word to me. I was lost in the shuffle. IN FACT, the week I moved up there, I made an appointment with the Bishop because I wanted to see if/how/when I could work in the Temple...you know, for something to do. Either Salt Lake, or Jordan River or Provo. Anyway, the date/time of my appointment--THE BISHOP DID NOT EVEN SHOW UP.

7. Probably Sacrament meeting.

8. There should be more stuff for the Single Adults.

9. Not an issue for me--probably for reasons mentioned above. Also, I hear many times in RS women who say, "Oh, we've got to sit by so-and-so, or do this or that, blah blah blah"...and I think to myself, "What?! Quit your whining! I'm JUST FINE if no one sits next to me at church. I'm not going to run out of the building and not come back. I like my space and privacy, actually. I prefer to sit by myself at church. I never really go to ward activities, etc., because I do feel a bit odd since I'm single. But, when I go to church--for me, I go FOR ME ONLY. Not for the friendships/associations/activities...if that makes sense.

10. See response above.

11. When I moved back from Utah, Sister S. in my ward asked me RIGHT OFF, "So! Did you meet anyone in Utah?"

Anonymous said...

Our relief society president is single in our ward. Everyone gets VT callings.

The stake one over has a singles ward that singles in our stake can attend if they want.

arbee said...

1 - 36, divorced 14 years
2 - within the last couple of years; I am in a very large ward so I don't think that's odd at all
3 - I have been one of the Activity Day Leaders for about 9 months now - I LOVE it! I would love to work in YW, but my work schedule prohibits it - too many looooong hours.
4 - The "biggest" was probably one of the RS Counselors in a single's branch; since my exit from the YSA scene it would have to be Primary secretary in a small struggling ward.
5 - I am a visiting teacher, although I am not a good one...
6 - I can't say I have any "significant" relationships; meaning going out to lunch and meeting outside of church. I am not really a social-type person though, so I don't think that is weird. That said, I do have may people I enjoy visiting with weekly at church.
7 - I don't have a favorite part of church
8 - I wish there were a SA program for those of us young professionals (25 - 40, maybe) that did not lump us over 30 with the old people. That is precisely what has turned me off of the "old" single adult program since what do I have in common with a 50 or 60 year old?
9 - Sometimes I feel like an outsider and sometimes not so, it depends on the makeup of our ward...we're pretty transient here.
10 - I wouldn't consider myself enlightened; just getting older and more cynical as the years go by...
11 - No

Single Gal said...

1. 32, Never Married, Woman

2. About 10 years ago. I asked the bishop a few years ago. It took a year then he let me (and no, I wasn’t sinning at the time either!). I am not sure which one counts.

3. None-my last calling was convincing the men in the ward that they should help with nursery for HFPE

4. I was in the RS presidency in a singles branch. It was actually really good. Small branch but as a whole quite close to one another. It was great to be able to serve in that capacity.

5. No. I was when I was in the singles ward before they put people over 31 in the family ward together.

6. A few. I don’t have much in common with the people in my SO CA mid-singles ward so it is difficult to make close friends. It is also pretty elite. If the bishop thinks you are “cool” it plays into whether someone is accepted.

7. Leaving. OK, seriously taking the Sacrament-I don’t have to be social and can focus on why I am really at church.

8. Focus on the Savior, scriptures and such. Do this by having lessons, talks, etc on the Savior and from the scriptures.

9. No, I feel alone and abandoned. I went through serious health problems and surgeries alone. It caused severe depression. The depression lifted when I finally accepted that it was unhealthy for me to attend this ward and that I need to attend another ward.

10. Treat all members of the ward as equals with respect, etc. It shouldn’t be about who you know and that is how things are now.

11. I live in the boob job capital of the church. The bishop even paid for his daughter to get one when she was still single (he may have been bishop of the singles ward at the time but I cannot remember). Tons of other cosmetic surgery as well with a ton of clothing that is not appropriate for church (or if you wear garments). It makes it very weird because you have to fight feeling like you have to look “hot” when you go to church and remember that the spirituality is why go.

Not trying to be negative, just honest.

Ann said...

1. 47, remarried. I was a divorced member with two children from the ages of 31-37 (married to a nevermo before that.)

