Glad to have found this community

Public forum, tell us about yourself and what brings you to StayLDS!
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Daeruin
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Glad to have found this community

Post by Daeruin » 16 Dec 2013, 14:22

Hi there. I'm really glad to have found this community. For a number of years I've felt pretty isolated. It was a revelation to find that I'm not alone in my position. I've been drifting for quite a long time, but things are coming to a head soon and I feel the need for some support.

So, a little about myself. I was born and raised in the church and served a mission (in the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission, lovingly referred to as NAM). Shortly after returning home, I read a book called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and started questioning some of my cultural assumptions. Very quickly I came to feel that my belief in the church was really a cultural thing, and that I wasn't really convinced. For thirteen years now I've considered myself agnostic. I'm strongly skeptical that knowledge of God is possible.

However, I married a faithful Mormon girl. I told her about my skepticism before we got married (not in the temple), but I think she didn't realize how deep it went. I'm not the bitter or angry type, and I promised her to always go to church. So I do go to church but often skip classes to hang out in the car or the foyer. I always attend sacrament meeting to help with the kids, but I do not take the sacrament. I have managed for ten years this way, dodging callings and trying to stay under the radar. It hasn't always been easy, but I'm still trying to support my wife and help raise our kids in the church. The church is not all bad, and probably better than a lot of other options.

For a long time my wife thought I would "come around." We didn't talk about it much. I am a very non-confrontational person, and I was afraid of hurting her and hurting our relationship. I'm not sure why she avoided talking about it—probably she knows that I don't react well when I feel badgered. :) There were a few conversations with tears on both sides, but I think she still held out hope.

We've been married for 10 years now and have had five beautiful kids, along with all of life's ups and downs. Both of our parents are strongly LDS, and I've always asked my dad or my wife's dad to bless our babies, because I don't feel comfortable exercising a priesthood I don't believe in. I have never talked to my parents about my unbelief, and they haven't ever brought it up either. Except my mom one time, admonishing me to "stop being lazy." That hurt, but I managed to brush it off without getting into a discussion.

Things have started heating up recently since my oldest boy just turned eight, and there's the question of baptism. My son really wants me to do it, and I'm trying to figure out how to move forward with my kids in general. We also moved into a new ward a few months ago, so I'm trying to establish myself in the new ward. I've already had discussions with the elder's quorum president and the bishop, both of whom seem nice and accepting of my situation.

Anyway, this has been plenty long enough for now. Don't be surprised to see some posts from me in the support forum in the coming days.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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Heber13
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by Heber13 » 16 Dec 2013, 14:53

Glad you found us! Your questions are good ones.

If you want my opinion (take it for what it is worth), do all you can to get your bishop's approval to baptize your son. It will be a wonderful family bonding thing and if your son wants you to, that should be good motivation to do it. I felt the spirit strong in my son's baptism. We smile at our pictures we have today of us in white on that day. He felt so special. There were good lessons taught to my son that day, all symbolic, and I can appreciate the symbolism for what it is.

I can understand issues around doctrine or belief that might limit your motivation to participate. But I put all those kinds of personal thoughts behind the motivation to perform a ritual for my family.

My analogy...
A man loves pie. Its his favorite thing in the world. But is he willing to give up having pie to have cake at his son's birthday, so he can participate and support his son? Ya...he can do it for his son, despite his personal preferences.

Now I don't mean to belittle your situation, or cast a net that somehow you are selfish. Please don't take it that way. I simply think it can be viewed as being willing to do what you need to do if it matters for your family.

Of course, that depends on how you feel about it. But that is my advice.

Keep posting here. Welcome. I look forward to learning from your posts!
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Dec 2013, 15:07

Welcome - and thank you for the introduction.

My advice is simple:

Support your wife and children. You told her you would when you married her, so do it. Baptize your son. You sound worthy to do that, even according to the official handbook guidelines, and you hold the proper "authorization" - and it appears you have understanding local leadership. If you thought you would be initiating your son into a dangerous future, that would be different, but give him this moment with his father. Who gets hurt if you baptize him? Nobody. Who gets helped if you baptize him? Hopefully, you, but certainly your wife and children.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Dec 2013, 17:24

Welcome, I'm glad you found us, too. Like you it took me too long to find this place and I languished for years - about as long as you have. I fully understand your doubts about God and I don't believe anyone "knows" there is a God, either. I don't believe most of what people in the church profess to "know" is actual knowledge. I do believe they'd like to know, and I believe they believe what they are saying. But they don't "know." 'Nuf about that.

My advice: don't make the mistakes I have made - baptize your son. I regret not being a part of the rituals and rites of passage with some of my children. Deeply. It cannot be undone.

