Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6692
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Heber13 » 12 Aug 2009, 00:57

I haven't had the best of days lately...and so I wanted to put my thoughts down in hopes I can get some support or guidance that might help me. [Warning: When I start that way...I can sense a large post is coming... :shock: sorry for that...but I just need to try to express myself.]

There are times I can't seem to let go of wanting to go back to my stage 3 confident faith in the LDS church, where I felt I was on a path to being a better person, and there seemed to be callings and inspirational church teachings that reconfirmed my footsteps that I was doing good.

But I don't think I can go back there anymore. So I have tried to tell myself by being in Stage 4 and letting go of some things, I am becoming a better person, just along a new path. But I am still ashamed to let others know how I feel (wife, kids, siblings, bishop). In my younger years, I would describe someone acting like I'm acting as a person without a strong enough testimony, not enough faith, and too selfish to let God lead me back to obedience and safety within the church. I think others will undoubtedly think that of me if I opened up.

Those on this forum who read my posts probably can tell I still believe in God, in His Plan, in the Atonement, in the Book of Mormon, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I have allowed myself to be more open towards what I think about the church and its source of truth and that there is also great truth and godliness to be found outside the church. Still, the church is a fine organization and run by people really trying to do what is right (sprinkled in with a few whackos whom I love for making things interesting!).

But Fowler describes Stage 5 faith as:
"One in stage 5 is willing to be converted by other ways of thinking. This does not mean that the person is wishy washy or uncommited to one's own truth tradition. Conjunctive faith's "radical openness" to other traditions comes from the belief that "reality" cannot be held entirely in one tradition and spills over into many traditions.
"The new strength of this stage comes in the rise of the ironic imagination ­ a capacity to see and be in one's or one's group's most powerful meanings, while simultaneously recognizing that they are relative, partial, and inevitably distorting apprehensions of trancendent reality."
I want to be comfortable in my new way of opening up to new traditions to take my prior level of faith to a higher level and understand and tolerate things in a more productive and loving way, whether or not others understand what I'm doing.

But I am currently really stuck on obedience to my mormon commandments. Tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and Home Teaching are nagging at me. I've backed off taking things so literally in the church, yet many mormon commandments like these are specific and literal.

While I have tried to tell myself that it can be a good thing to just live these commandments anyway, since they are not bad things, and I can try to understand in more meaning how they are all spiritual in nature (like how Valoel and Ray and others describe doing it for the right reasons), I honestly have lost my desire to want to do these at all.
1. I have started considering not living those anymore because I don't think I have to
2. But when I ask myself "why?", my honest answer is simply because I don't want to make the effort for something I don't believe in.
3. But that makes me feel I really am "wishy-washy" to my religion.
4. Then I tell myself to let go of guilt and just do what feels right to me...don't live them if you don't want to because I honestly don't have the burning desire to want to live them. Be a buffet mormon and just live the laws I feel I can live right now, and let go of the rest until I can reevaluate it later.
5. But then I still feel ashamed that I'm not strong enough to stay the course even when I don't want to. Deep down, I kinda feel like I should want to do these things if I'm a true follower of Christ. If these are the times I'm being tested...then buffet style will only get me a C+ or B- ... not a great result. Am I justifying mediocrity?
6. I still feel worried the bishop will put me in the category of "unworthy and weak spiritually" - which will lead to me being less and less involved in the ward.
7. I think of how serving people makes me happy and feeling needed in the ward makes me happy. I shouldn't care what the bishop thinks, and just do what I want and serve people outside of callings or outside of church.
8. But I am still worried that I am justifying lazy and selfish behavior, which will only lead to further justifications and loss of the spirit, until one day I am not able to see my daughters married in the temple, or ordain my sons to the priesthood.
9. And then my worries snowball, and I worry my kids will see my lack of diligence, follow my example of not trying in church or making sacrifices personally, and if they head down a path of sin and destruction...those sins would be on my head.

Why can't I let go of my feelings that because I'm not a part of the ward and living obediently to things that don't spiritually effect me, I'm not being a good enough person?