2. I spoke early in my single days when ward boundaries changed. The other speaker was a single man. I spoke first about how the gospel of Jesus Christ helps to live a positive life. He spoke about the single adult program. My talk was way better. :) I was also a frequent testimony bearer.

4. Counselor in Young Women's. No, we were not a struggling unit. I had a daughter in the program.

5. I was a visiting teacher and went every month or two. I had a great home teaching couple as my home teachers, they were good friends. I asked the bishop to switch my previous home teacher because he and his wife were going through a difficult patch, and I was slightly in love with him.

6. Yes, I did. Mostly it was because of my age, I think - there were a number of women who had children the same age as my oldest who were not so attached at the hip to their spouses as the young mothers were, so we did a lot of stuff together.

7. Choir. Hands down.

8. Gossip.

9. Very much so. I was very engaged in the life of the ward. I had more than one person point out to me that it was because I was "quasi-married" because I was divorced and had children. I'm sure there was some truth to that.

10. Ouch. IMHO, there was really nothing anybody could do to mitigate the lack of intimacy in my life. In spite of all I got from my church participation when I was single, it didn't replace having my own somebody to love (cue Queen here...)

11. I met one of my very best friends, a young married woman with no children yet, when we were both chaperoning a youth temple trip. It turned out that we were both computer nerds, and we really hit it off. I was at least ten years older than her, and she started having babies pretty soon after, so it wasn't one of those friendships that seemed obvious at the time.

stacer said...

1. 32, female, never married

2. Last month, for sacrament (wasn't able to due to traveling and brother's wedding). This month, for a fireside I gave last week.

3. Gospel Doctrine teacher. Had it in this ward since I moved in (March) and in my last ward for about 6 months, while also teaching RS at the same time.

4. Hard to say, because I've had so many middle-big callings over the years. I would say being the family history consultant while teaching the family history SS class in a large urban singles ward was just as big as being a RS counselor in a small singles branch, and teaching Gospel Doctrine overshadows them all just for time I need for preparation because GD doesn't come as naturally to me as family history. The only calling that ever put me in ward council besides the RS calling was ward photographer/communications coordinator, which was also a big job, doing the ward list and making sure everyone in the ward was known to the bishopric. We all play our part.

5. Yes, currently, and have been in every ward I've been in, both the last 3 family wards and all the singles wards before that.

6. It's hard to establish at first, but right now I'm good friends with the girl that has now become my roommate, as well as several people in our mid-singles program (we're in a ward like the HB one described, but in Seattle). Before that ward, I was good-enough friends with the RS pres (the only other single in that ward), though that ward was hard to find "bosom friends" to really hang out with on a regular basis and have a lot in common with, so I completely understand how hard it is to make those connections. My first two years in Seattle were filled with loneliness in that regard.

7. Sunday School, both the time I teach and the time I spend as a student in my off weeks.

8. There's a lot, and it's all stuff I can't control, like the incredibly small number of normal men in my age range compared to the number of weirdos and semi-pervs. But I know a small number of good men who I'm coming to trust as friends, if nothing else. Dating hasn't happened for me in over a year (not that it happened much before that--perhaps a date a year)--and that's external to church worship.

I might change RS, though I don't know how. It mostly bores me, but that might be because it's hard for me physically to sit long hours. And for some reason I feel more lonely and detached, less invested, in RS than in SS.

9. Now, in general, I feel middling. Sometimes I feel very welcome, but not completely *connected* because I don't feel like I *really* can be connected because the people I know are so transient in my life. People move in, people move away, and it's hard to feel like I have permanent LOCAL connections, despite having extremely good friends all over the country.

10. Time. Years of anguish and wishing things were better. Moving a lot, trying to find my niche. Still don't know if I've found it, but trying to come to terms with feeling like it's more between me and the Lord than with anyone else. And I still struggle with it, and feel less connected with the Lord than I have ever felt in my life, but am starting to come back around and feel stronger for the struggle.

Carolyn said...

Hi JL,

Glad to see you back and posting again!!

