The wrong sort of testimony!

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squarepeg
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Joined: 17 Feb 2017, 12:51

The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by squarepeg » 20 Feb 2017, 08:39

Thank you for adding me to the forum. I have read some of the other introductions and it makes me sad to see that so many other people are struggling with the same issues I am, but also relieved that this is obviously the right place to find people to talk to about all of it.

My testimony has been suffering since my junior year of high school, so about 1.5 decades, when I found that Moroni's promise did not work for me. But I stayed active until two years ago when it got too hard to keep going due to a chronic illness. During that illness, which began seven years ago, I felt for the first time in my life complete abandonment by Heavenly Father. I cried out in desperate prayer countless times. I was doing everything I could, trying my best to follow the commandments, and my heart was humble and contrite. I could not (and still cannot) figure out why He would just not be there at all, and for such an extended period of time. I also had asked to be shown the solution to my illness or just to be shown something that would help. When that failed too many times I asked to please just feel His presence. That also failed. I know for a fact that I had enough faith to be healed. I had all the faith that it was possible for a person to have, with no doubt at all. But the healing did not come. And I felt a shocking absence of any heavenly care or love or concern of any type whatsoever.

Fast forward to now: I still pray, but it's different. I no longer expect answers. It's just something done out of habit because some part of me thinks there still might be benefit in it, maybe just as a thought exercise. Sometimes now I can feel the Spirit again. But I still feel like it isn't true when the scriptures say, "Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." I can't express this at church.

My testimony now is more like this: I believe that all religions are true in the sense that people can communicate with the divine in all of them, and I cannot with much confidence say that any one of the world's major religions is superior to any other. I love the LDS faith that I was raised in. It is an integral part of me that I don't want to lose. I find tremendous value in it. I don't know whether there is a being called God, but I think there is great benefit to believing that such a being exists. I think there is great potential value in adopting a faith tradition as valid and incorporating it's values and scripture into one's consciousness and using that to interpret one's everyday experiences. I pick the LDS faith as the one I want to make a part of myself, but it is purely a personal choice based on admittedly subjective criteria.

That is the wrong sort of testimony, though, isn't it? How can I regularly attend church with a testimony like that?! I will get into trouble, won't I? It will upset people! And what do I do with my kids?

Thank you again for letting me join this forum.

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SilentDawning
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by SilentDawning » 20 Feb 2017, 09:59

I thought it was wisdom when you said you pray, but without expectations. That is something I do as well. The rules that invoke miracles are so murky, it causes me as much turmoil as it does peace to try to use prayer as a means of bettering my life in significant ways. Pray regularly, and its nice when something good happens, but don't expect anything "unless God wants it to happen".

Regarding whether you can survive with the testimony you have, which is unorthodox and does not fit the church mold -- yes! I do that all the time. Here are a few pointers.

1. Don't tell anyone locally your naked beliefs-- that will offend people, and shut you off from potential privileges you may want from the priesthood leaders eventually. You believe enough that you can speak in a way that doesn't rankle people. Being able to share the naked truth here on StaylDS makes it easier.

2. Focus on what you have in common with the church.

3. Support your family in attending and being fully active. I am determined not to let the church be a wedge between myself and my family members.

4. Make achieving happiness your goal, not necessarily achievement of eternal life as the LDS church conceives it. You already believe that other churches are a conduit for people to engage with God, so I don't think point #4 is too tough. I hope I am right. Make achieving happiness your goal. To the extent the church provides that, then engage with it, but don't be afraid to open up your life to other new experiences that bring you joy. And don't be afraid to set boundaries on what the church can extract from you if you think it's not going to contribute to your happiness.

And there is an example of how you can believe unorthodox,yet speak orthodox. I could stand up in sacrament meeting and bear testimony about "men are that they might have joy", that "happiness is the object and design of our existence". I can point to all the ways happiness has come from living gospel principles -- personal freedom due to not doing things that put me in legal trouble (drugs, alcohol, crime, infidelity), good relationships with people in and out of the church, pursuing growth opportunities in the service of others (I serve in the community more than at church), how belonging to a caring community assists with happiness production, how having new experiences produces happiness (talk about them in the context of family, and bingo, you are right on with orthodoxy again).

These are just examples from my own life. But focus on the overlap between your personal beliefs and church practices or doctrine. You do pray, and I assume you see some value in it. Don't be afraid to share the value you get out of prayer, without talking about aspects of your believe that will upset people locally.

I don't even think about the fact I'm unorthodox anymore unless I get asked to speak to the Bishop. I just accept who I am. I came to my own understanding of who I am and my relationship with the church a few years ago, and now I'm very comfortable with it. And happier than ever before. Truly.

It took me a while to get there. I felt guilty at times, felt strange, inauthentic, rebellious, and other untoward feelings. But now that the church is in the right place in my life, and I have found the overlap, and decided not to kick against the church, but simply put it in its proper place in my life, things are soooo much better!
"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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LookingHard
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by LookingHard » 20 Feb 2017, 10:36

Welcome. There are others that negate your testimony, but there is only you and God you need to be concerned with. Glad you found this site and the very accepting people on it. I hope over time you can find more and more peace.

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Heber13
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by Heber13 » 20 Feb 2017, 11:54

squarepeg wrote:My testimony now is more like this: I believe that all religions are true in the sense that people can communicate with the divine in all of them, and I cannot with much confidence say that any one of the world's major religions is superior to any other.
Your testimony is yours, and you can own your religion and see it based on your honest experience, study, thought, and prayer. I don't think it is "wrong" to have that kind of testimony.

