Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Beefster
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Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by Beefster » 18 Feb 2018, 12:03

I feel as if I'm pretending at church. Endless sheepese, pretending to believe in things I just don't know... Yeah. All that.

Every week, it seems there is less and less hope for being a middle way Mormon. I don't think I'm cut out for it. Some weeks, church is somewhat enjoyable. Others, I feel like a hollow shell or imposter.

Without a wife to keep me in, I don't really see a point in staying in the church. My views on sexuality have diverged drastically and I feel that the church's approach is counterproductive at best. I don't feel the church is spending its massive financial resources where it ought to. The church is a force for good for so many people, but I really don't think it's the best thing for everyone.

It really doesn't help that I'm a ward missionary.
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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mom3
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by mom3 » 18 Feb 2018, 13:58

Ahh, this stretch is the worst. And being a ward missionary definitely doesn't help. Maybe try to lose the calling. Take a break from it.

Serious hugs here. We hear you loud and clear.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Feb 2018, 14:48

Many of us have been there and done that. You're not an imposter. There is room for us in the church, but sometimes we have to use our elbows. Mormonese isn't so bad. Here's a one liner from a recent talk I gave: I'm told we all voted for the Father's plan and that's why we're here, but it seems some of us expend a lot of effort trying to implement the other plan.

Hang in there. I agree with Mom, drop the calling. I know you've talked about that before and that you have your reasons for now but you have to do a cost benefits analysis.

Maybe you should give Lent a try. It's not too late to start. Lent isn't about giving up something as much as it is doing something for the period that in the end will bring you closer to God and Christ. I'm not going to say what mine is lest I get my reward (and not the one I want), but it's not giving up anything and I believe I will be closer to God and Christ come Easter as a result. The best part is that nobody needs to know, there's no "accountability" and it can be just your own thing separate from the church. It's about you as an individual.
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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Beefster
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by Beefster » 18 Feb 2018, 17:08

And to pour salt on the wound, this had to be the week that we talked about the Proclamation in EQ. I wish I had excused myself and left early, but I didn't want to be rude or raise any red flags.

On the other hand, Gospel Principles was a good discussion due to an investigator with great questions. I wouldn't mind teaching the class a time or two more, but that's mostly because the next 2 lessons that land on my week are topics I can get behind.

I think the bishopric can tell that something is wrong because they've been bombarding me with attention (Notably the bishop coming up to me saying he was worried about me because he hasn't seen me in 3 weeks, when I went to my parents' ward last week for my mom's birthday) as if social reasons are why I'm having a faith crisis. Just a hint: social reasons have very little to do with it. It's mostly about policy and methodologies, with some doctrinal concerns thrown in there. I can tell there's genuine love there and I know they mean well; it just isn't helping. I can't help but feel like I'm a project.

I really hope there is a place for me in the LDS community because it really is mostly good and it would avoid disappointing many people if I simply stayed. But I can't do that if I have to wear the sheep mask forever. I'm gonna be a llama and you better damn well get used to it.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Feb 2018, 17:15

I don't want this to sound differently than I intend it, but if you're a really good llama the sheep won't know you're not a sheep. And the best part is you don't even have to pretend, just be a llama. Like Muggles, sheep don't notice much.
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

DancingCarrot
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by DancingCarrot » 18 Feb 2018, 19:52

Feeling like an imposter is really draining. When I've felt that way, I am exhausted from not only acting how I think others expect me to act, but also from the process of processing what I do and don't agree with at church. It's a lot of mental energy, and most often it doesn't feel like there's anything to gain at the end of it. It's a despairing situation, in my experience.

My journey included not going to church for ~3 years. I definitely don't think this is a path for everyone, especially since the goal of this website is to stayLDS, but that's what happened for me. It got to a point where I couldn't go to church without becoming confused, hurt, and angry in addition to feeling like I couldn't confide in anyone, so when I moved from my YSA ward I didn't attend the next few wards I moved into. Surprisingly, I was left alone by all of them, with the exception of 2-4 texts from the ward I moved from. I think what I really needed was space and other uplifting venues, but I didn't know how to do that outside of church because of my upbringing.

