What do I believe now?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Alfie
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Joined: 12 Feb 2010, 10:28

What do I believe now?

Post by Alfie » 15 Feb 2010, 10:07

I'm so grateful to have found this site. My crisis of faith happened about five months ago. I'm mostly through the anger that I initially had, but now I'm experiencing confusion, depression and a deep sense of loss. The frame of my faith has collapsed. I always felt comforted in many of church's teachings such as, Heavenly Father having a body of flesh and bones and eternal families. (However, I was never comfortable with the teaching that Heavenly Father was once like us or that we can become Gods and Goddesses) I no longer know what to believe. I know that each of us has to work through this individually, but I wonder how it has evolved for some of you? It's very troubling to me. I recognize that this will be a long journey.
I read the post by diamondback about why our leaders can"t be more straightforward and that is exactly how I feel. There is no guidance from them for those of us who are struggling with these issues, although I was impressed with President Uchtdorf's talk from October general conference.
I don't have the pressure from church or family that many of you have. I have been attending only Sacrament Meeting for several months because of some health problems and I could continue to do that indefinitely. Our children are grown, some of them are active and some are not. Some of my siblings are active and some are not. I will probably never share this with any of them. But at some point soon I will have to share all of this with my husband. He has been mostly inactive for our entire marriage and his belief's
are different from mine. (Maybe after this we will be more alike in our beliefs than before - who knows). I received my endowments 20 years ago when the church started allowing individuals to go to the temple without their spouse. My husband tells me often that he wants us to be sealed someday, and given the fact that we are getting older, we will soon have to discuss this. There are some things about the temple experience that disturb me, but I have attended fairly often over the years. Now I don't know what I believe or what I should do My TR is about to expire and I'm not sure what to do about that.
Thank you for this site and thanks to all of you who share your experiences.

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Tom Haws
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Tom Haws » 15 Feb 2010, 19:04

Alfie wrote:My crisis of faith happened about five months ago. I'm mostly through the anger that I initially had, but now I'm experiencing confusion, depression and a deep sense of loss.
Keep believing. There is more ahead. More than enough to replace what you have lost.
Alfie wrote:The frame of my faith has collapsed.
I believe there is a solid foundation that remains somewhere under the rubble.
Alfie wrote:I know that each of us has to work through this individually, but I wonder how it has evolved for some of you? It's very troubling to me. I recognize that this will be a long journey.
My deepest crisis came in 2001/2002 as I pondered on polygamy (concluding my heritage wasn't all shiny and bright as I had assumed), Mountain Meadows Massacre (concluding my morality was my sole responsibility), and September 11, 2001 attacks (concluding my heritage was accountable for good fruits in the humanist sense). Somehow I resolved it all more or less peaceably by 2003, perhaps largely through participation at Wikipedia and the NOM forum as well as continued LDS activity. Amazing to me in October 2003 I had what I still am unable to adequately describe, but might here call a mystic initiation or a fulfillment of the promises, which reframed my faith and life. Since then I have been learning how to live in this new world, and how to hopefully more adequately address my sicknesses and internal division. I can't speak for any kind of general process, but that's what happened to me.
Alfie wrote:Maybe after this we will be more alike in our beliefs than before - who knows
You may find that. In spite of continuing to identify as LDS, I find increasing spiritual kinship with all the folks around me.
Alfie wrote:My husband tells me often that he wants us to be sealed someday, and given the fact that we are getting older, we will soon have to discuss this.
I won't comment on this other than to say there is the literal in front of the symbol and there is the reality behind the symbol. Temple ceremony might be a very positive thing for your husband.

p.s. Welcome here. I believe this is the first time I have seen you.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

MWallace57
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by MWallace57 » 15 Feb 2010, 20:50

Dear Alphie,

I so understand how you feel. I have suffered for about 1 1/2 years with intensifying doubt. I would pray several times per day and ponder what I both loved and disliked about the Church. My feelings were very mixed. Oh, it would be so easy to just walk away and leave a Church that was all bad, but the Church isn't. There is much history, many plain and precious truths and so many loved ones who are still in the Kingdom.

One of my answers came from a man by the name of Shane Claiborne, a Quaker Minister:

"There came a moment in the struggle where we relinquished our frustration with the Church. We said, "We're going to stop complaining about the Church that we've experienced, and work on becoming the Church that we dream of. And work on figuring out how we can be people of God in the world who are formed into
something different from the world around us, who embody the love and grace in a way that people can see and touch".

