TR, Goals, & Tithing

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by hawkgrrrl » 09 Apr 2021, 11:25

I love this comment upthread, and it applies so much to our relationship with the Church in various situations:
the church needs me to have a TR more than I feel the need to have one
Sometimes we need the Church more than it needs us, and sometimes the reverse is true. It's just an interesting phenomenon to consider in our ongoing relationship with the Church. When the Church isn't there in our time of need or fails us, that can be devastating. When the Church needs us more than we need it (e.g. a struggling branch or ward without enough people to run things), this is IMO the sweet spot. You have a little more breathing room. This thought process puts the Church in a "friend" relationship. Is the friend just using us or is the friend helping to meet our needs?

The stake visits you mentioned are routine across the Church before conferences. We just moved in October, and I was in the RSP in our old ward, so I used to have to do these visits. Due to the pandemic and the impossibility to actually belong to the ward with everyone's faces behind a mask (plus this new ward is not as cautious as our old stake's guidelines, which I don't like), we have only been to church once since we moved. Lo and behold, I got a text from the RSP asking if she & another sister could come by, which I said was fine with masks and/or visiting outdoors. When they came by, the other sister was from the Stake, and I realized "Oh, this is one of those visits!" I said, "It must be Wednesday before a conference if you are out doing these visits." She looked taken aback that I knew what they were up to. I think I surprised her. She said, "Oh, have you done these visits before?" I said, "Yeah, I was in the Relief Society Presidency in our last ward." I don't know why that would be so surprising unless they are (unreasonably) expecting Church attendance during a pandemic (despite not requiring masks while also allowing singing), and if so, hats off to them, but that's not going to change my behavior. I haven't yet got a read on this ward and whether or not this is important to me. I haven't missed Church AT ALL. I still love my prior ward friends, though, and I suspect I would grow to love these weirdos, too. Just not in love with the framework of boredom and repetition and social pressure to do things I don't care about that it's all wrapped up in.

Oh, and for how the people you visit are chosen, what people say in the meeting is that they feel prompted to visit these specific people with either known needs or suspected needs. It's not *strictly* about re-activation either. It's sometimes just a fact-finding visit. However, the dirty little secret behind those promptings is that NOBODY feels prompted to visit the people they think are going to be hostile or unpleasant, so you've got that going for you. People are smart enough to pick the softball visits.

Roy
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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by Roy » 13 Apr 2021, 13:15

nibbler wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 06:19
That's rough... at least it would be for me. Particularly this part:
Roy wrote:
08 Apr 2021, 12:32
I feel that my bishop was trying to transition me from paying tithing in the expectation of blessings to paying tithing in memory of and in hopes of someday rejoining my deceased daughter.
I'm sure it wasn't the intention but it feels like a predatory and manipulative way to motivate.
Right. I think that's why I felt the need to push back on this assumption. I might be a mediocre church member but my relationship with my HF is in good shape and I am a stellar and attentive father to my children. If there is such a thing as eternal family relationships then that is what we have. I am at a point where I do not feel that I need church permission or validation for that belief.

P.S. There is a fair amount of backstory to this that is helps to inform my position. Those that are familiar with my story can skip this part.

1) The eternal destiny of stillborn children is unsettled in LDS doctrine. Did the fetus ever acquire a spirit and if it did would that spirit be recycled to another body to fulfill the purposes of its creation or is it enough (for the purposes of eternal progression) that it briefly possessed a fetal body? The answers to those questions are left up to DW and me to decide for ourselves. At the time of the stillbirth, I found this lack of clarity unsettling but I have since arrived at a place of peace on the subject. I do believe that our daughter's essence continues and that her relationship to us as her parents is something that will endure. It seems illogical to me that deciding if my daughter has an eternal identity should be up to me but the decision of whether or not I will get to see and live with her again should be up to the church.

2) In the depths of my grief over the loss of our daughter I received an impression that I believe was personal revelation. It was a feeling that my daughter was accepted by God despite never having lived outside the womb and experiencing the sort of "refiner's fire" journey that we tend to understand is necessary for eternal progress. We do have an idea that children that die before the age of 8 are somehow immune to these requirements. We believe that maybe they progressed to the point in the premortal realm that they do not need such experiences and only come to earth for the body. The second part of my impression/revelation provides the much more startling information. I felt that I was also accepted by God in the same degree and manner as was my daughter. This impression said to me that my lifetime of accomplishments and failures, of progress and backsliding was ultimately washed away by a penetrating power of being known, accepted, and loved. This might come across to some as blasphemy, or claiming perfection, or that my calling and election is made sure. In my heart, I just do not feel that God keeps score of all that.

