Join the Club

i_dont_have_a_dadWe all belong to exclusive insider clubs. Don’t worry, these insider clubs have absolutely nothing to do with the stock market. The only way you can join an insider club is to pay the price. The members of insider clubs are pretty tight because outsiders just don’t seem to understand. I joined the Child of a Deceased Parent CLUB  when I was eight years old and the traumatic death of my father changed me forever. Perhaps that explains why the sudden notification that I was being enrolled in the DIVORCED AND SINGLE PARENT CLUB caused the old fear and insecurity to return, bumping my status in the CLINICAL DEPRESSION CLUB from emeritus to active and participating.
Last week I dusted off an old journal which had been sleeping under my bed. I read the page where my husband had just announced that he hated the Church, he hated me, and he wanted a divorce. I could recall the darkness from that era, but as I gently turned the pages, I was surprised that there was so much light and love recorded there as well. My church sisterhood had immersed me in a cocoon of protective love which included babysitting my three young children so I could seek peace and refuge in the House of the Lord. I prayed constantly and fasted weekly to purge my heart of the bitterness and anger, as all the ugly elements of the divorce unfolded. The Spirit guided me in applying to graduate school and I shouted for joy when the scholarship and acceptance letters arrived in the mail. I remembered feeling the presence of angels protecting me when I was too fearful to sleep and of Heavenly Father sending sweet messages of hope with promises of a bright future. I wrote a scripture in my journal that stuck in my mind as I tried to recover from the initial shock:

“But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your affliction.” – Alma 34:41

Years later, I wept over tear-stained pages outlining long forgotten details. When I told my three-year-old that his father had moved out, he looked up at me with big sad eyes and said, “Do you mean I don’t have a dad anymore?” Then he burst into tears. I tried to assure him that his dad had not died and that they’d still be able to play Nintendo. I gave my son a big hug and I thought he was OK until later that evening. I was reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and when I got to “Go ask your Pop,” my son burst into tears and cried out, “I don’t have a dad.” Fortunately, I did not have to tell the baby anything and we still laugh about how I told my five-year-old daughter. I drove to the Target parking lot like a coward. “Your dad wants a divorce. Let’s go buy a new Barbie.” I recorded clinging to the small pleasures of life as the gloomy cloud hung over me. I relished the exotic scent of a stargazer lily, my five-year-old reading her first book, the pride of a three-year-old conquering potty training, and the sweetness of a strawberry from my garden.

One day I lost it and started sobbing. My children wanted to know why I was crying. I didn’t want to frighten them by sharing my fears that we would starve to death or end up living in a cardboard box or even that I would have to work as a cashier at Wal-mart, so I said, “Because I don’t have a husband and nobody loves me….” They instantly started to console me. My five-year-old got me a glass of water and my three-year-old handed me a tissue. They told me I was a wonderful mother and we talked and talked until I felt better. My daughter sang me some primary songs and told me she loved me very, very much.

The membership benefits of the DIVORCED AND SINGLE PARENT CLUB included increased humility and compassion. Before my surprise induction into the club, I felt superior to divorced women and working mothers. I have now had many opportunities to partake of the poison of my previous prejudices. When I filled out an apartment application, I was informed that the owners didn’t like to rent to divorced people. My first inclination was to get angry at their illegal ignorance. Instead I swallowed my pride because the apartment was adjacent to an elementary school and because there was a family apartment shortage. I casually mentioned that I had been the spiritual living teacher in my previous ward and that fact won us an apartment lease for my first year in graduate school. The manager became a dear friend and a trusted childcare provider. Years later I learned that the owners gained a bit more empathy when one of their daughters joined the DIVORCED AND SINGLE PARENT CLUB.

Over a decade has passed since I completed graduate school as a single mother. Our family knows that the Lord answers our prayers and lightens our burdens. My youngest child just left the nest (see blog from April 28, 2009: “Fly, Little Bird, Fly!”) and none of my worst nightmares came true. We didn’t starve to death, we never had to live in a cardboard box, and I never had to be a cashier at Wal-mart. I am even blessed with an amazing computer nerd husband who now refers to me as his sexy blogging diva.

I now have absolute confidence in the most revered member of ALL our insider clubs. The Prince of Peace has already paid the price and invites us to join his HEALED BY THE POWER OF THE ATONEMENT CLUB. It was during my years as a single parent that I figured out there was NOTHING I could teach the Savior about pain and suffering. He is a member of ALL our insider clubs and He knows how to lift our burdens if we’ll turn to Him in humility and faith.  Join the Club.

What have you learned from your insider club memberships? What club memberships are you still struggling with? How have your club memberships helped you to become more Christ-like? What can you share that would help others, who don’t belong to your club, develop empathy? Quick! Help me purge myself of any remaining poisonous prejudices before I have to join another club!

59 thoughts on “Join the Club

  1. I’m not sure exactly what clubs I am a member of… and if I did want to admit to myself what they are, I probably wouldn’t admit it here. My clubs probably all have to do with personal failings.
    I will say that it is evident to me that the Lord wants to teach me humility (and has, many times over, but it’s a lesson I don’t seem to get!). It seems as though every time I make a judgment about someone’s situation, the Lord decides I need to see what that situation is like, and sends it for me. I have grown A LOT! But I (it is obvious to me) still have lots to grow.

    Thank you for your inspiring story. Last night at Stake Conference the Stake President told us that through faithful and regular temple attendance we can withstand ALL things that are given to us trial wise. He said without being endowed with power from on high, such as we receive through the temple, we can withstand some things, and even some big things, but if we want to withstand ALL things, we must go to the temple often. My husband and I have been better about it, but we made a new goal to definitely attend MORE. I NEED God’s help in all things! I crave it. And I am grateful there is a way for me to receive it!

    (I don’t know what this last paragraph has to do with your post, but for some reason I feel compelled to leave it up.)

