Coming clean

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Always Thinking
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Coming clean

Post by Always Thinking » 11 Oct 2016, 15:40

I am being seriously tempted to start coming clean to my family and closest friends about my faith crisis. I'm getting sick of hiding a huge part of my life that I'm struggling with from everyone I know besides my husband. I'm always so stressed about whether people will find out and what they'll think if they find out and if they'll think I'm horrible. I'm getting so sick of it. I want to be able to wear what I want without being afraid of someone from church seeing me and knowing I'm not temple worthy. I want to just rip off this bandaid so I can move forward without feeling so smothered and worried all the time. Sigh... Maybe I'm being ridiculous, I don't know. I'm just so tired of hiding such a huge secret. I wouldn't just blurt it out if I did say anything. I'd prepare what I was going to say so that it would sound positive like some of you have given advice about on here. Something along the lines of 'my testimony has been struggling for a couple years now but I'm trying my best to fix it. I don't plan on leaving the church and I still pray every night and read my scriptures.' Either that, or I just wouldn't say anything and would start wearing things like tank tops or shorts shorter than knee length and not even say anything useless I was asked. I know eventually everyone will find out because at some point my mom may ask if I want to go to the temple with her. My little sister is dating age so she could be married in the temple in a few years so if I'm still not temple worthy I'll be waiting outside. We're looking into adoption and everyone will expect us to get sealed as a family, but we can't do that if I'm not temple worthy, and I can imagine several family members asking when we plan to be sealed if they don't know I can't go in the temple. It would be super awkward to bring it up last minute like that and so on the spot. Idk, what do you guys think? I've been feeling like this recently again. It kind of comes in waves where I just want to tell everyone and then other times I am okay with not telling people. But about 80% of the time, I wish people just knew so that I wasn't always worried about it. I wanted to discuss it with people here first though so I don't make a bad decision, or so that I can get some feedback on whether this is a good idea or not, and if it is a good idea, how should I go about it? The passive way of wearing slightly less modest attire or by bringing it up to them? I've been having my faith crisis for about 2 years now and it's not anywhere near solved so I have a feeling that I at least have a few more years if not the rest of my life to figure out what I do and don't believe. If any of you have come clean to family and close friends, how did it go and how did they treat you differently after? Are you glad you told them or do you wish you had kept it hidden?

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dande48
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Re: Coming clean

Post by dande48 » 11 Oct 2016, 17:53

Most of us on here, I feel want to remain members of the Church without the "all or nothing" mentality. It is very possible to have an honest temple recommend, love the Book of Mormon, and worthily partake of the sacrament, even if you disbelieve in the authenticity and historical accuracy of Joseph Smith and the restoration. Even if you disagree with the widely-held belief that the first presidency and general authorities are infalliable, including when it comes to "God-given revelation". Just because something isn't literally true, doesn't mean it isn't benificial or beautiful.

What worked for me is to first write out what I believe. Then write out what you love (even if you don't believe it). Ex:
-I believe in the Word of Wisdom
-I love the story in the Book of Mormon, where Jesus blesses the children

Use this list to establish common ground with your friends and family. Be as empathetic as you can be. Tell them how you feel, but try not to argue. Love them for their beliefs in the same way you hope they will love you for yours.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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nibbler
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Re: Coming clean

Post by nibbler » 11 Oct 2016, 20:09

That's a tough situation that I'm sure many here can relate to.
Always Thinking wrote:Something along the lines of 'my testimony has been struggling for a couple years now but I'm trying my best to fix it.
First: I don't have the answers. I work out my salvation with fear and trembling just like the next guy. ;) Hopefully others will help me out but I wouldn't phrase my journey in these terms. Perhaps at one time but not now. To me "my testimony has been struggling" and "to fix it" implies a brokenness, like there's something wrong with you or at the very least that there's one particular testimony that is preferable above all others. I don't think there's anything wrong with you or that there is one true testimony.

Like if you were a witness to a car accident and you saw something from your angle that all other witnesses did not see. All the other witnesses can't corroborate your story but you know what you saw. Your testimony isn't struggling or in need of being fixed because it does not agree with the others, it's just your testimony. What you experienced. I just wouldn't want to seed people's thoughts, get them seeing you as being broken. It could set up an unequal relationship that you have to dig your way out of, you are the broken one, they are the fixed one. I hope I'm not out of line in saying that, it's just something that stood out to me.

A few thoughts:

You don't have to tell everyone at once. I think you said you've already talked with your husband. That's an important place to start. Maybe from there it's one or two trusted family members, then one or two trusted friends. It doesn't have to be everyone all at once. As more and more people that are close to you know you fill the need to be more authentic.

