Constantly searching

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Stephies
Posts: 8
Joined: 16 Feb 2018, 03:58

Constantly searching

Post by Stephies » 15 May 2018, 04:24

Hello,

I joined LDS way too quickly. Last autumn I took contact with the missionaries (in other words - I didn't just happen to "run into them" or anything), and was immidiately immersed in everything. After 1-2~ months I was already baptized. I was refered to as "golden" by one sister missionary, probably because I never questioned anything. I just sat there and nodded.

A big reason for me joining was because it gave me a sense of community and identity. All my life I've struggled with loneliness and identity issues. I'm diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder / borderline, so my "problems" has at least in the past been on quite extreme levels. I'm on my last weeks of DBT now though (the entire "DBT-course" is ~1 year), and from the psychiatry's PoV I'm pretty much "cured". That being said, my "issues" are still in the same "category" as before. They're just way, way less extreme.

My life was not easy when I was a "yes-man", but it was definitely easier. Sometime around january/february a faith crisis emerged, though. I started having serious issues with the temple recommend interview, the enormous emphasis on "obedience", "righteousness", etc. It felt like the Church focused far too much on laws/rules/authoritarian obedience, and focused far too little on love/grace/etc. I didn't have any practical problems following the "rules", but I had theological problems with them.

On top of all that... My relationship with my (ex) SO was slowly falling apart. She was/is also LDS, but far from a TBM. After "losing" both my SO and my testimony, I fell into a depression. It didn't last very long, though. I took contact with a pentecostal church, and started talking to one of their pastors. At first it felt okay, and gave me some hope for the future, but the last time I visited their sunday meeting I left before it was even finished. I cried, and cried, and cried. I really didn't like it, and all I could think of was "I wish I could go back to LDS". Around 6 hours later, a sister missionary that I had contact with ~6 months ago, and haven't talked to since then, messaged me on facebook. She asked me how things were going. Coincidence? I don't know. Maybe. Or maybe it was God's way of anwering my prayers...

(The missionary in question is a missionary in a different country than the one I'm living in, but somehow I have contact with her anyway... long story)

Right now, I don't really know what to do. I don't want to re-do the same mistake again - I don't want to "walk forward on borrowed light". I feel like I want to go back to LDS, and get a "real testimony", but somehow I feel like I'll always be doubting at least a little bit. I feel like "what if I stumble upon a chapter in the BoM which simply seems outrageous? what do I do then?", what do I do with the odd church history which I haven't delved all that deeply into yet?

I've been lurking on this forum for quite a while, though. Both before/after my faith crisis. I guess I feel like I can "relate" a lot to you all.

Thanks for reading, and God bless you all.

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nibbler
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Re: Constantly searching

Post by nibbler » 15 May 2018, 05:43

Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 04:24
Right now, I don't really know what to do. I don't want to re-do the same mistake again - I don't want to "walk forward on borrowed light". I feel like I want to go back to LDS, and get a "real testimony", but somehow I feel like I'll always be doubting at least a little bit.
A few things.

1) To some degree or other I think we all walk forward on borrowed light. The LDS church benefits from nearly 2000 years of people trying to figure out this Christianity thing. The church didn't produce the Bible, but certainly benefited from it.

It's like the sun that sustains life on this planet, we depend on its light and there's nothing wrong with that. Borrow light when needed but don't forget to let your light shine. Which brings me to the next thing...

2) I think the concept of a "real" testimony is some type of fallacy, not sure which. No true Scotsman? The concept that there is a real testimony implies that there is such a thing as a fake testimony and I no longer buy into that. Your testimony is your testimony, your witness. It may not be the testimony someone else wants you to have or a testimony a community believes everyone should share, but that does not make your testimony any less real.

