The church services in the BYU-Idaho 11th Ward start at nine a.m. on the dot. It was my first Sunday in a married ward, and I was a few minutes late. By the time I arrived at the first meeting, Relief Society, I had already missed everything through the intermediate hymn. I hesitated outside the door, uncertain that I would make any friends in my new environment. I bid my husband goodbye, and squeezed myself into an open seat between two women wearing matching black, floor-length polyester skirts. Their shoes resembled those I wore on my mission. From what I could tell, neither one was wearing make-up; their ears were adorned with modest pearls, their ill-fitting sweaters hanging from their thin shoulders. It did not take me many glances around the room to see this outfit duplicated on about half of my sisters in Zion. I suddenly felt like a harlot in my hot pink blouse, black and white high heels and matching dangling earrings.
I tried to focus on the lesson being given rather than my discomfort, but unfortunately the teacher spoke in her most reverent voice, barely above a whisper. I was distracted from my task of picking up key words from the lesson, when a one-year old boy suddenly started to scream. His mother, an obviously pregnant woman, simply smiled and continued to waddle behind him, her arms folded with no attempt to pick up her wailing son. He began to pound on the electric piano at the front of the room. The small boy then cried again, and his mother thought this was because the piano was not making the sounds he wanted, as it was turned off during the lesson. So the well-intentioned mother, in an effort to get her son to stop crying, turned on the piano. It was quiet, but I could hear the piano much better than I could hear the teacher.
After the meeting, the polyester-skirt-girls talked to me, each one giving a small gasp when I told them I had only been married a few weeks. I ignored their advice, however, when I found out that each one had only been married a month longer than me.
I have been in the 11th Ward for a few months now, and still struggle to connect with the ladies around me. I even tried to establish relationships with my new peers; only to have my efforts stunted by women who have children and feel they cannot connect with me, or women who support their husband’s in video and magic game addictions.
As it turns out, my husband is having the same kinds of problems when he goes to Elder’s Quorum. I, of course, have not witnessed these stories first hand but I have heard the tales of a man who said that you can tell a good angel from a bad angel depending on what color his hair is, another man who pops his thumb so loudly it’s all my husband could hear, and two grown men who pass notes the entire meeting about their most recent Dungeons and Dragons game.
Luckily for my husband, he has found a few male friends that he can sit by and relate to. He introduced to me to their wives who ended up being women I instantly connected with. I was excited to sit next to them the next Sunday. Turns out… they’re all in the Relief Society presidency and sit at the front of the room.