I have a recurring dream, maybe two or three times a year. I walk into sacrament meeting and see a new family. New to the ward that is: an ex-boyfriend, his wife and a pile of kids. In the nightmare it is just awkward all the time, not dramatic, but I don’t really want a calling with this woman and don’t want to share a pew with a man who broke my heart.
We all know the do you know? game in Mormondom, based on mission or where you once lived. The weirdest part, the reason we keep doing it despite the long odds, is that often we meet someone we are connected to. I’d like to share three stories of my own about the small, small world of church members. Some are great moments, others an unwelcome blast from left field.
- Freshman year in college at BYU I had five roommates. One of them mentioned my name to her father on the phone. Yada yada yada, he and my dad were mission companions. Interestingly, both had first daughters whom they gave weird names to. More interesting were the stories from both parties.
- Salt Lake City, Utah, winter of 2005. I don’t live in the state but am visiting with my newborn son to see relations after Christmas. As out of towners, the group decides to check out the Church History Museum downtown. In the lobby I see a crowd of familiar faces off the one side. Damon, Ricardo and Darren—three roommates and close friends from some of my college years. They are here with wives and children having a reunion of sorts. These guys make me so happy to see. After marriage we hadn’t kept in much touch and I didn’t realize how much I missed them until they were in front of my face. Wonderful to see them happy, settled, and show off my own husband and kid. I couldn’t stop smiling all day.
- Just this summer my sister-in-law asks about a family she has seen on my Facebook feed. A family with an uncommon last name. Yes indeed, the spouse of these good friends in our town is none other than a man she used to date. Not a big deal, until she gave details, and now I can’t stop thinking about them when I see these people.
Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.
Original photo by Michael Whiffen, modified by Scott Heffernan (used with permission).