Feeling the pull..

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Heavy_Laden
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Feeling the pull..

Post by Heavy_Laden » 12 Aug 2019, 14:09

It has been awhile since I posted here. This forum may be a little dated but it gives all of us a chance to be almost anonymous with our posts. For that, I can be more candid about my journey and background.

I have been away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (henceforth LDS) since 2012. At that time, it was a second time I quit attending after being there every Sunday. The first time I left, I was a teenager for a multitude of reasons, so I didn't really progress past Aaronic Priesthood. When I returned as an adult, I still didn't graduate to Melchizedek, again, due to multiple reasons. I eventually found my way to Community of Christ in 2013.

I have been attending a small Community of Christ congregation every Sunday. Things were good there for awhile, but as I learned more things about myself, things got more complicated. I participated in many things at Community of Christ including being on a local Pastor Leadership Team (similar to a Ward Council), sat down with many CofC personalities at high levels and helped launch a special ministry for Mormons. I even came close to locating a CofC congregation within 2 blocks of a Stake Center but zoning didn't go through.

Around 2016, I started to back away from the congregation and started playing the field a bit. I went to other congregations but I also went to a LDS Ward outside of the boundary. This particular Ward is very diverse, many of the people are converts and I loved being there. I went once a month and then went other places other Sundays. Things were great until someone gave a "testimony" that was unfavorable to LGBTIQ during Sacrament meeting. The more she talked, the worst she sounded. I was shaking my head in disagreement throughout her talk, which might not have helped because she was trying to convince me, from the stand otherwise. Anyway, I stopped going and then tied up with another CofC congregation about 40 minutes away.

Now to present time, I am back in a leadership role in the CofC congregation and I am looking for a way out. Last Sunday, I visited that LDS Ward again and it, just seemed like home to me. I dressed in a polo shirt, dockers and tennis shoes, I got a warm welcome anyway. People introduced themselves to me, asked me where I was from (I lied and told every person somewhere different) and was even given a personal invite to Elder's after the meeting. I haven't attended an Elder's Quorum meeting since 2012.. At least at this Ward, gone are the books on the Presidents of the Church and it was more of an ol' fashioned class gathering. An African American shared his thoughts and testimony of how impressed he was with Russell M. Nelson's talk at the NAACP gathering a couple of weeks ago. He was excited and I can see the gratitude on his face. It has been a long time since I have seen someone get so wrapped up in a church event. I am more used to people just going through the motions.

Community of Christ fulfills a need in my life but there just isn't a variety of viewpoints and teaching that happens there. I appreciate the modern scriptures of D&C 160-163 and see God in those sections, but they go over the same things over and over again. They ignore their rich, faith promoting history, some of it is astounding and wonderful. It is also the only place that I will take the sacrament because it is open for anyone to partake.

I am not able to attend my assigned Ward. I have a long history in that building, most of it is hurtful. I would also be called into the Bishop's office, interviewed and if the truth came out, I would be facing disfellowship or worse due to my activities (which never panned out) at the other church. Many people in the Ward are wealthy and have everything figured out. There is nothing worse than a wealthy TBM type, they do a good job making you feel like a less than. I prefer to be around people who are down to earth and work hard. I work in support/service, that is the type of people I have something in common with.

So now I am kind of lost, trying to find that ideal worship experience that only exists in my mind. I don't like how the LDS church treats LGBTIQ people and Community of Christ really is best if you only go twice a month. They will always be second fiddle. After all of this time, I am tired of looking for that golden community, it just doesn't exist. I just don't know how long people can withstand this type of arrangement.

Rob Terry, on FB said about the Middle Way..
"It seems like a small space because everyone is doing it alone without clear role models and lack of communities and support. "

His whole post really spoke to me because there is no clear direction on how to be in the church and out. Do we just do what we have to do to survive being a part of a flawed church? Why do we bother to begin with when many of us aren't able to participate in many aspects of the church? When do people like me give up or burn out? When do we get found out and then kicked out? All I can say is, I am going to try to stay within this space for as long as I can. I really don't have much choice.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay.

