Keeping Joy

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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BeJoyful
Posts: 16
Joined: 03 Jan 2018, 08:37

Keeping Joy

Post by BeJoyful » 05 Jan 2018, 09:11

Hey folks! I finally have the motivation/time/energy to come out of lurking and make an introduction. I really liked lotsofgray’s segmented intro from a while back, so I’m going to echo it a bit as I introduce myself. (It's long- feel free to skip to the end!)

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One of the things that gets me through hard days is the purpose of the gospel, which I feel is to find and live in joy. (Men are that they might have joy 2 Nephi 2:25) As I strive to figure out where I’m at and where I want to be, this is my mantra.

FAMILY STATUS
I’m a 30-something mother of 4 and have been married for 15 years. I grew up in the church with TBM expectations (but not TBM living, go figure). My family expects the forbiddens are avoided but don’t seem to expect the things that are encouraged. For example, tattoos, coffee, alcohol, R movies, etc. are the worst possible things that you could do, but there was no emphasis on scriptures, prayer, temple attendance, magnifying callings, etc. growing up or even now. Husband grew up with both TBM expectations and TBM living. We used to raise our own children very TBM in forbiddens (high expectations of modesty, very strict in TV/Movies, etc.) but have struggled in the ‘dos’ (weak in family scripture study, temple attendance, etc.). Now we are more flexible in how we raise our kids with forbiddens, and we’ve improved in the ‘dos’ without trying all that hard. An interesting outcome!

RELATIONSHIP STATUS
My husband and I met and married within 10 weeks when I was fresh out of high school and he was fresh off his mission. Very much one of the ‘singles ward’ stereotypes. Our relationship isn’t stereotypical in any other way, though. Our relationship is awesomely strong, and we’ve gotten through intense trials with our relationship deepening and becoming more solid. We work hard to keep our marriage strong, and I’m incredibly thankful that I have a spouse who is as driven as I am at making our marriage a priority.

MY JOURNEY
My best friend in the world outside of my husband married my brother, so I have the added benefit of having her around at family gatherings. She converted to the church 15 years ago and left the church 6 years ago. I took it so hard, and I mourned her leaving and didn’t understand it. My family has been judgmental of her leaving, and that has agitated my own standing with the groupthink of some church culture.

4 years ago, I moved into a new ward and had conflict at church for the first time in my life. My husband and I have lived in a lot of places, and we’ve always thought that ‘the church is the same wherever you go’, but it wasn’t the case in this area. I got a calling that I loved, but soon had conflict with my leader over the way I fulfilled it, and I was being asked to conduct my calling in ways that were contrary to church guidelines as well as my own testimony. Unfortunately, the bishopric was not supportive and released me and caused a mini-scandal, with lots of gossip as to why I was released after only 6 months with no replacement in a calling the whole ward knew I adored. The bishop advised me to ‘follow my local leader, no matter what’, even if their directions directly opposed stake leadership, worldwide leadership, or handbook instructions. I could not get on board with that.

Another major difficulty in my ward was lack of support for my children’s needs. I have a special needs child that had difficulty sitting in sacrament. I asked if the sacrament could be brought to the foyer on days when it was too difficult for him to stay in the chapel, and was told by the bishopric that it was against church policy, despite me pointing to multiple Q12 resources of examples where it would be appropriate. While my husband was away for work for 6 months, I didn’t receive the sacrament unless I attended another ward (who brought the sacrament to the foyer) or my son was able to stay in the chapel long enough for me to receive it. I asked for an aide in primary for this same child (I already had a friend who was sitting with him, but her calling made that no longer possible) and was told by both the Primary Presidency and the Bishopric that he didn’t need one and that he just needed to practice sitting still (he is on the autism spectrum with significant sensory processing disorder). Without an aide to help him, the Primary Presidency would physically restrain him to keep him in his seat or make him sit still, (and he won’t let me sit with him), so after 2 Sundays of that unacceptable solution, he struggled to go to Primary or class. His difficulty in attending Primary when my friend could no longer sit with him meant that I often couldn’t attend my own meetings and spent most Sundays tag teaming my husband in the hall or on the church lawn with him, waiting out the 3 hours while my other children attended classes.

