Meeting with the Branch President

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AmyJ
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Meeting with the Branch President

Post by AmyJ » 30 May 2018, 11:12

I love my DH. One of the methods he is using to comfort himself in this time is to request that we meet with our branch president to talk about my faith transition.

Our Branch President is a good man with a busy active family - 6 kids ranging from 12 to 2. If I had to guess, I would tentatively think he is ESTP as a type. They are very social, he talks as if he goes off of senses rather than intuitive thinking, thinks about stuff/is a professional family history specialist while in his late 30's/likes documentaries, and is pretty laid back in planning.

I had thought about meeting with him over the last year, but realized that a) leadership roulette was real and I did not want to be blindsided, b) Church School Endorsement roulette, c) I did not view him as a practical source of help, and d) I did not want to burden him with my stuff..

This is important to DH though - so I agreed to it. Mostly because I think that I can stack the cards in my favor, and because my husband needs to talk to someone to work through his grief. The worst thing that could happen is that the situation goes nova, I walk out without my temple recommend and hard feelings to the point where I don't want to go back to church, - and my husband feels like he is on the edge of divorce again - and then we talk through it and I insist on marital counseling. The best thing that could happen is that I feel validated, receive meaningful insights that help me, and my husband feels sustained through the grief process (that he is not having because he doesn't believe in pop psychology) :P

So, I am going to go in prepared with my perspective, and how I feel the branch president can help me. Roy's "Faithful Believer Doing Their Best" is going to be my attitude.

Can you guys help me tell him what he needs to know to be of most help for me please? I don't want to give the guy a lecture on my life, but I do want to include what he needs to know.

A) I came to understand that my biological brain wiring was not set up to receive communication(s) - especially non-verbal communication(s) the way that everyone else does. That I had been missing up to 40% of any conversation because I could not perceive correctly what was being said. This brought every decision I can remember in my life up for review to see what I had missed because I "assumed" I was getting all the information available, and that I "assumed" that I was translating the information I had properly.
  • NOTE: I know this is not a traditional trigger - but realizing that you potentially got EVERYTHING wrong does wake you up in the morning.... and this is where I was.
B) What am I doing about it:
  • Taking the Pathways classes as seriously as I can as a place where I can get answers.
  • Relying on General Conference talks - specifically "Concern for the One" from President Wirthlin, "Lord I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief" by President Holland, and "It Works Wonderfully" by President Utchdorf.
  • Praying and Keeping an Open Mind For Answers
  • Trying to identify with my new perception what an answer from God looks like.
  • Not telling people who don't need to know. I work hard to check my actions so that I don't send mixed messages to Rachel.
  • Handling my grief from unusual circumstances with dignity and respect.
  • Avoiding making hasty unilateral decisions out of fear or anger.
  • Trading Up - if I am looking at an alternate action, is it a better action for me personally?
C) Mourn with DH:
DH bears the brunt of it - because as my narrative shifts, our collective narrative undergoes adjustment. I mourn for him, but believe that this circumstance can be used for our greater good.
In the last month I have opened up to him so that he could be with me in my experiences as part of being married. He made it clear on several occasions that he would rather be with me in my problems/experiences/challenges then let me handle them alone. That is his right to request as my husband. I did not want to burden him before this, and I did not have the words to tell him what I was experiencing. How can you say, "I came to myself one day and realized that I don't know what I used to know - and I don't know what is going to change in my life as I move forward." without them sputtering and rightfully demanding answers. Please help him....

D) What I need from the branch (and branch president) (as far as I know):
  • I need reassurance that there is a place for me in the Branch tent - even in (or perhaps because of) my unconventional-ness.
  • I want to feel safe to share without being judged or “fixed.” I am not a "project".If you want to double-check that my family has the best ministers available for us personally in light of my current circumstances, more power to you :P
  • I don't need to be told to be "more faithful" - I am painfully aware as to how limited my faith currently is - but it is mighty so far.
Am I missing anything?

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mom3
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by mom3 » 30 May 2018, 11:56

It looks very thorough. There is really no way to guess what may or may not happen. Which is the worst part. It's moments like this that make me so frustrated.

Last week I learned of 2 people in my Stake who no longer believe but attend to support their spouse. I believe they each have callings that mitigate tension, like librarian and bulletin specialist. I don't know if they went to a Bishop/Branch President, but that's how they function now. I see that as the crack getting bigger.

I will say prayers for you.

You also may want to read Gottmans work on Marriages. It may help both of you.
"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: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by nibbler » 30 May 2018, 12:06

A part of my journey is helping people along in the journeys they've chosen or themselves (within reason). For better or for worse I've taken a "give them what they need" approach.

