Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guilt without sin

This was the first part of my Relief Society lesson last Sunday:

 I had a non-Mormon friend, who works in the community say to me, "I love my Mormon friends.  They feel so guilty.  You can get them to do anything."

Why is that, do you think?  My thoughts on this:

Three things that make us feel guilty:

1. The scriptures.  We have Justice Jesus and Joy Jesus.  Justice Jesus is always threatening us with his two-edged swords (smiting) or burning us to stubble.  The thing is he's talking about the wicked, but we never know for sure if that is us or not.  Joy Jesus is our advocate to the father.  Joy Jesus is about peace and gathering us to Him.  Justice Jesus gives me the willies.  Joy Jesus I can worship.

2. Repeated stories of "outliers."  Take John Roe Moyle who walked 22 miles to work on the SL temple and walked back (Mondays and Fridays).  If that isn't enough, he injured his leg and had to have it cut off.  He made a leg out of wood with a leather strap that went over his shoulder and continued walking the 22 miles twice a week.  Yes, a remarkable story.

And they've just made a film about him.

What is the message with these outlier stories?  That we should be like him?  Give us all a break, why don't you.

3. Pulpit bullies, who are unfortunately sometimes our leaders.  Someone from the pulpit makes our goals for us, tells us what our expectations should be, and worst of all makes judgments that do not align with our own moral views.  They hurt us rather than encourage us.

Then, I read part of Uchtdorff's last speech. "Mistakes of Imperfect People."

Then we went on to talk about how we could help people using the talents God gave us.


  1. Love this post. I would have adored your RS lesson. I probably would be invited to leave the room after my 5th "Preach it, Louise!"
    I admit I have always been suspicious of the Bro. Moyle story. For a husband to abandon his wife and children for a week at time, walking 22 miles each way on a peg leg and doing that for years, he must have not had a marriage worth coming home to. And since his wife didn't complain about his absence from their farm (which means she was in charge of EVERYTHING) I figure he must have been a serious pain to live with. They both probably enjoyed the excuse to be apart.

  2. I've deduced that "mormon guilt" (as opposed to Catholic or Jewish guilt) comes primarily when you are at home when everyone else is at the (proverbial) service project.

  3. We have a recent convert in our Relief Society who does a great job of telling us all to get over ourselves already with the inappropriate guilt. I love her.

  4. This also puts me in mind of the environmentalist in New York who decided to live with zero carbon footprint, including his wife and at least one child in diapers. He had a blog. He became an activist. People would want to help and would ask him what they should do. I loved the response he settled on: "What would you like to do?"

  5. I must have married a beautiful heathen. She never feels guilty. It's worn off on me.

  6. Thank you for this. I feel guilty all of the time. And as a result, like your friend said, people can get me to do anything. I'm usually either feeling guilty or feeling mad or dreading having to do something that I really don't want to do/really can't do. It's so dumb!

  7. Over 20 years ago a non-mormon friend taught me the phrase, "Don't Should On Yourself." I love it. I live by it. I wish I had known it 40 or 50 years ago. It's my mantra. Someday I might even make it into a wall hanging. Or maybe not.

  8. So spot on people - too bad it takes most of until our 40's and later to figure it out. And if some of you are younger, good for you for getting it sooner. I decided a few years ago I had had it up to my eyeballs with guilt and if not guilt then feeling angry with people deciding what should be priorities in my life - it might have had something to do with being forty. Now if I don't like the activity someone has come up with whether ward, RS or family I don't get guilted into going/helping/bringing etc. I do try to actively look for opportunities to serve and help because I do like serving others and think we should help our neighbours and one another but not out of guilt.
    Thank you to Heather for pointing out something I've always missed in that story. Sometimes we like to "glorify" peoples sacrifices and then think we are not up to snuff because we don't think we've given enough. And I am with her on the "Preach it Sister!" Amen.