What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by katielangston » 28 Feb 2010, 18:19

It's been about a year since I first began confronting my crisis of faith head-on. It's been an up-and-down ride. There are days I think I just might make it, and days I think it's time to run -- not walk -- the other direction. I recently realized that a lot of what was holding me to the church was fear of family disapproval, specifically from my dad. And I realized that was a pretty sucky reason to stay. Since making that realization, the past few days and weeks have been some of my lowest lows in terms of commitment to the church. Still, this afternoon I went visiting teaching and had a great experience. You see, I love Mormons. I get them. I speak their language. And as different as I feel at times, I'm one of them.

So I think it's about time I consider -- really consider -- what it might look like for me to stay Mormon. Not for my dad. Not for my family. Not for anyone else but me. Then I can decide if I can live with that picture...or not. So here's my first attempt. I wanted to share it here because knowing other people would see it made it feel more "real" to me, somehow. Thanks for listening.

What I believe...

1. I believe an inclusive, loving, transcendent God who is in and through everything. This means that He is in the LDS church -- but not exclusively. He is bigger and greater than the anthropomorphic God of Mormonism, though the anthropomorphic God of Mormonism can teach us beautiful things about God; among them, that He knows better than we realize what it means to be human.

2. I believe that God is to be found through symbols. This means that God is in LDS rituals -- but they are not exclusively salvific, nor are they literally required. They are valuable because they orient people toward God in a meaningful way.

3. I believe that God is to be found through service. This means that the LDS church's opportunities to serve are a tremendous asset. Because of institutional culture, however, these same opportunities can become a burden if service is not willingly rendered.

4. I believe that churches and religious organizations are "of God" insofar as they fill people with love and a longing for reconciliation with each other and with Him. This means that when LDS teachings and practices lead people to charity, love, tolerance, and respect -- for themselves, others, and God -- they are "true." When teachings and practices lead people away from these things, they are "false."

5. I believe in a God of Freedom. This means that the LDS church is right to emphasize the importance of agency. It is wrong to limit that freedom through policies and procedures that obstruct or hinder freedom, especially in matters that have little bearing on a person's ability to love and serve.

6. I believe that whom God calls, He qualifies. This means that God's power may very well be rightly exercised by the men in the LDS church. It also means that wherever spiritual gifts are present in a life -- whether in men or women, in or out of the church -- the authority to exercise them is also present. This is what priesthood means to me.

7. I believe that I am accountable to God, not man, for my standing before Him. I do not have to report or defend my lifestyle choices and beliefs to anyone but God, and when it impacts them, my family.

What it might look like for me to be LDS with these views...

1. I serve willingly, but not compulsorily. I am happy to serve so that I can be a part of the community and give of myself to others and God, but if I receive a calling that I don't feel comfortable performing, or that doesn't seem to fit with my life circumstances, I am at liberty to say no.

2. I am a positive member of the community. I affirm what I can affirm, and for the most part maintain respectful silence on issues that are troubling to me. If I feel a teaching is particularly damaging, I might speak up about it, but I try to do it kindly, unthreateningly, and temper it with positivity and love.

3. Temple recommend interviews are a question mark. I feel they are unethical and wrong, but I also enjoy the spirituality of temple service. Here I must decide which means more to me, and it is a decision I'm still struggling with.

4. I do not allow my children to participate in bishop's interviews. For now, based on past negative experiences, they are off limits. I am free to make that decision without guilt or anxiety.

5. I reach outside the LDS community for additional fellowship and spiritual nourishment. I see my participation in the LDS church as an opportunity to serve and learn from the good that Mormonism has to offer. I recognize that it does not have everything to offer, so I am at liberty to reach outside and find other spiritual communities to develop my relationship with God. Perhaps this is another church; perhaps it is a book club or group of friends whose beliefs and/or approach more closely resembles mine than the LDS community at large.

So that's a start to a picture of what it might look like for me to stay LDS. I'd love to hear what the picture looks like for others.

