Bipolar attitude towards the Church

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dande48
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Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by dande48 » 07 May 2017, 21:03

Lately, I've noticed I've been having a very bi-polar attitude towards the Church. I think it all started when I transitioned from "secret non-believer" to "semi-open non-believer". All-in-all, I've got a pretty great ward. The bishopbric keeps their distance, and the EQP invites me to all the activies. Some members won't talk to me, some try to re-convert me, and some have been the nicest, most friendly people before and after.

Some days, I feel like the Church can still be a positive influence, and has a lot to offer (even if it isn't true). I'm grateful I was raised in it, and for all it has taught me. Other days, I feel angry, betrayed, and taken advantage of. I feel attacked from all sides. Some days, I feel overcome with resentment, like I need to cut myself off from the Church, if I am ever going to heal. In reality, the Church is a mix of positive and negative. I TRY to take what good I can, and ignore the rest. But too often I feel like I'm hyper-focused on either the good or the bad.

Have any of you felt this way? How do you develop a healthy, consistant view of the Church in unorthodoxy? I'm having the hardest time "staying LDS"... help?

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SilentDawning
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by SilentDawning » 07 May 2017, 23:09

dande48 wrote:
07 May 2017, 21:03
In reality, the Church is a mix of positive and negative. I TRY to take what good I can, and ignore the rest. But too often I feel like I'm hyper-focused on either the good or the bad.

Have any of you felt this way? How do you develop a healthy, consistant view of the Church in unorthodoxy? I'm having the hardest time "staying LDS"... help?
I think it starts with understanding what you can accept and what you can't. For me, I love the way the church nurtures youth and provides other good youth with whom my children can interact. Mormons are generally good people, although they can be a judgmental lot whose love is very conditional on towing the Mormon line.

The bad stuff -- too much to mention, but a big part for me is all the time wasted in service to the organization, the conditional love for members based on full TR-holding, and some of the doctrine -- particularly the inspired leader and obedience part of it.

To keep a healthy balance, minimize the amount of face time you have with the bad stuff while being active in ways that are positive. I find that putting on service activities, and doing good in the church in ways that are independent is a GREAT way to stay positive without seeing all the negatives. When you put on a young women's fundraiser, nobody is bearing their testimony of JS -- they are working together to make the evening a success. When I teach Teachers' Council, it's about the nuts and bolts of teaching, not about obeying leaders, etcetera. There are a lot of sweet spots like that where you can experience the goodness of the church without being in the thick of those things that you object to.

I think it's a lot like white water canoeing. There is a technique where you are traveling downstream, with the the current, moving fast. That's like being stuck in the mainstream attitudes of the church, doctrine, etcetera. In the river are large rocks. The person in the bow can stick their paddle behind one of those rocks, stabilizing the front of the canoe in the calm eddy behind the rock. At this point, the current will swing rear of the canoe around, and th entire vessel will rest peacefully behind the rock where there is no current. It faces upstream, but sits there in the calm eddy, completely independent of the current.

I think the ways I have learned to interact with the church is a lot like the way a canoe sits in a quiet eddy, enjoying calm unorthodoxy that goes against the prevailing current. Find those sweet spots in our life and interaction with the church.
"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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Reuben
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by Reuben » 08 May 2017, 01:45

Nice analogy! Also, I learned today that the same things that bug SD the most also bug me the most.

I don't feel like leaving the Church anymore, but some days I get pushed to the edge and really want an excuse. We're ridiculously blind and deaf when it comes to the effects of our relentless boundary maintenance.

I get up and leave meetings sometimes. I don't have to as often as I used to. But last stake conference, I was mysteriously absent for sustaining Church officers. I'd raise my hand high for my local leaders, but the others...

Also last stake conference, I wrote down a critique of a very McConkie-style talk on consecration. (False dichotomies including harmful boundary maintenance, oppressing the poor.) The bishop who gave it even quoted Mormon Doctrine. I erased it from my phone the next day. I think writing it down let me get past it sooner - I could tune out and read the book I brought.

