Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Unknownicon
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Joined: 03 Aug 2019, 09:56

Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by Unknownicon » 04 Aug 2019, 11:02

Sorry for the long post...A bit of background...I grew up in the church in the Midwest US. Families on both sides go back several generations in the church as well. From the time I was 8 until around 25 my father was either the bishop, a member of the stake presidency or the stake president. Looking back now 20+ years later, I think many of the things I did were because I knew they were expected and my parents would be disappointed if I didn't. (Church and temple attendance, mission, etc.) Despite not having the best motivation, I've had overall positive experiences.

When my wife and I moved away from our hometown 20 years ago we had to start new friendships in a new ward which as a certified introvert didn't go that well for me. Over time I think I lost any sense of community I had with the church. I've had various callings but for the past 5 years or so I found myself wondering how or if I fit into the "church". (Anxiety/depression have also been a factor). When I started having mild panic attacks at church it became a struggle each week to get up and go. The wife and kids are the reason I attend when I do.

At some point a couple of years ago, the thought came out of nowhere that I didn't have a relationship with God, I had a relationship with a church - and that pretty clearly wasn't working. I felt at the time that it was a message from God.

Unfortunately, I've struggled with trying to untangle the two and feel God's love because of the internal guilt for all the things I "should" be doing according to what I hear at church.

Wondering if anyone else has wrestled with building a relationship with God outside the church framework and what that journey looked like. My hope is that a true relationship with God will help me understand my place in the church.

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nibbler
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by nibbler » 04 Aug 2019, 13:35

I can identify with many of your feelings.

I'd put myself on an eleven out of ten on the introvert scale and church culture is set up to be an extrovert's playground and an introvert's nightmare. For the longest time I conflated extroversion with righteousness. Opting out of activities more suited for extroverts was presented as a sin of omission, something that had to be corrected. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Playing the part of an extrovert to fill the requirements of belonging to the tribe isn't the best for an introvert's mental health. Not playing the part of an extrovert meant not qualifying to belong to the tribe. Fun times.

I guess it's not just the church that does this, some wider cultures, maybe even society in general, is wired to reward the extrovert and seek to convert the introvert.
Unknownicon wrote:
04 Aug 2019, 11:02
At some point a couple of years ago, the thought came out of nowhere that I didn't have a relationship with God, I had a relationship with a church - and that pretty clearly wasn't working. I felt at the time that it was a message from God.

Unfortunately, I've struggled with trying to untangle the two and feel God's love because of the internal guilt for all the things I "should" be doing according to what I hear at church.
What I described before was a life of trying to live to a list of "shoulds" that came from others. Things eventually reached a tipping point and I reached a place where I wanted a more direct relationship with god.
Unknownicon wrote:
04 Aug 2019, 11:02
Wondering if anyone else has wrestled with building a relationship with God outside the church framework and what that journey looked like. My hope is that a true relationship with God will help me understand my place in the church.
I think you'll find many people here like that. Kind of a catch-22 though; looking at someone else's journey is falling back to that same pattern of looking to others to develop a relationship with god, one where the definition for "others" shifted to people outside church. I'm not arguing it can't be helpful, I'm just saying that I think walking the road alone is a part of it... but hey, we can be here for you for the together bits.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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mom3
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by mom3 » 04 Aug 2019, 15:59

Wondering if anyone else has wrestled with building a relationship with God outside the church framework and what that journey looked like. My hope is that a true relationship with God will help me understand my place in the church.
It's only recently occurred to me fully, that I have experienced more than one Faith/Religious Transition. The other one I had was in my teens. At the time the scope was narrower, but the impacts were similar. For me, one of the gifts that developed out of that was a more God/Christ centered yearning. I actually saw my ward (and church world) as totally opposite. I was 17 or so at the time. It's hard to put all the pieces in place. Yet, I think that process did help me this time. I can separate the two.

My God/Christ/Divine does still morph, but my tug of war is less with that than it is the brick and mortar church experience.

I am an extrovert, yet even with that, I find the culture of church painful. We twist, torque, conflate, gaslight, and guilt - way beyond wisdom. As a kid I hated girls camp, but my mom was the Stake Young Women's President. And the pressure or assumption that I would just join in and have a blast was nearly unbearable. One year I came home deathly sick, and I am sure that pressure added to it.

Good luck with your restructure.

As Nibbler said, lots of us have done or are doing it. We are happy to be road companions. We are a no guilt group. Glad to have you.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Roy
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by Roy » 04 Aug 2019, 16:57

In the darkest moment of my "dark night of the soul" I received a message of complete love, acceptance, and Relationship for me and my stillborn daughter. This was game changing for me. My daughter was loved and accepted even though she never accomplished anything in this life (not even to be born and receive a body - though the doctrine is unclear on that point). I was loved and accepted in equal measure to my daughter even though I had accomplished many good things in my life and also failed and "sinned" many times. What could that mean?

