Navigating from the Dark Night

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VioletFire
Posts: 5
Joined: 17 Apr 2018, 13:01

Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by VioletFire » 18 Apr 2018, 14:29

Hello there,
I’m a life long Mormon from Utah who has always been very devout. Did the typical baptism, BYU, temple marriage, babies thing. I do feel like in the past I’ve had very real experiences where God has answered my prayers. However as time has gone on I’ve started to have more and more questions. I always justified it by saying this way of living works for me so it must be true. Polygamy just never sat right with me and some things I knew about Joseph Smith and church history were always in the back of my mind. Polygamy always made me feel like I wasn’t as valuable as a man, and that my primary worth came from my reproductive abilities and being a mother. I’m a mother to a few young children and it’s great but it’s also not my only ambition in life and I want so much more. Also as I got older and met more diverse and amazing people I thought that surely this can’t be the only way to worship God.

My husband was more strict than me with his devotion but as the years have passed he seems more distanced from the church than I am and may even really be agnostic leaning towards atheism. I’ve been the one getting us to church and to the temple.

I started researching from approved resources by the church and that left me with more questions. I decided there were too many things lingering in the back of my mind and decided to talk to a trusted confidant. They consider themselves a “buffet Mormon”. They gave me many sources and I went into the abyss that is church history. I did my best to trace sources and look at things from both sides.

I’m still very much in the midst of grappling with everything but as of this moment I think I no longer really believe, I doubt if Joseph Smith was a prophet and then begin to question what it really means to be a prophet. I really think any church that helps you be a better person and come closer to God is a good one and there is no “one true church”.

We’re now trying to find a path for our family. We haven’t paid any tithing for the past few months and have been semi-active. As for now I think the only way for me to cope with this crushing heart break is to keep being a member. I still think there is so much goodness from clean living and worshipping God. I have no interest in alcohol or coffee. Garments aren’t my favorite but I still where them most of the time even though I doubt. I don’t know how in the world to navigate this journey though. I read the essay on How to Stay LDS and it had some good insight but I still have so many questions.

My husband no longer wants to pay a full 10% of income since he doesn’t think the church is true anymore (I’m a Stay at home mom who only makes a little money here and there). We’re very united in finances usually and want to make a joint decision. It terrifies me to no longer have a recommend despite not believing anymore. And I talked to my husband about only paying on surplus and he doesn’t want to do that either. I told him if we stay semi-active we should still pay some and he agreed and said maybe we could do a large fast-offering donation and give to charities. How do we navigate the tithing interview though? If we tell the Bishop we’re only paying a partial tithe I don’t want him to ask why. I don’t want to divulge that I no longer have a literal belief in the church. We are introverts and my husband has some anxiety.

Also how in the world do I raise my children? They are still young and the oldest is still a few years from baptism age. I feel like a hypocrite expecting them to obey church standards when I don’t believe in the church literally. Also I’m not sure if I want my sons to go on missions if it’s not the one true church.

Does anyone have any insight? I really appreciate this forum and have been lurking here.

Thanks,
VF
Last edited by VioletFire on 18 Apr 2018, 14:54, edited 1 time in total.

Roy
Posts: 4780
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by Roy » 18 Apr 2018, 14:47

I am running late for a meeting across town, but wanted to welcome you. I will write more and give some responses to your questions soon.
"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

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

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Apr 2018, 18:39

I also have very little time right now, as my semester ends next week, but I too want to welcome you. I am sure you will get some excellent input.
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

Only Love
Posts: 23
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 19:29

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by Only Love » 18 Apr 2018, 18:40

Hi VF, I don't really have any answers, but I wanted to let you know you are SO not alone. I'm a fellow stay at home mom of little ones with other ambitions and I very much share your concerns about how to raise my kids now that I see things with the church so differently than I used to. I did the same as you, seeking out answers from church-approved sources and ending up with more questions. I wish we could meet up for a playdate! I just joined staylds as well and I'm hoping we can all support each other in this crazy journey!

AmyJ
Posts: 558
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by AmyJ » 19 Apr 2018, 05:32