    Anyway, thank you for a wonderful post. My kids were wondering why I was sitting at the computer blubbering. :-)

  2. I was a member of the SPOUSE TO A “SEX ADDICT” club, while also in the MARRIED MORE THAN 2 YEARS AND CHILDLESS club, until I joined the LEFT HIS SORRY BUTT club. Yes, I say that in humor, but there are an amusing amount of people who look at you like your a selfish brat and *surely* your must have done *something* to leave your husband of 4+ years while he was in the middle of grad school! There are many who were also shocked that I didn’t shed any tears over my marriage after I finally left.

    Anyhow, I learned a lot of empathy in those clubs. I’m slowly learning how to release the negative feelings from my first marriage because I know that I can’t fully embrace the Atonement until I let it ALL go. I also learned that I can overcome a lot of pain and difficult circumstances. Best of all, I learned that my Father in Heaven knows who I am and that he really, really does answer earnest prayers. Another favorite lesson is that I’ve grown leaps and bounds in confidence. I am happy with my decisions and have no problem telling someone calmly and confidently what I think/feel/decide. (Of course, that is a general, not blanket, statement.) :)

  3. Great post Kathryn, and I appreciate Ginger’s comment as well.

    What have I learned?

    1. That whatever club I am in at the moment (sometimes it’s even more than one) it is not exclusive. There are always other people who’ve walked the same path and I am not alone. There are some clubs no one likes to talk about, and belonging to those can be particularly lonely, but most assuredly they are not exclusive.

    2. No matter how awful and difficult it might feel to be a member of a particular club, it is also sure that if I look hard enough I will find–as you so beautifully put it–lots of light and love. The more I look for it, the more of it I will find, but it will be there whether I or not I acknowledge it.

    3. No matter what club membership entails, I will learn and I will grow. Inevitably whatever I learn and whatever strength I gain will somehow help me when it’s time to join the next club and it will help me be a better friend to anyone else I meet in the club. I may moan and groan about it and cry “This was not in the brochure!” but a part of me knows this was part of the package and I will try to enjoy the journey nonetheless.

    What can help other people who don’t belong to the club? It’s good to remember that we often end up in clubs through no fault of our own. We can–and should–pray for empathy. I think it’s part of the charity package. And finally (I’m actually posting on this sometime soon) there are many ways we can love and serve others even when we are not in the same club. We shouldn’t hesitate to do so. Even the simplest of our actions create the light and love that will lift and carry people through their most difficult times. I believe very strongly that is part of our calling as Latter-day Saints.

  4. I belong to the DADDY’S GIRL club, but ten years ago I was president of the CAN’T BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS MY DAD club. I’m a member of the HAPPILY NEWLYWED club; ten years ago it was the I’LL NEVER FIND ANYONE WHO WILL WANT ME club. I joined the PLEASED WITH WHO I AM club; ten years ago I was entrenched in the QUEEN OF INSECURITY AND SELF-LOATHING club.

    I believe that our own evolution causes us to join and leave hundreds of “clubs” during our lifetimes, many of them complete opposites. Hopefully most of the changes, as in my examples, are happy ones, but some are heartbreaking.

    Bad things often happen to good people. Why? I actually wrote a long post about this a month or so ago, but I think one of the nobler reasons is that through them we learn empathy: because of our experience, we are able to help others we otherwise couldn’t understand. And when you think about it, that is exactly what the Savior did for us.

  5. I like what dalene said. That whatever club I am in at the moment … it is not exclusive. Though I think I stretch it a little farther. I have belonged (and still belong) to too many clubs to mention. While I know there are some technical details of each club that someone might not understand, but I have found when I relate the emotions I felt during a given moment the majority of people can relate even without going through the exact same experience or belonging to the club.

    Perhaps the clubs all meet in the same building and it’s simply a matter of opening the doors to meet in the hallways?

    I also have learned, and been completely amazed (yet that word seems woefully inadequate) by the love that I have felt when drafted into some of my clubs. The love I felt from the people around me as well as the love from my Father in Heaven were true gifts on which I still reflect when facing other clubs.

  6. I really liked how you created a window into the divorced/single mom club. Now maybe I can have a better understanding and empathy –without having to join. It touched me, thanks.

  7. I was the lone member in our local chapter of the INFERTILE AND CAN’T SIT THROUGH SACRAMENT MEETING OR ANOTHER BABY SHOWER CLUB, until I finally started talking about it and discovered there were many members who had just been keeping it painfully to themselves. I was very blessed to join the FRAZZLED AND NOT GLAMOROUS MOMS CLUB, and I cherish my membership. My other club memberships include the MARRIED A NON-MEMBER CLUB (though his status has changed leaving me in the go-to for advice sub-committe), the DYSFUNCTIONAL CHILDHOOD HOME club, the MAJOR MOTHER ISSUES CLUB, the I LOST MY DAD TOO SOON CLUB, and the I HAVE A HAIRY CHIN CLUB (and I mean really hairy). One of the toughest clubs I’m in is the I HAVE A GAY BROTHER CLUB. Watching him struggle with inner-conflict has been really hard. Loving him has not been. Hearing church members say ugly, mean-spirited things has driven home to me what we have been taught all along. To love thy neighbor, judge not lest ye be judged, and that loving someone and treating them as a child of God does not condone their behavior. Let’s face it, we don’t pledge most of these clubs. They are usually something we stumble into, sometimes kicking and screaming.

    So many clubs, so little time. The good news is that membership in any club can teach us, shape us, and make us more of who we are meant to be.

  8. For this post I’m in the ANONYMOUS CLUB, because I’m also currently a member of the TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BE MARRIED TO MY HUSBAND club. I’ve been a member of the MARRIED TO AN APOSTATE club for a while now, and recently received a membership application to the SPOUSE OF A PERSON WHO WANTS THEIR NAME REMOVED FROM THE RECORDS OF THE CHURCH club, and am trying to figure out how I’d assimilate that into my life.

    I’ve been toying with joining the AL-ANON club, to deal with some of my struggles being a member of the MARRIED TO SOMEONE WHO LIKES TO DRINK club. I’m also in the PARENTING A CHILD WITH DEPRESSION club…which is fun because I’m also a life-long member of the DYSTHYMIA CLUB…which explains a lot. I wish I could be like Lindsay and join the DADDY’S GIRL club and the PLEASED WITH WHO I AM club, but I’m still struggling with their negative counterparts, and don’t know how to quit them.