One other little point that others will likely also advise: Be careful what you say to your church leaders. It's OK for them to know you have some struggles, but try to not be specific. My experience, and apparently the experiences of others here, is that telling them all will not be to your benefit.
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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Roy
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by Roy » 16 Dec 2013, 17:42

DarkJedi wrote:One other little point that others will likely also advise: Be careful what you say to your church leaders. It's OK for them to know you have some struggles, but try to not be specific. My experience, and apparently the experiences of others here, is that telling them all will not be to your benefit.
I second that. If you must give an answer be vague and hopeful. You are working things out and are open to posistive changes in the future.

I recently baptized my eldest child. It was a great experience. I have always "dreamed" that I would baptise my kids. When I talk to outsiders about the church the ability for fathers to participate in these types of milestone events is a positive that I always mention. I want my son to have the same priesthood authority that my dad passed down to me (ie I want to be in my Son's "line of authority"). I have considered declining to become a high priest unless my dad can do it for me because I don't want a new line of authority to supercede the old one.

I also do father's blessings for my kids for the same reasons.

My point is that from one perspective these things are meaningless words and hand gestures - from another perspective they have the capacity to tie generations together (and I'm not talking about a mystical power here).

You are very welcome here. We look forward to your input. :D
"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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SilentDawning
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by SilentDawning » 16 Dec 2013, 17:52

I like Roy's approach -- to view the ordinances as a family unification experience that happens to occur in the church.

How long until your son turns eight? Allowing for a couple months of delay?

The reason I ask is that now that you've told your priesthood leaders how you feel, it's going to be a tough road to do the baptism. They will likely (notice how I said 'likely') refuse to let you do it, or make you jump through some hoops before they will let you do it if you want to.

You could engineer a transformation by nuancing your beliefs if there is time to convince the priesthood leaders there is some level of belief. But if your parents and wife are really leaning on you to do it, there may not be time...

I also think you need to decide what you are willing to do to keep the peace and support your family.

I like how you managed not to react to the "stop being lazy" comment your family came out with. They need to listen to Uchdorfts talk on making assumptions about people's reasons for not being active. Nice job on keeping the peace. you must be doing a good job in other areas of your marriage to keep it strong.

I'm sort of like you in my church attendance -- I go to church but I consider it alone time. I read, organize things and make the time productive. I have to leave certain meetings though so I can keep my mouth shut and not ruin the new Ward I'm in.

I differ from you in one respect -- so far, I've been really tight-lipped about my true feelings about the church. There is no such thing as confidentiality in the church.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by hawkgrrrl » 16 Dec 2013, 23:31

Welcome to the site. I look forward to hearing more from you. I also would say that where there is agnosticism, there's a glimmer of belief. It doesn't have to be a full blown fire to find a spiritual path that works, even within the church (albeit a nontraditional version), when one is agnostic. You can find value in the teachings of Jesus, in the metaphor of the atonement, in the wisdom found within the scriptures. There are plenty of things there to embrace. You'll just have to ignore a fair sized chunk of what your fellow members say, which is generally speaking the best course of action anyway.

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Daeruin
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by Daeruin » 17 Dec 2013, 00:23

Funny, I went through a range of emotions while reading your replies. I was actually a bit angry at first. I felt a little defensive. Confusion, fear of disappointing others, desire to run away... all familiar emotions. But I really appreciate your help and thoughtfulness. I'll try to explain a little more about myself and reply to some of your comments.

About six months ago, my wife brought up the question of me baptizing my son. I tried to put it off at first, but she brought it up again a few days later. I had been coasting for a loooong time but realized that I couldn't avoid it forever. Our kids are getting older, and I have to decide what to tell them, how to do it, when, and all that. It's unavoidable. So we had a serious talk where I finally admitted to her that I do not feel it's possible for me to come all the way back to the church. It was really difficult. Terrible, really. She tries to be understanding, but I know how hard it is for her and how much it hurts her, and I hate it.

I frequently feel like I'm balancing on a razor's edge between my desire for living an honest and authentic life and my desire to make my wife and other family members happy. I have a hard time disappointing strangers, and disappointing my family is infinitely worse. Yet I can't stand feeling dishonest and insincere. That's why I haven't blessed my babies, why I don't take the sacrament, and why I have turned down a number of callings over the years. At the same time, I still go to church every week and try to avoid talking about dangerous topics with my family.

Anyhow, when we were hashing all these things out, I told my wife that I didn't think I could baptize our son and would prefer to have her dad do it, like we did for the baby blessings. She took it upon herself to explain this to DS, but he didn't take it very well. She even explained to him that daddy doesn't believe everything that mommy believes. In his beautifully innocent and sincere way, he spent a little while trying to convince me to believe. I just smiled and tried to change the subject. I struggle a lot with how to approach things with the kids, and that's what has driven a lot of my hesitation and confusion. I do want to make sure my kids get a good chance to make their own decisions about faith later on, and I think they need a solid upbringing in the church to make that decision meaningful. On the other hand, I don't want to feel inauthentic with my own kids. Hiding the fact that Santa isn't real is one thing, hiding the fact that daddy doesn't believe in God (per se) is totally different to me. I don't want them to feel betrayed, or that they didn't get to grow up with the real me. So I don't see baptizing him as automatically harmless—it depends a lot on how I approach things in the future, and also on the individual personalities and needs of my kids (which I can't necessarily predict). I guess I just want to feel like I have a plan in place, even if it's likely to change, before doing anything that I can't undo. Either way, whether I baptize him or not, I won't be able to go back.