He went on to say, "What a beautiful thing it is, that we have a God that doesn't want to change the world without us".

Well, last Sunday, my family attended Church. My grandson (age 19 months) was taken to nursery. There was actually a sign in sheet where parents could sign the babies in and out. (I had been an assistant nursery leader for many years and we had never had a sign in/out list. Older siblings, sometimes no more than five were allowed to pick-up and drop of 18 month olds). As each mother or father came in, he or she was handed a pager and told to go and enjoy church. Don't worry about your little one, we will page you if we need you, pagers on vibrate of course. (Hey no more wondering around the church looking for Mom when a baby needs a diaper change or a breast-feeding!!!)

It was so refreshing to hear my daughter come out of church and exclaim, "that was the very first time since I had my baby that I actually got to sit through church and listen to the lesson without having to worry about my baby".

Yea, and there was something else different about that Church. Drums were included in the Sacrament meeting music because many of the cultures in our community love drums and don't know how to sing without the accompaniment of a drum.

Ok, I didn't go to my own LDS Ward. I went to a meeting run by LDS people who have basically been tossed aside by the Church. Our teacher was a returned missionary. We know that we have no control or voice in our own LDS Church, only the Prophet does, but we can dream. I know that the Lord is listening to us, even if we are singing to a different drum.

nightwalden
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by nightwalden » 15 Feb 2010, 23:51

It takes a long time. I'm two years in and I'm still figuring some things out. My first step was to go through the articles of faith and see what I believe regarding those topics.

I still put quite a bit of faith in the spiritual experiences that I have had. After some months I stopped forcing myself to confront the holes in my belief system. Now I sort things out as I need to like when I am asked to give a talk on a subject. I gave a talk at a friend's baptism last week and I had to figure out what I believe about baptism. Two years in I feel much more settled than I did 6 months in. Trying to force myself to figure out my beliefs made me feel insecure about where I was at. Now just dealing with stuff as it comes, I feel much more at peace.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Brian Johnston » 16 Feb 2010, 08:06

Hi Alfie,

I'm so glad you are here with us. Everyone already gave most of the advice I would give. Keep going. I promise there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is beautiful. The only problem is ... I can't tell you where that is. That is the personal part. We can act as a sounding board for you. We can share the things that work for us individually, the little successes on our own journeys. Your answers will be your answers. The good thing is that your answers will work really good for you. In fact, everything will probably make a lot more sense than it used to, once you get there. Actually, it really isn't a final destination you arrive at, but more of a comfort level that everything is OK. Most of us become comfortable and appreciative of our not-knowing-ness.

I thought it was nice your husband wants to get sealed. You guys would have to prepare for the temple a lot differently than traditional members, if you want to make that ceremony/ritual meaningful, based on your different perspective. It could still be something meaningful though. This reminds me of one of my grandfathers. He was not a member most of his life, but my grandmother was a lifelong member with pioneer roots and all that. I remember that he joined the Church and they were sealed in the temple, but to be honest looking back, it was not that many years before he passed away. It was sort of surprising. I wasn't old enough or aware enough of religion at the time to really be able to ask cogent questions about the situation. But now looking back, I wonder if he did it out of love for her, regardless of the intensity of any belief or testimony of the Church. He just didn't seem like the kind of guy that had an amazing "truth" epiphany about the Church. I don't fault him at all if that was the reality of the situation. In fact, I find it somewhat inspiring and admirable from my newer and more nuanced perspective of the Church and spirituality. I think the idea of eternal marriage and love was in his heart, even if he may have struggled with the outward form of the Church/Temple. It was an expression of love for my grandmother. It was a sacrifice for that. He was a strong-willed and stubborn fellow. That must have taken a lot on his part, a very mature and decided action.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Heber13
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Heber13 » 16 Feb 2010, 16:50

Alfie,

Welcome and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

It is nice to have a place where we can open up and share our thoughts with others, isn't it?
Alfie wrote:I know that each of us has to work through this individually, but I wonder how it has evolved for some of you? It's very troubling to me. I recognize that this will be a long journey.
Yes, it is a very individual journey, one that I wish the church had more direction for, but alas, I think I came to the conclusion it was meant to be personal and individual...that's the whole point. It can be the individuals own little "walk-about" to grow up in ways that can't be achieved by staying safetly within the fold. That's just my opinion.

