Where I am Now. How About You?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Shawn
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Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 14:22
Location: Utah

Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by Shawn » 06 Jun 2013, 16:16

I often wonder where some of you are in your faith journey. It would be cool if a link to your introduction or your story were placed in your signature. Here is my story, which I will update periodically.

Early Life
I was born and raised in Utah. I am now in the mid-thirties. We went to church as a family but I became a rebellious teenager. I started smoking pot in ninth grade and dropped out of school the following year. I drank and used other drugs. As my life went downhill, I determined I would die before I age 20. I frequently thought of myself lying in a deep pit of manure and I could not climb out on my own.

I had a “bad trip” on LSD when I was 16. I believed I was going permanently insane and I had a terrifying revelation – death would not be an escape as I had previously supposed. I also realized that what I had learned in Primary and all that my parents had taught me about the Gospel is true.

I was entrenched in the lifestyle and didn’t change for a few months despite the experience I had. Eventually, I visited with the bishop and became active in church. My Savior had reached down and pulled me out of the pit.

Church Activity and Mission
I grew closer to Christ and had some great experiences in church and on scout activities. Before then, I knew very little about the Book of Mormon. It seemed to come to life as I read through it and it was an amazing experience.

Despite struggling with depression, I graduated from high school and prepared for the temple and a mission. Going to the temple for the first time was a bit disappointing. It just didn’t make sense to me. The MTC was difficult because I felt unworthy even though I had been told repeatedly by leaders that I was. A therapist there diagnosed me with OCD, but I didn't get treated for it until several months later when I started taking medication.

I attended the temple twice in the mission field and did not enjoy it. Though I experienced depression and anxiety, I had some good times and completed my mission. I had a very solid testimony.

After-mission Life
I got married a few months after getting home. Within a few months after that, I was severely depressed. I have visited doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists and tried many medications since then. I was told that I don't really have OCD, and that the issues are depression and anxiety.

Eventually, I lost some faith because I had tried for so long to live the Gospel and I was not happy. Very seldom did I visit the temple. I read some anti-Mormon stuff and some things gave me pause, but I was mostly amused by it and was not deeply concerned.

Crisis
On February 29, 2012, the “Church Statement Regarding 'Washington Post' Article on Race and the Church” was released. The statement includes:
For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.
I had understood we didn't really know why the restriction existed, but I assumed we knew how and when it came about. The idea that we don't even know if it should have existed came to my mind, and that hit me hard. Had the leaders of the church been “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”? What other supposed doctrines might not be of God?

I studied the history of the restriction and discovered other issues that concerned me. Things that didn't seriously bother me before became more significant, such as Brigham Young’s “Adam-God” theory and his remarks regarding the conception of Jesus, the history of temple worship, and the accounts of the “First Vision.”

StayLDS
Last summer, I discovered StayLDS and decided to check it out. I read things on this site that bothered me and I was trying to cling to what was left of my Stage 3 faith. Because of this, I lashed out at this community and made some regretful comments. After apologizing, I became more involved here.

Riding a roller coaster describes the time since last summer. At the peaks, I would feel good about God and the church, but then I would go downhill again. I feel I need to study all the issues to avoid being haunted by something in the future, so I don’t get off the roller coaster.

Where I am Now
Life is not going so well right now. The more I learn about the church, the more I lose confidence in its teachings, practices, and leaders. I've done quite of bit of research (on polygamy, the “Word of Wisdom,” tithing, etc.) and I admit I probably have a distorted view of the church due to focusing on negative aspects and disqualifying the positive.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety and those things may be with me for the rest of my life. I still believe in Christ and I am still active in church, but I go to the temple very rarely and I wonder if there is a point at which “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” becomes prominent enough for the church to be an abomination in the sight of God. Lately, the following from D&C 112 has given me hope:
Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
It may seem odd to derive hope from that, but here is how I see it: since God will begin the cleansing with his own house, it was known in 1837 that the church will need to be cleansed. This means the church and its people - at any level - can make mistakes. Despite being imperfect and needing cleansing, the church can generally be headed in the right direction and be sanctioned by the Lord.

Perhaps the Lord is far more patient with His children than I comprehend. Maybe D&C section 13 is still correct in stating the Priesthood “shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” despite the many mistakes of people in the church at all levels.

Update
There was a reason for including information regarding my drug use and struggles with mental illness. Just last year, I was diagnosed with ADD (I don't include the H because I'm not hyperactive). A lot of things suddenly made more sense. It partially explains why I dropped out of high school, loved smoking pot (it relaxed my brain), completed only one year of college during a period of five years despite getting awesome grades and test scores, and was sub-par in job performance despite high knowledge and ability.

Due to those and other things, life has been incredibly frustrating, disappointing, and depressing. A simple pill has essentially doubled my productivity and improved my life immensely. I am trying to live with gratitude for the treatment, but I am also ticked off about missing so much opportunity! Here I am in my mid-thirties, married with children, and I still have only one year of college done, and I have really wanted to graduate. Right now, it would be too much of a sacrifice for my family for me attend school. Maybe someday...