Maybe look for a group of IRL people to meet up with. http://www.mormonspectrum.org/map/ Talking to people in real life that have walked a mile in your shoes, that know what it's like on both sides, can be a big help in feeling like you can be yourself around others.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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SilentDawning
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Re: Coming clean

Post by SilentDawning » 11 Oct 2016, 20:41

I thought I could deal with my in-laws if it came up, and have been right about it. It's a matter of being confident in what you believe.

But with the spouse, that is the problem. Coming out can really hurt your marriage in the long run because many women, apparently mistakenly, think they need their husband saved, to be saved in the celestial kingdom. Others just expect it and threaten divorce if their husbands aren't active. So, the question really hinges on what you think your wife will do if you come out with your naked feelings about the church to her.

For me, the marriage is more important than the discomfort of being compliant or outwardly observant. So, I don't give honest, blunt expressions about my church problems to my wife. It upsets her, but she is OK if I go to church, do my calling and try to be supportive. So, I don't talk about it with her.

And if you can't tell your wife, then I don't think you can tell the rest of your family.

I do think it's possible to hold a TR while in the faith crisis though, as there are nuances and shades of belief. Even if you think it might be true, even as an Mormon agnostic, I think you can say you believe it and get a TR as long as you are paying tithing and doing all the commandments. And it think tithing is a matter of conscience.

Also, the leaders who interview for TR's don't have this massive discernment they sometimes claim. I think all they have is their empathy (and many lack it entirely) to read emotions. So, if you are relaxed and not obviously shaken in answering "yes" to questions about belief you should be fine. I think people who think it might be true, if only because they recognize our incredible lack of knowledge and objective evidence in this life, can answer "yes" to the TR questions about belief.

Also, I think many leaders would like to be spared opening a can of worms when you are nakedly blunt about your feelings. They might feel they have to take your TR away simply due to your wording or the rawness of your feelings right now, but if they knew you felt that way, but answered Yes to the TR questions, might be relieved they didn't have to open that can of worms.

Hope that helps -- for me it's all about the wife.. Happy wife, happy life. The leaders and their role in the TR is a very small consideration for me.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Coming clean

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Oct 2016, 21:10

nibbler wrote:You don't have to tell everyone at once. I think you said you've already talked with your husband. That's an important place to start. Maybe from there it's one or two trusted family members, then one or two trusted friends. It doesn't have to be everyone all at once. As more and more people that are close to you know you fill the need to be more authentic.
Part of "don't dump all at once" is not putting everything out there at one time on your family, friends, and leaders. A little at a time works better. And fo course, focus on what you do believe with yourself and with your loved ones/friends/leaders.

That said, I actually have a hard time relating to the need to "come out" to others. I just don't have that need. I hear it here though, so clearly some (maybe most) people do have the need. Frankly from my point of view nothing good ever comes of telling others one's disbeliefs.
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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Always Thinking
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Re: Coming clean

Post by Always Thinking » 11 Oct 2016, 22:29

@SD I'm actually a woman but my husband actually is very understanding of my faith crisis. I felt comfortable telling him because while on the outside he is a very firm believer, he's also very open to new ideas and thinks of many things at church differently than others. Plus it was just a process that happened over time and so he saw it unfold and so he gets it and understands why I'm struggling. So it helps me feel comfortable telling him what things I'm struggling with because he's open to listening and understanding things even things people at church wouldn't want to hear. Which I am VERY thankful for, because I would have a very hard time not at least having him to talk to. I tend to process things better when I can bounce my ideas off of someone so I'm glad I at least have him for now. I still long to be able to come clean though eventually to other people close to me

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SilentDawning
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Re: Coming clean

Post by SilentDawning » 12 Oct 2016, 05:10

Thanks for the clarification. Don't know why I thought you were a man. In any case, I'm glad you have a supportive spouse. That makes the easier.

Regarding your family -- If I were you, I would be inclined to weigh the costs of being open with the benefits. What are the costs? If they outweigh the benefits, then I guess being quiet about it is the price of keeping your family happy. Costs I have seen to other StayLDS'ers can range from disappointing everyone, feeling like a project, getting censure, to people contacting your BP and SP behind your back to the point you get hauled in for an interview. You will know best how they might react...and if you can handle it.

But if you are serious about coming out, then I would do it in doses. When you have conversations, and the church comes up, then give little hints about how you are feeling. When they say "how is your calling going?" you might answer. "Not very well, I find it difficult to put in the same hours I used to". Or when they get judgmental about someone in their Ward who doesn't agree with their Bishop, mention there were times when we were more forgiving or accepting of diversity of opinion in the church. In the short term, you might feel more authentic, without scaring the pants off your family. After a while you might get more comfortable being truthful about your FC. Just make it gradual so they get used to it, and gradually feel more comfortable about it as time goes on.

I always end my conversations indicating that I think I could be wrong, which is both an expression of humility and something that might give people you love hope of a turnaround some day. That way you don't seem completely lost.

