a

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Post Reply
User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7158
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by Heber13 » 01 Sep 2019, 10:56

Glad you joined us and thanks for sharing your story.

God has some great things for your to learn on your journey, as is the case with the rest of us as well. Sometimes we can think everyone else has things figured out and there is something "wrong" with us because we have feelings, thoughts, urges, and internal things going on. But truth is...so does everyone else.

I won't minimize any of your struggles, because these are things that are important for you to wrestle with, and learn from. They don't come from God, or the devil, they are just part of life to help us gain experience while on this mortal journey.

But my advice, now that I have kids your age who are going through similar things, is to tell you to first and foremost find ways to love yourself and be kind to yourself and accept yourself where you are in life...realizing you will move forward and figure things out as you go.
badkarmal wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 10:11
I often avoid being involved in any sort of priesthood activity because of I understand I am not worthy.
You might want to start with this statement you made, and really do some soul-searching around this belief you have. Test this. Try God and see what is real, or what is based on your fears, not reality. Are you really unworthy? Or do you just think you are?

What if you gained a testimony that the atonement was there to help you do your best, even if not perfect? What if you gave blessings with hope and faith that God makes up the difference, and with that belief you loved and cared for others. And as you gave blessings or sincerely loved others, and asked God to help make up the difference with your imperfections...would you start seeing good things in life, blessings in life, spiritual experiences? Would others start telling you that you have brought the spirit into their lives? In other words...God would seem to accept you as worthy based on experiences you can see? I dunno know if that would happen...but you could try it and see before just relegating yourself to "unworthy" and never even try.

I think sometimes we are harder on ourselves than God is. I am a father to college age kids and love them, even though they are imperfect. In fact, I think they are amazing kids. Some are inactive in church...and I don't care...they are amazing kids. If I can see them as such as an imperfect, mortal father...how much more does a perfect Heavenly Father accept His children who are not perfect but are trying?

Remember what our church leaders have taught us:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.”

The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” The Church is for people like you and me. The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.

In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.

A Promise to All
Let us acknowledge that most often gaining a testimony is not a task of a minute, an hour, or a day. It is not once and done. The process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.

Your testimony of the living Son of God and His restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, may not come as quickly as you desire, but I promise you this: if you do your part, it will come.

And it will be glorious.
Uchtdorf: Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth

I hope that helps some. Don't be so hard on yourself that you damn yourself from learning things now. Be open to things that God will teach you, even if you hear harsh and judging things from others at church. They are expressing their views based on their experiences and are trying to journey the best they can.

I think there is a place for you in the church, as you are. And there are likely many others in your ward with similar thoughts, fears, and experiences as you.

Thanks for joining our discussions. I look forward to learning more from your posts.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

badkarmal
Posts: 3
Joined: 01 Sep 2019, 08:12

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by badkarmal » 01 Sep 2019, 11:28

Heber13 wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 10:56
Glad you joined us and thanks for sharing your story.

God has some great things for your to learn on your journey, as is the case with the rest of us as well. Sometimes we can think everyone else has things figured out and there is something "wrong" with us because we have feelings, thoughts, urges, and internal things going on. But truth is...so does everyone else.

I won't minimize any of your struggles, because these are things that are important for you to wrestle with, and learn from. They don't come from God, or the devil, they are just part of life to help us gain experience while on this mortal journey.

But my advice, now that I have kids your age who are going through similar things, is to tell you to first and foremost find ways to love yourself and be kind to yourself and accept yourself where you are in life...realizing you will move forward and figure things out as you go.
badkarmal wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 10:11
I often avoid being involved in any sort of priesthood activity because of I understand I am not worthy.
You might want to start with this statement you made, and really do some soul-searching around this belief you have. Test this. Try God and see what is real, or what is based on your fears, not reality. Are you really unworthy? Or do you just think you are?

