Hello, everyone

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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Beefster
Posts: 281
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Hello, everyone

Post by Beefster » 04 Aug 2017, 21:50

Hello, my name is Justin.

Hello, Justin

I stumbled across this forum today looking for advice on how to deal with a new singles ward (I just got my first real job and am about to move out of my parents' house)... Well I didn't really find that, but I was intrigued by what I saw here and decided to join.

Just over a year into my mission, I realized I wasn't a particularly orthodox member or missionary for that matter. I've been active my whole life and pretty much just went through the motions until my mission, where I gained a deeper testimony and conversion, but I got really annoyed at all the typical orthodox culture and the pushy/pharisee missionaries it produced, along with the obnoxious culture I was surrounded by at BYU. I even went through my own crisis of faith before my mission. And then I faced my sister leaving the church with her new husband almost immediately after a temple wedding. Plus I'm probably slightly bipolar. And to top that all off, I've been dealing with an addiction since about 16 months into my mission, currently attending ARP meetings.

That is the short version. For the slightly less short version I'll start from the beginning.

When I started college, I began dealing with depression (something I only realize in retrospect). I didn't have many irl friends. I basically had a good friend I grew up with and sometimes made dumb movies with who later became my best friend... and that was about it. I'd occasionally do things with roommates/hallmates, but I was reclusive and essentially friendless. But there was this one Zelda fangame forum I regulared at the time. At some point or another, I got involved in a long debate (mostly over PM) with the forum's most outspoken atheist who had "deconverted" a number of other forum members. I struggled to defend my faith- mostly on the basis that I didn't know if God was real (I realize now that it was a losing debate anyway since there is no proof one way or the other). I had one very powerful spiritual experience I was able to fall back on when I had nothing else, but I felt alone in all this. I did not feel as if there was anyone I could talk to about it. Even my (now) best friend didn't really understand and offered essentially the same general advice as anyone else- something along the lines of "just believe because it's easier that way." Nothing anyone said really satisfied my need to know if God was real.

The only thing that really struck me was the idea of "with real intent" as in Moroni 10. I can't remember who added this wisdom to the scripture, but it was something like "real intent means a willingness to act." Or maybe it was my scientific/skeptical nature latching on to Alma 32's idea of experiment-driven faith. Either way, at some point I decided to use my mission as a means of experimentation. I knew about the 12-week program that was in effect at the time for trainees and I decided I was going to use that as a deadline for God. I decided that if I didn't get a witness that God was real by the end of the 12-week program, I would go home and leave the church. Luckily, I got my witnesses in the MTC, but I still struggled with being willing to accept it as from God. I brought this up to my mission president when I got to the field, and while he was quite surprised to hear my story, he gave me the advice I needed to hear - something like "you just have to choose to believe it." Your mileage will vary on that advice, but it worked for me at that time even though it was kinda the same advice I pretty much always got.

It was a little before I left on my mission that my sister decided to leave the church with her husband. This was almost immediately after their temple wedding they didn't let my family attend because he was a convert and didn't want to make his parents feel left out. This came as a total shock to the system, as they pulled me aside behind my family's back to give me an anti-mormon book. It destroyed a lot of the trust I had with her and it completely destroyed our relationship. I was really close to her and I felt really betrayed even though I was going through a crisis of faith myself. My family has been rebuilding a relationship with her over the last 5 years, but it's nowhere near what it once was. (This is something I will probably talk about in more depth at a later time- it's something I haven't fully gotten over)

My mission essentially had two camps: the chill "be yourself" missionaries who I mostly aligned with, and the prevailing "being yourself is a sin" missionaries. I could see a lot of the flaws of taking either too far. On the one hand, I saw missionaries using "being themselves" as an excuse not to work to overcome their weaknesses or an excuse not to follow the rules. On the other hand, the error with the thinking of the latter is that you become an pushy stick-up-the-butt robotic missionary that members, investigators, and other missionaries hate working with. At some point, Elder Anderson visited our mission and completely shattered the dominant ideas... or so we thought. Nothing really changed, but I at least felt comfort in knowing that the way I was doing things was acceptable. I knew a lot of other elders who were frustrated with the culture of the mission and its lack of change from that point. I was really quite obedient with a few big struggles with some rules and consistent frustration with pharisee leadership, but I was hard enough on myself that I didn't fully get over it until almost a year after my mission.

