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Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 20 Oct 2016, 19:34
by Vincent53
I'm new here, I've been lurking for about 3 weeks after discovering this site. Here's my introduction- I've been a faithful TBM all my life. I come from generations of pioneer stock all the way back to the Nauvoo period. I grew up in Utah, I served a mission, married a wonderful girl in the temple, we've been married over 30 years with six wonderful children. I've served and sacrificed all my life. Right now I'm feeling betrayed, let down, confused, sad and angry.

My shelf went on to a full collapse beginning last March after I discovered podcasts on Mormon history. I've always been curious about and loved studying history! Over my life I made sure what I read was "faith promoting history", though as I read I noticed gaps. An example would be reading about the excommunication of the Apostle Richard R. Lyman during the Heber J. Grant era. I read President Grant's biography back in the early 90's, (before the internet), there was no explanation as to why Lyman was excommunicated. There were always unanswered questions, like when I read President McKay's bio written by his son, I was confused about what was going on with Mathias Cowley and John W. Taylor. I put those unknown things on the shelf along with more and more things as I continued to read approved church history over the years. Well, with the internet entering our home back around 2004 I became aware of Joseph Smith's polygamy and Fanny Alger. I always knew he had "a few wives", but what I learned then was so disturbing that I just had to quit reading and hope that it wasn't really true. I closed my eyes and looked the other way. I put it on the shelf and kept reading my scriptures, praying and going to church. It all came tumbling down this past year and I'm struggling with what to do??? I'm 1st counselor in the bishopric in our ward, some days I just want to jump ship, but I feel stuck in the middle not wanting to be a quitter and wondering how I can even bear testimony. I used to be able to say "I know", but now I really don't know what I know or believe. The church has been a good thing in my life, I want to stay, but I wonder how I do that now.

My wife doesn't want to hear any of this, so I'm alone in this struggle. Many of you have been here, I would appreciate your advice.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 20 Oct 2016, 22:50
by DarkJedi
Welcome to the forum. You are correct, many here have had experiences very similar to yours. Even with different experiences, the feelings of betrayal, confusion, sadness, anger, etc. can still exist. In fact while my questions were different and not necessarily historical, I also experienced all those feelings as well as a wife who was non-supportive.

I can't say I can address your historical issues. Again, mine weren't (aren't) historical.

I don't say "I know" anything. In fact it mostly bugs me when people do because I know they don't know. But whatever, I'm getting past that. I do say I believe, but only those things I do believe. It's not all or nothing - I can believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet but not necessarily believe the Book of Mormon to be what it's claimed to be. I can believe in God and Jesus and the atonement but not polygamy. You have to figure out what you believe. It sometimes helps to try to separate the church and the gospel.

So I think my standard advice applies. Take it slow (you have apparently been doing that; focus on what you do believe (you need to figure that out); and don;t dump all at once (that is don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and don't dump everything on your wife/friends/leaders).

This is a good place, I hope others can help you. May you find the peace you seek.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 05:00
by nibbler
DJ already gave the advice of taking things slow. Sometimes I've felt that I was taking things slow but the healing didn't happen at a rate that I wanted to experience, I felt like I needed to hurry things along. I might add that it's important to be patient with ourselves.
Vincent53 wrote:My wife doesn't want to hear any of this, so I'm alone in this struggle. Many of you have been here, I would appreciate your advice.
Not anymore.

My advice? Talk about it. We'll listen.

Welcome to StayLDS.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 10:01
by Heber13
Welcome to StayLDS and coming out of Lurker-dom :wave:

The good news is that there are many others who have experienced what you have, and there are many who find ways to keep faith and belief and hope intact. That is what this forum was founded on...not dismissing the concerns and the issues...but showing that it does not equate to only one option...hate the church and jump ship. It is more complicated than that. It does not mean we lower our standards and start rationalizing or burying our heads in the sand and doubling down on defending the faith at all costs, and sticking our fingers in our ears and just keep repeating "the prophets know the way, the prophets know the way...".

Change is painful...and you are changing your perspective and views because the shelf can no longer keep holding more things you are finding. Put a more positive way...you are more mature and prepared and ready to see greater light and truth, even if it means revisiting prior beliefs you held that are no longer sufficient to stand the light of day. The Lord wants us to grow. Not all that wander are lost. The problem is not if you doubt, but how you doubt.

The not-so-good news is that there are no simple answers or recipes for successful travel. It is unique and yours is yours. It can be difficult and tricky. It varies by person because it depends on what you value and what personality you have and what the desires are of your heart.

My greatest advice is to realize that you are facing something not easily resolved...but you should try to value relationships with others as much as possible...especially family and most especially your wife.

It sounds like you like to study and you like to learn. This is not the learning you were expecting...but it is OK. It is new and a bit scary, but it is survivable.

One of my favorite quotes:
I appreciate the following from C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory:

If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellant; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellant which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know….the truth we need most is hidden precisely in the doctrines you least like and least understand. Scientists make progress because scientists instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellant doctrines.
As you go forward with faith and search for truth that sits comfortable in your heart and to your spirit...whatever that is...remember the importance of relationships and connections to those you care about most.

Posting here on this site will help others who come behind you who can benefit from reading your thoughts on your journey.

I look forward to learning from your posts.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 11:15
by Ann
Hi, Vincent - I'm looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts and feel confident that being here will help.

Since you mentioned a David O. McKay biography...have you read Gregory Prince's? He's firmly committed to staying in the church, but looks at things with a very clear eye and really no fear of what he'll find. If you like that, check out his biography of Leonard Arrington. Arrington's children approach Prince to write the bio after reading the McKay one. And if you've already been there and done that, please excuse the over-suggesting, but it sounds like you like to read history.