What if you gained a testimony that the atonement was there to help you do your best, even if not perfect? What if you gave blessings with hope and faith that God makes up the difference, and with that belief you loved and cared for others. And as you gave blessings or sincerely loved others, and asked God to help make up the difference with your imperfections...would you start seeing good things in life, blessings in life, spiritual experiences? Would others start telling you that you have brought the spirit into their lives? In other words...God would seem to accept you as worthy based on experiences you can see? I dunno know if that would happen...but you could try it and see before just relegating yourself to "unworthy" and never even try.

I think sometimes we are harder on ourselves than God is. I am a father to college age kids and love them, even though they are imperfect. In fact, I think they are amazing kids. Some are inactive in church...and I don't care...they are amazing kids. If I can see them as such as an imperfect, mortal father...how much more does a perfect Heavenly Father accept His children who are not perfect but are trying?

Remember what our church leaders have taught us:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.”

The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” The Church is for people like you and me. The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.

In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.

A Promise to All
Let us acknowledge that most often gaining a testimony is not a task of a minute, an hour, or a day. It is not once and done. The process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.

Your testimony of the living Son of God and His restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, may not come as quickly as you desire, but I promise you this: if you do your part, it will come.

And it will be glorious.
Uchtdorf: Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth

I hope that helps some. Don't be so hard on yourself that you damn yourself from learning things now. Be open to things that God will teach you, even if you hear harsh and judging things from others at church. They are expressing their views based on their experiences and are trying to journey the best they can.

I think there is a place for you in the church, as you are. And there are likely many others in your ward with similar thoughts, fears, and experiences as you.

Thanks for joining our discussions. I look forward to learning more from your posts.
Wow, just wow! This entire thing gives me an entire different perspective of my situation. Thank you so much for your wonderful words.

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7158
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by Heber13 » 01 Sep 2019, 12:17

I'm glad that gave you something to think about, and a new perspective to consider. You seem very open to new ideas and learning. I think that will help you experience and feel what is right to your spirit. Listen to those feelings. My guess is that it will also help you be more compassionate and empathetic to other people you come in contact with, and lift their spirits at times also.

I bet we would be surprised if we could see some kind of outward indication of how many people look at porn and realized others struggle with it also...and yet...are perfectly fine and worthy because they do so many other great things that the sum total of all things is that they are good people.

For some people, the more they focus on that one issue...the more it becomes an issue for them. If they can let it go, and accept imperfections in life, but focus on truly good things...they would be better off doing good things.

There are limitations to that belief. Some really bad things are really bad and inexcusable. But perhaps not all the things we damn ourselves for that are perfectly natural parts of life that we all struggle with.

I'll share one experience I had...others may have had this experience as well...

Several years ago I went through family struggles that ended in divorce. It was the catalyst to me seeking answers in life which led me to this website (actually, another website but Curt Sunshine pointed me to this website). As my marriage was failing...we met with a bishop. The bishop interviewed me asking questions why I may be struggling and unworthy for blessings that would help my situation. It went something kind of like this:
Bishop: Are you paying your tithing?
Me: Yes
Bishop: Are you fasting and praying?
Me: Yes
Bishop: Are you attending your meetings?
Me: Yes
Bishop: Are you studying your scriptures every single day?
Me: Yes
Bishop: Are you having meaningful prayers morning and night?
Me: Well, mostly, I pray in the evenings, but not mornings.
Bishop: Well, there is some room for improvement there. But it is good you are praying daily.
Are you reading things online and posting on StayLDS.org which is an anti-mormon website? [Note: My ex-wife had told him I was doing this and it had changed me and who I was which to her was a reason our marriage was failing. It wasn't. But it gave her something to blame. So he was prepared and wanted to go there with me. Which is interesting to me on this topic of worthiness and how people judge that and make us feel unworthy.]
Me: No. StayLDS.com is where I post, that other one is a different website.
Bishop: Well, I feel impressed to tell you that your activity online is not helping your testimony and is not helping you be worthy to receive blessings from God. Will you stop posting online?
Me: Yes. But I don't think that is the problem.
You see...many people in church want to have certainty in life, and want something they can point to that helps them make sense of life. Even if my marriage problems were totally a different thing...my bishop wanted to keep drilling me until he found what he could make sense of would be the root cause of my problems.

