How to be like a duck

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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squarepeg
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How to be like a duck

Post by squarepeg » 11 Jun 2017, 12:59

During most Gospel Doctrine and RS lessons I experience cognitive dissonance at least a dozen times. I think of at least a dozen comments I wish I could make or questions I wish I could ask, that might alleviate the frustration, but would peg me as too llama-ish, and cause some people to even suspect me a wolf. So I keep my thoughts to myself, with the result that my discomfort increases, and I usually end up needing to take the following week "off" and find an isolated spot to read a book during 2nd and 3rd hours.

Example: Last week during RS, a quote was read saying that just as lust is a counterfeit for love, and superstition a counterfeit for faith, gay marriage s a counterfeit for marriage. This made me feel so sad, because I feel that unlike making the choice to exercise faith over superstition, or love over lust, homosexuality seems like less of a choice. And I also feel that many gay couples have a love that is as genuine as the love of any heterosexual couple. The explanation that gay marriage is counterfeit because gay couples cannot reproduce doesn't work well for me because many heterosexual couples cannot reproduce, and I don't think anyone would then conclude that their heterosexual marriage was a fraud. So I said nothing. Today I just feel I cannot go to RS, because even though lots of beautiful and loving and kind things will be taught, I cannot deal well emotionally/mentally with hearing the pieces that don't feel right and being unable to respond.

I need to be like a duck, letting the cold drops of water roll off my back without getting under my feathers. The cumulative droplets seem to seep right through and sit on my duck-skin and give me metaphorical flu so that I stay under my one-duck umbrella for a week or two until I dry out. Some of the rain is warm, and good for duck skin, and I would like to be present in order to be a friend to the other ducks. So I wonder if anyone has developed strategies for being a duck and braving the storm without having to retreat so often. I thought of bringing a notebook and writing down the good and bad bits and my analyses, but I think it could easily be read by people sitting next to me, which would be bad. What might I do instead? Maybe I really am a wolf and have no right pretending to be a duck...or a sheep. How can I make peace inside myself?

Thank you, duck-llamas.

Roy
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by Roy » 11 Jun 2017, 15:24

1) Limit exposure. We all have a limit. I find that I am much more successful at stayingLDS if I am not constantly exposed to stuff that I do not believe (and maybe makes me mad). This can be done by alternating weeks or finding a class that is less upsetting (maybe gospel principles) or staying in the hallway or foyer during class.

2) Have another activity. Maybe a crossword puzzle or an electronic device that will allow you to mentally check-out when necessary for you sanity.

3) Put on your anthropologist hat and imagine yourself as a detached observer. "How interesting that they do X and believe Y, How does the provide meaning for them in their lives and community?"
"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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Willhewonder
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by Willhewonder » 11 Jun 2017, 16:19

I use Cyrillic notation for notes that may be seen by others. Course, you have to know who went where on their mission!

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Jun 2017, 17:44

I pretty much do what Roy does, except I do attend almost every Sunday.

During meetings where I am turned off by the topic or speaker I sometimes prepare my own talk on the subject or a similar one. I also often read GC talks that I like (bookmarked in Gospel Library).

My son's soccer coach was fond of saying to his players on the field when criticizing one another "right message, wrong tone." I fond that is often the case at church when I do speak up. It's not so much what I say but how I say it that governs acceptance or agreement. Obviously there are some things I just can't say, but I do have a bit of street cred in my ward and several ward members who are more open (I was still getting texts today about my testimony last week). I recognize some wards, or at least more vocal individuals, are less tolerant.
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."

My Introduction

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Heber13
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by Heber13 » 12 Jun 2017, 15:09

squarepeg wrote:
11 Jun 2017, 12:59
Maybe I really am a wolf and have no right pretending to be a duck...or a sheep. How can I make peace inside myself?
Good questions. I wrestle finding inner peace often while at church. I often find when I struggle the most, it is a sign I am out of balance.

Bringing myself back into balance is a continual effort, often while I'm taking the sacrament and pondering things with my god.

Here are some things that help me from storming out of lessons:

1) Step back and fact check and observe. Often the things I hear people say are triggers in me, something about me I can consider and think about and learn from...not as much what others say themselves which is about them. If someone says the moon landing was all a fake and staged by the government...I easily dismiss it because either I don't care about that subject or I don't believe the other person, I have my own opinions and that is ok. But if someone makes a judgmental statement about gay marriage...my hairs on the back of my neck go up. Why? Because that is about me and my feelings. I try to observe these things, not because they go away...but because I better understand. I don't need to be angry at another person, or the church in general, but just see it for what it is. Someone's comment. They are entitled to it. And I am entitled to mine. It's ok. Often I find I heard them wrong or took it wrong, because it was something I was processing through my lens of a topic I care about...and not actually what they said. Or maybe they did say it...but I'm still processing meaning behind it...whereas they don't intend to make it sound so hateful as I am worked up about. So...I can check those things. I'm often doing many of these exercises during class...writing notes, checking scriptures, checking conference talks...fact finding on sources...not making emotional assumptions.

2) I try to compliment others. I found for a while that while I was proud of myself for going to church, I was really going to church looking for the things others say that bug me, or passively waiting for the things I can take issue with and correct in others. This was not healthy for me. I am not proud of myself for being a wolf that can keep it under wraps at church. No. It is better than I drop the labels and the judgments and realize I'm mormon like everyone else, am allowed to be there like everyone else...and should be looking for the good in others...like everyone else should. My best way to do that is to compliment others often. I hear comments about loving our neighbors, about not judging, about not blindly following leaders....and OK...I hear other people say "follow the prophet he knows the way" and that "gay marriage is a sin"...but...I can focus on complimenting others when they make the comments I like to hear, and be the duck to let the others roll away when I'm looking for the good in others, not biting my nails clenched, waiting for a hateful comment (which is surely to come at some point). Find common ground...and build on that.