1. Single, never married.

2. A year ago.

3. Chorister, six months.

4. Toss up between counsellor in RS presidency, one year, and gospel doctrine teacher, four years. It was fine. When I was a counsellor our RS pres was also single. Our recently released RS pres is also single. This all happened in reglular wards.

5. Yes.

6. Yes, I do have some real friends in the ward but my closest friends are not in the ward/church.

7. the music

8. I wish there was less emphasis on programs and more emphasis on the Saviour. One of the previous commenters hit it right on the head when they said that we should be Christ centered. Then there would be no need to label ourselves as married/single.

9. A bit of both. I feel generally accepted and loved. If I feel like an outsider I don't think it's because I'm single but rather because I'm in the arts. Not a lot of artists active in the church.

10. For me I don't suppose that outsider feeling will ever go away. I don't really expect it to. I'm just not comfortable in large structured organizations. I don't think most people think the same way I do. But I think they love me and are trying to understand me as best they can. To make this easier for them I keep my mouth shut -- a lot. This part really works.

11. Wondering if anyone else has had problems with weird creepy men. Just because we are in the same ward doesn't make us friends and certainly doesn't mean I have to date you. All it means is that we happen to live within the same geographical boundaries. Sorry, if that makes me sound bitchy.

Seriously, there is a very strange man in my ward who in the past made some *very* off colour remarks to me. Now they've put him in charge of handing out the programs. Every Sunday it's like running the gauntlet to get by him without him talking to me or worse yet touching me!! I don't want to shake his hand! Ugh!! And yes, I've asked him to leave me alone in so many words but he doesn't get the message.

Matt said...

1. 37, Never Married Male

2. A couple of years ago. I spoke about sepearting church culture from the Restored Gospel. People loved it.

3. Family History Guru/SS Teacher for the past 8 years from the YSA and now the Midsingles Ward. Also I organized and planned the huge Midsingles Conference last April which 1,200 showed up. I also plan other Midsingles activities. Church consumes a lot of my time...

4. I think number 3 says it all.

5. Home Teacher. Home taught last week. I don't appreciate the fact that because I HT 100% with 5 people on the list, that now they want me to HT 10 different people a month. Physically impossible.

6. My closest friends are not in the ward. I'm friendly with people in the ward, but don't really have any "true" friends in the ward. I realize from some in the ward, they don't have the capacity than anything more than "friendly".

7. When help I others with their Family History or see an activity I planned help people, then that's gratifying. Sitting in the Celestial Room in the temple after a session is a high point as well.

8. I think people should be more open and honest in disclosing what they are truly facing. Having "Sunday faces" does a disservice to everyone. Not that means we have look depressed. We just need to be more transparent each other. I would like more "psych-pop" concepts like co-dependency, or low self-esteem, etc, etc bring discussed more in church. Bringing the abtract teachings of the scriptures and the Atonement of the Savior into more practical applications to everyday living.

Also, I hate the reverse sexism that exists at Church -- that men are inferior to their wives, that men can't clean, decorate, be creative, show emotion, etc, etc. (otherwise you're gay, right?)I find single men much more liberated than the women on these issues at Church.

9. It's hard to say. Sometimes I feel love and appreication. Other times I don't. I actually get some positive and support from members outside my ward than inside my ward.

10.It's a ongoing struggle. But lowering expectations that my ward is the end-all, be-all place for social interaction is a good start. Developing friendships in different places (at work, or with other members in different wards, etc) helps out a lot.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Mormon, or even Christian, but I do think you generally have a bad attitude, JL. You seem to have several "good" reasons for your bad attitude, but it's a bad attitude none-the-less.

Sarah said...

1. What is your age, sex and single status:
never-married

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?
a couple of years ago; however, I turned it down because I just can not speak at the pulpit. I can teach lessons to small-med groups and such but there is something about speaking at the pulpit that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. I just can't do it, and thankfully my bishopric has been understanding. I imagine I will not be asked again until we have a new bishopric who aren't aware of my little phobia.

3. What is your current calling? YW President
How long have you had it? 3 1/2 years!

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? YW President

How was it? I have loved it and have grown so much in it.

AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward? regular family ward

5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)
No. I've never been a visiting teacher. I was a visiting teaching supervisor for a year, a while back. Years ago, I asked to not be made a visiting teacher for various reasons. However, I would be happy to be one now.