I honorably finished my mission- though during the last 8 months I began to fall into an addiction which I halfheartedly kicked to get my temple recommend renewed. It came back not long after I got home, and recently I've been attending an ARP group where I often feel the spirit more strongly than at church.

Right after the mission, I moved in with my good friend who quickly became my best friend and I made some great friends (mostly female, platonic) who were just as much black sheep as I was- still solid and active, but rejected a lot of the nonsensical norms and meshed well with my crazy personality. They really helped me navigate the transition back into being a normal person, provided the refuge I needed from *shudder* Provo culture, and helped me with my initial realizations that I had depression. While I still keep in touch, I slowly lost consistent support from them as they got married and they started dealing with trials of their own. By my last year, I was pretty much a zombie recluse who never really did anything interesting and only really hung out with roommates (like freshman year but with more friends on the sidelines). Provo culture grated on me so much that me and my best friend started up a testimony meeting bingo sheet which quickly turned into a google doc of all the dumb stuff Mormons do which eventually turned into a wiki. It was essentially my only refuge from Provo nonsense since my ward the last year was awful (unlike Sophomore/Junior years).

I've dealt with depression, which I've recently figured out is probably actually mild bipolar disorder. As if the common stigma isn't bad enough, there's this prevailing attitude within the culture of the church (at least in Provo singles wards) that happiness is a choice, something that is somewhat true IMO but is often taken so far as to discredit mood disorders. But hey, at least I finished all 2 years of my mission- otherwise I would have been shamed out of activity. It's also good I left Provo as soon as I graduated because I probably would have been annoyed into inactivity.

------------------

Anyway... I guess that's kind of a summary of my adult life thus far. Point is, I'm here for anyone who has been through similar and I hope I can work to overcome some of my issues as well through this forum.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15415
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Aug 2017, 10:55

Welcome to our Island of Misfit Toys. I am glad you found us.

Culture, especially in Mormon Central areas, can be difficult. Separating everything and focusing on the pure Gospel is strengthening and liberating in the best sense of those words.
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

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nibbler
Posts: 3239
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by nibbler » 05 Aug 2017, 13:19

Welcome.


Yo dawg, I heard you like Avatar, so you picked someone from Avatar to be your avatar.

:thumbup:
Of course I don’t want to get knocked down. But the single and sole solution to that fear is to not go anywhere where I can be knocked down. And is that not already being knocked down?
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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Heber13
Posts: 6549
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by Heber13 » 06 Aug 2017, 07:57

welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your story. It is very interesting to read others' experiences, and I hope you find it safe and easy to ask questions and get more than the typical "just believe, just read, just pray" kind of answers here as we explore thoughts.

I look forward to learning more from your posts. Glad you're here.
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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dande48
Posts: 433
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by dande48 » 06 Aug 2017, 11:45

Hey Justin,

I love the Avatar Avatar.

I think escaping the culture, leaving your parents, and starting fresh is a good move. I'm glad you could join us. Keep us updated!
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

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SilentDawning
Posts: 6398
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Aug 2017, 11:54

Sounds like you'll fit in just fine here. I get along with misfits and people who have issues with culture. Welcome, glad to have you on board!
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

Roy
Posts: 4418
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by Roy » 06 Aug 2017, 12:36

Welcome Justin,

Growing up is hard, being an adult is hard, relationships are hard, faith crisis is hard. With all the sincerity of my heart I say, "It gets better."
"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

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DarkJedi
Posts: 5359
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Aug 2017, 18:31

Welcome. We love to hear background stories because it helps us to understand where people are coming from. I hope we can be of help to you on your journey and likewise I hope you can help each of us on ours. May you find the peace you seek.
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

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Willhewonder
Posts: 66
Joined: 28 Jul 2016, 08:54

Re: Hello, everyone

Post by Willhewonder » 06 Aug 2017, 19:35

Hello Beefster,
You sound a lot like I do (inside my own head, anyway) only you seem to have gotten there about 50 years younger than I did. This is a great place. I'm looking forward to hearing you weigh in on things and hearing your questions.
Regards.

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