A long introduction

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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FaithfulSkeptic
Posts: 226
Joined: 06 Jun 2014, 09:04

A long introduction

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 06 Jun 2014, 16:16

Here’s my story…

I grew up in an active LDS home, with 8 generations of LDS members on a couple of my ancestral lines (both sides). My dad was a seminary teacher and former bishop, and I was the seminary president my senior year of high school. I read the Book of Mormon a couple times as a young man, as well as other scriptures and religious books and felt I had a testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored Church in the Latter Days.

I always knew I would go on a mission, so it wasn’t really even a decision for me. I am the eldest child (and grandchild) and wanted to set a good example, so I turned in my papers the summer after high school graduation and entered the MTC in the fall. The first real trial of my faith was going through the temple 29 years ago. Although I had taken the temple preparation class and read Boyd K. Packer’s book “The Holy Temple”, I was blown away by that experience. I was so looking forward to having a spiritual experience when I went through the temple, but it was anything but that for me. I found the whole thing to be very strange and did not have a good feeling at all, and wondered what cult I had joined. I talked with my parents about it, and went back to the temple a few times before I left on my mission, but I never felt much better about the experience. The seeds of doubt were just beginning.

About this same time, I remember hearing something about Brigham Young’s teaching of the Adam-God theory. That bothered me that Brigham Young said that, but I asked my dad about it and he explained it away by saying that his comments were taken out of context or misunderstood. He also brought up the fact that prophets are human and don’t always speak for the Lord, using the example of one of the prophets that said that man would never set foot on the moon.

I entered the MTC with seeds of doubt, and although I had many good experiences there, those seeds of doubt continued to fester. I worked hard as a missionary and kept the rules, but struggled learning a foreign language and got very depressed and anxious. As the time grew closer for me to leave the MTC, my anxiety increased and I felt that most of my difficulties were due to my struggles with learning the language. I met with my teachers and branch president and the MTC president, and the possibility of me being reassigned to an English-speaking mission came up. This was a big relief to me and I thought it would lighten my load if I just didn’t need to worry about learning the language. I didn’t want to go home, and so I watched my MTC district depart and was reassigned to an English-speaking district a couple days later. That time between my district leaving and being reassigned was hell to me. It was only a couple days, but I had no companion or a district and the seeds of doubt continued to grow.

Within a few days, I was assigned to an English-speaking district and left the MTC for my reassigned mission a couple weeks later. I was not excited about where I was going, and I wondered whether I had done the right thing. When I arrived in my mission, I was assigned in a threesome, and felt kind of like a third wheel. I was very depressed and didn’t want to be there. I didn’t know what to do. I spoke with my mission president and a counselor about my depression and doubts and we decided that the best thing to do would be to go home, although I didn’t want to.

I remember on the plane ride home just hoping and praying that the plane would crash so I wouldn’t have to face the humiliation of coming home. I wasn’t immediately released when I came home, hoping that I would be able to overcome my depression. I had had such a bad experience that I never had the desire to return. It was so hard to face people when I came home. I was ashamed and people just didn’t understand why I had come home.

Finally after a few weeks, after not feeling better, I was honorably released from my mission. I was counseled to tell people that asked that I did serve a mission, and if they wanted more details to tell them that I got sick and had to come home for medical reasons. I never felt very good about telling people that I had served a mission.

Going to church as an early returned missionary with such a bad mission experience was not fun for me, but I did attend my home ward regularly. I tried to move on and get a job to earn some money for college, but I was so depressed that I couldn’t stick it out. I was on medication and regular counseling, but nothing helped pull me out.

A year after I left on my mission, I started college at BYU. That’s a hard place to be for an early-returned missionary. I was on a scholarship, and lasted a year, but then transferred to another school. I met a wonderful LDS girl who didn’t care about my failed experience as a missionary, and after an on and off courtship, we were married in the temple a couple years later. My wife did something for me that no medication or counseling could do - to pull me out of my depression and move past the disappointments of my mission experience.

