My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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nibbler wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 06:10
InquiringMind wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 23:24 ... and all the evils we experienced will somehow be made right.
That's one of the things that helped crack the nut for me. What is "made right?"

Person A might feel like action P is what is required as restitution but action P might be a "wrong" in person B's eyes.
Person B might feel like action Q is what is required as restitution but action Q might be a "wrong" in person A's eyes.

Both person A and person B are justified in what they feel they need for restitution. Both person A and person B are justified in feeling wronged by the solution that is required by the other person. Who wins to make things right?

Dunno, but I think the solution requires a LOT more mercy than what many are comfortable with. Funny how some bristle at the idea of extending more mercy towards everyone. I guess I'm person A and showing an increase in mercy is my action P. There's a person B out there with an action Q. I should try to be more merciful to them. ;)
I think that's the hope of justice, mercy and grace. Isn't it our theology (common with most Christians) that all will be made right (just, fair, equal, equitable) in heaven? And I think you're right, Nibbler - I think we want mercy and grace for ourselves but punitive justice (and I'm not sure that's what scriptures that talk about justice means) for our "enemies." That's where the universalist in me comes out - I know this is unpopular to say but Hitler is God's child too and even though he did great evil he still will get some measure of mercy and grace because we all do. If mercy and grace were not universal there would be no hope for any of us and the plan of happiness (a term I dislike) would be anything but happy.
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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Arrakeen
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 23:24 This was really at the heart of my faith crisis. Either God is cruel, or God doesn't exist. I found it easier to believe that God doesn't exist than to believe that God is cruel.
Like several others here, this was also a major component of my faith crisis. Two years of sacrificing all my time striving to be obedient and doing what I thought God had asked of me left me completely broken. I then returned to BYU and every Sunday heard other people's mission stories about how they overcame their trials with faith and how God always came through for them. So if God helped them, why not me? The conclusion I came to was either God didn't exist, or God must hate me. For a little while, while I still believed in God, I viewed him as my enemy. But over time my anger cooled and I just ended up not believing in God at all, which finally helped me make sense of my experience as a missionary.

Though I currently don't believe in the existence of God, I still think about it from time to time and always run into the Problem of Evil. I sometimes wonder if maybe God gave up jurisdiction of the Earth to his children, effectively making us humans collectively the "God" of our world. That our probation on Earth is less of a test to see how obedient we are, and more of a probationary period of employment, where we are already doing the "real thing". Where God gives us the power to change our world however we see fit, and it is up to us to decide whether it becomes heaven or hell. And then leaves us to our own devices until the final judgement where he determines how well we did, and whether we get to keep our jobs (though I guess this would make God more of a hiring manager than a loving parent). In that case perhaps the "God" who is to blame for the persistence of evil is actually humanity itself, and the state of the world is a reflection of how well we are doing at caring for, protecting, and loving one another. And all the horrible things we wish God would do something about are actually things we are supposed to step up and try to take care of as part of our duties.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 07:48
My relationship with God is much more complicated and much as you describe in the quote above. I could confidently say that God and I are not on speaking terms (and we definitely were not for a while) but I'm not sure that's really true. It's not like I never "talk" to God even though I rarely formally pray. And it's not like I never feel anything in response or randomly - I do (usually nothing more than a peaceful feeling, but a distinctive peace). It is possible God is saying things I don't recognize, and if that's the case it's God's problem and not mine - if God has something to say then God should say it.
I find that belief in God makes some sense on an intellectual level. I think I've gone as far as I can down that rabbit hole, and the idea of a universe created from nothing seems pretty absurd to me (there still exists the problem of explanatory regression, but I'll sweep that under the rug on the belief that there is a much broader reality beyond the reality we deal with every day). My relationship with God seems about what you'd expect from a bad relationship - it's characterized by resentment, mistrust, lack of communication, and neglect.

I would never be friends with someone who treats me the way that God treats me. I would never be friends with someone who stood by watching bad things happen to me while doing nothing to stop those bad things. I would never be friends with someone who consistently ignored my requests for help or knowledge. I would never be friends with someone who did strange things all the time and refused to explain himself. You get my drift. I would consider such a person to be toxic and I would avoid that person. And yet, the supposedly most loving being in the universe behaves exactly this way.

My experience has been that God communicates in a way that is very similar to a crappy girlfriend. Rather than God being upfront with me and telling me directly what he wants, God gives "hints," and hopes that I will "get the hint." These hints are initially very subtle and are very difficult to differentiate from ordinary experiences. Over times the hints get stronger and stronger as apparently I consistently fail to "get the hint." Eventually my life starts to fall apart or becomes unbearable and I really have no choice but to change direction. I would never date a woman who communicates this way, so why would I worship a God who does this? How could my relationship with such a being be characterized by anything other than resentment and mistrust?