It can help to see how others approach it, even if pathways are quite unique. So here has been my journey:
- Crisis caused me to be disappointed with unmet expectations from God and the church
- Guilt and fear that if I stray I can fall into apostacy...and wonder if I should be more faithful (try harder)
- The harder I tried, the more disappointment I felt
- Then I allowed myself to doubt ALL things - even God
- Took courage to believe seeking things out objectively will lead to learning - and so I posted a lot on this website questions and thoughts to others' questions - I wasn't afraid of learning new things about JS or others' theories - I trusted I could discern truth from error
- I realized the things I need to understand the most are the things I like the very least - requiring deeper study and meditation - one thing at a time
- Allowed myself to stay mormon with those things I always felt were right for me (family, Book of Mormon, Christ's teachings, etc) - no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
- Allowed myself to let go of guilt, and skip church if I want to (but I never wanted to skip 2 weeks consecutively...just 1 week every once in a while)
- Accepting truth can be defined differently from different vantage points
- Learned of truth and beauty outside of Mormonism and outside of organized religion
- Came back to see more beauty and truth within Mormonism
- Reconciled my old views of church doctrine with my new views of God's plan for me and how church doctrine fits into my religion
- Let go of fears of what others think of me or what might happen tomorrow, and focus on being at peace today and doing the best I can with what I have

For me, that journey has so far been 18 months and I have more to learn, but at least I'm at peace now and I enjoy my association with the church and have a renewed commitment to my family and with God.

I look forward to hearing what things you learn and what questions you have.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Alfie
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Alfie » 18 Feb 2010, 09:02

Thanks to all of you for your kind welcome and sharing your experiences. It definitely takes courage to face this crisis and there is nothing like the help we can get from others who have also been through it. I look forward to being farther down the road in this process. Right now my mind is continually swimming with questions for which there aren't answers. Everything in my life was looked at through distorted lenses. For awhile I kept hoping I would wake up from this bad dream, but I wouldn't want to go back to where I was before. I think the process is sort of like self de-programming, and it's painful.
I finally shared all of this with my husband. He again brought up the subject of going to the temple some day, and so I knew I had to tell him what's been going on. At first it was very hard to get the words out. Sort of like if you don't say it, you can continue to pretend it's not real. He had noticed something was bothering me. Then the flood gates opened and we talked for hours. He's very supportive of whatever I decide to do. He said he would go to the temple for me if it is what I want, not that he has a belief in it. (Also our children who are active want very much to be sealed to us.) He has always been comfortable with just not knowing, and that's where I hope to end up. He has faith in God and prayer, and that's enough for him. He has expressed some interest in attending other churches, and that is fine with me. I would go with him to support him. I will probably always attend Sacrament meeting in my ward. I don't know yet how much else I will be involved with in the church. He would attend church with me more often, but he is always made the ward project and that drives him away.
Again, thank you to everyone. I am inspired by your responses and comments. It gives me hope that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Tom Haws
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Tom Haws » 18 Feb 2010, 09:35

Wow! Your dear husband sounds like an easy-going guy, a real keeper. I see your marriage moving to a higher level now. What a special experience! Open your arms wide to that man.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Feb 2010, 11:19

he is always made the ward project and that drives him away.
Just wondering:

Have you told your Bishop this directly - along with the fact that your husband would attend with you if he didn't feel like a project? I would suggest having your husband tell the Bishop directly that he wants to support you the best he can, but that he wants to be allowed to work out his own perspective without undue pressure from your religious community.

If you've done that, and if it hasn't helped, I'm sorry to hear that; if not, I would suggest doing so - as a couple, not alone.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Heber13
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Re: What do I believe now?

Post by Heber13 » 18 Feb 2010, 11:30

Ray Degraw wrote:
he is always made the ward project and that drives him away.
Just wondering:

Have you told your Bishop this directly - along with the fact that your husband would attend with you if he didn't feel like a project? I would suggest having your husband tell the Bishop directly that he wants to support you the best he can, but that he wants to be allowed to work out his own perspective without undue pressure from your religious community.

If you've done that, and if it hasn't helped, I'm sorry to hear that; if not, I would suggest doing so - as a couple, not alone.
...and I would add, maybe clarify feelings with the bishop that there is no animosity or anti- feelings. Sometimes if we tell the bishop not to make me a project, they take that as "leave me alone" ... and that may not be what we want either. Just ask the ward to treat him like a valued person like everyone else, just not a project, so there is space and time to figure out what beliefs are and if the temple is in the future or not.

Just my 2 cents.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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