Thanks for listening..

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Annie421
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Joined: 19 May 2015, 13:30

Thanks for listening..

Post by Annie421 » 19 May 2015, 17:26

Hello. First of all, thank you for providing this site. So here's what brings me here..

Over the years, though attending and active, my husband and I have always known we have been not been totally "on board" in some areas of church participation. Especially in the collective enthusiasm in our parental age group for preparing and then sending our sons off on missions. My husband did not serve one, long story there, but mainly due to his mother’s struggle with cancer and eventual death when he was a teen. His dad was a convert, family was small, and I am a convert and so there is literally no one in both of our families who has ever served a mission. Over the years it became clear our oldest son would have a very difficult time serving due to his reoccurring depression and ADD/OCD behavior. Its not as apparent to other members of the church as he has matured, but we know our son's limits. Our next son had tremendous opportunities with athletic scholarships, so no overriding interest on his part to let those go, especially when he keeps hearing that so many recently called missionaries end up being turned into “service missionaries” and don’t really get to teach. For many years, I have a hard time wrapping my head around why the missionary program has to be so one-size-fits-all and so very rigid with rules, even for the families sending them.( ie- What can be sent, when it can be sent, money and communication restrictions,) I guess that's because I didn't grow up around it, and no one ever told me when i joined the church, the outline of "the program" for the youth.

Dont get me wrong ,we attend church to feel uplifted and closer to HF and our Savior, not look for flaws, But week in and week out, it seems like almost every conversation turns to “missionary service”. What about all of the other topics ? Oddly, no one ever directly asks (not even the bishop) about whether our boys will go, and if not… what are the reasons. I guess everyone just assumes they will eventually go. As time passes, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable around our peer parents who are getting missionaries ready to go, and by the way, for whom we are always supportive of. But, I find myself rolling my eyes whenever I hear things like i mentioned before,especially when we hear an RM is getting married within months after returning home. How can they possibly even know the person in such a short period of time? We are told that Mission Presidents tell RMs to “go find a wife” before they break their covenants. Well isn’t choosing the person you will marry the most important decision you will ever make? We strongly disagree with the idea that whomever we marry, even if we are incompatible, we should just “endure to the end.” Excuse me?! Marriage is part of the Plan of Happiness, right? And Why do so many girls who marry so young want to jump in and have kids within a year? What about getting to really know each other without the responsibility of parenthood added so soon?

Anyway, thoughts like those, and about other thorny areas of Mormonism are creaping in as well. I know that if I express many of this to others, its probably not going to go well, so please help me find a way to deal with it and keep the lid on. We have a very small extended family so the church has been that for us. My husband and I are totally on the same page about everything, and we are trying very hard to hang in there. Our ward has been home to us for many years, but some Sundays if the only thing we seem to hear is about missionary service, rather than other uplifting messages, we would rather just stay home. Thanks for listening. :|

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mom3
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Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by mom3 » 19 May 2015, 20:27

Welcome. Listening and chatting is what we like to do. I have no direct suggestions on this particular topic, but I do understand the strain that being a little off the grid creates. I hope you find our little corner of the web helpful, even relieving. Glad to have you.
"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: Thanks for listening..

Post by SilentDawning » 19 May 2015, 20:32

Annie421 wrote: Oddly, no one ever directly asks (not even the bishop) about whether our boys will go, and if not… what are the reasons. I guess everyone just assumes they will eventually go.
I had a similar problem when my son told me that he didn't want the priesthood at age 12. I went to the Bishopric, and the YM President and his counselor and explained my son's desires. I asked that everyone give him space, and that we would let them know when he was ready, if that happened. I shared some aspects of his personality that were a factor in his refusal to accept it. One of these leaders blamed "whether prayer and scripture reading" was happening in the home, which I had to deal with.

They invited him to activities but he didn't want to go....but there wasn't any pressure from people for him to get the priesthood either. We shielded him.

So, you might pre-empt it when the time is right by telling the leadership and politely telling them to back off, in advance.
"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
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Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by Ann » 20 May 2015, 00:46

Annie421 wrote: I have a hard time wrapping my head around why the missionary program has to be so one-size-fits-all and so very rigid with rules....
Hi, Annie :wave: I'm really glad you're here.