What guidance can you give me on how to work through this? I want to be open minded to my new beliefs that all truth is not found in the church, and not all church leaders are always inspired, and not all church teachings are from God...yet I want to feel comfortable in a conjunctive faith whether I decide to live the law of tithing anymore or take a break from it for a while. There are times I want to throw in the towel, and other times I want to rededicate myself with renewed vigor...but most of the time I'm just unhappy that I don't know what I want and that I may be justifying my selfish desires and becoming more lost in my journey. :(
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."

User avatar
HiJolly
Posts: 471
Joined: 11 Feb 2009, 21:25

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by HiJolly » 12 Aug 2009, 07:12

Heber13 wrote:I haven't had the best of days lately...and so I wanted to put my thoughts down in hopes I can get some support or guidance that might help me. [Warning: When I start that way...I can sense a large post is coming... :shock: sorry for that...but I just need to try to express myself.]

I'm so glad that you can, Heber13! I really believe in the goodness of a community that can hear, respond, and not feel threatened nor threatening. :D Love it!
Heber13 wrote:There are times I can't seem to let go of wanting to go back to my stage 3 confident faith in the LDS church, where I felt I was on a path to being a better person, and there seemed to be callings and inspirational church teachings that reconfirmed my footsteps that I was doing good.

Me too. I felt the same way when as a child I found out that some people didn't like me and didn't mind hurting me. I wanted a world where I was safe. It never returned to me, though I have found safe places and safe people. If I am cautious, anyway...
Heber13 wrote:But I don't think I can go back there anymore. So I have tried to tell myself by being in Stage 4 and letting go of some things, I am becoming a better person, just along a new path. But I am still ashamed to let others know how I feel (wife, kids, siblings, bishop). In my younger years, I would describe someone acting like I'm acting as a person without a strong enough testimony, not enough faith, and too selfish to let God lead me back to obedience and safety within the church. I think others will undoubtedly think that of me if I opened up.

I hope you can find a way to change the feeling of shame into something else. Thanks to the Lord for bearing witness to me over and over and over that I actually *am* on the 'right' path (even as I journey through stage 3 >> 4 >> 5 >> 4 >> 5 (etc.)!!

At first I feared that this was just my own humanity (the 'natural man') trying to justify my own screwed up beliefs. But as I said, over time too many witnesses were given me that there was more to it than just my own faults. I take it slow, don't shake anyone up by blurting out things that shouldn't be shared. And I have found that despite my doubts, it is truly usually for the sake of the loved ones around me that I don't blurt things out. I think, though, that this sense of 'rightness' must be an individual reality, and not just a self-induced justification. As I said, the Lord helped me through it all, in a very subtle way.

...more comments but gotta go for now...

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

User avatar
HiJolly
Posts: 471
Joined: 11 Feb 2009, 21:25

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by HiJolly » 12 Aug 2009, 09:04

Heber13 wrote:But Fowler describes Stage 5 faith as:
"One in stage 5 is willing to be converted by other ways of thinking. This does not mean that the person is wishy washy or uncommited to one's own truth tradition. Conjunctive faith's "radical openness" to other traditions comes from the belief that "reality" cannot be held entirely in one tradition and spills over into many traditions.
"The new strength of this stage comes in the rise of the ironic imagination ­ a capacity to see and be in one's or one's group's most powerful meanings, while simultaneously recognizing that they are relative, partial, and inevitably distorting apprehensions of trancendent reality."
I want to be comfortable in my new way of opening up to new traditions to take my prior level of faith to a higher level and understand and tolerate things in a more productive and loving way, whether or not others understand what I'm doing.

Me too. I just love that description, it fits me to a 'T'. (dear Lord, please don't ever require me to move on to Stage 6!)
Heber13 wrote:But I am currently really stuck on obedience to my mormon commandments. Tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and Home Teaching are nagging at me. I've backed off taking things so literally in the church, yet many mormon commandments like these are specific and literal.

If you choose to remain and support the institutional Church (as I do) then the commandments are literal. Yet there are gradations both in commandments and in doctrines.

The ultimate in these is that God is real, loves us, and wants us to love everyone else. And over the years I have been learning how each of the commandments help us to do that. Even tithing.

