There has to be another way . . .

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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AnotherWay
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Joined: 03 Jul 2017, 09:02

There has to be another way . . .

Post by AnotherWay » 03 Jul 2017, 11:43

Hi, everyone

I guess my story is fairly typical. I'm a mid-30's mom of three kids. A member my entire life from a big, devout member family (all of us temple-endowed and fully active.) I was married at 19 (which is way too young, but that's a post for another time,) and had my first kid by 21, but I thankfully managed to graduate from BYU.

I've never been an orthodox Mormon. That's partly due to my nature, which has always been somewhat rebellious. But also because of my father. He's a professor and fairly prominent church historian (of the Richard Bushman variety.) Growing up, he always stressed intellectual exploration and to never simply accept things at face value. Growing up in that progressive environment, I did my share of eye-rolling at the "Iron Rod Mormons," but I always found my rare "Liahona Mormons" and managed.

Did I have questions that couldn't be answered? Problems that couldn't be solved? Moments of serious doubt? Yes. They would periodically creep up behind me, like a stranger in a dark street. They terrified me, but I could always turn away and outrun them. At least for a while...

About four years ago, things started to go downhill. This was more than a faith crisis. It was a full-blown existential crisis. It built slowly, but before long, I felt like I was in a free fall. I questioned everything. My marriage. My testimony. Even my concept of who I was and where I fit in the world.

There was no outrunning this, though I tried. I fought it as hard as I could. I went to counseling with my husband, therapy for myself (two different therapists,) and tried three different types of anti-depressants. And I prayed. Oh, how I prayed. One moment stands out in my mind. I was on my knees by my bed, weeping, broken, so lost I couldn't even find my own words. The only words that came were "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way."

And I do believe that God led me. Slowly, carefully, He has helped me stop being so afraid. To turn and face my doubts. To look for another way.

See part of what makes doubt so terrifying to a member of the LDS church is the false dichotomy that is reinforced by both members and ex-Mormons. It is the dichotomy that you are either 100% in or you are OUT.

In church, I have felt that if you're doubting, you must be doing something wrong. You are slipping in some way. "Satan" is getting a hold of you. And then, the dichotomy is doubled down by the concept that you CANNOT be a half-way Mormon. You can't be a "cafeteria Mormon." This is unacceptable. You are slacking in your faithfulness to the Lord. You either give everything you have and believe everything the church teaches, or you are wayward.

And then, on the other end, there are the ex-Mormons who talk with smug confidence about how, once the doubts start, it's just a matter of time before you leave. Once you have been "woken up" to the fact that the church is a "fraud," you can never go back. It's only a matter of time before you are an atheist.

And of course, that option is deeply upsetting to me. Not just for the people I love, though I know it would deeply crush them. To reject the church wouldn't just be upsetting to my father, it would essentially be me telling him that his entire life is a lie. And what about my siblings, who I love so much? And my children? How could I do that to them? I'm sure you all know exactly what I'm talking about.

But I reject that. I refuse to accept that is has to be either/or. That you have to choose between running from doubts for the rest of your life to stay in the church or you have to be an atheist. There has to be a third option. A way to accept and deal with genuine concerns with doctrine/culture/etc without leaving the church that I do genuinely love.

I am finally ready to stop smashing down who I am to fit a mold. Maybe the mold doesn't have to exist. Maybe God wants us to make out own way. It's a very strange and new feeling for me, but an exciting one at the same time.

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Heber13
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Location: In the Middle

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by Heber13 » 03 Jul 2017, 13:05

AnotherWay wrote:
03 Jul 2017, 11:43
And I do believe that God led me. Slowly, carefully, He has helped me stop being so afraid. To turn and face my doubts. To look for another way.

See part of what makes doubt so terrifying to a member of the LDS church is the false dichotomy that is reinforced by both members and ex-Mormons. It is the dichotomy that you are either 100% in or you are OUT.
I love this!! Totally agree, there is not only another way...but a BETTER WAY. Thanks for sharing your story and joining the forum.

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."

Curt Sunshine
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Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Jul 2017, 14:02

Welcome, AW. I am glad you decided to post an introduction. What you shared will resonate with a lot of people here.

