I got a call on my cell yesterday while I was at work. A perky, unfamiliar voice piped into my ear.
"Hi, this is Sis. Whatserbutt...from the ward? We're visiting people tomorrow night as a Relief Society presidency and we'd like to come visit you."
First of all, if her name starts with "sister", I figure she's from the ward. I'm not stupid. And I was supposed to be touched that they thought of poor little ol' apostate me. But when I replied that I was working that night and wouldn't be available, all I got was:
"Oh, okay! Bye!"
She sure didn't try very hard but she tried hard enough to count me as contacted! Her job was done.
But the Saturday of general conference, I had a very different sort of visit from my long-time visiting teacher. I don't see her often and that's been fine with me because any contact with the church tends to make me break out in hives and boils. But she showed up this day with a plate of cookies and a smile and asked if she could please still come and visit me and she was sorry she hadn't been better at coming regularly. I told her, of course she could! I'd always welcomed her when she came. I've known her for years and had been her visiting teacher years before when her husband died of cancer. We'd never been extremely close but we'd been casual friends. Then she blurted out something I never expected to hear.
"My son is gay!"
Shock and worry showed on her face and she started wringing her hands. "I shouldn't have said that! I don't know why I did!"
A very small part of me wasn't surprised at the idea of her son being gay. I'd watched him grow up and I'd wondered at times. But hearing the words actually come out of her mouth shocked the snot out of me. I could see how difficult those words were for her to say. I had an inkling of the path she'd traveled to even be able to utter those words. I knew she'd been inactive for a few years but I'd been going through my own faith crisis and hadn't given much thought about the reasons. I remembered her son had gone to the MTC and returned after a few weeks, not once, but twice. It doesn't take a genius to guess some of the reasons behind it. We will do lunch and share our pain and our paths to peace and acceptance, whatever they may be. She is reaching out to me, not because I'm an assignment, but because she wants a listening ear, understanding and acceptance. And I will gladly give it.