I think I've seen clothing labels that say, "one size fits most." I really wish we could have that attitude. I'm sure some families, bishops and wards handle kids not going/returning early beautifully, but as a culture we have a long way to go. I don't know how to encourage missionary service without stigmatizing those who don't go. Part of it is probably parents like you holding your head high and not allowing others to marginalize you. (If that's how you'd describe what's happening or what you're afraid will happen.) That's much easier said than done.

Do your boys talk about missions?
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by DarkJedi » 20 May 2015, 07:05

Welcome, you are in a safe place. Just last night I was talking with a parent whose son told them he wasn't going to serve a mission. She was very upset, felt they had failed as parents, etc. I was sad for her, really. Because of the pervasiveness of this mission idea in the culture, there was really nothing I could say to her except to tell her it wasn't the end of the world and to quote Elder Hales in never closing the door of our hearts to our children.

I understand what you're saying about nobody asking your children about serving missions, but I'd love it if people would quit asking my son who is also on the fence. I wish a GA would just stand up in conference (in a way similar to Uchtdorf's "stop it") and say whether or not a kid decides to serve a mission is between him or her and God - and it's not anyone else's business. There is no commandment to serve a mission, it doesn't keep you out of the CK, and you can even be in the First Presidency (none of the current three served and they are not the first ones). Missions simply aren't for everyone.

There's another thread where there is some discussion about Ezra Taft Benson. I was a YSA during the early part of his tenure and he made some statements similar to what you point out. I have said on the other thread that he is not my favorite prophet - those statements are what put him there to begin with. Marrying just to be married is so archaic, even Machiavellian, to me. I worry about my soon-to-return son who will head back to BYU, and I don't know how to counteract that teaching.
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."

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Gerald
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Joined: 29 Sep 2011, 04:57

Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by Gerald » 20 May 2015, 07:09

Welcome to this site, Annie. I have one son who will, in all likelihood, not go on a mission. He also has some ADD-like behavior (we have an older daughter with similar tendencies) that he might grow out of. But the thought of him going on a mission right now....absolutely not. I would like him to go given that it CAN be a good experience but I'm not going to freak out if he doesn't. We have a great bishop and as my son aged closer to 18, my wife and I sat down with him and told him that while we want him to go, it needs to be my son's choice and we would appreciate it if as little pressure is put on him as possible. Of course, we can't control what other members say and do but the bishop has been very supportive.
But week in and week out, it seems like almost every conversation turns to “missionary service”. What about all of the other topics ? Oddly, no one ever directly asks (not even the bishop) about whether our boys will go, and if not… what are the reasons. I guess everyone just assumes they will eventually go. As time passes, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable around our peer parents who are getting missionaries ready to go, and by the way, for whom we are always supportive of. But, I find myself rolling my eyes whenever I hear things like i mentioned before,especially when we hear an RM is getting married within months after returning home. How can they possibly even know the person in such a short period of time? We are told that Mission Presidents tell RMs to “go find a wife” before they break their covenants. Well isn’t choosing the person you will marry the most important decision you will ever make? We strongly disagree with the idea that whomever we marry, even if we are incompatible, we should just “endure to the end.” Excuse me?! Marriage is part of the Plan of Happiness, right? And Why do so many girls who marry so young want to jump in and have kids within a year? What about getting to really know each other without the responsibility of parenthood added so soon?
I agree with your sentiments here. I suppose some missionaries may be in a place where such a quick marriage would work but my oldest daughter dated her husband for a year before getting married. My next oldest daughter just graduate from college with no marital prospects as yet (and I'm fine with that.) So you're not alone in your attitudes. In fact, they mirror my wife's and mine quite closely in many respects.