I look forward to getting to know you better.
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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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Jul 2017, 14:22

Thanks for introducing yourself, and welcome.
I am finally ready to stop smashing down who I am to fit a mold. Maybe the mold doesn't have to exist. Maybe God wants us to make out own way. It's a very strange and new feeling for me, but an exciting one at the same time.
I think you're getting it. Please come back and share.
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

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On Own Now
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Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by On Own Now » 03 Jul 2017, 14:29

Welcome, AnotherWay. Let me first say that I'm sorry that you are going through this. You seem to have found a purpose that gives you optimism for the future, which is wonderful, but I also know that it still hurts.

That all in or all out black & whiteness is something that bothered me a lot as well. Unfortunately for me, there was no place to turn to find any other perspective (back then). I'm glad you have found this site. I was flabbergasted when I first came here and realized that I wasn't alone.

One thing that has helped me a lot, and something I learned here, is to accept others for how they are. There are still things that faithful members do or say that make me shake my head, but I've come to realize that they are just saying/doing those things out of a position of faith and belief and ultimately, I'm OK with that.

I wish you well in your search for another way - a way that resonates with you. I look forward to hearing your voice here.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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LookingHard
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Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by LookingHard » 03 Jul 2017, 16:09

Welcome and thanks for sharing your intro. I don't envy you and your position. I come from parents that are converts and I have seen several of my siblings leave the faith and my parents hurt, but didn't reject them. But they left out of more wanting to "sin" and just didn't want to have the rules (not how I see it, but my TBM parents would see it). But I still have not come out to them that I don't believe because I have looked long and hard. I know this will be hard for my mom, because I was the TBM looking son that held all the "respectable" callings. I am actually wondering when I think they will pass and if I should tell them. Part of me feels terrible for not being honest, but I don't want to cause them undo pain.

But I have learned to take it slow and also I have found that my trust in myself has grown and more comfortable using my own moral compass instead of looking to church leadership. In some ways I feel I have "graduated" from church. I have learned what i needed to learn and now it is up to me to take what I learned on go on my own. "going on my own" could mean staying in the church to help it and others, or it could be leaving and searching for things elsewhere.

There is a middle way, but it isn't easy. It is where you decide what YOU believe and you are calm and confident about that. You can find quotes from leaders (I think Joseph Smith) that say you don't have believe anything you don't believe.

One way to approach this is to get as much "capital" built up with your ward and leaders that you can on occasion selectively disagree, but they know you are "on board." It probably means many time letting the small stuff slide. But be a great and loving VT, volunteer for service when you can, etc.

Please do come and join up sharing on this site and asking questions. There are some seriously accepting folks with some variety of backgrounds, beliefs and levels of interaction with the church.

Best of luck on your journey.

Roy
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Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by Roy » 04 Jul 2017, 10:38

Welcome. I too have fallen into that existential hole. Your brain craves framework and stability. Wherever it is that you land your brain will automatically start building a framework. It will categorize and contextualize everything until it makes sense according to your new assumptive reality. This is normal, natural, and healthy.

You are correct about the black and white - us verses them mentality we find at church and many other places. Those that choose a middle way end up being not fully accepted by either factions. I personally manage it by managing expectations and effort. I strive for sustainability. What level of effort can I put in indefinitely - even if the church never changes. (this in some ways means that I have given up on trying to influence the church in making what I see as positive changes. This is only one path to staylds)
What benefit is the church giving me at this very moment and what input am I willing to give in order to continue receiving that benefit? One benefit (of many) for me is the continued sense of belonging and common purpose that I have with extended family. Church activity can become a sort of shorthand for fitting in.

We are all trying to navigate this the best way that we know how and we try to share what works for us along the way. Ironically, that (in a nutshell) is what the most fervent Mormons and Atheists are doing as well.
"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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dande48
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Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by dande48 » 04 Jul 2017, 16:31

Welcome! We are the lucky few, aren't we? Somehow "staying LDS", without taking it at face value. It's a tough path. I'm glad you could join us.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

Ashley
Posts: 13
Joined: 03 May 2017, 22:21

Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by Ashley » 05 Jul 2017, 15:16

Welcome! And I agree, there is a third way...even if it's harder then leaving which I think it is, but I'm new to all of this too;)

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Minyan Man
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Re: There has to be another way . . .

Post by Minyan Man » 05 Jul 2017, 17:44

Welcome to our group. There is another way. It is your adventure to find that way.
There are many of us who will be happy to describe what we found & now use.
I wish you the best on your journey.

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