I put my doubts on the back shelf, as well as my mission experience and tried to move on with my life. I still don’t enjoy going to the temple or feel much better about the endowment ceremony, but I have continued to be active, and have served in various positions in the church, including Elders Quorum President, Ward Mission Leader, and even a counselor in the Bishopric.

The doubts resurfaced a few years ago when a former neighbor of ours left the church and talked to me and my wife about it and gave us a copy of Grant Palmer’s book. I read some of it and was very disturbed. My wife read a little bit of it too, but she was so repulsed that she threw the book away. Since then, one of her cousins (an RM) became disaffected and also left the church and has recently lured an 18-year old nephew away as well. I also stumbled upon a few disturbing YouTube videos from disaffected former Mormons, although I haven’t been seeking them out.

I found the Mormon Stories podcasts and started listening just recently. These have been extremely helpful to me to hear people talk about the troubling doctrines and events in Church History from different perspectives. I wish I would have found these years ago, as well as this support forum. I haven’t felt comfortable talking about my doubts or concerns with anyone.

I’m very hesitant to talk about these issues with my wife or family. Judging from my wife’s reaction to others with a similar doubts or concerns, she would not be very understanding. But I can’t suppress this - I’ve been doing it for 29 years and I can’t do it any longer.

I’m so glad that this forum exists to openly and honestly discuss troubling issues. I look forward to learning from you and hopefully resolving issues that have been bothering me for a long time. Thanks for listening!

FaithfulSkeptic
I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014

Harmony
Posts: 120
Joined: 02 Sep 2013, 01:12

Re: A long introduction

Post by Harmony » 07 Jun 2014, 00:25

Thank you for posting your introduction. Welcome! I think there are so many here that can relate to your story. I hope that you find comfort and help here as you work through through the issues you are having. I have been reading through staylds for about a year, and it has been invaluable to me. The Mormon Matters podcasts are also good. Hope to hear more from you. :wave:

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DarkJedi
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Re: A long introduction

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Jun 2014, 04:27

Welcome to the forum, I hope we can help. If you've lurked here at all you know I'm probably going to say "take it slow, don't dump all at once, and focus on what you do believe." So I said it.

I remember my feelings abut the temple being very similar - and I had similarly read BKP's book beforehand as well. Honestly, I do not know why people are so secretive about it. If you really pay attention to what we're covenanting not to disclose, it is very little - we can talk about all the Adam & Eve stuff. Why don't people?

I'll caution you about talking with others about your doubts. Be very, very careful. My wife knows that I have doubts and questions but she has no idea of the depth (because of her reaction to discussions we have had). Likewise, don't discuss them with priesthood leaders - usually no good comes of it. If you need to talk to someone, this is the place. Of course, if you have someone you know will listen and not be judgmental and keep it confidential (or who may share some doubts) it may be safe - but be careful.

Again, I hope we can help you as you transition. There are good people here who know what you're going through.
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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FaithfulSkeptic
Posts: 226
Joined: 06 Jun 2014, 09:04

Re: A long introduction

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 07 Jun 2014, 05:31

Thanks Harmony and DarkJedi for your replies. It's such a relief for me to have a safe place that I can go to raise questions and share thoughts. I appreciate your advice, and I really haven't lurked here much before deciding to jump in.

My wife and my kids know of my doubts and questions, but I don't think they understand how much they trouble me. People in my ward or stake have no idea, as I've quietly kept my concerns to myself while remaining very active in the Church.


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I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2014

Cnsl1
Posts: 210
Joined: 05 Jan 2009, 01:33

Re: A long introduction

Post by Cnsl1 » 07 Jun 2014, 12:47

Welcome to the forum, FaithfulSkeptic. I lurked here reading for quite a while before I finally posted, and I still don't post regularly. This forum helped me tremendously for a few years. Mostly, it was very comforting to realize that I was not alone, and that there were many people who had the same doubts and concerns as I did. I realize now that there are thousands like us, and that number seems to be growing exponentially daily.

