Longtime lurker...really need some advice

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kate5
Posts: 77
Joined: 21 Feb 2016, 22:49

Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by kate5 » 23 Feb 2016, 22:53

Hi everyone!

First, I just want to say thank you for this site and for all your contributions. I have been reading this forum for a few years but was too nervous to post. You all have helped me stay LDS even if you didn't know you were. :smile:

I was born in the church but both my parents were converts. We were really active when I was young and then went through many off and on periods of activity as I grew older. I always believed in the church and ending up being married in the temple. My husband and I went through a brief period of inactivity for the first 2 years we were married and then stepped it up when we started having kids and have been active ever since.

We have never been your typical stalwart Mormons, though. We went a lot of years without paying tithing or having temple recommends, off and on FHE and reading scriptures. The last decade or so we started being temple recommend worthy and through some scary experiences with my health, I became more active in my heart instead of just going through the motions.

We have 3 boys and none of them went on missions. When they all decided the last few years not to go, we were so upset and devastated. At this time, I was really "all in" and felt like a failure as a parent. We lived in a very, very LDS community and my kids were looked down on because they hadn't gone to YM or scouts much and now the whole mission thing was all they needed to know that my kids weren't dateable or popular. Before the mission decisions, they were looked down on because they wore skater clothes and liked having their hair longer. I know this helped contribute to the fact that they not only didn't want to go on missions, they weren't sure they wanted to be part of the church. In this little LDS community, there was no room for differences at all. I am not blaming it on the community, we were the ones that weren't stalwart like we should have been but their attitude toward my kids certainly didn't help matters.

The first time I heard about the darker parts of history in the church was went I took a college class on Utah History. I couldn't believe the things I was hearing. But I just kind of got over it after some time and rationalized it away. Years later my Mom read Rough Stone Rolling and started telling me all the things about Joseph Smith and young wives and polyandry. Again I was really upset, I cried but somehow was able to chalk it up to human failing. I thought the church was a good place for my family even though the culture was awful.

Interestingly enough, my biggest faith crises happened when I was called to be Young Women's President. I had already served in YW for a lot of years and knew that I didn't want to be president. I knew it would be bad. I felt like I should take it, though. After my health scares and my new, increased testimony, I honestly though Heavenly Father had something planned for me. I relied on everything I had heard about being blessed and up to the task even when you feel inadequate. I was going to be the best YW president ever! The next 2 years were 2 of the darkest of my life. I was a horrible leader. I was too afraid to delegate. The bishop gave me camp leaders that had so much going on in their lives they weren't much help. It was like a full time job. I lived, eat, breathed and slept YW. I started having suicidal thoughts, I almost had a nervous breakdown at camp. When I got back, I begged the bishop to be released. He asked me to stay for 6 more months and I did with bad results. The depression worsened, I lost weight and I was a terrible mother to my senior-in-high-school son.

I couldn't believe that I had went in full faith mode and received a calling I knew better than to take and this is what I got. My testimony was so shaken and I became very bitter towards church. I couldn't even stand to see other LDS churches without feeling like I was going to have an anxiety attack. I was finally released a year ago and swore I would never take another YW calling.

We moved 8 hours away over the summer. I started to very slowly start feeling better about church as summer approached. One day, something triggered the horrible YW memories and I got angry about the whole calling again. Then all of a sudden, a very powerful feeling came over me. "If you hadn't done that calling, you would still be very judgmental of your boys and your relationship wouldn't be as good as it was now." ( I hope that doesn't sound too weird) I realized that over the course of my calling I had begun to see the perspective of my boys and the troubles with church they were having. Instead of being judgmental, I began to be empathetic. Our relationship improved, I wasn't lecturing them all the time. They actually want to talk and share their struggles with me now. When I felt that powerful feeling I cried. I felt Heavenly Father had been looking out for me after all. I just needed to learn a tough lesson.