These points of my backstory help to illustrate why it might be difficult for church leaders to motivate me to do certain things and why their attempts to do so can so often fall flat.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 13 Apr 2021, 14:25

Roy wrote:
13 Apr 2021, 13:15
I am at a point where I do not feel that I need church permission or validation for that belief.
I am also in this position, and it's a great place to be. This is real power.
These points of my backstory help to illustrate why it might be difficult for church leaders to motivate me to do certain things and why their attempts to do so can so often fall flat.
You know this and we know this, but do your leaders know it? And by know it I mean do they really understand and accept it? I ask because many (not just leaders and not all leaders) might hear you say it but are still wont to fall back on church formularies which are often false "if/then" scenarios (if they commit to do X then they'll Y).
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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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by AmyJ » 14 Apr 2021, 05:59

Roy wrote:
13 Apr 2021, 13:15
I might be a mediocre church member but my relationship with my HF is in good shape and I am a stellar and attentive father to my children. If there is such a thing as eternal family relationships then that is what we have. I am at a point where I do not feel that I need church permission or validation for that belief.
My statement would be different.
I might be an authentically erratic church member - the one who gets baby stuff for new moms in the branch but gets caught ding-dong ditching the present. I am the mom of the older child who needs her mom on the stand for the Primary Presentation - and then said child gives a heart-felt clear and succinct statement that everyone remembers.

I don't know if I have a relationship with Heavenly Parents. Assuming that They exist (some days I can't make that assumption, other days I can), we aren't on talking terms. I tenderly probe this situation weekly (because it comes up informing my personal rituals and values) - but I honestly feel that I don't have the questions that would be worth answering by God or a Godly Representative - let alone trying to divine out possible answers or heavenly signs. I am both OK and NOT OK with this situation, but it is what it is and I have no interest in trying to dress it up and making it look pretty or trying to shove it back under the rug.

I have faith that I am a stellar and attentive mother to my 2 very different children. [NOTE: This is my assessment of the situation - not a plea for validation]. I know that I give them support in setting up the best environment that I can for their future development based on their current developmental levels and the resources I have available. I also know there is a ton of support that I cannot give them because I don't have the resources to do so (including knowledge). I trust that the supports that I cannot give them, someone else in their life can, or it is in an area where they can learn to give themselves the support, or it might not actually matter at the end of the day.
Roy wrote:
13 Apr 2021, 13:15
These points of my backstory help to illustrate why it might be difficult for church leaders to motivate me to do certain things and why their attempts to do so can so often fall flat.
For me, my deal is self-motivation. I tend to tell the church leaders what I am willing to do after looking at what goals they are trying to achieve and/or listening to them and asking questions. My faith transition (and to a certain extent COVID) has me more thoughtful in some ways. I say "Yes" more authentically to commitments that I value. I try to run risk management scenarios for when and how I say "No" to commitments that are not supportable. This can come across as "Pride" or "Lack of Faith" regularly.

Being a self-motivated person gets me in trouble culturally/ puts people off balance because this situation is not expected or covered in the handbook as far as i know. It is usually easier for sisters to work with me because they are more pragmatic - and most sister leader/sister agent interactions are more social network rather then hierarchy. This gets me in trouble with the brethren because they barely know me (and know this is my normal) my attitude it is not deferential at all, and usually winds up airing out that my thoughts are about 3+ steps ahead of theirs in the situation. More experienced leadership can work with this because they get variations of it from other people. Leaders not wanting deference find it refreshing because stuff happens and problems get solved.

My life circumstances don't help either. Church members probably don't know my husband anymore (they barely started getting to know him before he stopped attending church around 2 years ago due to health concerns) - and they don't know how to deal with his chronic health problems or the fact that he was a Stay-At-Home-Dad. My daughter's extreme developmental swing in terms of abilities and deficits throws them as well. She is truly a child who can hold her own in RS conversations but has problems with transitions and attending activities.

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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2021, 10:49

hawkgrrrl wrote:
09 Apr 2021, 11:25
The stake visits you mentioned are routine across the Church before conferences. We just moved in October, and I was in the RSP in our old ward, so I used to have to do these visits.
That is so funny that these visits are so predictable by proximity to conferences. Is there any reason that they happen before conferences and with a visiting member of stake leadership? Is there any measurement of the success of these meetings? In my case, we visited with our ministering brother and he had a companion from the stake that we will likely never see again. It was pretty comparable to a regular ministering brother visit. I suppose that the meeting would have felt different if the bishop and SP had been the ones that came a calling.
"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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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2021, 11:12

DarkJedi wrote:
13 Apr 2021, 14:25
You know this and we know this, but do your leaders know it? And by know it I mean do they really understand and accept it? I ask because many (not just leaders and not all leaders) might hear you say it but are still wont to fall back on church formularies which are often false "if/then" scenarios (if they commit to do X then they'll Y).
No, I have not been clear with them. To be fair, and to borrow from Hawkgrrrl's church relationship analogy, in some ways I am leading the church on. I have hinted at my changed views but always bracketed them with LDS speak and with things being in a state of flux/work in progress. I am intentionally leaning in to their natural inclination to think that I will eventually come around to a stronger and more traditional testimony. I have done this as part of a strategy to maximize my ability to participate in the sorts of ordinances that I am interested in. At this point in my relationship with the church, the church is actively trying to encourage me to participate in MORE ordinances (as opposed to preventing me from performing some ordinances). I suppose that comes with the territory of trying to avoid being "pinned down" and to keep my options open.
"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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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2021, 11:20

