Challenging discussion

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Gerald
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Challenging discussion

Post by Gerald » 04 Jul 2020, 05:06

Well, it finally happened. My wife confronted me regarding my "faith change." We were traveling somewhere that took about four hours and while chatting about this and that, she noted that I seemed less than enthusiastic about church-related stuff and sometimes rather critical of the institutional church (both true). It caught me unawares and I wasn't really prepared for the question. I tried to explain where I was in my faith without making it sound "scary" (my wife can get anxious at times). It came out rather disjointed as I wasn't wholly prepared to have that particular discussion. But it went okay.

I'm not planning on leaving the Church, going inactive, or stating to all and sundry about my more nuanced faith but I could see it would be hard to lay that out without sounding somewhat heretical (plus I was driving). It did make me reflect on how much I keep hidden from the world at large. My wife is the only person with whom I've even hinted at some of these things. Most of the time I keep it to myself. Most of the time (given that I'm fairly reserved by nature), that's not a problem. Of course, it would be nice to be able to "let go" at times and feel free to have more interesting conversations about the gospel and church at large (with those who want to). I still attend. I still have a temple recommend. I'm not bitter (though I understand those who are). And this forum is my only real outlet.

So I guess I just want to say thanks to all who listen/read. Even if you don't comment, it's somewhat comforting to me to know that somewhere somebody knows how I feel.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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DarkJedi
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Jul 2020, 03:41

Those conversations can be difficult but to save marriages and relationships they are often necessary. My wife has used the captive audience ploy in the past as well. Our conversations, especially early on, didn't always go so well but we are at a place of understanding similar to what you describe. I'm glad yours went OK and you're good with it.

I, too, am glad to be able to come here to express myself, get support, and support others. As moderators we know the lurkers are there and we're fine with that. Some decisions we make are based on what the lurker might see or feel and we want everyone to feel as though it's safe here and especially that this is not an "anti" place.
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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nibbler
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by nibbler » 06 Jul 2020, 08:31

Those moments can be nerve-racking and therapeutic.

It sounds like it went well. Thanks for sharing!

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mom3
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by mom3 » 06 Jul 2020, 13:08

This is beautiful. I am glad you got to share. And that it went well. After a decade of silence my extended family is pursuing mine (and my family's) status with a bit more vigor. It's a fun fine line. Part of that line for me, is I have no desire to crumble anyone else's faith. If they hit a bad patch, I want to be a support, no matter what decision they make. However, when people you care about or are connected to you, it gets a bit dicey. Trying not to scare or hurt, and yet keep your personal integrity. Well done, Gerald. May it continue to go this smoothly as you grow.
"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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Heber13
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by Heber13 » 07 Jul 2020, 12:18

Thanks for sharing Gerald.

I'm curious, if another opportunity presented itself for you to start the discussion, how might you start it and ask how she feels about how you feel? Or how might you try to clarify what was said?
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."

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Gerald
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by Gerald » 09 Jul 2020, 05:43

I'm curious, if another opportunity presented itself for you to start the discussion, how might you start it and ask how she feels about how you feel? Or how might you try to clarify what was said?
Great question. I'm now on my fourth draft of my response. It tells me that I'm not sure I would change the content of what I said (though try to put it more coherently). The LDS Church is part of me and I am part of it (for better and worse) and I can't see myself divorcing it. I think that's the reassurance that I'd want to give her more clearly. While we haven't had anyone close to us leave the Church, it is happening all around us and I'm sure it frightens my wife when she thinks about it. As a result, I don't think I speak completely candidly right now. And I'm okay with it.
My wife has used the captive audience ploy in the past as well.
Ha! I hadn't thought of it like that and I don't think my wife meant to "put me on the spot" but it definitely felt a little bit like that.

I really appreciate the support I've received (voiced and unvoiced).
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

AmyJ
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by AmyJ » 09 Jul 2020, 08:33

It can be hard to reassure the family about the status quo while changing perspective on religious subjects. There is a ton written here about it in different places...

A Side Bar Conversation - Personal Beliefs (and values) shifting in an Organized Religion setting

The church teachings tend to connect personal values with religious teachings - and they do go hand-in-hand pretty well most of the time because a lot of teachings on values were taught as morals in Sunday Schools and other religious instruction. However, there is a hard process going on here that gets interesting....

