Gosh, where do I even start?

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jhp33
Posts: 49
Joined: 06 Jan 2014, 10:09

Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by jhp33 » 06 Jan 2014, 11:01

My name is James.

The unraveling of my long-held belief system started a while ago, but has been intensified in the last few years, and especially the last few months.

The straw that broke the camel's proverbial back was the church's online statement about its history with blacks and the priesthood, posted last month. It just sent me over the edge, to a point where I have, over the past week or so, gradually deconstructed virtually everything I thought I knew about the church and my belief system.

Who are these supposed "prophets" and what is their real role for us in our lives? Does modern revelation, in the "man standing on the watchtower" sense really exist in our day? My initial reaction is that the church leaders today are not actually leading the church. Not the way the prophets of old led it, as far as I can tell by the scriptures. Prophets of old said "Thus saith the Lord" and were the literal mouthpiece of God. I do not recognize that mouthpiece function today. I see incredibly flawed men who rely on really crappy public relations strategies in order to keep members of the church faithful tithe payers and temple goers and home teachers.

Do I sustain the prophets, as it asks in the temple recommend interview? I really don't know that anymore. And what exactly does it say about the system of our church that the fact that I'm not sure if I'm "worthy" of a piece of paper sitting in my wallet makes me question my relationship with God, as if he cares that much about a piece of paper based on a profession of loyalty to MEN, not HIM.

I read Matthew 23 and it so perfectly describes what I see so much of in our church leaders, and what I have seen so much of in my various callings. Straining at gnats while swallowing camels.

So why am I here, on this forum? Because I have a beautiful, compassionate, but very frightened wife and two beautiful, amazing but young children. And I know that my decisions don't just impact me. They impact our whole family. What does it mean to navigate a faith crisis while you are bound to people who do not share that crisis with you? Can I reconcile my deep, haunting concerns with my desire to still support my wife in her church attendance? What does that mean for our children and what they are taught? I think of them singing what seems now to be the incredibly hypocritical "Follow the Prophet" primary song and I shudder to think they are being systematically conditioned the same way I was growing up.

I don't have all the answers. Which is exactly why I am here. To commune with a group of saints and sinners and humans who think the way I do and who (I can only surmise by reading other posts) will welcome me, as the Savior would, with open arms.

With love.

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On Own Now
Posts: 1762
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by On Own Now » 06 Jan 2014, 12:14

Welcome James. Your story is common here. There are many who have a spouse who remains all-in with the Church. Mine is still faithful and active. My faith transition began long ago (Bill Clinton era). We've been able to make it work. You mentioned that she is 'frightened'. That's a great way to put it and would have been an appropriate description for how my wife felt, too. Some important concepts that have helped me:

- As long as she has faith in the Church, I support her. It is her faith, not mine and I would not want to force her to relinquish for my own convenience.

- I established quickly that I wasn't going to stop loving her or being a good person. It's a real fear, and it is completely and totally understandable. The bottom has dropped out from under you. You don't know where you will wind up. Imagine being in her shoes. She has even less of an idea of where you are taking this. Reassure her. Make sure she knows that your love for her and for your family remains the most important thing in your life and that you are not giving it up. If it seems obvious to you, that's a good sign, because I've known plenty of people who have ended in divorce after something like this.

- When you still have a spouse that remains faithful, it puts some burden on you. You can't really leave the Church in the glorious fashion that you might want to and still be fair to her. You will need to find the good in the Church. That's not always easy, but it gets easier when you start to recognize that people are just doing what they believe to be right. You referred to the "incredibly flawed" leaders of the Church. I agree that they are flawed, but I wouldn't say incredibly so. Truth be told, I think the Church is full of really good leaders, both at the top, and at the local levels, that are better people than I am. They can make mistakes, sure, but they are hardworking, faithful, honest, and good people (vast majority).

- I have found that it works for me not to get into doctrinal discussions with her. The only purpose that would serve is to convince her that she is wrong. I am always respectful of the Church, because it is 'her' Church. I will discuss cultural concerns, but not matters of faith.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"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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Eric Merrill
Posts: 27
Joined: 12 Apr 2013, 10:20
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by Eric Merrill » 06 Jan 2014, 13:44

Welcome! Sometimes the "indoctrination" bugs me too. Our ward has a problem where fast sunday all the kidos go up and testify of the things they "know" (as their parent whispers in their ear). On the bright side I have an opportunity to increase my will power and patience. :) I look forward to your contributions!
"Tradition is not the same as doctrine, and I will not hold myself back for fear of offending."
"Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination"

church0333
Posts: 589
Joined: 26 Aug 2012, 17:41
Location: Springfield OR

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by church0333 » 06 Jan 2014, 14:05

So, the latest items posted on LDS.org have not increased your faiths and settled your mind? It hasn't for me either. Like mentioned, our stories are very similar and now I find myself dreading Sundays because I attend but many of the talks and most of the lessons upset me much more than uplift me. But my wife want me to go and I feel I have a duty to go and I like many of the people. I have been in ward and stake leadership my whole time since moving here 15 years ago. In the last year I have been more opened to expressing some of my thoughts and I have felt a sense distrust from many of the most conservative members but I have also been approached by others because they have the same thoughts but are to afraid to say them in public.

