Let me try to explain

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
Mr. Nobody
Posts: 3
Joined: 12 Dec 2013, 09:27

Let me try to explain

Post by Mr. Nobody » 12 Dec 2013, 13:06

I have been an active member my whole life. What brings me here is not really a crisis of faith. I had that more than 10 years ago while serving as a missionary, but today I feel like I am past that. The problem is that I no longer feel like I fit within the culture of the church. Let me try to highlight a few contributors to this problem.

1. I've been going through a long period of unemployment, underemployment, and now self-employment. I have tried to pursue the career path that God wants me to follow while still doing my best to support my family. We have struggled financially for a few years now. I feel like I have not gotten much understanding from the church with respect to my situation and how challenging it is. My tendency has been to seek after meaningful work, but the unspoken message I get at church is "Stop dreaming and just get a respectable corporate job like normal people."

2. Throughout my life I have dealt with mental health issues (depression and bouts of anxiety). Recently I have developed some personal strategies for handling such issues, and I think I'm at the point now where I could even help others with their problems. But I still have some bitterness because I feel like the church was never really able to help me with these problems. Everything I learned, I had to teach myself. In fact, I feel like I had to unlearn certain assumptions that I got from church.

3. Over the past 5-6 years, I have been on a spiritual journey. I feel like God has taught me some very interesting truths. These truths have become the basis for what I believe and my personal sense of identity. So basically I have my own "philosophy." In my opinion, this philosophy is totally compatible with the LDS gospel, but it's a bit outside mainstream LDS thinking. The problem is that I trust in my ability to receive personal inspiration, but I have a hard time trusting in the church as an institution. I feel like I'm not getting anything out of church. And I find myself getting angry at people for not seeing things the way I do. I feel like the culture of the church needs to change in many ways, but I'm confused about what my role ought to be (if there is a role) in making those changes happen.

The other day I talked with my bishop about some of these concerns. The discussion did not go very well, in my opinion. At first he got really defensive and put most of the blame on me. Afterwards he listened more patiently, but I didn't really get much out of the conversation.

I know there are things I could do to feel more integrated in the LDS community. I've always had a hard time making friends. But today I'm finding myself in a place where I dislike members of the church and no longer have much of a desire to make the effort. I don't relate to members in my ward personally, intellectually or spiritually. I'm not planning to go inactive, but something has to change. BTW I am married and my wife feels the same way as I do regarding the points I mentioned above.

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DarkJedi
Posts: 6747
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Dec 2013, 14:25

Welcome to the forum. You will find that this is a safe place to "vent" or share your concerns. I feel like I am always saying this to new members (and I am), but I do relate to what you're saying. Our journeys have similarities and differences and that's true of just about everybody here.

I do have issues with the culture, but I am inactive. Part of my reasons for going inactive to begin with mirror things that you mention. I am making small steps toward returning, but I know some of these concerns are still there. Pessimistically I believe they aren't going to change any time soon. It may sound cliche, but I realize it's me that needs to change, not them because I can change me but I can't change them. I don't encourage you to take the path I have taken, you should stay active - but you may need to find your own way to do that which involves being active in a different way than what you are accustomed to.

FWIW, I also relate to the whole employment thing and we're very much in the same boat there.
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

church0333
Posts: 589
Joined: 26 Aug 2012, 17:41
Location: Springfield OR

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by church0333 » 12 Dec 2013, 15:00

Welcome my friend. I really don't know if there is any advice I could give you right now but I wanted you to know that you can come here and express your thoughts and feeling and that you will not be judged. I think most of us who post have some depression at times, whether it is related to church, family relations or maybe with our employment. You are not alone and just knowing that can help. I have several friends at church and we do a lot socially but my wife and I do most of the inviting because everyone else are just too busy to do much planning. Our friends always express their gratitude for us being the one that make the effort to get together. Just something to think about. I hope we hear more from you.

Mr. Nobody
Posts: 3
Joined: 12 Dec 2013, 09:27

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by Mr. Nobody » 12 Dec 2013, 15:16

Yes, I realize I can only change myself and not others. I think change has to happen on both fronts - with the individuals affected as well as the cultural factors that perpetuate the problems. Sometimes I feel like I have a contribution to make, like I could help other people who feel marginalized. But then I'm not sure who I need to direct my message to - that individual or the church in general.