A person (regardless of religion) can have and live with authentic personal values.
A religious person has more of or more authentic personal values (that is what is being sold as "morals" in conversations and is a fundamental part of church culture).

NOTE: This is where it gets dicey - the default assumption is that the religious person is an active participant in a religious community to get those benefits).
[*]Church teachings don't really address in any depth whether a religious person who doesn't participate in the religious community actually has an acceptable level of values or whether a non-religious person (irregardless of religious community involvement) has an acceptable level of values.
[*]In fact, since the official church stance is that joining and participating in the church is the optimum and (and maybe only - depends on who you ask) way to maximize personal values, why bother being a non-religious person (in action or in personal views). It is because of this clash of ideals that we have the "middle way" at all.

I know in my situation, I run into the issue all the time when talking with my mom that while I champion and really think about the principle of Charity - and try to be a more charitable person - I don't consider myself a Christian. The culture that raised us has connected these 2 principles so much that it is hard to disconnect them. So, the disconnect does not compute for her. Full Stop. The story that she tells about the situation is that God is guiding my actions and I am following Jesus Christ even if I don't acknowledge it. It bothers me sometimes because I want the precision/accuracy of where I think I am in my current path understood, and that is not going to happen.

I wish I had better answers for you, sorry:(

Roy
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by Roy » 09 Jul 2020, 16:33

AmyJ wrote:
09 Jul 2020, 08:33
I champion and really think about the principle of Charity - and try to be a more charitable person - I don't consider myself a Christian. The culture that raised us has connected these 2 principles so much that it is hard to disconnect them. So, the disconnect does not compute for her. Full Stop. The story that she tells about the situation is that God is guiding my actions and I am following Jesus Christ even if I don't acknowledge it. It bothers me sometimes because I want the precision/accuracy of where I think I am in my current path understood, and that is not going to happen.
It can be frustrating when someone else's narrative for us does not match our own. The thought pops into my head of doing temple work for Jewish victims of the holocaust. On one side they clearly paid for their religious beliefs/affiliation with their lives and to assume that they might cast them off in heaven is disrespectful. On the other hand, those that have made attempts to do this vicarious work do so out of an expression of love - misguided love mixed with hubris but love nonetheless. I believe that her narrative of God guiding your actions even if they might seem non-traditional to others is a pretty charitable perspective and could certainly be worse. Life is full of conflict and misunderstandings but also hopefully love and compassion too.
"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

AmyJ
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by AmyJ » 10 Jul 2020, 05:42

I agree that it is a compassionate viewpoint and it could be a lot worse.

We often talk about our faith understanding as a house with tenets being specific physical aspects of a house. In this case, I feel that her viewpoint functions like a plank over a gaping hole in the floor - she sees the plank and can easily how to navigate to the next part of the house - and I am telling her the plank is not there and that I am not sure I want to go over in that area anyways (because of my relationship with my mom and our experiences I can do this fairly safely). Sometimes she says the equivalent of "the plank is actually there and you'll see it after you go over in that direction...". And I am sitting here thinking, "the plank is not there, please don't assume that it is, because it is not there - so navigating that way is a pain and the ground is not as steady as you think it is".

Minyan Man
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Re: Challenging discussion

Post by Minyan Man » 10 Jul 2020, 07:26

Gerald wrote:
04 Jul 2020, 05:06
... My wife confronted me regarding my "faith change."
I personally believe that our faith should be changing over time. We should feel comfortable asking questions, challenging
the status quo. That is one of the ways we learn. I love to read about Peter in the NT & how his faith seemed to change
over time. He was always asking questions of Jesus but remaining faithful. It frustrates me that the Church & some of the membership
seem to be so nervous, offended or uncomfortable when someone asks a question or takes a position that challenges the status quo.

I probably used this example before, my wife is a graduate of BYU. She gets the alumni magazine & I liked to read it too.
They used to have a "letter to the editor" column that supported or opposed the articles & viewpoints written in the
previous issue. I liked it because it helped me to look at other people's opinions & viewpoints & doctrine in a different way.
Some I agreed with and others I didn't. They removed the column without explanation. I'm sure it made members uncomfortable.

If the church is "true" & represents the pure teaching of Jesus Christ, we shouldn't feel uncomfortable with questions. Or, made
to feel "less than" because we asked a question or challenged a doctrine, etc.

I hope this isn't off topic.

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