Roy
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Roy » 12 Aug 2019, 16:18

Hi Heavily Laden,

It is good to hear from you again!

I am sorry to hear that the CoC has not been as fulfilling long term as what you had hoped. I have some thoughts:
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
Community of Christ fulfills a need in my life but there just isn't a variety of viewpoints and teaching that happens there. I appreciate the modern scriptures of D&C 160-163 and see God in those sections, but they go over the same things over and over again. They ignore their rich, faith promoting history, some of it is astounding and wonderful. It is also the only place that I will take the sacrament because it is open for anyone to partake. … [snip] So now I am kind of lost, trying to find that ideal worship experience that only exists in my mind.
It sounds like you are past the honeymoon phase with the CoC and have found that there are some things that bug you there as well. I find this experience helpful because I assume that almost any group that I could attach myself to would have certain strengths and weaknesses and the weaknesses may become more pronounced as you move into established membership and leadership. I have visited many different churches and participated in some great programs but I have always kept the LDS as my "Home Church".
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
I dressed in a polo shirt, dockers and tennis shoes, I got a warm welcome anyway. People introduced themselves to me, asked me where I was from (I lied and told every person somewhere different) and was even given a personal invite to Elder's after the meeting.
I personally see that as a very short term strategy. If you wish to return to this ward even sporadically then some people may compare notes and raise red flags. I personally find that many of the benefits of the LDS church (community support) are difficult for a visitor to access.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
I am not able to attend my assigned Ward. I have a long history in that building, most of it is hurtful. I would also be called into the Bishop's office, interviewed and if the truth came out, I would be facing disfellowship or worse due to my activities (which never panned out) at the other church.
I would not recommend going back to your home ward. At the same time I am not sure that discipline would be in order. I am not sure exactly what you did that might cause you trouble? Was it helping to launch the "special ministry for Mormons"? how would anyone know that unless you volunteered it? The fact that you never received the Melchezidek priesthood is in your favor. Still, if you don't feel comfortable there - don't go. We go to church to be spiritually fed.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
Do we just do what we have to do to survive being a part of a flawed church?
Yes. All groups have limitations. They can be helpful in some ways and burdensome in others. However "It is not good for man to be alone". Life is better with community to share it with.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
Why do we bother to begin with when many of us aren't able to participate in many aspects of the church?
The LDS church has levels. There will always be pressure to participate at the highest level (melchezidek priesthood, holding a calling, paying tithing, attending often, having a TR, going to the temple). If you start to go to an LDS ward as anything other than a visitor there will be pressure to do more. From our previous conversation, it sounds like that is not what is best for your family.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
When do people like me give up or burn out?
I think your goal is to find a home church where you can feel belonging and community long term. Also there are switching costs. Every time you switch you lose some of your investment in the previous church community.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
12 Aug 2019, 14:09
When do we get found out and then kicked out?
I do not think you would ever get "kicked out". Especially if you are attending as a visitor and are not drawing attention to yourself by disrupting the ward in some way. However, I wonder if this is what you want. You want something that you can do together with your family and feel belonging and unity there, right? how is what you are doing moving you closer to that goal?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Heavy_Laden
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Heavy_Laden » 13 Aug 2019, 05:41

