Promised Blessings

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Apr 2019, 05:37

rrosskopf wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 03:00
Arrakeen wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 15:25
My faith crisis started because no matter how bad things got on my mission, it seemed like there were never any answers to prayers, and no matter how obedient I was, there were never any promised blessings. I have a lot of difficulty now believing in promised blessings, because I never received any of the great blessings that were supposed to come from serving a mission, and instead came home very, very broken. The only way I can reconcile this is to tell myself that God never actually personally promised me those blessings--people did, and they were wrong.
We often treat everyone the same in the church, and make broad statements based on our own experiences, but people are different, and suffer from a variety of spiritual diseases. There is often overlap between mental health issues and spiritual issues, but I couldn't tell you where one ends and the other starts.
Jesus explained that one could keep the commandments and still not receive the promised blessings because of ones attitudes. A bad attitude was the same as commiting the sin. Attitudes definately influence and are influenced by mental health. So it can be a murky area. I have seen people overcome their mental health issues, with a lot of help, but it is more common for people to suffer from the same issues throughout their lives.
I don't think it's all about mental health though. Let's use Moroni's promise as an example. Many people will stand at the pulpit at testify that they received a witness of the BoM as expected, and because they received that witness exactly as outlined they expect everyone else also did or can. But that's not necessarily the case. In any given congregation you could find several who have not received the promised/expected witness despite great effort on their part - but don't expect them to openly admit it for several reasons. Likewise there could be several reasons why they haven't, including that God just hasn't done it yet. Those people are often left to wonder "What's wrong with me?" This does not only apply to Moroni's promise, many testimony areas are very similar as is the experience of many missionaries when it comes to strict obedience.

I'm just going to throw in a couple related side notes here. 1) Moroni's promise: generally only verses 3-5 are read. Verse 1 makes it clear who the promise is actually to. He was writing to the Lamanites. Does that mean the promise won't work for others? Apparently not, but it also might indicate it's not to everybody. 2) Oliver Cowdery and translating: The "burning in the bosom" is often cited. I can't say I've ever experienced what I would call a burning in the bosom other than heartburn when I eat too much chili. The burning in the bosom may be how God communicated with Oliver, but I get a much different feeling. AND, we also need to keep in mind that Oliver failed at translating - and it was not for lack of trying, burning bosom or not.
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: Promised Blessings

Post by nibbler » 12 Apr 2019, 05:43

rrosskopf wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 03:00
Jesus explained that one could keep the commandments and still not receive the promised blessings because of ones attitudes. A bad attitude was the same as commiting the sin. Attitudes definately influence and are influenced by mental health. So it can be a murky area. I have seen people overcome their mental health issues, with a lot of help, but it is more common for people to suffer from the same issues throughout their lives.
I think someone that is struggling to feel as though they are receiving a promised blessing would see this as another in a long line of excuses for why a promised blessing did not occur.

Maybe the reasoning is that since god is perfect, if I'm not receiving a blessing it must mean that there is something wrong on my end. In this case if someone (somehow) feels like they are being obedient enough to receive a blessing and they still aren't receiving the desired blessing then... must be a bad attitude. You start at the top of the checklist of why a blessing wasn't received and you work your way down until you find out where you screwed up. Maybe if you make it past the attitude checkbox you're left with the blessing coming in the afterlife.

That pattern can actually help to achieve desired goals (try, try, and try again) but if taken to extremes I believe this sort of pattern can lead people to developing mental health issues. It may be healthier to realize that stuff happens. Especially when the alternative is believing that we're not worthy/lovable enough to receive a blessing.

In orthodox terms... we're in a fallen world. Maybe the formulas and vending machines work perfectly in a celestial world, but we're not on a celestial world. We have to deal with the consequences of the Fall and one of the consequences of the Fall is that sometimes things just happen. That's life.

Take Job. What did he do to deserve his fate? What did his friends say? What was his internal dialog.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
— Henry David Thoreau

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nibbler
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by nibbler » 12 Apr 2019, 05:50

DarkJedi wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 05:37
I don't think it's all about mental health though. Let's use Moroni's promise as an example. Many people will stand at the pulpit at testify that they received a witness of the BoM as expected, and because they received that witness exactly as outlined they expect everyone else also did or can. But that's not necessarily the case. In any given congregation you could find several who have not received the promised/expected witness despite great effort on their part - but don't expect them to openly admit it for several reasons. Likewise there could be several reasons why they haven't, including that God just hasn't done it yet. Those people are often left to wonder "What's wrong with me." This does not only apply to Moroni's promise, many testimony areas are very similar as is the experience of many missionaries when it comes to strict obedience.
Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-14 wrote:For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
I've brought up this point before. One verse says that to some it is given to know and another verse says that it is given to believe those that know. I think our brains sometimes automatically translate that into an either-or statement, either you can know or you can believe others that know, but I think there's room in those verses to say that some people have the gift to know and to believe others that know; and there's some people that have neither of those gifts - their spiritual gift is something else entirely.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
— Henry David Thoreau