Heber13, I went through that 'not wanting to try' phase, too. Just go slow, and endure and plead to the Lord for things to get better, is the best advice I can give.

Well, also I advise anyone to remember the evidence they have for the existence of 'god', as they understand Him/Her/It, and to keep their covenants they have made.

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

swimordie
Posts: 755
Joined: 02 Jun 2009, 21:50

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by swimordie » 12 Aug 2009, 09:22

Wow, Heber! Wow!

I'm humbled by your honesty and deeply felt "struggle". I'm also happy that you can express that here.

And, I'm happy that you are having this struggle. It feels painful because you've lost something that had given you happiness and satisfaction. That's normal and we all go through it. At least, I know that I did. You are in mourning and are allowing us to "mourn with those who mourn". Thank you for that.

I had a rant/post in another thread about how we become emotionally dependent on the church, it's teachings, it's community, it's leaders and that's normal because when you are striving to be active, the cycle of sacrifice/reward is active.

My guess is that you've moved past this stage. The "sacrifice" does not justify the "reward". Either in a literal, spiritual or emotional sense. I imagine it's mostly the emotional, as you express confidently your joy in literal service to your community peers and spiritual satisfaction with the doctrinal/cosmological/mystical aspects.

The path to long term emotional health is like any other; it's a life-long journey of ups and downs.

The most important aspect of this journey is to embrace oneself, as the good, charitable, loving, caring self that one is.
Heber13 wrote:
Why can't I let go of my feelings that because I'm not a part of the ward and living obediently to things that don't spiritually effect me, I'm not being a good enough person?
Heber, you are a good person. You need to know that and I hope that you let yourself believe it, and believe it deeply.

Your goodness can be your guide. As I embraced the good in me and tried to live with this "light" as my guide, I discovered that I was tapping into the same spiritual sensibility I felt previously in a different paradigm. For example, on my mission I was the 100% devoted to the work type. I lived almost entirely off of this "light", at the time I defined it as the Holy Ghost. And it was satisfying and REAL.

As a father, I've been trying to parent in this way for the last year+ and am having amazing experiences, similar to my mission that are equally satisfying and REAL. Though I now define it differently than before.

My point is that in my process, I discovered that I had to be true to the "light" inside me. I knew and God knew that I wouldn't do anything to offend Him whether through disobedience or hurting another human being. At least, not intentionally when following the "light". I'm not perfect and I can make amends when I need to, knowing my intentions and motivations were not "bad".

And, of course, I let go of all of the "additional" rules, policies, whatever and have been trying to live by the two great commandments, letting my "light" guide me in all other respects.

The key for me, and I guess that it might be a part of you, was to let go of the emotional dependency. The need to feel validated, either by external people (loved ones, church leaders) or internal "voice" (ambition, devotion, "doing what I know is right") is a powerful emotional force.

And when you throw parenting into the mix... it's tough, very tough.
Heber13 wrote:And then my worries snowball, and I worry my kids will see my lack of diligence, follow my example of not trying in church or making sacrifices personally, and if they head down a path of sin and destruction...those sins would be on my head.
I posted a while back, that I wish one of my parents had given me a sense that there are other ways of seeing things. My whole upbringing was uber-orthodox TBM. There was no questioning, ever, no discussion of maybe, all answers, all solutions, no "problems". So if I had a question, doubt, concern, feeling that wasn't in line, it was MY fault: I was the problem, I wasn't good enough, I wasn't righteous enough, I wasn't sacrificing enough, I wasn't praying enough, I wasn't reading the BoM enough, etc.

I became an emotional cripple by adulthood.

I could only manufacture good feelings about myself by being "perfect" and getting external validation of this "perfection". Which, of course, is impossible and so I would be left in my emotionally crippled state. I actually let myself believe that I wasn't a good person.

I know that I am trying to show an example to my children of following Christ's teachings by living what I KNOW Christ's teachings are; not the church's teachings per se, but specifically Christ's teachings. And following my "light". And expressing doubt, not knowing everything, not being so damn sure all the time.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this also requires honesty, to oneself and to those around one. That path will began to illuminate itself over time.

Guilt is appropriate when we've done something to offend God. And we know when that is. Really.