VioletFire wrote:
18 Apr 2018, 14:29
My husband no longer wants to pay a full 10% of income since he doesn’t think the church is true anymore (I’m a Stay at home mom who only makes a little money here and there). We’re very united in finances usually and want to make a joint decision. It terrifies me to no longer have a recommend despite not believing anymore. And I talked to my husband about only paying on surplus and he doesn’t want to do that either. I told him if we stay semi-active we should still pay some and he agreed and said maybe we could do a large fast-offering donation and give to charities. How do we navigate the tithing interview though? If we tell the Bishop we’re only paying a partial tithe I don’t want him to ask why. I don’t want to divulge that I no longer have a literal belief in the church. We are introverts and my husband has some anxiety.
For what it is worth, tithing as a principle is between you and God - so it is up to you and your husband to mull over/ask for revelation on how to pay tithing to God in your situation. God may accept your "tithing" as going to fast offerings and giving to charities. As representatives of the church, they can ask the question in "Yes/No" format - and you can translate what that means in your situation. You do not need to provide explanations for your translation because it is between you, your husband, and God.
VioletFire wrote:
18 Apr 2018, 14:29
Also how in the world do I raise my children? They are still young and the oldest is still a few years from baptism age. I feel like a hypocrite expecting them to obey church standards when I don’t believe in the church literally. Also I’m not sure if I want my sons to go on missions if it’s not the one true church.
Here is the principle that has helped me the most here:
I (and my spouse) am not expected as a parent to be everything/teach everything to my children.
That means that I am not expected to teach every point of doctrine - I can't teach what I don't know/understand. I can teach what I believe and why I believe it - and I can be mindful of focusing on the common ground as I transition my beliefs. Yes, I help set the foundation through family culture and the environment I set up for my children. But the children are agents of themselves from a young age. Some church standards are good practices that can be applied outside the church. Charity, Gratitude, Cleanliness, and a host of other principles can be taught from multiple positions. Yes, others such as primary teachers will teach things you can't - which is both good and bad. There are several threads on this site about baptism in faith transition, raising children during a faith transition, and how to present alternatives and historical perspectives. It can be done. Just take a deep breath, focus on what you can and should teach your children (start with manners and respect at church if that's common ground), and know that you got this:)

Others have mentioned making sure that if you are in the middle of a faith transition, it is a good idea to expand your social networks so that you are not dependent solely on the church for social needs as well as religious/spiritual needs.

I focus on the basics what I am comfortable with. We have prayer because it is a good habit to be grateful for the things we have. We go to church because there are good lessons there and I am not ready to give it up [but we take more Sundays away from church and "trade up" as best as we can]. I focus on teaching reverence and basically a form of meditation during the Sacrament. What I can't teach about God/the Atonement, my husband can. In any case, it is most important to teach children that there are multiple perspectives out there, and how to handle conflicting views with respect.

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dande48
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Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by dande48 » 19 Apr 2018, 07:42

Hi Violet,

Happy to have you here. Reading over your intro, especially your concerns with losing your temple recommend, I hope you know it's not as bad as it sounds. There have been a few good threads here on how to "pass" the temple recommend on your own terms, while still living according to your beliefs. Many on here still hold temple recommends despite taking an "alternative" approach to some of the commandments. All the more power to them.

I do not hold a temple recommend any longer. I still keep all of the commandments required (tithing, LoC, WoW, etc) as much as any True-Blue Mormon. But I cannot honestly answer in the affirmative to those beginning questions. There are too many caveats. For me personally, I feel it would be dishonest (no judgement on anyone here who disagrees). The wonderful news is, since I personally chose not to hold a recommend, I feel absolutely liberated. No one took it away from me. I chose to approach the Church on my own terms, and the Church has nothing to hold over me any longer.

I am a strong believer in the importance of temple attendance as a principle. It's very therapeutic to be able to step away from the stresses of life, and focus on what's important. But a temple can be just about anywhere you make it. Planetariums can be a temple. So can a graveyard, or a park. But I've found that the less control the Church has over my life, the more I am able to live according to my conscience, and the happier I feel.
"But there's no sense in crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying, til you run out of cake." - Still Alive

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

VioletFire
Posts: 5
Joined: 17 Apr 2018, 13:01

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by VioletFire » 19 Apr 2018, 10:05

Thank you so much everyone for your support. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. Going through all this feels very isolating. I think I may still be in a denial stage that this is all happening. My heart and my mind tell me different things, but I know it can’t go back to the way it was.


AmyJ thank you. I think my husband and I are definitely going to have to mull over the tithing thing. I need to find a way to feel honest but also avoid awkwardness (if possible). Thanks for your perspective on raising children. It’s so hard because I feel like the church sees things from black and white. I think my husband would almost rather be done because it sounds easier to him with kids but I still really want to stay in some capacity and make it work. He’s open to that especially since both our families are very much in it. Expanding our network sounds like a great idea. I also appreciate what you said about learning good lessons like reverence from church.


Dande48 I get how those beginning questions would be hard to answer. It seems difficult navigating being true to yourself and not rocking the boat sometimes. I’m glad you found what works for you. I like your perspective of making others places temples- places to meditate and find spirituality. We still have about a year left before our recommends expire and to the end of the year to figure out tithing so I imagine we have a lot of time to mull things over. There’s so much to think about.

AmyJ
Posts: 558
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by AmyJ » 19 Apr 2018, 10:49

VioletFire wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 10:05
AmyJ thank you. I think my husband and I are definitely going to have to mull over the tithing thing. I need to find a way to feel honest but also avoid awkwardness (if possible). Thanks for your perspective on raising children. It’s so hard because I feel like the church sees things from black and white. I think my husband would almost rather be done because it sounds easier to him with kids but I still really want to stay in some capacity and make it work. He’s open to that especially since both our families are very much in it. Expanding our network sounds like a great idea. I also appreciate what you said about learning good lessons like reverence from church.
I found it interesting to go back to the Jewish roots of Tithing and the principles behind it when I was pondering the tithing situation.