My oldest child had a crisis of faith at 11 due to very harsh teachings during a priesthood preview by the bishopric and other leaders in primary. He is doing well now, but it was an obstacle in him receiving the priesthood or attending church at all. After nearly 4 years in that area, we decided to sell our house and move so our children, especially our special needs child, could have more resources in school. Our decision to move was met with hostility towards us and rumors about us in our stake.

These difficulties at church, especially the 6 months with little opportunity to take the sacrament, spurred a lot of earnest prayer trying to find peace. In my quest for peace, I spent about a year questioning my foundation, and finally told my husband my concerns. At first, he was incredibly supportive, but staunch in his own church path. He stated several times that our marriage was the priority, and assured me it would never be in jeopardy because of church activity. A few months after I sat down with him, however, he’s started to have concerns of his own (which are quite a bit different than mine, which helps validate that it’s not ‘all my fault’).

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
We sold our house a few months ago and moved to an adjoining stake. We attend church most Sundays, and feel welcomed in our new ward for the most part. Our kids are much happier, including our special needs child who *loves* Primary now- yay! We’re in our new ward temporarily while we wait for a few things to line up, but it’s been a fairly soft place to land. I haven’t found my place quite yet, but I don’t rely on church for social inclusion, so it hasn’t been a problem.

FAMILY HISTORY
My family has been harsh and judgmental towards my BFF, and unfortunately blame any of my struggles directly on her. I didn’t tell my BFF about any of my struggles until 1.5 years in, and she’s never liked to discuss her doubts with me because she didn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s questions, so any blame by my family is drastically misplaced. I now feel responsible for increased judgement towards my BFF, and I feel like I can’t be authentic with my family because any deviation on my part from the norm is harshly put on her shoulders. For the most part, I don’t discuss or even hide my personal issues with family members so that there aren’t unfair consequences to my husband or BFF.

TESTIMONY
The basic foundations of my testimony are this: I know God is loving and that men are that they might have joy. The rest of my testimony fluctuates, but these two things have helped keep me grounded. If a teaching, doctrine, or comment conflicts with my base testimony, I don’t feel any need to accept it as truth. I live and let live, not arguing a point in church settings or gospel discussions unless I feel like it’s directly harming someone. I feel good about that mode of operations right now.

TL;DR
I’m striving to stay at church as long as it continues to bring me (and husband and kids) joy.

Thanks for the space to share!

AmyJ
Posts: 269
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by AmyJ » 05 Jan 2018, 10:09

Thank you for introducing yourself :P

<Hugs!> I can relate to your experience regarding your children. I mourn with you regarding the hardships you and your children have faced in being in a ward with harsh expectations. My daughter is likely on the spectrum as well, and it makes so many experiences a whole new ball game.

It sucks when you know/strongly believe that any actions you take will have repercussions on those you know and love as a direct consequence. I think it is cool that you and your best friend are related though. I have also felt the increased guilt and shame for when I accidently might have pushed someone away because I was more TBM and could not understand their reasoning at the time. I am working on forgiving myself and accepting that these feelings come from where I was developmentally at the time. These thoughts might produce great mileage for you.

For the last 6 months of 2017, I focused my thoughts and studies around the 2 Great Commandments (Loving God and Loving Others). I felt that that was a safe plank to stand on because it is fairly universal (non-confrontational), and was something that would be useful where ever I went in my faith journey. One of the things I was not expecting (and was most humbled by) was that my scriptures studies gave additional insights into how much God loves his children.

Thank you for your thoughts.

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BeJoyful
Posts: 16
Joined: 03 Jan 2018, 08:37

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by BeJoyful » 05 Jan 2018, 10:15


AmyJ wrote:I am working on forgiving myself and accepting that these feelings come from where I was developmentally at the time. These thoughts might produce great mileage for you.

For the last 6 months of 2017, I focused my thoughts and studies around the 2 Great Commandments (Loving God and Loving Others). I felt that that was a safe plank to stand on because it is fairly universal (non-confrontational), and was something that would be useful where ever I went in my faith journey.
Yes and yes! Forgiving myself and figuring out why I felt that way when bff left have helped immensely. It's deepened my relationship with bff and helped me to feel love for those who struggle with my own faith transition.

The 2 great commandments have been my platform at church as well- when we moved to or new ward, I bore my testimony focusing on 2GC and nothing else, and it was a testimony building experience for me and helped me stay on the right foot in my new ward. It sounds like we're in sync with that.