The drug use as a teenager has severely affected my life in a bad way.

I actually had an experience somewhat like Alma the Younger's. "I was struck with such great fear and amazement..I was tormented with the pains of hell..even with the pains of a damned soul." After becoming active in church, I experienced horrific panic attacks, sometimes believing I had actually become a son of perdition and would be miserable forever.

How much suffering was experienced due to an undiagnosed condition? It all seems so useless. The only good thing about it is having empathy for others. But others can have empathy without going through so much crap.

All of this just affects my relationship with God.

March 2015 Update
It's time for an update.

A couple months ago I was mourning the loss of my religion. I really laid down and cried several times. I am doing a bit better now, though, and I continue to be active in church except for going to the temple.

It helps me to stay away from controversial topics, which is partly why I haven't been on this site lately. I'm not saying this site is bad - it just hasn't been good for me for a while.

I believe I was recently inspired when I thought "Mormonism has the truth." That doesn't mean it has all truth or teaches only truth, but we do have some significant teachings, such as a premortal life and eternal families.

I kinda think the church is to some degree in a state of apostacy. Simply put, it's not perfect. However, I don't know of a religion that has more truth or better programs.

I am so tired of the "follow the prophet" mantra. It seems to detract from the Lord's words "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." People say, "But the prophet directs us to Christ." True, but the prophet is NOT our intermediary and we need to talk more of Christ and less of men! We spend precious little time in church studying the words of Jesus recorded in the New Testament compared to the time we spend with those "Teachings of Presidents" manuals.

Okay, I got into a rant there. Anyway, I'm hanging in there.

August 28, 2016 Update
So I finally came out to my wife, who is TBM. It didn't come out of the blue. It was over four years ago when I told her “With all the stuff Brigham Young said, there is no way he could have been a prophet." But I got through that and I was still a TBM, but a questioning one. I've told her about some other things here and there.

A week ago, I emailed her a document I had prepared that details my concerns. It was 25 pages long and now it's over 35 pages. She read it and then we talked. I told her "It's all bullcrap." Of course, my wife isn't happy about the situation, but we are getting along okay. Here are some issues I need to address:

The Temple and Garments
My recommend actually expired over a year ago, so this isn't a new issue. I've told her a few times that I have trouble believing in temples. Has anyone considered how Moroni 8:22-23 might relate to baptisms for the dead? I was floored by this last week.

Just last night I told her I don't want to wear garments anymore. I said they just have Masonic symbols that are not of God. However, I understand how others might believe they are of God and I can respect that. I'm still wearing them now and maybe I will continue to do so. If I don't really believe in God, then it doesn't matter as long I don't do anything to disrespect the garments. Or is it disrespectful for a non-believer to wear them? If there is a God, I think he might find garments to be offensive. I don't know what to do at this point.

Tithing
A few days ago, I told her again that I don't want to pay tithing on my income. I've mentioned this a couple times before but then backed down and let her continue paying on my income. I got a bit disgusted with the opulence of the new Provo temple when I went through for the open house and I don't want any more of my money going toward temples. I am being quite adamant about this.

Church and Neighbors
I want to get along with my neighbors and I don't want to cause trouble for my wife and kids. I don't want my neighbors to know about what I think of the church. Many of them are awesome and I want to continue being their friend. I don't want any them to be afraid that I will influence their kids. I am going to keep going to church to be with my family, but I will probably resign from my calling as a youth Sunday school teacher very soon.

My Kids
I want my kids to know that I don't believe. I think they should not be misled by my church attendance. I believe at least one of them will want to leave the church some day and I don't want them to say "Seriously, Dad? You knew this stuff and didn't tell me?" I will not actively seek to destroy their faith, but I think I need to be honest if they ask me questions. I need to find some kind of balance.

Other Stuff
My wife has known about many of the issues for several years and I am baffled by how she views them. We talked about Fanny Alger, the Partridge sisters, Zina DH Young, and others in detail. She didn't say something like, "Yeah, that's disturbing but I still have a testimony." She actually said, "That really doesn't bother me. I'm okay with it."

I am still withholding some things from her. I haven't told her that I want our kids to know my position. I haven't told her that I want to leave the church and I want her to follow me. I will wait and hope for her to see it the way I do so we can leave together. For now, I need to figure out a way to StayLDS as an unbeliever.

I might be done with the anger and depression stages of grief and I am going through the acceptance stage now.
Last edited by Shawn on 28 Aug 2016, 15:06, edited 15 times in total.

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mackay11
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Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by mackay11 » 06 Jun 2013, 20:25

Thanks for sharing Shawn. Have always appreciated your contribution. Sorry to hear you're going through a tough time.

I often wish I could just drop this... 'obsession'

I wish I could either go back a full, undiluted conviction or leave and move on. But I feel unable to do either. So I read and post and read and post and go round in circles indefinitely.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Jun 2013, 21:05

I wish I could either go back a full, undiluted conviction or leave and move on. But I feel unable to do either.


Good. It might be harder to build one's own faith, but I believe it is far more empowering and "progressive".