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)? Yes! I have developed a great friendship with my YW Secretary who is my mom's age. I have friendships with many other ward members as well but our socializing is generally limited to church-related things. However, my friendship w/ my YW Secretary extends outside of church.

7. What is your favorite part of church? The music in Sacrament Meeting.

8. What part of church do you wish would change? The length of the block.
How would you change it?Shorten the block a bit - there are wards in the metro area I live in that meet for only 2.5 hrs because too many wards have to meet in one building. I would *love* a 2.5 hour block!

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?
I feel accepted, but I didn't always. I am almost 40 and have been in the same family ward for 9 years now. I didn't feel as accepted the first 4 or 5 years in the ward as I do now(but I'm pretty sure it was more my insecurities that were the problem than actually not being accepted).

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?
Well, a big part of feeling more accepted was being called to YW. I was first called as the Beehive Advisor and served with several women who I think the world of. I developed casual friendships with all of them - it helped to go to Girls Camp as we all got to know each other better up there. Once I was called to be YW President, by virtue of that calling I had a reason to have contact with more members of the ward, so just having more people know my name enough to say hi to me and use my name when they said it helped me feel a part of the ward.

I also made a conscious effort a few years ago to stop feeling sorry for myself as I sat in Sacrament Meeting among the families (I am the only single woman in my ward under the age of 40). I used the old "fake it 'til you make it" approach ... and it worked for me, but it took time.

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?
Can't think of any off the top of my head

sarah said...

oops - forgot part of the answer to Question #1:
age: 39
sex: female

J.L. said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful answers! There are a lot of good stories and suggestions here.

It mostly sounds like we are all having very diverse church experiences, with the common denominator being the 'outsider' feeling. And not talking very often in church.

Thank you to Matt especially for being the only man to respond, what is up with that by the way??

JadeNYU said...

1. Single, female, never married

2. June 24th, 2007 (which is also the first time I'd ever been asked to give an 'adult' talk in church despite being 26).

3. I'm secretary in the YW program. I got called to that in April 2007.

4. My current calling (YW Sec) is my biggest calling. Prior to that, as an adult, the only calling I'd ever recieved was as the 8th person on the Enrichment Evening committee. Everytime I asked them what they needed me to do, they would say, "Just show up and bring yourself!", so I stopped going to the Enrichment committee meetings, because it was obviously not a position that they needed someone to fill. The ward I'm currently in is a struggling ward. They've got a mix of people that have been their for 50 years, people that move in and out for school (UCLA and USC are nearby)/work/a year at the beach in CA. There are 12 YW on the roles, 4 YW active and, out of all my YW, only 2 of them have parents that are still married. So, it's not an extremely traditional ward.

5. I'm a visiting teacher that's been assigned 3 women. I have a companion - I was given the option to do it by myself, but, I don't drive, so, I chose to have a companion. I regret that decision because, getting two schedules to meet up when we both work full time is a pain in the butt. I'd rather just take the bus and do it on my own.

6. Not yet. To be fair, I spent 2.5 years living in the ward boundaries, but I've only been attending church again for six months (went inactive in NY - stayed inactive when I moved to LA). This ward is quirky and there are a lot of great people that have reached out to me (because they dig my quirkiness, not because they feel they have to - I've seen both, so I know the difference). They 3 women I serve with in YW are my age and pretty cool (although I'm the only single one). There were 2 women I met in RS that I'm starting to develop friendships with (both married, one to a non-member) that are also neat. Most of the girls my age in this ward are in grad school or work full time, so I have a lot in common with them, even though I'm not married.