Speaking of, I had brought the book Daring Greatly, just in case I needed to mentally check out. Fantastic book. Turns out I didn't need to dive into it so much as just wanted to. The idea here is to "trade up." A purely entertaining book wouldn't have done that - I want to work on my soul at church.

I've asked to be the Primary pianist. I have no idea whether the indoctrination would drive me crazy, but at least I'd get to keep tabs on it. I want to do something useful, doing this would help our overworked Primary presidency (one of whom has been playing weekly instead of doing sharing time), and playing the songs in jazz and blues style will be subtly subversive and might even teach the kids that reverence includes developing and sharing your talents. :D
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before sanctity or certainty.

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LookingHard
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by LookingHard » 08 May 2017, 05:50

Oh boy do I have a bi-polar reaction to the church right now. Feeling that I am on a path to eventually being way more "out" and even not attending, I realize that I am going to miss the relationships that I have been warned will vanish. I do see where the church does good. For those in it, it can be a very good community. I really like the statement, "when you are in the church bubble and it is working for you, it is GREAT. But when it doesn't work for you it can be extremely troubling."

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nibbler
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by nibbler » 08 May 2017, 05:56

You know when doctors test a person's reflexes? They bang the little hammer on your kneecap and your leg jerks a tiny bit. They do this to test whether or not you have nerve damage. The context here is important to understanding what I'm about to say...

Not my proudest moment but one time in sacrament meeting I was having what I call "a day." The final speaker announced the theme of their talk, "Today I will be talking about the 14 fundamentals of following the prophet." As if by reflex I said, "[expletive deleted] this!" stood up, walked out of the meeting, and went home. To those that heard me, sorry ( :oops: ), but the good news is that I didn't have nerve damage that day. :thumbup:

You're going to have days and that's okay, you should allow yourself to have them.
dande48 wrote:
07 May 2017, 21:03
How do you develop a healthy, consistant view of the Church in unorthodoxy? I'm having the hardest time "staying LDS"... help?
It helps that the church is consistent. E.g. yesterday during Sunday School I lean over to DW and say, "This is the part of the lesson where we usually turn to Doctrine and Covenants section 59." Five seconds later, "Now if you would turn with me to Doctrine and Covenants section 59." Clockwork. In fact that's what bugs me about church more than ANYTHING these days... the predictability. But the predictability can work to your advantage.

For instance. Earlier this year we were rehashing the first vision and high-level retellings of the major events of the restoration again, and again, and again. One Sunday they start priesthood off with, "Today we are going to be watching a video of Joseph Smith and the first vision." That time I was able to stand up, expletive free, and calmly walk out of the room. I wasn't triggered, I had just had my "fill" of hearing the same story. After all, I'm not stuck on some desert island where I'm only allowed to take my favorite movie and four favorite books and those are the only stories I have access to.

I think that's one thing that can help. We're not obligated to stay in class and we shouldn't feel like we need an excuse to leave a class. We don't need a crying baby and we don't need to act like we need to go to the bathroom. Just get up and leave. It gets easier each time you do it.

The 3 hour block is the 3 hour block and is mostly predictable. The predictability can be a curse and a blessing. For the most part you know how people are going to act in an environment that they feel is the one true church.

For me it's been an adjustment. Before I might have attended lessons and meetings looking for a more academic approach to increasing my spirituality, the "what can I learn from this lesson" approach. Now I try to attend lessons to increase in a different type of spirituality, spirituality where I connect with others... because I'd be 110% fine with finding a cave in a mountain, building a huge wall around the mountain, and setting some (loyal to me) mountain lions loose on the premises just in case anyone ever got past the wall. I'd quickly turn into a nutter in my isolation, so I might try to StayLDS to ground myself in reality... for now. I find my reasons for staying LDS change all the time... and there are some days I don't even have a reason. You weather the good with the bad.
The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. - Sydney J. Harris

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Heber13
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by Heber13 » 08 May 2017, 10:21

dande48 wrote:
07 May 2017, 21:03
Have any of you felt this way? How do you develop a healthy, consistant view of the Church in unorthodoxy?
I'm not sure if I have felt exactly like that, but there have been many times I have peaks and valleys in my desire to want to be there.