It sound like you will fit in here very well and I can assure you that this is a safe place to express your ideas and thoughts.

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GodisLove
Posts: 114
Joined: 09 Apr 2013, 11:02

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by GodisLove » 06 Jan 2014, 14:48

So why am I here, on this forum? Because I have a beautiful, compassionate, but very frightened wife and two beautiful, amazing but young children. And I know that my decisions don't just impact me. They impact our whole family. What does it mean to navigate a faith crisis while you are bound to people who do not share that crisis with you? Can I reconcile my deep, haunting concerns with my desire to still support my wife in her church attendance? What does that mean for our children and what they are taught?
That you are aware of her feelings about this is good. It is not fun for anyone. I am the more TBM of our marriage but am more NOM than TBM so we are able to discuss many issues. It is a difficult place to be and I can say that I am better now regarding all those unknowns now than I was a year ago. The unknown was/is the most difficult for me. It is a hard thing. On Our Own had some great advice.

Welcome and I hope both of you find peace.
Not one Sparrow is forgotten
E'en the raven God will feed
And the lily of the valley
From His bounty hath its need

Then shall I not trust Thee, Father
In Thy mercy have a share?
And through faith and prayer, my Mother
Merit Thy protecting care?
Shaker Hymnal 1908

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SilentDawning
Posts: 7343
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Jan 2014, 17:05

I understand -- completely. I don't beleive in our leaders as oracles of knowledge anymore either. They are managers -- they implement policy, and at the higher levels. form policy. They attach the habits of our religion to success in the church and salvation when there isn't a direct link, in my view.

I go each week with my family but I use the time to read my Kindle, reflect, and skip out of priesthood meeting for other more interesting experiences....that is how I cope.
"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

Ann
Posts: 2576
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by Ann » 06 Jan 2014, 17:42

Hi, James - Glad you're here. It's a good place to get your bearings; I've learned a lot.
jhp33 wrote: And what exactly does it say about the system of our church that the fact that I'm not sure if I'm "worthy" of a piece of paper sitting in my wallet makes me question my relationship with God, as if he cares that much about a piece of paper based on a profession of loyalty to MEN, not HIM.
Good question. All I know is that what I thought it said a year and a half ago isn't the same as what I think it says now. If negativity about the temple is a hole in my "testimony," the hole is smaller than when I started, but it's also deeper.

After living with me for a year and a half in full crisis, my husband is less guarded and defensive. He sees that I'm not going anywhere and he's a little more willing to talk.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Orson
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Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 14:44

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by Orson » 06 Jan 2014, 19:48

Welcome James!

I can relate to much of what you express. It does take some time to sort through everything and rebuild a personal belief that is compatible with both your view of what church is and your view of what truth is. For me my view of what church is has grown into something greater than it has ever been. I used to be a little embarrassed to tell people I was Mormon, not anymore. I don't assume anyone can know much about my personal beliefs simply from my religious affiliation.

I see a big key in your last sentence. Yes, Jesus would welcome all regardless if he had major differences with them. I don't teach my kids to follow the prophet. I counsel them to carefully listen to the prophet and consider his advice, but always follow the example of Jesus.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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DarkJedi
Posts: 7271
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jan 2014, 20:49

Welcome, James. As someone else pointed out, your story is somewhat common here. Of late, since coming here a few months ago actually, I have been working hard at rebuilding my faith brick by brick. The rebuilding has meant throwing some bricks away since they don't fit or are useless. I concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the scriptures, particularly the Bible, not the gospel as taught by the church. In the process I have come to recognize that while the church is not the perfect organization I once thought it was, there is much good and truth therein. In conversations with my wife now (which are admittedly still rare) I concentrate on that which I do believe and hold in common with her and my other believing loved ones.

I can sustain the president of the church as the duly appointed CEO who, with his cohorts, makes church policy, and I'm fine with that. I do believe he has the ability to receive revelation for mankind, but I don't believe he does so regularly and I don't believe he is the only one who can do so. I believe I am honest in answering the question of sustaining him without necessarily believing every word that comes out of his mouth is revelation or inspired. The priesthood ban thing does complicate matters, but on the other hand it proves my belief.

I am actually uplifted by the church being more open, honest, and clear about such things as the priesthood ban and think it's about time. Couple that with statements like Pres. Uchtdorf's conference admission that leaders have made mistakes and there is still room for those of us who doubt and question and I find hope. Please come stay with us for awhile, share, and take in the love and goodness in our little online community.
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

jhp33
Posts: 49
Joined: 06 Jan 2014, 10:09

Re: Gosh, where do I even start?

Post by jhp33 » 07 Jan 2014, 08:20

You guys are amazing. Seriously. Just hearing "I know how you feel" multiple times is a huge support.

I have some other things I want to talk about, but I'll leave this thread for what it is meant for...introductions. I appreciate each and every one of you for reaching out and showing me a hand of fellowship. I stand in need of comfort now, and I know you are all here to help. As I continue to grow and learn, I hope I can provide that same level of comfort and support you have shown me.

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