Alright, I admit it. That was me. I was coming out of a light snooze when someone in Sunday School said something political, and I’d had it. Week after week little political barbs had been flying around the room, and in the haze of awakening, when my filter is at its lowest setting, and one more barb flew, I said something.
“OH MY GOSH,” I exclaimed, pretty loudly, “Can we please stop talking about this?”
My neighbor behind me clapped my shoulder in solidarity. After the meeting, I had a couple people come up and thank me for saying something. Later on, while on a walk, another neighbor took the time to communicate her thanks. I felt slightly embarrassed, to confess the truth, because my outburst wasn’t careful or measured, it was downright reactive. But it was also true: I was exhausted with the factional statements and I wasn’t the only one.
A friend and I were chatting a few weeks ago. This person has left the church recently, yet was kind enough to write me saying, “If there were someone in Relief Society that could challenge the stupid things and still be a crusader for being nice to others, I’d find a way to still be part of that community.”
Which just led me to think…
Why aren’t you standing up for yourself at church? Why are you letting them get you upset week after week? Why aren’t you saying something? What happens if all the moderate, progressive, and in some places, conservative voices leave the church? We need you. What if you’re like me and don’t care what flavor the politics are, you don’t want to hear it at church? You have something that is worth hearing; your voice counts. So WHY WON’T YOU SAY SOMETHING?
Are you afraid that you don’t know how to say it without coming off like an antagonist? Is that it? Well, let me help you. Memorize these phrases:
- Can we get back to the lesson?
- I don’t remember that being in the scriptures at all
- That quote is taken out of context
- This discussion is not helping build testimonies
- This discussion is not inviting the spirit in this room
- This discussion is off-topic, can we get back to _____?
- I believe that doctrine has been replaced
- Our God is a loving God, and that doesn’t sound like love
- Let’s not go into politics, we don’t all believe the same way
- I don’t think that’s right, but I love you anyway
- I believe in love and forgiveness
- Let’s stop the judgement and get back to the learning the gospel
- Let’s stop worrying about things we can’t control and start loving our neighbors
- I’m far more worried about getting my visiting teaching done, and maybe that’s where we should start
- Can we change the topic, please?
I know how to control a classroom and cut off tangents when I’m teaching, but I come from three generations of teachers; it’s in my DNA. Other teachers might lack the confidence or the ability to wrest back control of a discussion. YOU CAN HELP. Break up the scrum, try to get the focus back to the lesson. Ask for a change of topic, ask if we can move on to the next point. You may have a relieved teacher on your hands.
At the very least, there are others in the classroom that can’t speak up, and you can. You’re smart, you’re caring, you’re concerned with living the gospel, and your opinion is just as valuable as anyone else’s. If you’re feeling upset about the way a discussion is headed, chances are you’re not the only one. You can say it gently and with a smile, or you can say it loudly.
Just SAY IT.