I feel the church would be a much better place if we dropped this notion of strength of testimony. Also, I get the impression that when people at church say testimony they really mean "loyalty to the church/leaders," which is something else entirely. What is a "real" testimony? Your testimony is a real testimony.
Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 04:24
I feel like "what if I stumble upon a chapter in the BoM which simply seems outrageous? what do I do then?", what do I do with the odd church history which I haven't delved all that deeply into yet?
Pray that I'll be able to find room for it in an already overstuffed filing cabinet full of similar things. :P

This is a fallen world. Nothing is perfect. I think the lesson is to learn from both the bad and the good. When I come across something outrageous it's an opportunity. Am I firm enough in my convictions to view something as outrageous even though it's in scripture? Are my convictions strong enough to overcome the hurdle of information coming from authoritative sources? It's a dance, a dance that helps us grow and a dance that's harder to perform when there aren't outrageous things to serve as a catalyst.
You can't break what's broken already.
- LeAnn Rimes

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Constantly searching

Post by DarkJedi » 15 May 2018, 05:56

Welcome to the forum and thanks for introducing yourself.

I do think the "conversion" process is too quick in the church. I think I know why that is, and it has to do with the idea that if it were prolonged fewer people would actually stick around and convert. On the other hand I think most of those who wouldn't have stuck around don't stick around after baptism anyway and we end up with lots of people on the roles who never come to church and in many cases don't even want anything to do with the church. It takes a long time to convert to Judaism or Catholicism (for example), I think it should take a long time for us as well and some of the more controversial and lesser known stuff should be discussed before joining. FWIW, I was also golden and joined the church in a matter of about 3 weeks after seeking out the missionaries. If I knew then what I know now I would not have joined. I'll step off that soapbox now.

It is hard to come back when you know you don't believe it all. I think what most of us don't realize is that very few actually believe it all and we all have some doubts. Some people just won't admit to themselves that they doubt and some do recognize they doubt but won't admit it to anyone else.

To your BoM example. What do you do when you come across a Bible passage that's just as outrageous? Like Jonah literally living in the belly of a fish for three days? Whatever yo do with that, do the same thing with the BoM. Frankly, I find the Bible more outrageous than the BoM in most cases. And don't let me get started on the Books of Abraham and Moses or the D&C in general. There is great power in being able to let go of the idea that any of the canonized scripture is literally the word of God.

I sincerely hope you find the peace you seek.

(Note: Nibbler and I were typing at the same 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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dande48
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Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Constantly searching

Post by dande48 » 15 May 2018, 09:03

Hi Stephies,

Sounds like it's been a roller coaster of a ride this past year. Was your ex SO the one who introduced you to the Church?

The good news is, you don't have to have everything figured out or believe everything that is taught. Whatever you decide, you can always change your mind later.
Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 04:24
What if I stumble upon a chapter in the BoM which simply seems outrageous? what do I do with the odd church history which I haven't delved all that deeply into yet?
Here's the Bible, as summarized by Dande:

----------------------------------------------

God created all of existence in 7 days, and stuck the first man and woman in a garden. They weren't very bright, so God stuck the fruit tree of "being smart" right in the middle of the garden and told them not to eat it. So a snake comes along, who can talk despite a lack of vocal cords or the right mouth structure for speech. He tells them to eat of the fruit, which God said He was against, but was really God's plan all along.

Years pass, and God gets upset at mankind for having sex with those they weren't supposed to. So he tells this Noah guy to build a really big boat, and pack in every kind of animal. God then proceeds to kill everyone else, but then makes it up to Noah by inventing rainbows. Then along comes a guy named Abraham, which God really likes. God promises Abraham that his children will be his chosen people, despite Abraham and his wife being very old. To cement the deal, God makes Abraham cut off the tip of his penis, and promise to do the same to all his male descendants. Abraham then has a son, which God commands to kill as part of a ritualistic human sacrifice. But at last minute, "Just kidding, it was all a test!".

His grand kids end up getting enslaved by the Egyptians. So God sends Moses, and through him sends plagues, turns a river into blood, and kills a lot of boys. The Pharaoh ends up giving God's chosen people a bunch of gold, and telling them to go away. God then parts the red sea, and makes magical food appear on the ground every morning, as he leads the Israelites around in a big circle for 40 years. Then he commands genocide against the Cananites.

