Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Beefster
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Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by Beefster » 22 Jan 2018, 09:05

I realized yesterday that the missionary spirit still in me stems from a desire to fix what I see wrong with the culture of the church. I want to graft in new branches with new ideas because I see the church as stagnant.

I was thinking just now what might be underneath that.

I think I'm bargaining.

I want to stick with the tribe I was born into because it's much simpler and easier on family relationships and friends. Yet I'm finding it increasingly more difficult to align with a church that, while good, does not mesh well with my particular brand of heterodoxy. Perhaps in a last ditch effort, I'm believing that if I can fix problems X, Y, and Z, I can feel okay about sticking with it.

I'm still not sure if this means that the right course of action for me is to make my peace with the church and leave, but I suppose I'll figure that out as time goes on. I'm in for some depression soon if I'm right about being in the bargaining phase.

I can see the Denial and Anger looking back. When this FC first hit me, I thought to myself "Oh this is only cultural things. My faith crisis is nothing that will drive me out of the church". That was denial. Anger was my phase here when I was complaining about all the problems with the church. And now I'm hoping that if I fix the church, it can be right for me again. Or "maybe if I marry the right girl who understands me, I can continue to be a part of the church for her."

I can't help but feel that these are all the wrong reasons to continue being active LDS.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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LookingHard
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by LookingHard » 22 Jan 2018, 09:57

I would just say that if you are going to try and change the church in order for you to feel good, you are going to be frustrated. I find it more helpful to focus on me changing, which could include no longer attending, rather than changing the church. Sure I will try and move the ball a bit where I am at, but I have no assumption that I am going to make a big dent in changing the church. I did at first when my faith crisis hit. I felt like, "If others knew this stuff then tons (most) of the members would leave." I found out ( a ) some people know about some of the "stuff" and still want to stay "in" and ( b ) most members don't even want to know this "stuff".

AmyJ
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by AmyJ » 22 Jan 2018, 10:32

Beefster,
Your thought process makes sense to me.

However, I would remind you of the 2 main mantras of this site:
1. Go slow. Focus on identifying whom you want to be/what your vision is - in or outside the church. You don't have to make huge decisions now.
2. Don't burn any bridges you don't have to until you are 100% sure the bridge has to go.

I am learning that the church has to filter through my narrative and fit my experiences. It used to fit a lot easier, but so far I still find enlightenment from being Mormon, and I still identify with it.

I wish I could help more.

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nibbler
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by nibbler » 22 Jan 2018, 10:59

My comment follows LH's comment.

You can't change other people, only yourself. That goes for all walks of life, not just the church.

Just to throw it out there, there are ways to change yourself and stay in the church and there are ways to change yourself and leave.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold
-Jesus

Roy
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by Roy » 22 Jan 2018, 14:49

I remember reading "Believing Christ" early in my FC. It was amazing because it presented a much more Grace centered faith structure using predominantly BoM scriptures. It felt like I had just somehow overlooked the true core of the gospel. I had been immaturely focused on the law but now I was set free by grace. This for me could be similar to either denial or bargaining.

It did not take me too terribly long to discover that my new understanding was not received well. The BoM references that teach grace most strongly were minimized/diminished or qualified by modern church leaders in my BoM institute manual. I was believing big tent Mormonism but my church wanted to teach small tent Mormonism. This lead to anger.

Over time I have come to recognize that all the pieces for big tent Mormonism are there (especially if I cherry pick my sources) However I will never receive the same kind of affirmation from my faith community that I did before. I am my own kind of Mormon. I am simultaneously part of the group AND alone in the crowd. That is what stayingLDS means for me. This is my brand of acceptance. "Serenity, to accept the things I can not change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference."
"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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Beefster
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by Beefster » 22 Jan 2018, 18:02

AmyJ wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 10:32
Beefster,
Your thought process makes sense to me.

However, I would remind you of the 2 main mantras of this site:
1. Go slow. Focus on identifying whom you want to be/what your vision is - in or outside the church. You don't have to make huge decisions now.
2. Don't burn any bridges you don't have to until you are 100% sure the bridge has to go.

I am learning that the church has to filter through my narrative and fit my experiences. It used to fit a lot easier, but so far I still find enlightenment from being Mormon, and I still identify with it.

I wish I could help more.
I'm definitely keeping all this in mind. I really do hope that I can make it work somehow, but I struggle to see how that is even possible.

My TBM conditioning makes me constantly wonder what I've done wrong to be led on this road of "apostasy", yet I know that God still loves me and a part of me even feels that this is the right course of action for me. It's all so confusing. My hope is that if I keep going to church, things will work themselves out somehow. And if they don't, I hope that I can find peace with leaving. But that day is in the distant future as far as I can tell. If the day of reckoning comes and I find myself needing to leave the church, I dread the day of "coming out" to my parents, shattering all their hopes and dreams of being part of their eternal family, even though I feel that is not the case.

I've wondered for a while now if this struggle I'm experiencing is similar to being gay and born to TBM parents. I wonder if I have newfound empathy for the LGBT+ community. Perhaps it's even similar to converts born to anti-Mormon parents.

As it stands right now, I do not feel as if the church is working for me. Maybe it will someday. I don't know.

As for other comments, I've definitely realized that trying to fix the church by bringing in converts is going to bring me frustration. Even just "fixing the church" is a recipe for failure. But the only way I know of to fix myself is something that I feel is impossible: magically being able to believe in the way that I once did. (Yet another parallel to a BIC gay. The only way they know to "fix" themselves in the eyes of the church is to magically stop being gay)
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by AmyJ » 23 Jan 2018, 06:47

Beefster wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 18:02
I'm definitely keeping all this in mind. I really do hope that I can make it work somehow, but I struggle to see how that is even possible.

