I need help.

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
dash1730
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Re: I need help.

Post by dash1730 » 07 Mar 2015, 07:17

Metalrain, I can sympathize with you.
Mom3 said:
Joseph Smith had a similar situation. This masterful vision in a grove. Life changing for him and many others. Yet three years pass and nothing. We rarely think about those 3 years. Did he pray? Was God silent? Who knows. On top of that, if the story is accurate, he didn't get what he wanted. He just wanted to know his standing before God. Instead he gets an Angel, a long lecture. Repeats of the lecture and whole new life.
Me too. As I reflect on my 60+ years as a member in the church, I feel I have had occasional divine communication, but definitely not reliable nor consistent. Words to characterize my experiences include: unreliable, paradoxical, compassionate, beautiful logic and intelligent, but they are always comforting when the do come.

My FC first crested shortly after college. I had just finished getting my masters but had gone a year without employment. I fasted, prayed my heart out, not just about employment but trying to build some sort of relationship w/ God. Anything. I got nothing. My pleading and begging were of no avail.

And I was struggling with the temple ceremonies trying to see what relevance they had to my relationship with God. I was particularly worked up about the signs & tokens. They just didn't make sense to me. Since my temple recommend was still current I decided to try it one more time. Though at the time I lived in SLC, I decided to drive to Manti where the crowds wouldn't be so great. I was grateful to get on a session that was a comfortable size, large enough to get lost in and small enough to not feel like a cattle heard. Throughout the session I contemplated my question until I got a response. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the words came clearly and distinctly to me "Don't worry about it. I don't understand it either, but don't reject the tokens for someday you will be glad you didn't." I was fully aware of the irony of that statement, but I had with it an unmistakable feeling of peace and comfort. My FC continued to deepen, but I never felt a need to question those ironic words, even as I went AWOL from the Church.

During this time my brother suffered a stroke, and was in recuperation for about a month. The day he was to return to work, he committed suicide. My sister-in-law was understandably distraught. A few days after the funeral, I felt prompted to visit her. As we chatted, I felt words of comfort and compassion for her and my brother flow through me. I was expressing thoughts I had never thought before, that flowed clearly and moved both of us to tears. We embraced, comforted that all was well.

Seventeen years later I was going for a walk and passed a Mormon church (in SLC still). I got a very distinct feeling that I needed to attend church. So Sunday I went to Church. Nothing significant happened, and nobody bugged me or tried to find out who I was. I went to church 2 more times, different wards to keep my anonymity. Then I got a strange prompting to call up my resident bishop. "Do what????" I asked. Just talk to him, I was told. So I made an appointment and soon found myself talking to a kind, understanding and amazingly patient man. I just shared my frustrations and agonies with organized religion, esp. Mormonism, and he agreed with most of my points. I met with him two more times, before a long time friend (who at the time was the RS Pres & Temple worker) decided to get married. She knew full well my feelings about the Church, and said she would be willing to get married any place I wanted. She had only one request: Would I ask the bishop what it would take for me to get a temple recommend. I wasn't wearing G's, paying tithing, nor attending church with any kind of regularity. But I agreed to ask.

My interview followed the pattern of our other discussions as we talked about the temple questions philosophically. Then he said: "I will ask you the formal questions. Please answer with only Yes or No:". I did, then he asked me to be patient while he petitioned God for guidance. Five minutes later he was filling out the recommend. He also asked me to resume wearing G's, attending church and paying tithing. He then counseled to get an appointment with the caution that the SP was a knee-jerk accountant by profession, so answer him with only a "Yes or No", avoid any discussions. I said "thank you" and took my leave. A few days later I had my recommend.

Two decades later, I have had my ups and downs with the Church. I am in ward many states removed from the Mormon corridor. I feel the good parts of Mormonism are divinely inspired (emphasis on education, healthy lifestyle, fellowshiping and aiding one another, the plan of exhalation, and the deeper parts of Mormon theology like "The God Who Weeps" by Givens). I still struggle with the anti-intelectualism, and dogmatism, that pervades the Church. Recently I have been learning great lessons from StayLDS about the value of allowing and appreciating TBM'ers opinions, just as much as I value mine. It's a tough lesson to learn to tolerate and be patient with the intolerant. But I am finding it to be very profound and perhaps a significant way for me to build bridges to TBM'ers while maintaining my own integrity. IMO it is better than giving up and staying home.

Nevertheless I feel a need to attending sacrament meeting, and teach the HP class whenever I can. For now that is enough. I may even feel comfortable saying I have a testimony. Such is my experience with Divine will in my life.
I may not walk the straight and narrow, but I try to cross it as often as I can.
---J Golden Kimball

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LookingHard
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Re: I need help.

Post by LookingHard » 07 Mar 2015, 08:28

Dash - thanks so much for sharing that.

As I have struggled with my FC and faith transition I have studied what I had as my moments of feeling I was getting guidance from above. Most are confusing as I think they were just emotions. I really come down to 3. One was some interesting (comforting) coincidences with a sibling before he passed away at a young age - but I could see that as just coincidences. One was one time of intense stress and pleading for comfort and getting some rather immediate calming. But then I pleaded even harder when I was in my FC and didn't feel any peace come. Only slowing calming down over the years. But the last one is really what keeps me feeling that "there IS something in the church". I don't feel like going into detail, but a very unexpected thought came suddenly and VERY clearly into my mind about my mission just before I got my call. It is the one time I can say I "knew" something with 100% confidence. There is no way my scientific mind can explain it away.

metalrain
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Re: I need help.

