I was at the Idaho Department of Labor (job service). I was working on a resume in the computer lab when I heard a lady a couple seats away slam the desk and mutter the F-bomb. I looked at her and realized she was an acquaintance that used to drive a bus for Tim, the disabled person I take care of. An employee approached her and asked her if there was something she needed help with. She gave a very irritable, "NO!" I wondered what was wrong and thought maybe I'd just give her a minute to cool down then say hi- which I did. It was like a different person emerged when she saw me. She was happy to see me and asked me about Tim. I asked her about her boys and she lit up. She shared with me that one is in Bible School, one is a youth minister and I can't remember what the other is doing but all three of her boys are very active in their church. She beamed- a very proud mom as, it sounds, she should be. Then she started to tell me how they've been blessed so much since they left her abusive husband. She told me many of the blessings God has poured out on her and her boys and how grateful to Him that she is. Then she asked me what my religion is. I told her. She said something to the effect of, "I know other people who think you guys are weird but I just think you're all so nice and I respect you because you all do more for people than anyone else I've ever met and you're the nicest people around." I thanked her and told her we try to emulate Christ in the way we live our lives. She told me she is very active in her Pentecostal church. The conversation was fine up to this point. Not awkward at all. But then...
She told me she'd recently learned to anoint her hands and touch people with them and proclaim for people. She said that because Jesus hung on the cross and said, "It is finished." that as followers of Christ we can proclaim things that God has to then do for us. I'm not sure how she got from point A to point B but this was our first religious difference to come up. I didn't say it out loud. I want to have respect for her beliefs and I certainly don't need to get into a battle over what's right and wrong and interpretation etc. In her defense, we didn't spend the time on this topic for me to understand it completely. My own belief is that I don't tell God what to do. I can ask with faith and if something is his will then he can make it happen if he chooses. I do believe that he wants to bless us because he loves us and we're his children. I also believe that we have many unseen blessings and that although something seems right to us, we may be wrong. He sees the big picture. I may not get what I want, no matter how "good" it seems. Moving on.
The idea of her anointing her hands and touching people with them seems similar to the priesthood. The priesthood is the power of God. I believe in order to have this power it must be given by someone who has the authority. I don't believe she does and so I felt funny about this. Again though, I didn't think it was for me to disagree or tell her I think she's wrong. She has a right to her beliefs just as I have a right to mine. I like to have a healthy, common respect and I was trying to understand.
Well, we talked religion for a few minutes and then I let her know I needed to leave. She said, "Before you go I have to say a prayer for you. Do you mind?" Honestly, I don't mind people praying for me, I can use all the prayers I can get. I also believe that when it comes to prayer it doesn't matter what our religion, God hears and answers ALL prayers. At the same time, I wasn't sure what to expect. There were people around.
I hesitantly said, "Okay. Hoping we'd go in the bathroom or something." She said great and jumped up. I grabbed my things and followed her. I breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the lobby we must be headed for the bathroom. I breathed that sigh to soon. She passed the bathroom door and headed outside. I thought, Oh good, we'll go around the building where we have some privacy. No such luck. Just outside the front doors she stopped and turned to me and said, "I'd like to make a proclamation for you." I politely said, I don't fully understand your proclamation and I don't feel comfortable with that. I am okay with a prayer though." She didn't appear at all offended and asked what I do with my hands when I pray? I showed her that when I say my personal prayers or pray in church I fold my arms. (Our family holds hands when we say our daily family prayers together.) She told me that she believes that when we pray we receive and so asked me to hold my hands out palms up in front of me. At this point I was looking around to see how many people were going to witness this. The answer at this point was at least 5. I was grateful for the darkened windows on the building. It was easier to pretend no one was inside looking out. I quit looking, I was feeling very awkward. As LDS we pray in church as congregations, we pray as families, we say our own personal prayers, we pray in group leadership positions and I could name many more etc. but this is not how I'm used to doing it. OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE!
|5||¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:|
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners
of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you,
They have their reward.
|6||But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou|
hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy
Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Please don't think I feel she's a hypocrite, I don't. Really, if she wanted to have more of a group we'd have stayed in the computer lab where there were at least 50 others who could have witnessed it. Maybe she thought the bathroom was inappropriate. I do share this scripture to show my belief and the way I practice my prayers though. It's not for show, it's between my Heavenly Father and me. It's to gain a personal relationship with him. It's in private more so I can listen and try to feel what he may be communicating back.
This nice lady then raised her hands and started to say a very flowery prayer. And while she wasn't yelling, she wasn't quiet either. I shut my eyes tightly, afraid to see how many people might be gawking at us. I felt so completely conspicuous that I started wondering what the people around us were thinking. I was glad my bishop had a job. I didn't think he'd be at job service and I didn't want to have to explain what I was doing. I could have been wearing blinking lights and felt less obvious. Where was the nearest hole? The elaborate language (yes, it was in English) she was using was very difficult for me to follow. It felt more like a bunch of words to me than communication- I'm sure she knew what she was saying though. (I did think it was ironic that these words were coming out of her mouth just a few minutes after the F-word). I believe that language is very powerful see this post on language. After what seemed like a very long time (but was probably a minute or so) she finished. She lowered her hands and said, "I can see the Lord covering you and your family with a blanket of love right now." I thanked her, (that was a nice sentiment and I'm pretty sure she was speaking metaphorically) and we parted ways. I did a very good job at just walking and not running to my car.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh in the car. I think it was a release of that distress and awkwardness that had been wound up in me for the past couple minutes. Honestly, I was dying to share this experience with my husband. He says I always get into crazy situations - Go figure. This was a new experience, not one I want to relive. I'll stick with my way of praying. But it has opened my eyes a little more to what others may think of LDS people.
So, to my non-LDS followers (if there are many of you). Is this what it feels like to be around us? Do we do weird things you aren't used to that make you feel awkward?