My TBM conditioning makes me constantly wonder what I've done wrong to be led on this road of "apostasy"
How do you know that this road isn't where you are supposed to be to achieve the most amount of enlightenment for you?
If God isn't as involved, then you have the opportunity to own it and make it yours.
If God is as involved, then logically He knows exactly where you are on the road and will guide you if you stumble way out of line.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Esther because of the contradictions it brings out. It takes a series of un-Christlike circumstances (slavery, beauty contests etc) and turns it into a means to rescue the Jews and restore civil order. If Esther actually existed, I am sure that a) she was not trained for every part of that circumstance she found herself in b) it was not what she bargained for. She was probably considered a temporary resident by the king's staff, and I can see eyebrows being raised among the Jews when she was put forth and accepted by the king. I believe she did nothing rash, supported and consulted with those around her, and owned her story.
Beefster wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 18:02
yet I know that God still loves me and a part of me even feels that this is the right course of action for me. It's all so confusing.
Yup.
Beefster wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 18:02
My hope is that if I keep going to church, things will work themselves out somehow. And if they don't, I hope that I can find peace with leaving. But that day is in the distant future as far as I can tell. If the day of reckoning comes and I find myself needing to leave the church, I dread the day of "coming out" to my parents, shattering all their hopes and dreams of being part of their eternal family, even though I feel that is not the case.
I can't advise you about church. For me and my family, going elsewhere is not currently an option. In any case, there are doctrines that I need to believe in that I haven't been able to find elsewhere, so here I stay (if I stay anywhere).

As for your parents - I don't know. There is always a huge urge to blurt it all out and deal with the fallout - but those who have landed here and did that advise that it ends neutrally at best - and that the unexpected consequences of this action are usually worse off then before.
Beefster wrote:
22 Jan 2018, 18:02
As it stands right now, I do not feel as if the church is working for me. Maybe it will someday. I don't know.

As for other comments, I've definitely realized that trying to fix the church by bringing in converts is going to bring me frustration. Even just "fixing the church" is a recipe for failure. But the only way I know of to fix myself is something that I feel is impossible: magically being able to believe in the way that I once did.
It sounds like your expectations of the situation are very black/white. This stark contrast might be disturbing your internal peace.

For me, I am working on "fixing" myself by becoming more charitable. I may not know what God wants right now, but I am pretty sure in any good rule book, being more aware of others and their needs/righteous wants in balance with my needs/righteous wants is essential.

I also take a look at the different principles in my life and how they fit as mosaic pieces in my narrative. Some of them are very shiny and sparkly others not so much. While it is painful to examine each principle, I put some of them on the shelf if they are too painful and do what I can to fit what currently belongs there. It is not every day that a person gets the luxury of reforming their world view - I might as well take my time and do it as best as I can to make the most of the opportunity.

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Beefster
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by Beefster » 23 Jan 2018, 08:33

AmyJ wrote:
23 Jan 2018, 06:47
As for your parents - I don't know. There is always a huge urge to blurt it all out and deal with the fallout - but those who have landed here and did that advise that it ends neutrally at best - and that the unexpected consequences of this action are usually worse off then before.
Even still, I can only pretend I still go to church for so long. Any and every interaction with them will eventually squeeze that out of me. I also don't want to have to lie to them even if I avoid telling them as long as I can.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

AmyJ
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Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by AmyJ » 23 Jan 2018, 08:50

Beefster wrote:
23 Jan 2018, 08:33
AmyJ wrote:
23 Jan 2018, 06:47
As for your parents - I don't know. There is always a huge urge to blurt it all out and deal with the fallout - but those who have landed here and did that advise that it ends neutrally at best - and that the unexpected consequences of this action are usually worse off then before.
Even still, I can only pretend I still go to church for so long. Any and every interaction with them will eventually squeeze that out of me. I also don't want to have to lie to them even if I avoid telling them as long as I can.
There is a difference between fighting a fight because it can be fought, and fighting a fight on the best ground possible. Eventually a faith transition evolves into a series of skirmishes if not a full-fledged battle. So while yes, eventually a show-down may be in the cards, there is nothing that says you HAVE to dump gasoline on that flame RIGHT NOW and deal with that fight unprepared on unstable terrain. I can see the charm of it - but fires have a tendency of getting out of hand and causing unplanned damage really quickly - and do you have your fire brigade ready? Have you done all you can to prevent the horrible fallout that would be a consequence of that action?

I would focus on setting up the environment/history to tell them on your own terms strategically.

Also "being sick" helps a lot. If they start tallying your church attendance (hopefully not - you are a grown man), you can always tell them that you felt prompted to do x,y,z (whatever activity you traded up from church attendance to do) and do the great redirect. You are lucky in that you are not partnered with someone else in how you run your life right now - your parents are counselors and advisors, but not co-pilots as in marriage.

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Heber13
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Re: Bargaining - FC 5 Stages of Grief

Post by Heber13 » 23 Jan 2018, 15:34

Remember the star fish story?? The old man can't seriously make a difference when thousands of starfish keep washing up on shore, but maybe makes a difference to the one or two he reaches, and maybe makes a difference to his own heart, right?

Maybe your desire to make change just requires the right calibrations and expectations to what is worth it to try. Even if wholesale change is impossible.

I believe individuals make a difference. I believe there are some who need to hear unorthodox voices, so the orchestra is more rich.
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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