How can I enjoy staying?

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How can I enjoy staying?

Post by Trailblazer » 16 Aug 2017, 21:29

I have been reading on this forum for several months and I enjoy very much the different views and feedbacks given. I began to have a faith crisis about 8 months ago. I tried to resolve it but couldn’t and then I attempted to forget about it but I haven’t been able to. My major doubts stemmed from Joseph Smith (polygamy, seer stones, book of Abraham, and the book of Mormon). Upon studying these things I not only didn't resolve the doubts but also gained new ones.

I don’t know how to proceed. I have a leadership calling in my ward that I don’t enjoy participating in anymore. I have continued to fulfill my calling because I made a commitment to do so. I have read many times on this forum that it is appropriate to ask to be released from a calling. Has anyone been successful in this without the bishop digging for more information? I imagine my bishop would have many questions for me if I asked to be released. Due to my need for an ecclesiastical endorsement I will most likely not talk to any leaders about my FC.

Along with the doubts I really don’t enjoy going to church. I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed going to church, it has always been quite dreadful. I honestly don’t know how I can keep pretending that I believe. I used to be able to look past how boring it was because my “salvation” was at stake. I’ve tried distancing myself from as much church as I can without drawing attention. I still visit others in the ward to complete my calling but teaching has become difficult for me. I’m able to justify things I teach by telling myself I believe it can help the individual.

I’m not bitter towards the church, I’m actually very grateful for it. It has provided me with an excellent upbringing, great friends, a valuable education and currently a wonderful job. I wish the things that bothered me about the church were false or not a big deal but they really are. Leaving the church even after I’m graduated from BYU will cause many familial problems for me. I hope that I can find peace with my doubts and stay in the church.

Any insight or advice is much appreciated and needed.

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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by mormonheretic » 17 Aug 2017, 04:38

I was a Webelos leader for about 3 years. We helped get lots of boys their Arrow of Light. But I got one especially rambunctious group of boys, and I was frankly tired of the calling. I went to my bishop and told him that I was tired of the calling, yelling at the boys to be quiet, and it wasn't fun for them or for me. (To be honest, this group of boys went through several leaders before me too.)

Bishop was very cool with me, released me fairly quickly, and put me in as a family history consultant. I've been in bliss ever since. I don't have to sit through Sunday School lessons, and instead either help people with their family history or work on my own. Really, it is bliss. I don't know if you enjoy family history, but we literally have no lesson every week. I bring my laptop, and either work on my own or help someone else do family history. I really believe it is an under-rated calling. Maybe you could just tell him you're burned out of your current calling, need a break, and would like to help others do some genealogy. It's really one of my favorite callings ever!

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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by SilentDawning » 17 Aug 2017, 05:35

People ask for releases from their callings all the time. You are right NOT to express any doubts or go naked with your true feelings about the church -- that way lies lots and lots of problems. I have rarely ever seen any good come from it. But you can ask for a release -- you just have to have a really good reason that has nothing to do with faith crisis or disillusionment. Problem is they will want to call you to something else so the problem never ends.

You are somewhat married to the church right now, though, because you need that ecclesiastical endorsement while you're at BYU and taking advantage of cheap tuition. That makes it a bit harder. I personally would try to grin and bear it for as long as I needed to, in order to get what I want from the church, but you can ask for a release. Just make sure you give non-faith related reasons and are prepared to have to go through the uncomfortable process of refusing subsequent callings. Repeated refusals have the potential to raise radar and uncomfortable convos with priesthood leaders.

There are a few things you can do to strategically move yourself into a calling you might enjoy....

If there are callings you want to be involved in , then start helping in those areas if you can do so without appearing to trample on someone else's turf. For example, if you would like to be in the Sunday School (sounds like you already might be), offer to be a substitute teacher in case someone doesn't show up -- make this offer to the Sunday School President. If you would like to be a Teachers Council facilitator, then ask if you can attend TEachers Council and even ask the Facilitator if they would like you to do a teaching demonstration of a particular topic. Be proactive in contributing in areas you would like to have a calling. I've seen people help out in areas where there is no calling for them yet, and they get called to it. Lead the leaders so to speak in giving you a calling you might enjoy more. If you like pure service, then hunt on for a service project and speak to the EQ or RS president if it would be a good idea for you to organize such a project in concert with anyone else in their organization.

