Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Truth About an LDS Disciplinary Council

The Truth About an LDS Disciplinary Council

I haven’t talked much to people about the “Ordain Women” movement happening out here in Utah.  Mostly because, I honestly haven’t cared much about it.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  It happens to not be the same as mine, so I won’t be joining their group.  But that’s the extent of it for me.

Then I saw an interview this morning that really hit a nerve.  All day, I couldn't shake the horrible feeling it left me with.  I've put a lot of thought and prayer into it and decided that I would write a blog post about my experiences, in the hopes that maybe, it just might help people see things in a different light.

So here goes……

I have been through a disciplinary council.  It was not for apostasy.  I had issues that I had to deal with.  That is all the information I will give on the details for the council.

The reason behind the council is not the purpose of this blog post. 

I feel that it is incredibly important that people hear what it is like to go though a disciplinary council, especially from someone who is still a member of the church.  Most of the things I have heard about this subject, or even excommunication, are from people who have since left the church, and have nothing but hurtful things to say.  I want to give a different point of view.

In the interview I saw today, she threw out buzz words like; Ambush, Abusive and Violent.  

These three words rattled around in my head all day after that.  I couldn't stop thinking about them.  Just the thought of it affected me deeply.

Those words could not be further from the truth of what it is really like.

I was in my late 20’s and was attending a YSA singles ward.  I had been inactive for around 15 years of my life, approximately from the ages of 11 to 26.  I never had any hard feelings towards the church during that time, in fact I very much respected all that it stood for and the people I had known throughout my life.  It just wasn't something I wanted to participate in at the time.  It was as simple as that.

When I made the decision to come back to the church, it wasn't an overnight change.  It took me a few years to come back to full activity.  There were so many times I took three steps forward, and ten steps back.  I knew the church was true, but changing an entire lifestyle was challenging.

I met regularly with my Bishop.  He knew what was going on in my life.  He knew the struggles I had, and he was there to help me, even when I pushed the help away.

During one of our meetings, it was clear that I was ready to come back fully.  He informed me that because of the choices I had made in the past, and some in the really recent past, that I would need to go through a disciplinary council.  We set up a time the following week and he informed me that I would be receiving an official letter from church headquarters regarding it.

The letter is something standard that anyone who is asked to attend a disciplinary council will receive.  It confirms the date and time of the meeting and reviews that the end result could possibly be excommunication.

I don’t think I have my letter anymore, I wish I had kept it.  I do remember when reading it, it was not hurtful in any way. 

On the night of the meeting, I arrived at the church and waited outside the Bishops office.  They specifically chose a time when the church would be completely empty.  When someone has a situation like this, the members privacy is extremely important to the Bishopric. 

I was asked to join their meeting (they arrived early to pray and prepare).  In the room was my Bishop, his counselors, secretary and his executive secretary.  The executive secretary was there to take notes.  I knew all of these men and was never uncomfortable.

We started the meeting with a prayer.  Then the Bishop talked to me about why we were there, about the choices that I made and which direction I wanted to take.  There was never any accusations, or anything that made me feel like I was on display.  It was more like a conversation.  The counselors could ask questions if they chose to.  Numerous times I was told how much I was loved by them and what a strength I was to the ward.

The Bishop and I talked about the real possibility that I could be excommunicated that night.  The choices I had made in my past were not light.  The thought of this terrified me.  Could I really handle it?  Would I be strong enough? 

If the decision was made that I would be excommunicated, I would have to wait one year before having the opportunity to be baptized again.  Could I make it through that time?  Or would I drift farther away?

Once I answered all of the questions, I was asked to sit in the hall outside of the Bishops office so they could pray and discuss the situation.

I was alone in a large, empty church building.  The only lights on were in that foyer, and on the painting of Christ when you first walk in the door. 

I was so scared.

I sat down on a folding chair in the hall, bowed my head, and prayed.  I prayed for the strength to be able to handle whatever the outcome was.  I prayed to know what direction Heavenly Father wanted me to go.

My experience in that hallway is one I will never forget.  It is the most sacred spiritual experience of my life, I never knew it was possible to feel that loved and cared for.

I know that my spirit was not the only one in the hallway that night.  And the experiences of that prayer confirmed my testimony of the church, without a doubt.  I can never deny that.

After what felt like hours, I was invited back into the office. 

I looked at the loving faces of those men.  I saw the wet spots on the collar of their suits, where the tears rolled down their cheeks and landed.  I saw their puffy red eyes, so full of love toward me.  The spirit was so strong in this room, it was overwhelming.

The decision had been made.  I was not to be excommunicated.  This was not a decision made by men.   I know with certainty that this outcome was directed by the Savior.  I have no doubt in my mind.

Instead, I was put on a one year probation, I was disfellowshiped.  I was encouraged to come to church and all activities.  During that time, I could not partake of the sacrament, receive a calling, or give a prayer or a talk at church.

I truly believe that we must have things removed from our life for us to appreciate them.

I turned and gave each of these men a long hug.  It was impossible to not feel the love they each had for me.  I was told by each the love and respect they had for me.

Then my Bishop gave me a Priesthood Blessing.  A blessing that he was worthy to give.  A blessing that confirmed all of the events of that night.  A blessing that made me feel so much love.

These wonderful, humble men.  Men of God.  Men who aren't perfect, but love the Savior and the church.  Men who have strong testimonies of the truth.  These men who are examples to me everyday of what a good husband should be. 

My disciplinary council was something that was necessary for me to go through.  Thinking back on it actually strengthens my testimony, and I am thankful for it.

I am not a perfect person, far from it. I still make mistakes, and I am so thankful for the atonement.

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. 

It is my truth.  It is my strength.  It is my foundation.

Sending love to all - Barbie