Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

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nibbler
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by nibbler » 19 Sep 2018, 06:27

Thanks for sharing.

I have to admit, my first reaction while reading was, "man, our culture sucks." But I didn't find anything in the article that was surprising.

I realize that it takes lots of words and stories to help people understand another person's point of view but if I had to take one thing from the article I'd take:
There’s nothing wrong with members that choose to leave.
It's really that simple.

There's a section in the article about how relationships often dissolve when people leave the church. That's going to be a tough thing to correct in our culture because I often see relationships dissolve among extremely active members just because a ward splits or some boundaries are redrawn. This is where I point out that it takes effort from both sides to maintain a relationship. It's hard for us to do that. Maybe we're all too busy with our assigned friends, I don't know.
My internal dialog goes something like this:
Is everybody going to assume I cheated on my wife? Do they think I’m looking at pornography? What do I say when I don’t feel like I should participate in the sacrament? How do I tell a 16-year-old I can’t help him with it, but not have him assume that I’m just unworthy? Do my kids think I’m unworthy? Am I doing irreparable harm to their testimonies by not participating?
Yes, it's difficult. I can't say that I hear the community voice say these sorts of things every Sunday but I do hear it at least once per month... and I'm down to attending only one hour each Sunday, I might hear it more if I attended the full 3 hour block. I hear harsh judgments being pronounced on people that leave. I hear very harsh judgments being pronounced on members that hold different opinions on certain subjects. The thing is, you're not talking about Brother Hasn'tBeenToChurchInFiveYears, you're talking about me, the guy sitting in the front row. It doesn't feel good.

That internal dialog? The culture contributes. We can imagine all the sorts of things being said about us because we've heard them said of others. Heck, we've probably said or thought those things ourselves when we were more orthodox to the culture.

This isn't commentary on me thinking the author of the article should return, but I would like an article, "what I wish Mormons knew about those that struggle to stay." This article did include some insights on that front.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold
-Jesus

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On Own Now
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by On Own Now » 19 Sep 2018, 07:07

I suppose it will come as no shock to anyone here, but I think this article is far too negative toward people in the Church. There are a lot of examples of expecting believers to give him considerations he doesn't seem interested in giving them:

To the faithful: "Don’t distance yourself from us"
About the disaffected: "former members tend to create some distance from believers. This is a protection mechanism, nothing more."

To the faithful: "Simply love your family and friends that leave the church. Don’t judge them for taking a different path than you chose. Try and view your relationship from their point-of-view."
Note: Great advice. It is equally great if taken in reverse, which this article does not do.

Author: "There’s nothing wrong with members that choose to leave."
Note: Yet, the author provides several examples of what is wrong with those who choose to stay.

To the faithful: "Whatever else you do, please don’t bear your testimony at those that have left. "
Note: This is an an open letter to the faithful, which is the best possible example of stating a position at someone of a different opinion.

A parable: "Imagine a close family member that converted to another religion that you don’t agree with."
Note: This is a better metaphor if taken in the reverse meaning and conclusion than presented by the author, because it is the disaffected who are more like a close family member who has converted to another religion.

Last lines: "We all become better people as we learn to love each other as we are. I hope we can all learn to empathize with each other."
Note: These are the concluding lines in an open letter that expressed no empathy toward others, but continually called for it. To keep with the style and message of the entire article, the author should have concluded with: "You all become better people as you learn to love us as we are. I hope you can all learn to empathize with us."

I understand the loss-of-faith part. I feel for this man and the crushing realizations that accompany a FC. I think we've all experienced some awful wounds that continue to hurt.

But eventually, somehow, we have got to get past the deep-rooted anger and suspicion toward other people. We've got to see others the way we hope to be seen.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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dande48
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by dande48 » 19 Sep 2018, 07:27

I can relate to a lot of his story. The only exception is, I haven't had my records removed from the Church. Sometimes, I honestly wonder why I haven't left. I think many of the reasons why active members believe people leave, could be the reasons I have stayed. Maybe I'm too lazy to resign. Maybe I stay because I'm being deceived. Maybe I'm too weak, too uncommitted, too faithless to leave... Maybe I'm too sinful, and if I was a better person I could just bite the bullet and leave.

The article made me really sad. I empathize quite a lot with the author, but I don't have much hope of things getting better. Like Nibs:
nibbler wrote:
19 Sep 2018, 06:27
I hear harsh judgments being pronounced on people that leave. I hear very harsh judgments being pronounced on members that hold different opinions on certain subjects. The thing is, you're not talking about Brother Hasn'tBeenToChurchInFiveYears, you're talking about me, the guy sitting in the front row.
In fairness, I don't think it's the whole of the Church. I wouldn't say it's most members. But with some of the most vocal condemning those like me on a consistent basis, I reach the point where I get angry and nearly snap at even the most well-intentioned members. I swear, the LDS Church has given me severe PTSD. I want to stay. I really do. I want to find reasons to stick with it, and hope that things will get better. But today, I feel like I'm only a member because I feel to weak and lazy and scared to go through the process of leaving.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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nibbler
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by nibbler » 19 Sep 2018, 07:47

dande48 wrote:
19 Sep 2018, 07:27
In fairness, I don't think it's the whole of the Church. I wouldn't say it's most members.
I can say the same. In my experience I'd say it's even limited to the same small group of people. Some of the higher profile callings will eventually be staffed by people in that small group and when that happens it creates the impression that that particular voice is more authoritative and more present than it actually is. When people in relative positions of authority hold those attitudes they tend to spread.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold
-Jesus

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DarkJedi
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Sep 2018, 07:55

Thanks for sharing. I understand where the guy is coming from, I have felt the pain (I can see the thestrals).

When I first saw the article title I thought "Oh, good, I haven't shared something like this with the SP lately." Again, I totally understand where the guy is coming from and I relate to everything he says. But I have to agree with OON - I think it's a bit too negative in tone to actually share with the SP or any of my more true believing friends (including my wife). I think it's good for us though, if only because it continues to confirm "I am not alone."
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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DoubtingTom
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by DoubtingTom » 19 Sep 2018, 08:02

I felt deeply for this person as I read this post. I have shared so many of those emotions. And yet, I also agree with OON about the general lack of empathy shown by the writer towards members. It is easy to forget after a faith transition how one used to feel as a traditional believer. Many of the things this writer shares are thoughts he very well might have had before his transition. Those of us who have gone through one would do well to remember this.

Also, I feel for him because he seems to still be very dependent on external validation for his own personal peace and satisfaction. As I learned from Brene Brown (and many others), we need to brave our own wilderness. When we can be confident and at peace with our decisions without worrying what others think, when we don’t need that external validation, we will be better off. It’s not easy and definitely easier said than done, but as I’ve worked towards that goal, I have cared less and less about what others think but also have felt greater empathy and love towards them.

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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by nibbler » 19 Sep 2018, 08:10

On Own Now,

I'm not sure how to phrase this, please have patience with me.

Where's the equilibrium? Often when I see people hurting and desperately trying to be understood I see them get reprimanded for being too negative. Are we not then being negative towards the people we view as being negative? Does that approach perpetuate the us vs. them suspicions or alleviate them?

It's got to be super difficult to seek validation and healing after experiencing something negative. Recounting negative experiences can put people on the defensive. Someone says, "I experienced this horrible thing." and the insinuation is that the community is responsible for doing this horrible thing, which is then perceived as being negative towards or an attack on the community.

How does one say, "This is my pain." without opening themselves up to people saying, "You're too negative."

I don't know that we can. Things can always be negative or positive, depending on the vantage point from which they are viewed.

I am aware of how it goes both directions. People outside the church viewing people in the church as being too negative in relating their truths. People in the church viewing people outside the church as being too negative in relating their truths. Maybe the lesson is to... give people space? Allow people to be negative? Recognize that negativity happens and extend people the grace to cover it? Extended towards people in all camps.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold
-Jesus

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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by Roy » 19 Sep 2018, 10:11

When that pain is expressed, there is an implication that the pain is my fault anyway, so it’s mine to deal with.
I felt that this line was insightful. We sometimes say that it was us that changed - not them. Yes, we did change but that does not mean that it is our fault that we changed. Just saying that my state of belief is not my fault makes me wary that someone will think that is an excuse. Maybe it is. Maybe I am trying to come up with excuses to defend my belief when it does not need defending. Maybe my belief is just as valid, worthy, and empowering as anyone else's.

Perhaps we are all reacting defensively. The people that leave defending being made to feel less than, justifying their decisions and thereby devaluing the commitment of those that stay and continue to believe. The People that stay feel attacked by those that leave and react defensively … and so it goes. Hurt for hurt, insult for insult, and misunderstanding for misunderstanding.
"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

AmyJ
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Re: Very good post about "what I wish Mormons knew about those that leave"

Post by AmyJ » 19 Sep 2018, 10:26

nibbler wrote:
19 Sep 2018, 08:10
How does one say, "This is my pain." without opening themselves up to people saying, "You're too negative."
I state that in small, very individual cases "This is my pain".
If people come back saying I am too negative, I tell them "Fine. This is my pain. This is how it feels to me (briefly). And then point out the ways I am purposely striving not to be too negative. At that point I switch to common ground language and/or move on to a different subject.
nibbler wrote:
19 Sep 2018, 08:10
I don't know that we can. Things can always be negative or positive, depending on the vantage point from which they are viewed.

I am aware of how it goes both directions. People outside the church viewing people in the church as being too negative in relating their truths. People in the church viewing people outside the church as being too negative in relating their truths. Maybe the lesson is to... give people space? Allow people to be negative? Recognize that negativity happens and extend people the grace to cover it? Extended towards people in all camps.
Negativity is a form of grief - of mourning (at least expectations if nothing else) and of expressing anger (another stage of grief). I treat negativity as an "opportunity to mourn" and cleanse the system of letting go of thought processes I don't want to be at anymore by going forward through the experience. Sometimes expressing it this way helps others to sense the profound- ness of my experience and not to blow it off because it doesn't fit into their paradigm or narrative.

But then, I am weird in that I think that the grief process is a daily experience rather then a formal once-a-year-funeral-event.

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