Help me find meaning...

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
DoubtingTom
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Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Help me find meaning...

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Apr 2017, 09:20

I am starting this post as a plea for help in finding personal meaning in the church. For those who, like me, have lost faith in many of the literal aspects of the church, what gives meaning or significance to church attendance? How is the church helpful in your life? Right now I attend for marital harmony and out of a sense of obligation to fulfill my calling. However, as my literal faith in the church collapses, the personal meaning for myself is also dissintegrating, and I would love to hear how those in the community continue to make it meaningful. I know there are many who maintain a firm belief in God and Jesus as Savior, but my faith in those concepts is also wavering and even though I have committed to my wife to continue to attend, I would love to find ways to make that attendance meaningful, and honestly, it's a struggle right now. Thanks.

(And if this has been discussed elsewhere, please let me know)

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Heber13
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Heber13 » 05 Apr 2017, 09:36

I know how you feel and it can be a good question to ponder and search for and it may take time to land in a place you can answer that for yourself.

Don't force it. Let it come to you.

The good thing you have going for you is your are not bound by a set of creeds on what truth is. You can find truth in the church that is truly meaningful to you.

For me, it surrounds serving and loving and teaching others. All other things about church are details to be wrestled with, but ultimately unimportant. It is about others and connecting to others, sometimes in spite of the things being said in the church.

Hold on to that which is good. Shed the rest. It's a process.
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."

Roadrunner
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Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Roadrunner » 05 Apr 2017, 09:50

DoubtingTom wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 09:20
What gives meaning or significance to church attendance? How is the church helpful in your life?
I'm in a similar place as you as far as why I still attend church. It's mostly out of obligation to my wife and my calling, but also a desire to serve others and "soften" church stances for my kids and for the youth. This may be a little ego-centric but I believe that I'm able to help the youth in my ward (I'm in a youth leadership calling) experience a kinder more diverse experience in church. I do enjoy time with the youth, especially the more active, outdoor activities which I think are good for them. I've also helped with four funerals in the past 12 months and while funerals are stressful, the church provides a tremendous amount of positive support for active LDS families.

That's not to say I don't chafe at many things - including almost unbearable Sunday commitments - but there are positives for me.

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dande48
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by dande48 » 05 Apr 2017, 09:51

Hi Tom,

We've all got very different experiences, as well as many different beliefs here on StayLDS. But what really helped me, was a book entitled "When Mormons Doubt". It's by Jon Ogden, and you can buy the kindle version on Amazon.com for $2. The basis premis is this:

Just because something isn't true, doesn't mean it isn't good or beautiful. The Church, at least in part, is beautiful and good. Try to wrap your mind around the notion "The Church isn't true." What value does it still provide? Does it make people happy? Does it inspire people to do good, and develop virtue? Can it still cause a TBM to live a happy and fulfilling life? Can a non-believer like myself still be inspired by it?

Another source that really helped give me perspective is the blog at http://www.churchistrue.com/. It's purpose is to help members like us come to terms with the more troubling aspects of the LDS Church, and take on a new paradigm focused on "goodness" rather than "absolute truth".

Best of luck on your journey, my friend.
Last edited by dande48 on 05 Apr 2017, 10:41, edited 1 time in total.

Ann
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Ann » 05 Apr 2017, 10:00

I had to simultaneously narrow in and widen out.

Narrowing in: I love my husband and will not rashly do anything to hurt him or our marriage. From that fact flows a lot. I also got to the point - but this took years - of firmly committing to speak my mind, when appropriate openings occur, at church. Last night I had the sisters over for dinner, and somewhere in the conversation ended up saying that I didn't think single people will have a different reward than married people. Just a small, authentic moment that I wouldn't have allowed myself before.

Widening out: I realized that there is nothing this church, or I as a member of it, is experiencing that hasn't been seen before. i started reading more and seeing myself as a member of the human race instead of a member of a particular church.

You asked if it's been discussed before, and I would say it's this site's reason for being. I hope you find a lot of wisdom poking around in the threads. Glad you're here.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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mom3
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by mom3 » 05 Apr 2017, 10:27

For me the meaning came through spiritual leaders. Some LDS others not. I love "the gospel". Who knows if Jesus was what we have made him, but the basic tenets he taught and lived are the anchor for me. Here's a short list of leaders I've siphoned from.
  • Chieko Okazaki
  • Dieter Uchtdorf
  • Lowell Bennion
  • Eugene England
  • Terryl and Fiona Givens
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Desmond Tutu
  • Richard Rohr (love his stuff)
  • Victor Frankl
  • Jacques Lusseyran
Take your time, breathe, love and give. It will come. Give it time. It's an honor to be handed a faith transition.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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DarkJedi
Posts: 5162
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Apr 2017, 10:34

dande48 wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 09:51
Hi Tom,

We've all got very different experiences, as well as many different beliefs here on StayLDS. But what really helped me, was a book entitled "When Mormons Doubt". It's by Jon Ogden, and you can buy the kindle version on Amazon.com for $2. The basis premis is this:

Just because something isn't true, doesn't mean it isn't good or beautiful. The Church, at least in part, is beautiful and good. Try to wrap your mind around the notion "The Church isn't true." What value does it still provide? Does it make people happy? Does it inspire people to do good, and develop virtue? Can in still cause a TBM to live a happy and fulfilling life? Can a non-believer like myself still be inspired by it?