Post by metalrain » 07 Mar 2015, 12:58

I can relate to you both with the experiences- not as much as I can with you Dash because I feel like you're much further down the road than I am. Those are some great experiences, and that gives me some hope of staying in the church. Your bishop sounds like a true ambassador of Christ. I wish there were more leaders in the church like him.

My patriarchal blessing tells me I was blessed with a double portion of faith and really I think sometimes that's the only thing that keeps me going. I mean, in reality the effect of the church in my life isn't a bad thing and I recognize that. Not going to church isn't going to dramatically alter my life either.

i've kind of felt, not in a voice or anything sort of way, that God kind of just wants me to explore and be on my own for a while and that's disconcerting I think- especially with all the promises in the scriptures related to prayer and revelation. But, it's always been a struggle for me. I thought that the whole process would take me a short amount of time but I am coming to realize how wrong I was on that.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: I need help.

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Mar 2015, 13:54

Read my recent Sac Mtg talk in the current thread for talks and lessons. I mentioned that everyone experiences God in different ways, and I could see a lot if heads nodding in the congregation.

I think so many people understand that idea that it gets left unspoken too often, since those people assume everyone (or most people) understand, also.
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: I need help.

Post by Heber13 » 07 Mar 2015, 14:53

metalrain wrote:Not going to church isn't going to dramatically alter my life either.
Agreed! :thumbup:
metalrain wrote:i've kind of felt, not in a voice or anything sort of way, that God kind of just wants me to explore and be on my own for a while and that's disconcerting I think- especially with all the promises in the scriptures related to prayer and revelation. But, it's always been a struggle for me. I thought that the whole process would take me a short amount of time but I am coming to realize how wrong I was on that.
Excellent!!! Well said. I have also found, after trying to get comfortable with "being on my own for a while" some unexpected signs that perhaps I'm not all alone. Problem is, I just can't tell when those signs show up and when they don't, and I certainly can't expect them to be there when I think I really need them. But...if I'm honest...I still see flickers of signs that I may be being helped along the way...and so it leaves me questioning what I choose to believe. And so, I choose to believe I am doing OK, although feeling on my own more than I'd like...I do think I'm being guided. I choose to believe it, and accept it for what it is, even if it wasn't what I hoped it would be.

In other words, when you start accepting you're gonna head onward down the path on your own...don't block out the possibility...you're not completely on your own. But God is saying, "You're doing great, keep going."

When I least expect it...I have found small things happen that I choose to believe God is still working in my life. I just do. Perhaps that's how I'm wired. But I've seen small miracles despite my huge trials. I wish they were bigger miracles and smaller trials, but I don't get to choose that. I just get to choose what I do and think about it. I see the world differently. I just believe things my way. I think I see it more clearly than I did before.
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."

nibbler
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Re: I need help.

Post by nibbler » 07 Mar 2015, 16:52

metalrain wrote:My patriarchal blessing tells me I was blessed with a double portion of faith and really I think sometimes that's the only thing that keeps me going. I mean, in reality the effect of the church in my life isn't a bad thing and I recognize that. Not going to church isn't going to dramatically alter my life either.
At first I felt like my FC marked the end of my faith but in time I started to feel like my FC had a profound positive impact in my life. Maybe god wanted me to experience a FC because that was the next step in my eternal progression. Maybe that double portion of faith helped you experience the blessing of a FC.
metalrain wrote:i've kind of felt, not in a voice or anything sort of way, that God kind of just wants me to explore and be on my own for a while and that's disconcerting I think- especially with all the promises in the scriptures related to prayer and revelation. But, it's always been a struggle for me. I thought that the whole process would take me a short amount of time but I am coming to realize how wrong I was on that.
Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and he was perfect. If one of his days is like a thousand of mine I figure I'll be in the wilderness for about 110 years. ;) Seriously though, there are lots of examples in the scriptures and even in our restoration narrative where revelation came to people that had explored and been on their own for a while. In almost every case the revelation took the person down an unexpected or even unconventional path.

I see being on our own as a good thing. The training wheels are off, dad just let go of the bike, we're scared at first, but when everything clicks... oh boy.

alltruth
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Re: I need help.

Post by alltruth » 24 Mar 2015, 21:35

Well, it looks like you've got tons of responses, so I'll try to be short. You said one thing that caught my eye:

"The more I read the less I feel"

I may be interpreting that differently than how you meant to say it, but I can relate. My answer? Stop reading for awhile. Not feeling is not good. Let things settle. Take two weeks and just ponder what you've learned. See what happens.

For me, I get to that point where I'm wondering, "How in the world can I StayLDS?" and I just have to step back from it for awhile. It might not be the case for you, but I've always been able to find a reason to stick around.

One other thing I try to do is spend as much time reading materials that are written by true believers as I do reading things written by true doubters (or even those who are antagonistic). It gives me the full spectrum, and generally I find myself saying, "you know, they might both be right." :lol:

Best of luck to you. You sound like a thoughtful person, and thoughtful people generally make out all right in this world.

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Heber13
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Re: I need help.

Post by Heber13 » 25 Mar 2015, 08:27

alltruth wrote: "How in the world can I StayLDS?" and I just have to step back from it for awhile. It might not be the case for you, but I've always been able to find a reason to stick around.
:thumbup: This is has been the case for me too, alltruth. I find there is more to the church than just the specific point or two that is troubling me at the time.
alltruth wrote:One other thing I try to do is spend as much time reading materials that are written by true believers as I do reading things written by true doubters (or even those who are antagonistic). It gives me the full spectrum, and generally I find myself saying, "you know, they might both be right."
This approach has worked for me as well...and yes...I think in many ways, both are right. I embrace paradox. There isn't one view that explains everything. I may identify more with one or the other, but I have tried to read general conference talks along side with critical or some non-mormon materials.
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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