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:
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."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."
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.