    I am a big member of the GRATEFUL FOR MY FRIENDS club, and the I HAVE AMAZING BLESSINGS IN MY LIFE club. Most days I’m active in the THINGS WILL WORK OUT club, but sometimes I drop into the FEAR, NOT FAITH club for days or weeks. I’d like to regularly attend the FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY club…but sometimes I don’t have the energy.

    I loved this post and especially reading Katherine P’s experiences. It gives me hope that no matter what happens, God is watching over us.

  9. I am a member of the UNDIAGNOSED AND LIFECHANGING ILLNESS club. The most recent thing I’ve learned is something you wrote about, “I remembered feeling the presence of angels protecting me… and of Heavenly Father sending sweet messages of hope with promises of a bright future.” I have been humbled to receive a greater portion of comfort and to feel angels near when I am alone and scared of what the future will bring. It makes me want to tell everyone that comfort is there if we will reach out to our Savior and open ourselves to the healing he has, to be willing to enter into the other club you talked about that I’m also grateful to be a member of the HEALED BY THE POWER OF THE ATONEMENT CLUB.

    Thank you for your post, it truly touched me.

  10. This morning I was in the FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF club. I have spent a lot of time in this one lately. I woke up with the same ear infection I went to bed with. I was going to justify myself and in not going to stake conference. I was after all feeling a little sick and a lot sorry for myself. There was surely enough justification for me not to drag 6 children by myself and wrestle with them for two hours.

    Then one of my teenage children joined the SWEET OBEDIENT CHILD CLUB. She emerged dressed with hair brushed and ready and willing to go with me. She loves sleep more than I do but there she was ready and willing to go. This was especially sweet since she shares a room with one of our resident insomniacs and the weekends are really her sleep oasis (I share a room with the other one). I couldn’t resist joining her and I had to and bring all the other ones along. It turned out wonderfully. We got there late but it felt so good to be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, with all the little and big children that I love so much. I also resolved to spend more time in that latter club.

    Ginger, I don’t know what stake you are in but I appreciated the stake conference tidbit. Last night my ear and head were killing me and I really felt like I couldn’t go. I love the adult session so much so if you happen to be in mine thanks for the little tidbit. Maybe you left it there for me.

  11. I’m in the SECRET DIVORCED CLUB — I moved to our ward as a newlywed and because I’m young, no one knows it is my second marriage. It’s hard to lean over to the divorced women and be like “hey, be my friend — I bond with you waay more than these newlywed girls who have no battle scars!” — so I don’t. And inside I just ache. Because I’m also part of the PTSD and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS CLUB.

    Love the post.

    But I am part of the NEWLYWED club that someone mentioned, though we’re approaching our second anniversary. And its awesome.

  12. When we were newly married and starting our family, we prayed that our children would be strong in mind and body. I had worked with disabled people, and knew I didn’t have the patience for it. Two years ago, we joined the “parents of children who have mental illness”club. Now, we look at a different future than the one we had imagined, trying to plan for the possibility that at least 1 of the 3 will not be able to live on their own. It is an agonizing club to belong to, watching as people around me make cruel statements about where the mentally ill belong,about how they “dirty up the gene pool”,etc. But I have come to know several things, which include the knowledge that Heavenly Father knows their pain, and that someday,my beautiful,smart, and talented children will be free of their illness,and allowed to progress and love children of their own. The Atonement is real in our lives, and because of it, I can get through one more day.

  13. Kathryn, such a tender post! And I’ve been touched by all of these comments. It’s become obvious to me that we all belong to an assortment of difficult clubs, some of which are visible and some of which are not. I, too, have been a member of the CLINICAL DEPRESSION club–not one I’d recommend; I’ve also had memberships in the ADULT CHILD OF DIVORCED PARENTS club, DAUGHTER OF A MOTHER WHO IS INACTIVE club, the MISCARRIAGE club, and the DEALING WITH FINANCIAL CHALLENGES club–and I’ve belonged to many other sorrowful clubs. All of these clubs have taught me empathy and humility, have forced me to turn to the Savior for help and healing. I love the idea that the Savior is the ultimate club member, that He understands each of our sorrows–public and private. This post has reminded me, again, of how important it is to withhold judgment, to extend love and compassion to one another. And I think our club memberships are easier when we share our experiences with other club members–let’s face it: most of these clubs are lonely. We tend to keep our painful experiences to ourselves, but maybe it would be a little easier if we were all more open about our club memberships. Thanks for a beautiful post.

  14. P.S. Erin–you made me laugh. It’s good that you can approach your painful life experiences with humor–you go, girl!

  15. I’m in the “used to be devout and active, now blase’” club. I went to the store to day. I used to never go to the store on Sunday; I kept the day as holy as possible. I don’t feel good doing it. I felt sort of awful as I had the deli lady give me potato salad and thought, “what’s happened to you, girl?”

    I drink caffeinated drinks now. I didn’t drink a caffeinated drink or watch a R rated movie for years—maybe 15-20? I read the scriptures every day—every day! I prayed. I never missed church or VT.

    I have hope I’ll repent though.

  16. I should read the other comments, but I don’t have the strength to do that today.

    I am a part of (or have been a part of) the:
    DEPRESSION WILL NOT GO AWAY club
    WHY CAN’T I LEARN TO SAY NO TO THINGS club
    MISCARRIAGE club
    CHURCH MEMBER WHO HAS EXCOMMUNICATED FAMILY MEMBERS club
    YES, I CHOSE TO HAVE THIS MANY CHILDREN club
    HUSBAND WHO WORKS AND GOES TO SCHOOL FULL TIME club
    DEBT IS A HEAVEY BURDEN AND NOW I KNOW IT club
    and
    JUST TIRED ALL THE TIME club

    Maybe I should just take a nap. I’m betting if I got more sleep a lot of this club hopping will stop… ;)

  17. Thanks for a beautiful post. I never expected to join the “PARENT OF A DRUG ADDICT” club. But I did and I also was initiated into the “PARENT OF A CHILD WHO DOESN’T BELIEVE THE CHURCH IS TRUE” club. But I’m thankful for what I’ve learned from my membership in these clubs. There is sorrow, but there is also knowledge and growth and empathy, and so I can be grateful.

