Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bishop Stephen Durrant: Singles Ward Phase 1

I readily admit that I was not well integrated into my first singles ward. Well integrated… I was not even close to being integrated. So I had absolutely no relationship with Bishop Durrant. I may have met him once as a get-to-know-you type interview. But my goal was to fly completely under the radar and I accomplished that goal.

Why was I such a devoted introvert? Well, being non-social comes natural to me. It is my comfort zone. Why? Because it takes minimal effort and I was a strong advocate of expending a minimal effort at that time of my life. But let me go back in time a few years to provide some context.

I served in the Germany DĂĽsseldorf Mission from 1979-1981. This was the same mission Matt served in and returned home from about six months before I left. Germany is a tough mission as the people have been inundated with religious movements for centuries. They are so disillusioned with religion that it has hard for them to want to honestly seek after a church.

Needless to say, a people generally exhausted with religion and young Mormon missionaries eager to convert the world do not make a great relationship. Something had to give. What gives is that the eagerness to convert the world quickly transforms to a desire just to teach a lesson. It was discouraging.

Because we did not ever have a large teaching pool, we spent almost all of our time going door to door which is a huge challenge for one as shy as I was. It took every ounce of courage each and every day to go out and face another 14-16 hours knocking on people’s doors. After two years of this I was done.

I had forced myself to be social and outgoing and the result was meager at best.  Now I was at BYU. I had no reports to send to my mission president. I had no district leaders asking why our teaching pool was so small.  I was free from assistance to the president and zone leaders wondering if I was really doing my part. BYU meant freedom. What I wanted to really be free from was the need to perform.

Now, by perform I meant to perform socially. An important lesson I learned on my mission was how to study. I was a mediocre to poor high school student. I didn't really like school and so I put little effort into it. When I graduated, instead of doing a year of college prior to my mission, I went to work. For me, that was the correct thing to do. I did not have sustainable study habits to have allowed me to succeed at college.

With my mission behind me and my future ahead, I was ready to devote my full energy to excelling in school. So, I had created a perfect social storm. I had no desire to be social, in fact I disdained any attempt by anyone trying to make me social, and I wanted to devote all my energy to school.

So, I was under the radar. I was active in church, of course. But I was active only in the Sunday parts of church. I attended no activities, no socials, no FHEs, nothing. My roommates were highly active in the ward and when they were to have people over to the apartment I made sure I was at the library.

Now, having recently been released as a BYU singles ward bishop, I would have been completely annoyed if I had me in my singles ward. But Bishop Durrant left me alone. Perhaps that was the exact right thing to do. I really wasn't ready nor was I truly interested in getting to know people. 

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