An introduction...

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
whiterapids
Posts: 6
Joined: 26 Feb 2015, 21:59

An introduction...

Post by whiterapids » 01 Mar 2015, 00:24

Hi everyone,

I've been alive for 36 years. I know. It seems that for about 10 of those years, almost one third of my life, I have had serious doubts about the church. Wow, I'm surprised myself! This past 3 weeks my frustrations were ignited (they had been quiet for quite some time) and I feel like there's no going back to the way I was. As noted in my post in the support forum, I have plans to tell my husband that I no longer want to attend church. (We'll see what really happens!)

About me. I had a strong Mormon upbringing. Faithful and loving parents (9 kids) and was raised in the beautiful northwest. As adults, so far, 5 of the 9 kids have left the church. Not counting me. One who has left has passed away, so four living.

My faith struggles ultimately stem from me never feeling I had a spiritual witness of any truth. Similarly, I didn't feel the spirit the way people often do. And when I did, it was the same feeling "spirit" I felt during a touching movie, commercial, or whatever else. So I felt I couldn't trust my feelings to teach me truth. I also never liked hearing about how I should have a "personal relationship" with God or Jesus because I had no clue what that felt like. I just don't feel things like this!

I questioned the church alone, which was a very sad place to be. Until...my younger sister "came out" that she and her husband were no longer believers. It was funny, I CELEBRATED!! She is one of my best friends and now I had someone I could confide in!! We have had lots of good conversations. I am so very lucky to have an open minded, trusting person I can talk to. I have since opened up to 2 more siblings. I was very careful, fearing an information leak to other family members. Without them, I would have gone bezerk.

After my sister's big reveal I started finding out ALL the many things about the church's problems online. I then began the obsession that many of you know so well. I also brought up my doubts to my husband one night. It did not go well (understatement) and I decided it was not worth it. I would keep my mouth shut.

My brother gave me the most helpful advice, which was to "suspend judgement." He helped me realize I didn't need to know if the church was true. I didn't need to know if it wasn't. It was ok to be undecided. That was new to me and I felt so much calm from taking his advice.

Well, it's been 8 year since then. And, I'm sort of of fired up about leaving the church. (MUCH easier said than done.) Besides having some recent frustrating moments at church (be a missionary! do it! do it better!) and with scripture reading, I also read the Letter to a CES teacher and it brought back ALL the frustration, anger, hurt that has simmered down for so long. What it boils down to is that if the B of M is fiction, if Joseph Smith's character is so awful, if the church has covered up so many things, how can I possibly support it anymore? How can I give it my time and energy? Even if it has other good teachings, it ultimately doesn't deserve my devotion.

Of course, the issue is incredibly complicated when I think of how my believing parents, siblings, and in-laws will react. How my many wonderful church friends will feel. How my kids and husband will feel. What will life be like with this massive change and huge void? So, I contemplate next moves, carefully. Very carefully.

A few mornings I have woken up and thought, woah, is this a dream? This really feels like a dream. It's such a strange place to be.

I'm hoping this is somewhat comprehensible as it is reeeaaaaaly late. Good night!

Whiterapids

(edit: I just redid the math and changed 12-13 years of doubting to about 10, first paragraph)
Last edited by whiterapids on 01 Mar 2015, 07:25, edited 1 time in total.

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: An introduction...

Post by DarkJedi » 01 Mar 2015, 05:57

I think I welcomed you in your other thread, but welcome again anyway. It's good that you have real, live people that you know and love to confide in - most of us do not have that luxury.

I think you might be surprised at how many people struggle with the Spirit and confirmations and all that. At the heart of it all, it's my biggest issue. I believe if most members were totally honest they would admit the same things - they're not really sure of the difference between emotion and "the Spirit." Oddly, as a result of my crisis I have come to a better understanding of what I think the Spirit feels like as opposed to emotion. The difference is so subtle, however, that I still don't trust it.

For me the biggest help was separating the church and the gospel. They are not the same. I am a believer in the truths of the gospel. The church does some very good things, and I like most of the people who go there. Pres. Uchtdorf is right when he said "...here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you." I have found my way in not having to believe the BoM is true or Joseph Smith is a prophet. All of us who choose to stay (and I was inactive for 10 years) have found our own way to do it. I might suggest a very careful reading of Pres. Uchtdorf's Oct. 2013 General Conference address. There's more to it than meets the eye, and much more to it than "doubt your doubts."
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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NewLight
Posts: 148
Joined: 04 Feb 2014, 05:18

Re: An introduction...

