An Update About My Faith

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 648
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

An Update About My Faith

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 16 Sep 2018, 23:37

I just wanted to update everyone about how faith is right now. Well, since we have some new people in here, let me first mention how things got started. This is long. Bear with me...

I'm a 41 single active male in the church. I was raised by convert foster parents in the church, baptized at 8, and served a mission from April 1998 -- April 2000. Although I was baptized at 8, it was hard for me comprehend the spiritual side of things in the church, probably due to my mild Autism. So at that time I didn't gain any spiritual conversion or spiritual testimony of anything in the gospel. However, I did develop a mental conversion to it all. I prayed a little bit in private when I was a little child, but as I grew into my twenties I almost never prayed in private at all. I was active in the church, but I almost never prayed in private unless I was, as Alma the younger in the Book of Mormon put it, compelled to be humble. Since I was starving myself spiritually for so long, as I got older I realized I wasn't happy, but I figured life was to just exist, not to live spiritually. And so as I got older I realized the only way I could find happiness was just through day-to-day activities, church (just going through the motions really), chores, work, hobbies, movies, friendships, family relationships, just day-to-day life. I loved my family and friends, but as a kid, like many, I felt the world revolved around me.

When I was n my preteens I developed some vices that eventually developed into addictions in my teens. I've shared with you some of the addictions I used to have, so I'm not going to dive into them here. I can say now, the Lord has cured me from them. It might sound stereotypical, but it's true. Things got so bad that eventually I almost got forced to move out of my parents house. I was 20 by that time. I was inactive around that time because I couldn't understand spiritual life. It sounded too hard for me. Many times being bored during sacrament and General Conference didn't help. I only enjoyed Sunday School and priesthood, however.

It wasn't until some friends from the young single adult group at church invited to an activity that eventually I began asking questions about how to develop my faith and testimony. Eventually in my spiritual quest, I wanted to serve a mission after a friend of mine said he wanted to serve one at a cottage meeting (Just a name for a fireside in a ward family's house across the street from the church.). I drove home in my parents car. As soon as I got home, I apologized to my parents for the wrongs I committed against them and for causing them heartache with my bad choices. As I told them I wanted to serve a mission, a strong warm feeling went through my whole body that I never experienced before, making me break down crying. I now had a testimony of the church, gospel, Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and I now knew my decision was the right one.

I loved my mission and served my mission faithfully, although it was pretty hard at times, Some of the rules in my mission, the strictness of my mission president at times, the laziness of some of my companions, and my OCD (which I didn't know about at the time) helped make it difficult. Unfortunately, my addictions came back, so that added to my problems. Any unresolved problems I had before I left on my mission, seemed magnified time ten. It was crazy. However, I was blessed to have my Autism kept at bay. Towards the last two months of my mission I had go to counseling at LDS Social Services, mainly for my addictions. My counselor was a very nice guy and was able to teach me some healthy coping skills, but at times the counselor just seemed too preachy or churchy. Unfortunately, some of his advice for conquering my addictions made them worse. I was able to quit my addictions for the rest of mission. When my wonderful stake president and my parents were talking in the hallway after I was released, I had the same type of spiritual experience

After my mission my faith had become so strong I felt like I was top of the world, like I could do anything. However, I ignorantly believed that faith in God and living His commands would heal all mental disorders in this life. How wrong I was! My Autism came back, my OCD got worse, and my addictions came back. With my OCD I developed scrupulosity. Eventually it got to the point that my life was a living hell because of the vicious cycle of living with scrupulosity, panic attacks, and my addictions. I couldn't live unless I was (1) either perfect, sinless, or (2) made myself perfect. Anything less meant spiritual death. I was getting panic attacks almost all time. During this period in my life, I was attending church, the temple, taking my spiritual life seriously, but behind the scenes I was a wreck.