I'm where I've been for quite a while - content with being myself in my faith community.
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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MayB
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by MayB » 08 Jun 2013, 15:23

I'm so glad that you finally got your ADD diagnosed and are treating it. I too am discovering how much difference one little pill can make in my battle against depression. I knew that it ran in my family and I knew I struggled with it from time to time, but I always avoided medication due to the stigma and judgment of others. I finally gave in about a month ago and got a prescription from my doctor. I'm living in a whole new world!
I'm having a hard time staying as well. As Ray said,
It might be harder to build one's own faith, but I believe it is far more empowering and "progressive".
I'm so new to this that sometimes I don't feel as if there is anything left to build my own faith around, but I do feel empowered by looking at things more objectively through my own lens and not one that someone else has told me to use.

I hope you'll continue to move forward.
MayB

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Shawn
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Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 14:22
Location: Utah

Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by Shawn » 09 Jun 2013, 10:28

mackay11 wrote:Thanks for sharing Shawn. Have always appreciated your contribution. Sorry to hear you're going through a tough time.

I often wish I could just drop this... 'obsession'

I wish I could either go back a full, undiluted conviction or leave and move on. But I feel unable to do either. So I read and post and read and post and go round in circles indefinitely.
I like your posts as well, Mackay. We need to collaborate on some more metaphors.

Lately, I have thought it would be nice to go back as well. But then I think I don't want to be naive and I want to understand people in the church with different views.

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Shawn
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Location: Utah

Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by Shawn » 09 Jun 2013, 10:34

MayB wrote:I'm so glad that you finally got your ADD diagnosed and are treating it. I too am discovering how much difference one little pill can make in my battle against depression. I knew that it ran in my family and I knew I struggled with it from time to time, but I always avoided medication due to the stigma and judgment of others. I finally gave in about a month ago and got a prescription from my doctor. I'm living in a whole new world!
I'm having a hard time staying as well. As Ray said,
It might be harder to build one's own faith, but I believe it is far more empowering and "progressive".
I'm so new to this that sometimes I don't feel as if there is anything left to build my own faith around, but I do feel empowered by looking at things more objectively through my own lens and not one that someone else has told me to use.

I hope you'll continue to move forward.
Thanks for your thoughts. If I may, please allow to give a word of advice. It's only been about a month since you got a prescription, so you might be in a "honeymoon stage." If the treatment seems to not work so well after a longer period, don't give up. Sometimes it just takes a change is dosage to make improvements, and there are many medications that can be tried. Of course, there's also therapy. It's also good to get a thorough screening to check for thyroid issues and other causes of depression. I was treated for 15 years before we figured out ADD is a major underlying cause.

Thankfully, there is less stigma about mental illness compared to only ten years ago, and it's continually decreasing. I have become comfortable speaking casually about it (and making fun of myself sometimes) and it helps.

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AngryMormon
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by AngryMormon » 09 Jun 2013, 19:36

I just want to wish you the best of luck Shawn. Your writing and sharing has really touched me. You seem like such a great guy!

Stay positive and hang in there!

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BeLikeChrist
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by BeLikeChrist » 10 Jun 2013, 03:39

Dear Shawn,

i am not active but i, like you, have leaned on my spiritual experiences and still exercise a faith in God. i attend another church at present. i, too, have battled with depression and anxiety in the past.

i was at one time a tbm but from a series of life events i became disaffected. i still am to a degree but temper that with the good i see in the lds church.

one thing i keep in mind was that before my disaffection was that socially i struggled as a member. my "weakness" in that area i think is what made my church disaffection that much more pronounced. however, in spite of my social struggles as a member, i had an abundance of spiritual experiences when i was active. this is what has kept me believing in mormonism.

i have considered re-attending but i still feel hesitant. will i be accepted ? then there is a matter of trusting people i use to go to church with from my old ward/stake. i am also newly married and though my wife is a christian, she has not been supportive of me attending my old church.

it has been great attending her church. it reminds me of what i learned in the lds church and the "extras" i learned there in respect to doctrine and scripture that other churches don't have.

i think someday i will be a regular attender again but when that will be is something i'm not sure about yet because i still have things i have to try to figure out.

what i love about the LDS church is the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, and the church hymns and primary songs i still remember. all those things keep me connected to the church today even though i don't attend. i am like a member without a ward (as i have heard others say here at staylds.com)

Sincerely,

Mike
Last edited by BeLikeChrist on 11 Jun 2013, 05:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 10 Jun 2013, 22:38

Shawn, I am really glad things are going alot better for you. I'm glad your meds are working for your ADD. I have to take meds as well that are also helping me alot for anxiety. What also helps me is eating right and meditation, in addition to prayer and scripture study. I try to keep in my mind, even with the church imperfections, that the church testifies of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Savior. I will keep you in my prayers. I hope things continue to go well for you.

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richalger
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Re: Where I am Now. How About You?

Post by richalger » 25 Mar 2014, 09:51

Here is my story. It is a great idea us to put a link to it in our signatures.

Thanks for sharing.

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