Post by NewLight » 01 Mar 2015, 06:58

Welcome to the forum!

I remember how p**d I was reading the CES letter – that's a tough one. For me personally though, it seemed like after you got into, it picked at every little thing it could find. I felt similar anger at the coverups that have taken place to keep the church's whitewashed history in place for the membership.

One thing that helped me (aside from the encouragement I received from others on this forum to take it slow) was hearing Richard Bushman's “testimony” of the church on Mormon Stories. If you don't know, he is the author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling and a patriarch. He basically stated that he believes in the “goodness” of the church and I think that is where I am at too. I, like DJ, separate the gospel (i.e. love your neighbor, treat others kindly) from the church and that has helped immensely.

Keep in mind that you don't have to come out in some big way – that will freak out everyone dear in your life. I think since we are the “testimony” church, sometimes when we lose our traditional testimony we feel like we need to bear testimony of our loss of testimony (wow, that's a sentence that Nibbler could write :smile: ) I don't think that is necessary. I do think that through study, you can point things out to others in a respectful way to encourage them to see where you are coming from (the church's own essays, journals of respected church leaders, etc.). I try doing this in HP lessons from time to time.

Use this group to bounce ideas off of and to vent – it is a great support.

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nibbler
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Re: An introduction...

Post by nibbler » 01 Mar 2015, 07:37

It's good to have empathizing people that you can talk to face to face, especially when it's family. It can be a pressure release valve. Though I do understand the pain of withholding a part of yourself from immediate family.
whiterapids wrote:What it boils down to is that if the B of M is fiction, if Joseph Smith's character is so awful, if the church has covered up so many things, how can I possibly support it anymore? How can I give it my time and energy? Even if it has other good teachings, it ultimately doesn't deserve my devotion.
I think many of us have asked ourselves those same questions. The conclusions that we come to are as unique to the individual. I believe that there is still a lot of good in the church and that the church is still a great place to provide me with opportunities to serve. The main difference is that now I feel that I'm more free to better prioritize where church fits into my life, it was an unhealthy prioritization before. It may not deserve my unquestioned devotion like at times it demands but I feel like I'm still called to serve humanity... and there are a few humans in church. ;)

I hope it goes well with your husband. You seem like a person that really cares about people. :thumbup:

Edit: Sometimes when we lose our traditional testimony we feel like we need to bear testimony of... hey, wait a minute!!! ;)
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
― Joel Osteen

Awakening
Posts: 37
Joined: 08 Nov 2014, 14:19

Re: An introduction...

Post by Awakening » 01 Mar 2015, 08:32

Hi White Rapids,

I have read several of your posts. My brother "Newlight" mentioned you to me. Welcome to this forum. It is a wonderful place with so many kind and open people. Everyone here processing things in all different directions. Wouldn't it be nice if we could go to church and feel the same open type of discussions as we can have here? No judgment, just good friends who could listen without feeling threatened or feeling like they need to reconvert us again! ;o) All of us poor lost sheep! JK ;o)

My husband is the first to have a FC. When he first approached me, I didn't take it well. I was threatened, devastated, and felt so lonely and desperate! I didn't believe him on many of the issues he presented. It has been about a year and half. I am so glad he opened up to me even though it was tough and I made it tougher. I had to process things differently. I found some really great articles on the "Pure Mormonism Blog" and I also loved the Richard Bushman series on "MormonStories.com" (this one is 5 parts and I loved each segment) as well as the discussions on Mormon Stories with Terryl and Fiona Givens. Because these people are active members of the church, I was able to listen to some hard topics and truths. It helped me better understand my husband. I was able to put my guard down and understand the depth of what my husband was going through instead of feeling threatened about our eternal salvation.

