Falling Apart

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slowlylosingit
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Joined: 06 Mar 2015, 07:23

Falling Apart

Post by slowlylosingit » 06 Mar 2015, 16:23

I am really struggling. I was given the CES letter 4 months ago from solid family members who have now left the church and I am now reeling! My DH struggled with these things years ago and has come through to the other side and is very faithful. His brother left the church because of all of this about 10 years ago and after 7 years came back to full activity and faithful again. I want to be like them. I want to be able to see through all of this and be okay with it. I am losing my way and I am losing my hope. I feel lost and alone. How can the Lord help them through this and I feel like I am being left behind? I don’t know how to find my faith again. I love the church and its members, I have always “known” the church was true, since I was a small child and never doubted that, and now I don’t know what to do. I have always been obedient, and was probably at my most faithful when I read the letter. I know people will think that I was sinning or something, but I read the ces letter and thought I was faithful enough to handle it, that I could save my family members. I feel like I am failing everyone around me, and failing the Lord. I am like Peter, looking at the Lord, but sinking fast into the depths of the sea. I am terrified of the consequences that I might face if I can’t believe again. My poor DH is so supportive, but I can see the pain in his face and the exhaustion from not sleeping. He is trying to help me find my answers, but knows he can’t save me. I want to believe so badly, but I don’t know how to anymore. I am exhausted and can feel myself giving up. I have come here to find support and to talk to people that maybe feel the way I do. How do I navigate this? I am not angry at all, maybe that is somewhat unique, but I have never felt that. I am terribly sad and feel like my whole world has been ripped apart. I feel like if my extended family knew how much I was struggling, I would break them because they cant handle losing another one in such a short period of time. What do I do? It isnt really even a doctrine question that I can get an answer to, its the whole picture, its been shattered for me. I'm so confused.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Mar 2015, 16:36

slowlylosingit wrote:I am really struggling. I was given the CES letter 4 months ago from solid family members who have now left the church and I am now reeling!
Can you expand on what the CES letter is? To me CES means Church Education System and I'm not aware of any letter, what its contents might hold, and what its implications are...
"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

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Mar 2015, 16:40

Welcome to our group. As we tell everyone, we don't have all the answers - and we might not have any answers that are perfect for everyone, but we do truly love each other (usually :D ) and are happy whenever anyone who needs love and support finds themselves on our Island of Misfit Toys.

I don't have more time right now, but I'm confident you will get better advice and welcome from others than I can give at the moment. I will add one thing that I believe is important:

We have many threads from the course of our discussions over the last seven years. There is a lot of wisdom in them from people who no longer participate actively. I would suggest taking some time to look through our archives and see what helps you the most. I almost can promise there will be multiple examples that will speak peace and assurance to you in some way.
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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LookingHard
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by LookingHard » 06 Mar 2015, 17:19

SilentDawning wrote:
slowlylosingit wrote:I am really struggling. I was given the CES letter 4 months ago from solid family members who have now left the church and I am now reeling!
Can you expand on what the CES letter is? To me CES means Church Education System and I'm not aware of any letter, what its contents might hold, and what its implications are...
There was a guy that left the church. His grandfather knew someone that was high up in CES - I think a "CES Director". The grandfather said, "write out all your issues and I will pass it on to my CES Director friend and he will answer it all.

So essentially the letter is a concise list (like a small book) of all the issues that have caused him to doubt. So it is a heavy blow to just sit down and read for an hour or two. I can see someone reading this and doing them in. It is well written. I know there are responses like I think from Adam Miller that are rebuttals, but I can't say they did much for me.

slowlylosingit - Oh how I feel your pain. The only thing I can say is that I have had to give it time. I was ready to quit the church while serving in a bishopric. I held on for a bit in that I love my bishop and I didn't want to have him to handle this - and the issues with my family. I am not at that point now a year to year and a half later. I still can't say I am in my final state, but I certainly can say that you are in the faith CRISIS part. It is normal, but VERY painful. Expect to be very confused, eventually even very angry, then you might be able to start handling this better. At least that is my experience.

