An unexpected journey

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An unexpected journey

Post by WholesomeRecreation » 12 Mar 2018, 06:41

Hey all,
TL;DR- random babbling about my life and how I got to this point that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I thought it was time for me to join the conversation. I've been lurking here, at newordermormon, and at reddit for 5 months and I think this is my landing place. A little background. I was BIC, graduated from seminary (and loved it), served a mission, temple marriage, moved out east (USA), kids at a young age, etc. and am in my early 40's. Until my younger 30's I was a "I know this church is true without a shadow of a doubt member" person. After serving in the bishopric, I had my first real shelf crack and went from "I know" to "I believe". I stayed in that mode until the lgbt policy in Nov 15. At that time my testimony went from "I believe" to "I choose to believe" and my shelf was held together by a string. However from that time forward the realization that the prophet could royally screw up (my opinion) and say the policy was a revelation gave me the license to really question things. It allowed me to take ownership of my conscience because I had to decide whether to "follow the prophet" or "follow what I believed was right". I chose the latter. However I was still "all in" until a few months ago. My oldest son was struggling with some questions and I decided to help him. As I read the church essays looking for sincere answers (i'd read them with tbm eyes prior), I realized they were the same apologetic garbage I had already read for years and that there weren't any "good" answers to the church's hard questions. (On a side not- why won't the prophet get a revelation on such important topics!!!) I went to FAIR and found the same info, unsurprisingly, since they are the same authors. I went to mormonthink in an attempt to find as non-biased place as I could to really study my concerns. After reading the first article I had a red pill/blue pill moment as I looked at the other topics. For better or worse I chose the red pill- I think I already knew the answers I'd find but had to make the conscience choice. I immediately fell into what I now call a "reverse alma the younger experience". I went through 2-3 days of complete internal hell & termoil as I faced 40 years of cognitive dissonance and church deception. I told my TBM wife right away and she was very loving though a bit confused- one of the best (though scariest) decisions I've made. After 2-3 days, the pain lifted and I experienced one the strongest, most peaceful feeling I've ever had in my life- like I was floating in warmth for several hours. And for the first time in my life, I could think freely and honestly about the church with no cognitive dissonance. (Note if this had been the reverse and I'd felt that away about finding the church "true" I'd be blasting this from the pulpit.) Since that time I've had a profound internal peace despite the pain and struggles of learning to navigate this new way of thinking. I've worked through most of the strong negative emotions and looking forward with a positive viewpoint on life as I navigate. I love that I am free to choose my own path- it's opened up an exciting, scary, an unexpected new world. It's not a place I ever imagined I'd be- I was as TBM as they come- the last bishop told me to be ready because I was probably next!

So here I am. My wife is understanding but wants to stay with the church despite her own serious concerns (she read the CES letter all on her own). She chooses to focus exclusively on the good and chooses to ignore the bad. She watches me and let's me know if I'm getting too negative. I'm working through my new relationship with the church. I love my church friends & family, the teaching on service and love, but struggle with the doctrine and can't bear testimony of it at the moment. I try and justify by thinking "I hope it's true" but don't really find I can do that without returning to cognitive dissonance. I stopped attending sunday school for a while but don't really enjoy the hallway either so I went back and lurk in the back- reading this site during it sometimes. I'm YM's President and enjoy my time with the youth. I've had to adjust my comments and lessons so that I'm truthful, and have delegated a lot more of the teaching to make it easier. I don't feel particularly honest keeping my calling but am taking my time before doing anything drastic, plus, I think my calling is the most enjoyable part of the church (minus pre-church meetings that is). I have a couple non-tbm friends I've confided in but am too concerned about the personal implications to talk to the bishop or other ward leaders after reading comments here and other places. I have several kids that are in the youth programs so I'm cautious about how this will affect them and will be seeking advice.

As far as my personal beliefs, they are in flux. I believe in God and an afterlife though I realize I could be wrong on either but I find them comforting. I struggle with the church doctrine- it's hard to believe in something that is provably false. I'm not sure if I believe in Christ but it's not something I really focus on. I choose to live the church's standards (still wear my G's and have a TR) especially because of my wife, though breaking some of them doesn't really bother me- I'll happily shop on Sunday- and I've found many of them silly for years anyhow.