Wow Roy, thank you for your reply. It is very generous of you to type such a long message. You must really care about us.
I personally see that as a very short term strategy. If you wish to return to this ward even sporadically then some people may compare notes and raise red flags. I personally find that many of the benefits of the LDS church (community support) are difficult for a visitor to access.
You made me rethink my strategy a bit. If I am going to go to this Ward on a semi regular basis, I should be more honest with them. I just don't want someone to phone home and gossip or complain that I am there instead of my home Ward. If I am going to be unofficially be part of the community there, I should be honest. Essentially, I am hiding there and I really don't want to be found by anyone else outside of the meetings I am attending. Does this make me paranoid?
I would not recommend going back to your home ward. At the same time I am not sure that discipline would be in order. I am not sure exactly what you did that might cause you trouble? Was it helping to launch the "special ministry for Mormons"? how would anyone know that unless you volunteered it? The fact that you never received the Melchezidek priesthood is in your favor. Still, if you don't feel comfortable there - don't go. We go to church to be spiritually fed.
I did way more than Cody and Leah Young from Columbus, OH (Ex-communicated for a FB group). I was ratted out by a well meaning person one Bishop ago so some people know I am doing CofC things. Other than that, no one knows my activities but I have been guilted in the past to share things. I am way more smarter than that nowadays. I don't give people jurisdiction over me, but I have done my best to stay away from that situation.

The Stake Center building my Ward is in has been with me my whole life. My Parents moved a year before the place was built. I have been bullied by multiple people at multiple times in my life, even as an adult. It is embarrassing to be there, I wouldn't be sad if they decided to tear it down and build elsewhere. I went to a baptism there once and almost couldn't keep it together.
The LDS church has levels. There will always be pressure to participate at the highest level (melchezidek priesthood, holding a calling, paying tithing, attending often, having a TR, going to the temple). If you start to go to an LDS ward as anything other than a visitor there will be pressure to do more. From our previous conversation, it sounds like that is not what is best for your family.
I am learning about the levels. I am one who sets goals for myself and it is always to progress. It is hard to just maintain something. Back when I posted here in 2013, I was looking for a church for my family. That didn't work out so well. My family went with me to CofC for almost a year, but that congregation sold their building without too much planning. We started meeting at different places, which caused arguments with people in the congregation. My Wife witnessed a particularly nasty argument and she hasn't been back since. This was 5 years ago. My Wife lets me participate in church, but she doesn't want me doing all the things good LDS people do.. No HT, No tithing, no time consuming callings... I see her point, even some TBM or Post Mo mixed families feel the same way. I won't lie and say I am not disappointed it didn't work out, it was heart breaking, but I have made it a point to go somewhere on Sunday as an example. My Daughter is thinking of going to a Catholic University, my hope is she will get interested and ask some questions.
I do not think you would ever get "kicked out". Especially if you are attending as a visitor and are not drawing attention to yourself by disrupting the ward in some way. However, I wonder if this is what you want. You want something that you can do together with your family and feel belonging and unity there, right? how is what you are doing moving you closer to that goal?
The goals have changed a bit, which is a little disappointing but it is better than nothing. I am looking for real friends my age (early 40's), which hopefully church things could be a way to have something in common with people. I was part of a Elder's Q before I moved, that had a lot of comradery, I had a sense of belonging. We were similarly aged, we were in the same spot in our lives, which helped me overcome some of the things that I am working on. I do a lot of walking alone, it is boring and depressing. LDS people don't handle weird situations too well, I fully expect that people will eventually stop talking to me because I am not a part of the Ward, so I can enjoy it while it lasts. A part of me hopes that maybe these people would be different.

This is my last attempt to Stay LDS in some way. CofC will always play a role, but as you say, the LDS church can be home. That home cannot be the assigned Ward, I would rather not go at all. If I am ratted out and asked to not come back, I will be devastated and broken hearted. I just want to be there as a Sunday member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have no other needs other than friendship.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay.