Another month later, my bishop wanted to meet with me for follow-up. It went something like this:
Bishop: Brother Heber13, have you been able to keep to your promise and stop posting on that anti-mormon website?
Me: Yes.
Bishop: I have to tell you, I knew you would answer that. You have a different spirit about you. You are more filled with light and your countenance shows it. I promise you as you continue to do this, you will be worthy for God's blessings. But if you turn away from the church, not only will God withhold blessings to you, but He will withhold them from your children and future generations. And their salvation will be on your head for eternity.
Stay close to God, and obey all the commandments. The salvation of your prosperity is dependent on it.
That was how he saw it. It was what made sense to him. Truth was...I did nothing different. I was still posting online. But found it interesting to me that others would think "my countenance" had changed, or that there was the spirit about me...because they wanted to believe that.

My marriage problems had to do with something completely different. But the bishop wanted to help by offering his point of view on what made sense to him. That was nice of him, I took his gesture for what it was, but could see he wasn't qualified to help me in my situation.

Nor could he speak for God on what I was worthy to do or not to do. Because he can't see my heart, like God can.

Eventually, God was ok if I went through a divorce. It wasn't the end of things, nor the condemnation of my children or future generations, which doesn't make any sense when you think about it.

So that is my experience I share with you. Just because others will tell you things that make you feel worthy or unworthy doesn't mean that is how God sees us.

Take what others say as some advice to consider, including my words, but truly seek for yourself what feels right and good. And focus more on what you can do today to be a better person, regardless of what happened in the past that you feel bad about. Chances are you could be focusing on only the things you are lacking in your testimony while dismissing all the wonderful things you ARE doing that make you worthy. And that is an unfair and unbalanced scale for unworthiness.

Love yourself and be patient with yourself. Chances are, you are doing just fine as you are. And if you have some things to change, start changing those today because it will help you feel better about yourself, instead of out of fear that you will be unworthy if you don't. I find that shift in motivation makes all the difference in sustaining a change.

Sorry for the long posts. Just sharing some experiences, and appreciate your story as you are sharing your experiences. That is what this forum is all about.

Thanks again for giving me a chance to share my testimony. I hope others will share theirs too.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

badkarmal
Posts: 3
Joined: 01 Sep 2019, 08:12

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by badkarmal » 01 Sep 2019, 14:18

Your testimony is quite inspiring. It is neat to see someone that has gone through so much-and yet remain so strong. Mentally and spiritually. For me growing up in the church was quite difficult. I was bullied quite a bit by other LDS youth growing up. It wasn't so much physical, but it was mental and social. I was often excluded out of things for numerous factors. It didn't help that I was in a rather affluent ward either. My family while comfortably middle class, we were not affluent. This often created issues with members in the ward. People either had to suck up to those affluent members or they would be labeled as outcasts and would be treated accordingly. And me-being sort of a maverick that does his own thing I was going to have none of that.

It was truly astounding to see what the "rich kids" in my ward could get away with simply because their parents had money. Even the bishops son was this way. I remember them ditching Sunday school when we were 16 to go to McDonald's. And yes-my Sunday school teacher was in on it too. I was really bothered by this for some reason. The bishops son doing that. But since he was rich and the bishops son he was able to get away with it. But apparently my drinking a mtn. dew after mutual was pure evil.

I still remember another story when I was about 17 of going down to the local Starbucks with a few LDS friends to get some Fraps. I got a Java Frap which yes has coffee in it. I really didn't care. But as we were walking around they smelled the coffee and took it out of my hands and started sipping it to "make sure". And they threw it away. Keep in mind I paid for mine. If I could go back to that time I would have clocked that kid in the jaw and smashed his head on the pavement.

It was just garbage like that I grew up with. And then it really seemed I was powerless. To this day just even thinking about it fills me with rage. I know the exact names they will forever be remembered as the ones who did quite a bit of damage. Heck, there are even a few of my former Youth leaders that did some damage too.
Last edited by badkarmal on 04 Sep 2019, 13:00, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Heber13
Site Admin
Posts: 7158
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by Heber13 » 01 Sep 2019, 15:37

Man, you've been thru a lot.

