How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
squarepeg
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How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by squarepeg » 07 Feb 2018, 17:39

I have had a hard time believing in a loving God ever since I had an experience where I suffered greatly and was unable, during that time, to feel the spirit or any kind of divine presence, for over a year. I ultimately concluded that Heavenly Father wanted me dead, else why would He ignore me while I was going through a series of life-threatening things; and that maybe He abandoned me because I defied Him and refused to die...I kept fighting with all the grit I had until I found a way to survive, and now I'm still here, against HIS will. That's my best explanation for that period of abandonment.

The time period of acute, extreme suffering has passed, and I can now feel the spirit again, but I still have a very hard time praying for anything that I or others need. I most often feel like Heavenly Father, if He exists, will do what He likes and doesn't really care about what people need. And I tend to feel so utterly manipulated when I ask for things, like He is up there just laughing at me, like, "You don't actually think I care whether people have what they need?!?! Bwahahaha!" My prayers are filled with lots of things I'm grateful for, but it's like, when it comes time to ask for things, I just freeze and want to end the prayer. I have to really force myself to ask for anything.

Also, because of my experience being cut off from the spirit (despite doing all the things I knew of to be able to feel it: prayer, scripture study, humility, trying to be like Christ, etc.) I have a hard time believing those scriptures about how we will not be left comfortless, or how the Holy Ghost can be a constant companion. And I feel like breaking down or screaming whenever people at church talk about how Heavenly Father and Jesus will always be there for us, or ARE always there (and that happens at least once a week).

I am a lot more comfortable with Buddhism, lately, and just the notion of learning to be at peace, and allowing, without bringing any other human-like beings or relationships into the equation, because then there's nobody to be angry at, or disappointed by, or feel manipulated by, when I am suffering. But there's an emptiness, still. I miss having faith in actual beings. I still hope that they DO actually exist. Is there any way to rekindle that trust in loving beings? I'm diligently doing the "standard Mormon answers" already, and I try to talk and act as if the loving beings do exist, but...

Thanks for listening.

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Ilovechrist77
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 08 Feb 2018, 01:28

Squarepeg, you're welcome. Thank you for sharing you feeling and your struggles. I can't say much, except I still wonder why God allows certain things to happen. He has his reasons. Anyway, I'm glad you found some peace. May God be with you in your spiritual journey.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Feb 2018, 06:34

Your experience is similar to mine Peg and was the major force behind my own FC. It's why I have taken the Deist view of God, thus lowering (or eliminating) my expectations. If I don't expect that God is intimately involved with my life or cares about the things I care about then our relationship has changed - and I'm good with that. BUT, and I sense you get this too, the "faithful" tend not to believe you and almost every F&TM there are multiple testimonies about God answered this prayer or that prayer or how God is so intimately involved with each of our lives, even in the tiniest little things. I won't openly disrespect their experiences because their experiences are their's and mine are mine - but mine have much different outcomes.

I don't pray every day and I don't ask for anything except perhaps forgiveness. I can say I believe God loves us, but much more in a general sense as opposed to an individual sense. He did provide a way for us to be forgiven. I sometimes feel peace when I pray, sometimes not (likewise when I read scriptures or any of the other standard Primary answers).

From my point of view, no, there is no way to rekindle that trust. This is where the Santa Claus analogy comes in - now that I know the truth about Santa I cannot go back to believing in him the way I once did. BUT I do believe in Santa - just differently. The same is true of Heavenly Father. I believe but not in the same way as others. And like you, I still long for the way it used to be.

I think this is a great question, and maybe I'm way off base here and someone else will shine some new light on the subject for both of us and we can find the peace we seek.
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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dande48
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by dande48 » 08 Feb 2018, 08:06

Hi Squarepeg,

Thanks for keeping us posted on your journey. I'm grateful to hear you have found a measure of peace.

A few thoughts have come to mind. Have you ever heard of Alan Watts? He was an Episcopal Priest, who later was later largely responsible for bringing Buddhism to the Western Countries. I don't agree with a decent amount of what he preached, but in Buddhism, that's okay. I enjoy listening to his lectures, when I feel in need of Spiritual Guidance. He wrote a book, titled "The Wisdom of Insecurity", which has brought me a lot of perspective, when I feel lonely.
Alan Watts wrote:... in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.”

