Reasons to stay?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Vincent53
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Reasons to stay?

Post by Vincent53 » 29 Oct 2016, 22:02

I've heard this idea a lot lately, that the church is about community. Our place to strengthen and support each other. To live up to the covenants we made when we got baptized. "Bear one another's burdens " etc... I can understand the reasoning and the call to follow Christ in that way. Some of the wards I've been a part of have been excellent examples of that , but it's always been one of my biggest challenges.

I'm very much an introvert and I've always felt like an alien in a church that pushes me to be an extrovert. I like to be alone, that's how I recharge my batteries. I have remained faithful because I believed I "knew" it was all true. I've always thought my quiet introverted demeanor was a flaw that I had to overcome. It has been one of my biggest struggles, I've often left Sunday services feeling drained and depressed, but I kept going because I thought I had a testimony and felt obligated to live up to the covenants I made. I always looked to Ether 12:27 as my promise from the Lord that if I just tried hard enough and long enough then He would take away this flawed personality of mine and I'd be the leader he wants me to be. Lately I'm losing sleep, averaging about 4 hours a night. My mind just won't shut off thinking about my responsibilities and the people I have stewardship over. And now that I've learned about so much of the history of the church that troubles me I wonder why I should stay in my calling and maybe even the church?

Last Sunday was particularly difficult, so much so that I notified the bishop that I would like to be released as his 1st counselor. I told him only of my struggles with leadership and my anxiety and insomnia, I didn't feel I could go into my doubts and confusion about the church with him. I feel I have to let that leadership burden go so I can deal with this doubt and get some sleep. I'll continue to attend and I'm willing to serve in a calling that would be appropriate for me right now. I'll stay for my marriage. I'll stay because I really don't know if the church is definitely untrue and it has been a positive influence in my life in many ways. That's where I'm at right now but it's a fluid situation.
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent van Gogh

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DarkJedi
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Oct 2016, 05:00

Reasons to stay (or leave) are as numerous as there are people. Many people in our situation stay only because of family, and that's valid. I know a member of my stake who comes with his wife and daughter, sits through sacrament meeting, and then reads in the foyer while his daughter goes to Primary just to support his wife and "go to church" for his daughter. I am also an introvert and gain little from the social interaction at church. It's not that I don't have any friends there, but I don't need to be with them or interact with them all the time and I loathe activities like "linger longer." People think I'm joking when I say three hours is long enough for me to have lingered - but I'm not joking.

One thing I think you're struggling with the the guilt of covenants/obedience/duty. Try to let go of that. Jesus never really talked about any of that stuff. He only asked us to believe, which for many (including me) is enough of a struggle. Letting go of the idea that you actually owe anything to the church can be very freeing - but it's not an easy task.

I think you did well in speaking to your bishop and not being specific. It should be enough for him to know you're struggling. We've all struggled and been stressed at times in our lives, it's something he should be able to relate to. Insomnia is not something you should have to endure because of church calling anxiety.
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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Minyan Man
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by Minyan Man » 30 Oct 2016, 08:14

Vincent, your description of yourself sounds alot like me. I currently have a calling in Family History. I work mainly by myself or one on one. I like computers & the familysearch software.
Periodically we have meetings & I choose to go or not. The leadership knows I like what I'm doing, I'm reasonably good at it & they leave me alone. For me, it's ideal. For other people,
they would be miserable. Some people like & need the attention of leadership or performance positions. I never will.

The church is very unique in many ways. Callings or jobs in this church are one way it's unique. If you want to participate, there are a number of jobs to choose from.
(That's the way I look at it. What jobs would you like & choose if you had the chance.) And, sometimes we need a break.

Roy
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by Roy » 30 Oct 2016, 08:28

I personally strive to maintain a sustainable level of involvement with the church. This for me does not include tithing payment or attending regularly (I am actually ok with SM because there is no audience participation). My acceptable reasons for not doing these is that 1) the death of my daughter hurt my faith in the promised blessings of tithing payment and 2) I work on Sundays. This does paint me as a person with struggling, raw, or weak faith and can invite some level of patronizing. I just find this preferable to the circle the wagons/ defend from the apostate reaction.

1) I do this to keep my options open. I have baptized both of my children in this situation. It is also important to me to be in my son's priesthood line of authority just as I received the priesthood from my dad (and from his father before him). In a strange way - this feels like my son's birthright. Does it matter if it is not real if it ties the generations together?

2) I do this to stay connected to people I care about. For better or for worse, church affiliation is a quick and dirty way of measuring belonging in many relationships. I feel that many (including family/extended family) would feel that by no longer believing that I am somehow turning my metaphorical back on our association together. It is not the frank talk with my bishop that I dread, it is having the same conversation over and over and over with different people that I care about and with each one seeing the ties that bind us together get a little thinner - a little more brittle.

I could see these reasons being less potent as I age. Eventually the kids will grow up, grandparents and even parents will die, and aunts, uncles, and cousins will have less and less contact. Because of that, I do understand that what works for me and motivates me might not necessarily work for you.
I posted the above in another thread that gives some insight into where I am coming form. Part of what makes StayingLDS work for me is that it is not all church all the time. I do not have to walk around all the time in Mormon sackcloth and ashes or hair shirt with my religion on my sleeve. Mormonism is a smaller part of my identity now, but it is still there and I am not ashamed of it. If I were sitting up on the stand every Sunday or going to countless meetings where I might have to bite my tongue - I would be exploding inside. Too much pressure and no release valve is not a good situation. :evil:

I currently am the cub scout bear leader on Wednesday nights. The scout program in my area is very disorganized and haphazard. I feel that I can actually make a difference in a positive way - but not anything to lose sleep over. My wife and I have practiced politely turning down callings that are not a good fit for our family (hint: we never accept on the spot. We always take a day to "ponder and pray".)
"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

kate5
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by kate5 » 30 Oct 2016, 14:54

Vincent, add me to list of people who relate so much to your post. I was in your position not so long ago. I asked to get released from my stressful leadership calling and am now doing a calling that doesn't put me in tears every Sunday and most of the week before. It still is very hard for me to go to church. I don't need or want the social interaction (which I think is a reason that many people with doubts keep going but maybe I'm just generalizing), But it doesn't keep me up at night and have me in a constant state of anxiety like it used to. It was really awful but it is much better now!