I'm sorry for that. It isn't supposed to be like that in church. Or...maybe it is...so we can see it for what it is and help us learn to put it in perspective.

I don't know anymore.

But you're strong. It's inspiring to see you're still trying.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Roy
Posts: 5939
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by Roy » 02 Sep 2019, 09:27

I am sorry for your experience badkarmal,

I too struggled with P and M. I suppose some today might have said that I was addicted. I felt guilty and I felt deviant. Getting endowed and wearing garments was super spiritual. It felt like I had been changed. But then I succumbed again and I felt like I had betrayed God and Jesus in the divine war against Satan. I was my own Benedict Arnold plotting with the adversary to surrender at a critical juncture. Nobody likes or respects a traitor. I wrote in my pre-mission journal that if I could not stop then I would be doomed to a life a sexual deviancy and disfunction. Any woman that might marry me would be saddled with a life of sorrow and disappointment. That is how I felt about myself. I had a nightmare about it once.

From the 40 year old me, I have a different perspective and I hope sharing it is helpful to you. I do believe in sexual deviancy and disfunction but I do not believe that I ever had that. I was a relatively healthy and normal young man with average hormones and inclinations towards women and sex. I do believe in exercising restraint and bridling one's passions. However, there is a difference between a bridle and a vice-grip. Zero tolerance was not healthy for me and set up a victory or failure dichotomy that was destructive.

The war analogies were also not helpful. I was a young man exploring my sexuality. I was not and am not a warrior on a battlefield - to kill or be killed. Heaven and hell do not hang in the balance of whether or not I masturbate.

Lastly, I feel that I had a great deal to offer a young woman when the time was right. I am a good husband and a great father. I always treat my wife with respect - especially sexually. She has given herself to me - body, heart, and soul. I do my best to honor that gift and I also give myself to her. Of course, married life has a sexual component but it is so much more. Having a teammate with whom you can be truly open and vulnerable is a greater intimacy.

If I could send my younger self a tweet through time, I would say something like this:
You have a life-long adventure ahead of you. You are great and you will do great. You are "worthy" of respect, of understanding, and of love. As you take steps forward into the unknown - be brave. Also ... buy Amazon.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
"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: 6894
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by DarkJedi » 02 Sep 2019, 15:06

Just something to ponder. Is it God telling you you're unworthy or is it men (including yourself)? I believe most in the church really have no understanding of worthiness and grace.
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

User avatar
Heavy_Laden
Posts: 72
Joined: 27 Jul 2013, 19:51
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by Heavy_Laden » 04 Sep 2019, 09:21

Thanks for sharing your story. I too struggle with things in this arena. It started out as a coping mechanism for my social awkwardness when I was a teen and has continued throughout my life. The Mormon Stories episode 1156 with Natasha Helfer Parker (https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/h ... er-parker/) hit really close to home, I would highly recommend you listening to all 3 hours or so about the topic. Listen to it in the car on your way into work. The gist is, we are normal.. there is no shame.

With that said, I have set goals for myself to get rid of the practice. It isn't because someone in Religion wants me to but because I want to. Just like those quit smoking ads you see on billboards and gas stations, every day you don't do it is a small victory. You aren't alone, many people project perfectness but it is a facade and a fraud. If you want to quit, then quit.. If you aren't ready, continue on and reevaluate it later. If you have a similar problem as me, using it as an escape, perhaps seeking help from a professional might be a good idea. I should take my own advice.
It was just garbage like that I grew up with. And then it really seemed I was powerless. To this day just even thinking about it fills me with rage. I know the exact names they will forever be remembered as the ones who did quite a bit of damage. Heck, there are even a few of my former Youth that did some damage too.
I had a lot of garbage like that too.. Being bullied, picked on, ect.. I have forgiven them all, I'm friends with them on FB even. It is a part of our story, which is unique.. they helped create who I am today and I am proud of it. Yes, I am not the gold standard for Mormons, my story isn't typical and I don't follow all the rules, but if I didn't have these struggles, I would a totally different kind of person. There is plenty of room in this church for misfits and there are plenty of them among the TBMs, you just have to seek them out.
I'm an Independent Mormon and it's okay. - Staylds.org