Thanks for the response!

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nibbler
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Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by nibbler » 06 Jan 2018, 11:02

I like that you've stuck with and supported your BFF. In your story I see two examples that contrast one another. The way you treated your friend and the way your family treated your friend.

I'll invent a character an place them in your story as an observer. Let's say you have a nephew that begins to struggle with the church for whatever reason. They've witnessed how your family reacted to your BFF and they've witnessed how you have reacted to your BFF. Where will they turn for help, for a renewed sense of joy? To a group that they have seen react harshly or to a person they've seen continue to be a friend?

It pains me to know there are many people out there that are fearful of being their authentic selves around family because they have strong indications that the relationship is conditional. Thanks for being an example of a person that people that need help can feel safe around.

I'm sorry for your experiences in that other ward. Not taking sacrament out to people in the foyer being against church policy? That's so wrong it's laughable. I can't remember the last time I didn't see the deacons take the sacrament out to the foyer, regardless of whether they thought someone was there. Crazy. I'm glad you were able to move away from that situation.

Welcome to StayLDS.
As soon as you set foot on a yacht you belong to some man, not to yourself, and you die of boredom.
-Coco Chanel

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BeJoyful
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Joined: 03 Jan 2018, 08:37

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by BeJoyful » 06 Jan 2018, 11:19


nibbler wrote: It pains me to know there are many people out there that are fearful of being their authentic selves around family because they have strong indications that the relationship is conditional.
That's one of the things BFF has struggled with most- "do people love me because I'm the cool convert story, or do they love me for me? " There's too many "I love you, but..." situations. BFF now lives her authentic self but is respectful of others beliefs (she won't wear tank tops around my family, for example).

I'd like to get to that point, but there's added complications. My mom's mental health is poor, and the slightest deviance on my part could send her into a downward spiral that could affect my whole family. It's not fair, but there it is.

I'd love it if church members could remember Christ's example and take "I love you, but..." to simply "I love you." It's something we all need to remember.

Thanks for the warm welcome!

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Keeping Joy

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Jan 2018, 13:55

There is a fine line between something like, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more," and, "I love you. Now do this differently."

Most of it hinges on how someone defines sin. The more liberally they apply that word to lots of things they don't like (such as wearing a tank top, as opposed to adultery), the less likely they are to love someone unconditionally, especially when "love"' is viewed as an action verb (as it nearly always is in the Bible, for example) rather than as a feeling (as it is so often now).

Welcome! I hope we can help you and that you can help us as we walk our collective, individual journeys. That is the core issue: how to walk our own, individual path as part of a communal journey.
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

Roy
Posts: 4463
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by Roy » 07 Jan 2018, 09:03

Welcome Joy! :)

I too have a child on the spectrum. It is funny how as my faith has evolved my expectations towards him and primary have changed. I once gave permission to be physically restrained by his primary teacher. I felt that he needed to "learn to sit still." Now 10 years old he can tolerate class but despises sharing/singing time. We made a deal with him that if he goes to class we will come get him for the third hour. If we were to break our promise then he would have no reason to trust us and would likely fight us and hate the entire church experience.

OTOH, he really enjoys cub scouts and has set a personal goal to do all the elective merit badges. We encourage him in his strengths and passions and compromise on his weeknesses
BeJoyful wrote:
05 Jan 2018, 09:11
The basic foundations of my testimony are this: I know God is loving and that men are that they might have joy.
BeJoyful wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 11:19
"do people love me because I'm the cool convert story, or do they love me for me? " There's too many "I love you, but..." situations.
I cannot believe how much feeling God's love for me has changed my perspective. I used to feel something like "God loves me - therefore he wants me to fulfill my potential, go to medical school and become a doctor (analogy - not literal)." Everything hinged on following "the plan." Now I feel that God loves me ... period. I still need to figure out how to grow and develop and raise my kids and treat others but God's love for me hinges on none of that.
BeJoyful wrote:
05 Jan 2018, 09:11
I haven’t found my place quite yet, but I don’t rely on church for social inclusion, so it hasn’t been a problem.
I call this diversifying your social supports/connections. I feel that it really helps to not put all your social eggs in the church basket.
BeJoyful wrote:
05 Jan 2018, 09:11
I’m incredibly thankful that I have a spouse who is as driven as I am at making our marriage a priority.
Joy, I love that you have a solid and supportive partner in your husband and another help in your BFF. Sometimes people feel so utterly alone and that their marriage would end if they failed to live up to Mormon ideals. Having someone in your corner is a huge resource. It sounds like you know this. What a great reason to be Joyful! :D

Lastly, I hope that we can help you in your journey. Our paths are individual but that does not mean we must be alone in them.

