I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Roy
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Roy »

I'm glad to hear that your visit was reasonably successful. The church can be a great community resource. I am also a proponent of diversifying your social circle and reaching out socially to other groups as well.
"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
AmyJ
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by AmyJ »

nibbler wrote: 28 Jun 2022, 07:08 I'm reminded of the scripture Alma 7:12
And [Jesus] will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Parsing the exact language of the verse, I don't see it saying that Jesus experienced our infirmities to simply "remove" them from us. He experienced our infirmities so that he'd gain experience he needed to support us when we experience infirmities.

That's a different model than the one I often see on display at church. Church is more focused on making sure everyone is on the same page when defining infirmities and the focus is on infirmity avoidance. There's not much support for people experiencing an infirmity. Perhaps because we don't feel safe enough to put our infirmities on display, making people unaware of the needs of the community.

Some of it comes down to all the focus on infirmity avoidance. With that focus there's more worry over a failure to be infirmity free. Maybe so much so that people feel the need to put up a façade. Once that façade is up, it's harder to get help because of a lack of awareness of the need for help.

Defining infirmity is a whole other can of worms. This probably goes with any group, but sometimes we define an "infirmity" as deviance from the expected norm. Drives me nuts, but that's enough of a tangent.

I hope your return to more activity is a good experience for you. It requires patience and grace, extended to both self and others.
I will step fully and completely into your tangent:)

A) Infirmity = Deviation from Norm = Everyone & Everything the Same (same end goal, same mechanisms etc.).
Lip service is given for "different goals" and "different mechanisms" - but it tends to "what do you need to experience what we experience?"
- Which is great for some diseases, replacing organs, etc.

But what if you refuse to see your deviation from what is expected as "being infirm"? What if you don't want to be "healed"?

B) Infirmity = Momentum Breaker
There is innate validation seeing people do what you are doing when you are doing it. It builds community and energy that eventually moves into momentum to do things.
- People who can't/won't/don't do what you are doing challenge/break your momentum - and that sometimes needs to happen more than it does. But no one likes the momentum breaker (well, occasionally - but not the community).

c) Infirmity on the Purity Scale
- Most diseases are either biologically or culturally "un-pure". It is a pragmatic legacy from being in disease-ridden spaces without being rich enough to remove the dirt

So, there is the bias that if you can't do something, there must be decision made that got you there, made you "un-pure". Which isn't always the case.
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Ilovechrist77
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Roy, thank you for the comments. I agree. Last week, I joined a writing group in my small college town that writes and critiques short stories and poetry. I'm good friends with the woman that runs the group, and it was great to get back into a writing group to take part of its activities. Our next meeting isn't until next month, so I've got some writing to look over from the members of the group and to work on my short story until then.

AmyJ, thanks for what you said about infirmity, even if some of it's a little over my head. Haha. It's okay, though. I think I get what you were trying to say. Yes, many people, especially communities, don't like momentum breakers. There are times when I've had a great momentum going on when doing certain things and something would happen that would break that momentum. More often than not, I just get annoyed. And you offered some good questions on that: "But what if you refuse to see your deviation from what is expected as "being infirm"? What if you don't want to be "healed"?" Those are some things to think about.
AmyJ
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by AmyJ »

Ilovechrist77 wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 16:42 AmyJ, thanks for what you said about infirmity, even if some of it's a little over my head. Haha. It's okay, though. I think I get what you were trying to say. Yes, many people, especially communities, don't like momentum breakers. There are times when I've had a great momentum going on when doing certain things and something would happen that would break that momentum. More often than not, I just get annoyed. And you offered some good questions on that: "But what if you refuse to see your deviation from what is expected as "being infirm"? What if you don't want to be "healed"?" Those are some things to think about.
I ran out of time before I got my thoughts correctly corralled in the post.

MOMENTUM BREAKER EXAMPLE:
Any activity/tradition that keeps going... until it stops.
- I used to religiously watch "Charlie Brown Christmas" as one of my Christmas Devotionals. I (severely afraid of using the telephone at the time) actually called Blockbuster to see if they had a DVD (20+ years ago) when I realized I had missed the usual TV showing. Then my faith transition hit - and suddenly, it wasn't something that inspired me at Christmas. I no longer had the momentum to watch it, to share it with my kids, or even pull out the Bible to read the Christmas Story.

- My husband gets annoyed - because now he has to make a decision of whether to remember to do any of that himself or just let it slide (and feel guilty). He HATES that I changed my choice.