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3523
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Stuck in a rock and a hard place

Post by hawkgrrrl » 04 Sep 2019, 14:20

badkarmal: Thanks for sharing your experiences. Based on what you've said about growing up in an affluent ward where affluent Church members were more influential than regular Joes, I have to say your original guilt-ridden post makes even more sense. Mormons, particularly those that are conservative and wealthy, get very caught up in the Prosperity Gospel. Uchtdorf is really the only apostle who is consistently preaching against it which is why he's a breath of fresh air, and IMO, the only one I find consistently worth listening to, just between us.

IMO, it's a natural failing of the Church because it's such an American Church. We were based on the American myth of the self-made, self-reliant man, the rags to riches story. Particularly those who are politically conservative like to believe that they have earned and deserve their affluence. That applies to how they feel about their "success" at Church too. In this mindset, the highest callings go to the most worthy, to the best members, to the ones God favors. If missionaries are not successful, it's not because people have free agency--we blame the missionary for not being hard-working enough or obedient enough or not having enough faith. If children leave the Church, we never blame the Church for failing to engage them or the leaders for turning them off or the members if they treated them cruelly. We blame either the kids themselves (they wanted to sin) or their poor parents (they didn't have a faithful enough home).

There are just as many scriptures that decry this attitude as there are implications that it works this way. We aren't saved by our works; we are saved because God loves us even though we don't deserve it. The BOM cautions against the "pride cycle," and that once we are prosperous, we are ripe for a fall. But too often Church members (and leaders) believe that they deserve good things because they worked for them. They think the people who worked hard but didn't get the same results didn't *really* work hard. For example, if someone prays about the BOM and doesn't get a testimony as a result, we say they didn't have *real intent*. Well, how is that charitable? How would we even know such a thing? It's kind of a jerk move to assume that people's motives are impure just because their results differ. We overstate the impact of our own actions and understate the unforeseen factors (including dumb luck, timing and better opportunities) that impact outcomes.

I did a post about these concepts a few years ago: https://bycommonconsent.com/2013/08/01/ ... smackdown/ You might enjoy this different perspective on these ideas. If we quit taking responsibility for results and only take responsibility for our actions, we can refocus on what really matters and quit feeling pride for things we didn't really "earn" or do. And yet, our wards and missions and the Church in general are run like businesses. When you see it as a corporation, it can be freeing to say that Church no longer defines your spirituality or your Christian discipleship. It's a place you go to try to become more Christlike next to others with similar intentions.

Pornography (aside from the exploitation of women which is a wider, systemic problem) is essentially a victimless crime. Buddhism's Law of Chastity is just that you not harm another person in your sexual actions. It's up to the individual to determine what is harm. Consent is a good starting point. When it comes to the java drink, which is the greater sin? In Matthew 15:11, Jesus said: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." What's inside of us, who we are, how we treat others, these are more important than a checklist of food or behavior prohibitions. But the other things are easier to track and enforce.

I often think our hyper-focus on what is measurable and enforceable takes our eye off the ball. Who are we becoming? Are we living the Gospel? Are we treating others well and with love? Focusing on checklists creates the opposite focus: it's all inward on whether or not we legalistically meet a list of "qualifications." The fact that you want to bless others is the higher law. It's not even just a scale of "Good, Better, Best." Being focused on "earning" salvation through checklist behavior COMPETES with actually living the gospel. You can't do both. If you do the former, you have your reward (the approval of humans and social capital that comes with that). If you do the latter, you might not get the same outcomes, but you become a better person. As a stark example, consider a parent so focused on the checklist for eternal families that she tries to control her children to force them to obey the checklist, and if they step out of line or do anything wrong, she punishes them with her emotional distance and rejection. Is she really creating an eternal family? No, she's being selfish and controlling. Her kids will pray for the day they turn 18 and can get away from her.

Post Reply