Shame is never appropriate; it is a feeling we manufacture in ourselves when responding to someone/something that we are emotionally dependent on. If we weren't emotionally dependent on the "other" and instead gain all of our emotional health from inside, we will never feel shame, for we know that what we do is always with the appropriate intention and motivation.

Sorry for the novel. btw, disregard all of this if it doesn't work for you. I hope my sharing it will help me in my journey, and if it helps someone else, YEAAHHH!!! :D
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

User avatar
Rix
Posts: 562
Joined: 20 Jul 2009, 14:29
Location: Bluffdale, UT

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Rix » 12 Aug 2009, 10:36

swimordie wrote: Shame is never appropriate; it is a feeling we manufacture in ourselves when responding to someone/something that we are emotionally dependent on. If we weren't emotionally dependent on the "other" and instead gain all of our emotional health from inside, we will never feel shame, for we know that what we do is always with the appropriate intention and motivation.

Sorry for the novel. btw, disregard all of this if it doesn't work for you. I hope my sharing it will help me in my journey, and if it helps someone else, YEAAHHH!!! :D
Well said! After reading many of your posts, swimordie, I think we have travelled a similar path.

From my introduction, many know here I fought drug addiction. My healing process was very transformational, and much of what you said here are truths that helped me "recover." I'm actually called on occasionally to talk about the process of recovering from drugs, and how it relates to recovering from religion. They are quite similar -- for the reasons you noted. When there is a dependence on an outside source for validation, without it comes deep despair and loneliness. With that validation comes a misinterpretation of why they "feel good." It's simply fulfilling the craving they think they need to be okay. Drugs give the same, temporary relief. It's only when you learn to find the validation within that you can heal.

But I know I'm preaching to the choir here...just wanted to tell you I resonate much with your thoughts!
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

User avatar
HiJolly
Posts: 471
Joined: 11 Feb 2009, 21:25

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by HiJolly » 12 Aug 2009, 10:46

swimordie wrote:Wow, Heber! Wow!

I'm humbled by your honesty and deeply felt "struggle". I'm also happy that you can express that here.
...
Shame is never appropriate; it is a feeling we manufacture in ourselves when responding to someone/something that we are emotionally dependent on. If we weren't emotionally dependent on the "other" and instead gain all of our emotional health from inside, we will never feel shame, for we know that what we do is always with the appropriate intention and motivation.

Sorry for the novel. btw, disregard all of this if it doesn't work for you. I hope my sharing it will help me in my journey, and if it helps someone else, YEAAHHH!!! :D
Wow. swimordie, you are awesome. Your comments feel MUCH better than my responses.

Bless you!

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15824
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Aug 2009, 11:06

If it helps at all, I personaly admire you greatly, Heber. That doesn't happen for me with those who aren't good people. You are "good people".
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

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6692
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Heber13 » 12 Aug 2009, 11:38

HiJolly wrote:"Wow. swimordie, you are awesome. Your comments feel MUCH better than my responses."
I must respectfully disagree, HiJolly. While I was equally impressed with swimordie and Rix and their comments...I needed to hear yours as well. Especially this part:
HiJolly wrote:At first I feared that this was just my own humanity (the 'natural man') trying to justify my own screwed up beliefs. But as I said, over time too many witnesses were given me that there was more to it than just my own faults. I take it slow, don't shake anyone up by blurting out things that shouldn't be shared. And I have found that despite my doubts, it is truly usually for the sake of the loved ones around me that I don't blurt things out. I think, though, that this sense of 'rightness' must be an individual reality, and not just a self-induced justification. As I said, the Lord helped me through it all, in a very subtle way.
1. I'm glad to hear you received witnesses...that is what I need and what I will seek.
2. Thanks for the experience-based advice on holding on to doubts not blurting them to my precious loved ones...that is sound advice
3. I need to be warned against "self-induced justication" and have faith God will help me find what is right FOR ME.
HiJolly wrote:Just go slow, and endure and plead to the Lord for things to get better, is the best advice I can give.
The "best advice", indeed! Thanks. (RRRRGGGG...slow is not easy for me). But I certainly do need to build my trust in the Lord...after having been left alone for a time...I need to still know it was for my good and I can still trust in receiving witnesses going forward.

