Church is forever

My oldest daughter was the first grandchild born to my parents. I will never forget how for weeks after she was born, I could count on the doorbell ringing and open it to see my father’s smiling face, standing there expectantly, waiting to hold and play with his granddaughter. Every day it was the same.

And even after more grandchildren came along, these two, they shared a bond. But about six years ago things changed. My father retired, and became consumed with church and his callings therein, and the first mission came. That did some damage to the bond. But that was not enough. They decided to go on yet another mission. This one was to Switzerland, and they were gone for two years. That one almost irrevocably destroyed the bond. When they returned, they could not understand the distance that still existed. My father didn’t understand why he was no longer close with this child who had spent so many hours with him before. Of course, then they accepted yet ANOTHER mission, this one only to Salt Lake City, but it required regular working hours every day but Sunday. And that’s their Church day.

When my father woefully told me that he was no longer so close witih Chatter Child, I pointed out, “You were gone. You still are.”

“But surely they understand that I’m doing this for my eternal salvation. I could be one of those grandpas that just go down to the coffee shop and drink coffee with their buddies and chat. But I’m working for my eternal salavation.”

And I remember thinking, “Boy, are you in for a wakeup call. And what’s so wrong with sitting at the coffee shop and drinking coffee with your buddies? Haven’t you earned that? After you LEAVE the coffee shop, you can go visit your grandchildren, or spend time on a hobby.”

Last night, this came to a head when my mother told me that my youngest is distant, and snobbish to them. Part of this, is of course because she is a teenager, and as I’ve mentioned before, a mutant alien. But a good part is the wall put up when my parents chose church over family.

My mother said, “Well, when you retire, you have a right to do these things. You have a right to pursue your dreams and desires.”

I certainly don’t disagree. But you have to make choices and sacrifices, too. If you choose to give all your time and money to your church, please don’t accuse my children of not opening up to you when they don’t even KNOW you anymore.

Other parents retire and go on three month road trips. They don’t leave for two years and come home and tell stories about all the wonderful students they met, that just love them, and come to visit, and call all the time, and send them cards. They LIVE for that adoration. Those students considered them surrogate parents and grandparents, and they don’t see the ugly side of them. They don’t hear about fights at school, or problems with friends, or failing tests. These friends have become the PERFECT FAMILY. They only adore from afar. Is that what my parents wanted? I don’t know.

But what I do know is they had their own children and grandchildren here, at home. And chose to leave them. And now they don’t understand it. They don’t understand the distance, even though they are now living so close.

My father has taken quite ill, and is no longer able to do much. A few weeks ago they set out on a trip to Phoenix, to spend a week with friends, and they were forced to turn around and come home, because of my father’s health. My mother has lung and voice problems, and she, too, cannot do much anymore.

They are grateful they served their missions when they did. After all, now their health is bad, and they can no longer even consider doing any of that. Or playing with their grandchildren. Or taking shopping excursions with teenage granddaughters. Sitting on benches to watch Dancing Daughter perform is just too hard on their backs. They can’t consider swimming in a pool, or playing catch in the backyard. This past Sunday my mother never even made it out of bed to go to church, something unheard of.

Everybody makes choices. My mother’s health went on the decline during their first mission. My father’s has gone steadily downhill for the past five years. And above all that, they have a limited income, but they PAID to go on all those missions.

And now they are angry and hurt because their grandchildren are not close to them. You make choices. And they chose.

And it was not family.

The old motto should be Church is forever and eternal. Not families.

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About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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24 Responses to Church is forever

  1. Tania says:

    I totally agree with that saying. Growing up the Bishop used to lecture my parents for taking us waterskiing on the sabath. My dad used to explain that he was closer to his kids on the lake than splitting up and going our different ways for 3 hours in church. All grown up, I have to agree. I look at my husband’s father who is devout and see how he has NO relationship with his children. He was never there and he left it up to the primary teachers to teach his kids. Now he feels that if his children are all active in the church that proves he was a good parent. NOT. It is definetly Church is forever.

    Like

  2. Kris says:

    Natalie,

    I find this post really sad. I can certainly understand your position as I have parents who worked full time their whole lives and still do, and inlaws who spent their time raising their children only to go back to full time work after all their children were married and moved away, despite the grandchildren being born ona regualr basis. My parents try super hard to have some semblance of a relationship with their grandchildren even though we live in a different country now, and my inlaws do their best as well. Both sets of parents now travel a lot in their spare time and spend a lot of time together doing some well needed and deserved bonding. Neither have the same kind of relationship with their grandchildren than they did with their own children and somehow I think that is the way it is supposed to be.