I just saw Silent Dawning's signature of, ""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
There is a book by a guy name Fowler and you are definitely going from stage 3 (where most people are) into stage 4. Stage 4 of faith is not fun. I am in no way out of it, but I have a toe in there - maybe 2 toes.

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slowlylosingit
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by slowlylosingit » 06 Mar 2015, 17:38

LookingHard--thank you for explaining the letter for me and for your kind words. I feel your pain from being in the bishopric as I am a seminary teacher right now, teaching church history. (how ironic) I LOVE those kids!! I have been their teacher for 3 years and I am so ashamed sometimes for my lack of passion for them. The bishop is aware of my struggles and has been very supportive and is letting me decide what I need to do. I have been doing a lot of reading and trying to avoid anything too negative so that I can be somewhat sure that negative feelings are not controlling my decisions and thoughts. I did read a lot about Fowler and the stages and I know I am in stage 4. I am just dying to figure out how to get to stage 5, or at least trying to find a little comfort in stage 4. I had an awful prayer a few weeks ago that has caused me to fear prayer and answers and I know that is not helping. I poured my heart out, I knew God would hear me and answer me. I had a little whisper say, "it isnt true, but thats okay, just follow me". I felt peace, but then I panicked! How do I reconcile this answer? My DH says it could mean many things, but I am now so scared of prayer. It made things so much more confusing and not what I expected to hear. Maybe I misheard? I definitely am not doubting that could be the case since I am losing my mind, but it was pretty shocking. Maybe I whispered it to myself to make me feel what I deeply desired to hear? Deep down I know I have these awful thoughts that, wouldnt it be nice if the church responsibilities were removed from me? But then I think of eternity and I cant bear the thought of losing my family, that I would be left behind and could watch my DH and children go on without me. Man, when I write this all out, I sound so irrational, I swear I am usually pretty level headed.

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On Own Now
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by On Own Now » 06 Mar 2015, 18:58

slowlylosingit,

I'm so sorry that you are going through this. It's tough and there is no quick remedy. But I hope that you can soon find some rays of light to help you begin to find a way forward. I can tell you unequivocally that:

This is the right place.

There are many, many people on this site that have gone through what you are suffering now. Some are going through it currently. They can still find their balance and plenty of ways to smile again, no matter how impossible that sounds right now.

Let me make just a couple of quick observations. 1) I only know about the CES letter from what LookingHard described above. Based solely on that explanation, I assume that the letter is fake. That it is likely a summation of issues with the Church, probably more or less accurate, but put into the voice of a CES director to make it sound more authoritative. Sort of like in the New Testament, where those terrible writings about women shutting up in Church and asking their husbands if they have any questions, rather than speaking up in Church, sort of like how those statements have long been attributed to Paul, but scholars now believe for the most part that they originated at a later time. None of this means that the CES letter is totally false, but I just wouldn't read it with any expectation that it is authentically from the Church. 2) Not everyone is a believer in Fowlers stages of faith. I'm not. If it helps you, great. But don't let it become a weight around your neck. I think there is a lot of truth in the general sense, but personally, I don't like to be labeled... not by me and especially not by someone else. I believe sincerely that my path is totally and completely unique to me. Is it? I don't really know, but I find a lot of comfort in the concept. I am finding my own way, not a way proscribed by anyone else... not the Church... not this site... not Fowler.

You said you want to believe, so let me offer some suggestions for how to find something to believe in. I could title this section, "What I wish I knew then." None of these suggestions may help you. I don't know. But I offer them, because they did help me.