Another source that really helped give me perspective is the blog at http://www.churchistrue.com/. It's purpose is to help members like us come to terms with the more troubling aspects of the LDS Church, and take on a new paradigm focused on "goodness" rather than "absolute truth".

Best of luck on your journey, my friend.
Very well said, Dande. Thanks for sharing.

I agree with Dande, there is meaning in that the church does allow for some peace and happiness, if not for us as individuals it does so for others. There are opportunities for service, in some places more than others. The church does inspire people to do good and along with many other things it does teach the pure doctrine of Christ (often we just have to weed out the other stuff). I don't have a lot of friends at church. In fact, I believe if you want to find out who your friends are just stop coming for awhile - you will probably be surprised. But the friends I do have a good people who are doing their best to love their neighbors, to serve, and to act on their beliefs. There are others who do the same. I have learned to mostly ignore those who are there for themselves (the Pharisees).

I'm not one who "knows" our Heavenly Father loves me and hears and answers all prayers (I believe he doesn't answer all prayers, actually). I don't even know God exists at all. Likewise, I don't "know" Jesus Christ is the Son of God born to a virgin and all that stuff and I don't "know" that he is my Savior. I do hope God and Jesus both exist and are at least partly what we are taught they are. I'd like to believe more and more deeply, but at this point that's not likely. I "choose to believe" in that sense - simply that I hope it's true.

I don't believe the BoM is a literal historical account, nor literal at all. I believe it is very possible Joseph Smith made it up, along with a lot of other stuff. I find the BoM tedious to read, and much prefer the Bible (which I also believe is mostly not literal). But, I do see that the BoM is a good book that can and does bring people closer to God and Christ. If it works for them, that's great and I can accept that and I can also find good in it.

In the end we all have to find our own path (AKA middle way). It's not all black and white, it's not either true or not true.
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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DoubtingTom
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Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Apr 2017, 10:53

Thanks for the deeply personal responses so far. I can certainly recognize that the church does good for certain people, empowers them to lead better lives, and truly makes them happy. However, I could say the same for most religions and schools of thought. It's hard to find a level of meaning that is motivational for me when I don't believe it the way it's taught. If I have to deconstruct everything and reform it in an unorthodox framework in order to find meaning, wouldn't I be better off finding a new philosophy that doesn't require so much mental contortion?

For now I am committed to continue to attend and I'd love for the process to be at least somewhat enjoyable, meaningful, and inspirational.

DoubtingTom
Posts: 167
Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Apr 2017, 11:05

I find it funny how as a TBM, I often thought, "If I could just get them to see the church as I see it, they'd learn to love the gospel as I do." And now, I find myself feeling similarly in that if I could just help them understand some of these problems as I do, they'd see that these things can't possibly be literal.

I've learned we cannot force others to shift their paradigms to adopt ours. There is beauty in the diversity of experience. But it is human nature to seek out a community of like-minded individuals, and I am finding it harder to feel a desire to fellowship with those whom I assume (perhaps incorrectly) would treat me differently if I revealed where my mind is at. This online community helps though.

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Heber13
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Heber13 » 05 Apr 2017, 12:10

DoubtingTom wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 11:05
There is beauty in the diversity of experience.
There is your meaning. :smile: You know it already. Do you truly believe what you said? If you can take that back to your mormon setting...you can find deep meaning at church by engaging with new eyes on things.

There are some lessons and experiences in life that are best learned by changing paradigms, and seeing it from the different perspectives you have described.

To me, that is how you increase in wisdom...expanding your views on things. And not just thinking it conceptually...but really know it by living by those principles.

I like Ann's narrowing and widening approach...balancing both, and learning from both.

There is meaning to be found...just not the same thing you thought was so important from your previous point of view. Nothing in the external world has to change, not others and their views, not the church, not the world. Change and learning comes from within. God is within us.

Sometimes, there is no other way...and so we choose to go into the lone and dreary world to gain experience by seeing things from a new point of view, and learning new truths that way. I think that is what God wants us to do...which is why he is fine with a faith crisis, and does not rob us of them.
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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