These days I take church with less of a tighter grip, but it's only been after time, space, and different experience. Plus, I still have difficulty deciphering between needing space from church and just not wanting to go :shh: :angel:

Any actual advice? You won't know what you need until you try some of your options, and not just for a few weeks. Analysis paralysis is nearly as bad as feeling trapped by your current situation, but acting on a decision will give you more information on how to keep moving forward.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

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Beefster
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by Beefster » 18 Feb 2018, 20:34

April Conference, or a day or two after is my decision day when I decide whether to stay, leave, choose something in between, or delay the decision. (I have deliberately delayed paying tithing until then, though that's going to be a fat check if I decide to keep paying tithing) I don't see leaving as necessarily permanent. I have no idea what it would take to drive me to get my name removed, but I can tell you it is not in my plan, nor will it be in the foreseeable future.

I have been disengaging from all things church other than church itself because it's exhausting going to FHE/other activities and putting on the sheep mask.

I just wish it actually felt safe to talk about doubts and concerns with people in the church because that would solve a lot of my problems. But as long as people try to "fix" people for expressing doubt, that will never happen.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

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

DancingCarrot
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Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by DancingCarrot » 18 Feb 2018, 21:15

It sounds like you’re exhausted and burned out. Being that way sucks, there’s no way around it. There’s something to be said about having people near you know your struggles and accept you regardless. This community is great at acceptance and discussion, but there’s no substitute for in-person, I’ve found. Unfortunately, only my former member friend was really able to understand where I was coming from. Talking to my parents or siblings was a dead end, or sometimes worse.

It’s difficult to go through this phase, but take heart. This too shall pass. It might pass like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass.


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It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

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nibbler
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by nibbler » 19 Feb 2018, 05:37

I'll almost certainly end up preaching false doctrine here but I wanted to explore the idea of what the middle way means. Probably goes without saying, but this is an interpretation, not the interpretation.
Beefster wrote:
18 Feb 2018, 12:03
Some weeks, church is somewhat enjoyable. Others, I feel like a hollow shell or imposter.
That's the middle way. Recognizing that some weeks are enjoyable, some weeks are painful. I don't know if I can, but allow me to try to explain my position.

Without getting too far off track, I wanted to introduce the concept of impermanence. For now I'll leave an explanation for that at, "the only constant is change."

Often when we think of the middle way I think we have this concept of drawing closer and closer to the center of two extremes, such that all extremes are as far away from us as possible. We know we're doing it right when people on either extreme are critical of us. ;)

I'd like to offer up a slightly different definition of a middle way. It relies a bit on the concept of impermanence. When times are good we should recognize that all things are impermanent, it's unrealistic to expect that times will always be good. When times are bad we should recognize that all things are impermanent, it's unrealistic to expect that times will always be bad. Realizing that neither the good times nor the bad times are permanent is the middle way.

Also, the ability to find something positive to hold onto in an otherwise negative experience can be helpful. I think Fowler's stage four gives us plenty of practice finding things that can potentially be harmful to us in the experiences other people claim are good for us. I think the ability to find the good even in bad situations and recognizing the potential harm in otherwise good situations is the middle way.

In other words, this interpretation of the middle way is less about avoiding the extremes by carving out a spot in the center and more about going with the flow, even if it takes you down an extreme for a while, realizing that your position is impermanent and that there are pros and cons no matter where you happen to find yourself at any given point in your journey. You learn to roll with the bad and as odd as it sounds, recognize that you've got to roll with the good.
Beefster wrote:
18 Feb 2018, 12:03
The church is a force for good for so many people, but I really don't think it's the best thing for everyone.
It's not. I think that's another middle way trap, the believe that to navigate the middle way means you have to find a way to reconcile activity in the church and be at peace with said activity. Mormonism is just a thing. An impermanent thing. To attach ourselves to any version of it is to set ourselves up for future disappointment because we will change and Mormonism will change.

But I'm off topic. The church isn't for everyone. It's not even for a large percentage of people. I think the church culture would be much more palatable if people at church recognized that... but it's a part of what makes the church what it is. Some people need to believe that because it helps them walk in confidence and it gives them purpose. Finding those ways where one person's pro is another person's con. The middle way. Ain't it annoying?
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

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nibbler
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Re: Feeling like an imposter, losing hope in the middle way

Post by nibbler » 19 Feb 2018, 05:42

Beefster wrote:
18 Feb 2018, 17:08
And to pour salt on the wound, this had to be the week that we talked about the Proclamation in EQ.
In my ward that's called an even numbered month. Come to think of it, it's the odd numbered months too. ;)

The church currently has an outright obsession with the proclamation. Church leaders in the past would have called this a "gospel hobby." IMO it's not healthy for the church. But the church is impermanent; it will change, right? Well people are impermanent too. Do the people change to match the church or will the church change to match the people... probably a little of both.
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

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