Sometimes they need us to meet with an ecclesiastical leader, because we've been conditioned to see leaders as spiritual guides.

Could you help me boil down your needs so I better understand them. I think I've identified a goal to reassure your husband/show solidarity. Is another one to be understood by local leadership... or maybe a need for some space?
AmyJ wrote:
30 May 2018, 11:12
  • I need reassurance that there is a place for me in the Branch tent - even in (or perhaps because of) my unconventional-ness.
You never know, but my gut says that a local leader will nearly always say that there's a place for everyone but:

1) Belonging is a two way street. Not to take pressure off the church to create a welcoming environment, I'm just saying that it's possible to not feel welcome for any number of reasons, irregardless of what people do or don't do.

2) I hate to rest on Fowler so much but the church is very stage 3 and as a result there are certain causes and effects that go towards creating a culture. How much influence does a BP have to change the natural byproducts of a stage 3 culture? Could a BP change a leopard's spots?

3) Perspectives are so different. Your BP could genuinely believe he is being inclusive but you may end up feeling differently. If that were the case the BP wouldn't be wrong, he just might struggle to see how his actions aren't as inclusive as he interprets them to be.

I need reassurance that I belong as well. I just don't think it's going to come from a local leader. It's going to have to come mostly from within. My observations. My feelings.
AmyJ wrote:
30 May 2018, 11:12
  • I want to feel safe to share without being judged or “fixed.” I am not a "project".If you want to double-check that my family has the best ministers available for us personally in light of my current circumstances, more power to you :P
  • I don't need to be told to be "more faithful" - I am painfully aware as to how limited my faith currently is - but it is mighty so far.
I know how you feel. In that case I've used, "I'm working through this, I'm okay, my testimony is fine." language. IMO this starts with reassuring statements to your spouse. If there's no perceived problem the fixer doesn't have to get into fix-it mode. This, of course, assumes that you feel like you are working through this, that you're okay, and that your testimony is fine. If you need help but aren't quite sure in what form or whether you're ready for help... shrugs.
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

AmyJ
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Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by AmyJ » 30 May 2018, 12:18

mom3 wrote:
30 May 2018, 11:56
It looks very thorough. There is really no way to guess what may or may not happen. Which is the worst part. It's moments like this that make me so frustrated.
Yup. I think I am anxious about the social/tribal aspects of it (my husband does not do tribes except church), and really hating the "how can accepting a mental development description possibly trigger a faith transition" without encountering eye rolling.
mom3 wrote:
30 May 2018, 11:56
Last week I learned of 2 people in my Stake who no longer believe but attend to support their spouse. I believe they each have callings that mitigate tension, like librarian and bulletin specialist. I don't know if they went to a Bishop/Branch President, but that's how they function now. I see that as the crack getting bigger.

I will say prayers for you.

You also may want to read Gottmans work on Marriages. It may help both of you.
I am calling-less and I am OK with that. I have a lot going on with continuing my education and sustaining my family. I am starting to volunteer at a free medical clinic soon as well. On the Sundays we make it to church, I serve in the nursery. I am a sincere minister to those in the branch whom I feel I can help.

I will look into it, thanks.

AmyJ
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by AmyJ » 30 May 2018, 12:44

nibbler wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:06
Could you help me boil down your needs so I better understand them?
1. Reassure Husband/Show Solidarity - allowing my husband a theoretical spiritual/moral place of support. My husband has no one else he can really talk to - and talking with me about it will not help him express his grief if he needs to.
2. I think requesting to be understood by local leadership is a bit much. I just don't want to be burned at the stake. [Yes, I am setting the bar low.] In reality, I want my husband to continue in his higher profile calling for as long as it works for everyone. I am OK with both the church setting boundaries and myself setting boundaries.
nibbler wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:06
1) Belonging is a two way street. Not to take pressure off the church to create a welcoming environment, I'm just saying that it's possible to not feel welcome for any number of reasons, irregardless of what people do or don't do.
Absolutely. I come to church each Sunday with the goal to serve others that come across my path that day. I show up and look for the best. My belonging starts with me. That being said, no pitchforks please:)
nibbler wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:06
2) I hate to rest on Fowler so much but the church is very stage 3 and as a result there are certain causes and effects that go towards creating a culture. How much influence does a BP have to change the natural byproducts of a stage 3 culture? Could a BP change a leopard's spots?
The branch is manageable as is. As long as my husband feels supported by talking to the BP, and the pitchforks stay out of play, I'm good. my family already gives gossipers plenty to chew over - and if they have time for that, that is their call to make. We don't fit easily into any tribe - BUT this is our tribe so far.
nibbler wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:06
3) Perspectives are so different. Your BP could genuinely believe he is being inclusive but you may end up feeling differently. If that were the case the BP wouldn't be wrong, he just might struggle to see how his actions aren't as inclusive as he interprets them to be.
And if that is the case, we can have a dialog about it and fix the protocol. I can speak sheepese (mostly - ok the goat variation :P )
nibbler wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:06
I know how you feel. In that case I've used, "I'm working through this, I'm okay, my testimony is fine." language. IMO this starts with reassuring statements to your spouse. If there's no perceived problem the fixer doesn't have to get into fix-it mode. This, of course, assumes that you feel like you are working through this, that you're okay, and that your testimony is fine. If you need help but aren't quite sure in what form or whether you're ready for help... shrugs.
I can't use "my testimony is fine" because the whole purpose of the meeting is to report that "my testimony is not fine". But I can point out that "I want to stay in the tribe", "I am not a danger to the tribe", and that "I am working on it with what faith I have". And if the BP tells me to pack my toys and go home - well, I will come here:)

