The hard part is that at some point it doesn't feel the middle way is supported anywhere except in your heart. But then again, maybe that is the point. Maybe we are to learn to go inwards and trust our instincts and impressions instead of having others validate us.
Maybe if God provided the Golden Community...we would be robbed of the struggle to create our own?
Validation by others.. I have some experience with that too. As someone who is a bit awkward in church settings, I looked for validation elsewhere. I am a car guy and participated heavy in car forums very similar to this place. I kept buying things for my cars, posting about it online, uploading updates to CarDomain, reading comments.. blah blah blah. I got validation there from the comments, thumbs ups at car meets, whatever.. After awhile, I figured out that having a car was fun but all it was doing was feeding my ego. It was the only time in my life where I was "cool" but much of those relationships were as shallow as a the church ones. Eventually, I quit posting (forums are passe anyway) and I sold the last car last April after 11 years of ownership. Now I am normal person with 4 cars instead of 5, one for each driver in my household (we have limited mass transit options here).
I was also validated by CofC online people.. I used to think I was cool there too. I helped by posting things often on the FB groups that were testimony and faith promoting. People liked my post, sometimes by the dozens and gave me such praise. After 4-5 years participating in FB groups and contributing, I found out that people aren't real friends and I am not a value to them. I removed the groups from my FB feed and focused my energy on the people locally.
I was recently given an opportunity to serve CofC in their local equivalent of a Stake (Mission Center) and will be sustained within the next couple of weeks. I will be traveling to local congregations as an ambassador for the Mission Center, offering assistance and preaching once in awhile. All of the congregations are in my area and have relationships with them already. I didn't agree to it because I wanted to move up the ranks, I did it because it works with my personal mission. That mission is to build relationships, remind people that God knows and loves them and to be a blessing to people individually. That mission transcends churches and is not tied to anyone but myself. I'm giving this a year to see if it does further my mission and am not afraid to step away if it doesn't.
That golden community that checks all the boxes doesn't exist. I don't have a testimony of the One-True-Church other than the one that exists in my heart. Church is community and helps organize people to do (hopefully) good things for their neighbors. It is up to us to be patient with one another, look for the good in organizations and build your own faith and testimony with the tools that you have. Your church "tool" might not be the right shape or dull, but it can be used to create something new. There are inspired but flawed people running these organizations, it is up to everyone to use their brains and either keep or discard whatever is being presented. I've learned all of this being out here in the Boarderlands and they are just as valid as anyone else's experience in the church.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay. - Staylds.org