AmyJ wrote:
14 Apr 2021, 05:59
Being a self-motivated person gets me in trouble culturally/ puts people off balance because this situation is not expected or covered in the handbook as far as i know. It is usually easier for sisters to work with me because they are more pragmatic - and most sister leader/sister agent interactions are more social network rather then hierarchy. This gets me in trouble with the brethren because they barely know me (and know this is my normal) my attitude it is not deferential at all, and usually winds up airing out that my thoughts are about 3+ steps ahead of theirs in the situation.
I always love your ability to analyze the situation and relationship dynamic. It reminds me of what an anthropologist might say after being imbedded amongst the Mormons.
Your comments also remind me of some other differences in our situations. If I were female, I believe I would be more transparent with my leadership (than I currently am) because as a woman I would already be excluded from performing ordinances.
"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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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Apr 2021, 14:33

Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 11:12
DarkJedi wrote:
13 Apr 2021, 14:25
You know this and we know this, but do your leaders know it? And by know it I mean do they really understand and accept it? I ask because many (not just leaders and not all leaders) might hear you say it but are still wont to fall back on church formularies which are often false "if/then" scenarios (if they commit to do X then they'll Y).
No, I have not been clear with them. To be fair, and to borrow from Hawkgrrrl's church relationship analogy, in some ways I am leading the church on. I have hinted at my changed views but always bracketed them with LDS speak and with things being in a state of flux/work in progress. I am intentionally leaning in to their natural inclination to think that I will eventually come around to a stronger and more traditional testimony. I have done this as part of a strategy to maximize my ability to participate in the sorts of ordinances that I am interested in. At this point in my relationship with the church, the church is actively trying to encourage me to participate in MORE ordinances (as opposed to preventing me from performing some ordinances). I suppose that comes with the territory of trying to avoid being "pinned down" and to keep my options open.
I think I'm very much in the same place as you.
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

Roy
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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by Roy » 03 Nov 2021, 11:04

Roy wrote:
08 Apr 2021, 12:32
In closing, I let bishop know that I do believe in eternal families. I do know that church doctrine is somewhat ambiguous on the matter of whether or not a stillborn child counts as a living soul, however I believe that our daughter will be ours again in the resurrection and we will have the privilidge to hold her and to raise her restored to us. I feel that I will rejoin her spirit when I die. I do not feel that I need to have an active TR at that time in order to make such a reunion possible. There was some brief discussion of commandments and God's expectations that I countered with the Atonement and Jesus filling the gaps of our imperfections (since all of us are imperfect and fall short). The discussion was respectful and kind. I recall bishop said something about how God wants us to help others and we can help others by doing temple ordinances for them - to which I agreed. I do believe that God wants us to help others. I also believe that, when stated that way, it is clear that God would not withhold our eternal families from us because we did not help others enough or chose to help others in non-temple ordinance ways. This seemed like a soft landing to which Bishop and I could both agree - even if we may have different interpretations of the implications from such a statement.
It has been six months since I had that conversation with my bishop. In the last six months I feel really good for having taken that stand (bolded above). A position taken, not in an adversarial way but with hope, faith, and a smile that I will be reunited with my daughter again - no "ifs, ands, or buts" allowed. This is a wonderful new baseline. We are a forever family and we do not need earthly approval for that.

In my most recent tithing settlement last week, I followed the previous pattern. I went in alone to declare myself as a non-tithe payer. Since DW was not able to make it, I declared her as a full tithe payer on her behalf. Bishop asked me if I ever saw myself going to the temple again and I responded that I do. I love the temple and plan to get back there in the future. Bishop did not press me further. I honestly could see getting a TR and going back to the temple in the future. My circumstances are open to change and I had favorable experiences in the temple in the past.

Then the children that were waiting in the hall were invited in to make their declarations and tithing payments (we do not force the kids to pay tithing. One is a part tithe payer and we praise that contribution. Another child is a full tithe payer according to his own calculation and we do not ask what that calculation is). Because we have always done it this way, this shouldn't seem odd to my kids. Another year down, another tithing settlement in the books.
"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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Re: TR, Goals, & Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 12 Nov 2021, 16:25

It was interesting following this thread. I feel it's best to be as upfront with the leadership as you can,without harming yourself. If you say "I don't ever see myself in the temple and I question most of what the church teaches" you probably won't get any decent opportunities such as ordaining children, or taking on callings that might be interesting to you.

I too find tithing a challenge. The essentially want your retirement savings. As I get older and my health continues to deteriorate, I need the security that having money in the bank provides. Plus, the many experiences I've had where the church hasn't stepped up to help me make me reluctant to give away my millions (just kidding). I am talking about non-financial ways they have failed to help me when the chips were really down.
"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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