After that happened, literally 3 hours later I got a call to meet with my new bishop....you guessed it YW again, 1st counselor. Well, of course after that powerful experience, I had to take it right? I had healed a lot from my the last disaster and told myself that counselor wasn't near as bad as president. I could do that again.
(By the way, I have been YW president, 1st counselor, 2nd counselor and secretary all in the last 12 years)

I said yes, I still can't believe I did. And yet, 6 months later here I am...the bitter feelings are starting to come back. I don't want to go to church anymore. I'm sure I have another lesson to learn but I don't know if I can take this again. I am upset over the new policy, over the medical marijuana stance and over the almost worship of church leaders. I am tired of blind obedience. My husband is still very TBM and for the most part is understanding but in his weak moments he might snap at me if I say too much against the church.

What do I do? Do I asked to get released from a calling that is bringing back a lot of bad memories? We live in another small town and my husbands work is intertwined with church and I don't want to make him look bad in the community. I just feel so sick every time I have to plan another activity, teach a lesson and soon go to camp again :thumbdown:

If you got through this long, drawn out post, thank you for reading it. I'm sorry it was so long, I just had to get my feelings out. I don't feel I have anyone to talk to.
Thank you again for all the help you have given me. This is a great community.

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Feb 2016, 04:23

Welcome. Sometimes the benefit of being here is that we can just open up and let things out. Long post? No problem.

Bottom line is that you have to decide for yourself what to do about your calling. It's easy for me to sit here perhaps thousands of miles away and behind the curtain of anonymity and say you shouldn't have accepted that calling to begin with, of course you should ask for a release. However, I didn't have the experience of feeling like I had gained something before as you did. I know that's all wishy washy and I'm sorry. It's just that no one else - including God - can make that decision for you no matter how much you'd like them to.

About empathy: I am more empathetic and compassionate now than I have ever been, and I credit it to the faith crisis itself. Had I not experienced what I have, I don't think I would feel as sorry for and with others as I do.
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

kate5
Posts: 77
Joined: 21 Feb 2016, 22:49

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by kate5 » 24 Feb 2016, 09:26

Thank you Dark Jedi for reading all of that! I do realize that nobody here can make my decision for me, unfortunately. I know that part of life is making hard decisions and learning and growing from them no matter what the outcome. Too bad everything isn't black and white like it used to be for me.

I really want to do what Heavenly Father wants of me. The problem is I don't know what that is. I don't even know if the LDS church is where he wants me to be. Sometimes it feels like I'm not a great fit.

It is interesting empathy is something that comes about from a faith crisis. My husband isn't in a faith crisis but even he has developed a lot more empathy for others because of what the rest of our family has gone through. Empathy is something that I don't see a lot of in others in the church. Even though most of them are very kind, they only see the world from their view and everyone else is either misguided or flat out wrong and sinful. I'm thankful for the opportunity for to learn that characteristic a little better.

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nibbler
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Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by nibbler » 24 Feb 2016, 10:34

I think it's admirable that you accepted the calling to be YM1C, recognizing that you've made some progress and giving it another go to see how things would work out.

I wouldn't feel bad about stepping away for a while. When athletes get serious about training for an event they'll tell you that the rest and recovery phase is vital towards making progress. Continuing the push towards progress without adequate rest periods can actually be detrimental towards achieving goals. If you have to step away for a while, no big deal. There will probably be callings waiting for you when you decide you can come back to them.

One of the best things I learned (and am still trying to learn) along my journey is the ability to say no. I've found my church experience to be much more healthy when I can say no and feel no guilt. That's easier said than done. You might also try to establish boundaries with your calling, e.g. you'll do the YW calling but you can't attend camp this year.

I get how there are extenuating circumstances and other people to take into consideration that complicate matters, I guess there always are. It is your decision but don't forget to factor your own well being into the equation.

Welcome to StayLDS.
The new beatitude: "Good luck..."
- Maynard James Keenan

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Heber13
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Location: In the Middle

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by Heber13 » 24 Feb 2016, 11:42

What an amazing story. I really really appreciate you taking time to come out of lurking and share your experience and your feelings.