Not being in the same page with a spouse is difficult, but rummage around these threads for lots of good advice.

I think you could do so much good in your calling. Subtle ways of speaking, teaching and relating to people that can give them the courage to confide in you with their own struggles. I know of two people in our ward with serious intentions to leave who felt differently after talking with the bishopric counselor. That might just feel like another burden, but I hope it's lightened by the prospect of "being yourself."

(The most helpful book for me has been Thomas Wirthlin McConkie's "Navigating a Mormon Faith Crisis." He left the church as a teenager and recently returned in his late 30's, I think. Deseret Book doesn't carry it last time I looked, but they should!)

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 12:36
by Minyan Man
Welcome Vincent. You said:
It all came tumbling down this past year and I'm struggling with what to do??? I'm 1st counselor in the bishopric in our ward, some days I just want to jump ship, but I feel stuck in the middle not wanting to be a quitter and wondering how I can even bear testimony. I used to be able to say "I know", but now I really don't know what I know or believe. The church has been a good thing in my life, I want to stay, but I wonder how I do that now.
Many of us have gone through the same issues that you are. This is a safe & anonymous place to voice your concerns, doubts & questions. This may sound like another cliche but,
I believe that our faith was never meant to start low & build over a lifetime & keeps expanding. I now believe that there should be ups & downs & changes that challenge us.
Keep coming back. We want to hear more from you.

I also believe that what you're going through could give you more empathy for other members in your ward & stake who are going through the same issues.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 15:31
by amateurparent
Welcome. Know that there are people willing to listen and discuss your concerns.

Embrace your thoughts and questions. Recognize that they are worth conversations.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 15:35
by Curt Sunshine
I bear testimony all the time without saying, "I know," and I also say it about certain concepts about which I can feel comfortable making that claim.

My testimonies usually now are focused on one specific thing, like God's love for everyone - or our need to serve the people we naturally would avoid - or how grateful I am for parents who accepted me even though I saw things very differently than they did - etc.

You might not be able to bear a traditional, orthodox testimony, but you can bear yours. That is an important, empowering, wonderful distinction, especially as you figure out better what yours is.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 16:55
by SilentDawning
I hear you. I've been in Bpric's, High Council, and Exec Sec in Stake Presidency when things came crashing down a few times. Each time I got up and back onto the textbook path. Until the last time, when I started moving away from the textbook path to my own path within Mormonism.

Regarding bearing testimony, I suggest you make a list of all the positive things about the church. Even in the midst of testimony issues, you can still find things that are notable about the church -- things that are inspiring and uplifting, even though your testimony may be taking a beating. Here are a few things I can say with complete authenticity about the church in a "testimony".

a) the church and its leaders really emphasize wholesome activities for youth.
b) the church tends to attract very nice people who want to be good.
c) the service opportunities are limitless for those who want them
d) you get to work alongside talented leaders a lot of the time
e) the church provides a relatively safe place for young adults to attend college
f) the church helps parents take responsibility for the culture in their families
g) involvement in the church encourages living a clean and purposeful life.
h) the LDS scriptures and leaders often have nuggets of wisdom that I think a person can use to guide their decision-making [note -- there's a lot of chaff too, but being sincerely positive about those things you CAN be positive about is the goal here].
i) men are that they might have joy
ii) by small and simple things, are great things brought to pass
iii) happiness is the object and design of our whole existence.

i) I have met leaders who believed in me, helped me get higher education, and even helped me find jobs.

I could probably go on, but I agree with all of those things I have written. At the same time, my thoughts are beliefs are not completely (as an understatement) in line the with the church's way of thinking. So, if ever asked to bear testimony, I will say those things in my list above, and close in the name of Jesus Christ. My unorthodox beliefs never make it to the fore.

Notice how I didn't testify about prophets, truthfulness of the scriptures as a whole, the greatness of the church (a churchumony), the temple, the priesthood, or any of the other things that we normally hear about. I simply shared what I think is good about the church.

Do you think you could make your own list? Would that help you share, with authenticity, the things that are worthy about the church? I think we often lock ourselves into cultural parameters that don't have to exist.

Regarding the long-term -- you are in a high profile position now, and you apparently don't have a support ive spouse in your "unorthodoxy" as we like to call it. I would post separate threads on those or other issues, and get surgical advice on them.

Also, I personally used this forum to find my own happy place in the church. I posted each issue - and there were a ton of them -- about which I wanted to develop my own belief system. Not what the church says I should think, but what I really thought of it. Much happiness to be found when living your life on your own clock and conscience, with the church as a mere vehicle for input and POSSIBLE adoption of ideas. I want to say that greater happiness an absence of anger, while maintaining ties with the church is possible. Spousal expectations are likely the hardest to manage, but some of us have done it. Post away...

I realize you are probably experiencing a shockwave as the central beliefs that have guided you for so long are unstable right now. I do agree that taking it slow, and that people will only know what you tell them. I would keep your options open, and would NOT share any of this with the local people. Share your thoughts here until you find a peaceful resolution where you can maintain a relationship with the church of some kind, while living your life with peace and conscience.

Re: Lost, sad and confused.

Posted: 21 Oct 2016, 17:07
by LookingHard
Vincent - Welcome. It will get better! You may feel your are in free fall, but it does get better.

I was also serving in a bishopric when I free fell during my faith crisis. I have come out to my wife and she does not want to talk about any of it.

Those above have given some good advice and feel free to tell us more.

I only have a short break from work today, so I can't go into more, but I will over the next few days.