Roy
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Roy » 13 Aug 2019, 09:52

Heavy_Laden wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 05:41
Wow Roy, thank you for your reply. It is very generous of you to type such a long message. You must really care about us.
We do care. None of us know exactly what you are going through or have experienced but we all have gone through our own hardships and faith transitions. (as an aside, you and I are also in the same age bracket)
I am sorry to hear about the contention that happened at the CoC and how that affected your family. Things were looking so positive before. I suppose, No matter where you go humans are gonna human. I do not have answers but I do have opinions :lol:
Heavy_Laden wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 05:41
You made me rethink my strategy a bit. If I am going to go to this Ward on a semi regular basis, I should be more honest with them. I just don't want someone to phone home and gossip or complain that I am there instead of my home Ward. If I am going to be unofficially be part of the community there, I should be honest. Essentially, I am hiding there and I really don't want to be found by anyone else outside of the meetings I am attending. Does this make me paranoid?
I suppose that you could come up with a cover story. What would be a plausible reason for you to attend sporadically indefinitely and not live within the ward boundaries. If you keep coming back they will ask you. They will do so to be friendly and to see if you need support, but also they will want to see about moving your records into the ward and give you a calling etc.
However, I just do not see that giving you what you want.
Heavy_Laden wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 05:41
I was part of a Elder's Q before I moved, that had a lot of comradery, I had a sense of belonging. We were similarly aged, we were in the same spot in our lives, which helped me overcome some of the things that I am working on. I do a lot of walking alone, it is boring and depressing. LDS people don't handle weird situations too well, I fully expect that people will eventually stop talking to me because I am not a part of the Ward, so I can enjoy it while it lasts. A part of me hopes that maybe these people would be different.
The church can be amazing as a community and support network but it works best when you are all in and progressing. I do not foresee building up any real relationships as long as you are lurking as an anonymous visitor and when you step out of the shadows there will be pressure to get you progressing (and your wife doesn't want you getting too involved).

Sounds like the CoC is not providing the real friends your age that you are wanting. I do not see the LDS church doing a better job of it given the circumstances. There are too many complications. If I were you I might try some general Christian churches. They have some good people, some have good programs in which you and your family could come and meet people, AND they tend to be less demanding time and energy wise than the LDS church. Somewhat like your experience with the CoC (I presume), you can associate with many of these churches at arms length for as long as you need without much pressure.

You also might try for activites or clubs that are not religious at all. LIONS, Toastmasters, Hiking or biking clubs, parent's clubs, sports clubs. The broader community of your town/city must have lots of organizations. Most all of them are hungry for new members with very few strings attached.

Again, I do not have answers - just opinions. It seems to me that there are less complicated ways to make friends.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Heavy_Laden
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Heavy_Laden » 13 Aug 2019, 12:49

Hi Roy, you either know who I am or you are good at guessing. :D :wave:

I guess I will play it by ear. My plan is to attend CofC home congregation 2 times a month, 1 time at the Ward and 1 other experience (depending on the calendar). For example, there is an ex-Mo group that is meeting for coffee on Sunday (kind of ironic!). I am not thinking that this is a forever thing, it might be a stop before I move on something else.

It's funny, I can give a room full of Executives bad news and be fully confident in myself, but when it comes to church communities, I am a mess.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay.

nibbler
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by nibbler » 13 Aug 2019, 13:44

Roy wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 09:52
The church can be amazing as a community and support network but it works best when you are all in and progressing. I do not foresee building up any real relationships as long as you are lurking as an anonymous visitor and when you step out of the shadows there will be pressure to get you progressing (and your wife doesn't want you getting too involved).
That's been my experience.

Heavy_Laden,

You mentioned you do not yet have the Melchizedek PH. I suspect that most social interactions you will have at church will revolve around helping you obtain the Melchizedek PH and getting your family sealed in the temple. Unchecked boxes (ordinances) often take the focus, they're seen as needs that must be filled. It may not be the right thing at the right time for some people, often it's more the case that doing undone ordinances is filling a leader's needs more than it is filling an individual's needs.

Personally I've found that setting boundaries has had an overall negative effect on my sense of belonging. Making a conscious decision to not be 100% all in is a tricky place to be.