7. I don't enjoy much about church, to be honest. I have problems filtering out background noise, so, I'm miserable through most of the meetings. However, after 1 year of being partially active in NYC, 1 year of being barely active in NYC, 1 year of going to an evangelical church in LA and 2 years of going to no church, what I like best about church is that I feel that it's where I'm supposed to be. You can blame it on really good brainwashing, but, considering both of my parents are converts and my dad is now an atheist and my sister is only partially active while my brother is not active at all, I really don't think it's brainwashing/guilt that gets me going. No matter how boring the meetings are (we sure don't clap/sing the way the evangelicals do) and no matter how miserable I may be during the meetings, the fact is that I always feel better about going than not going. And that's what I like best about church. Now, what I like best about the gospel is a different question entirely....:)

8. I really wish people were more respectful of the services. When I would go to church with my Catholic grandparents, the service would be extremely quiet. During LDS meetings, people will whisper, open up food wrappers and eat it, chew/snap gum, babies will cry (and the parents won't take the children out)....For a person like me that can't filter out that background noise/motion (it's called sensory integration disorder), it becomes very chaotic and makes the meeting quiet miserable. There's not much I can do to change it other than setting my own (hopefully good) example by not speaking/eating/crying during the meetings.

9. I feel like an outsider on some things - I'm not married, I live with a boy (he's a friend, but still...), dating a non-member, I have a sarcastic sense of humor, up until a month ago I drank Mountain Dew, I want to travel the world and, while I want to have a family, I don't want to settle down in any one place for more than 2 years or so....

However, on other issues, I'm the 'lucky' insider - although both of my parents are converts I grew up in the church, my parents are still married (34 years and going), etc.

The fact is that I can find reasons to feel like an outsider in any group of people I hang out with (including groups of close friends) and I can find ways to feel like the center of the group...I usually end up feeling like an outsider, but, that's because I'm mental. :)

10. I do the same things I do everywhere else that I feel like an outsider. I find one or two other people that are quirky like me, and I hang out with them. Unfortunately, when that didn't work in the past (I never found anyone to hang out with - or even sit with at church - in my single's ward in NYC), I went inactive for 5 years....so, I'm probably not the best person to give advice on this issue.

11. No anecdotes, but I did want to apologize for making this post so long.

Emily M. said...

Hey, the link to the Segullah blog wasn't complete. The full link doesn't seem to be appearing very well, so I'll separate it onto two lines, but it's all one word:
http://segullah.org/segullah-article-discussions/
a-living-sacrifice-part-ii/

The Primary President in our ward is single. She does an awesome job. We are lucky to have her.

Can I just say that we married people need to be reminded about the needs of single people, because we forget? So thanks, JL, for this blog, and keep talking.

Kathryn said...

1. Female, 27, never-married.

2. I spoke 2 months ago. I have give 5 talks in 2.5 years, but I always request my speaking assignemnts.

3. Ward Organist. My whole life.

4. Ward Organist. It's a life sentance.

5. I am a slack visiting teacher.

6. I have a few really strong friendships.

7. Changing keys between verses when I play the organ.

8. I would completely rewrite the sunday school manuals. And I would return RS to its roots, when it was run by feminists and had a real voice in the management of the church. And I would put in a lot more organ.

9. I feel loved and accepted by some, and ignored by others.

10. This may sound really cliche, but I try and reach out as much as I can. This may sound heretical, but sometimes that just involves opening dialogue about the things that are discussed here, such as how church can sometimes be a big chore. Being open about that makes it easier, and you realize that a lot of people feel that way.

11. Yes. I have a very exceptional bishop. He is wise and non-judgmental and very liberal. A dear friend of mine was in an interview once, and the topic of profanity came up I'm not quite sure how, and he said "swearing? there's nothing wrong with a little swearing. I swear. Shit! Shit! C'mon Lisa, say it! Not quite sure what the point was. But we laughed our heads off about that.

Faye said...

1. I am 23, single, never married and I live in Beijing - we don't have a singles ward, but we have a very strong singles group - anywhere from 10 to 40 singles in our family branch of about 300 expats. The branch takes exceptional care of us and I wish that every single member could have the same experience.

2. I last spoke on Mother's day 2006, after 10 months of being in the branch. In our branch, there is usually either a youth, single adult speaker or both each Sunday.

3. No calling now but I was branch pianist and single adult activities coordinator. I was pianist for a year and activities coordinator for nearly 20 months.

The Beijing branch is exceptionally transient and people are moving in and out all the time, making it hard to keep track of people. There is one counselor in the Branch Presidency that watches out over the YSA like an auxiliary. We have our own Sunday school and usually an older couple to be our counselors. Everyone gets a calling. Most are self-contained. Within the YSA, there are a few Sunday school teachers, 2 reps, a secretary, YSA fireside coordinator, activity coordinators, FHE coordinators, and some people get pulled for "real callings" within the branch depending on the number of YSA we have at the time.