  18. I am in the same TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BE MARRIED TO MY HUSBAND club as anonymous. I’ve been married for 11 years to a man who has been addicted to alchohol, pornography and now prescription medication. He quit the first two addictions but the medication has been a tough battle, over seven years. I kicked him out of the house last Sunday because my little girl and I found him passed out in the kitchen. He’s now going to counseling, but I don’t know if I can take another slip. I guess I’m in the SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO club.

  19. Dear Ginger,
    I woke up early this morning and immediately read your comment. I know why you felt “compelled” to share the testimony of your stake president regarding the power of the temple. The temple has been a major source of strength and power in my life. A couple months ago I was feeling overwhelmed by some family problems. I felt like Satan was winning the battle and I was absolutely exhausted. I suddenly remembered this super cool sister missionary I met in Warsaw, Poland last year. She had been a United Nations peacekeeper for 20 years. I asked her what was harder: United Nations peacekeeping or missionary work? She laughed and said the advantage with peacekeeping is that every five weeks they’d send their peacekeepers out of the hot zone to a peaceful place for some R&R. That memory helped me realize that I had been in the hot zone too long and I needed some R&R. So I used one of those hotel bidding internet sites and got a cheap room in a nice hotel in SLC. I went to SLC for two days and did some family history research, but also did several sessions in the SL temple. That trip was healing and empowering. I returned home a new woman, filled with the Spirit and absolutely fearless. The miracles started pouring into our home and the darkness is gone. There is AMAZING power in the temple. I will write your stake president’s message in my journal tonight. THANKS FOR SHARING!

  20. I don’t even know what to say. I’m probably in the DENIAL club. Or maybe it’s the PRETEND NOTHING IS WRONG IN MY LIFE club. Either way… it seems easier than facing any pesky realities. I’m afraid I might not be strong enough for the truth.

  21. Kathryn, this is magnificent. I love it! And I’m loving all the comments too.

    Ginger, your comment made me realize that I haven’t been to the temple in months. Our temple is a couple of hours away which makes it difficult. But I need to make it happen. Thanks for the reminder.

    Right now I’m in the TRYING TO REMEMBER WHY I MARRIED MY HUSBAND club. Today I fasted that I might see him as the Lord does. Because I sure don’t. It’s embarrassing to admit that. But I’ve been in the club before, and happily graduated (never to return, I thought.)

  22. This post was very real, and a bit difficult for me to read because two years ago my husband and I separated for a few months. It was right around this time of year, and I’ve discovered now that the memories are still fresh. Things worked out differently for us, but I’m now in the “inactive spouse club” (and the only one in my ward), so that’s hard.

    Since my marriage I’ve also been in the “married to a gay/bisexual man club”; we thought we were the only ones, but we’ve found other people in our club and there’s even a little online community out there. I guess that also makes me a member of the “people who love gay people” club. That one can be very hard–I’ll be honest and say that before my husband told me, I didn’t know anyone who was gay and really didn’t think about the issue much. Now I know that there are many church members who are gay or who have family members that are, and it’s hard. It’s a very paradoxical place to be, because I have a testimony of the Church and of the prophet, and yet I love so many people who really are gay through no conscious choice of their own. Anyways, I don’t want to distract this thread with this issue, but it really has opened my eyes to the struggles that many people face while we live here in this fallen world and try our hardest to understand God’s will for us and to truly love others.

  23. Erin,
    You are in good company. Isaiah described Christ as being despised and rejected of men. Joseph Smith was rejected by some of his dearest friends and said something like “No man knows my history.” I’ve felt a certain fellowship with both Christ and Joseph Smith through my trials. I wrote in the same journal referenced in my blog that “It seems most people think I initiated the divorce; therefore, I’m a bad Mormon. The rest think my husband is dumping me; therefore, I’m defective.” Fortunately, I absolutely knew that Heavenly Father loved me and that is all that really mattered to me. I was so nervous about moving to Utah because of the divorce stigma; however, a couple weeks after I moved to Utah I was asked by the Stake President to speak in the Saturday night session of Stake Conference and immediately after that I was called as the spiritual living teacher in my ward. Both events felt like gentle hugs from God saying, “It doesn’t matter what mere mortals think of you. You are still my beautiful daughter.”

    I’m glad you’ve found confidence in making decisions and I hope you are also blessed with the perfect peace you seek through the atonement. Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. This was beautiful! Thank you for helping us to see the “this too shall pass” aspect of our clubs of suffering. And thank you for reminding us that we’re ALL invited to the healed by the atonement club. One day, we’ll all belong to the SURVIVED MORTALITY club!

  25. This was a very beautiful and real post, so thank you.
    These comments and club-membership announcements are breaking my heart. (I guess I belong to the TENDER HEART WANT TO HELP CLUB)
    But seriously, I belong to and have belonged to some of the aforementioned clubs. Sadly, I have to say, and maybe because it was where I was/types of wards I lived in, they were very lonely clubs. I never found any comfort or support. Part of that probably lies with me, not opening up more, but some of it lies with those who surrounded me and never bothered to ask “why” when I would get choked up in various situations. What it did for me was make me more sensitive to others who might have walked or are walking the roads that I was asked and have been asked to walk. I try to offer my testimony, comfort, support, advice–if wanted, and love to them. I have to say, all my life I have hated clubs and their exculsivity, so I loved your mention of the HEALED BY THE ATONEMENT CLUB. We can all belong.

  26. Ginger,

    I feel compelled to tell you this story. My sister is going through a divorce. She radically increased her temple attendance desperate to find the sort of strength you describe. She read her scriptures for hours a day, she dropped to her knees at a moments notice. Ahhhh we all thought, this is good, this is what will help her get through this. Then she started telling people the second coming was at hand and had a psychotic break. I’ll spare the gory, intimate details, but it involved several trips to the emergency room, intense council from her bishop and medicine.