    All that being said, I do think parents have a right to get their lives back after their own children are grown. I don’t think it has much to do with the church though. I see it in my own family who aren’t members, families of friends who aren’t members, co-workers relationships and they aren’t members either. I am sorry you feel this way, however it does seem to be a trend for aging parents (after their children are grown) outside the chruch AND in.

    Perhaps, and this is just a thought, your attitude toward the church, something they hold dear and perhaps they are having difficulty understanding (and certainly you are entitled to believe what you believe) has contributed to this situation as well. Perhaps they don’t want to set you off by doing/saying something with your children that you would construe as having ulterior motives by just trying to be good grandparents. It would be a difficult situation I would think for your family dynamics. Just a thought.

    K.

    Like

  3. Lyndsey says:

    My husband has had a problem with this for a long time too. His older brother and family cannot possibly miss one church activity even if it coincides with a family get together. Our family usually has to reschedule so we don’t interfere with church. My husband once told his mom, “It’s a good thing they believe families are forever because he sure doesn’t see them now.”

    Like

  4. azteclady says:

    Kris,

    How has any of Natalie’s beliefs forced her parents to go away for two years? Perhaps, and this is just a thought, blaming the child for a decision the parent’s make lacks a certain Christian charity je ne sais quoi.

    Natalie,

    It is sad that your parents feel the distance from your children, and even sadder that your kids had to grow without knowing their grandparents, beyond the duty and the blood obligation. Sadder because it was not your children’s choice yet they are stuck with it just as much as your parents. On the plus side, they have you and your husband, and going by what I’ve come to know of your family by reading here, they are lucky kids. :hug:

    Like

  5. T. B. says:

    Nat,
    Sorry to hear your folks are in ill health. Please give my best to both of them.
    T.B.

    Like

  6. Cele says:

    Oh, this is so incredibly sad. John Edward says at the close of every show – communicate, appreciate, and validate every day those you love. Whether you believe in his “ablity” his message still has meaning. Unfortunately what the words don’t say is that relationships are a two way street.

    I hope, somehow, your daughters will find a way to have good memories of your parents. I hope somehow your parents will find a way to give, undemandingly to your daughters while they still can. When they (your parents) are gone, your parents will see things much clearer the things that are truly important – and then it will be far too late. And to others I offer a bit of unsought advice: Remember what it is like to be a teenager, a parent, a friend, and a child because at some point you will have to deal with each and shouldn’t it be done with the clarity of hindsight, instead of the blindness of “self deserved” egotism?

    So many people think respect is a given. It’s not. Respect is to be earned, friendship is earned, love is often undeserved.

    Like

  7. rebcat says:

    So, who is TRULY hurt if the church ends up not being true?

    If I were to hazard a guess, it would be those who believe it to be true. Those who make decisions and sacrifices because they believe the church and its doctrine will make good on its promises of eternal families. For example, a couple of retired grandparents who served three missions for the church because they believed they were working on their eternal salvation, maybe?

    If the church ends up not being true, how ticked off is grandpa going to be when he realizes he sacrificed a relationship with a beloved granddaughter (not to mention a nice chat and a cup of coffee with the buddies every morning) for a false promise, a fake church? Difficult family dynamics isn’t going to factor into that kind of pissed off. “Hurt” doesn’t begin to describe it.

    Like

  8. Kris says:

    azteclady,

    My point was that in MANY familes I have (been in) and been closed to, sometimes the choices of others affect the way their relationships are. Yes, it is sad for ALL of us whose parents are not close to our children for various and sundry reasons…I believe MANY of us can relate to Ntalie’s post. I did in NO WAY however say that was the absolute truth in Natalie’s case. I just threw it out there. So I ask you in turn, why should parents NOT be able to choose to go away for two years (serve a mission for their church, travel around the world, move away to a different state/country for new experiences etc.) and have a life of their own after so many years of caring for their own children? I don’t believe PERSONALLY (that means just me) that the relationship of grandchild/grandparent should necessarily be the same as a parent/child relationship. Hey, if some grandparents want that then great, but if not should we expect it? Just wondering.

    K.

    Like

  9. Kris,

    I don’t agree, because you missed my point. IF that is their choice, than it is fine. I agree. They should have the RIGHT to their lives. What they DON’T have the right to do is expect my children to act as though they have always been there, when they have not. When you make choices, THINGS CHANGE. I have Mormon friends who parents still manage to make their grandchildren a part of their life. They take their trips. They do their thing, but they STILL Make it work. So, that’s not my parents ideal. Okay. But don’t come to me and complain that my children are not close to them. That is not my fault. That divide was bridged when they left. THEY made the choice.