The church does see most things from a black and white perspective for a lot of different reasons. This can provide a measure of security and comfort in a black and white world. This can provide a measure of angst, stress, depression, and guilt in a black and white world. Adjusting my understanding of how the church views things in a black and white world when my world view is more prismatic was helpful in re-defining my expectations of the church, and my role within it.

There are a few threads dealing with kids. You will find them, I am sure :lol:
There is one under"Being Authentic With Your Children" that might a good starting point (your mileage may vary).
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4967

Roy
Posts: 4780
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2018, 11:13

VioletFire wrote:
18 Apr 2018, 14:29
How do we navigate the tithing interview though?
If it is not important to you to have a TR you could just not go. This leaves your bishop in a situation where he has to make an educated guess as to your tithing status.

I do not pay tithing. DW is a SAHM that does earn some small money through internet transcription. She pays tithing on her income (she actually deducts business expenses like the internet connection from her titheable total [and no we did not have an internet connection before she started]).

For our tithing settlement interview I go into meet with the bishop first with my family waiting outside. I very quickly let the bishop know that I am not currently a full tithe payer but that I support my wife and children in the payment of their tithes. DW knows the situation, the children do not. In order to not confuse or worry the children, I am making my tithing declaration separate from the rest of my family. The bishop may press somewhat but really time is on your side. There is a schedule to keep and a lobby full of people waiting.

In this or other bishops interviews I find it helpful to not divulge too much information - especially any that might make him defensive by attacking or criticizing the church or challenging the bishops authority. I personally had a tragedy in my family that I had felt could not happen to me in part because I was paying a faithful tithe. Discussion of how my personal expectations surrounding tithing were not accurate and how the resulting crumbling of those expectations has made extending trust/faith more difficult for me - has proven to be a fairly safe topic. It is relatable and does not blame the church.

The bishop will likely employ a number of arguments to convince/commit you to pay tithing. Some of these arguments may be fundamentally flawed. One example, my bishop said that tithing is perhaps the only commandment where an individual can be in 100% mathematically perfect compliance. the idea of being "perfect" in some aspect of his relationship with God seemed to be important to him. I did not argue with him or push back at all on his statement. I smile and nod to acknowledge his reasoning and keep any disagreement I may have to myself.

I believe that the concepts embodied in the following statements may prove helpful. I accept that my faith is not strong enough to pay tithing at this time. I am still a work in progress and I could see my faith growing in the future. I thank the bishop for his concern and his invitation to pay tithing. I am not ready to make a commitment at this time but I am working on my faith and will let him know when I am ready.

Lastly, be prepared that the bishop may ask for your husband to surrender his TR because of not paying a full tithe. There should be no problem with you continuing to hold a TR by paying tithing on your "little money here and there".

Again welcome - you are not alone!
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Navigating from the Dark Night

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Apr 2018, 15:41

Welcome aboard, I'm glad you found us.
AmyJ wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 10:49
The church does see most things from a black and white perspective for a lot of different reasons. This can provide a measure of security and comfort in a black and white world. This can provide a measure of angst, stress, depression, and guilt in a black and white world. Adjusting my understanding of how the church views things in a black and white world when my world view is more prismatic was helpful in re-defining my expectations of the church, and my role within it.
First, let's dispel this myth (no offense intended to Amy). There is a (sometimes huge) difference in what people in the church teach and what the church teaches. This is of course complicated by the question of what the heck "the church" is. Is the Q15? The manuals and handbooks? Is it a spiritual entity not related to either of those? I've never figured out what the church teaches because I don't know what the church is, but I know what it's not. Anyway, long story short: It's very easy to conflate what people teach under the guise of doctrine with actual doctrine.

With the above in mind, tithing is one of those things that's mostly opinion. There are people here who don't pay tithing and they don't hold TRs. There are also people here who pay on gross, or pay on net, or lots of iterations between those two (no tithe on FICA, no tithe on tax, whatever) and there are those who pay on what's leftover after bills are paid. Most of these people do hold TRs if they want to. What does the church teach? I think that it's between the individual and God. What do people teach? All kinds of things. There's a guy in my ward who never fails to interject that tithing is on gross whenever the subject comes up - no matter how many times he's been corrected. Here's the TR question: Are you a full tithe payer? It's a yes or no question, just like all the others. If you believe the answer for you is yes, then the answer is yes no matter how much or how little you pay. No explanation required. There are several tithing threads here, the search tool works well.

Likewise there are several good TR threads, the best of which (IMO) are pinned to the top of the History and Doctrine section.

Kids are a toughie. The best advice I can give is that you are the main teacher of your kids, not the church. And, they're a lot more likely to adopt your ideals than the church's because they love you and are around you way, way more. Teach them what you believe. When they're old enough they'll decide for themselves anyway.
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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