Momentum breaking is great when the activities of the group may lead to poor judgement and/or unsafe situations. There is a reason why taxi services amp up availability for New Year's Eve, why chaperones at high school dances (and other large teenage entertainment events) are by and large a good idea.

Momentum is great though - it's what funds blood drives and drives drives people to springboard making good choices after the start of making 1 good choice (like quitting 1 bad habit makes it easier to pick up 1 good habit and vice versa).

INFIRMITY = SHOW OF IMPURITY (What did you Do to Get That?)
- The entire conversation involving the blind man and his parents and the questioners.
- OT teaches that God wanted "the best of the best" unblemished lambs in terms of sacrifices.
a) So if you are "infirm" - does God still want your sacrifice?
- That's behind the "cleansing" offerings post-childbirth (among other things).

- If you are "infirm" - and we take care of you, what will happen to us and our community?
a) Not a bad question due to how diseases were treated/spread for thousands of years.
b) It's still a question being asked as hospitals are shuttered due to funding issues (which stem from too many "poor/insolvent patients" and not enough "rich patients" as well as variables in government funding, community involvement, services offered issues... etc.).
c) That's at the heart of Social Security (in US) debates. The ratio of retired individuals (who paid into the system and the community has an obligation to) to working individuals (who are paying into the system) is shrinking - and that is in part driving questions of solvency (there are a whole lot of other questions and side antics and forecasting).

- If you are "infirm" due to "impurity" - what obligation do we owe you and you, us?
a) This is usually exploited as a loophole to prevent paying for services (in one way or another) - it's behind the "pre-existing conditions" stuff that was outlawed in the US a while back.

b) It also is a valid question in its own right - if you participate in behavior that you know is unhealthy for you (like smoking) - how responsible should you be held for taking care of your lung cancer infirmity?

FINAL NOTES:
- Buying in bulk (products or services) to satisfy a common need is a known thing. However, the only way it works is if there are enough like-minded individuals that make it worth the administration costs to provide the product/services. To a degree, the church gets "bulk discounts" (spiritual mostly) in having like-minded, less-diverse members to serve. There are fewer opportunity costs of time and thought (because everyone's needs are the same and well-known), and fewer surprises. You don't have to spend the time on harassment training or diversity training. You can manipulate the administration costs by "creating service opportunities" instead of "creating career opportunities" and other tweaks.

- Infirmity is a game-changer. Member behaviors (linked to Infirmity and Disease) can be progressive (the individual progressively needs more and different services/products), disruptive (anyone who cannot confirm to cultural expectations), and pervasive (a lot of people deal with a lot more diseases/disorders and who knows what else then the community admits to).
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Ilovechrist77
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Thanks, AmyJ. It makes a little more sense what you're talking about this time. Hahah. I liked what you shared about how you feel about Charlie Brown Christmas now. I still enjoy it from time to time, though. One old animated I like to this day is Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer. It's interesting how progressive that movie seems to me. Traditions also change. Probably sometime after we die and kids and grandkids are still alive, some many new traditions will exist in the church that we probably existed when we were alive. Haha. :lol:
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Ilovechrist77
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

I just want to let you know things are going lately. Lately, I've been more active in church and serving in my calling as a ward missionary. I originally thought it be harder for me than what it has been so far after having a faith transition in regards to the church. Part of me doesn't really care if people get converted and baptized into the church or if inactive members of the church get reactivated. What I generally care more about is if people are to grow spiritually, have spiritual relationships with God, and find purpose in their lives. If that means activity in the church, following the church's standards, and performing ordinances, then I think that's great. Even though I don't agree with all the standards and teachings in the church, I feel God has led me back to activity in the church. I do meditation with my prayer and scripture study. Meditation helps me so much to quiet my mind. I am trying to read some other spiritual sources other than the standard works.

Right now, I have a calling as a ward missionary. The ward mission leader is a good friend of mine, and I really like that. After having my faith shift in the church, fulfilling my calling isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The ward has sister missionaries, so I don't have to worry about being asked to go on splits to testify of any teachings I don't agree with. (Splits aren't allowed anymore, period, I believe) Yeah, I know there was a General Authority that said once that the gaining of a testimony is in the bearing of it, but that can be really difficult if you have had a major faith shift, since so much stock is put in the church.