If I did decide to try baptizing him, I may have some trouble. When we moved into our current ward just a few months ago, I had determined to quit hiding my state of (un)belief. I was just so tired of all the mistaken assumptions from others, constantly feeling like I was being hunted, feeling like I didn't want to talk to anyone about it but feeling obligated to explain somehow. I just wanted to get it out in the open. I had decided that I would make an appointment with the bishop and let him know how I felt and why I was there. Yet when it came right down to it, I chickened out. Have I mentioned I have a seriously hard time feeling like I'm disappointing people? I also get minor social anxiety at times. So a few weeks went by this way, with me skipping classes and basically trying to avoid talking to people as much as possible. Eventually the elder's quorum president pulled me aside and asked to talk with me in between meetings. I was a little relieved that he took that initiative, but also apprehensive. He opened up trying to be friendly and asked me what my favorite story is (he's a teacher and knew that I'm a big reader), and I got the feeling he was trying to lead into some kind of spiritual thought. I didn't let him get that far. I let him know that I was glad he'd asked to talk to me, since I'd been wanting to let him know my situation. I told him that although I've been coming to church, my main motivation was to keep my promise to my wife, but that I probably wouldn't be coming otherwise. I'm sure he knew there was something up from my lack of attendance in elder's quorum, and he seemed to take it in stride. He didn't say much after that, just that they were glad to have me and I was always welcome to attend elder's quorum and come have fun at activities.

A couple weeks later I got a call asking if I would come talk to the bishop. Again, I was a bit relieved but also apprehensive. In the intervening time, I had done some searching online and found this community, so I was a little better prepared. I had already read some of the advice to be vague and not talk about specific issues. I felt a lot better prepared, but at the last minute I got a call asking if they could do tithing settlement when I came. I was taken off guard and said OK, but I wasn't really prepared for it. I haven't paid tithing for years, and I had a bit of anxiety that I had to calm down before going in. The meeting went fairly well. To keep my story consistent, I told him that I had had a lot of doubts (but didn't mention anything specific) and probably wouldn't be coming if it weren't for my wife. I did say that I was trying to hold on to hope (which is only partly true) and am eager to support my wife and teach my kids good principles, and that I would be especially happy to get involved with service activities. He was very kind and supportive, and mentioned that he'd had his own doubts and struggles as a younger man. He asked if I had any questions or anything he could help with, and I said I would let him know if I needed anything. He also asked if I had any troubles with commandments. Knowing this was tithing settlement, I said the only thing I had trouble with was that I hadn't payed any tithing for some time. He responded by encouraging me to do it, told a few positive stories and bore his testimony. In the end I left the meeting feeling like it had gone pretty well.

If I did decide to baptize my son, I'm assuming the tithing thing would probably be a barrier. It's bad timing if I need to start doing that, too. Our new house payment is higher than before, yet shortly after moving in I had to take a steep pay cut. We're barely making it financially right now. I may not even have a job next month. Paying tithing right now would be a major sacrifice.

Well, I could go on for hours but I've already stayed up way too late. It's going to be a rough day tomorrow! I look forward to any more advice and encouragement you feel inclined to give.

Oh, about the timing... My son turned 8 earlier this month. We've already set the baptism date for January 4th, but I think we could probably put it off for a bit if I really try to do this. There's no pressure from anyone at this point.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Dec 2013, 01:35

Fwiw, there is nothing in the handbook that requires payment of tithes for a father to baptize one of his children. Like other things, it's in the hands of the Bishop. That's the downside of the local leadership roulette, but you aren't automatically unworthy to perform it just because you haven't paid tithing. The exact quote from the handbook is:
A bishop may allow a father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to name and bless his children even if the father is not fully temple worthy. Likewise, a bishop may allow a father who is a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to baptize his children or to ordain his sons to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: Glad to have found this community

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Dec 2013, 05:39

I agree with Ray, if you want to baptize your son, and you already know I think you should, then it's really going to be up to the bishop. There are a couple of threads here about others who have gone trough this. It doesn't sound like you told the bishop anything really damning, and tithing alone shouldn't be a barrier (but could be). There are some bishops who don't buy into the "can't afford not to pay tithing" thing and would be understanding of your situation with employment, the mortgage, etc., but then again it's the leadership roulette.

I know that razor's edge feeling, I'm there myself. It's hard to find the middle way (your own way), but it is possible. I don't attend church but I get why you do, I do things to keep the peace and promises as well. You don't seem like a total unbeliever. Are there parts of the church and gospel (two separate things) you do believe?
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."

My Introduction

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