    So yes, going to the temple can strengthen you, but it is not a solution for every problem. I’ve always been wary of blanket promises and have seen many fall away from the church when they found a blanket didn’t cover their personal situation.

    this is not an attack on going to the temple, or a suggestion that you cannot increase your spiritual readiness by regular temple attendance. This is just me sharing a personal experience that has made me wary of sure-fire formulas for withstanding everything.

    Carol

  27. Sisters,

    This was one of the most heartwrenching posts/comments I’ve read in a while and it reminded me that most often I’m a member of the I HAD NO IDEA club. I’m also in the FAILING TESTIMONY club. And as I’ve been told the best thing I can do is forget myself and get to work. So I am, even though I’m no longer a member of the I KNOW club, I’ll still do the work.

    cms

    P.S. FoxyJ. I cried and then I prayed.

  28. So many clubs – though sometimes the membership fees seem a bit excessive and odd!

    I too am a member of the SUDDENLY DIVORCED AND SINGLE PARENT club, though happily that membership has given me entry to PEACE LIKE A RIVER club (doors open sparodically, but they open!) Lifelong member of the PRAYING THIS TOO SHALL PASS (SOONISH PLEASE?) club.

    I’m a member of the NATURAL REDHEAD club, which comes with the added bonus status of TEMPER CHECKING club graduate. I always expected entrance to the AVENGING FURIES sisterhood, however it seems it’s not going to happen due to the previous membership. Darn it. Okay, I’m also in the WISH I WAS AN AVENGING FURIE club – sounds like fun!

    I’m a member of LOSES FOOD DOWN THE CLEAVAGE club (which happens to have the BEST group of gals to have dinner with!), the WHAT AM I, A WEREWOLF? club (unwanted hairiness an unfortunate condition of admission), and I LOOK WEIRD BUT THAT’S OKAY sorority.

    My secret memberships are the BEING CAPABLE AND DEPENDABLE SUCKS SOMETIMES, WORD LOVER and I’M NOT WATCHING ACTION MOVIES FOR THE ACTION clubs.

    Oh, and definately a SEGULLAH IS MY DAILY FIX sisterhood =)

  29. This was a very personal and poignant post, Kathryn! It gave us all permission to open up about deeply painful and redemptive clubs we all belong to. I felt impressed to share the following memory:

    When I was six or seven, I lost a ring from my grandmother. I was devastated, looked everywhere and prayed to find it. That night, I had a dream that I was in a mine with jewels jutting out of the walls. I could just yank them off and fill my pockets with sparkling diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. I was rich! I could have anything I wanted! Anyone I knew could have anything they wanted! I could barely shuffle out of the mine.

    Then I woke up. And the diamonds, emeralds and rubies were gone. I looked under my bed, in my pajamas, in the covers, in the pillow case. They were all gone. And then the Lord taught me something. You can’t take “stuff” from one world into the next.

    With the world’s current financial affairs, I am reminded of that merciful fact. I’m sure there are many other members of the “worried about the financial crisis” club. But in the end, this life is temporary, and our relationships are all that matter.

  30. Wow – this is a popular subject! I’ve been a member of many clubs. One Fast Sunday I mentioned my membership in the SUFFERING FROM PANIC ATTACKS club and boy was that a mistake…. Never did I guess how many secret members there were & they were all excited for someone to talk to. When I was in a RS presidency many years ago I let people know I was in the MEDICATED DEPRESSED club and suddenly everyone in their dog wanted advice including wive of the Stake Presidency Councilor.

    I remember one night at a really good ward Valentine dinner dance… looking over at a super attractive happy looking couple and saying to my hubby… “They look so happy – I wish we were more like them” And being told (by my annoyed hubby in the bishopric) that I shouldn’t wish for things… cause they were part of the HUBBY CHEATED AND THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR MARRIAGE club. Basically I’ve discovered that you never know what club people are in, although sometimes when you hold certain callings you get the gift to know.

    Could keep writing… cause this made me think of soooo many things – but family is starting a movie… good night!

  31. Dalene – I loved your comments and I look forward to your blog on how we can love and serve others even when we are not in the same club. That would be the PERFECT follow-up to this discussion.

    Lindsay – Thanks for illustrating the evolution of club memberships. We teach about the power of the atonement, but sometimes the sons of Alma have to leave the country and go teach the Lamanites because the Nephites have labeled them as members of the TROUBLEMAKER CLUB and refuse to see them any other way. The apostle Paul had the same problem.

  32. I’m in the “I eat chocolate when I’m sad” club. And just finished my last morsel of the substance. Wah! ♥

  33. I’ve been in a couple of those clubs, and seen family members in others. My goodness. I find I don’t want to admit what clubs I’m in currently, although I desperately want to be in SURVIVED MORTALITY CLUB.

  34. I guess I have a new membership to the “Dr’s can’t figure out whats wrong with me and it is getting to be very wearing” club, and the “I wish I could do so much better” club. But on a good note, I am a card carrying member of the “I love my kids to bits” club, and love every minute of it. I am lucky enough to belong to the “Been with my husband for 10 years and weathered a bunch of storms” club, and hope for amny more years in that club. I also belong to the “Extended Families can be a special trial, and am trying not to kill them” club. Dealing with so much crud in life can really bring a person down, and I am glad to know I am not alone, nor do I have the hardest trials. Though I know that to someone else, my trials might seem hard, to others, they are insignificant. It is all in what you personally are experiencing, and how it ends up resolving. We leave our clubs with battle wounds, that may not be apparent to the naked eye. This is why it is do important to not pre-judge those we meet, or do not know as well as we could. We need to find out what clubs they belong to, and help them to move forward, and into new and happier clubs.
    (Sorry if this is disjointed and wierd, I also belong to the “its time to go to bed, cause my alarm will be going off way too soon” club)

  35. As the day draws to a close, I want to thank everyone who posted comments today. I’d like to thank Dovie for reminding us that there is power in joining the SWEET OBEDIENT CHILD CLUB. Selwyn made me laugh with her colorful assortment of clubs. I couldn’t relate to Blue’s I EAT CHOCOLATE WHEN I’M SAD CLUB because I don’t like chocolate (just think what a lonely club that is!) Lee appreciated the window I gave into the DIVORCED/SINGLE MOM CLUB. I appreciated Erin, Lindsay, JM, Anonymous, Jendoop, Natalie, homeschoolin ‘henn, Melissa M., annegb, Cheryl, Janet, C, Justine, Jennie, FoxyJ, Carol, CMS, Merry Michelle, Rosie, and kshaw, who all shared a glimpse into their own specific insider clubs or the clubs of loved ones. I know I felt blessed by your sometimes heartwrenching honesty and by the recurrent messages of hope.