Trying to get through some of the lessons in priesthood meetings based off General Conference talks can be a bit hard, depending on the talk. On the other hand, I really don't mind Sunday School, Gospel Doctrine class. I feel I have more leeway in how I study and interpret the standard works, even if we've only had the same standard works for years.

Anyway, I just wanted to keep everyone posted on how I'm doing. Feel free to post any comments, questions, or advice you have.
Roy
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Roy »

I like all that has been shared about some various ways to look at the word infirmity.

One approach that I like is:

Firm = Solid/Hard
Infirm = Soft/Weak

Infirmity = frailty, fragility, weakness

It is this definition on infirm and infirmity that we use in talking about the elderly.
And [Jesus] will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
I like to imagine that God was impervious and invincible. He therefore looked forth at the physically and mentally puny humans and found it somewhat difficult to relate. Therefore part of the "condescension of God" was in taking on an infirm mortal body that he could better "bridge the gap" between God and man. IOW, God was so perfect that it would be impossible for man to get to where God is. If there was to be a reconciliation or "atonement" between God and man, it would need to be God that took that step.

We humans are infirm and can make only paltry efforts towards being firm. However, the point is not to change our nature. I believe that the point is for us to stand in open wonder that a perfect, impervious, and invincible God would give that up (even momentarily) out of love and a desire to meet us where we are.
"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
Roy
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Roy »

Ilovechrist77 wrote: 08 Jan 2023, 19:49 Right now, I have a calling as a ward missionary. The ward mission leader is a good friend of mine, and I really like that. After having my faith shift in the church, fulfilling my calling isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The ward has sister missionaries, so I don't have to worry about being asked to go on splits to testify of any teachings I don't agree with. (Splits aren't allowed anymore, period, I believe)
That sounds great! Finding a calling that you can do to contribute and feel authentic with is a major success. DW and I worked with the cub scouts and "activity days" for years and really loved it.
Ilovechrist77 wrote: 08 Jan 2023, 19:49 Yeah, I know there was a General Authority that said once that the gaining of a testimony is in the bearing of it, but that can be really difficult if you have had a major faith shift, since so much stock is put in the church.
I know exactly the talk about "testimony is found in the bearing of it." Unfortunately, GA's have a huge church to run and people that can't or won't bear testimony are "momentum breakers" (to use Amy's example). I feel that the GA is giving the advice to "fake it until you make it" or "go along to get along." This has the advantage of not breaking the momentum.

In a not unrelated example, a GA gave the advice to men who return home early from a mission for mental health reasons to just say that they "went on a mission to such and such place" and withhold the information about coming home early. The momentum is such that every young man is expected to serve a mission and those that do not are looked at as somehow deficient. Some young men could not complete a full two years despite their best efforts and find themselves marginalized when they come home.

I feel that a GA could stand against the momentum and say something like "the mission experience is not for everybody" or "not every young man should serve a mission" or " God has His own plans for you that may or may not include a mission." However, that would break the momentum. Therefore, if being fully transparent about returning home from the mission field is causing others to marginalize you - the advice is to stop being fully transparent/honest about it. In this way the problem is at least somewhat mitigated and the momentum can continue.
Trying to get through some of the lessons in priesthood meetings based off General Conference talks can be a bit hard, depending on the talk. On the other hand, I really don't mind Sunday School, Gospel Doctrine class. I feel I have more leeway in how I study and interpret the standard works, even if we've only had the same standard works for years.
Yeah, I particularly like the New Testament. The parables are my favorite since they are not intended to be taken literally and can be open to multiple interpretations.
"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
Old-Timer
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Old-Timer »

Fwiw, the official stance currently is that every worthy and ABLE young man should serve a mission, including service missions. What that means isn't defined, and it shouldn't become tightly controlled. I like how broad it is now, especially since I know more than one person who did the service mission route specifically because they couldn't say they KNEW but wanted to serve people in a formal mission.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
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Ilovechrist77
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Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Sorry it took a bit a long to respond, but I didn't easily distracted with other things. That's why I didn't say anything sooner.

Roy and Old-Timer, thank you very much for your comments. I agree with you, Roy. Momentum is such an important thing when doing anything, especially with moving the work forward in the church. However, speaking of momentum, both of our sister missionaries got transferred out of the ward. That means we don't have any full-time in the ward just hopefully until the next transfer. My ward mission leader and elders quorum first counselor don't know why we don't have any new missionaries yet.

But, other than that, I've been doing okay getting back into activity in the ward. :smile:
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