We talk about our Heavenly Father loving us, and our leaders say they love us, but sometimes it feels like they mean “us” in general, and not “me” in particular.
We are told that almost any righteous man and woman can have a successful marriage if they are both committed, if both of them have enough faith to do everything right. [fn1] The particulars of the individuals, the quirks and preferences that make up our personalities, don’t much matter. And many couples in contented arranged marriages can testify to the viability of this idea.
In the same way, any given community of saints within any arbitrarily drawn ward boundary has the potential to foster Zion within it. We don’t choose our wards, not really. We serve and worship where we are assigned. We learn to love each other in our particularity as we serve together through years. We are not just numbers, we are fellow saints who struggle and celebrate and mourn together. As we come to know each other, we develop compassion and charity. We learn to love.
But we cannot allow ourselves to forget how arbitrary are those boundaries that foster these relationships.
On Sunday the ward boundaries were changed throughout my stake. I’ve never experienced this before, and I was surprised at how devastated, how bereft I felt about being cut off from my ward family, the ward I have served in for the last three years, the ward that welcomed us here and convinced us that this move was a good idea. I feel cut adrift, rejected, exiled. I felt like a number that had been shuffled around, my individuality denied and the particular character of my ward ignored.
I don’t like the change or how it was presented to us. It felt heavy handed, a fait accompli that we are given little choice but to accept. I was still in shock, still trying to process the changes and their implications when we were asked to give a sustaining vote. And I really didn’t like being congratulated on my faith in accepting these changes while I was still trying to grasp the enormity of those changes.
I worry about my ward, what was my ward, my old ward, losing so many families and people who were serving reliably. It hurts me that I won’t be there to help anymore; not that my help would solve all the problems, but at least I wouldn’t feel helpless.
I don’t expect I’ll remain so upset for long; it’s just not possible. By the time Sunday rolls around and I attend my new ward for the first time, I should be ready to start working and worshipping with my new group of fellow saints. After all, their ward was gutted worse than ours; they’ll need me and put me to work. And I already have good friends there.
I hope this change will expand my sense of community. I hope it will be a chance to build more friendships. And I hope I can continue to be a good neighbor to everyone I will no longer see on Sundays. Perhaps I should see this as an opportunity to exercise the Buddhist principles of compassion and non-attachment.
I don’t know that this is a good change, but I will work to make it so.
[fn1] “It is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price” Spencer W. Kimball. Marriage and Divorce (1976), 16. http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/09/choosing-and-being-the-right-spouse#footnote4-22909_000_015