This is, of course, if God communicates at all. Maybe I'm imagining the whole thing. I spent many years praying daily and I don't have even one example of a concise and distinct answer to a prayer. Eventually I stopped praying because I don't think I ever got an answer.

Now I kinda feel like I want to pray but I still don't really expect to get any answers. I'm not really sure what to do about that. I feel like I'm in for another frustrating experience where I'll pour my heart out to God and get nothing in response. Not even an acknowledgement of receipt.
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DarkJedi
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 21:38
DarkJedi wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 07:48
My relationship with God is much more complicated and much as you describe in the quote above. I could confidently say that God and I are not on speaking terms (and we definitely were not for a while) but I'm not sure that's really true. It's not like I never "talk" to God even though I rarely formally pray. And it's not like I never feel anything in response or randomly - I do (usually nothing more than a peaceful feeling, but a distinctive peace). It is possible God is saying things I don't recognize, and if that's the case it's God's problem and not mine - if God has something to say then God should say it.
I find that belief in God makes some sense on an intellectual level. I think I've gone as far as I can down that rabbit hole, and the idea of a universe created from nothing seems pretty absurd to me (there still exists the problem of explanatory regression, but I'll sweep that under the rug on the belief that there is a much broader reality beyond the reality we deal with every day). My relationship with God seems about what you'd expect from a bad relationship - it's characterized by resentment, mistrust, lack of communication, and neglect.

I would never be friends with someone who treats me the way that God treats me. I would never be friends with someone who stood by watching bad things happen to me while doing nothing to stop those bad things. I would never be friends with someone who consistently ignored my requests for help or knowledge. I would never be friends with someone who did strange things all the time and refused to explain himself. You get my drift. I would consider such a person to be toxic and I would avoid that person. And yet, the supposedly most loving being in the universe behaves exactly this way.

My experience has been that God communicates in a way that is very similar to a crappy girlfriend. Rather than God being upfront with me and telling me directly what he wants, God gives "hints," and hopes that I will "get the hint." These hints are initially very subtle and are very difficult to differentiate from ordinary experiences. Over times the hints get stronger and stronger as apparently I consistently fail to "get the hint." Eventually my life starts to fall apart or becomes unbearable and I really have no choice but to change direction. I would never date a woman who communicates this way, so why would I worship a God who does this? How could my relationship with such a being be characterized by anything other than resentment and mistrust?

This is, of course, if God communicates at all. Maybe I'm imagining the whole thing. I spent many years praying daily and I don't have even one example of a concise and distinct answer to a prayer. Eventually I stopped praying because I don't think I ever got an answer.

Now I kinda feel like I want to pray but I still don't really expect to get any answers. I'm not really sure what to do about that. I feel like I'm in for another frustrating experience where I'll pour my heart out to God and get nothing in response. Not even an acknowledgement of receipt.
I could have written this, it is essentially where I am at as well. Except the last paragraph. I gave up on prayer a long time ago. I do on occasion pray, but it's more for me than it is for God and I expect nothing from it. I will admit that often during these prayers I do get a distinctive peaceful feeling and if that's all there is it is what it is. And if that's not coming from God, there's nothing wrong with feeling at peace - that's really what most of us 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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nibbler
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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The correlated god of Mormonism is kind of a narcissist.

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InquiringMind
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 04:43 I could have written this, it is essentially where I am at as well. Except the last paragraph. I gave up on prayer a long time ago. I do on occasion pray, but it's more for me than it is for God and I expect nothing from it. I will admit that often during these prayers I do get a distinctive peaceful feeling and if that's all there is it is what it is. And if that's not coming from God, there's nothing wrong with feeling at peace - that's really what most of us seek.
Here's one possible answer I'm thinking about. We have many different kinds of relationships in our life - friends, family, coworkers, bosses, employees, spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. Each of these relationships is different and requires us to play a different role, and each requires that we treat people somewhat differently. You act a different way towards your boss than you do towards your friends because it's a different kind of relationship, and you're in a different role.

I heard a talk by a dating coach who was advising women that the male love interest in their life should be their best friend, and they should relate to him as such. I disagreed. A romantic relationship is not quite the same as a best friend relationship, and though lovers may become best friends, it's not quite the same relationship as a "best buddies" kind of thing. We play different roles in our lives and we act differently towards different people based on the roles that we are in.

Maybe God isn't trying to be our best friend. Maybe He's trying to be our God, which is a different sort of relationship. That may mean not acting at all like a best friend, or even a loving parent. That may mean leaving us on our own a lot, or letting us go through some pretty difficult stuff if there is some good reason for it.

