Living Outside the Bubble

George Hodan
Once upon a time, a friend of mine (it’s always a friend, right?) related this story to me.  I will tell it in her words as if, you know, as if they were my own, but of course they aren’t. Maybe this sister lives in your ward. . .
When Church Hurts
On Sunday, I went to Relief Society.  Something I do tentatively because it is often painful for me.  I went because I wanted to feel like a “part of things”.  Part of a larger group, you know?  During the lesson they talked about the scripture, “mourning with those who mourn, and comforting those who stand in need of comfort.”  They shared stories of how they had helped and been helped. 
I sat in the back all alone and thought, “Wow, that sounds amazing.  You are all so lucky to belong to a church like that.  I wish I did.”
The odd thing is, we belong to the same church.  The last few years have been the most difficult of my life.  I have mourned.  I have hurt.  And I have never felt more alone.
I tried to tell myself that it is just that they didn’t know…surely if they knew, things would change.  So I told them.  I told people personally and I wrote on my blog a few times about how to help when you don’t know what to say.
And yet nothing changed.  I still feel utterly alone.  In Relief Society, they still shared the same stories.  They talked about how sometimes it is hard to know what to say or do…but also talked about a situation where they had overcome that and done—something. 
People tell me, “we do care about you [Leslie’s anonymous friend], we just don’t know what to say.”
Well I don’t know what to say either except–I don’t believe you.  For a couple of years, I have said, “I just need to know that someone cares.  I want people to look me in the eye and say, ‘How are you?’ as if they were really willing to listen.”  I have said this over and over…and yet nothing changes.  So…yeah, sorry, I don’t believe you.
You’ve heard the saying, If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  And I wonder, if you say you care, but do nothing to show it, do you really care?
My friend is looking for a new church to attend….somewhere that won’t be so painful because living outside the bubble hurts.
Photo attribution…this photo like many I share on my blog is from George Hodan.  You can see more of his work here:  George Hodan



  1. Yesterday, in my own meeting, I noticed a sweet sister, whom I have the utmost respect for and love, leave toward the end of the Relief Society lesson. I wondered what could have been said that may have caused her to leave. When I couldn't come up with anything, (blame it on my inexperience), my inclination was that maybe she was going to take care of her calling. But now I know that it was for a different reason.I'm sorry that your friend has had this experience. I hope she'll hang on and know that at least a few people in her ward, whether she recognizes it or not, care about her. And I hope she'll continue to speak out and let her needs be known. Most often, I think, we miss out on meeting some needs because we don't realize that they are on-going "sorrows that the eye can't see". Thank you for the reminder of that. 🙂

  2. I've been thinking, maybe when we know someone is going through something really difficult and something with which we have no experience, we are afraid to ask because we might REALLY hear something. We might hear something that we don't know how to answer, we don't know how to FIX. I thought men were the ones who need to FIX everything as soon as they hear it. Maybe we have lost the art of listening like women.I really do believe that empathy and listening happen to a remarkable degree in LDS Relief Societies. Everything but sexual abuse. There is a huge derth there. I have been trying to figure out why…that's another conversation.

  3. Your blog is my only tutor giving me insight on what you're going through. It is excellent but I have much to learn. I value the contributions YOU make, Leslie to Relief Society lessons. Your comments are always right on and important to the discussions happening there.

  4. I can totally relate. The other thing I have to deal with is my own insecurities of NOT BELIEVING people when they say that they care and want to help. I've actually had a "friend" (more like a frenemy) tell me to ask for help–then when I did, got offended about it. So now, I'm terrified to ask for help, from ANYONE. I'm tired of rejection. BUT how much of it is me and how much is actual legit rejection?

  5. I have a cousin who is 55, un married and childless, sad, poor, but very smart when it comes to knowledge. I understand why she has issues, and in the back of my heart I feel she may have been abused in one way or another. She is very needing of love and attention and gets a lot of it from various members of our ward and relitives. However, when she is asked to give love and attention to someone else she has a hard time doing it. Her life revolves around her needs. I am her age and like a sister so I usually prod her into steping out of her zone and helping out in other peoples lives. Thats when I see her the most happy!!! A women who looses herself in the service of others finds herself! I too find myself thinking woe is me as I sit with the perfect RS sisters, and I have to remind myself that they too, all of them, have their own personal issues that I could not handle. Charice

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