I have experienced many emotions from sadness, loss, anger, desperation, despair, confusion as well as peace, understanding, curiosity, acceptance and love. It sounds like you can relate to this. I think it is really important for spouses to be able to communicate. Just be willing to let your spouse feel what they feel too. We all need validation. I think this can feel like an emotional roller coaster but for me it has gotten so much better. We can never go back but moving forward does get better even though initially I had my doubts about that. Bill Reel is also another great interviewer. I have listened to several of his podcasts on "MormonDiscussionPodcast.org" I could so relate to his "Our Bad Days" podcast this past December which I really appreciated his honesty because it is reassuring for me to see others whom I admire also experience and express these types of things I am feeling. That podcast is really great. A more recent podcast "Dark Night of the Soul" is also very good.

I know you are thinking about leaving but might I just suggest instead of an "all or nothing approach" to maybe step back out of your calling and take some time to really let yourself come and go freely without the pressure of "having to be there". It has been really important for me to do this. I have also been very involved in many leadership callings as well. I can get up and leave any meeting that I want to or just spend a Sunday enjoying my family at home or out somewhere.

We are so glad you found us. This is a great place to be. So many kind people to talk to as well as bounce thoughts and ideas from. Good Luck as you continue on your faith journey. Sending hugs! ;o)

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West
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Joined: 26 Aug 2014, 14:42

Re: An introduction...

Post by West » 01 Mar 2015, 12:12

Hi whiterapids, welcome to the forums. :) The others have already given really great advice. Like the others have said, sometimes you just need to take a step back from the church when it gets to be overwhelming. You separate the Church from the Gospel, the culture from the good. You focus on what you do believe, and you see if there is a way to reconcile or at least accept the existence of the things you don't. You see if the Church has had a positive impact on the lives of anyone you've known -- that especially helped me, since I have many, many family members who are in a much better place in their lives because of their conversion to the Church. You discover your own beliefs, and you realize it's OK to not be 100% certain of those beliefs.

The Church culture tends to take a very blanket, black and white, 100% all or nothing approach. And that is very difficult a mindset to break out of. If it helps, I will tell you a little while I stay and while I am pursuing an LDS mission, even though I have taken a step back in my local Utah Church participation. First, I determined I did not want to leave the Church unless I absolutely had no other choice; much of my family is very devout Mormon, although I have a few siblings who have privately left, and they, like your own siblings, have been very great for me to talk with about religious things. So, since I decided I did not want to leave for their sake, I had to decide how I would be able to stay without sacrificing who I was.

I took several long, stressful months to look back on my life, my beliefs, and my experiences. I felt like I sort of had a deadline, since I was in the middle of preparing my missionary application, but I kept putting that off and off -- strangely, during those months, it didn't register as something important and pressing, which is unusual for me when I have a task to do. And upon reflection on my past, I saw that there have been situations in my life and the life of my family, almost consistently, that have been blessings and miracles we cannot explain. Most people would call them coincidences, but I don't believe the universe works that way. I also spent a long time determine what I believed in, and I had the great benefit of having several friends with whom I had hours-long talks about belief and religion, and they listened very patiently while I worked out for myself why I wanted to stay, what I could believe in if I stayed, and why I personally wanted to go on a mission.

And then right when I felt like I had a good hold on my new belief system, and I was comfortable still identifying as a member of the Church, a near-tragedy hit my family. It was an immense test on my new belief system. It was one of the worst few days of my life.

But almost immediately, those little coincidences, those little miracles that had followed my family all our lives, started happening one right after the other. Things turned out not to be as bad as we initially feared. Doctors and surgeons and nurses and health specialists were the exact people we needed to deal with the problem in the exact places and times we needed them to be. Things lined up and had been lined up weeks in advance for just that situation. Everything resolved relatively quickly. And as they did, my neglected mission papers suddenly registered as pressing on my mind again. And I thought that if there was one thing I had learned to believe in, it was the little coincidences in life and the universe consistently guiding me to be where I needed to be when I needed to be there. Church doctrine would say that's the Spirit. But like you, I don't trust my feelings, because my personality is programmed to be logical first. I think the universe, or my rough belief in God, knows that. And I realize that that might just be me ascribing credit to where no credit is due. But the beauty of our lives is that we are able to choose to believe in whatever makes sense to us.