Swimordie...first, let me say, I was waiting for a book reference on codepedency from you...did you get tired of referencing that??? ;-) I know you have learned a lot from that, and I think something I need to learn...I appreciate your posts and your take...I knew this was something you could help me with. Thanks buddy!
swimordie wrote:And, I'm happy that you are having this struggle.
I could've done without that! LOL...just kidding. I got your drift and appreciate the sentiments. I sense you believe it will prove a positive growing experience for me. But PLEASE don't pray for added trials for Heber for my benefit right now...I've got all I can handle. ;-)
swimordie wrote:You are in mourning and are allowing us to "mourn with those who mourn".
On a more serious reponse to you...Thank you sincerely for this. I felt a warm sense of love come over me when I read this...and got choaked up. I don't know why it matters to me to read those words and have it impact me...but I guess because I know you from this site...and know you sincerely feel this way...it meant a lot to have me read that. Thanks. Again, thanks.
swimordie wrote:Your goodness can be your guide. As I embraced the good in me and tried to live with this "light" as my guide, I discovered that I was tapping into the same spiritual sensibility I felt previously in a different paradigm.
Thanks for your wisdom. I will take this to heart and learn to apply what you've mastered already.
swimordie wrote:Guilt is appropriate when we've done something to offend God. And we know when that is. Really.

Shame is never appropriate; it is a feeling we manufacture in ourselves when responding to someone/something that we are emotionally dependent on. If we weren't emotionally dependent on the "other" and instead gain all of our emotional health from inside, we will never feel shame, for we know that what we do is always with the appropriate intention and motivation.
I needed to hear this. I think you have hit on something that I need to be aware of and work on. Something that shows my immaturity in some areas, that if I can fix or figure out, will lead to greater peace with my situation. Perhaps something the Lord knew I wouldn't learn if things stayed the way they were in my prior paradigm.
Rix wrote:With that validation comes a misinterpretation of why they "feel good." It's simply fulfilling the craving they think they need to be okay. Drugs give the same, temporary relief. It's only when you learn to find the validation within that you can heal.
Equally impressive, Rix. I see the parallel with drug dependence and the temporary "fix" - whereas I need to focus on long-term health and happiness.
Ray Degraw wrote:If it helps at all, I personaly admire you greatly, Heber.
Yes, it helps, knowing that comes from you. Thanks Ray. An warm example of how a simple pat on the back can be of worth...even when you know you can't fix my problems or walk my path for me.

Very good counsel for me to ponder. I will let this all sit with me for a while and think through how I think I should move forward to find how I can make it work for me and apply it in my life. Any other input from anyone is welcomed and appreciated. Thanks...this is how it should feel ... despite my weaknesses, I can feel supported by good people and we all learn from each other. I believe that is what Christ taught. I am grateful I have found it here.
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."

User avatar
Tom Haws
Posts: 1245
Joined: 13 Jan 2009, 06:57
Location: Gilbert, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Tom Haws » 12 Aug 2009, 12:27

Heber13, I am thankful I waited a few hours to share my thoughts. This has been an incredibly wisdom-filled thread that has resonated deeply with me.

Perfectionism. I have recently discovered through new honesty (so that's what that word means!) that I have always been addicted to superiority (perfection; nod to Rix). Only by telling the truth about myself (honesty) to myself, heaven, and others (remember my thread about my treatment of my daughter?) have I begun increasingly to see things as they really are and to feel loved in a true, real way (Real Love by Greg Baer, M.D.) that starts to increasingly overflow toward others. I might add that the reason I need to be superior, to perform well, and to be a 100%-er is to protect myself from the emptiness and fear that come from not being filled with Unconditional Love. Greg Baer in Real Love claims if we tell the truth about ourselves enough, we can access that Unconditional Love around us. That's what you did in this thread.

Shame vs. Guilt. Ditto, ditto ditto, Swimordie. Guilt is a fact. Shame is a problem. Love forgives the first and dispels the second.

Codependency. I desire to learn more about this.