Two things help me:
1) Remembering the peaks, making note of them (in a journal) and/or sharing them with my wife and family. A few weeks ago this happened, and it seemed church was very spiritual to me...there was talk of Christ, and talk of not judging others who stop attending our meetings, talk of real gospel principles. And I wrote those down, proud of our church for continuing to strive for good things. It reminds me why I want to keep something positive in my life, even if it is not an every week feeling. I often think of 2 Ne 2:11, there must needs be opposition. I can't know joy if I don't have the opposite. Church won't always be the way I want it, but it sometimes can be. It is a paradox of some good, even while all that other stuff is still all there.

I often remind myself during the highs that I can expect it won't stay like that, but I'm glad they're there for me when they happen.
I then remind myself to remember those when the lows come, and that those too shall pass, and there is hope for a better church experience another day, perhaps just think how I want to handle it to maintain my social capital with others in the ward. Leaving, as nibbler did, or staying and reading something on my tablet in class and tuning others out, or walking the halls and finding someone nice to talk to.

As SD said...finding service is a good way to be engaged in something good.

2) The second point is that I try to reflect on things that bother me, and why they bother me, and what that means to me, and what I learn about myself. I sometimes become an observer of myself...whether I react or not, I observe my feelings and acknowledge them. I usually tell myself that this is why it is important to stayLDS. I'm not going to figure out life on my own. I like have church to teach me the gospel of Christ, and now it is up to me to figure out how to apply that to my life. That includes how I will treat my fellow mormons, with my unorthodox beliefs. I don't want to convince others to think like me and I won't let others convince me to be like them. I want a peaceful way to stay and practice religion by accepting the differences and feeling OK about that.

I can't do that if I take my ball and go home and not play with anyone else at the park. I can perhaps have less frustration if I go be by myself. But I can't play a team sport by myself. And this life is a team sport. I have to find a way to play nice with others.

That isn't to say there aren't weeks that you can trade up to go do some other wholesome activities and let church take a back seat 2 or 3 times a month. Little breaks help. But I go back to point #1 (I want the positive experiences) and #2 (I need to practice to deal with others even when church isn't doing it for me).

I think the fact you are reflecting on this and recognizing you are bipolar about it is a good thing. It shows some level of maturity. It is also good to have support from others to check yourself. I do that too...I want to make sure I'm not duplicitous in trying to be myself and give myself permission to believe and feel the way I do, while striving to avoid ref flags and avoid pitfalls that I will later regret.
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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dande48
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by dande48 » 08 May 2017, 14:27

Thank you so much, guys. You've given me a lot to think about. I really appreciated SD's analogy; I just have such a hard time listening to things I feel are "harmful" and having to keep quiet about it.
nibbler wrote:
08 May 2017, 05:56
" As if by reflex I said, "[expletive deleted] this!" stood up, walked out of the meeting, and went home.
Haha, you've done what I've felt like doing on so many occasions. God bless you, Nibbler!
Heber13 wrote:
08 May 2017, 10:21
... staying and reading something on my tablet in class and tuning others out...
My wife HATES it when I do this. But more often than not, I feel it helps.

Roy
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by Roy » 08 May 2017, 15:39

Church for me is an exercise in cost benefit analysis. Unfortunately if the church is not the only path to salvation the costs can become very unwieldy very quickly. The good news is that you can manage those costs.

I would not be able to be a bishop and StayLDS. I would just implode. Therefore if called to be bishop I should just say no.

That is a fairly extreme example but the principle holds true throughout. Being Gospel Doctrine teacher? No thanks. Attending the full 3 hour block? No thanks. Paying 10% of gross income in tithing? No thanks. Feeling guilty about watching a rated R movie or shopping on Sunday? No thanks. Serving as bear den cub scout leader? Sure! Setting up HT appointments and going out with my companion? Why not? Helping to set up and tear down for the ward Christmas party? Count me in.