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  10. Oh, and my parents DO want it, but they aren’t willing to accept the reason they LOST it was the choice they made. I mean, come on. One mission is one thing. But THREE????

    Like

  11. TB, thanks for the concern about the parents’ health. Dad has Parkinson’s, and is really not doing well at all. It’s sad.

    Like

  12. azteclady says:

    Kris,

    My point was that you had missed Natalie’s point. Her parents made their choices but it seems they wanted their cake and to eat it too–in other words, they chose to serve in their missions but want their grandchildren to behave towards them as if they (the grandparents) had promoted a close relationship with them.

    Natalie,

    I too am sorry your parents are in good health. I’ll keep all of you in my prayers.

    (I despise organized religion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God. It’s just that the God I believe in doesn’t go for a lot of the BS prevalent in most organized religions or churches.)

    Like

  13. azteclady says:

    Dammit, I meant, I too am sorry that your parents are *NOT* in good health. Apologies.

    Like

  14. No worries, azteclady. I got the meaning. 🙂

    Like

  15. Cheryle Pruett says:

    Natalie: Times are very difficult for you right now; some of us know exactly what you are going through. Your children are going to be fine, in fact, better than even fine because they have loving and caring parents who help them think for themselves. It’s my feeling that sometimes when we make choices that we learn in later life might have been a mistake we tend to try to cover them anyway we can and not let anything be our own fault. I don’t personally know your parents and I wish them well. You know, as do many of your friends and readers, that if you put the beliefs of the church ahead of family, then you reap what you sew. Your kids will have fond memories and they can build on that – they also will be intelligent adults who know what was going on and why choices were made. AND as I tell myself over and over – your parents loss. Don’t let them put a guilt trip on you or your kids. – wishes of peace and happy thoughts to you and your family.

    Like

  16. Kris says:

    I see. I didn’t get that impression reading and re-reading…very sad for everyone involved.

    My parents spend 7 months out of the year travelling and only really see my kds once per year but they still manage to be close. Not sure what the difference is really, and I can’t speak for other families particular situations.

    One of my points was that (especially in the teenage years) parents’ attitudes about things tend to transfer over to the kids no matter how hard you try to make sure they are free thinkers. I just wondered in this case how relevant that would be.

    K.

    Like

  17. Annde says:

    My son recently turned 14 and received a letter from his grandparents telling them why they could not call and sing to him on his birthday because “the family” gathered 10 earlier to celebrate all the months birthdays and we were not able to attend. She also told him that he WOULD be ordained a teacher and would grow his testimony would keep growing. We haven’t been to church in months. My son tossed the letter on the ground and said, “Grandma has no idea who I am”. It is sad, but we kind of laugh about it. At least he feels ok about himself at home, and we will sing to him on his birthday, regardless of when “the family” gathers.

    Like

  18. T.B. says:

    Nat,

    Sorry to hear about your Dad. My sister-in-law has the same disease. Not pretty but she’s coping and is hopeful that a cure will come soon. At least new medicines to regulate dopamine more effectively.

    T.B.

    Like

  19. Annde, SAD to hear about the birthday, but I understand it. I do want people to understand that my mom really is a wonderful person. I don’t think you can find a woman who is kinder or with a better heart. But my father has a drive to… I don’t know… it’s like Church callings make him happy. And without them, he feels lost, bereft. And she is supporting him. I KNOW they both love my kids. But they really have to understand why my children aren’t as close as they were.

    On the plus side, Dancing Daughter took my talk seriously and now she is starting conversations with EVERYONE. No more, “Yes, No, Maybe,” answers.

    Her sister got in the car tonight, after basketball practice, and she said, “So, how was your day?” Chatter Child looked at me and said, “What is up with her?” You can’t win.

    Like

  20. Hey, TB. Dad finally admitted he needed medical help, and that was a plus. The doctor is someone I know, and so I feel good about his treatment. He starts the medicine in January. I hope it helps.

    Like

  21. Melissa says:

    What a sad situation. I can somewhat relate with my mother. She’s in full time ministry for a Christian group and often makes the choice for the ministry over her kids and grandkids. What she does is make every effort to maintain relationships with all of us despite that. My sister and I often discuss how put off it makes us feel that my mom only sees her grandkids for a month out of the year, yet devotes the rest of her year to other people and other people’s kids. Its her choice and I respect it (and support her decisions) and in someways can see the picture a bit more clearly than my sister, as I lived with my mom where she is “serving” for a bit. I also know that is hurts my mom knowing that she doesn’t get to see her grandkids as often as she would like, but she has her “calling.” I won’t deny though that it still stings and hurts every so often. I still hold out for the hope that mine and my sister’s kids won’t be bitter over their grandma’s choices (because she does make as much of an effort as she can) and that we as parents can help them come to understand it and deal with the same thing ourselves. *Praying for you and all your family!*

    Like

  22. T. Wanker says:

    Natalie,

    I’m not going to pray for your family because I’m too much of a humanist and agnostic to believe in prayer. However, my thoughts are with you.

