Revisiting Coming to Terms With Slights and Tragedies
By Ken K. Gourdin
Someone who uses the screen name “David” who says he’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has talked to many people who have left the Church posted at Patheos on BYU’s Dan Peterson’s blog regarding the advice of many members of the Church to those who are disaffected to simply “let go” of their grievances.
“Many” of these people, he says, feel “abused, used, betrayed, lied to, stolen from[,] etc. . . . Saying ‘Let it go’ marginalizes them and clearly shows that you do not understand . . . why they are acting out.”
Many, if not all, of the things you mention in your post are choices: At their core, they involve some sort of a decision, some sort of a volitional act. Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a volitional act. I may feel greatly victimized by the Church of Jesus Christ. There may be good reasons for that. I may have been deeply and genuinely hurt or offended by something a Church leader or a fellow member did or did not do, or said or did not say.
While it is true that I did not choose that person’s act or omission, and while that act or omission may have inflicted great pain on me, I still have a choice how I respond. In that sense, the act or omission by the Church member or leader is no different than the myriad other circumstances in which I might find myself: Even if I cannot choose my circumstances, I still can choose how I respond to them. As [advice columnist] Ann Landers used to say, no one can hurt you without your consent. And as the title of a book written by Hyrum W. Smith put it (and he would be the first to admit that he, himself, is responsible for many of the circumstances which led him to write the book), “Pain is inevitable, misery is optional.”
Your comparison of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a predator who victimizes others, and hence, your casting its detractors as heroic figures whose only desire is to spare others pain caused by the predator, is spurious and is without merit. But, yes, even people who’ve been victimized in undeniably horrible ways need, eventually, to forgive, or at least to move past the horrible things they’ve suffered. Failing to do so simply grants ultimate power over them to the people or entities who victimized them. Yes, rape is horrible, but even some rape victims (I daresay even most rape victims) heal (come to think of it, Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour is a terrific example of that: she wasn’t victimized just once, but repeatedly; still, she found a way to make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear, or, better said, to make diamonds out of manure); yes, murder is horrible, but, eventually, even some of those who’ve lost loved ones to that fate (again, I daresay even most) heal; and so on.
I had something to say once, specifically within the context of someone who has been hurt or offended in their connection with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think it’s worth reposting here: