TinSoldier wrote: ↑
03 Feb 2020, 19:43
I can really relate to most of what you said. I think you did a good job of spelling it all out. Heaven knows I've gone to church for various "wrong" reasons at times, from knowing I'll have to ask the bishop for financial assistance, to being worried about making some sort of impression by simply showing up. Even though I'm not in an area where many of my neighbors are members, we have an older missionary couple who lives next door in a rental house and I admit to feeling a little self-conscious if I don't attend just because of worry about them being judgemental. And yes, they can do that sort of thing.
By that definition I think almost everybody at church is probably there for the "wrong" reason. I have contemplated that before as I've looked around my own small ward - "Why is she really here? She clearly doesn't get it." I don't think that's judgmental (but I'm sure it could be construed as such), it's just me trying to figure out motivations.
I've had a variable relationship with the church. When I was a teenager, I was often the quorum leader and active helping organize stake youth activities. That changed when I went on my mission. It took nearly 3/4 of my mission before I was made a senior companion. Eventually it got me pretty discouraged and I contacted the mission president to ask if there was some reason for that. He said he hadn't realized my situation and there wasn't any particular reason I was still a junior. I finally became a senior companion for a few months, then a "joint" companion for the last month or two with another elder who was going home at the same time as me. Then when I got married and started a family, I was assigned to the nursery. Over the net ten years, when with moves or changing boundaries I was in about six different wards or branches, I was constantly assigned to the nursery almost as soon as I got into the ward. It was challenging because I never had a chance to get to know anyone. I could attend every Sunday and be in a ward for a couple of years, and still have people come up to me before church and ask if I was visiting because most members never saw me and I didn't get out of the nursery after church until most of them were gone. After that, for other reasons as well, my activity level dropped and I didn't go at all for a few years. After I split with my ex and got to know MJ as she was becoming a member I attended much more for several years, but now I'm pulling back again.
Interesting. I think for the most part the idea of senior/junior companion has gone by the wayside in most missions these days. None of my three sons really talked about that idea, and one even laughed at me one time when I mentioned it. Things like trainer, district leader and zone leader still seem to carry some weight though and one of my sons was concerned that he wasn't a district leader as quickly as some others. Honestly I don't think God cares, but when I was a missionary I didn't understand that either.
I kind of aspire to nursery teacher, actually (that's 2 kids in my ward). I have never been, but I was in a ward where I had been called directly in to Primary after moving there and didn't get much association with the men in the ward (I was the only male in Primary, this was a long time ago). I didn't really forge any male bonds there because I wasn't around them. I ended up being inactive for a few months (I was also a YSA then) and when I came back was the first time I turned down a calling - they were going to call me to Primary again. I told them no and I told them why, that I needed adult interactions. I ended up being SSP.
Interesting little story that just happened last Sunday. I am an introvert and I don't go to church to socialize. That doesn't mean I'm rude or anything, I do talk to people, some of which I have known for 30 years. But I prefer to sit on the back bench and blend in. That said, I also have a calling that at times is visible and that takes me to other wards. I had missed three consecutive Sundays in my own ward before last Sunday. So, I'm sitting there in our usual place and my wife was off socializing (she does go to church to socialize). A missionary, who I recognize, came over and shook my hand and asked if I were a visitor. I got a huge chuckle out of it. I should have played with him and told him I was interested in the church or something.
Sometimes I'm a little blunt, and sometimes I think things just need saying. I do disagree with your bishop although as someone already pointed out more than 99% of the time two people of the opposite sex living together are doing the do. But that's not the only thing keeping you from going to the temple. There are other issues as well, including motivation. You're not even motivated to going to Sunday meetings, what would your motivation be for going to the temple when marriage isn't even actually on the table? Off the top of my head in addition to chastity concerns (even though that may not be a real concern) you haven't been attending church (which is one of the questions) and it's pretty unlikely you're paying tithing (another biggie). This isn't about your bishop or the temple - it's about you. What do you really want other than what you can't have?