4. Young Women 1st counselor was the biggest calling I've had. It was in my home branch in Malaysia. I'm not sure what that counts as. Everyone holds important callings there. 3 or 4 of them sometimes.

5. It took about 18 months of being in the branch before any of the singles had home/visiting teachers and assignments. The single sisters usually got paired up together to visit non-single sisters. Before I came into the branch, the RS president had monthly dinners where all the single sisters would be invited to in lieu of being visit taught.

6. I do have lots of significant relationships. The single adults is my primary social scene here in Beijing and most of the active single adults rely on each other socially.

7. I realize there's much more to church than socializing but if I am completely honest, YSA Sunday School is m favorite. I love going to church with all my friends.

8. I really wish there was more focus on bringing the spirit to sacrament talks and lessons and that people would speak/teach on the topics assigned but I don't have anything concrete to offer to change it besides perhaps a fireside here and there to talk about giving good talks and some good teacher prep classes. There are a lot of other problems too, I am aware, but I haven't had as many negative personal experiences personally to be critical.

9. I've always felt like an involved contributor who is very much welcomed and a part of the ward/branch I am in or if I start to feel otherwise, I act on it.

10. I realized a long time ago that I need to feel a sense of belonging in order to be happy and get the best experience out of church so instead of waiting to be welcomed, I've always taken the initiative to befriend other members and create a sense of belonging for them. It took 2-3 months of getting the scattered YSA together by organizing informal activities for them (after I decided that if nobody was going to organize anything to invite me to I had to do the organizing myself) before the branch presidency noticed and gave me the calling of activities coordinator. Branch pianist has been my default calling and I have Mom to thank for that. Whenever I move to a new branch, I look for every opportunity to serve through my piano playing and surprisingly, even in a branch full of people who can play the piano just as well or better, I will never run out of opportunities.

11. I realize that the Beijing Branch is an exceptional one and a great one to be a single adult in. The branch members here love the single adults and we're always getting invited over for meals (there are no missionaries here so the singles get all the affection and free food).

We organize a monthly fireside, usually held at a members home where we are fed before the fireside. There's FHE every Monday and Institute every Thursday and activities formal or informal are always going on on either Friday or Saturday. On Sundays, if we don't get an invite to member's homes, we (yes on a Sunday) go out to eat together. We're a really good group, and we rely on each other for friendship so we look forward to every opportunity to hang out together and are excited whenever someone new moves into the branch and adds to our numbers. I wish this could be the experience of every single adult within the church. It really does take just one or two people to take initiative and create that feeling of community within a small group of single adults and you could easily be that person.

jillmaren said...

ok, I'm married but I'm going to vote anyway and backdate my answers to last year before I was married:
(as of 2006:)
1. What is your age, sex and single status: never-married, divorced, widowed?
A:27, female, nevermarried

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?
A:jeez...even in a singles ward for 4 years I never spoke (because it was so big and I was quiet). Probably in a fmily ward in Atlanta.

3. What is your current calling? How long have you had it?
A: Didn't have a calling in the singles ward. Last calling before that was in the nursery. (I quit after 6 months because I couldn't handle it)

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? How was it? AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward?
A: see above. Slightly struggling inner-city ward.

5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)
A:Was not a VT, and hadn't been for about 8 or 9n years (since freshman year in college in the student ward). But, I did have a very loyal VT myself who at least called me every month. She was older than me and had been engaged like 3 times and had some weird committment issues that are usually only experienced by men. She was GORGEOUS, smart, funny and slightly foreign - only Mo girl I knew who didn't have a hard time getting dates (she dated the entire stake).

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)?
A: No, never.

7. What is your favorite part of church?
A:Snacks

8. What part of church do you wish would change? How would you change it?
A: I think church is too long. And I still hate relief society.

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?
A: Outsider

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?
A: N/A

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?
A: Nah

the House of Payne said...

1. 32, male, never married.