In the end, you might initially be staying for other people. But eventually, and it seems like you're at that point, you have to determine if you are able to stay for you. And just know that the answer doesn't have to be 100% traditional Mormon.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

whiterapids
Posts: 6
Joined: 26 Feb 2015, 21:59

Re: An introduction...

Post by whiterapids » 01 Mar 2015, 13:36

West wrote:And just know that the answer doesn't have to be 100% traditional Mormon.
I see I need to explore how to be mormon but a mellow one. It's a really foreign concept to me. Those people are the ones I have seen as wrong! Ug. What a new way to think. How to put it into action is tricky.
Awakening wrote:I know you are thinking about leaving but might I just suggest instead of an "all or nothing approach" to maybe step back out of your calling and take some time to really let yourself come and go freely without the pressure of "having to be there". It has been really important for me to do this. I have also been very involved in many leadership callings as well. I can get up and leave any meeting that I want to or just spend a Sunday enjoying my family at home or out somewhere.
Again, what a refreshing, but foreign concept that I could actually do this. What a paradigm shift.

What would a conversation with the bishop look like (to be released from primary president and not called to another leadership or teaching calling? And what does the conversation with my husband look like? Because they will have to know something serious is up for me to shift so much from my typical orthodox ways. How much do i say? Being honest is so important to me. Hiding my feelings is exhausting and not right or fair. Should I start a new thread on this in the support forum?

Again, thank you for so many kind words and thoughtful comments.

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DarkJedi
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Re: An introduction...

Post by DarkJedi » 01 Mar 2015, 14:40

I already told you my approach with my wife didn't work, so I'll let others address your husband and just stick to don't dump it all on him at once.

The approach that seems to work best with priesthood leaders is simply explaining that you have some personal challenges right now and your calling is overwhelming (this is not a lie). We all have challenges and bishops understand that - they have challenges themselves. In my experience (and what I read of others here) it is best to be very vague about what those challenges are and just say you need some time to work things through. This is especially true of faith challenges - try not to share your unbelief with him unless you know that he is open to people in faith crisis (there are some - very few - who are). Having been there I know it's difficult to ask to be released, especially if you've never done it before and especially if you don't want another calling at the moment. You can just not tell him you don't want another calling and just refuse it when it comes, or maybe he really will be inspired and family history consultant (or something else) where you really don't have to do anything will work for you. You could offer to do a low key calling you might like (such as nursery assistant or bulletin person).

Just one other comment I should have said earlier: the dominoes don't necessarily fall the way most black and white thinkers think they do. That is, whether the church is true or whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or whether the BoM is true or a myriad of other things are not interdependent. I know we are taught they are, but they are not. Have you read Crucible of Doubt?
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

Curt Sunshine
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Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: An introduction...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Mar 2015, 14:53

Welcome.

I want to reiterate what DJ just said:

Letting go of the idea that things are all-or-nothing, black-and-white is critical. Life Is complex and full of paradox; things are not as neat and clean and simple as we tend to want them to be; we can acknowledge issues with the Church (in the past and currently) without rejecting it completely.

If you leave something because it isn't 't perfect or what you thought it was or wish it would be, you won't find a replacement that is perfect or what you want it to be fully. Perfection exists only in our dreams and our hope for a distant future. Imperfection is what we are given in mortality, and, to me, learning to accept and even appreciate that simple fact is fundamental to peace and happiness for living with one's eyes wide open.
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

Awakening
Posts: 37
Joined: 08 Nov 2014, 14:19

Re: An introduction...

Post by Awakening » 01 Mar 2015, 21:03

I like what Ray said, however, I will say that those of us who have been in the church for years have often times developed the "black and white" way of thinking because the church has "groomed" us this way. I, too, felt as you did and I have been through many paradigm shifts since all of this began so I really understand where you are coming from. Also, ideally when you talk more openly with hubby it will be this awesome conversation where you will both be open, understanding, sensitive and honest...........yeah right!...Be more prepared for resistance, denial, anger, sadness, confusion etc. because let's face it, our religion is a culture and the foundation begins to crack and crumble. That doesn't mean you won't work through this and find a place that works for you, hubby and family but most likely it will take awhile. I just want to be honest so you will be prepared. If you were to tell me where I would be in my heart right now a year and half ago there is no way I would have believed it then. It is a work in progress and it does take time, true validation and love.

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