Taboo breaking. No rush.
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

Poppyseed
Posts: 389
Joined: 19 Jul 2009, 15:44

Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Poppyseed » 12 Aug 2009, 12:50

Oh gosh! I am coming to the support Heber party late! And as I read I find myself saying..."Shoot. I was gonna say that!" :D

So I will just give my best answer and hope it might help in some way.

I read your post Heber and I feel like you outlined so many of my feelings during this past two years. I didn't want my kids to see my struggle. I didn't want them to see me as a spiritually weak example. I struggled with how I saw and felt about myself as I wrestled with whether or not this church was worth my support and also dealing with my self as I honestly took a look in the mirror. I also had some woundedness in the mix and I knew I needed some time to heal and I wasn't sure mormon culture was the most healing of environments. At least not for me.

I was worried to tell the bishop about my concerns in my TR interview a couple of months back. It was so hard to say that I didn't know if there was a Jesus and that I didn't know if Tom Monson was anything other than a figure head and a really nice grandpa. But I learned something in that interview that really helped me. My bishop was new...green as grass and frankly didn't know what to do with my heart felt responses. I scared him pretty good. (small laugh) Sufficeth to say, he didn't give me the temple recommend. He said he would go home and pray. I knew that was the wrong thing because I felt it spiritually inside my heart/head and I left feeling like the bishop wasn't listening to the Spirit because the spirit was telling me to get my butt to the temple. He called me back in after a week and said that he was humbled by what the Lord had taught him and that he shouldn't underestimate what people had been through. (not saying it well. His version was a lot more profound). He gave me the recommend and apologized and said that he had learned a lesson in being more understanding and empathetic and that God had taught him something about what is really in the heart of people.

I know Heavenly Father took me into my journey into the doctrinal wilderness. You can bash me for saying "I know" but I do. He is the one who told me to leave the church for a time and to unwind some of my programming and false notions about the gospel and about myself and about my relationship to God.

Most of the early steps of my journey was dominated my shame and guilt. But I have learned to be a lot kinder to myself. And so I second S's comments on shame. I had to learn to give myself permission to banish shame every single time it copped its ugly head and absolutely refuse to think that way even though it was my mormon habit! I learned it was never from God and never served me even when I needed a reprimand. I also learned that it was OK to question and re evaluate and even pendulem swing in order to find the place I would finally land. Sometimes the swinging made me look like a complete and total apostate, but I really think God was Ok with that and even pushed me off the platform. I think God knew that the distance of the swing wouldn't determine where I would land, but rather help me find the resting center. And its proving to be very true. At least that is my experience.
And I am also learning that wandering in the wilderness is only helpful for so long. There comes a time when the effectiveness wheres off and one needs to move to some resting decisions and commitments. I have felt the Lord nudge me lovingly when it was time. And I have felt His patience as it sometimes takes me a few months to do what I know I should. And I do feel now, after lots of struggle and disciplining of myself both in the ways of seeing the truth in new ways, but in also going back to what I knew in the first place, that I am finding peace and strength in my new foundation. I thought it would feel like coming home. It doesn't really. Or maybe I feel like I am coming home to myself and finally learning to be true to myself and my God without all the external pushing and pulling.

Now, you know I haven't arrived. But then again, maybe arrivals are over rated. ;)

Add my heart to those who respect and appreciate you and your perspectives. You are a very good person from what I see. What about your process would make you a bad person? Its not like you are robbing old ladies or anything! So tell Satan to "get thee hence" and out of your process and give yourself permission to explore where you need to and also maybe to adjust your life so that you feel right about your twists and turns. If there is laziness or pride or whatever, you can address that in love and patience and appropriateness. Maybe adjust your obedience like you'd adjust ship....two degrees this way but not too much. :) And then give yourself lots of patience and love and understanding as you move forward and as you trust God to lead you by the hand.

As I read step four, I really feel like the power of discernment is such an important tool to put in our religious tool belts. How wonderful to have the Spirit working in us so that it isn't the "church" or "church people" or cultural notions that dictate truth, and so we can identify the truth when we hear/discover it -- even in its many layers.

So, buck up little camper! It's all good. And you have way cool friends. I mean, look at all of us!! :D

Hugs from Pops.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

Post Reply