- When I had my faith crisis... long ago... I found myself struggling with similar things to what you describe. I think in my case, and it's probably somewhat common, I became obsessed with truth, accuracy, details, facts. It took me, I don't know, more than a decade and a half to come to the realization that religion or spirituality isn't about facts. Think about it. You know in your heart what spirituality is about. I don't need to tell you. It has nothing to do with <insert the historical fact you are most concerned with>. Concentrate on what it does mean. The battle that was in front of me back then was to find meaning in spirituality, but I arrayed my forces to fight a different battle: historical accuracy. I believe that the Church will eventually shift away from the history. It has started to do so already, with the tremendous step of the essay on race and the priesthood, in which the Church basically spelled out that it was a practice that arose from the environment, after all, it was legal to own another human being in the US when this practice came about. And I see that as a great step forward, because I think that eventually the Church will concentrate far far more on the here and now... feeling the spirit... committing to Christ... living the Two Great Commandments above all else. That'll be a great day. I think the Church is already kind of acknowledging, not fast enough, but getting there, that the beginnings of the Church were often strange from our 21st Century perspective, and that what we have is more about today than yesterday.

- I found great comfort reading in the New Testament. Let me share just a couple of scriptures that calmed my rollercoaster: John 1:3-5. I use the NRSV, because I think it is more clear, and therefore more powerful. Speaking of Jesus: "What has come into being in him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." By "not overcome" the writer was talking about "not absorb it" "not stop it from shining" "not catch it" "not master it". I love the imagery. Also, John 4:14, and here I use the KJV: "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Finally, I recommend reading the Gospel According to Mark. It was the first Gospel written. Each of the Gospels portrayed Jesus in a unique way. Mark is the most... human... description of Jesus. It's my favorite of the four, although they all are great. The reason I suggest these scriptures is to get straight to the parts of the gospel that matter, and leave the history of Joseph Smith alone for now.

- Others have said, and will say this, but find out what you DO believe, and then use that as a foundation for all other discussions.

I wish you the best in your days and weeks ahead. I feel for you, and I hope that we can help you (I know we can). I look forward to your presence here as we all share your burden. Eventually, if you stay, you will be able to share the burden of others.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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mom3
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by mom3 » 06 Mar 2015, 20:20

Welcome to the Ward. We hope you feel loved.

The CES letter has sent plenty of strong members into a tailspin. I had dinner with a lady the other night. Part of it the avalanche experience of the letter. Like anything written with purpose it has impact. Think of it like a personal tsunami, unexpected and not fun. That doesn't mean the tsunami gets to win. It only means that the recovery is going to be long and possibly messy. If everything gets wiped out, you have to begin again. Lots of people here have begun again. Maybe not from the CES letter but from their own earthquake or tsunami.

As I read your introduction I was struck by the 2 people who have had crisis's and returned. They are both close to you. That is a bonus. No they can't fix it, but you have a host of people you can vent to, cry with, talk to. Others here are just trying to figure out how to tell loved ones.

Fresh Courage Take, the sea will calm, equilibrium will find it's way and so will you. If your desire is to return you will find away and we are happy to help.

I always suggest writing a list of what still feels good or hopeful to you. It may not be a belief, but a hope. Even if it's that you still have a desire that's good. Build from there.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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SilentDawning
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Mar 2015, 21:03

slowlylosingit wrote: I am terrified of the consequences that I might face if I can’t believe again. My poor DH is so supportive, but I can see the pain in his face and the exhaustion from not sleeping. He is trying to help me find my answers, but knows he can’t save me. I want to believe so badly, but I don’t know how to anymore. I am exhausted and can feel myself giving up. I have come here to find support and to talk to people that maybe feel the way I do. How do I navigate this?
I would suggest a few things.

a) Realize you don't have to do anything immediately. Although an emotional crisis, this is not a physical crisis where if you don't act immediately, something will hit you. You can still go to church, have a spouse, and do almost everything you were doing before the crisis. This crisis you are facing is invisible to most of the world. If you can let yourself realize that, then a lot of pressure you feel might dissipate.

b) Get comfortable on a paradigm where you are still a Mormon, but not believing everything for the time being. You can do that -- I have done it. I can go to a meeting and sit there and listen, process things silently, talk to people about non-doctrinal things. You can socialize and be caring and serve people -- all while having doubts.