For all we know, we might have made a pre-mortal agreement wherein we told God not to help us out too much, even if we asked diligently for it. Maybe by asking for help, we put God in the position of the family member of the compulsive gambler when the compulsive gambler says, "Give me the money I made you promise not to give me if I asked for it."

I'm thinking more about this idea that maybe God is honoring a pre-mortal agreement that I made with Him, which is why I haven't gotten the answers I had expected. He doesn't answer because I had previously told Him not to. That's about the best I can come up with right now.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02 I'm thinking more about this idea that maybe God is honoring a pre-mortal agreement that I made with Him, which is why I haven't gotten the answers I had expected. He doesn't answer because I had previously told Him not to. That's about the best I can come up with right now.
I'm not generally a Saturday's Warrior believer/fan but I can't totally discount the idea that we did have relationships and covenants or deals before coming to earth (provided of course there was a pre-earth existence). The whole foreordination theology can get sticky as already noted because it seems the line between foreordination and predestination is either very fine, very blurred, or non-existent. Terryl Givens postulates that the knowledge or teaching/theology of the pre-earth life is what was really restored in the "restored gospel." He cites evidence of early Christian belief in pre-earth existence, and while I don't buy the idea the "great apostacy" was a total loss of the gospel in earth, it is possible Givens is right.

So, I don't think your thoughts are impossible or should be dismissed out of hand.
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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PazamaManX
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02
Maybe God isn't trying to be our best friend. Maybe He's trying to be our God, which is a different sort of relationship. That may mean not acting at all like a best friend, or even a loving parent. That may mean leaving us on our own a lot, or letting us go through some pretty difficult stuff if there is some good reason for it.
This is kinda similar to my thoughts. I am of the mind that He is still a loving parent, but perhaps one that has the wisdom to know how far we can go without His help.
DarkJedi wrote: 24 Sep 2022, 14:29
InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02 I'm thinking more about this idea that maybe God is honoring a pre-mortal agreement that I made with Him, which is why I haven't gotten the answers I had expected. He doesn't answer because I had previously told Him not to. That's about the best I can come up with right now.
I'm not generally a Saturday's Warrior believer/fan but I can't totally discount the idea that we did have relationships and covenants or deals before coming to earth (provided of course there was a pre-earth existence). The whole foreordination theology can get sticky as already noted because it seems the line between foreordination and predestination is either very fine, very blurred, or non-existent.
I have trouble with the idea that we made any covenants/deals before coming here. Considering we don't remember anything of that supposed time, it wouldn't seem right to be held to something we can't recall agreeing to.

A related side-complaint- I've heard people make dramatic statements that we covenanted before we came here to do X or Y (usually something related to missionary work and the like) and that we'll be held accountable for that. If we can't even remember our own pre-existence, it's pretty bold to try to speak for someone else's.

As for relationships we may have had before, I'm inclined to believe that we did. With my wife for example, we get along so perfectly that it's hard to believe we found each other by chance. After we met, very little time passed before we were acting like we were going to get married. We never discussed it. The mentality kind of just naturally came about for both of us. There are many more details I won't get into about how everything fell together. But, everything happened in a way that makes it feel like it was meant to be (cliché as those words are, I don't have a better way to put it). If I get to the other side and find out we were together in some form in the pre-existence, I wouldn't be surprised at all.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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PazamaManX wrote: 24 Sep 2022, 23:26
I have trouble with the idea that we made any covenants/deals before coming here. Considering we don't remember anything of that supposed time, it wouldn't seem right to be held to something we can't recall agreeing to.
I've wondered about that too - how can I be held responsible for making an agreement that has since been deliberately hidden from my memory? Seems pretty unfair of God to hold me to that. Well, 1 Ne. 3:7 tells us that we if we made a premortal contract, God will make a way for us to follow through with it.

Part of the reason I posted this thread is that some of the things I appear to have agreed to seem fairly obvious. I've gone through plenty of time wandering in the wilderness, but so far most of the time the right answer eventually presents itself in a way that's hard to miss. I've been having a hard time recently because I feel like there is a plan but for some reason I'm not allowed to know what it is beforehand. It seems that all I get is the next step in the plan. I don't get the whole plan upfront, I only get the next step. I'll admit that this has been been very frustrating because I would really like to make some plans for myself. But this isn't the way it works, apparently.