The bad news is that by reducing level of commitment to the church some of the benefits also decrease. However, I personally feel that I have reached a point of tranquility - a point where the costs and the benefits are stable and sustainable.
"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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SilentDawning
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by SilentDawning » 10 May 2017, 06:56

Roy wrote:
08 May 2017, 15:39
The bad news is that by reducing level of commitment to the church some of the benefits also decrease. However, I personally feel that I have reached a point of tranquility - a point where the costs and the benefits are stable and sustainable.
I agree. There is an equilibrium state where the costs and benefits seem equal. At that point, it's possible to sustain commitment. When I felt in my bones the only way to return to God and achieve the highest level of salvation was the church, it seemed almost worth it (except tithing). When I started seeing chinks in the church's position, it grew less and less worth it. When I got exposed to people and leaders who showed patterns of unkindness, the gospel didn't seem worth $X,000 a year. Now it seems worth the time I'm giving it, mostly because of its influence on my marriage and my children, and the fact that my daughter is getting some good experiences at BYU.

For me -- help with activities, hold assignments that I'm interested in, support my family, take my son to YM activities, do one or two HT families a month -- yes. Tithing, garments, high pressure callings, moving, massive home teaching lists, last minute calls for service where you have to drop everything, callings with no end date -- no.
"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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On Own Now
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Re: Bipolar attitude towards the Church

Post by On Own Now » 10 May 2017, 14:14

dande48,

Sure, I think we all feel that way from time to time, nothing unusual about it.

Let me tell you a story and I promise it has some relevance.

Recently, I needed to buy a new sport coat, so, I went into a department store and no one was available to 'help' me. Fine. I perused the jackets that were in my size. I found some really ugly coats, some laughable coats, some that weren't in my style, some OK coats, and a handful of really great coats. I pulled the great looking jackets out, went over to a mirror and tried them on. There were several that were really nice, but I only needed one. Eventually, I wound up buying two that were both very nice.

On other occasions, I have had people help me as I shopped. I remember one 20-something clerk that had not-too-long before arrived as an immigrant from Iraq. Nice kid. Hard worker, well dressed, completely dedicated to helping me for as long as I needed. It was a great experience, and I bought a lot of stuff. Another time, more recently, I was 'helped' by a different young clerk who was irritating and in a hurry. I didn't enjoy the experience (or buy anything from him).

So, to me, here is the key that helps me be more... chill... about the Church:

- Don't join everything into one single picture. I didn't have to buy ALL the jackets, and I only tried on those that I liked. The fact that there was an ugly jacket on the rack doesn't mean that there wasn't another jacket that suited me. I noticed the ugly jackets, but I moved on and found some I liked a lot.

- Don't worry about what other people find to be the right style. Somebody must like those ugly jackets or they wouldn't be out on the rack. In fact, when those people shop there, they probably don't like the jackets that I choose either. It is of no consequence to me. I find what I like. They find what they like. Some styles suite older people, some younger people. Some colors look better on me, some colors look better on other people.

- Allow that people are people, in or out of the Church. Some people I've interacted with in stores have been great. Others have been the opposite. I still keep shopping.

- Relegate the Church to its proper position in your life. I didn't really NEED a new sport coat. I don't really NEED help when I am looking for a new jacket. Having been acclimated (from birth or by later commitment) to the Church, most of us come from a background where the Church was hugely important in our lives. What we wear, what we consume, how we spend our money, how we perform service, solve problems, find a spouse, act at work... it is a major element of our psyche. What we have to learn to do, IMO, is to let it loosen its grip on us. We don't NEED the Church to tell us how to live our lives. We are taught in the Church itself, that we are agents unto ourselves, able to recognize the Light of Christ and do that which is good. The Church is just an organization/community, we can use it for our own benefit, without letting it hold sway on every aspect of our thinking. When we treat it as nothing more than a framework and ourselves as the true actors in our lives, then it's much easier to find the good jackets and ignore the others.
"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

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