Help me find meaning...

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Holy Cow
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Holy Cow » 05 Apr 2017, 12:51

Heber13 wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 12:10
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.
That's a great way to put it. I just had a quote from Bruce Lee pop up in my Facebook feed: "I do not believe in styles anymore. I do not believe that there is such thing as the Chinese way of fighting or the Japanese way of fighting or whatever way of fighting...because styles tend to not only separate man, you know, because they have their own doctrines and the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But, if you do not have styles, if you just say 'here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely?' Now that way you won't create a style because style is a crystallization, you know, I mean that way, it's a process of continuing growth."

Of course, he wasn't talking about religion, but I think what he's saying really fits this conversation. Once we've found ourselves in a place where we don't really find meaning in being LDS the way we once did, we're free to find that meaning in any way that will benefit us. It really opens up our options. We can let go of the things that were once so black-and-white, and we can adjust our manner of worship to something that brings more meaning to us individually. Then, our relationship with God (in whatever form we feel that may be), is something that we define, without the church being an intermediary.
My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6139

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SilentDawning
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by SilentDawning » 05 Apr 2017, 14:05

DoubtingTom wrote:
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)
Obligation to family is a big one for me. Plus it seems to make my daughter and my wife happy, so I go for their sake.

I also find meaning in the fact that I teach the teacher's council. I have long believed the church experience to be among the most boring I have ever experienced in recent years, and as a professional educator it's even more difficult for me to tolerate the lame lessons, repetition, one-way communication we get at church all the time. So, to go in there and help fix the problem, and actually see some results from it, is rewarding.

So, is there some way you can contribute for its own sake? For me, helping church be less boring, in any context, is of value, so I find that motivating. Do you enjoy putting on social activities and helping people feel part of a community for its own sake? Find ways you can contribute that you find intrinsically motivating and then do that. And don't be afraid to say "no" to all the poorly thought out callings they may extend you. When they ask you to do something, think about the extent to which it makes you happy -- with happiness defined as coming from many different sources, not all selfish either. That has really helped me.

My last bit of advice is to minimize the church in your life if it's just not working. Don't cut it out entirely, but minimize your role in favor of other good things you do for your community or humankind. That has helped. The church footprint is weeny in my life now. I think about it maybe a couple hours a week when I'm preparing for teacher's council or dealing with issues that come up, and that's it. My life is now full of service I enjoy.

It's kind of like this. You have something you do that fills up all your free time. And you don't like it. So, you contain it to a much lesser part of your life, and fill up the balance with joy-inducing activities. All of a sudden that little bit of church in your life doesn't seem all that intolerable any longer....that's what has worked for me...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Heber13
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Heber13 » 05 Apr 2017, 14:08

Holy Cow wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 12:51
Once we've found ourselves in a place where we don't really find meaning in being LDS the way we once did, we're free to find that meaning in any way that will benefit us. It really opens up our options. We can let go of the things that were once so black-and-white, and we can adjust our manner of worship to something that brings more meaning to us individually. Then, our relationship with God (in whatever form we feel that may be), is something that we define, without the church being an intermediary.
Bingo! That is when religion is bigger than church. Religion is about our life experience and how we approach it, how we apply it to our lives. Church is like a gym where we go to practice and exercise and workout...but is not real life. And there is not only one workout routine, we can do it however we need to.

Once I separate out church and gospel, and church and religion in my life, I can return to church and hear statements like this from the church:
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described how gospel principles can benefit us: “Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances”

“As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. … It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” 86).(“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86).
...and that speaks to me. That makes me feel like I see the church teachings differently than I did before...but...actually...what they are saying is good stuff I can use in my life.

Focus on the principles...not the details. And as Holy Cow puts it..."we're free to find that meaning in a way that will benefit us. It really opens our options."

We begin to own our religion, our testimony, our truth. It becomes mine. And I bet, DT...how you find ways to do it will be different than how I find I do it. And there's beauty in that.
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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On Own Now
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by On Own Now » 05 Apr 2017, 15:13

Wow, really great, concentrated approaches in this thread. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts.

I'd like to add that one issue I had when I was first thrust into all this was that I found certain things very grating. Anytime someone would talk about the Nephites or tithing, or would use black & white terms, or mix politics with their faith... Ugh... I just got very annoyed by that stuff. But over time, I came to realize that this is just their voicing of their own core beliefs. There's nothing wrong with people having a faith and then expressing it. I started to see myself as being a guest among a strong religious community, and I now feel more at peace about the difference between them and me. Not saying that I don't still get annoyed now and then, but it's a lot less frequent, and that has helped me to see the good more readily. In doing so, I can pretty freely just ignore stuff I don't accept. I don't very often have to make conscious effort to deconstruct anything. I just ignore what doesn't resonate, absorb what does, and find my own experience at Church, defined by my own beliefs. I've often said here that the Church, for me, is more like a framework. I have my own, independent beliefs, but the Church works fine for me as a community. In fact, a term that is used a lot here is that the Church is like our "tribe". It's familiar and comfortable. It's pretty easy for me now to stay connected to my tribe and yet have my own, unique beliefs, as long as I don't constantly draw lines of distinction between their beliefs and my beliefs.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Apr 2017, 17:43

I love how I view our theology, since I see it incredibly expansive and open to evolution through increased light and knowledge.

Seriously, I love it FAR more than anything else in Christianity. I have to include "how I see" and not just "the theology" - but I truly do love how I see the theology.

I love almost all of the people.

I love the safe upbringing the Church gave me.

I love the fact that I see tendencies in my extended family that normally would lead to extensive addiction issues - but, almost completely, did not due to the Word of Wisdom.