I also know the feelings associated with having a TBM spouse who doesn't want to hear or deal with your doubts. I had that for years and when I would try to express my concerns, it just made her scared and she did not want to listen. Over time, however, and with increasing access to information, my wife has had her own crisis of faith and these are things we can now talk about freely and openly together. We've shared some with our children and they all know that while we hold spirituality as an important facet in our lives and attend church regularly, we don't necessarily buy in to all that goes on within our church. My wife and I currently have callings that we're comfortable fulfilling, but there are many I would have to turn down if I am ever asked--some of which I've done in the past but couldn't do again. I have shared SOME of my beliefs and misgivings with ward and stake leaders when asked, and so far everything has gone pretty smoothly. For the most part, we're a church full of nice people and most would rather open our congregations to participate and worship with those having dissimilar beliefs than chase all but the orthodox away. In my opinion, anyway.

Still, things could change quickly with a local leader hell-bent on orthodoxy and conformity.

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Leap
Posts: 46
Joined: 05 Jun 2014, 11:26

Re: A long introduction

Post by Leap » 07 Jun 2014, 17:10

FaithfulSkeptic wrote:My wife and my kids know of my doubts and questions, but I don't think they understand how much they trouble me. People in my ward or stake have no idea, as I've quietly kept my concerns to myself while remaining very active in the Church.
Hi FaithfulSkeptic! I'm new here too. It sounds like we are having very similar experiences. I'm still on the receiving end of advice and don't really have any to give. I just wanted you to know that you aren't going through this alone! Hang in there.

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

Re: A long introduction

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Jun 2014, 17:48

I don't have much time right now, but I do want to welcome you.

So, welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys. :smile:
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

Ann
Posts: 2572
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: A long introduction

Post by Ann » 08 Jun 2014, 00:38

FaithfulSkeptic wrote:
The first real trial of my faith was going through the temple 29 years ago. Although I had taken the temple preparation class and read Boyd K. Packer’s book “The Holy Temple”, I was blown away by that experience. I was so looking forward to having a spiritual experience when I went through the temple, but it was anything but that for me. I found the whole thing to be very strange and did not have a good feeling at all, and wondered what cult I had joined. I talked with my parents about it, and went back to the temple a few times before I left on my mission, but I never felt much better about the experience.

. . . .

I still don’t enjoy going to the temple or feel much better about the endowment ceremony, but I have continued to be active, and have served in various positions in the church, including Elders Quorum President, Ward Mission Leader, and even a counselor in the Bishopric.
Hi, FaithfulSkeptic - I'm glad you're here. Here I can entertain options like, "If you don't enjoy going to the temple, don't go." Whew. Guilt and fear gone. I'm motivated by different things now.
"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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Gerald
Posts: 361
Joined: 29 Sep 2011, 04:57

Re: A long introduction

Post by Gerald » 08 Jun 2014, 05:00

The Mormon world can be a tough world to live in if you're skeptical. Welcome to this board where you can express your doubts and concerns in a supportive atmosphere.
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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NewLight
Posts: 148
Joined: 04 Feb 2014, 05:18

Re: A long introduction

Post by NewLight » 08 Jun 2014, 06:11

Welcome FaithfulSkeptic and glad you are here. I, too, loved listening to many of the MormonStories podcasts. I still enjoy listening to many of them as well as others that are out there (I download and listen in my car on the way to work).

I probably can't add much to what advice you have already read, just take it slow and use us for your sounding board. I am encouraged that the church is beginning to acknowledge some of its issues with the essays it has posted on lds.org. There are also some much "gentler" books out there than Grant Palmer's to learn the true history that Seminary ignores. Richard Bushman's "Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling" is even carried by Deseret Book and is a great in-depth history of the man by a faithful and very knowledgeable member. Maybe your wife would be more open to that. I loved Bushman's Mormonstories podcast.

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