    My parents served a mission and my children missed them greatly during the time they were gone, so I empathized with your story — it struck home. In fact I was having a discusssion with my youngest about her dismay that her grandparents might again embark on a mission, just tonight.

    I do believe that I’m fortunate to have parents who have managed to maintain excellent and close relationships to their outspoken and admittedly non-Mormon grandchildren. I guess that means that makes me a voice of hope that religious myopically perspectives can be overcome.

    Oh, and I enjoyed both Sisterwife and Wives and Sisters and look forward to your new book.

    P.S. Need more of your books at the Layton Barnes and Noble. They were out tonight when I checked.

    Like

  23. sheyedaisy says:

    My father sent this to me, of course he, as an active mormon, found this extremely faith promoting I, as an inactive mormon, found this laughable. I wonder where the proof to all these bold statements is. How do we even know who this person is that made all these statements? Sounds like more mormon propaganda to me. Anyway I thought you might just get a kick out of it. My husband and I sure did. Happy reading!
    Thank you so much for your blog I look forward to reading every new post.
    Sheyedaisy

    I once bought a Ford–may have to reconsider and take a look–nah, Toyota must have sometime said something good about the Church…A very favorable and accurate summary as far as I can tell.

    L.D.S Facts from Ford Motor Company

    An interesting article written by Ford Motor Company for their employees.
    It was written in February. From the ‘Ford Interfaith’ group as a message
    about the Church. The Ford Interfaith group promotes unity by sharing
    information from all faiths and features these types of articles about all
    religions and faiths from time to time.

    QUICK FACTS & INTERESTING TIDBITS About The Church of Jesus Christ of
    Latter-day Saints

    Fleeing continued mob attacks, 158 years ago today the first Mormon
    pioneers desperately started their Westward trek from Illinois in the dead
    of winter. Of the 70,000 who began this 1300-mile journey, 6,000 were
    buried along the way, including many children. The following are quick
    facts and interesting tidbits about this now flourishing church.

    OVERVIEW

    * Named “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints”; informal
    nicknames are “LDS” or “Mormon.”

    * Believes it’s the Lord’s restoration of original Christianity as
    foretold to occur before Christ’s Second Coming.

    * Core focus is that Christ and His teachings bring happiness in this
    life and exaltation in the next.

    HISTORY

    * In 1820 14-yr-old Joseph Smith told of a vision of God and Christ
    foretelling a church restoration.

    * Organized in New York in 1830, the church moved to near Cleveland, then
    near Kansas City, then Illinois.

    * Fleeing Illinois, Mormon pioneers founded Salt Lake City in Utah and
    over 600 other Western communities.

    SALT LAKE CITY

    * Temple Square in Salt Lake has over 5 million annual visitors, more
    than the Grand Canyon.

    * The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the world’s most famous and has the
    world’s oldest radio program.

    * The Salt Lake Temple is the most famous, but there are 128 other
    temples built or underway.
    * Home of the world’s largest genealogy database; visit it online or
    through 3,700 free branch libraries.

    ACTIVE CONGREGATIONS

    * Sunday services entail a three-hour block of three meetings; about
    27,000 congregations exist worldwide.

    * Highly vibrant programs exist for youth, children, singles, men, and
    women; very strong family focus.

    * Everyone has a calling; some surveys show LDS have the highest U.S.
    attendance and service rates.

    * Families receive personal fellowship visits at home from other members
    on a monthly basis.

    FINANCES

    * Members tithe 10 percent, plus donate generously to the needy the first
    Sunday of each month.

    * Clergy and all other congregational positions are unpaid (however, much
    of the janitorial is paid).

    * The church has no debt; all buildings are paid for in cash (average of
    two new congregations a day).

    * The paid positions in Salt Lake are famously low-sal aried; funds are
    frugally used and tightly audited.

    HEALTH CODE

    * With a health code from 1833, LDS avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal
    drugs, coffee, and tea (herbal tea is ok).

    * This 1833 code also teaches grains (especially wheat), fresh fruits and
    vegetables, and sparing use of meat.

    * A UCLA study showed that active LDS live longer than most Americans,
    men by 11 years, women by 8.