I'd like to thank y'all for your participation on this site. I find the conversation here much more productive than reddit, though I think that place has an important place too. One particular quote that I read recently on this site that really struck where I think I want to end up is:
"'s better to be "just friends" with the Church, than married to it. Friendship holds some of the noblest virtues. Around our friends, we are tolerant, patient, encouraging, and kind. We don't take everything they say too seriously. We expect a little less, and as a result forgive so much more. We understand that our relationship is not based on contract or obligation. We do not expect unreserved admiration, or that they should stick with us no matter what we do (and visa versa). So we put in our best efforts, and in turn become our very best selves. -- dande48"

Thanks for letting me blab.

P.S.- my avatar name, Wholesome Recreation, is the part of The Proclamation I've always more than excelled at!

P.S.S- after "my awakening" I often ponder what else in life I need to awaken from

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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Mar 2018, 07:16

I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but I approved your post and wanted to say welcome. It sounds like you're already taking it slow, focusing on what you do believe, and not dumping. It sounds like you might have something to offer others who participate and lurk here, so don't make yourself a stranger.
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: An unexpected journey

Post by LookingHard » 12 Mar 2018, 08:10

Welcome Wholesome!

Wow - I can see quite a few parallels and some small differences in our stories.

I "lost my testimony" while serving in a bishopric (and was also told "you might be the next bishop). Not the easiest calling to have a faith crisis and I think that made me try harder to "stay in" for a while.

Timeline wise I am a bit ahead of you. But the time the POX (Policy of Exclusion in Nov of 2015) was announced, that actually allowed me to stop even trying to "make it work". I mentally and emotionally was done and it was all clear to me.

I am glad you told your wife up front. My wife (in fact my ward) knew I had a bit of a faith crisis, but in the past tense. Like it was in the past and completed and I was still in the church. I think I dove in deep assuming I would figure it out and come out a slightly NOM'ish type. So my wife was quite shocked (an understatement) when I finally told her I no longer believed. I have studied quite a bit of others experiences and it seems to me it is much better to bring your spouse along for the ride. Not strapping them in and force feeding, but so they can see your honest struggle and maybe have a bit more sympathy. I STRONGLY recommend anybody that feels like they may be starting down this road, share it with your spouse. It does not have to be sharing "all", but pick a topic and ask for help as you struggle with it. My wife still doesn't get how many times I was spending an hour or so pleading for help from above since I was in a hotel room. Just like you, telling her was probably one of the scariest and hardest conversations I have ever had. Like you I wear my G's, have a TR, and attend 95% of the time - mainly for my marriage. I even have a very "respectable" calling that takes a lot of time, but not a lot of testimony bearing. I accepted that to somewhat show my wife I am not leaving just because I am lazy. But my wife doesn't even want to read the essays. My take on that is that I assume she has a shelf and can feel the pressure and she fears if any more pressure is applied to her shelf it will collapse and that scares her. I understand that.

I too love my church friends. They are the best part of Mormonism. It is hard to find a group that does community as good as Mormons do. Part of the issue is that just about 100% of my friends are LDS (a few ex now). I have some casual friends from work, but the really close friends and couples are LDS and many are Uber TBMs. I know once I come out a bit more, they will withdraw. That hurts, but I have come to accept it.

I have also come to accept that once I am "out" a bit more, I probably won't be able to attend my children's weddings. That also hurts, but I have come to terms with it.

My "other" awakening has been with understanding my white male privileged. I really like the Racism 101 podcast from Rational Faiths. It is HARD to listen to if you try and apply it to ourselves.

Please blab more. It helps you and it helps us and even the lurkers (and lurkers, join in and share with us!)

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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by Roy » 12 Mar 2018, 16:24

Welcome Wholesome!