I'm really happy that you had the courage to stand up for your mental health and asked to be released. I really believe Heavenly Father knows what's best for us and we need to listen to Him and no one else. Don't let another person tell you what you need to do to please God.

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Heber13
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by Heber13 » 31 Oct 2016, 09:04

Vincent53 wrote: That's where I'm at right now but it's a fluid situation.
Thanks for posting your update. It really sounds like you are going through a rough patch with it and needing some peace and relief from the weight of it all. I hope your bishop understands.

Let us know how it goes, and how you get through it.

Staying is always a choice. Some get more agnostic about it...not sure how to make sense of things learned about the history and the emphasis on certainty and truth claims that disappoint us in the real world...and can't really feel like we "know" it is true anymore. I always think the counter to that is that we don't "know" it is false either. Agnostic takes away the ability to know for certainty.

Then it makes our journey interesting because we start asking what things make it worth it or not, if we can't have the ideal, the certain, the pure.

I think sometimes the angst of Stage 4 from Fowler, the sleepless nights, the struggling...all that is part of the journey for us to really think what brings us peace and happiness in life. That is the ultimate test of truth. Just like Moroni 10:3-5...does it feel good for us? Do we want to choose to have faith and stay, despite the problems? Many do it. That doesn't make it any easier for you. You still must pass through it. And this too shall pass.

Good luck, buddy. Keep us updated and write out your feelings and questions as you go...it helps those readers coming behind you to see the process. There is no ONE right answer. Extroverts don't rule heaven, even if they think that is the way to go. There is variety. All are unique. It's all good. Peace, brother.
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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nibbler
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by nibbler » 31 Oct 2016, 10:56

Vincent53 wrote:I'm very much an introvert and I've always felt like an alien in a church that pushes me to be an extrovert. I like to be alone, that's how I recharge my batteries. I have remained faithful because I believed I "knew" it was all true. I've always thought my quiet introverted demeanor was a flaw that I had to overcome. It has been one of my biggest struggles, I've often left Sunday services feeling drained and depressed, but I kept going because I thought I had a testimony and felt obligated to live up to the covenants I made. I always looked to Ether 12:27 as my promise from the Lord that if I just tried hard enough and long enough then He would take away this flawed personality of mine and I'd be the leader he wants me to be.
I could have written this myself. In my more orthodox days I felt that a part of perfection involved becoming an extrovert. I might not have used those labels, introvert vs. extrovert, but that was what was going on. The path became a choice between being miserable by pushing myself to play the part of an extrovert or being miserable because I wasn't trying hard enough to play the part of an extrovert. It was a no-win scenario where I felt bad being me or I felt bad being anything other than me.

I've prattled on about this before but in Mormon culture it often feels like there's a constant pressure for everyone to conform, to essentially be the same body part in the body of Christ. There's no real space for a hand to be a hand or a foot to be a foot, there's a pressure for everyone to be an eye. That's great for the people that are already eyes but people that are more comfortable being a foot feel pressure on all sides. It doesn't help matters when it seems like all the people that are in a position to set the goals for the feet are eyes.

We often measure successes at church from a very narrow perspective. "The eyes have it." Meaning if you are already an eye how good you are at being an eye becomes the measure of success. If you are a foot you feel as though you will never measure up, even though the foot performs a vital function and is successful in its own right. A foot can move the body and give the eye a new vantage point to view things differently... but if everyone is an eye there is nothing to move the body, there is only one view, one perspective.

That's the thing though, the church really isn't set up for introverts. Over the last several years I've gotten better at accepting me for me. I think it takes a while to stop measuring yourself against what it means to be a successful eye and start the process of discovering what body part you are. I don't think the constant calls to measure myself against being a good eye will ever go away at church but I feel free to ignore them now.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
— Henry David Thoreau

NightSG
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by NightSG » 31 Oct 2016, 13:30

nibbler wrote:I don't think the constant calls to measure myself against being a good eye will ever go away at church but I feel free to ignore them now.
Trouble is, you get in the habit of ignoring stuff, more just keeps getting added to the list. Next thing you know, you're sitting in Sacrament meeting in your Speedo drinking a margarita.

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LookingHard
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by LookingHard » 31 Oct 2016, 13:52

NightSG wrote:
nibbler wrote:I don't think the constant calls to measure myself against being a good eye will ever go away at church but I feel free to ignore them now.
Trouble is, you get in the habit of ignoring stuff, more just keeps getting added to the list. Next thing you know, you're sitting in Sacrament meeting in your Speedo drinking a margarita.
You say that like it is a bad thing! :-)

Actually the speedo thing isn't good :shock: :wtf: :crazy:

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Reasons to stay?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 31 Oct 2016, 22:09

Thanks. Now I have to go scrub my brain with soap. :o

I will try to comment more directly later. It is late, and I need to log off.
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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