    * Utah is 50th in smoking, alcohol consumption, drunk driving, heart
    disease, cancer, and sick days.

    EDUCATION

    * With four colleges, Utah’s BYU with 30,000 students is the largest
    single-campus private college.

    * BYU Independent Study with 130,000 students is North America (340 web
    courses, 530 via mail).

    * Seminary, a daily class usually held around 6:00 A.M., serves 376,000
    high school students.

    * There are Institutes of Religion at 1,950 colleges worldwide that serve
    367,000 college students.

    * The church operates schools in parts of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico
    for 10,000 students.

    * Utah is 50th in spending per pupil, but first in adults that graduated
    from high school and attended college.

    WOMEN

    * In 1842 the “Relief Society” was organized; it’s the largest women’s
    organization in the world.

    * Wyoming was first to allow women to vote; Utah was second, two months
    later, in 1870.

    * Women preach from the pulpit and serve as organization presidents,
    teachers, committee chairs, etc.

    SHARING CHRIST’S GOOD NEWS

    * 61,000 missionaries serve in 165 countries; 93 percent are college-age;
    22 percent are female.

    * Unpaid and paying their own way, most work 65 hours a week for two
    years, often in a new language.

    MEMBERSHIP DISTRIBUTION

    * LDS are 70 percent of Utah, 30 percent of Idaho; after Catholics, LDS
    are the largest sect in 10 states.

    * The church has 5.5 million members in the U. S., making it the fourth
    largest individual U.S. denomination.

    * Some memberships: New Zealand 95k, Japan 115k, UK 175k, Philippines
    500k, Brazil 900k, Mexico 925k.

    * Worldwide 51 percent are female; about 55 percent are not Caucasian;
    about 70 percent are converts.

    MEMBERSHIP GROWTH

    * For the last 15 years, every day an average of 800+ people worldwide
    joined the LDS church.

    * Half of the growth is in Latin America, but the rate of growth is
    highest in Africa and the former Soviet bloc.

    * Worldwide membership just passed 12 million, a tenfold increase in 50
    years.

    * In 1984 a non-LDS professor estimated 265 million members by 2080; so
    far growth has been faster.

    * As this growth has been steady, he said it will be the “first ‘new’
    major world religion since Islam.”

    CHARITY/SERVICE

    * Members in need obtain welfare from the LDS Church (thus Utah
    government welfare spending is very low).
    * LDS donate time at 220 welfare storehouses or canneries and about 400
    farms (a FL ranch is 312k acres).

    * There are 210 employment centers placing over 175,000 people annually,
    and 64 family service centers.

    * The church operates 46 thrift stores, in part to provide employment for
    the disadvantaged.

    * The 61,000 missionaries spend half a day each week doing
    non-proselytizing community service.

    HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

    * Over 200 million pounds of food, clothing, and medicine were donated
    in the last 20 years in 147 countries.

    * Almost all of this help is to non-LDS; LDS charities also work with and
    donate to many non-LDS charities.

    * Very rapid disaster relief has been given in 144 major disasters since
    1986.

    * Almost 3,000 welfare “missionaries” work without pay in 55 countries
    (farm instructors, doctors, teachers…).

    * LDS charities fund a wide variety of projects like drilling water w ells
    or funding small business startup loans.

    * New in 2001, members in poor areas can get low-rate college loans;
    10,000 loans have been made to date.

    GRAB BAG

    * Utah is first in: charitable giving, scientists, household computers,
    children with two parents, and birth rate.

    * Noted LDS included five senators, the Osmonds, Gladys Knight, Steve
    Young, and the inventor of TV.

    * LDS played a key role in the 2002 Winter Olympics; the chair is now the
    governor of Massachusetts.

    * Hawaii’s #1 tourist site is the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center (Tonga
    and the Samoas are one-third LDS).

    * LDS have sponsored Boy Scout troops since 1913; 23 percent of all Scout
    troops are LDS.

    * The BYU Women’s Cross Country were national champions or in second
    place each of the last seven years.

    DETROIT AREA

    * The Detroit metro area has 30 congregations; the Dearborn chapel is on
    Rotunda by Ford’s Building #5.

    * Detroit has a temple, storehouse, cannery, employment and family
    service office, and family history libraries.

    * LDS include former Governor Romney, three former Lions quarterbacks,
    and hundreds of Ford employees.


    Jim Harper
    Harper Holdings, Inc.
    949 201-7708

    Like

  24. Kris says:

    Everyone sees what they want to see in this kind of stuff…I don’t get what the big deal is?
    K.

    Like

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