I am happy that you have landed on our own misfit toys island.
WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
(On a side not- why won't the prophet get a revelation on such important topics!!!)
Yes, I remember many years ago talking religion with a JW friend. He said that in his religion the leadership was thought of as a steward, caretaker, or administrator. They are doing the best that they can until God returns to take charge. At the time I felt that to be very limiting (compared to living prophet). Now, I wonder if that might not be a much more defensible position to take.
WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
After 2-3 days, the pain lifted and I experienced one the strongest, most peaceful feeling I've ever had in my life- like I was floating in warmth for several hours. And for the first time in my life, I could think freely and honestly about the church with no cognitive dissonance.
I had a similar experience where I felt accepted and loved for who I was. This has been helpful to me in reframing how God sees me and what God expects from me. Maybe God does not care what church I belong to. Maybe God wants to help me accept and love myself for who I am rather than what I do. Maybe disappointing God and being disowned from the eternal family was never a real possibility. Anyway, personal experience = personal interpretation, but it has been helpful for me. The one bishop I shared it with was like, "Yeah, God does love you. He also wants you to do all this stuff." I have not shared it in a church context since.
WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
I struggle with the church doctrine- it's hard to believe in something that is provably false.
It is possible to reframe your beliefs until they are not "provably false". For example maybe the church has the priesthood authority to perform sacred ordinances and everything else is made up. Maybe God honors the authority of other churches also and maybe not. You cannot prove priesthood authority false.

Another idea that I like is the idea of a continuing restoration. basically it goes that the church is a work in progress that God permits to have a bunch of garbage mixed in with the good. As time goes on there is sloooooowwwwwww improvement. God accepts this improvement and takes pity on us.

Both of these ideas are not provably false - however neither one would exactly be popular at church. Therefore they are really only helpful in developing a personal worldview that hold open the possibility that God acknowledges and honors what is done in the church.

OTOH, there are lots of things said and taught in church that do seem to have some level of falsehood and it can be hard to hear those things and not try to correct them.

Again welcome, I hope we can help each other.
"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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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by Beefster » 12 Mar 2018, 18:24

There are a lot of ex-bishops on these forums, so you'll probably find that you fit in well. :D

I'm not one of them, though a number of people have told me I'd make a great bishop some day. Maybe I will. Who knows? I have no idea where my faith journey will take me or how I will get there. I only have hope and faith that the journey will make me a better person and lead me to truth and happiness.

The church is loaded with good people with good morals.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by dande48 » 12 Mar 2018, 19:33

Welcome, WR!

I enjoyed hearing your story. As tough as it is, I have to say you seem like you're in a good place, and on your way to even better. I look forward to hearing more of your insights.
WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
P.S.S- after "my awakening" I often ponder what else in life I need to awaken from
I think this is an AWESOME realization. It's incredible how many ideas we've instilled in us growing up; some of which might not be right. Sometimes there's a better way. My parents were very adament growing up that global warming does not exist. We live in a country with a national holiday commemorating Christopher Columbus. We take for granted in this country that Capitalism is great, people earn what they are worth, and anyone with the right drive can make it to the top.The freedom of speech, freedom of the press is wonderful, and censorship is bad. The ability to vote, is everyone's God-given right. We are taught that democracy is the only moral form of goverance, and so strongly believe in this "freedom", that we point our guns at those who disagree, and say "Be free, or we'll shoot you".

We like to think our society has the best values, as a whole, out of any age or nation. We are definitely the most materialistically prosperous. We are absolutely abhorred at the barbaric, tourturous ways those in the middle ages executed LGBTs and adulterers. But they'd be equally appalled by our lack of chastity. I think it's very likely many of the ideals we hold, are not the best, or even very good. While we're rich as to "things", it's quite clear our society isn't geared towards eudaimonia (human flourishing).
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by nibbler » 07 Apr 2018, 16:38

WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
TL;DR- random babbling about my life and how I got to this point that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
It makes perfect sense to me.

WholesomeRecreation wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:41
I don't feel particularly honest keeping my calling but am taking my time before doing anything drastic, plus, I think my calling is the most enjoyable part of the church (minus pre-church meetings that is).
I for one am glad you are keeping the calling. Lord knows there are more than enough orthodox members holding callings. IMO what the church needs more of is balance, and that means having more than one opinion being shared among everyone with callings.

I know the path is hard. Good luck.
It’s strange. When I couldn’t find the drop and the plague came, you seemed so far away I would not ever be able to find you again. But I know now that you were here all along, and that nothing, not the Black Death nor seven hundred years, nor death nor things to come nor any other creature could ever separate me from your caring and concern. It was with me every minute.
― Connie Willis , Doomsday Book

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Re: An unexpected journey

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Apr 2018, 18:15

Little time right now, but welcome!

I hope we can help each other on our journeys.
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: An unexpected journey

Post by longbottom » 13 Apr 2018, 11:54

Man, your story really resonates with the way my journey has been! What a comfort it is to know that there are others on the same path on this INCREDIBLY strange trip.

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