The other place for potential problems is with the doctrine of agency. I've been frustrated recently by what feels like a lack of freedom to choose on my part. I had the same experience during another major life transition, the sense that I was not in fact making choices, but that many decisions were being made for me by some divine or cosmic force, and my own conscious mind was just along for the ride (similar to Luke Skywalker getting the call to adventure). Apparently, if pre-mortal agreements exist, they are not allowed to be altered during mortal life, no matter how much kicking and screaming I do. If I had agency, then my agency was exercised when I created and signed the premortal contract, and now I'm stuck with whatever premortal decisions I made.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02
DarkJedi wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 04:43 I could have written this, it is essentially where I am at as well. Except the last paragraph. I gave up on prayer a long time ago. I do on occasion pray, but it's more for me than it is for God and I expect nothing from it. I will admit that often during these prayers I do get a distinctive peaceful feeling and if that's all there is it is what it is. And if that's not coming from God, there's nothing wrong with feeling at peace - that's really what most of us seek.
Here's one possible answer I'm thinking about. We have many different kinds of relationships in our life - friends, family, coworkers, bosses, employees, spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. Each of these relationships is different and requires us to play a different role, and each requires that we treat people somewhat differently. You act a different way towards your boss than you do towards your friends because it's a different kind of relationship, and you're in a different role.
To a degree, these "role performances" reflect the reality that there are different "rules" and "expectations" that govern some of these interactions (mostly in terms of self-defense). But to me, these are descriptive - not prescriptive realities.

I think that the lines are blurred between "family" and "friends". I think that by calling people at church "Brother" and "Sister" as a community-building effort, it explicitly blurs the lines even further.

As a mother, I spend more time as a listener/counselor/housecleaner/life coach/fighter/logistics planner/schedule coordinator/"conscience" (in the style of Jimminy Cricket from Pinochio) then I actually spent incubating my offspring. All of this is swept under the rug of "motherhood" and "wifehood" - when my reality - it has nothing to do with me being a woman and everything to do with what I see my obligation is. I don't fit the stereotype of the "nurturing mother" - but if you want research done, I do it. If you want a logistical conversation, I figure out what is important and borrow time and resources from future self to get it done.
InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02 I heard a talk by a dating coach who was advising women that the male love interest in their life should be their best friend, and they should relate to him as such. I disagreed. A romantic relationship is not quite the same as a best friend relationship, and though lovers may become best friends, it's not quite the same relationship as a "best buddies" kind of thing. We play different roles in our lives and we act differently towards different people based on the roles that we are in.
I suspect that this dating coach was reminding women of what those women likely found valuable - valuable enough to get back into the dating pool and connect to others (both as a service to those unhappy women and to get paid).

I think the main take-away is that romantic relationships are by their nature - spaces where intimacy is the default. And how that plays out and is viewed varies between individuals. I have seen relationships where the wife is the husband's "best friend" - and he will avoid seeking other relationships because she fills all his "best friend intimacy needs". I honestly think that everyone would be better off if everyone made explicit the relationship expectations individually instead of relying on the stereotypes to convey the nuances of the expectations.
InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02 Maybe God isn't trying to be our best friend. Maybe He's trying to be our God, which is a different sort of relationship. That may mean not acting at all like a best friend, or even a loving parent. That may mean leaving us on our own a lot, or letting us go through some pretty difficult stuff if there is some good reason for it.
I can agree with us not understanding our relationship with God. I don't think we have the correct questions to ask to frame what a "relationship with God" actually looks like. I think the prophets are in the dark as much as the rest of us AND I think that they used words they found in their culture to define what the picture of a relationship with God looked like.

Deborah Tannen (a linguist professional) made the insight that men "tend to think/speak in hierarchy" and women "tend to think/speak in networks/webs". I don't know that it is gender-based exactly, but I do think that winds up happening is that people go looking for/picking up on conversation that works within those themes. The OT is a study in hierarchy. The NT is about a conversational shift - God descending from above to be with humanity.

It can be very securing to know that someone more powerful than you is watching out for you and cherishing you and to know "your place" as it were.

AND

I find it more valuable to me that God "be with me" rather then "God talk at me" or "God talk over me" in a disconnected way conceptually.
InquiringMind wrote: 23 Sep 2022, 23:02 For all we know, we might have made a pre-mortal agreement wherein we told God not to help us out too much, even if we asked diligently for it. Maybe by asking for help, we put God in the position of the family member of the compulsive gambler when the compulsive gambler says, "Give me the money I made you promise not to give me if I asked for it."

I'm thinking more about this idea that maybe God is honoring a pre-mortal agreement that I made with Him, which is why I haven't gotten the answers I had expected. He doesn't answer because I had previously told Him not to. That's about the best I can come up with right now.
This example puts us at the same level as God, as friends. This dynamic is the not the Parent-Child dynamic playing out on a cosmic level.

The undertone that we are asking for something wrong (money that we will spend frivolously) is an implied dig at ourselves though. Is it better for something to be withheld from us because we don't know what to do with it (parent-child paradigm) or because we would waste it (gambler paradigm)?

<shrugs? That being said, what we know about the Pre-mortal life is even less than what we know about living life here and what the afterlife is like (with the universal assumption that there is one).
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