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Tom Haws
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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Tom Haws » 28 Feb 2010, 20:33

Gee. I like your statement of beliefs so much I don't know what more I can offer. Can I just use yours? Your B4 doesn't apply directly to me. But I find them all very admirable, and I share the A section fully with you.

One way my own experience may differ is:

I live by my own testimonies (of peace, of simplicity, etc.) as I am present in the LDS Church. I feel free to avoid wearing a tie, a belt, etc. I avoid all debt and promises. I call all the members and leaders Brother and Sister. I give my 1/10 or more to conscientiously compliant places. I don't "seek riches to do good".

And of course we share:

When I am there I am serving, not being served. I can pick up trash. I can clean sinks and toilets. I can help in nursery. I can substitute in Primary.
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

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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Feb 2010, 20:45

This is beautiful, Katie - truly beautiful.

Thank you.
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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just me
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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by just me » 01 Mar 2010, 08:59

That is a seriously awesome post!!! I think I shall steal it and tweak it a bit for myself. :D Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

For me, I've maintained my high level of involvment in the church for basically the same reason. Fear or rejection/reactions.

I guess I would add to B3 that the temple ceremonies have some wording and actions that I find sexist. I don't really want to participate now that I feel that way.

I have allowed my oldest to have his first bishops interview. I warned/coached him ahead of time about questions regarding chastity/p0rn/M. I still regret not asking the bish not to ask the p0rn/M questions because I don't really like that my son was too embarrassed to tell me exactly what was asked. SOOO, I'm feeling uncomfortable, but still going with the mainstream flow.

Goodness, everything else I could adopt, although I am currently not feeling inclined to label God as "he/him" and look for ways to avoid it. LOL

Anyway, I really love what you wrote and how you have expressed yourself!!! :)
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Gail » 01 Mar 2010, 12:29

Thanks for this post. I think for the LDS church to be a healthy place for anyone it needs to be a choice, and on our terms. I love what you have done.

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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by hawkgrrrl » 01 Mar 2010, 13:27

Love it! Great job articulating what many here would agree is a very successful approach.

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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by MWallace57 » 01 Mar 2010, 13:52

You know,

I LOVE Mormons too! I think that is the reason why I can't just walk away from the Church. I still hold out fantasies that I could teach them, nourish them, and help them overcome some of their fears. So stay in the Church, dear. I am sure you will be able to do a lot of good.

P.S. some of us dissidents have even introduced cherry jello at funerals instead of green jello - ahhhh, for shame!!

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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Heber13 » 01 Mar 2010, 13:55

I really like the way you have stated your opinions and I sense so much confidence in your post.

Perhaps you haven't figured out answers to all things (temple recommend interviews, etc etc etc), and so you continue to seek how you'll deal with such things, but in the mean time, you sound like such a positive and loving person (service, loving mormons, seeing value outside the church, etc etc etc) and yet you know you can put your foot down without fear of what others think (no worthiness interviews for your children etc etc etc).

What a great example. Thank you so much for sharing how you've chosen to stayLDS and how it seems to work for you. I share a lot of your thoughts and feelings. I think I can have peace by making it "my church" and be grateful for how it blesses me and my family personally and individually. Kudos!
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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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Alfie » 01 Mar 2010, 14:59

Thank you so much for that post. I had my crisis of faith about 6 months ago and I'm just beginning to put one foot in front of the other. I've been in such a state of confusion and turmoil, but I am beginning to sort out what I believe and what I don't. Your post has helped me so much. :)

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Brian Johnston
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Re: What Staying LDS Might Look Like for Me

Post by Brian Johnston » 01 Mar 2010, 22:01

Thanks Katie. Thanks for sharing that. I see so many important decisions in there based on the themes of setting correct boundaries, and also giving yourself permission to truly enjoy what uplifts you. Experience is truth.

It's not because you have to, you have duty, you are afraid, or someone told you, but because you just know yourself. You know what works and you go after it!
"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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