Strolling Toward Church

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
DancingCarrot
Posts: 132
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Strolling Toward Church

Post by DancingCarrot » 23 Jun 2017, 16:38

Hello All -

I've posted on and off in the past 3-4 years, and am pleased to give this report.

Quick backstory: I grew up TBM, went through the temple when I was 24, had a faith crisis that lasted for 2-3 years during which I went completely inactive and lived a life common to most non-religious people in the US. I've moved to NYC again (I lived here pre-crisis, but the crisis took place while I was at college again in Utah). I've since moved from a place of crisis to a place of transition and engagement with my own spirituality, the Gospel, and the Church. I've been mostly going to church in a YSA ward for the 3 months that I've been back in NYC.

My bishop, at the behest of my RS president I believe, has extended me a calling as a RS teacher. I was excited because I love teaching. I also have felt connected with the RS president and feel like this is a time where she is tuned in to her flock. However, I had some second thoughts due to my inactive period. This was exacerbated by a very close friend talking with me about my not being qualified to teach because I have knowingly broken temple covenants, and that I didn't know why breaking them was wrong so I can't truly be repentant. I was conflicted because I don't want to hide my previous actions, but I also want to build a firm and empowering foundation from the lessons I learned (and there are quite a few). It almost seems insane to try and flagellate myself for what I did, especially at this point, but I want to learn from my mistakes and really try to incorporate the best of the Laws in my life. I set up a meeting with the bishop before he could announce my calling on Sunday. I've had little contact with this bishop and didn't know how he would react. I explained that I had a period of inactivity in which I broke a lot of my temple/endowment covenants. He specified as me not keeping the commandments and I concurred. He asked me if I felt I needed to talk with him about anything or if I thought I needed guidance or help. He described his position of one that points to Christ and helps each person find their relationship with God and his forgiveness because he isn't the one who gives those gifts. I told him that I very much feel peace about my past and want to build from what I have learned, even though I don't think it's appropriate for me to go to the temple right now. He agreed that it wasn't very appropriate and that hopefully it could be a goal in the future. I don't have a huge testimony of or big foundation about several laws or some of the aspects of the laws (LoC, WoW, tithing) and I didn't explicitly say as such, but that I want to actively engage with the Gospel in the framework of the Church. He explained that we are all human and as such are bound by human ways. That even though I am endowed but not currently going to the temple after inactivity and breaking covenants that there is no reason for me not to serve in this calling. More specifically, that he felt strongly that I could and should serve because he thinks I will be a great addition as a RS teacher. I even asked about disciplinary measures such as refraining from the Sacrament, but he said that unless I feel like I need guidance or help or anything of that nature he is completely content to let me (and all his other members) work out their relationship with God. I was and still am amazed at his response. It was something I had settled on myself, but had second thoughts that were reiterated with my friend's thoughts. I agree with him that this is an excellent way for me to engage with doctrine, and having his belief that I'll do so in a constructive way is empowering. Having dealt with various disciplinary measures for going to my bishop about how to repent, this was an amazing example of a righteous priesthood holder: someone who wants to help when there is none while also encouraging individuals to use their own intellect, experience, and sovereignty with God.

I recognize that this path isn't easy, but neither were the other two paths I've tried. This time I feel like I really am exercising my power through agency, even if that means admitting I don't understand or believe in something but would like to learn more. I value analysis and considering many perspectives, but want to engage these values in a constructive way. I've been destructive both in and out of the church. I now feel like it's time for me to construct something, even though I do not know what that is.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

User avatar
Minyan Man
Posts: 1388
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by Minyan Man » 23 Jun 2017, 18:38

Welcome back. Your Bishop seems to be a very compassionate & understanding person. I'm not as sure about your friend:
This was exacerbated by a very close friend talking with me about my not being qualified to teach because I have knowingly broken temple covenants...
IMO, this is one of the reasons some of us never come back to church: judgement passed down by the membership.
None of us get through this life perfectly. This includes knowing and living our temple covenants.

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 467
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by dande48 » 23 Jun 2017, 21:44

Your Bishop sounds like a wonderful man. I'm very grateful for leaders in the Church like him. With repentance, my mission presidence once told us "When you repent, you should feel just guilty enough to change... and then never feel guilty about it again." Go all in! You're going to rock your new calling. I'm very happy for you.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 6448
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by SilentDawning » 24 Jun 2017, 06:13

I am hearing more stories here about good leaders. Still some questionable ones, like the story Doubting Thomas told, but this is another example of someone who is trying to build up people rather than punish them in the 1950's way...

The part I didn't get was this:
I have knowingly broken temple covenants, and that I didn't know why breaking them was wrong so I can't truly be repentant.
I realize this was the interpretation of your friend -- is this your interpretation too? For example, do you feel remorseless about the covenant-breaking in the past?