    Here are some of the quotes that especially touched my heart today:
    “I have to say, all my life I have hated clubs and their exclusivity, so I loved your mention of the HEALED BY THE ATONEMENT CLUB. We can all belong.” – Jenny

    Perhaps the clubs all meet in the same building and it’s simply a matter of opening the doors to meet in the hallways? I also have learned, and been completely amazed (yet that word seems woefully inadequate) by the love that I have felt when drafted into some of my clubs. The love I felt from the people around me as well as the love from my Father in Heaven were true gifts on which I still reflect when facing other clubs.” – Mommom

    To love thy neighbor, judge not lest ye be judged, and that loving someone and treating them as a child of God does not condone their behavior. Let’s face it, we don’t pledge most of these clubs. They are usually something we stumble into, sometimes kicking and screaming.” - JM

    I loved this post and especially reading Katherine P’s experiences. It gives me hope that no matter what happens, God is watching over us.” – Anonymous

    I have been humbled to receive a greater portion of comfort and to feel angels near when I am alone and scared of what the future will bring. It makes me want to tell everyone that comfort is there if we will reach out to our Savior and open ourselves to the healing he has, to be willing to enter into the other club you talked about that I’m also grateful to be a member of the HEALED BY THE POWER OF THE ATONEMENT CLUB.” - Jendoop

    But I have come to know several things, which include the knowledge that Heavenly Father knows their pain, and that someday,my beautiful, smart, and talented children will be free of their illness,and allowed to progress and love children of their own. The Atonement is real in our lives, and because of it, I can get through one more day.” – homeschoolin’ henn

    Thank you for helping us to see the “this too shall pass” aspect of our clubs of suffering. And thank you for reminding us that we’re ALL invited to the healed by the atonement club. One day, we’ll all belong to the SURVIVED MORTALITY club!” – Kate

  36. I know I am late to this but life gets in the way sometimes doesn’t it? Here are some of my clubs:
    The church only member in the family club.
    The my mother didn’t like me club, and still wouldn’t speak to me even when she was dying club.
    The my mission just about killed me club.
    The why is everybody married but me club.
    The older bride club.
    The *this is marraige* club, really, after all these years waiting, this is what I signed up for?
    The 40 week vomiting pregnancy club.
    The post natal depression club.
    The crying baby club.
    The child with attitude club.
    The miscarraige club.
    The husband out of work club.
    The do I still want to be married to you club.
    The I love my calling club.
    The I adore and cannot live without some of my friends club.
    The what is wrong with this lazy/crazy ward club where they all turn down callings. At the same time, the I love church club.
    The red shoe club.
    The how did I survive before Segullah club!

    Life is sometimes good, awful, funny. Luckily it is not stagnant for long, whatever is happening will move on. One of my favourite scriptures, which I think has already been quoted is ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. Whatever we see when we look at a person is only a small glimpse into them, everyone has so much going on in their lives. Let’s all be a little kinder and gentler with ourselves and each other.

  37. I forgot, one more. Today I am part of the lazy mother’s club. It is a no school day here and already luchtime in England. My kids are still in their pyjamas and will be until they go back to school tomorrow morning. I made them find their own breakfast and lunch because I didn’t get out of bed until after 12.30.p.m. They have been watching t.v. for hours. As a trained teacher this is deplorable. Quite frankly I don’t care. One day won’t hurt them, and now they see me as part of the amazing mother’s club who lets them do what they like. What some people will do to be loved!

  38. I’ve belonged to some clubs I wish I could leave behind, but some clubs you never leave until you die. After I was diagnosed with lupus, I realized that even though I didn’t know about else with the disease I didn’t have to be alone. My friends in my ward reached out to me with such love and compassion. Since then I’ve learned to be candid without being overbearing about trials. Some are hard to share. I still haven’t told anyone, beyond my parents, that my son was diagnosed with ADHD. I’m still afraid of being judged or having my son judged. But maybe I need to open up about that.

  39. I loved this post–thank you, Kathryn. I belong to the “beauty challenged club.” By this I mean that I am rotten at all things aesthetic, from decorating my house to putting myself together. And I belong to the “young mother with a father-in-law who lives with me” club. I don’t think I know anyone else who is in this club. We get along very well, for which I am grateful, but I have often wondered if there’s anyone else out there who is in this club.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is guilt over our membership in “good” clubs. Like what if you belong to the “my house is paid for” club (not a member myself, just an aspiring member). Or “my kids all served missions and got married in the temple” club? (also an aspiring member). This should not be a self-congratulatory club, more like a “wow, only by God’s grace am I here, and I am so thankful.”

    I guess what I mean is that I think when we are truly Zion, we’ll be able to mourn with those that mourn–the people in our clubs of sorrow, that we empathize with especially, and also the people who don’t belong to our clubs, the way this post and comments have helped me see others clearly. But also I think in Zion we will celebrate the good clubs we are members of as well, and not be afraid to tell about something good in our lives. Mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

    I think that capacity for shared joy is an important part of the “healed through the Atonement club.”

  40. Such a good point, Emily! We should not only mourn with each other, but rejoice with each other, and delight in each other’s successes. Thank you for reminding me of this!

  41. Kay, I love the way your list of club memberships is like an entire life story! One of my empty nest projects is starting my memoir and maybe I’ll use the framework of club memberships to entertain my progeny. I hope you had a fun and relaxing day with your kids. It is 2:24 p.m. and I am still in my pajamas (if it makes you feel any better).