c) Do a cost-benefit analysis regarding your spouse. Weigh the cost of being "authentic" about church matters with the cost to your relationship -- in the cost to your spouse's emotional well-being, the actual relationship between you -- whatever is important. I find those things are more important than being "authentic" -- just as keeping my job is more important than being open with the managers about their sometimes destructive behavior.

d) Eventually, something will come up where you have to act or make a decision -- a TR expires, you get asked to speak on something you're not comfortable with -- something will come up. Fortunately, these things tend to happen one at a time. Post the conundrum here and get some perspectives. You'll get perspectives that will help you make up your mind, one step at a time.

e) Regarding consequences if you don't believe again. I would relax about that one. Do you think God will judge you regarding your heart at a static point in time? I think not! You are a growing, changing person, with much good in your life that he will reward. You are trying to restore your faith, and God does looketh upon the heart. He is patient, and he sees eternity. I would put that fear out of your mind for the time being, and work at dealing with the issues. I also take comfort in the fact that there is so much confusion and lack of clarity on spiritual issues, and point to things -- like the CES letter, that causes one to doubt. I am prepared to ask him on Judgment day why, if it's so important to believe, there are so many obstacles and problems without satisfactory answers? In fact, i wonder if he's intentionally ambiguous about truth so he doesn't have to hold us strictly accountable -- and can therefore, be merciful!

f) Avoid opening up to local leaders. That is dangerous, in my view, and can put you in a "box" that is hard to get out of when you are ready to recommit. Keep your doubts to yourself or express them here where you can discuss them in a non-judgmental way with others, without the box-labelling that you get when you open up to people locally.

The process of reconstruction takes time -- allow yourself that time, while preserving your inner peace. You may still be able to take comfort in prayer, asking for strength and peace. If you still believe in God (I assume you probably do) then rely on that for temporary help and peace.
"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

Ann
Posts: 2561
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Falling Apart

Post by Ann » 06 Mar 2015, 22:08

slowlylosingit wrote:
But then I think of eternity and I cant bear the thought of losing my family, that I would be left behind and could watch my DH and children go on without me.
Hi, slowlylosingit - I'm glad you're here. :wave:

Everyone here can empathize with you. I'm quoting one small thought from your posts, just to make a prediction: that in a very short time you won't be worried about this. You'll have different ways of looking at your situation, different ways of framing the problem, better emotional resources to cope with the changes you're going through, etc.

This site has been a godsend for me. I hope you'll feel welcome here, too.
"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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LookingHard
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Re: Falling Apart

Post by LookingHard » 06 Mar 2015, 22:20

Ann wrote:
slowlylosingit wrote:
But then I think of eternity and I cant bear the thought of losing my family, that I would be left behind and could watch my DH and children go on without me.
Hi, slowlylosingit - I'm glad you're here. :wave:

Everyone here can empathize with you. I'm quoting one small thought from your posts, just to make a prediction: that in a very short time you won't be worried about this. You'll have different ways of looking at your situation, different ways of framing the problem, better emotional resources to cope with the changes you're going through, etc.

This site has been a godsend for me. I hope you'll feel welcome here, too.
I agree. Things will never look just the same, but life can be good.

I also want to comment on
SilentDawn wrote:e) Regarding consequences if you don't believe again. I would relax about that one. Do you think God will judge you regarding your heart at a static point in time?
Before too long in my faith crisis, I put all my faith into God leading me. I said, "if you are trying to tell me it is all made up, please bring it on a bit stronger. But if there is truth in the church - please bring it on a bit stronger." After a while of honestly pleading that, I feel like I am absolutely trying to follow God. I can't see how he can be mad at me or punish me when my heart is pleading for help. I trust he knows my heart and I have faith/hope he is a just God.

I feel for you teaching seminary this year. I was worried they would ask me. My answer would be, "No. The outcome will be bad. Either I will leave the church, or you will kick me out for teaching all of the REAL truths along with the whitewashed history."

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