Many years later, God has an affair with a teenage girl, who is engaged to another man. Her fiance is furious, but God tells her it's cool. Turns out God is very upset over every human that has ever done or ever will do anything He doesn't approve of. The only way he'll forgive them, is by brutally sacrificing his bastard son. It's all dressed up as a illegitimate trial and murder, because reasons. But on the third day, his organs started functioning again and cognitive processes return to his brain. He also tells his followers to pretend to cannibalism Him on a regular basis.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The odd/difficult doctrines and history of the LDS boils down to:
-Polygamy
-Banning blacks from the priesthood
-The belief that we can become "gods"
-The Book of Mormon, borrowing heavily from other texts and having a lack of historical evidence.
-Amassing more money than they know what do to with, at the expense of the poor.
-Filtering the truth to frame themselves in a more positive light

Which of these is unique to the LDS religion? Seriously, none. Abraham was a polygamist. Racism has been rampant for approximately forever. Many religions and philosophers believe we can become gods after this life (including Christians, like Descartes). The first five books of the Old Testament just sort of "popped" into Moses' head. Religion has always been "big business". Just about every organization filters truth to their benefit. These oddities, while looked down on by many, are completely normal and to be expected (EDIT: by "normal" and "expected", I don't necessarily mean "right" or "good"). Humans will be human.
Last edited by dande48 on 15 May 2018, 11:50, edited 1 time in total.
"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

Roy
Posts: 5047
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Constantly searching

Post by Roy » 15 May 2018, 09:44

Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 04:24
A big reason for me joining was because it gave me a sense of community and identity.
...[SNIP]...
On top of all that... My relationship with my (ex) SO was slowly falling apart. She was/is also LDS, but far from a TBM. After "losing" both my SO and my testimony, I fell into a depression.
It sounds to me like you were in a relationship with a woman and her community welcomed you and provided you with a sense of belonging and purpose. Somewhat like an orphan that starts dating a girl with a big boisterous family and they feel like the family you never had. Losing that can be a big blow and I feel for you.

My advice is somewhat general to relationships. Take only what applies.

1) You have valuable things to offer a potential relationship partner. I believe that the foundation must exist that you are a worthy person, a person of worth or value and that the right person for you will see that value in you.

2) Because you are a person with worth you have the luxury of time. As difficult and lonely as it can be sometimes, I encourage you to be choosy and selective in finding someone that fairly naturally has the traits that you find to be important in a potential partner. If you are in a relationship then you are "off the market" and are not looking nor are available for new relationships. It seems only reasonable to "shop around" and explore your options before entering into what might be a life long commitment. I feel that many people jump into relationships too quickly again, and again, and again. A period of loneliness may be the price to pay to "save yourself" for the right one.

3) What to do between now and the time you meet the right one? Do not just sit on your thumbs. Pursue hobbies, interests, growth, self-improvement, friends and social connections. Go to school, invest in a career, do physical activity, join a club. The goal here is to make yourself more or less "well rounded". No woman or church will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Expecting them to is a recipe for disappointment. You had mentioned how Mormonism gave you a sense of Identity. I feel that it is much more sustainable to build your identity separate and apart from other people and organizations (or at least diversify and invest your identity in many different people and organizations - cuz "No man is an island"). The love partner or church affiliation can still hold an important part in your life but I believe it is important to be a complete and independent person. This helps to avoid the trap of "This person/thing/organization is everything to me and without that I am nothing."

4) "The wrong one is the right one to lead you to the best one." I heard this quote from John Bytheway. To me it means that even when a relationship does not work out you are improved by the situation. You learned about relationships -what does and does not work. You learned about yourself and a better understanding of what you might need in a potential partner. All of this can make a failed relationship a stepping stone into a later successful relationship.

I hope to hear more from you and good luck in your unique journey.
"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

Stephies
Posts: 8
Joined: 16 Feb 2018, 03:58

Re: Constantly searching

Post by Stephies » 15 May 2018, 12:18

Thanks for the replies.

You have a good point, nibbler, regarding "true testimony". "No true Scotsman" was a new thing to me - thanks for sharing. I think what I'm thinking of is "I need to be comfortable with my own faith, instead of simply being a 'yes-man'". I don't know what kind of view I have/will have regarding the core LDS beliefs, I just hope I'll get to a place where I can believe most of it, and "accept" the other things. Maybe not as (100%) truthful, but as useful.