Also, find non-calling ways of being involved that you like. i don't mind planning events, so I got involved with that in a ward where I wasn't allowed a calling due to not living there. There was a YW fundraiser so I brought in a band and played background music over dinner and during their silent auction. I enjoyed all that stuff and have done it twice now. So, you don't have to serve in the church from the portfolio of a calling -- you can serve for its own sake as a general volunteer.

In terms of the boredom. OUCH! That is a hard one. Kindle books help. I discreetly clean out my wallet during meetings, although I got called out once by a teacher once for it. You can leave early or arrive a bit late in order to cut the ends off the meetings by an hour (1/2 hour on each end), or take a trip out of own once a month. Stuff to reduce time spent in such meetings. I personally participate in classes a lot, sometimes with highly orthodox statements like defining things from an LDS perspective, or answering questions. Last week I asked questions about the different between an Evangelist and other priesthood callings. I give the Standard Mormon Answers for some questions. But then I counter balance those things with counter-vailing arguments that challenge existing thinking on non-doctrinal ideas -- not core doctrine, not doubtful comments -- but issues that are non-threatening cultural issues. You'd be surprised how many people agree with you. Rock the boat without sinking the ship.

Those are my suggestions.
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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Aug 2017, 05:58

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing.

I think the standard advice applies: Take it slow (you seem to be doing so), focus on what you do believe (the core of the gospel is a great thing to focus on), and don't dump all at once. In your case don't dump all at once means don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, just because you have come to believe some things are not true doesn't mean everything is not true. It is not necessarily true that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the BoM is true, the church is true, etc. They can be true (or not true) on their own.

I have asked to be released from callings before but it really is different in family wards where ecclesiastical endorsement isn't a thing. Still, leadership roulette plays a part. Quite frankly in your situation I wouldn't ask to be released. You could pray and/or hope you are anyway (tender mercy) I just think asking will cause you trouble you don't want.

Lastly, staying isn't always enjoyable. The three hour block isn't going to change anytime soon. Sometimes we just need to bite the bullet and muddle through one day at a time.
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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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by LookingHard » 17 Aug 2017, 06:31

I have been able to pin it on burnout and saying that I am starting to dread Sunday and that I just need a bit of a break to "charge my batteries". I did mention that I feel a bit bad asking as I know the bishop can't just asked to be released and I hated adding to his burden. I actually have done this twice and one time there was no digging. Just thanks for doing the job. The second time (higher level calling) I did get asked, but there were other things pointing to my faith crisis, but the bishop didn't dig. He just asked if it was part of the reason. I answered yes, but tried to minimize that being part of it.

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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by dande48 » 17 Aug 2017, 07:14

TB, we've all been there. We all love and are grateful for the Church, which is why we try so hard to "Stay LDS", even when some of our core beliefs come crashing down. I agree with what's been said; there is no shame in asking to be released from your calling. You can choose what details you want to give, as to why, although the less information the bishop knows, the more in control you'll be with your involvement in the Church.

It's not easy to Stay LDS. Economics teaches us, "In order to make a purchase, the customer has to assess whether or not the value of the product is greater than or equal to its cost. If customer decides it is not, no purchase will be made." In other words, the only way you'll stay is if you can determine the value of Church is greater than the price you have to pay. Here is why I choose to stay:
  • To support my wife
  • The principles it teaches helped instill positive standards in my youth; I want the same for my daughter
  • The great social support
  • I love the Book of Mormon, and the stories therein (even though I think it's largely a work of fiction)
  • I love Uchdorf, Eyring, Holland, and President Monson. They give me hope and courage.
  • Some excellent service opportunities
  • And for all my quips, the Church does do a lot of good in the world.
Why do you want to stay?
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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by Orson » 17 Aug 2017, 08:28

Hi Trailblazer,
It is difficult, challenges abound. I just try to focus on positive things and allow people to believe whatever they do. In time you may be able to re-frame the troubling topics, and just let them sit as they are. Paradigms change with new information. Let me take a stab at the items you mention:

Polygamy - yes it is in our history, no I would never practice or defend it. We know leaders make mistakes, could this be one? It wouldn't bother me to say it was.

Seer stones - a relic of the culture that our church rose out of. They were used as a tool or catalyst of spiritual things, it is not the same today that is okay. The same can be said for speaking in tongues at meetings etc.