I have a feeling the answer is "no", and that's great. I have to confess, I don't keep all my temple covenants either, such as tithing and garment-wearing, but still feel very qualified spiritually to teach at church if people want me too. So, while full compliance is a great goal, I think there is a range of acceptability in which you can fall, and still be able to teach and integrate with the Ward.

I like how he left all the temple stuff up to your conscience.

And I'm glad you are finding a way to re-engage with the church. I hope you tell us more about it as it unfolds.
"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

DancingCarrot
Posts: 132
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Strolling Toward Church

Post by DancingCarrot » 24 Jun 2017, 07:29

Thank you for your welcoming responses. This site has, and I hope will continue to be, a place of solace, exploration, and acceptance.

As to my bishop, yes he is a compassionate leader. He even detailed that he doesn't like to adhere to strict goal setting practices regarding church and has had to tell missionaries that he won't commit to having a certain amount of investigators or conversations or what have you. He believes, as do I, that it's best to keep the people themselves in mind at all times.

The covenant breaking is an interesting thing to me. Do I feel bad that there was a rule I knew about and said I'd follow, but didn't? Not necessarily. Do I feel bad that there are ways to approach certain aspects of life that enrich and support those who adhere to them and I didn't give myself the space to find those out, that I didn't try to see and use something that could have helped me and others avoid pain and hurt? Yes, but I mostly have experience with NOT using them so it's difficult for me to try and build something positive off of a negative. For example: the LoC empowers us to build healthy relationships that are mentally, emotionally, and physically balanced. I've mostly had unbalanced relationships, but I don't want my testimony to be "Follow the LoC because not doing it is bad and will make you miserable!" I don't want to avoid a deficit but create a surplus.

Also, regarding the LoC, I remember hawkgrrrl mentioning somewhere that one of the difficult aspects of it is that we have hardly any healthy engagement with it before becoming married, but that true wisdom with requires experience. I don't want to derail this thread, but thought I'd mention it in case anyone else remembers.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

DancingCarrot
Posts: 132
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by DancingCarrot » 24 Jun 2017, 08:07

Argh, which even parts of my above response make me seem unrepentant or arrogant.

I think it's nigh impossible to have a true knowledge and understanding of something without interacting with it on some level. Previously my experience was "I've done XYZ against this commandment, that's a bad thing to do and I worry that I'm bad for doing it so now I have a testimony of this commandment because I want to stop feeling bad about myself." Which I realize now as internalized and toxic shame. Now it's more like "Wow, I caused a lot of hurt to myself and others by completely disregarding this commandment. Also, I was so petulant about my needing to learn on my own that I isolated myself and didn't even try to see things as helpful or hurtful; they were just there for me and my experience. Oh, I guess I have some extreme coping patterns going on that aren't helpful in many areas of my life. I'd like to examine them and see what I can do to be better and help others learn about it, too." I've never approached things like this so it feels different in that sense, but I don't think I'm being unrepentant. Thoughts?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5406
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Jun 2017, 09:18

Welcome back. Your bishop does sound amazing, you are very fortunate.

Regarding repentance: I have come to understand that repentance is much more about the desire to change and/or do better than it is about sackcloth and and ashes or flagellation. It is almost nothing like what Miracle of Forgiveness describes it as. While it probably is a little more than saying "my bad," it really only takes sincerely asking God for forgiveness. The price has already been paid. Here's a link to a great talk I like on the subject (it's a BYU devotional): https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/weatherf ... -redeemer/
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

DancingCarrot
Posts: 132
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by DancingCarrot » 24 Jun 2017, 16:23

DJ, I do feel like that's where I'm at. I hold the lessons from my experience closely, and I want to expand in my knowledge of how to be better, how to be more whole. Humbly realizing that I don't have a lot of answers and that there are already principles for us to live by and benefit from, if only we can learn how to interact and utilize them. Many times before have I thought I was utilizing those principles, but now I have a deeper understanding. Something I think comes from a mix of experience, time, and personal development. I may not have a huge testimony and it may not be about a lot of things, but I do want to positively engage in activity, interact with doctrine and how it pertains to us as humans, and help build a community and practice of a faith that continues to quest.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15504
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jun 2017, 17:06

Thanks for the update, DC.

You last comment resonated within me. Well said.
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

DancingCarrot
Posts: 132
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Re: Strolling Toward Church

Post by DancingCarrot » 25 Jun 2017, 05:57

Thanks, Ray. I'm glad.

I'm also wanting to be consistently/frequently active on here, especially since everyone has given me such help through the years, albeit it mostly through lurking and scrolling. :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

Post Reply