eyedempotent wrote:If I "leave" how I do that (some level of reduced activity, no temple recommend, name removed, etc.)?
I rarely recommend leaving, because you don't know if you'll want to come back in full fellowship again. Name removal is hard to reverse, less activity or non-TR holding status are easy to reverse.
1) what will happen to my local ward friendships (I tend to get lonely easily),
I have found that the really, really GOOD people, who have a long-term perspective,and prue love, remain loyal and kind even when you share a litany of reasons for why you don't like the church. The rest -- some get offended, if they are stake leaders, and you were in leadership under them -- they forget about you and are no longer interested in even social interactions. In their case, you are no longer useful to achieving their personal and organizational goals, so you just blend in. And it does affect your friendships. Something to consider.
2) what will happen when my over-bearing father-in-law finds out (and my siblings)? I don't know if I can live with myself intellectually if I stay and I don't know if I can be happy socially if I leave. Feels like a no-win situation. It also feels very lonely, I guess part of what I want with this group is to know that I'm not alone in my doubting. I wish we could discuss it more in church, I have one good friend who talks to me about it who left and another friend who stayed who I really get along with, but he moved out of town and we haven't kept in touch much. My bishop has mentioned other people in the ward who struggle with some of my same doubts but I don't know them.
I have found relationships outside of the church. Guys in a band, my work colleagues, and friends in a non-profit. They are my social circle now. Plus my family. I get involved in serving people outside of the church and it makes for a whole new set of relationships.
Also, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis regarding close family. Those relationships are often important to people, so you have to look at the damage to the relationship peace versus the peace you feel in being authentic, or away from church. I have chosen to do what is necessary to keep my family happy.
Next question is what to do about my daughter's baptism. My wife's family makes a big deal and they all travel here. I just don't see how I can answer those first few temple recommend questions in the affirmative one more time to be worthy to baptize her. Part of me feels guilty, like she'll feel less loved (I baptized the older two girls), and part of me feels like I'll be doing her a favor. I was relieved to see that recently the policy allows a dad to baptize even if not strictly temple worthy, although at the discretion of the bishop. I think my bishop would allow me to, at my currently level of activity, but I don't know if I can keep up the charade another 2.5 years.
I would get past the feeling its a charade. There are "shades" of belief, and as long as you are on the continuum somewhere, I say answer the questions the right way, and do the ordinances. Make sure you are living the commandments, though, letting your conscience handle those gray areas. If you come out with all these doubts and share your authenticity, you'll just create more headaches and stumblingblocks in the church. Your Bishop (current, or future bishops) will react widely to statements of doubt. Some will put you out on the plank, while others will be accepting and forgiving -- and their possible totalitarian attitude may even put you further into doubt and maybe even lack of commitment.
I just can't believe this happened to me. I had such a strong testimony that I never doubted. I've just come to look at the world through the lens of science and what I considered testimony building experiences I feel can be described as coincidence or self-generated, I just don't see evidence for a God, at least not one like is described in the scriptures. I saw a recent email from FAIR-LDS describe the books one should read before leaving, I figure I owe it at least that much of a try and I'm reading Shaken Faith Syndrome now. But I've tried to reason and argue the "pro" points all along and I'm afraid the evidence against just hit a critical mass in my mind.
I had the same thoughts years ago. Came home from my mission on fire about the gospel. I met a Buddhist who was always challenging my thinking (he got a kick out of influencing beliefs, and wasnt' necessarily taking aim at Mormonism), and I told him I figured I'd always be active. He said "maybe"...and then commented on how life experiences change things over the long term.
Well, he was right. I guess I'm still active but only minimally so. But you know what, life's a heck of a lot more interesting and unpredictable now that I'm taking the road less travelled in the church.