Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Rix
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Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by Rix » 14 Aug 2009, 16:07

Orson wrote: I got what he was saying - but at the same time I sensed a deeper dimension than the two dimensional words may express. I could sense that truly putting ourselves first will make us that much more healthy and capable of serving others...
Absolutely! And for the right reasons!
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

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

Post by AmyJ » 09 Mar 2018, 14:52

Heber13 wrote:
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. :(

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

Post by Beefster » 09 Mar 2018, 18:45

I praise you for your threadcromancy, AmyJ.

I have been feeling very similarly to Heber in his opening post lately. My situation is obviously different, but I very much find myself struggling with finding a middle way. Part of me wants to leave, but the other part of me feels drawn to stay. For me, it's almost as if it makes no logical sense to be active LDS, yet it feels comfortable and happy... But yet some aspects of the church frustrate me or keep me from being happy... But then again, others bring me peace.

I feel as if few women in the church would accept me for who I am because I'm not the gung-ho priesthood holder they might expect from a husband... But I also feel that maybe I'm blowing that out proportion and it's not as big of a deal as I think it will be. OTOH, I feel I would have more prospects by opening things up to outside the church, but I don't want to disappoint my parents (I still need to get over that) or feel like I gave away my birthright for a mess of pottage.

I'm beginning to feel like I might need to extend out my "decision day", but at the same time, I am sick and tired of putting on the mask and just wish it felt safe to open up about my faith crisis. There's this one guy in my ward that has no issues with being open (ish?) about his faith crisis, and frankly, I wish I could be like that.

I guess I'm tired of having to be what I think others expect me to be. I either need to change my perspective or stop caring.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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

Post by AmyJ » 10 Mar 2018, 18:00

I wrote a long response to Heber's that was more tailored, but the board ate it and I did not realize that...

Maybe another day...

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

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Mar 2018, 07:16

Word of advice to everyone: If you write a long comment, do it in Word and then paste it here. That way you won't lose it if the system here times out.
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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dande48
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Re: Still struggling in stage 4: Selfish justifications are evil

Post by dande48 » 11 Mar 2018, 10:03

Curt Sunshine wrote:
11 Mar 2018, 07:16
Word of advice to everyone: If you write a long comment, do it in Word and then paste it here. That way you won't lose it if the system here times out.
I've learn always to "copy" the text, before I respond. :)
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Mar 2018, 13:22

Yeah, it's happened to me and it is frustrating to say the least. I do what Dande does, but Curt's way works as well.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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

Post by Roy » 11 Mar 2018, 13:28

Heber, I have some thoughts to share on this but I am really interested to know how you feel about these issues now and how you got from point A to point B.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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

Post by DancingCarrot » 11 Mar 2018, 16:37

I second Roy's request for an update from Heber, but I also do have something to share that has helped me in regards to the topic.

I think the main things that have helped me with this perspective is time and experience, lackluster as they may seem. Once, after a breakup, a friend told me that I'd look back one day and not feel any sadness for this moment. At the time I was horrified. It was still so fresh, and not the result I wanted, so I was hurting. However, through time and filling my life with other things, I came to see that she was correct, and though I didn't appreciate it at the time, she was supporting my overall happiness.

When we learn to change our values or perspectives, it's often very jostling, confusing, and (at least for me) anxiety-ridden. One of my favorite bloggers and authors is Mark Manson, who has this to say on the matter (edited for curse words, he loves profanity):
It's not easy because you're going to feel like a loser, a fraud...at first. You're going to be nervous. You're going to freak out. You may get pissed off at your wife or your friends or your father in the process. These are all side effects of changing your values....But they are inevitable.

It's simple but really, really hard.

Let's look at some of these side effects. You're going to feel uncertain; I guarantee it. "Should I really give this up? Is this the right thing to do?"
Giving up a value you've depended on for years is going to feel disorienting, as if you don't really know right from wrong anymore. This is hard,
but it's normal.

Next, you'll feel like a failure. You've spent half your life measuring yourself by that old value, so when you change your priorities, change your metrics, and stop behaving in the same way, you'll fail to meet that old, trusted metric and thus immediately feel like some sort of fraud or nobody. This is also normal and also uncomfortable.
What I appreciate so much about his words is the validation of how uncertainty is uncomfortable. I think it's easy and understandable to want a way out when we don't feel good, or when we feel pain, but I think that sustaining the pain in these situations is worth it because of what we believe and hope is on the other side. Certainly we've already felt the pain of our current situation for long enough, so even if this new direction doesn't work out we'll have more information and experience than when we started. Personally, in the long run, I'd prefer to have a string of "failures" and accompanying experiences than a never ending stream of "What if...what if...?"

I think what makes this venture particularly difficult in the Mormon community is that there is often the folklore/doctrine of what Satan tries to get us to do and cleverly disguises as intellectual pursuits, experimentation, or tolerance. I think that there's a self-righteousness of sorts that can occur when people reactivate, a "We told you so". I think the fear of not wanting to appear stupid, prideful, or even simply against the grain inhibits people from being a little less certain about their values. In short, I think Mormons are acting like humans, but have embellished some of their behavior in religious morals which makes things more complex, but not so different from most other religions.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

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

Post by Roy » 12 Mar 2018, 13:21

DancingCarrot wrote:
11 Mar 2018, 16:37
I think what makes this venture particularly difficult in the Mormon community is that there is often the folklore/doctrine of what Satan tries to get us to do and cleverly disguises as intellectual pursuits, experimentation, or tolerance. I think that there's a self-righteousness of sorts that can occur when people reactivate, a "We told you so".
I am imagining a scenario where a person with doubts is treated so badly by the church community that they eventually come to resent and even be openly hostile towards the church (anti-Mormon). Then the church members pat themselves on the back and hold up this person as someone who let themselves be infected by Satan's lies - as their anger and wild accusations clearly demonstrate. Self fulfilling prophecy. :twisted:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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