I remember watching Andrei Tarkovsky's movie "The Sacrifice", and early on in the movie there is some kind of discussion around "truth". One of the characters says "it's an absurd idea to think that humans could ever comprehend 'truth'". I guess it's a no-brainer (and although I haven't read it yet - isn't the book of Job centered around this topic too? The human inability to understand God? Ah, whatever.), but the context in which it was said made it feel like it was "mind blowing". The movie is somewhat christian (IIRC) but it's rather strange (like all other Tarkovsky movies). /somewhat off-topic

You're probably right that "testimony" = "loyalty to the church". I sometimes wondered, when someone recieved a calling and the ward was supposed to have a "vote"... How many actually asked God about it? I think most people just raise their hand out of loyalty, rather than belief. Maybe it's a bit similar when it comes to testimonies. People say all those nice words moreso out of loyalty than out of belief (but it's probably a mix). Which is probably not such a bad thing. If all members stay loyal to the church, the unity of the church stays strong. At least I feel like it would make sense for it to work like that.

DarkJedi, I've thought about that too (the "church-wide" tendency to baptize people quickly)... It probably has more to do with tradition/culture than an actual "belief" that ASAP is the best way to go. Or maybe there is some theological reason behind the tradition. I dunno.

Regarding the BoM-thing, yeah, you're right. I haven't read all that much in the Bible yet, but I'm definitely far from comfortable with everything I've read so far.

Dande48: I met my ex through church. Had never seen her before. Us getting to know each other was pretty much as simple as her being very friendly to me, me falling in love with her almost immidiately, and then we started dating. It was far from easy though, even when we "got together" she probably had tons of doubts regarding me. Oh well. I think she made my FC more difficult than it already was, due to her being very agnostic regarding many things. She still remains active though, so her beliefs remain a mystery to me.

Laughed quite a bit to your "Bible summary". Thanks :lol: :clap:

Yeah... Humans will be humans. You're right.

Roy: Gosh, that was a very striking parable (orphan dating a girl with a big family) :cry:

Many thanks for the advice. I definitely "should" take things easy, but unfortunately my emotional mind is seldom as rational as your advice. In a way I can't "avoid" my tendency to fall in love with people/get attached to people, nor can I avoid my tendency to get attached to other "external things"... But I can try to do the best of the situation I'm in, try to "manage my emotions" as best as possible, try to be patient, live a decent life, etc... I can try.

But it's definitely difficult. I can "learn to live with my loneliness", but I don't think I can be "fully satisfied" living like this. One of the things I "learned" from being in a relationship is that... No matter how hard it was, it was still a million times better than not having anyone. Ugh. My PoV on things like these shift a lot from one day to another. Right now I'm about to burst out into tears over everything. Tomorrow might be better. Or worse. One day at a time...

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dande48
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Re: Constantly searching

Post by dande48 » 15 May 2018, 13:45

Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 12:18
I met my ex through church. Had never seen her before. Us getting to know each other was pretty much as simple as her being very friendly to me, me falling in love with her almost immidiately, and then we started dating. It was far from easy though, even when we "got together" she probably had tons of doubts regarding me. Oh well. I think she made my FC more difficult than it already was, due to her being very agnostic regarding many things. She still remains active though, so her beliefs remain a mystery to me.

... No matter how hard it was, it was still a million times better than not having anyone. Ugh. My PoV on things like these shift a lot from one day to another. Right now I'm about to burst out into tears over everything. Tomorrow might be better. Or worse. One day at a time...
I'm sorry Stephies. Dating is INCREDIBLY hard. I had a lot of the same struggles... falling in love too easy, getting broken up with as soon as the girl was bored or found something better. It's tough out there. And it sure is lonely... hang in there man.

Do you have any way to keep yourself occupied, til things start looking up? That was really important for me, to get through the hard times. Have you ever checked out MeetUp.com? They have lots of groups for all sorts of interests. Not sure what you're into, but they've got everything from D&D, to World Food Cooking. Also, I'm not sure if you're into video games or that, but Dark Souls is something that got me through some hard times. I've got an extra Steam Key for Dark Souls 3, that's all yours if you send me a PM. It's good to keep yourself occupied.
"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

Roy
Posts: 5047
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Constantly searching

Post by Roy » 15 May 2018, 14:46

John Bytheway is an LDS author and motivational speaker. His speech "What I wish I knew when I was single" was my bible during the dating years.

