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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Post: A Series on Disfellowshipment, Part 1

The following is an anonymous guest post in what will be a three-part series on disfellowshipment. Submit your own guest post via email.

Walking into my bishop's office knowing I'd be discussing serious transgressions with four grown men I had known all my life was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. They call it a Disciplinary Council. Bishop, 22 years. 1st Counselor, 22 years. 2nd Counselor, 22 years. Stake Scribe, 4 years. Ouch. I sat in my Jeep, wondering how I had gotten here. Let's rewind.

When I was younger, “I Hope They Call Me On a Mission” was simply a song and not much of a desire. After all, my older brother didn’t go. I didn't decide to go on a mission until I was 18. A series of spiritual experiences and opportunities to share my testimony helped build a personal witness that the gospel was true. I couldn't deny it. Growing up in Southern California gave me plenty of opportunities to stand up for what I believe in. I passed seminary. I went to scouts. My family is mostly active. It's not like I had a bad upbringing.

My mission was life-changing. I had experiences that strengthened my testimony in ways I’d never though it would. I had companions that tested my patience, preparing me to be a husband in the future. If my mission taught me anything, it was that there are things bigger and more important than myself and that Jesus Christ is the reason. I trained two greenies, held various mission leadership positions, and more importantly, witnessed many people come unto Christ. As the final months came to a close I swore to myself I would keep the important covenants I had made.

Post-mission life was a whirlpool of excitement and experience. Returning home to all my non-member friends introduced me to amazing live music and open-minded discussions, mixed with a bit of lewd behavior. My very first night back I was offered certain substances in the In-n-Out parking lot, substances often left out from the secret menu at my favorite fast food joint (did you know In-n-Out has a secret menu?). I got back with my non-member ex and holy things were quickly forgotten.

It was a Sunday afternoon, five months after returning with honor. Church had ended and everything inside me begged me to talk to the Bishop.

Tell him! Get this out!

Without knowing exactly how to say "I've committed various serious transgressions and I would like to confess and forsake them now please" all I could say was "Can we talk in your office about tithing for a sec?"

It was painful. I felt perverse. Dirty. Unworthy.

My Bishop did not judge me. He was actually pretty amazing. As protocol has it, two Priesthood brethren "served" me with an invitation to a Disciplinary Council a few weeks later. They didn't know what was contained in the envelope. It was an ecclesiastical endorsement for BYU for all they knew. Either way it was super awkward.

The envelope contained a formally written letter summoning (inviting?) me to attend a Disciplinary Council, or an ecclesiastical trial. As expected, I saw words like repentance, transgression, Jesus, Atonement, amongst others. The ones that scare you say disfellowship and excommunication. What!? My name and excommunication don’t belong on the same paper. Do they? There is always the option of not showing up to the meeting, but I wanted to do this right. I wanted clarity. I wanted purity. I hated the shame and the guilt.

The actual Disciplinary Council wasn’t too bad. I sort of just blanked out in there. I knew the brothers in that room were only there to support me. They heard me describe (not in detail) my various transgressions and gave me advice. After chatting with them for a bit, I waited outside on the clichĂ© floral very mormonesque couches.

“Hey Brother Anonymous what are you doing here?”

“Hey Anonymous, the whole Bishopric is here for you, looks like somebody is getting an important calling!”

Seriously, do these institute kids live in the church?

I went back into the office with my heart pounding.

(to be continued ...)

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