Book of Abraham/Mormon - not a translation of the papyri (gold plates not used in translation), does that remove all spiritual value from the text? Joseph may have misunderstood the connection to the source, does that change the value I personally receive from any wisdom I read in the text?

You are on the right track looking for the good, hang in there! It does get better with practice and time.
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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Aug 2017, 09:10

Thanks for posting. I hope we can help - now and more long-term.

I don't know why, but a couple came to mind when I read your post. She was a member; they had children. He attended church every week with them, solely because he believed in "going to his wife and children's activities" - in being involved in what was important to them. He attended church for them; he paid titihimg for them; he accepted a calling in Scouts for them. He didn't believe "in the Church"; he believed in family.

If you need an ecclesiastical endorsement, don't go into ANY detail about your doubts and concerns. Some bishops will understand; some won't. Don't risk the endorsement. Burnout is an honest reason, if you are asked. Tell him you read Elder Wirthlin's "Concern for the One" (after you actually read it :D ) and recognized yourself when he talked about people who are tired. Tell him you don't want to get so burned-out that you stop going to church. Tell him you don't want to quit serving but that you just want a lighter load right now. If he accepts that, wonderful. If not, look him in the eye and say, "I will do my best and hope I don't get burned-out completely." He might promise you won't (based on his own view and experiences). If he does, smile, thank him, and end it as quickly and naturally as you can. You will have done what you can do.
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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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by Heber13 » 17 Aug 2017, 09:41

Welcome, TB. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions.

Here is another thought to may not NEED to ask for a release. As DJ said above, go slow as you figure things out.

Pain is part of life because it pushes us to move and act in some way because we don't like staying where it hurts. It makes us think about what we really want to seek peace in our lives and avoid suffering. The pain at church gives you an opportunity to learn something.

One option is to slow down and establish boundaries with church. Start sticking up for yourself and what you want to be happy...not constantly giving in to church demands or callings because you feel you should. Get rid of shoulds. Start living in the moment with what you want.

You want an ecclesiastical endorsement, so that factors in to what you want.

But, start peeling back the onion of the layers of church "stuff" that we heap on ourselves and think it is necessary, just because we are always told to do more and more. Most of those things are tradition and social pressure...not truly gospel principles, and I think that is why they are unfulfilling to us and we are bored and hate it so much...because we find we are just doing them to please others, not God and not ourselves.

Here are some things to start testing how they make you feel:
- skip every fast Sunday and trade up to some other inspiring activity to feed your soul
- stop home teaching
- stop attending optional things like socials or bishop storehouse assignments
- reduce stuff you do in your calling to the minimum required (likely you will still be doing more than others)
- delegate things in your calling to others or ask them to cover for you so you can have a break or skip
- skip 2nd or 3rd hour
- read other books outside Mormonism that are enlightening that help ease the soul and stretch the mind and you will likely find ideas you can bring back to your religion to replace the gaps left by your lack of belief in some things about JS
- the list goes on.

I know you want to tell the world how you feel, ask to be released, and share with others your frustrations. That's fine. We are here for you.

But you may find one easy option to start with is quietly reduce effort at church and see if it helps reduce pain.

You may not need to do formal things like ask for a may just be able to slide into the background and establish boundaries of what you will and will not do at church, and the leadership is likely willing to accept whatever offering of time you give them. No questions asked.

If you want ideas on how to enjoy church more, my only suggestion is to serve others more or socialize with others more. Those help me feel better about being connected with others that are good people doing good things.

History and doctrine doesn't sustain me at church. Connecting to others does.

And when it doesn't, I reduce my time at church and find when I get lonely and want to connect more, I can increase it again and the church is still there. It isn't going anywhere.

You get to choose what you want. Choose your love and love your choice.

Keep posting your feelings here. It will help others in your same situation.
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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Re: How can I enjoy staying?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Aug 2017, 09:47

One more thing:

I have said here multiple times that if a leader calls me, they get me. They don't get the person they think I am; they get me.

Therefore, I do what I can do and what I am comfortable doing and what I feel won't hurt myself or my family. I will NOT prioritize a calling over myself or my family. I do what I feel I can.

If they don't like that, fine. They can release me. No hard feelings on my end.

Do what you can do. Accept that. Don't act based on others' expectations in a church calling. Be yourself.

Just don't risk your endorsement. :P
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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