“If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go."
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

nibbler
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by nibbler » 08 Feb 2018, 08:09

squarepeg wrote:
07 Feb 2018, 17:39
Also, because of my experience being cut off from the spirit (despite doing all the things I knew of to be able to feel it: prayer, scripture study, humility, trying to be like Christ, etc.) I have a hard time believing those scriptures about how we will not be left comfortless, or how the Holy Ghost can be a constant companion. And I feel like breaking down or screaming whenever people at church talk about how Heavenly Father and Jesus will always be there for us, or ARE always there (and that happens at least once a week).
I'm reminded that even Jesus himself felt abandoned.
Matthew 27:45-46 wrote:Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And to borrow from Nephi's logic:

And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should feel abandoned by God, O then, how much more will we, being unholy, feel abandoned by God! ...yea, yea, verily, and it came to pass, verily.

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On Own Now
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by On Own Now » 08 Feb 2018, 10:18

One Atheist's perspective:

Religion, spirituality, scripture, repentance, thanksgiving, reconciliation, relationship with God/Christ, forgiveness, prayer... these have nothing to do with what is in yonder heavens and everything to do with what is in our own hearts. According to the author of Luke, Jesus said to the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God wasn't a distant future and glorious happening that would overtake the world by storm, but rather that "the Kingdom of God is among/within you."

For my part, I've come to appreciate spirituality without the need for a Divine Score Keeper. Sure, it'd be nice if God would come down once in a while to kick the butt of mean people or to help the faithful when they need it (both images of God in the Bible), but I can't control what God will do, I can only control what I do... my thoughts, my hopes, fears, interactions with others, my reaction to my circumstances.

I think one weakness that religions instill in adherents is the notion that we need God's approval for anything to have value. Conversely, I love the concept laid out in Moroni of the "Light of Christ", given to everyone to know what is right and good and to separate that from what is wrong and evil. "For the power is in us to be agents unto ourselves" to paraphrase D&C 58. The author of John tells us that that Jesus' advent into the world caused the beginning of a light in darkness which the darkness couldn't stop from shining for all people to see. In these passages, God is a passive force, and we are the actors aligning ourselves with what is good.

To me, when I pray, it is a vocalization of my gratitude for life and my hopes. That in and of itself is important, whether there is anyone listening on the other end or not.
"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

squarepeg
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by squarepeg » 08 Feb 2018, 21:28

iloveChrist77, thank you for the kind words.

DarkJedi, thank you. I was surprised to learn in a book (the title of which I've forgotten) that many of the prominent US Founding Fathers were deists. I thought that was fascinating and significant given that many people have the impression that the Founders were deeply and profoundly personally religious -- they largely weren't...they held God at arm's length. So I feel like, if we're Deists, at least we're in good company! ;) I appreciate the Santa Claus analogy. It's true, we can still believe in him (Santa/God) in a sense, but our more mature understanding is less magical...kinda like listening to music on one's phone after having grown accustomed to the big living room stereo. I'm trying to figure out if there are any negative effects, to ourselves or others, that result from shifting from theism to deism, other than feeling that we've lost that personal relationship and sense of "magic". Nothing comes immediately to mind. Maybe it's okay to have things lose some color. Maybe there are subtle shades that we'll eventually be able to discern with our new lenses.

dande48, thank you for telling me about Alan Watts! I had not heard of him, but now I'm looking forward to reading "The Wisdom of Insecurity". Do you think his definition of faith can be reconciled with the LDS definition, "if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen which are true"? I feel like it can't! I also never could make sense out of that verse in Alma 32. If the things are "not seen" then how do we know they ARE true? It's like we are presupposing truths arbitrarily, not with an open mind, but based solely on what we HOPE is true.

nibbler wrote:
08 Feb 2018, 08:09

I'm reminded that even Jesus himself felt abandoned.
Matthew 27:45-46 wrote:Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And to borrow from Nephi's logic:

And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should feel abandoned by God, O then, how much more will we, being unholy, feel abandoned by God! ...yea, yea, verily, and it came to pass, verily.
Thank you, nibbler. I guess my understanding of the Atonement was that Christ performed that act so that we wouldn't have to, in order to spare us; that He took upon himself that suffering in part so that He would be able to succor us in our times of need. He says, I'm going to leave you, but I'll leave behind the Comforter so you won't be alone. He doesn't say, "Hey...I suffered, so y'all can jolly well suffer, likewise". What have I missed?