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

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Dec 2013, 15:50

I believe in spheres of influence - and I believe a whole lot of pain occurs when we invest too heavily (in whatever way) in trying to change things that are outside our spheres of influence.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a dreamer who has been accused of having a Don Quixote complex more than once, and I have done some things nobody thought could be done specifically because I allow myself to take a little time here and there to dream and see if there is any way to accomplish those dreams - but the VAST majority of my time is spent dealing in my own world in pursuits that don't involve jousting with windmills.

I would FAR rather have a positive impact on a regular basis on people and situations "near to me", with an occasional impact outside that normal sphere, than to overlook what I can do daily and, instead, pursue having a huge impact on a broad scale. It's a tricky balance to try to walk, since I would love to have a broader impact, as well (since, as I said, I am a dreamer in many ways), but I believe strongly in focusing most of my energy on "lifting where I stand".
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

Jazernorth
Posts: 78
Joined: 05 Sep 2013, 06:15

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by Jazernorth » 12 Dec 2013, 19:04

Regarding your #2, I agree, the church is not suited to handle mental conditions. My family had similar issues, the best the ward could do was babysit and offer condolences (like we were dead!). Anyway, we didn't see a church psychologist, like some suggested. I avoided them and went with a doctor who knew his science and relied on science.
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness!
I will fight for all of them, will you join me?
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Ann
Posts: 2573
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by Ann » 13 Dec 2013, 02:14

Hi, Mr. N. - Glad you're here. If you're not too keen on being a typical member of your own ward right now, welcome to the best virtual ward in the church. It's been a real comfort to me and very instructive.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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SamBee
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Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by SamBee » 13 Dec 2013, 03:02

No 1 is not a specifically church problem, and you will find many people judge you on it outside the church. A common question is "what do you do?" when meeting a stranger. When I meet the people I went to high school with, they often engage in a kind of peeing contest about who's earning the highest. I don't play that game. None of them are LDS by the way.

You leave the church, in other words, and you'll still experience this.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
Posts: 6747
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Dec 2013, 04:20

SamBee wrote:No 1 is not a specifically church problem, and you will find many people judge you on it outside the church. A common question is "what do you do?" when meeting a stranger. When I meet the people I went to high school with, they often engage in a kind of peeing contest about who's earning the highest. I don't play that game. None of them are LDS by the way.

You leave the church, in other words, and you'll still experience this.
I agree that this does happen outside the church SamBee, but he refers to something I've only seen inside the church and only to the unemployed/underemployed. There is a definite and different judgement that takes place at church related to providing for the family and self reliance and all that is related to those church teachings.

For instance I am part the state retirement system. It does not operate like a 401K, in this state once you're vested you can't touch the money until you retire - even your contribution. You can take a loan against your contribution, which you pay back like any loan (but with low interest and you can only have one at a time). In counseling with my bishop while in need of some assistance (I was asking for food only) he brought up the retirement fund and counseled me to withdraw from it. He actually scoffed and didn't believe me when I said I couldn't. He worked in the corporate world and really had no clue. Like wise, he threatened to cut off food support if I didn't go substitute teach - subbing is a terrible job, something teachers do to earn their stripes, etc., and I didn't want to do that - I would have rather worked at Wal Mart and it would have messed up the unemployment I was getting. Anyway, there is a difference in the normal machismo related to work when meeting strangers and the expectations of some in the church. Perhaps one has to experience unemployment understand it.
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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DarkJedi
Posts: 6747
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Let me try to explain

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Dec 2013, 04:23

Mr. Nobody wrote:Yes, I realize I can only change myself and not others. I think change has to happen on both fronts - with the individuals affected as well as the cultural factors that perpetuate the problems. Sometimes I feel like I have a contribution to make, like I could help other people who feel marginalized. But then I'm not sure who I need to direct my message to - that individual or the church in general.
Please don't misunderstand, you can be an agent for change. I was simply referring to your statements about member attitudes and how they sometimes make you angry (That happens to me, too). I leave the words of caution for others who like to do that sort of thing more than I do.
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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