I love being able to be a voice for people who are different - being able to give them something that validates them and helps them realize they have a place.

I love the complicated Joseph Smith - much more than the one-dimensional stereotypes portrayed by the extremely orthodox Mormons and the anti-Mormons.

There is a lot, even as I recognize and try to influence the negative aspects.
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: Help me find meaning...

Post by dande48 » 05 Apr 2017, 19:18

DoubtingTom wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 10:53
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.
Maybe. Maybe not. It all comes down to, what makes you happiest. What gives your life meaning?

No one can stay 100% orthodox in the LDS Church. You've got apostles, who directly disobey the direction of the First Presidency. You've got prophecies, coming from Prophets which failed (unless you want to do some serious reframing). You've got historical discrepancies. You've got changing doctrine. And that's all okay!We're learning and growing together.

As far as other religions/philosophies go, PLEASE look into them. Study them. Pull out all the good you can from them!
Eastern religions have been very helpful in my faith transition; Especially Bhuddism. They are unique in that they never claim to be the ones with the "absolute truth". Bhuddism was founded by a man claiming to be nothing more than a man; not a God, not an incarnation of a God, not inspired by God, but a man. Bhuddha taught that no one has an absolute monopoly on truth. The truth he taught was "what worked for him", and that no teaching of "truth" should be held to so tightly. We're all meant to learn and grow together.

If interested, a good starting point would be "What Bhudda Taught". It's free, on public domain.
https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~buddhism/do ... Taught.pdf
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

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DarkJedi
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Apr 2017, 19:45

On Own Now wrote:
05 Apr 2017, 15:13
Wow, really great, concentrated approaches in this thread. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts.

I'd like to add that one issue I had when I was first thrust into all this was that I found certain things very grating. Anytime someone would talk about the Nephites or tithing, or would use black & white terms, or mix politics with their faith... Ugh... I just got very annoyed by that stuff. But over time, I came to realize that this is just their voicing of their own core beliefs. There's nothing wrong with people having a faith and then expressing it. I started to see myself as being a guest among a strong religious community, and I now feel more at peace about the difference between them and me. Not saying that I don't still get annoyed now and then, but it's a lot less frequent, and that has helped me to see the good more readily. In doing so, I can pretty freely just ignore stuff I don't accept. I don't very often have to make conscious effort to deconstruct anything. I just ignore what doesn't resonate, absorb what does, and find my own experience at Church, defined by my own beliefs. I've often said here that the Church, for me, is more like a framework. I have my own, independent beliefs, but the Church works fine for me as a community. In fact, a term that is used a lot here is that the Church is like our "tribe". It's familiar and comfortable. It's pretty easy for me now to stay connected to my tribe and yet have my own, unique beliefs, as long as I don't constantly draw lines of distinction between their beliefs and my beliefs.
I feel this way too, especially regarding the deconstructing part. You just articulated it much better than I could. I have seen a great deal of growth in myself from three years ago when I thought I could not deal with these things I thought (or knew) not to be true but had to listen to for three hours every Sunday. I just came to the point where it doesn't matter. I can believe in a figurative Jonah while the guy next to me believes in the literal Jonah (and fish) and get can still get the same message as he does. Reframing things has become much more automatic - the guy at the pulpit is talking literal Adam & Eve, but I hear figurative/symbolic. They speak sheepese, I can understand and speak sheepese - but I'm a llama and in my head it's all llamaese.
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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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Apr 2017, 20:55

These are all really great. I'm going to have to go back and read some of these responses several times. It gives me great comfort to know some of you have been on this path for years now and have found things to get better, more enjoyable, and more meaningful along the way. I will try to think of myself as still an infant (or maybe a toddler) in my faith transition. The shockwaves of that transition are still cycling through and sometimes I feel hit by seemingly overwhelming waves of grief - similar to the feeling of the loss of a loved one. I am still waiting for the resurrection of a new and more glorious gospel perspective that so many of you seem to have found, but mostly I just feel a sense of loss.

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nibbler
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Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by nibbler » 06 Apr 2017, 06:24

From your (DoubtingTom) responses it sounds like you've already got things figured out. ;)

About a year ago there was a thread called Staying Despite Disbelief. I'd mostly be repeating something I posted in that thread, maybe I'd change the language a little to better reflect current thoughts or edit things for the sake of clarity, but it's mostly still there.

To be a little more lighthearted about things, not take the journey so deathly serious all the time, I'd say:

The phrase is "monkey see, monkey do" not "monkey hear, monkey internalize" (or "monkey hear, monkey rebut" ;) ). Most of the monkeys at church are doing good things, hopefully some of that will rub off on me. Who knows, maybe I can do good things and it will rub off on the other monkeys. Sure there are monkeys doing good everywhere and sometimes monkeys like to throw their ...I'll end the analogy there... but to quote Hanno Luschin, "[Monkeys], stand close together and lift where you stand."

Some of the expectations to do at church feel like it isn't accomplishing anything other than feeding a program for the sake of feeding a program but every once in a while a real need arises and there's a community there as a safety net with lots of practice that was obtained from feeding programs.
all sinners, a future, all saints, a past, beginning, the ending, return to ash

DoubtingTom
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Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Re: Help me find meaning...

Post by DoubtingTom » 06 Apr 2017, 07:25

Nibbler, I would definitely not say I've got it figured out, but thanks for the vote of confidence! I think I could enjoy this process a lot more and even take it a little light heartedly (which is more my nature anyway) if I didn't feel so much outside pressure, specifically related to family. But I am trying to enjoy it as much as possible. Some days are better than others. I like how Mom3 referred to the "gift" of having a faith transition.

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