Eventually I got counseling and was put on meds. I wanted to originally go to LDS Social Services, but my nearest stake building is a good half-hour drive from where I live, so I decided to go to the local mental health facility. At first I preached more to her than actually sharing my problems with her. She was very nice and patient with me. She gave me some advice that some would say was against what the church taught, but eventually I changed my mind about much of her advice, so I was able to began healing from my addictions. I was a bit slow at using her advice to cope with my scrupulosity, but after we ended our meetings eventually I was able to talk myself through the rest of my scrupulosity healing myself. I wish I was able to cure all of my OCD, but my coping with it are improving. I hardly have panic attacks anymore.

Around March 2010, a week before my 33rd birthday, I stumbled upon an anti-Mormon book called One Nation Under Gods at the local library I was working at. When I was shelving books I discovered it and decided to read some of it, although I should have been working. I was getting burnt out with the church anyway. Me being obsessed with marrying in the temple didn't help anyway. Unfortunately, as I read it I discovered events that weren't portrayed how the church portrayed them (At one time I got so fanatical about defending my understanding of church that I cussed out an ex-Mormon one , a nasty anti-Mormon guy that was ripping the church. I wasn't able apologize to him. I hope I can someday.). I was pissed (pardon my French) as you can imagine. I felt lied to by the prophets and apostles of the church. I felt betrayed. My whole world fell apart. I was wanting to resign from the church. I didn't know what to do. Later in the evening, my dad and I went to see the movie The Green Zone with Matt Damon at the theater. Before the movie began, I told him I wanted to resign, about my faith crisis. Luckily he wasn't mean about it. He was understanding to a point, but he told me I was trying things I can't control and by resigning I'll lose the light. I was mad again after he said that, telling him that the church isn't the only place to find light. There are plenty places outside the church that give you spiritual light, you just need to know where to look. At the time I believed that the church had all the light and everywhere outside of it had bits and pieces of it. How wrong I was. I argued about this with my dad, which was something I wouldn't do before.

The next afternoon, I wrote a resignation letter. I was about to mail it when I received the prompting to not go through with it, so I threw it anyway.

I eventually joined StayLDS, and so here I am. My faith has gone through so many changes as a result of my faith transition. I eventually incorporated mindfulness meditation and professional counseling back into my life, so thanks to God I'm cured of my addictions and I'm able to be active in the church right now. What helps is that there are a few people in my ward who have a more nuanced faith (one of these members has a gay son), so that helps out. They're pretty well accepted into the ward, so that also helps. There are still things that bother me about the church, but they don't leaving coming from church mentally drained.

Okay, so here's what my faith looks like. God and Jesus Christ live. Through my faith transition my faith in them in so strong now that so I much more willing to ask them to help me to discern all truth, even within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If the Spirit confirms to me what is taught is true, I'll accept it. If not, I'll discard it. The scriptures aren't a flawless source of inspiration. God is. Not everything said or done by members of the church, prophets, apostles, other leaders, and everyone else is always inspired by God, even if they acting like such. I no longer believe the church taught about in the scriptures is the institutional one. I believe the church talked about in the scriptures is more like a movement, more like a flexible, loosely organized one, not a big institutional one that can become too rigid. Christ's true church is for those people that have been reborn or changed spiritually. It's apparent to me Christ was changed spiritually after John the Baptist baptized Him. Anyone who's a member of another church, religion or not can become a member of the Lord's church if they are reborn. I became a member of the Lord's church in 1997, even though I was baptized into the institutional one in 1985. Joseph Smith and all the prophets that had been reborn were part of the Lord's church, even though Joseph Smith established an institutional one. All religions, even the LDS Church, I believe are only types, shadows, simulations, representations, tools to help others to baptized into the Lord's church, be filled with charity, know God, and be sealed to eternal life. Not everyone needs the same tools or shadows, but if we really desire faith then talk with God about what you need.

That all. I just wanted to update you all about me.

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3593
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by mom3 » 16 Sep 2018, 23:47

So good to hear from you. I've missed your voice. I am glad you have a place of calm and happiness in life.

I wish you ages of joy ahead.
"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

User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 648
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 17 Sep 2018, 00:02

Thank you, mom3. I appreciate it. I was a bit bored and I had to sort through some things with my faith. Mom3, I love reading your posts and comments.