You may even be comfortable with partial coming out after you've rocked the boat. That way you can feel authentic without wreaking full havoc on your family. You'll only know after you try a few entry-level statements about your FC to your family.

That's my two cents. Worth every penny.
"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

Roy
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Re: Coming clean

Post by Roy » 12 Oct 2016, 10:50

nibbler wrote:Hopefully others will help me out but I wouldn't phrase my journey in these terms. Perhaps at one time but not now. To me "my testimony has been struggling" and "to fix it" implies a brokenness, like there's something wrong with you or at the very least that there's one particular testimony that is preferable above all others. I don't think there's anything wrong with you or that there is one true testimony.
This is how I present myself to my bishop - as a struggling/fledgling testimony that has taken some hard hits. I worry that if I approach him with less humility, as though I know all the issues and have my mind largely made up on a variety of topics, then he might feel that he needs to force me into humility by revoking privileges (humility is seen as a necessary precursor to repentance). Worst case scenario, my bishop could see me as a danger and circle the wagons to limit my access.

I do not hold a TR because I do not pay tithing. Still, my bishop has permitted me to baptize my two children (although the church seems to prefer that fathers perform this rite and temple worthiness is specifically not required, it is at the discretion of the bishop and there is no appeal process). I also hope to confer the priesthood upon my son in 4 years (I want to pass on my priesthood line of authority that I received from my dad).
nibbler wrote:You don't have to tell everyone at once. I think you said you've already talked with your husband. That's an important place to start. Maybe from there it's one or two trusted family members, then one or two trusted friends. It doesn't have to be everyone all at once. As more and more people that are close to you know you fill the need to be more authentic.
There is something to be said for knowing your audience. Is everyone that you know so TBM that you can't be more real with them? Maybe a sibling or a parent? a lifelong friend or college roommate? It might even be a bonus if this person that you are selecting to open up to does not live in the same area and does not know or interact with your ward members - this can help control the consequences from betrayed confidences
DarkJedi wrote:Part of "don't dump all at once" is not putting everything out there at one time on your family, friends, and leaders. A little at a time works better. And fo course, focus on what you do believe with yourself and with your loved ones/friends/leaders.
I agree. I do not believe that a manifesto is necessary. Just be a little more free about living your life. If someone comes over and notices R rated movies on our shelf - no biggie. If someone were to notice and comment on my not wearing garments - I do not believe that we covenant to wear them 24/7 so I am good. I guess to most church acquaintances and such, I present myself as a non-traditional or unorthodox member. I may be the crazy uncle Eddie of the ward family, but I am still on the team. Kinda like a much less public version of Robert Kirby.
Always Thinking wrote:My little sister is dating age so she could be married in the temple in a few years so if I'm still not temple worthy I'll be waiting outside.
For situations like this I would let one or two key people know that you do not have a TR, Probably your mom and sister. I would say that you do not want it to be a scene or in anyway draw away from the special day of your sister. Then that you and your husband will volunteer to watch over the children outside of the ceremony.

As always, your situation may be different. You may not be able to tell any of your family without some sort of staged family intervention on the horizon. OTOH, If your household is current on tithing then it might just be easier to get a TR.
"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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nibbler
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Re: Coming clean

Post by nibbler » 12 Oct 2016, 11:04

Roy wrote:This is how I present myself to my bishop - as a struggling/fledgling testimony that has taken some hard hits. I worry that if I approach him with less humility, as though I know all the issues and have my mind largely made up on a variety of topics, then he might feel that he needs to force me into humility by revoking privileges (humility is seen as a necessary precursor to repentance). Worst case scenario, my bishop could see me as a danger and circle the wagons to limit my access.
Mine wasn't a statement of bravado but I get what you're saying. Going to a bishop and arguing how you aren't broken and don't need to make any changes isn't a wise approach. My only point was oftentimes people form their opinion about us by how we present ourselves. Sort of like, "I didn't view you as broken but now that you mention it..."
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Heber13
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Re: Coming clean

Post by Heber13 » 12 Oct 2016, 11:20

I think your true friends and loving family will hopefully support you if you are sincere and responsible and humble about how you share your thoughts.

If they don't...they aren't true friends.

At some point, you have to be you...not just hide you in fear of what others think. You often hear advice on this site to go slow...but that doesn't mean never go there. After some time...if it is still something you feel in your heart you can share without hurting others...then start doing it as you think you should. You may be surprised at the results. You might also find ways to practice how to say it, and you get better as you go.

In most cases, people can't argue with you if you frame it as..."I just have thought and studied for a while, and my opinion is..."

and I also think people respond to humble qualifiers...like...
nibbler wrote:First: I don't have the answers. I work out my salvation with fear and trembling just like the next [person]
.

If you are not attacking what is dear to them, but just sharing your thoughts...it might go over better when you do have appropriate times to open up to people.
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."

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