2. I spoke in church a couple of years ago, I think. It was in a singles ward, for what it's worth.

3. I just got asked to be a teacher in EQ. Before that, no calling aside from home teaching since I moved from singles ward to family ward a year ago.

4. Not sure what you mean by "biggest" calling, but if I read you right, then my answer would be Sunday School President in a BYU singles ward. I loved it. Great fun.

5. I am a home teacher, and have been continuously since I was a kid.

6. My best friends in the ward are my brother and his wife (no surprise). There are plenty of other nice folks, who I would consider friends, but I am not sure any of them would count as "significant relationships" or "real friendships" to a woman. I'm not bummed out by this-- perhaps because I am emotionally retarded. That doesn't bum me out, either.

7. Before this ward, my favorite part was always EQ. Here, EQ is super, super boring. So now it's gospel essentials class, which I like because it is small. (Although I should add that our new WML has not prepared lessons with the same care as our old one, and I am thinking of jumping ship for another Sunday School class.)

8. I wish I could make every person who speaks in church read "Politics and the English Language," by George Orwell. Then I would sit down with them and talk to them about how to think before speaking. And then I would probably get beat up for being a pompous ass, but what's life without a little danger?

9. I feel pretty okay at church. Of course, I would feel more loved and accepted if a pretty girl sat next to me in church and we had our arms around each other. And then maybe we would get married and have babies, who would crawl all over us during sacrament meeting, and when I got bored I could take them out into the hall and play with them. That would be awesome.

10. I don't know what I do to feel less like an outsider. And to be honest, maybe if you felt what I feel, you would say it feels like being an outsider. I can't say. Feelings are nebulous, ephemeral, subjective-- I try to ignore them and think about giant robots that use kung fu to protect earth from space monsters.

11. I have never shared anything relevant in my life, and I do not intend to start now.

On a related note, JL, my comment on your last post on this subject was not meant to be hostile. Hope it was not taken that way. I was just kidding around. It's my way.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that anyone will make it down to reading my answers down here, but I thought I'd share anyway.

1. 33, female, divorced

2. I spoke last week

3. Ward Missionary, for two weeks now.

4. I suppose you mean the calling that is most in the limelight, (because a calling is to serve and you can serve big or small) and in that case I was just recently released as the Education counselor in the RS. It was wonderful, I enjoyed serving that way. The ward is mid-size.

5. I thought everyone is a VT by virtue of being a member. I've never known that there was an option not to be.

6.Yes. Both in the family ward when I was going through the divorce-- wonderful sisters there and great HT-- and in singles wards after. Actually, better in the family ward than in the singles ward. Each ward is different. I know that there is cattiness sometimes among single sisters and pity from married ones, but there is usually a few men and women who are secure enough to extend a hand of friendship to the "different" person in every ward I've been in since my divorce.

7. Relief Society and Sacrament

8. I wish people could differentiate the "church" from the members. When I think of the church, I think of the gospel. When I think of the members, I think of those struggling to live the gospel the best they can. I wish people could all focus on what we have in common not on what we don't.

9. At times I feel like an outsider (I attend a student ward because I am a grad student and there are a few of us 30+) but that is usually when I focus on what I don't have in common with the others.

10. I went to every activity even when it hurt to be alone. While my husband and I were separated I forced myself to go to the activities and make myself useful helping out in the kitchen or helping with the kids, or cleaning up, etc. I volunteered to do extra things to take my mind off of the fact that I was alone. In the singles ward it's the same. I try to live up to "membership" by participating as fully as possible.

11. A few months ago the missionaries asked me what I would have done differently in my marriage. My answer is the same thing that I do now to get over the times that I feel like an outsider: I would have realized that my happiness is not dependant on my husband or on any other person-- true joy comes from my relationship with my Savior.

Anonymous said...

1. 33 Male, Divorced.

2. Two weeks ago.

3. 2nd Councilor EQ Presidency

4. Elder's Quorum President in a Singles Ward. (Favorite was Gosp Doctrine teacher for 4 Years)

5. Yes, Home Teacher.

6. New to this ward maybe 5 month. I am not really out going at first but in the last few months I have been pushing myself to take the initiative. So now I have several friends in the ward.