There may be some social pressures when you think differently, and you feel others aren't really accepting your view. But you just can accept that too. Embrace their view as much as you would hope they would embrace yours.

Focus on orthopraxy, and stay engaged to do good things. You may be surprised at starting to find answers to prayers and God responding when you are involved in the church. It can become a paradox...it isn't true but it is true, all at the same time.

Yours is not the "wrong" sort of testimony...it is just your sort of testimony. And there are ways to stayLDS with your views.
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."

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DarkJedi
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Feb 2017, 13:50

Welcome to the forum. I can relate to your abandonment by God, I felt (and feel) the same way. Despite him helping all those people in fast and testimony meeting find their lost car keys, he was not there when I really need him. I don't pray often, but I also don;t expect answers. When I do pray I express my love for my family, my admiration for the beauty of the earth, and other such very vague things that I could really say to pretty much any man on the street. I don't ask for anything.

Yes you can go to church with your testimony. Several things Pres. Uchtdorf has said (including but not only Come Join With Us https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... s?lang=eng) make that exact point. Just because your testimony is not the same as what you perceive is on par with others (perceive is a key word) doesn't mean the church isn't for you. You won't "get in trouble" unless you go blabbing about it, especially if you seem to be in opposition to church leaders or trying to gain a following. Note: leadership roulette is real and you do need to beware of sheep in sheep's clothing - the kind that bite. IMO the best thing to do is just sit there, make subtle points as appropriate (or maybe not), and act like a sheep (which might include speaking sheepese) viewtopic.php?f=5&t=8006. The church is yours, you are not the church's.

How old are your kids?
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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SilentDawning
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by SilentDawning » 20 Feb 2017, 15:28

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Great phrase -- sheep in sheep's clothing! Also the need to speak Sheepese. I love it. I laughed out loud. For real.
"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

Ray DeGraw
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by Ray DeGraw » 20 Feb 2017, 19:18

Any sort of testimony is the right sort of testimony. Church attendance doesn't require a particular type - and I bear testimony that yours is not unique in the Church. :D There is a MUCH wider range of belief than you 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

Ann
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by Ann » 21 Feb 2017, 02:11

My testimony now is more like this: I believe that all religions are true in the sense that people can communicate with the divine in all of them, and I cannot with much confidence say that any one of the world's major religions is superior to any other. I love the LDS faith that I was raised in. It is an integral part of me that I don't want to lose. I find tremendous value in it. I don't know whether there is a being called God, but I think there is great benefit to believing that such a being exists. I think there is great potential value in adopting a faith tradition as valid and incorporating it's values and scripture into one's consciousness and using that to interpret one's everyday experiences. I pick the LDS faith as the one I want to make a part of myself, but it is purely a personal choice based on admittedly subjective criteria.
Hi, squarepeg - I'm glad you're here!

It's not wrong, of course. All of the above will raise eyebrows and only you can decide if it's worth it. I think everyone will be nice, but .... what? But might talk about you at lunch, might not consider you for certain callings, might come and hug you and thank you profusely for being so honest. You just never know, and a lot of the time we just kick the can down the road because the time and place don't feel quite right. So here's hoping that you feel at ease with whatever you decide, and use this group for support!
"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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Reuben
Posts: 295
Joined: 05 Nov 2016, 10:04

Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by Reuben » 21 Feb 2017, 11:47

I'll mostly "me too" what everyone else said, but add that I've found a lot of value in "praying" for those who have hurt me, in the form of compassion meditation. I'm frankly a little jealous that you can still pray in the conventional sense.

Awesome user name, and welcome to the forum! There's a lot of collective wisdom here. May you have peace and happiness, and be free from this suffering.
Last edited by Reuben on 21 Feb 2017, 13:19, edited 1 time in total.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before sanctity or certainty.

Roy
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Re: The wrong sort of testimony!

Post by Roy » 21 Feb 2017, 12:05

Hi Squarepeg.
squarepeg wrote: I know for a fact that I had enough faith to be healed. I had all the faith that it was possible for a person to have, with no doubt at all. But the healing did not come. And I felt a shocking absence of any heavenly care or love or concern of any type whatsoever.
I totally understand. My FC was because of this. We are a church with living prophets and an active interventionist God. We enter into covenants/contracts where we bind God to bless us. What happens when things go south and God does not step in? Then it seems that the small print reveals that actually God is somewhat capricious and will only fulfill his end of the deal in his own way and time. I get the concept of living through hardship and waiting on the Lord. However that is not what my church raised me to expect. This became a problem when my expectations did not match my reality.
squarepeg wrote: I believe that all religions are true in the sense that people can communicate with the divine in all of them, and I cannot with much confidence say that any one of the world's major religions is superior to any other.


The BOM teaches us that there are two churches only, the church of the devil and the church of the Lamb, and the church of the devil is actually a metaphor for everything and every system that takes us away from God. Then why can't the church of the Lamb likewise be a metaphor for everything and every system that leads us closer to God? The work of God is much to vast and expansive for Him to do it all through our small church.
squarepeg wrote:That is the wrong sort of testimony, though, isn't it? How can I regularly attend church with a testimony like that?! I will get into trouble, won't I? It will upset people! And what do I do with my kids?
You will get some pushback from time to time. It is hard and we do discuss some coping mechanisms that have worked pretty well for some of us on this board. As far as your kids, I say listen, validate, guide.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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