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5990
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Sep 2018, 05:11

Thanks for the update. I have many of the same feelings in my testimony of the Savior. It's kind of funny I've been thinking about this a bit lately. There are several struggling families in our ward at the moment. I know I'm not supposed to be judgmental, and I try not to be (and I'm not sure this is judgmental) but I have realized the common thing among these families is this: none of them seem to be converted to Christ. They are all members of the church, true, and they are all at least semi-active. But it's pretty clear to me observing them over the years that their conversion, if any, was to the church and not Jesus Christ. In my own faith transition, this conversion to Christ is the only thing that keeps me here. (Yes, that means I could go to other Christian churches and be fine - so there is a cultural aspect to why I StayLDS as well.)
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

Roy
Posts: 5005
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Roy » 17 Sep 2018, 09:49

Thank you for the update ILC.

I was once told by a Pastor from a Baptist church, "You can be saved and be Mormon, but it won't be the Mormonism that saves you." It struck me in a profound way and I still ponder on it from time to time.

We rejoice with you in your successes and support you in your unique journey.
"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

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5990
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Sep 2018, 11:51

Roy wrote:
17 Sep 2018, 09:49
I was once told by a Pastor from a Baptist church, "You can be saved and be Mormon, but it won't be the Mormonism that saves you." It struck me in a profound way and I still ponder on it from time to time.
:thumbup: Interestingly, I think that fits with our theology - at least our theology at Joseph Smith's time.
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

Minyan Man
Posts: 1490
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Minyan Man » 17 Sep 2018, 13:47

Ilovechrist77 wrote:
16 Sep 2018, 23:37
Okay, so here's what my faith looks like. God and Jesus Christ live. Through my faith transition my faith in them in so strong now that so I much more willing to ask them to help me to discern all truth, even within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If the Spirit confirms to me what is taught is true, I'll accept it. If not, I'll discard it. The scriptures aren't a flawless source of inspiration. God is. Not everything said or done by members of the church, prophets, apostles, other leaders, and everyone else is always inspired by God, even if they acting like such. I no longer believe the church taught about in the scriptures is the institutional one. I believe the church talked about in the scriptures is more like a movement, more like a flexible, loosely organized one, not a big institutional one that can become too rigid.
Thanks for the update. I like this part especially. I constantly have to remind myself to keep my core beliefs clear & not to complicate it.

User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 648
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Ilovechrist77 » 18 Sep 2018, 22:30

Thanks for the comments, everyone. If feels good to have my faith where it is now. It makes life so much easier. However, I don't like some of the church policies that have come from the General Authorities. It just seems like many of the ways the church is handling abuse just needs to change. Yes, some will tell you don't always the know the entire story. I'm aware of that, but it doesn't mean that all of the ways the brethren are accused of handling abuse are lies, just like the accusations of abuse. I would like to do more to help the victims of abuse in our church, but I don't feel comfortable doing it the way Sam Young tried to do it, and I don't want to come obsessed with it to the point of not being able to enjoy going to church. Any suggestions?

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16069
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Sep 2018, 11:47

I am glad to read this update.

No concrete suggestions about your final question. Just, "Do what you feel you can." That is enough.
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
Posts: 5005
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: An Update About My Faith

Post by Roy » 20 Sep 2018, 12:21

Ilovechrist77 wrote:
18 Sep 2018, 22:30
I would like to do more to help the victims of abuse in our church, but I don't feel comfortable doing it the way Sam Young tried to do it, and I don't want to come obsessed with it to the point of not being able to enjoy going to church. Any suggestions?
My only suggestion is in increasing awareness.
I plan to request that another adult of my child's choosing be present in bishop's interviews. Doing this might make it more normal and accepted. (even though it appears that it is our right to have a second adult, it might take some time before this is considered normal and routine).
I served in primary some years back and the primary president at the time explained to me that if I am ever teaching alone to keep the door open. She explained to me that this policy was for my protection (as a man) as well as the children. We have both long since been released but I saw her in the hall recently and asked if she had heard of the policy change to be 2 adults deep regardless of the gender
"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

Post Reply