On Own Now, thanks, I appreciate that perspective. I agree that there is value in carrying out all the religious principles behind prayer and devotion and worship for what they do to one's character and mind, independent of whether there are any divine geographic locations or beings or truth behind any of the mythological aspects. I'm glad you've been able to find peace with a spirituality absent of divine beings. Maybe I'll reach that point, someday.

nibbler
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by nibbler » 09 Feb 2018, 05:44

squarepeg wrote:
08 Feb 2018, 21:28
Thank you, nibbler. I guess my understanding of the Atonement was that Christ performed that act so that we wouldn't have to, in order to spare us; that He took upon himself that suffering in part so that He would be able to succor us in our times of need. He says, I'm going to leave you, but I'll leave behind the Comforter so you won't be alone. He doesn't say, "Hey...I suffered, so y'all can jolly well suffer, likewise". What have I missed?
Maybe I could post more thoughts in the grace thread that was bumped recently but my life experiences have caused me to view the atonement differently. Much like Nephi's view on Christ's baptism, I feel like the atonement is one of those things that if you're going to follow Christ then you're going to have to prepare yourself to do the things the he did. To become like god is to suffer and atone.

In that light, Christ's sacrifice wasn't about helping us avoid suffering, it's about teaching us how to handle suffering with grace. Another story meant to teach us ways that we can do what Christ did.

This is also where I see the "body of Christ" come into play. Alone, none of us can handle it all, we aren't perfect, but we can come together and when you sum up everyone's collective strengths and experiences you can say that we've suffered all that people can suffer and that means there's someone in the group that can succor us... or maybe by suffering we become that person for someone else.

There are people out there that when they go through hard times they can think, "Oh yeah, Jesus!" and instantly get over whatever it is they are going through. Perhaps I'm too much the pragmatist because that doesn't do it for me. The concept of Jesus has to produce something more tangible than self induced good feelings, at least for me.

But I think the concept of Jesus can produce something more tangible, but it requires us to atone to bless the lives of others and it requires other people atoning for us. Here I'm not talking bleed from every pore atonement, I'm talking the much more simple helping one another get through difficult times atonement. I'm talking suffer injustices from time to time to make the world less of an eye for an eye place atonement. We already do that stuff, we do it all the time. That makes the atonement mean more to me. It's not this passive thing that was done on my behalf, it's something in which I can take an active role and it becomes something that can actively work in my life. It's infinite because as long as people are around and willing to help each other it will be a force of healing and good in the world.

AmyJ
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by AmyJ » 09 Feb 2018, 06:17

squarepeg wrote:
08 Feb 2018, 21:28
If the things are "not seen" then how do we know they ARE true? It's like we are presupposing truths arbitrarily, not with an open mind, but based solely on what we HOPE is true.
My identity and faith transition was started because I realized that everything I had "SEEN" in the past was not accurate/reliable in light of new information about myself. The closest analogy I have is that I had grown up thinking my vision was "OK" - maybe not 20/20 but decent, only to find out that I have great night vision (and can "see" things that others can't), but my standard vision was horrible and everyone else knew it and didn't say anything about it because it was my problem (or I did not understand/did not have the capacity to understand what they were talking about). Plus, I was pretty good at pretending to see what everyone else was seeing.

So now I double-check everything I see, and allow myself the grace of not "seeing" very well at all. I am also trying to jury-rig a Star Trek scanning device to see what I can't see. Maybe I can do something similar to Mr. Burton's visor...

The principle that saved my sanity I learned here - I am not expected to "see" perfectly - in fact, I am expected to "see" darkly. The fact that I know see that I don't see everything clearly is a boon that was granted to me at the tender age of 28 (plus a few years). It also gives me the freedom to experiment to see what I do "see" and what works for me.

Everyone builds an individual narrative of arbitrary truths (from external perspective) they pick up in their life. People tend to be comfortable with people who see what they see and built similar narratives (or appear to have) on similar experiences and hopes. We all do it :oops:

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On Own Now
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Re: How to ask in faith without feeling jerked around

Post by On Own Now » 09 Feb 2018, 08:10

nibbler wrote:
09 Feb 2018, 05:44
In that light, Christ's sacrifice wasn't about helping us avoid suffering, it's about teaching us how to handle suffering with grace. Another story meant to teach us ways that we can do what Christ did.
There is a thought among some modern scholars that the new testament concept of salvation which has traditionally been translated from Koine Greek into being saved by "faith in Christ" should instead have been translated to read that we are saved by the "faith OF Christ"... in other words, the way he handled it is what gives us power.
"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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