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Introduction Part Two

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 20:07
by West
Hey, everyone!

It's been a while since I've been here, so thought I'd post a new introduction thread.

There's a lot to say, but I'll try to keep it brief. I remember coming here several years ago, not too long before I put in my papers for my mission, and everything was a complete mess in my mind and with my emotions. Like, shelf breaking is pretty heavy stuff. I did end up completing the full term of my mission, but I did things my way, and it was all in all a pretty great experience that helped me grow in so many ways that I don't think anything else would have let me do.

Since coming home, I've got a wonderful, stable job now, and I'm living on my own. I haven't been to a church meeting since I went to my parents' ward with my mom for Mother's Day, and before then I stopped going to church the moment I moved out of my parents' house.

My parents still don't know the full extent of my disaffection with the church, but since coming home, my older sister has been much more open with me about hers and her husband's disaffection, and we've talked about how two, possibly three, of our younger siblings have also made their way out. Both sets of our parents don't know for sure, although they certainly suspect. And that's fine. I'm fine going to church with my parents for special occasions, too.

Meanwhile, I don't think much about church and church stuff. The guilt of not having a perfect life is mostly gone. I enjoy my weekends completely. I've surprisingly made a lot of new friends through casual drinking. I've enjoyed learning about different religions and beliefs, but it doesn't trouble me too much that I don't have a set belief system.

All in all, I'm in a pretty good place! And a big part of it was the help this forum gave me when I was first navigating this path on my own. So thanks so much, to all of you. :)

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 03:43
by DarkJedi
Welcome back. It sounds like things are going well for you. Don't be a stranger.

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 04:44
by LookingHard
Great to hear. Any details on doing it your way? I am not looking for juicy details, but more thinking of others that might come to this site in the future. Knowing how you made it work might help them.

Thanks for coming back and dropping a note to us.

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 05:17
by nibbler
It's good to hear back. I remember when you went on your mission.

It's also good to hear those stories where "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 13:59
by SilentDawning
West wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 20:07
I did end up completing the full term of my mission, but I did things my way, and it was all in all a pretty great experience that helped me grow in so many ways that I don't think anything else would have let me do.
Do you care to share how you managed this? I am interested. Many of us struggle with being in the thick of doctrinal teaching and being "authentic". How did you do it your own way? If that's not too personal.

I am glad you have found a circle of friends outside the church. That has been my lifeline. I have people I interact with regularly now outside of church to the point the church is NOT the focal point of my relationships....I have other friends now and multiple circles so my life is "diversified" so to speak when one such network implodes....makes like much easier...

Am all ears about how you navigated your mission if you want to share.

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 22 Jun 2017, 21:17
by Heber13
West wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 20:07
I did end up completing the full term of my mission, but I did things my way, and it was all in all a pretty great experience that helped me grow in so many ways that I don't think anything else would have let me do.
I love this!! :clap:

You really sound like you have found your way and found some peace. That is excellent.

Hope you stick around...would love your thoughts to add to our conversations.

Re: Introduction Part Two

Posted: 24 Jun 2017, 22:08
by West
Thanks, everyone! I'll certainly drop in here and there now that I'm settled in a place to live and with a nice job. :)

To answer the mission questions, I had a really weird mission. Honestly, the main reason I completed my entire mission was because I was very much needed there; in most missions, the mission president's wife is in charge of missionary health, and as you know, most mission president's wives are not medically trained professionals. And in a third-world country like that, 18- and 19-year-old boys and girls do not often get the medical attention or help they need as a result. I made a difference for the good in someone's life every day I was out there; it was what kept me there until the end.

But it was definitely made easier due to having unlimited personal access to the internet at all times, haha. I started taking advantage of it more and more the longer the mission got. I was pretty NOM for the first half or so of my mission, mostly because I was with some pretty spiritual but overall pretty great companions. I was careful not to testify of anything I didn't particularly believe in, and when I came to something I had personal problems with, I gave the facts as well as I understood it and made sure they understood. But then, after a brief transfer with a sick companion who was kind of a diva, I ended up using the internet more out of boredom, and that NOM stage went away pretty quickly after I started hanging out in the Exmormon subreddit.

Once that started, the way I was doing my mission started to change, too. I took advantage of every little opportunity to casually get my companion to enjoy the area with me. We'd get ice cream or the local favorite foods (it was always my mission every transfer to try every bakery in the city). We'd take a break to explore shops. I brought my camera everywhere and took pictures of whatever cool thing we came across. During one companionship with a companion who is 100% comfortable with long silences, because she hates small talk and she can't control conversations with super talkative people (which was everyone in that country), she and I would talk privately about how she needed to learn to control conversations as a general life skill, and then I'd have fun sending the people we visited off on some of the strangest conversational tangents about the country or something in the country I was curious about and wanted to learn.

When we did go out with the limited time I had to proselyte, our time either had to be scheduled blocks where we would go down our really long list of addresses my companion dug up from the area book to find new investigators or at least clean that sorry set of papers up for the next companionship, or we had to have set appointments with people who wanted to listen for whatever reason. Most of my companions were pretty chill with visiting a lot of less actives or inactives or trying to "strengthen" active families. But of course we'd get occasional investigators, which were a mixture of people bound and determined to join the church for one reason or another and people who really just needed someone to talk to or a place to belong. During those investigator lessons, I was careful with what I said and honest if they had questions; I made sure they knew the requirements and long-term expectations of the church, and I taught a lot, again, with my personal experiences. For example, I never recited the first vision or testified Joseph Smith was a prophet; instead I briefly summarized the story (unless my companion managed to get it in the first vision there) and instead focused more on the moral being that god is listening, and that many times, things will happen in our life when they need to happen, so long as we are actively trying our best.

I don't know if I would have been able to finish my mission if it weren't for the fact it was already inherently structured to be weird. There were a couple times when my anxiety and panic attacks and trouble with communication got to the point I almost went home; and by almost went home, I meant the mission president was aware and more than willing to put in the request and have me home in a couple of days. It was really rough during those times; I've learned now that I am 100% better mentally and emotionally when I live alone with no one more than a cat or two. Otherwise, I get too easily overwhelmed and am prone to anxiety and panic attacks.

During those times, I relied heavily on the internet I had to contact my best non-Mormon friends back home, and they helped talk me out of the deep ends. I also started learning to communicate openly and bluntly with people, including the mission president, when things started to get bad again, so we could change things up; I'm lucky I had such a great mission president, in that respect. And I'm lucky I had the opportunity to develop my communication skills so well.

So...yeah, I did things my way because I'd already set it up so my mission would be different and unexpected. But I guess there are always ideas that can be applied across the board. Just gotta look at the situation. :)