    Tiffany, when I taught Relief Society in the ward where I would eventually get a divorce, the women would always tell me that they LOVED my honesty because they never felt guilty during my lessons; they always felt slightly superior and blessed. I thought that was very funny, but that was the ward that loved and nurtured me during my divorce. In that particular ward it was emotionally safe to be honest about my imperfections and challenges. That is my idea of heaven! I hope you find love and support in all your club memberships!

  42. I loved this post and the ensuing comments because it made me realize that we all struggle, that none of us are perfect, and certainly don’t leave this life without some battle scars. My DH and I are members of the INFERTILE club, the PARENTS OF A CHILD WHO IS ADOPTED club, and will soon be joining the ranks of the FAMILIES HOPING TO ADOPT A CHILD THROUGH LDS FAMILY SERVICES club.

    I struggled for a long time, and still sometimes do, with feelings of self-worth. Because really, a woman’s job is to create life and mine doesn’t. I could write a book about my feelings as a member of my particular group(s), but I guess we all could couldn’t we? The main thing is that I have finally found peace in my situation and have come to know that Heavenly Father loves me even though me and my ovaries are far from perfection. He loved my husband and I enough to bless us through the miracle of adoption, and hope to be blessed again (so if you know anyone who is contemplating adoption, send them our way…) I have come to understand the Atonement better and have gained a new perspective about the Plan of Salvation. I can proudly proclaim that I belong to the I AM A MOTHER club…a club I never thought I’d be a member of!!

  43. NC – your comment made me teary-eyed because I was the foster mother of a pregnant seventeen-year-old over twenty years ago for LDS Social Services. At the time most of my friends were nonmembers and they thought it was so BIZARRE that we would take a pregnant stranger into our home. I attended the lamaze classes with my foster daughter and I was with her through labor followed by an emergency c-section. She sobbed for twenty-four hours straight after coming home from the hospital because it was so painful to give up that baby for adoption, but she knew her baby would have a better life with a stable and loving LDS couple. I came away from that experience with a powerful testimony that Heavenly Father is very aware of YOUR pain and that He deeply loves every precious baby that comes into this world… Thanks for sharing your experience and I hope you receive another precious baby very soon!

  44. Those club memberships aren’t easy- I have great membership in the SO MANY MISCARRIAGES YOU CAN’T KEEP TRACK CLUB. I was teaching about trials in seminary today and at one point found myself saying- hard bad stuff is up ahead for all of us!! UGHH- it’s the thought of some future unknown memberships looming that is hard for me.

    For all their challenges, I have apprecaited the way my club memberships have provided me opportuntites to serve.

  45. My deepest thanks to Homeschoolin’Henn — your comment reminded me that the things that are so frustrating and seemingly insurmountable now will be taken care of in this life or the next. And that I should have that same hope for my child who struggles!
    Thank you for that tender mercy that I so needed this morning!
    To the sister who’s relative fell apart after intense seeking at the temple & in the scriptures — perhaps it was a tender mercy after all that her need came to the surface so she could get the additional help she needed. My deepest sympathies!

  46. Kathryn P- Thanks for sharing your experience with the foster daughter you helped. Your comment made ME teary-eyed just thinking about our birthmother. It’s been almost two years now, and I can still remember hearing her sobs across the hospital hallway on the eve of our daughters placement. It was heart-wrenching listening to her cry while I was feet away cuddling and loving the baby she brought into the world. There have only been a few times in my life when I felt the veil was very thin, and those few days we had with our birthmother in the hospital was one of them. There were angels present in the labor and delivery wing for two days rejoicing with my husband and I, and in turn, comforting and reassuring our birthmother that the extremely difficult decision she had made was the right one. I know for her, that her membership in the BIRTHMOTHER club is often times like so many others, lonely. However, I know that her life will be blessed because of the selfless sacrifice she made so that my husband and I can have the family we longed for.
    I just recently read a quote by Madeleine K. Albright. She said “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”. While not uplifting, I would have to counter that there is a special place in HEAVEN for women who HELP other women. Thanks again for your post because it makes me realize that there are many women out there who need lots of support and an understanding sister to help them along their way. My eyes have been opened to the many ladies that harbor “sorrow that the eye can’t see”. I hope that I can show forth more empathy and compassion, so I have a spot saved in heaven, not hell.

  47. NC – I had similiar spiritual experiences during those months of being a foster mother, but I never could verbalize them as beautifully as you just did. I want to share a couple vignettes with you that I will always remember, which show how God gently shapes the future (often also showing that He has a great sense of humor).
    As you probably know, the cardinal rule of being a foster mother to an unwed teenager is: DON’T EVER TELL HER WHAT YOU THINK SHE SHOULD DO WITH HER BABY because she is going to live with that decision the rest of her life and she needs to be the one making the decision. My foster daughter was leaning toward keeping her baby when she arrived in my home. I NEVER broke the cardinal rule, but God was in control. I found out I was pregnant the week after she arrived with my second child and I was horribly sick during that first trimester. My daughter was probably about 18 months old and she was adorable. I had spent hours before she was born selecting PERFECT and EXPENSIVE wallpaper for her bedroom. It was called CASTLES IN THE CLOUDS. My daughter hated taking naps. So one day after my foster daughter arrived, I went into my daughter’s bedroom and discovered that instead of sleeping during her nap, she had found little edges on the wallpaper and shredded it in hundreds of tiny pieces off the wall. I was so MAD that I just handed her to my foster daughter and said, “I’m leaving. I don’t know when I’ll return.” A couple weeks later my foster daughter received a letter from one of her friends in high school which said, “Don’t you DARE give up that baby for adoption. Just think how cute it will be to have your own little doll to dress up!” That evening my daughter got the stomach flu and threw up all over the living room. As my foster daughter helped me clean up the disgusting mess, we both smiled grimly and said, “We have our own little doll to clean up instead of dress up!” My daughter provided a healthy dose of reality! I haven’t talked about those experiences for many years. Thanks for sharing. We could probably go out to lunch and talk for hours because our “clubs” are so interlinked. I hope to meet you in that special place in heaven some day!