Ultimately, the mission decision is one to be discussed between the child and his/her parents. Because if things go wrong on the mission (bad experience, early return, etc.) it won't be the ward members or even the bishop who will be coping with the fallout. Again, welcome to the board.
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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Heber13
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Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by Heber13 » 20 May 2015, 09:50

Annie421 wrote:We strongly disagree with the idea that whomever we marry, even if we are incompatible, we should just “endure to the end.” Excuse me?! Marriage is part of the Plan of Happiness, right?
Thanks SO much for sharing your thoughts. Missions...marriage...all kinds of issues are not one-size fits all...but it seems the church with it's correlation program was trying to make it that way about everything, and I think got it wrong in some areas.

When the mission presidents started complaining that 90% of their time is spent on a small percentage of missionaries with problems, the church raised the bar and then put the problem on families that their sons and daughters needed to fit the mold or not go at all. I think they missed the point.

I think the church may be stuck in a 1980s mentality, and it will take time to come around to new generations and new societal needs to see that the gospel is powerful enough to allow the church to change from rigidity and conformity to a more mature model that meets individual needs...instead of focusing on the middle majority and then wonder why they other sheep are lost...not realizing their pushing the fringe sheep out of the fold and putting pressure on those on the fringe as it is "their fault".

They need to be more inclusive. The ship turns slowly...but until it does...as individual families...we need to hold to what we feel is good and right within our families. There is a good chance other peer parents in your ward will likely face what you have experienced...and may need a friend to tell them the problem is not them...that others experience it too.

Find your peace, and then go give it to other ward members that will also need it.

Your message really hit home for me because I just went through a divorce...and didn't find much in the church to support me about it. I feel the church is for families to be together forever...and in my special circumstance where I didn't fit the mold...there was little alternate message for me. Instead...I just had to deal with it. I was lucky to have supportive family and some good church people reassure me...but nothing that could be openly said over the pulpit about not all marriages will succeed...no matter how hard you pray or how many FHE you have in the home. They skip over that...but in private, leaders would tell me that. That isn't right...to privately believe some things are over emphasized in the church but not correct it. The church needs to be more transparent about things.

I think the church struggles to know how to hold up an "Ideal" that people should strive for, while accepting less than ideal circumstances as acceptable in this life. Missions and marriages will not all be ideal. They just won't. Leaders need to give people permission to not all be the same. I am sure God sees the important things for us all...the Church doesn't always know how to organize it that way and not lose all purpose to try for anything. That fear is what keeps them holding on to conformity, even when they know that is unreasonable for all.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 May 2015, 11:12

Welcome!

I have a son who did not serve a mission. His most recent calling was as Ward Clerk, and he was married in the temple. He and his wife are totally active, but he is heterodox in many ways - and his wife makes him look TBM. Molly Mormon she ain't.

My other son just got married in the temple - with his full beard firmly attached. He wants to study and teach Gender Studies, with a focus on the harmful effects of our cultural obsession with masculinity. He is an open advocate of gay marriage and other non-traditional issues. His wife is just as passionate about those things as he is.

Neither of my brothers served a mission. One married his high school sweetheart soon after graduation. He now serves in the Bishopric of his ward outside of Utah. The other returned home early because he couldn't testify with conviction of the things he was teaching. It was his choice. He struggled for a while with various things, including church activity, but he now is remarried, in the temple, and is fully active.

My wife's family was raised in a home that was about as traditional as it gets. Only one of the seven kids is what I would call uber-orthodox now - and that one was a rebel in high school. One of them is not active at all, and one more is a cafeteria Mormon to the core. He wrote the recent article linked in a thread here about Mormonism and the Monoculture. (Search for that word, if you want to read the article.)

I was raised in Mormon Central. The views now of the students with whom I graduated from high school are, by and large, radically different than they were then. Overall, we are a MUCH more liberal, progressive group now - even with many who still are conservative and traditional. I now know of a few who are LGBT, including two who got married recently in Utah (not to each other). They are open about it, and I haven't seen any of my friends respond negatively to them on Facebook.