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DarkJedi
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Apr 2019, 05:54

nibbler wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 05:50
DarkJedi wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 05:37
I don't think it's all about mental health though. Let's use Moroni's promise as an example. Many people will stand at the pulpit at testify that they received a witness of the BoM as expected, and because they received that witness exactly as outlined they expect everyone else also did or can. But that's not necessarily the case. In any given congregation you could find several who have not received the promised/expected witness despite great effort on their part - but don't expect them to openly admit it for several reasons. Likewise there could be several reasons why they haven't, including that God just hasn't done it yet. Those people are often left to wonder "What's wrong with me." This does not only apply to Moroni's promise, many testimony areas are very similar as is the experience of many missionaries when it comes to strict obedience.
Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-14 wrote:For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
I've brought up this point before. One verse says that to some it is given to know and another verse says that it is given to believe those that know. I think our brains sometimes automatically translate that into an either-or statement, either you can know or you can believe others that know, but I think there's room in those verses to say that some people have the gift to know and to believe others that know; and there's some people that have neither of those gifts - their spiritual gift is something else entirely.
Great point Nibbler. I have included this idea in many of my talks.
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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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Apr 2019, 09:27

(Admin Note): Spiritual "issues" will not be lumped together with mental health issues or disorders at this site - especially if they are labeled or implied to be "diseases". Period. Full stop.

Spiritual struggles will not be blamed comprehensively on laziness, sin, complacency, rebellion, etc. at this site. Period. Full stop.

People who see and experience spiritual things non-traditionally are not psychologically abnormal or deviant. We will not approach them as patients to be fixed or healed, so they can have orthodox views and with the belief they can have specific spiritual manifestations. That is not our mission, and it is, in fact, opposed to our mission. Period. Full stop.

We approach very few things at this site through an all-or-nothing lens. This is one of those things where there is no leeway. Period. Full stop.
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: Promised Blessings

Post by Roy » 12 Apr 2019, 10:20

rrosskopf wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 03:00
one could keep the commandments and still not receive the promised blessings because of ones attitudes.
I can see some truth in this statement but I am looking at it from the other side. My wife often says that people see blessing because of their perception. We have an old clunker car that has gone on to operate far longer than expectations. DW was talking about it to her ministering sister and the sister exclaimed "tithing blessings!". DW later relayed the story to me and we were commenting on the reaction.
In our situation something good has happened (a blessing) without a clear explanation.
We know that our old car's continued operation cannot be a consequence of tithing compliance because I as head of the household had not paid tithing since before the car (already in a used a high mileage state) was purchased.
The ministering sister would like to ascribe this fortunate occurrence to payment of tithing. I have no doubt that she ascribes many good things that happen in her life to tithing compliance, temple attendance, meaningful service or the like.
Therefor, in a significant way, it is her perception or "attitude" that can draw a connection between the "blessing" and religious observances.
IOW, "believing" can lead to "seeing" blessings.

The above story is low stakes and not particularly personal. Something good happened but it wasn't critical or somehow tied up in my identity as a person. Where these issues become much more difficult and heart wrenching is when the "promised blessing" is deeply personal, reflects a long held desire, and may even impact the individuals personal identity or sense of self worth and yet it remains elusive despite all efforts. To imply that these people just do not want it hard enough or have not tried long enough or maybe have some other personal failing preventing fulfilment - to imply that is not helpful and does a disservice to those individuals.
"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

Arrakeen
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Arrakeen » 12 Apr 2019, 18:43

nibbler wrote:
12 Apr 2019, 05:50
I've brought up this point before. One verse says that to some it is given to know and another verse says that it is given to believe those that know. I think our brains sometimes automatically translate that into an either-or statement, either you can know or you can believe others that know, but I think there's room in those verses to say that some people have the gift to know and to believe others that know; and there's some people that have neither of those gifts - their spiritual gift is something else entirely.
I like this idea. It definitely does seem like some people are just naturally more prone to spiritual feelings than others. I'm definitely not, I've only really had one spiritual experience my entire life. It's easy to miss the spiritual diversity in the church since it seems like mostly those with regular spiritual experiences or stories of blessings are the ones who get up to speak in fast and testimony meeting. This leads to a sort of selection bias, where it's easy to think we're the only one not having these great experiences. While it's nice to be optimistic, I think we sometimes focus too much on the "17 miracles" while ignoring the thousands of not-miracles when things just didn't work out, which just leads to discouragement when we find ourselves in the latter group.

I struggle at times when I hear all these wonderful testimonies from people (especially about missions since like 80 percent of my ward is recent RMs) and wonder, why does God seem to bless everyone else but me? I have to remind myself that the people who bear their testimonies are often those who feel like they have great experiences to share. Among the rest are probably people like me, wondering why they don't have these kinds of experiences.