And then I will continue to study and think and learn because the world is a big place, and I have a lot of other stuff going on in my life. Might borrow a page from Roy and see what the Baptists are up to :P

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mom3
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by mom3 » 30 May 2018, 13:55

And then I will continue to study and think and learn because the world is a big place, and I have a lot of other stuff going on in my life. Might borrow a page from Roy and see what the Baptists are up to :P
If I step too far let me know. You may want to stop transitioning in front of your husband. Many people have to make that decision. That's where we come in. Vent all over the place here.

Though I am no longer traditional, I am not post mo. My husband is post mo, sometimes bordering on ex-mo. He is in the stage 3/4 end of it. Every day he has a piece of news to share with me. Sometimes I have to say "stop." Most of the time I can handle it, but everyone has a boundary.

Go to the meeting, talk about how you love the tribe, the people, the kids, your schooling. Even that you love Jesus (if that fits). Then figure out a way to navigate with out shifting his sand for a while.
"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: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by nibbler » 30 May 2018, 14:19

AmyJ wrote:
30 May 2018, 12:44
I can't use "my testimony is fine" because the whole purpose of the meeting is to report that "my testimony is not fine". But I can point out that "I want to stay in the tribe", "I am not a danger to the tribe", and that "I am working on it with what faith I have". And if the BP tells me to pack my toys and go home - well, I will come here:)
When a leader gets concerned about your "testimony" isn't that what they're really concerned with though; whether you want to stay in the tribe, whether you are a danger to the tribe, and whether you're continuing to work on things?

In a way they may be asking whether you are concerned about losing your way and going to heck. I may be one, the other, or both but I'm not concerned with either, so:

How is your testimony?
Fine.

It helps them sleep at night and it helps me getting back to working things out in private.
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 May 2018, 14:59

I would shy away from specifics and focus on your general nature and your commitment, but that is just me.

Read D&C 46: 12-26, where it says not everyone has the same gifts.

Focus on 13-14, where it says even a knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God isn't given to everyone - that some have the gift of believing.

Tell him you are not a "knower" but rather a "believer", that you are working through what you believe individually, and that you intend to continue helping the Church and loving your husband as you endure to the end. Tell him you are "here to stay, say you aren't going to leave the Church unless you are shoved out against your will, and ask him to just love and accept you for who you are - just like your husband tries hard to do.

Then shut up and let him talk.
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

Roy
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by Roy » 30 May 2018, 16:47

Great advice has already been shared.

I would emphasize the process or non-permanent (meaning still in flux - not yet set in stone) nature of your FC. I would also be extra careful not to do anything to challenge authority.

For me this comes in two related forms 1) I have some struggles and challenges with my faith. These are personal and things which I continue to work on. I am a work in progress and still wrestling with my issues. I do not make negative declarative statements like "I do not believe XYZ". I start with what I do believe even if it is only, "I want to believe in the beautiful concepts I see in xyz." 2) I do not interrupt. I do not argue. I do not suggest a peer to peer relationship. He is my Bishop and if he suspects that that I do not see myself as under his authority - that alone could become a much more difficult "apostasy" sticking point than any specific level of belief.

I take on somewhat the role of a penitent "I know I should be better and I am honestly working on it" role before an authority figure.

Just my $0.02

P.S. virtually the only time I might meet with the bishop like this is when I need permission to perform an ordinance for my children or during the annual tithing settlement.
"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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SamBee
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Re: Meeting with the Branch President

Post by SamBee » 31 May 2018, 08:39

I've never been a member of a branch as such because I never joined the LDS while I lived out in the country. I've lived in the city for years now. Do they differ from wards much? Is a BP much the same as a bishop?
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