“It’s going to cost a (LDS) person an awful lot to be (out). . . because once they’re (out), they don’t know who they’re going to be on the other side and they don’t know what they’re going to end up losing cause chances are they probably will lose something. It may not be what they think they’re going to lose, but chances are they’re probably going to lose something because their life up to this point has been based on (a false belief system) and they didn’t realize that and didn’t understand that. Their entire environment they live in has been made out of unhealthy decisions (a false belief system) and once you get healthy, some of those individuals in that environment may not like you anymore, or may not like the fact that you’re now part of their world and now you’re stuck with each other. Because once a healthy person comes into contact with an unhealthy person the healthy person becomes a mirror and they have to make a decision. And, that may not be the time they want to make those decisions. If they even want to make that decision period. Plus I’m now having to learn healthy tools, and I’m probably at an age where that’s embarrassing. . . reality is messy, reality is hard. . . " Teresa Liebscher from Sozo Advanced Training Series
I was listening to a training tape by Teresa Liebscher and came across the following quote (with some additions and changes in brackets). The original quote was talking about people with severe mental illness, but as I listened I thought about how this quote really does fit in the LDS context. On Facebook, I’m following several groups and individuals who have been witnessing to LDS folks in Utah. The outreach they were part of was a fun one, and there’s quite a bit of jubilation and exhilaration over a “job well done.”
Teresa’s quote though reminds me that there’s a very real cost in the work we’re doing (witnessing to LDS folks), that for them, this change we’re asking them to make is hard, really hard. We tend to think of the Gospel as something that is going to instantly make someone happy, healthy and whole, but at least in the beginning the Gospel comes in like an unwelcome intruder. It comes in by tearing down barriers. It comes in breaking down walls. It comes in ripping, gouging, even slashing away false, and yet familiar belief systems.
Most of all it is painful: tearing, ripping, gouging pain. Speaking as a former Mormon,the two-edged sword of God’s Word cuts, and tears, and rips away parts of us that we like: parts we’re fond of, parts that are familiar to us. It challenges our suppositions. It makes us think. It makes us wonder about beliefs we hold so dear to us that we’d die for them. In fact, we have already invested much into them: we’ve sent our children on missions, we’ve gone on missions, we’ve invested our money, our time, our talents into this church you’re now challenging. We’ve invested our pride, our reputation, our sense of integrity into its claim to truth. We’ve studied, we’ve learned, we’ve worked so very hard, all for a system that is being ripped away from us, one precious truth at a time.
You’re asking us to turn our back on the incredible sacrifice of our ancestors: they gave up literally everything they had for the LDS church. You’re asking us to tell our friends we’ve been wrong, even worse to tell our friends they are wrong. You’re asking us to step out of our comfort zone and step into something that’s not only is uncomfortable, but in our minds, downright wrong. You’re asking us to turn our back on something we’ve held precious our entire lives. . . to take a chance on eternal damnation even.
All that to say, that this trust given to us who know the biblical Jesus, and His way, is a precious trust. . . a solemn trust, something that is holy even. We are given the precious trust of sharing with someone the most amazing thing in the universe, and yet we’re also given the trust of caring for them and realizing the terrible cost to them in reaching out to that trust. It’s worth it—oh so worth it, but it is not easy, and it is not something to be taken lightly. It’s something to be approached with fear and trembling, it’s something to be approached with respect, love, and compassion, and lots and lots of prayer.