Your story really moved me. I am not sure what it is, but it brought a tear to my eye as I read, and I felt the spirit (I hope that doesn't sound too weird ;) )...I think it was these thoughts:
kate5 wrote:"If you hadn't done that calling, you would still be very judgmental of your boys and your relationship wouldn't be as good as it was now."
I truly believe these experiences in church are for us, for these kinds of things, that we can be better at home with our families. And the frustrations and angst we feel at church is part of it. We could not possibly learn all things if church was a yellow brick road of pansies and unicorns, as much as we love that image as children.
1 Cor 13:
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The day will come when we see things more clearly at church, but for now, we can find peace despite seeing just part of God's reasons for what happens in our lives.
kate5 wrote:They actually want to talk and share their struggles with me now.
There is no greater gift you can be giving them. Cherish these moments above church. This is what it is all about.
kate5 wrote: When I felt that powerful feeling I cried. I felt Heavenly Father had been looking out for me after all. I just needed to learn a tough lesson.
Remind yourself of this often.
kate5 wrote:What do I do? Do I asked to get released from a calling that is bringing back a lot of bad memories?
My guess is God has more for you to learn. That was the process you learned before, and it is happening again. What can you learn about your relationship with God?

Could be:
- Embrace the hard and stressful times, knowing it will get better and be worth it;
- You have a unique skill and personality that some YW NEED because it will differ from other YW leaders who may be too preachy to reach some YW. Youth are very aware nowadays, some don't want the rose-colored glasses, they want real world advice and a leader that cares about them to help them. They will turn away from a leader who lectures them or talks down to them or tells them to conform and be more modest...they need someone with a view that there are real issues in the world, even ones that go off script of the correlated materials;
- Maybe you haven't learned to say no yet. There is a way God wants you to have boundaries and say NO to church before you become suicidal and have breakdowns. It is not the bishop's responsibility to sense that in you and not ask for you to take callings or to release you (although that would be nice). It is your religion. Own it. Learn how to stay loving, positive, grateful, faithful...and tell the bishop and others when you cannot do something, while showing them how awesome you are in other areas. Allow yourself breaks, and find what works for you so you are at peace with yourself and your God.

God will be proud of a strong daughter like you that can do it in loving and strong ways. Like Esther, Ruth, and so many other strong women who may not have been supported enough in their culture or church. He wants you to become who you are supposed to become. Loving and happy and strong in adversity. That comes with baby steps. But you are on the right road. You have stayed faithful for so many years. You keep trying. You don't give up. You sacrifice.

It is OK to turn down callings or ask for releases. It is OK to know God is proud of you, even if others in church won't agree. He knows your heart. Family ALWAYS comes first. Always. You are after God's love, not the church's approval.

Please keep posting and sharing your journey. I think others will grow from reading how you deal with it. We are happy to share and support you.

Just like many YW in your ward will benefit from your example. Seek out those ones that look like they need your arm around them. And use your empathy to love your kids and husband.

I look forward to learning more from your posts.
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."

Minyan Man
Posts: 1449
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by Minyan Man » 24 Feb 2016, 11:51

kate5, welcome to StayLDS.com
Your story sounds familiar.

You said:
We have 3 boys and none of them went on missions. When they all decided the last few years not to go, we were so upset and devastated. At this time, I was really "all in" and felt like a failure as a parent.
I for one, don't believe that everyone should go on a FT mission. I have (2) sons that never went on a mission. The important thing is, they are
well adjusted. They are grown, married, graduated college, have decent jobs, raising good children & are happy. I wish they were in church but, that's
ok too.

There are issues that I have with Church history too. I accept the fact that I will never have all the answers.

That's all for now. We're glad you're here.

kate5
Posts: 77
Joined: 21 Feb 2016, 22:49

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by kate5 » 24 Feb 2016, 13:45

Nibbler... Thank you for your comment and advice. I know I am really burned out on YW. I have been in it 9 of the last 12 years. I have actually told myself exactly what you just said. I have a lot of improvement left to do but maybe it's okay and take a break and not improve for awhile :smile:. I try to tell myself that Heavenly Father would understand. I have also thought about talking to the bishop (he knows a tiny bit about my past history) or maybe the YW president about not having to go to camp or plan big, stressful activities. The problem is the YW press really needs my help and I've been there. I know what it's like and I don't want to do that to someone else. It's so hard because I want to have some self preservation and yet not make things more stressful to others.