7. A good Sunday School class with discussion and not a lecture style teacher.

8. I don't know. Shorter?

9. In general, I feel like an outsider but I am starting to feel more included. I feel that it is because I am starting to make an effort and I do think other members are meeting me half way. Maybe they are not real outgoing either an by me being friendly makes it easier now compared to the first few months were I knew almost no one.

10. See above.

11. Being divorced in the church is just as hard as being single. But I think overall most members are pretty accepting if you give them a chance. There will always be some who are not but I try not to let them bother me. This may sound cliche but I get a lot of good out of focusing on those around me who are kind, loving, accepting and supportive. I seriously think my recent attitude change has helped me feel more included. But it isn't like I have a ton of friends now. I think over time I will feel closer to those in my ward.

Of course that is just one man's experience.

Joe said...

1. 27, Male, Never Married

2. Memorial Day Weekend 2004

3. Activities Committee

4. Communications Committee Co-Chair in a very large Las Vegas Singles Ward

5. I'm a Home Teacher

6. Yeah, have a lot of really good friends

7. The Temple--or, in Church itself, Elder's Quorum discussions

8. The focus on returned missionaries--or rather, the lack of any mention of the worthiness or virtues of converts

9. Mostly, I feel loved, but as a convert I am still an outsider when it comes to social events

10. Heh...haven't figured that one out yet

cita33 said...

1. What is your age, sex and single status: never-married, divorced, widowed?

30, female, never married

2. When was the last time you were asked to speak in church?

a few months ago and 5 months before that

3. What is your current calling? How long have you had it?

ward missionary 8 months

4. What is the biggest calling you have ever had? How was it? AND, was this in a struggling branch/ward or a regular ward?

biggest? busiest? best?
sunday school teacher- 2 years- LOVED IT, rs first councelor 2 times, activities chair, ward missionary- favorites


5. Are you a visiting or home teacher? (when was the last time you were?)

visiting teacher- yes

6. Do you have significant relationships with any members of your ward (real friendships)?

yes- i just moved from my ward of 9 months which i loved, loved, loved. my best friends ranged from 19 to 28. the last guy i dated in the ward was 21. i never felt like i was anything other than just one of the gang, though i feel very aware that others look to me for an example.

7. What is your favorite part of church?

taking the sacrament, finding answers, feeling peace, serving those who need help

8. What part of church do you wish would change? How would you change it?

what part of church or what part of the people? church- nothing, it's the true church and if God wants to change it He will. people- more focused on taking care of those who struggle, especially new converts. those of us who are happy should reach out and find those who need love and friendship. even when we're not happy we should, if we have the strength. and if we don't we should pray and be patient until it comes.

9. In general, do you feel accepted and loved by others at church, or do you feel like an outsider?

i felt like an outsider at age 19 as a new member. over time i have learned that there are just as many people feeling like outsiders and if i find them and love them- i no longer feel like an outsider. some ward are more closed than others- true. that just means there are more people to love into understanding what the gospel is all about. it's a mission.

10. For those of us who aren't as enlightened as you, what did you do to mitigate that outsider-feeling and make yourself more included?

prayed. looked around to find those who were in need. served with all my heart. forgot myself and went to work. found the joy in life, even with my struggles. and i have many, many struggles. i also learned how to ask for help- this is sooooooooo important not just for me but to bless others also.

11. Any relevant anecdotes you would like to share?

Just that I am grateful to be 30 and not married because it means people respect my testimony about this more. 27 year olds can't really complain when i say- hey i'm 30 and i love this ward and i'm happy. i feel like it gives a lot of people hope because they see more possibilities. i like to talk about being 30 because it seems to make people pay attention. and i know that in the years to come there will be many in my ward now who are not married who will remember me and my best friend -28- and how happy and part of the ward that we were- and they will be inspired. that keeps me going and i'm so grateful to know that i can be a blessing to others in this way.

life is not easy. i struggle with depression and other things. but i love the gospel. i have a mission on this earth and when i am fulfilling it i am truly happy. i have learned that when you love people, they love you. it's not easy and people can still hurt you- but if you are living to bless others, the Lord blesses you with true friends and true peace. i know this is true.