And how was the whole matter resolved? My RS president was kind and conversed with her counselors about the situation, and in the end decided to uphold the new status quo. The YW theme would remain in RS, though from now on they would be careful to ‘invite’ the women to stand and join in.
I was somewhat disappointed in the end result. But I’m still glad I wrote that email. While it was the first time I’ve openly disagreed with a leader, it was also, I think, one of the first times I’ve fully, proactively, sustained a leader too. Let me explain.
In her essay “A Need For Nourishment” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich tells us that the word ‘sustain’ means to support (i.e. accept callings, do what it takes to help keep a ward going) but that it also means nourish, “to feed our leaders ideas, reactions, and feelings. I am convinced,” says Ulrich “that every bit of honest communication received from members sustains and enriches the Church.”
This resonates with me. As I commented in a RS lesson a couple of weeks ago, I remain committed to the idea that disagreeing with our leaders is indeed one way to sustain them, to nourish them, to show trust in their abilities to empathize and understand. If I had no faith in a leader, or little respect, there is no way I would even try to engage with them in a meaningful way.
While contention may be of the devil, I think that honest loving communication can be of Christ. As I look back on my one fruitless attempt to sway my leader, I reflect that my email of disagreement was a moment of pure Christian charity. In mentally imagining myself in her shoes, I did as I would have done unto me. I told her about my concerns to her face, rather than just complain behind her back.
In conclusion, I don’t intend to start whipping off emails to every leader whenever something they say or do bothers me. I still know that I need to pick and choose my battles. But the next time something troubling does come up which is within my leader’s authority to change, I will carefully consider talking to them. To do so, for me, is a mark of respect. It’s taking that idea of sustaining to a deeper level.