Heber...Thank you for your kind post. I'll be honest you are telling me the things I already know and don't want to hear. As miserable as this whole process is, I keep getting this nagging feeling that if I can just hold on and trust in God I will come out better in the end. Right now, though, I don't feel better, I feel bitter. But then I do try to remember what I have gained from that experience; a more loving relationship with my kids which is the most important thing in the world to me. And to be honest, I would go through it all again if I had to. It was worth it. So I guess that is why I can't bring myself to ask to be released in this calling yet. And thank you for the reassurance that my atypical way of believing could be actually beneficial to others because I have felt like maybe I am just too different from everyone else and I don't belong. I don't want to ever talk about modesty. When I was YW president I never even said the word. I have tried to concentrate all my lessons on Christ and being kind to others because that is what my testimony is centered on. But sometimes I just kind of feel like a fraud. Maybe, though, if I can try to find purpose in it, I can try to avoid the dark places I went to last time.

Minyan..Thank you for your thoughts as well. I know for sure that missions are wonderful but they are not meant for everyone. I realize that now, another lesson learned. I remember once I told my kids I was a failure as a parent because of their unwillingness to go on missions. It really hurt them. One of them said to me, "You know we are doing well in school and jobs, we don't party, we try to be kind and are think you are a failure because of church?" I have always felt so ashamed of that. They are the type of kids that would make any parent proud. None are married but one is successful in his job, the other is in law school and the other is doing very well in college. To top it off they are kind and empathetic people. The judgement they received from others and and me while growing up has made them that much more sensitive to other's feelings and plights. One of them is actually active in church and has a calling but it is very, very hard for him. Every week he has to talk himself into going. He also feels like he doesn't belong. It's hard when you hear people at the pulpit defining success in their children as serving a mission and getting married in the temple. This might not happen for any of my kids but does that mean they are not as successful as those that do?

Thank you everyone for your replies! I love this board and the kindness and understanding that is on here. That's hard to find on the internet these days.

Ann
Posts: 2568
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by Ann » 24 Feb 2016, 14:55

Hi, kate5 - I'm glad you're here for real and no longer lurking. And thanks for sharing your amazing story. I'm never long on advice, but I'll just leave two (conflicting - sorry!) thoughts. First, as the mother of young women, I would have given my eye teeth for someone with your approach to the gospel leading my girls. Second, as the woman getting older by the minute, I'm realizing that it is okay to express yourself, to establish boundaries where there were none before, or to simply say, "No."
"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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nibbler
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Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by nibbler » 24 Feb 2016, 14:59

kate5 wrote:I know I am really burned out on YW. I have been in it 9 of the last 12 years.
Been there but with a different calling. My path was:
Stake missionary (when that was a thing)
Ward missionary
Ward missionary (again)
Ward Mission Leader
Toss in a few years of being a counselor in a priesthood quorum that was in charge of the missionary efforts for the quorum.

I will have words with the next person that tries to extend me a calling that has anything to do with missionary work. :evil: :D
The new beatitude: "Good luck..."
- Maynard James Keenan

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Longtime lurker...really need some advice

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Feb 2016, 16:49

I think God wants you to care about and for others. I'm not sure it is more complicated than that - but humans want rules to follow, even if they complicate life.

I have never turned down a calling, but I have told people I will do a weak-lousy job more than once if they decide they really want me - and I believe if they call me, they get me - and I am fine if that is not whom they think they are getting. If they don't like it, they can release me. No hard feelings on my part.

I have said no to plenty of other things, always with an explanation. Once, when asked to contribute to the Friends of Scouting campaign, I simply laughed softly and said I hated Scouting when I was young, my boys didn't enjoy it, and there was no way I was going to contribute. The person asking was shocked, but he didn't argue with me - largely, I think, because my response was not loud, confrontational, or angry - and because I am an active member.

I am who I am - and hopefully I will be a different me than I am at this moment numerous times in my life. Reaching the point where you truly are okay with yourself is a good goal, as long as you are charitable with yourself along the 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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