For me, it meant that God cares about me and my family - He values our Relationship … but that He is much less concerned with the details and the checklists.

This was a fullness of love without conditions.

There are lots of things in the church that we are supposed to do to please God and earn a reward from him. In the aftermath of my experience I found myself less motivated to do them. I have had to re-evaluate those things that I will continue to do because they are important to my community and my family. Just because God might not care (in the grand scheme of things) if I have a job tomorrow does not mean that I can just quit. There are real world consequences for every decision. My Relationship with my creator will never be in jeopordy - but that does not mean that I don't still need to nurture and cultivate relationships with those around me. But it is different now. I feel like a volunteer. I give of my time and resources in a manner that I feel is appropriate and sustainable and I refuse to feel guilty (or unworthy) for not giving more.

I know that my experience of God's love was mine alone - but I am nobody special. I cannot help but think that God loves you and everyone else just as fully and freely as He loves me.
"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

Tica
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by Tica » 05 Aug 2019, 00:04

Wondering if anyone else has wrestled with building a relationship with God outside the church framework and what that journey looked like.
Definitely. There are things about the church that my present self realizes really drove a wedge between me and God. I am still trying to repair the damage and figure out what that relationship is. For me, the interesting thing on this journey has been that once I let all of the "shoulds" fall away, the occasional answers that I have received often are quite different from what I would have expected and vastly different than what my believing family and friends would like for them to be (I haven't shared many of these developments with them...that could be another post altogether). And yet these unconventional personal answers have brought a lot more peace and growth than I had ever experienced when I was exactly following the church path.

What I have learned from my personal journey so far, is that I hope that God exists and cares. I think and hope that God can meet us where we are at and speak in a way that we can understand. And I think that will be likely be as unique as we are. Best wishes in your journey.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Aug 2019, 04:16

It is sort of like trying to separate the spaghetti from the meat sauce. The most important thing I did in my own faith transition is do that as best as I could though. Although often conflated at church, the gospel and the church are not the same. The gospel is eternal, the church has only been around 189 years. They do go together quite nicely (mostly) but the spaghetti and the sauce are two different things. I hope you find the peace you seek.
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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mom3
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by mom3 » 05 Aug 2019, 13:04

One more thought, you mentioned doing things because of your dad's leadership. Give yourself a pat on the back for that. In the Judaeo-Christian world- honoring Father and Mother is paramount to loving God. I know you are sorting stuff differently. Make sure you do take a minute and hug yourself for an honorable pursuit. Whether LDS-ness is real in the eternities, respecting family is a huge positive point in this life. Well done.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Minyan Man
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by Minyan Man » 05 Aug 2019, 16:29

Your subject line is my biggest take away of moving through my FC & becoming active again. (Whatever "active" means.)

thegreythinker
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by thegreythinker » 05 Aug 2019, 17:50

Unknownicon wrote:
04 Aug 2019, 11:02
Wondering if anyone else has wrestled with building a relationship with God outside the church framework and what that journey looked like. My hope is that a true relationship with God will help me understand my place in the church.
Absolutely! Recently I've been working on this and I'll probably be working on this the rest of my life. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from and sorry this is long,

A couple months ago, I took an interactive class at a community college, where we delved deep into our personalities. We talked about our strengths, weaknesses, emotions, wants, needs, who we are meant to be, our struggles, Etc.

It was at that time that I had an awakening. I realized my whole life was spent doing what the church wanted me to do, and I wasn't taking the time to focus on myself. As a result, my needs weren't being met, and I wasn't being the person God wanted me to be.

Since then, I've started adjusting things to make church better. Like I've decided I'm not going to renew my temple recommend, I'm not going to continue to pay tithing, I got rid of one of my callings that I had for 12 years, and I'm planning on getting rid of my ministering sisters.

My main goal in my life is to be my best self. Like doing those things that bring me joy (my bucket list, being out in nature, etc), facing my fears that are holding me back, focusing on my strengths & expanding upon them, getting to know people outside of the church when I have the time, (like doing meet ups). Etc

Everybody's journey is different. You've got to figure out and do, what's best for you. Know that you are not alone. I too struggle with anxiety and depression.

REBEL2
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Re: Relationship with God versus relationship with church

Post by REBEL2 » 06 Aug 2019, 15:34

What if the church is totally false/ made up. I believe I have a relationship with Jesus and as the bible says to just have faith in the savior and you shall be saved. No one can change what is in your heart and mind !!!! I believe God would be ok attending the lds church for family while having traditional Christianity in your heart . What do you guys/gals think ?

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