If you've communicated that you don't want a calling or don't want to participate in the home teaching program (now called ministering), members make give you a wide berth in all other social aspects of the church. So much so that you feel shunned or like an outsider. To be fair, I don't believe it's people intentionally shunning, other members may be giving you distance out of respect of the boundaries you have communicated. A leader may think, "They've said they don't want a calling, so I probably shouldn't ask them to give a talk, or give a prayer, or ask them to teach a lesson, etc." and you may find yourself on the outside looking in because you've only communicated what you don't want, not what you do want, and the leaders are playing it safe.

I've also found that I feel like an outsider when setting certain boundaries because I have removed myself from so much of what it means to be LDS. Going back to the example of setting a boundary of no callings... if you don't accept a calling in church you've effectively cut yourself out of the majority of the LDS social experience. I only mention that because I often feel invisible at church and I don't lay that entirely at the feet of members in my ward. I recognize that I've set boundaries that limit my social interactions and must accept the consequences of that decision.

I know it's a hard road. Good luck!

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Heavy_Laden
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Heavy_Laden » 13 Aug 2019, 14:02

Nibbler,

If I am not a member of their Ward, wouldn't I be excluded from a calling? I have never heard of a LDS person having records sent to a Ward of their choosing, making them available for callings and assignments. I actually heard it would require First Presidency approval? Not willing to go there..

I would be a bonanza for someone to get those boxes checked. My Wife and family are non-members, I don't have the right Priesthood, I'd have to come clean .. it goes on and on. If someone could fix all of my issues, they deserve a Nobel prize or at least a golden "Faith in God" award or diamond CTR ring.

I appreciate the well wishes.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Aug 2019, 15:00

Heavy_Laden wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 14:02
If I am not a member of their Ward, wouldn't I be excluded from a calling? I have never heard of a LDS person having records sent to a Ward of their choosing, making them available for callings and assignments. I actually heard it would require First Presidency approval? Not willing to go there..
That's mostly true, but with leadership roulette sometimes you lose and sometimes you hit the jackpot. Our stake seems fairly liberal about allowing people to attend another ward especially if the SP thinks it's in the best interest of "the one." As far as I know policy is that FP approval is required but I am aware that the SP has fudged it in several cases. Your mileage will likely vary. But if you did live near me he'd very likely condone you attending another ward, especially if he thought it would help you progress to the "next covenant."
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Holy Cow
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Holy Cow » 13 Aug 2019, 16:05

Heavy_Laden wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 14:02
I have never heard of a LDS person having records sent to a Ward of their choosing, making them available for callings and assignments. I actually heard it would require First Presidency approval?
My family and I had our records moved to a different ward, and it was a fairly simple process. We were living in a ward that we really loved, and then the ward boundaries changed and we were assigned to a different ward. We gave it a year, and still didn't feel at home there. I just started attending our previous ward. Eventually, my wife started joining me. When our assigned bishop asked us about it, I just told him that I feel at home in that ward. I told him I was just going to attend that ward going forward. He explained that they wouldn't be able to let me hold a calling in that ward, since I wasn't officially a member of the ward, and I told him that was fine and just smiled. He asked me if he'd like me to talk to the other bishop and the SP to have our records moved back to the other ward, and I told him that would be great. A week later, he told me that the SP, the other bishop, and himself had all discussed it and supported the move, and our records were moved. It never went higher than the SP that I know of.
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Roy
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Re: Feeling the pull..

Post by Roy » 13 Aug 2019, 16:42

Holy Cow wrote:
13 Aug 2019, 16:05
A week later, he told me that the SP, the other bishop, and himself had all discussed it and supported the move, and our records were moved. It never went higher than the SP that I know of.
We had a similar situation about 10 years ago. We were attending a later ward because of my work schedule. The bishops talked to the SP. The SP said that he would not officially move our records but that we could continue to attend the other ward without any church permission. The bishop actually encouraged my wife to attend our home ward without me. He promised that the RS sisters in the ward would help my wife with our young children during sacrament meeting. It struck me as nutty that we were being discouraged from going to services together and united as a family … and even in the same building but only 3 hours later than our assigned time.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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