Brother Chad Comes To Visit
“May I meet with you before I meet the rest of your family? I’d like to make sure I know your goals and how to support you,” the new home teacher, Bro. Chad, asked my husband, Dan.
I should have known right then that we had a problem. Who the heck uses ‘may’ when talking to other adults? Like, seriously?
Dan turned to me, “Bryn, what do you think?”
Bro. Chad interrupted (he was a Master Level Interrupter), looked straight at Dan and said, “I mean just you, Bro. Brody. Priesthood holder to Priesthood holder.” Bro. Brody. He actually called him Bro. Brody. We were the same age and he called him Bro. Brody.
Dan stared for a minute, processing, and said, “Bryn knows everything about our family. She’s our CEO, COO, and Head Scheduler. She should be part of the conversation.”
Bro. Chad didn’t even look at me. “I would like to meet with you privately as the head of the household.”
I think a snort escaped me. In fact, I’m pretty sure it did. Sometimes, snorts are sneaky things and they come out in spite of our attempts to hold them in. And if I’m being honest, I probably didn’t try to hold it in.
Not one to make things easy for my husband if I can laugh at him instead, I bowed my head and murmured, “I’ll just take the kids to Primary, then, while you two men work it out.” There was a heavy emphasis on the word ‘men.’ It was my shot across the bow. Bro. Chad didn’t flinch.
After meeting with Dan, Bro. Chad sat the rest of us kids, oops, I mean the rest of the family down for the thoroughly prepared lesson. It ticked all of the boxes in the Perfect Home Teacher manual. He had an object lesson. He read scriptures. He testified–earnestly. But I forget exactly what he was trying to teach. Most sit-down-and-listen-to-men-speak lessons are entirely forgettable to me.
During the post-lesson adult chat, after the eye-rolling kids had been dismissed to play Polly Pockets and sneak cookies, I tried to draw Bro. Chad out, to see him as a person and, I think, to get him to see me as a person, too. But Bro. Chad failed. He didn’t look at me. Not just in the metaphysical sense, but in the literal sense. His eyes never registered me. Not a single time. When I politely asked about his wife and kids, he addressed his response to Dan. When I asked if they had been able to unpack after their recent move, he told Dan that his wife was taking care of unpacking now that the heavy stuff was in place.
Oh, for the love of…
Knowing that swearing in Spanish is one of my favorite hobbies, and throwing out a soft ball to give Bro. Chad a chance to include me in the conversation, Dan said, “Bryn served a mission in northern Spain. The two of you might like to compare notes on the language.” Bro. Chad didn’t even swing. Instead, he asked Dan to share his favorite spiritual experience from his mission. Which, by the way, was proof that he also didn’t see Dan, who has exactly zero spiritual experiences to share.
Bro. Chad waved me away as I offered the plate of Cowboy cookies I had made with my Grandmother’s recipe and which the children had all but demolished. Literally waved his hand in the ‘shoo, fly, don’t bother me’ way.
By the time I began to rage-clean the kitchen, Dan had taken to pointedly staring at the door. Bro. Chad finally left (after limp-fish shaking my hand without looking at me). He threatened to come back every month as I shut the door a little too close to his nose.
“What the heck?” I yelled, only I probably didn’t say ‘heck.’ “Not once, not a single time, did he look at me or address a comment to me. Never again. He isn’t coming back here.”
“Agreed. Do you want to tell him?”
“Oh, no. You’re the Priesthood holder. You fire him.”
After talking to the Elder’s Quorum President, not a bad guy as far as that goes, Dan handed the phone to me per the EQ Pres’s request. He listened politely, repeated what he heard me say, and sat for a minute, thinking.
And then he must have forgotten who he was talking to, because he said, “This might be a good opportunity for you to teach him how to do better. Will you share with Bro. Chad what he can improve on?” Oh, buddy. Don’t use a direct “will you” question with me. I see right through your Commitment Pattern.
I compared his EQ leadership to a cartoon character and then, kindly, let him know how he could do better. “It’s your job, not mine. He had a mother, and he has a wife, and you’re the EQ President. Between the 3 of you, figure it out. I’m not here for him to learn on. I’m here for him to serve, and he’s incapable of serving if he refuses to acknowledge my authority.”
I didn’t swear. Not even in Spanish. Which, I think, earned me a Celestial Gold Star.
I feel like I should add the disclaimer “not all home teachers.” In fact, I’ve had amazing home teachers who became some of my dearest friends.
We lived in Cambridge without a car while I was pregnant. During that time, our home teacher and his wife magically showed up at our door every Sunday for months to drive us to church so I didn’t have to walk to the bus stop.
When our metal railing came out of the concrete steps and threatened to kill my elderly neighbor as she walked to our door for a visit, our home teacher welded down a new piece of metal. We now have the most stable handrail in the neighborhood and my neighbor visits without fear.
We had a home teacher who brought us homemade bread THAT HE MADE. Mmmmm, fresh bread. He also texts me on my birthday and it’s been 7 years since he was my teacher.
As I think about it, they all had one thing in common: they saw me. They served in real, tangible, much-needed, Christlike ways. And they did it without condescension, or preaching, or even referencing their Priesthood Authority. I’m not a super big fan of male authority, so that’s a gift they gave without even knowing it.
The new handbook mentions ministering a bit. I don’t know if we currently have a ministering brother, but it doesn’t really matter. The last one we had, the one who welded the railing, is the one I would call if we needed anything. I know he loves our family and, most of all, he hugs me every time he sees me. That, to me, says more about his ministry than Bro. Chad could hope to.