Welcome!
"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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BeJoyful
Posts: 16
Joined: 03 Jan 2018, 08:37

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by BeJoyful » 07 Jan 2018, 13:05


Roy wrote:Now 10 years old he can tolerate class but despises sharing/singing time. We made a deal with him that if he goes to class we will come get him for the third hour. If we were to break our promise then he would have no reason to trust us and would likely fight us and hate the entire church experience.
My kiddo is almost 6 now, and not quite to where I can make a deal with him. We don't force him to go ever, today I sat with him at the back of primary until they broke for class and that worked. It's a week by week thing for us right now.
Roy wrote: Now I feel that God loves me ... period. I still need to figure out how to grow and develop and raise my kids and treat others but God's love for me hinges on none of that.
For me, understanding God's love for me has helped me be a better parent to my own children. That love is separate from any hopes I have for my kids, and that love should grow, never diminish. The love I feel from God has definitely helped me have more love and give more love to others, as well.
Roy wrote: Joy, I love that you have a solid and supportive partner in your husband and another help in your BFF. Sometimes people feel so utterly alone and that their marriage would end if they failed to live up to Mormon ideals. Having someone in your corner is a huge resource. It sounds like you know this. What a great reason to be Joyful! :D
I'm incredibly blessed in this. I remember years ago some LDS movie- maybe "The Singles Ward"?- that had a scene where a husband left his wife because of WoW issue, and the movie made it seem like that it was his only choice. My husband and I both had such a negative reaction to that scene, even when we were fresh faced TBMs with no doubts, because it put priority on something before marriage. We both feel that our marriage should come before anything else- church, work, even our outside families- because if you can work together, you can work anything else out. I know that that isn't the case for a lot of people-I don't take it for granted that I hit the jackpot with a husband who shares that value.

Thanks for such a warm welcome!

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BeJoyful
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Re: Keeping Joy

Post by BeJoyful » 07 Jan 2018, 13:10


Curt Sunshine wrote:The more liberally they apply that word to lots of things they don't like (such as wearing a tank top, as opposed to adultery), the less likely they are to love someone unconditionally, especially when "love"' is viewed as an action verb (as it nearly always is in the Bible, for example) rather than as a feeling (as it is so often now).

Welcome! I hope we can help you and that you can help us as we walk our collective, individual journeys. That is the core issue: how to walk our own, individual path as part of a communal journey.
I like focusing on how to define love, as an action verb vs a feeling. I need to ponder on how to apply that in my own life.

I also like the issue of individual paths on a communal journey- it's how it's possible for me (and everyone) to stay. I don't condemn any person's path, and hope to help other people who all understand my path.



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squarepeg
Posts: 88
Joined: 17 Feb 2017, 12:51

Re: Keeping Joy

Post by squarepeg » 07 Jan 2018, 17:28

BeJoyful, welcome! You and I are similar in some ways. I'm a 30-something mother of three. My husband and I have been married 14 years. My husband and I both were raised in TBM families. We used to be TBM in the early years of our marriage but we both have had doubts surface, and not all of those concerns are the same ones. These days we go to church most weeks, but hubby leaves with our toddler after Sac Mtg because church runs 11-2 and nap time is 12, and we've decided nap time is important. Also, hubby is NOT interested in attending 2nd/3rd hours.

I kinda wonder if the emphasis of our families (the ones we grew up in) on all the "don'ts" rather than the "do's" might be because, from what I have read of President Kimball's teachings, there was a heavy emphasis on the "don'ts". My parents were at BYU and married in the late 70s/early 80s, Kimball Era. I believe the "No R-rated movies" is a Kimball thing. I HATED my family's rule that we couldn't play outside or with friends on Sundays...felt like I was dying...and that was a Kimballism (no riding bikes on Sunday I think was said specifically), also "no going to restaurants on Sundays" was in my parents' memory as a Kimball teaching. We were GREAT at "don'ts" and less great at "do's" also.

Glad you are here. This is a wonderful group of people.

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