3) Often I remind myself that God loves me. Maybe I'm a wolf. Maybe a lost sheep. Maybe a duck, or a llama. Whatever I am, God loves me. I read passages like Moses Chapter 1, and how Moses sees himself as God's child. That is my true potential. That is who I am. Satan wants to call me "son of man" and have me think I am not of divine origin...but I can tell him to get behind me. Negative thoughts should be cast behind me. I try to focus on God loves me, even as I am. And that is good enough for me. Even if others don't approve of me, I can set that in perspective, knowing I care about what God thinks of me, more than what others think of me. I remind myself of this often...sometimes not even paying attention to the class. Love is the root of spirituality.

...finally...if all those are not working for me...sometimes I just mail it in at church...check out or sit and listen and do nothing.

As the story from Buddha goes...
Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days.

While they were traveling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples:

“I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”

The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid.

The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be ... and the mud settled down on its own, and you got clear water! Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be... Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
As this last beautiful story about the Buddha points out, when our mind is disturbed, just let it be and it will settle down on its own…

As Jesus himself once said, “This too shall pass”…

Everything passes away so there is really no need to cling to every upsetting moment more than it's necessary, just let it be, it too shall pass.

I should add...as a tender mercy...just 2 weeks ago...I had someone after class tell me they appreciate me being in the ward, that my views and comments are often not the normal things people say in the lesson manuals. My alternative view is refreshing and they are so glad to have my voice in the ward. I think what they were really saying was that they know I'm deeply flawed based on things I say, and my examples of not doing everything perfect. It makes them feel better to know they are not the only one that struggles at church.

I deeply appreciated being called the example of imperfection in the ward...because truly...that is me. They see me more clearly if they see me that way. And that feels good, rather than trying to keep up appearances. :D
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."

squarepeg
Posts: 57
Joined: 17 Feb 2017, 12:51

Re: How to be like a duck

Post by squarepeg » 13 Jun 2017, 20:20

You guys are the best. Thank you for the thorough replies.

There are so many great suggestions. I can do these! The ones I want to try first:

* Don my anthropologist hat.
* Prep a talk on the subject.
* Practice mentally changing the wording and tone of a thought, so that if I do verbalize it, it can come across in the right spirit and not wolf-like.
* Be a good student by digging and fact-checking.
* Focus on positives.

I wish I knew Cyrillic notation! I had to look it up on Wikipedia. I'm so jealous.

Heber13 wrote:
12 Jun 2017, 15:09

3) Often I remind myself that God loves me. Maybe I'm a wolf. Maybe a lost sheep. Maybe a duck, or a llama. Whatever I am, God loves me. I read passages like Moses Chapter 1, and how Moses sees himself as God's child. That is my true potential. That is who I am. Satan wants to call me "son of man" and have me think I am not of divine origin...but I can tell him to get behind me. Negative thoughts should be cast behind me. I try to focus on God loves me, even as I am. And that is good enough for me. Even if others don't approve of me, I can set that in perspective, knowing I care about what God thinks of me, more than what others think of me. I remind myself of this often...sometimes not even paying attention to the class. Love is the root of spirituality.
Thanks for this bit, Heber13. I need to remember that He loves me, still, in my frustration.

I want to be like the water in that story of the Buddha, and I agree that it works to just let things be, but I feel like the water gets sludgy every Sunday, while it takes two weeks to clear, lol.

Ray DeGraw
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by Ray DeGraw » 14 Jun 2017, 07:12

If the water somoene else tries to give you is sludgy, set it aside without drinking it and drink instead directly from the source - or as close to it as you can get.

That is not just a mindset. It is a practice that can become a habit.
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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mom3
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by mom3 » 14 Jun 2017, 09:43

A couple of weeks ago in RS the teacher, who is a new member in our ward, mentioned that her husband often wants to make comments to correct a misunderstood history or such but he is afraid to. My ward friend sitting next to me, whispered her husband, who is our Stake Exec. Sec. also has that struggle. Neither of these men are faith transitioners. From all conversations, etc. they are "regular" members - even they struggle with lessons taught. They want to speak up but just can't quite figure out how.

So the problem isn't just ours.

I can only add that I do speak up. The first few times it happened years ago, I didn't do it well. I actually biffed it. The RS president at that time said she found herself correcting me all the time. A teacher had a public blow up during her lesson because of me. I take full responsibility. I even tried to apologize but it she didn't want it. We are now a few years past and some other incidents not related to my comments, coupled with her kind heart have softened the wound. (I can't say healed because she may inside still wrestle with it but she doesn't treat me that way outwardly). However, now a decade later, I have learned to llama-speak. Like anything else it takes practice. I also choose carefully and I try to balance my comments. I make sure when I can support a traditional model, I try to add support comments to that lesson, as well as to the ones where I am white knuckling it. (Often now when I make a non-traditional comment I get whispers of "Thanks" or winks, etc. It's all in the delivery. Love goes a long way, even on thorny issues).

Like the above mentions I bring "reading material". I carry Chieko Okazaki talks and books with me. And following DJ's idea have selected talks or LDS articles I can read while I am in class. I also read The Given's books, Buddhism books, Richard Rohr books.
"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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nibbler
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Re: How to be like a duck

Post by nibbler » 14 Jun 2017, 13:51

I'm pretty sure people at church view me as either a sloth or a goat.

Did you do your HTing this month nibbler?

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I hereby place an order for one cheese pizza. -nibbler

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