What I'm saying is that there is room in the LDS Church for lots of differences - and that is more and more true as each day passes. Some congregations aren't nearly as supportive of differences, but that usually is because of the tone of a local leader AND because we are not a boat-rocking, argumentative people. I am convinced there are FAR more members in every ward and branch who would fit well here at StayLDS than most people realize.
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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FaithfulSkeptic
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Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by FaithfulSkeptic » 20 May 2015, 13:04

Annie,

Welcome and thanks for your introduction. As an early-returning missionary in the 1980s and having two sons that have returned home early as well, I can assure you that missions aren't for everyone. In my opinion, it is far better to not serve a mission than to do it for the wrong reasons, or if you aren't ready for it. I can't tell you how much emotional and psychological pain that returning home early from a mission has caused for me, my sons, and my whole family. There are so many other ways to serve God and others besides serving a mission. Missions are great for some people, but they just aren't good for others. My son who returned less than a year ago now doesn't believe at all and has done a complete 180 with his life and values.
Annie421 wrote:Over the years it became clear our oldest son would have a very difficult time serving due to his reoccurring depression and ADD/OCD behavior. Its not as apparent to other members of the church as he has matured, but we know our son's limits. Our next son had tremendous opportunities with athletic scholarships, so no overriding interest on his part to let those go, especially when he keeps hearing that so many recently called missionaries end up being turned into “service missionaries” and don’t really get to teach. For many years, I have a hard time wrapping my head around why the missionary program has to be so one-size-fits-all and so very rigid with rules, even for the families sending them.( ie- What can be sent, when it can be sent, money and communication restrictions,) I guess that's because I didn't grow up around it, and no one ever told me when i joined the church, the outline of "the program" for the youth.
I'm with you that missions are not a one-size-fits all thing. I am encouraged that there are now several other kinds of missionary opportunities (young church service missionaries) for those that don't fit the mold. But none of those appealed to my sons who did not fit the mold. I wish some of those options would have been there for me in the '80s.
But week in and week out, it seems like almost every conversation turns to “missionary service”. What about all of the other topics ?
I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing talks or lessons about "hastening the work!" :crazy: I'd much rather focus on how we can become more like Christ and love and serve each other. I cringed when the lowering of the missionary age was announced. Again, this is good for some, but I think it puts even more pressure on kids who just aren't ready to serve at 18 or 19.
Anyway, thoughts like those, and about other thorny areas of Mormonism are creaping in as well. I know that if I express many of this to others, its probably not going to go well, so please help me find a way to deal with it and keep the lid on. We have a very small extended family so the church has been that for us. My husband and I are totally on the same page about everything, and we are trying very hard to hang in there. Our ward has been home to us for many years, but some Sundays if the only thing we seem to hear is about missionary service, rather than other uplifting messages, we would rather just stay home. Thanks for listening. :|
I don't know that I can give much good advice, except for having some frank discussions with your sons/daughters and making it clear that they don't need to go on a mission to be a good person or to be obedient, and that despite what anyone else says (or your patriarchal blessing), missions just aren't for everyone. There are so many other ways that you can serve the Lord. Like someone else pointed out, all three members of our current First Presidency didn't serve missions.

I hope that as a church and as a culture we can embrace our youth that for whatever reason don't want to or can't serve missions. It really is tough for young people to be active and happy in the church (especially young men) during the years of 18-25 if they don't serve missions because of the pressure we put on them directly or indirectly. We lose far too many youth because of this.
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

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SilentDawning
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Re: Thanks for listening..

Post by SilentDawning » 20 May 2015, 13:30

Heber13 wrote:
Annie421 wrote:We strongly disagree with the idea that whomever we marry, even if we are incompatible, we should just “endure to the end.” Excuse me?! Marriage is part of the Plan of Happiness, right?
Amen to that. And I have to confess, in my experience, we don't prepare our kids very well for marriage. I had no clue what was important other than "committed to the gospel and wants to be married in the temple". And then a few personal criteria which in the long run weren't as important as other criteria I had no idea existed.

I also believe in longer engagements so you can get to know the person better than you can in a short engagement. I know young people have trouble keeping their pants on, but I'm not convinced it's worth the downside of getting married quickly -- marrying the wrong partner. And I reject BY's statement that "any two people living the gospel can have a successful marriage". Perhaps, but at what cost????
"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

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