  48. Member of the
    STRUGGLING WITH UNBELIEF club (still kicking hard) (“I know it’s true, I know it’s true.. stop listening to the lying spirit..”)
    I HAVE ADD AND SO DO MY PARENTS AND FIVE SIBLINGS club
    NEARLY 8 YEARS INFERTILE AND FEELING TERRIBLY GUILTY FOR NOT MINDING IT AS MUCH AS I THINK I SHOULD club
    DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR PRIDE club alternating with COMPLETELY SURE I AM NOTHING club

    Most of my problems seem to be mental-emotional-chemical. Oh, except for the infertility thing.

    You know what sometimes gives me comfort? The promise from the temple of the power to crush Satan’s head. I interpret that as the power to crush the thoughts from the adversary. I know he bruises my heel (disrupting or decreasing my ability to do what I should), but it’s nice to have the promise of power.

  49. Carol, it was brave of you to share such a painful and intimate story with all of us. I also agree that there are no quick fixes for anything; that permanent solutions take prayer, faith, hope, time and help. I am glad that your sister got the help she needed. I do feel that her experience does NOT negate the power found in the temple and should by no means keep someone wary or scared to go. The temple IS powerful.

  50. Emily M. – I’m giving the primary lesson on unity this Sunday, so I may read your comment to my precocious primary class. I have felt like one of the more important things that I can teach them is that our baptismal covenants involve strengthening our brothers and sisters with love and positive reinforcement. So this Sunday I will teach them to mourn with those that mourn AND rejoice with those who rejoice. Thanks!

    Leslie – I didn’t know you taught seminary — that is cool! I’m glad you’re warning your students, because too many people seem to have the idea that you will be blessed with a club-free life if you’re keeping the commandments. We may all some day be members of the SURVIVED THE CHAOS OF LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS CLUB which certainly won’t be a picnic. Experiencing the healing power of the atonement in my own life and seeing it work for others, gives me the hope that I will survive all my future club memberships.

  51. Hi Kathryn – Your Mom sent me your blog and all the comments. What a powerful writer you are! She is so proud of you. And so am I. I hope you keep writing and helping others in their journeys in life. Do you remember Pres. Wilson telling us that if we see all the troubles availabe to mankind we would choose our own. I think of a dear sweet friend who has a daughter who dispises her and wishes her dead. I wouldn’t change my daughter who has had epilepsy, brain surgery, etc.etc. for her situation in a milllion years. My best to you ad love, Sharon Janzen

  52. I have avoided commenting specifically on Carol’s story because I felt uncomfortable judging an experience when I don’t really have all the details and probably only God understands all the cause and effect relationships. I can only speak from my own experience. My experience is that divorce is a nightmare. If there are children involved, the nightmare doesn’t end when the divorce is final. I was blessed with an amazing team of seen and unseen angels who helped me survive the nightmare. I also found great strength in the scriptures, priesthood blessings, temple attendance, and promptings from the Spirit. I also listened to the advice of a mortal angel and friend, who told me that I needed to get professional help for my severe depression ASAP because my children needed a mentally healthy mother. If I hadn’t listened to her, I may have also ended up in a hospital. That is my experience; however, every situation is unique. I’m also glad that Carol’s sister finally got the help she needed. I can’t speak for Carol, but I felt she was concerned that someone might misunderstand the stake president’s advice and seek healing solely through excessive temple attendance rather than seeking professional help. A woman at last week’s BYU Women’s Conference spoke about her husband’s bipolar struggles. She said that reading the Book of Mormon does NOT CURE depression, but it helps their family cope. It is a tool of strength and peace. The temple is also a tool of strength and peace.

  53. Sharon – It was so fun to hear from you! I recently read in the same dusty journal that was under my bed about the night we went to the K.T. Oslin concert and during the intermission you told me that my dad was so sweet and kind and loving that when he died people said, “Well of course it shouldn’t surprise us that Jim died because he didn’t have anything else to learn; he had learned everything there was to know about love, etc.” That conversation was an epiphany that changed my life and the way I saw myself. That was during my painful divorce, so you were one of those mortal angels who helped strengthen me during a difficult experience. I will always be grateful for your kindness and wisdom that night. Thanks for also being a beautiful example of surviving adversity with amazing faith. With love, Kathryn

  54. Jessie T. – you succinctly summarized the message of the talk I heard last week from a member of the WIFE OF A BIPOLAR HUSBAND CLUB. She said that she initially pleaded with God to change her husband’s club membership to cancer. I think that was partially because cancer was socially more acceptable and people could understand it. In the conclusion of her talk she said that Laman and Lemuel spent their time complaining about their troubles. She has learned that we do NOT have to go kicking and screaming to all our blessings. We will be able to run to our Savior for comfort. She said that we should expect miracles and there will be compensation. It sounds like you’ve had some of the same experiences. Thanks for sharing…

  55. Anonymous: The temple also teaches us how to cast Satan out of our homes. I use that method when needed. I totally believe that Satan knows our vulnerabilties and exploits them every chance he can. Many years ago I read the book by David Burns entitled THE FEELING GOOD HANDBOOK and it was the beginning of the long journey to conquer my poisonous negative thinking patterns. I think you know where many of those negative thoughts originate. I have more recently come to love Norman Vincent Peale’s book, THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. One thing he teaches is the power of keeping an empowering scripture in our mind. For the past month my powerful scripture has been “I live after the manner of happiness” (adapted from 2 Nephi 5:27) and it really has helped!

  56. I’m a member of the MARRIED TO A DIVORCED MAN CLUB, the STEPMOTHER CLUB, and the NOT MARRIED IN THE TEMPLE CLUB. (We were sealed a year later after getting turned down for clearance the first time.) Those three clubs have been the cause of both the most wonderful blessings and the hardest trials of my life. They’ve also given me empathy for situations I never thought I’d understand.

  57. Carol, after reading Kathryn’s comments (#34) on the story of your sister, I am humbled and would like to apologize to you. I now see that you were not discouraging temple attendance or downplaying it’s power in our lives.

    You brought up an important perspective that sometimes we think we can play one key of the gospel incessantly and obsessively and think that it will heal everything. It’s important for us to know that sometimes the situation calls for help from many different sources. Hopefully, the temple can inspire us to seek that help, and if not, hopefully others will be inspired to step in when we need them (or even before we think we need help).

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