John categorized happiness as

Happily married - This is the ideal
happily single - I understand that it may be lonely and unfulfilling but there are some advantages and opportunities to be explored as a young adult.
unhappily single - this individual is rather unhappy about being single but at least they are not locked into anything.
Unhappily married - this person is unhappy and they may feel trapped. No bueno.

I believe the plan in a nutshell is to be as happy and fulfilled as possible as a single person in order to more easily transition to a happy and fulfilled married person later on.
Stephies wrote:
15 May 2018, 12:18
Many thanks for the advice. I definitely "should" take things easy, but unfortunately my emotional mind is seldom as rational as your advice. In a way I can't "avoid" my tendency to fall in love with people/get attached to people, nor can I avoid my tendency to get attached to other "external things"... But I can try to do the best of the situation I'm in, try to "manage my emotions" as best as possible, try to be patient, live a decent life, etc... I can try.

But it's definitely difficult. I can "learn to live with my loneliness", but I don't think I can be "fully satisfied" living like this. One of the things I "learned" from being in a relationship is that... No matter how hard it was, it was still a million times better than not having anyone. Ugh. My PoV on things like these shift a lot from one day to another. Right now I'm about to burst out into tears over everything. Tomorrow might be better. Or worse. One day at a time...
I understand. We all are dealing with life the best that we can. That also means dealing with our own personal emotional limitations as well. Yes, One day at a time indeed!
"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
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Re: Constantly searching

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 May 2018, 15:42

I don't have time right now to write a good response, but the title reminded me of this (which you might have read already, since I have bumped it a number of times over the last six years):

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3098&hilit=imagine+if
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

Stephies
Posts: 8
Joined: 16 Feb 2018, 03:58

Re: Constantly searching

Post by Stephies » 16 May 2018, 13:47

dande48: Thanks. To be honest I don't really feel like I have much spare time on my hands. I probably have plenty of time, but I always feel as if I have no time. I'm studying to become a nurse (I'm in a non-english speaking country, but the equivalent would be "RN/Registered nurse"... 3 years of university studies, I'm about half-way through), and the constant pressure of having to study for exams drains a lot of my energy. I have a very hard time keeping a schedule and sticking to it when it comes to studying on my own, since well... "Depressive episodes" hit pretty regularly, and I get caught up in doing other things, and then I feel even more stressed out about the upcoming exams... Oh well.

(Might undermine depression as a diagnosis to call my "low-mood-episodes" "depressive", but... Eh. My moodswings can be quite extreme... "life with BPD" can be rough sometimes)

I go to the gym regularly, I try to spend time reading the scriptures, I spend way too much time on YouTube... Eh. In short: I feel like I "don't have time" for actual hobbies, yet I spend tons of time doing non-productive things anyway. My "actual hobbies" ("that I don't have time for") would probably be... writing on Wikipedia (on my "local Wiki" I've made over 5000 edits), playing accordion / singing / writing music, creative writing, politics, "culture-consumtion" (anime/movies/music/theatre/art/dance/...), video games... I have WAY too many interests. Since my life has been "lonely" forever (bullied when I was young, and a very complicated/unpleasant family situation led to me being a "shut-in" until I started university) my way of dealing with life has been to "flee" from the world and delve into (non-social) hobbies. Nowadays it's a bit tougher though. It was easy to "flee from the world and delve into hobbies" when I was younger, but nowadays it's not so easy anymore.

Thanks. Don't think my computer can run DS3 though, I don't even have a GPU :lol:
But MANY thanks, anyway! I really appreciate it.

Roy: Thanks for the reply. Unhappily married seems like a nightmare. Being single might not be the ideal way of lving, but I guess it could be worse / I guess there are "upsides" to being single too... I'm not much of an optimist though. Or rather: I struggle trying to be optimistic about things. But oh well. I'm trying my best.

Curt Sunshine: Thanks. That poem surely is some "food for thought". I'll have to re-read that many, many times before I can "comment on it", I think.

"Constantly searching" feels like the title of my life, in a way.

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