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dande48
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by dande48 » 12 Apr 2019, 19:47

This discussion on promised blessings, right mindset, etc, reminded me a series of articles I read a while back, covering why eye-witness testimonies are unreliable. Here's the article from Scientific American, back in 2010. It references a study done by Elizabeth F Loftus, et al, called The Formation of False Memories. Here's another article by Simply Psychology, which covers Bartlett's theory of Reconstructive Memory. Just citing my sources. ;)

Here are some key points (emphasis added):
Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses.

Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them.

...highly confident eyewitnesses are generally only slightly more accurate—and sometimes no more so—than those who are less confident.

Many researchers have created false memories in normal individuals; what is more, many of these subjects are certain that the memories are real.
Recall is subject to personal interpretation dependent on our learnt or cultural norms and values, and the way we make sense of our world.

People store information in the way that makes the most sense to them. We make sense of information by trying to fit it into schemas, which are a way of organizing information. We make sense of information by trying to fit it into schemas, which are a way of organizing information.

Schemas are mental 'units' of knowledge that correspond to frequently encountered people, objects or situations. They allow us to make sense of what we encounter in order that we can predict what is going to happen and what we should do in any given situation. These schemas may, in part, be determined by social values and therefore prejudice.

Schemas are therefore capable of distorting unfamiliar or unconsciously ‘unacceptable’ information in order to ‘fit in’ with our existing knowledge or schemas. This can, therefore, result in unreliable eyewitness testimony.

Memory is an active process and can be changed to 'fit in' with what we expect to happen based on your knowledge and understanding of society.
We like the world to make sense (even when it doesn't). We have preconcieved ideas, notions, prejudices, and expectations which all influence how we percieve the world around us. While I believe there is an objective "reality", human perception is very subjective. Time and time again, it is shown humans do not recall accurately. They fit information into what they already believe, not adjust what they believe to fit the new information. Therefore, new information (especially the kind that contradicts our "schemas"), is distorted. This isn't mental illness. This is normal human psychology. People who hold a stronger belief in God, miracles, and blessings are more likely to see them, even if they're not there. Likewise, those who have a stronger disbelief in God, miracles, and blessings are less likely to see them, even if they are there.

Personally, I don't believe in God (unless we really stretch our definition), and if He did exist, I don't believe He would be the cause of such "blessings". It's possible, but according to my own personal experience and understanding, I've concluded it is very unlikely. However, you might very reasonably believe in God, and see blessings directly from His hand every day. Both of us can't be right, but who can say which of us is right? Both viewpoints are very understandable and equally valid, despite the fact that one of us is absolutely wrong. That doesn't mean those who are "wrong" in their perceptions are crazy, irrational, or wicked. It means we're human.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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rrosskopf
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by rrosskopf » 13 Apr 2019, 01:03

I was watching Green Acres the other day. It is about a NYC lawyer that leaves the rat race to become a farmer. The trouble is that he knows very little about farming, and doesn't bother talking to actual farmers with successful farms before jumping in with both feet, so to speak. His wife hates living on a farm and seems to sabotage her husband at every step, occasionally doing something nice out of her love for him.

Although it is true that a farmer can do everything right and still have drought, pestilence, jealous neighbors, and other problems, it is also true that he can avoid many problems by talking to successful farmers. Job was successful before his series of unfortunate events, and he was successful afterward, because he knew how to cultivate fields and raise sheep.

Satan tells us anything he can to discourage us from trusting God and make us into victims. The victim mentality is one of constantly blaming others for everything that happens. Don't even try, it isn't worth it, Satan whispers into their ears. It's not your fault, you were born that way. God didn't answer your prayers and that proves that there aren't any gods. Nobody is perfect; don't even try. Do you think you are special? Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't you?
The opposite of the gospel of victims, is the gospel of repentance. Don't focus on the wrongs that you perceive have been committed against you. Forgive others their trespasses. Rather focus on your own actions and attitudes, continually repenting of those actions and attitudes which can not lead to success. This is the leap of faith that one makes out of hope for a better day. We focus on what we can control, and not on anything else. Bad things can still happen, but overall we will be probably be better off.
Nephi is the man to emulate, not Laman and Lemuel. After his father dies, he is very sorrowful, and remembers all the bad things that happened to him throughout his life. Despite living a life of faith, Nephi is in great pain. But then he remembers all the good things that have happened and his grief is assuaded. He recommits to a life of faith. He takes all those who will follow him, and leaves his black hearted brethren behind.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Apr 2019, 05:40

I believe I recall several GAs blaming Satan for stuff just last weekend. Much of our story is a story of victimization (well, not mine, I'm not of Utah pioneer heritage but I hear it all the time). I think some church leaders and many church members foster the victimization/blame mentality.
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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