I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 732
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

When the COVID hit hard last year, I stopped going to church, as a lot of people did. Since the COVID is more under control now, I've been praying lately, and it seems that God wants me to start going back to church. Although my faith has become more nuanced over the years, and since I feel comfortable with most of the members of my ward, dealing with some of the comments I don't agree with should as hard now than what it used to be. When I take the sacrament, I really feel spiritually renewed doing it. My big issues at the moment have to do with the church's stance on gay marriage, leader/hero worship, and how too many leaders, particularly General Authorities, relate to members that are struggling with their faith.

I'll explain what I mean. I realize the church is against gay marriage. I understand that. I also understand that it's slowly becoming more accessible to the LGBTQ community as long as they don't live that lifestyle. I understand that too. But for those members of the church that want to be an active part of the church, too often they can't handle trying to repress those feelings and stay active members of the church. I have a lesbian friends from church and two nephews that are gay, so they currently aren't active. Also speaking of this issue, my bishop from several years ago (who isn't a bad guy but is too old fashioned and black and white when it comes to this), gave a talk in a combined priesthood/relief society meeting about he believed that the proclamation of the family was scripture and even had us get together in groups and mark certain statements and discuss it. Now, doing that for those things for which I agreed with, it wasn't so bad. However, for the statements seeming to say that gender for everyone is always unchanging and other statements about the LGBTQ community I can't agree, I just wanted to go crazy. But I didn't want to let it show either. Another example, I didn't care for Elder Oak's last General Conference talk about the proclamation. I really liked the man when I was in my twenties. Unfortunately, I don't care for him so much now.

I realize with any religious organization you're going to have leaders. I accept that. Even though there are many leaders, some General Authorities (Uchtdorf, for instance) that can sustain the leadership without normally putting them on pedestals, there are still many leaders I see that are doing that. I watched a talk to the young singles from President and Sister Nelson a few months ago, and they said some powerful statements that really reeked of prophet worship. Ugh! And, by the way, I don't dislike him even if he has done some things that can come across as pushy.

Although some of the brethren know how to address people that really struggle with faith in the church for whatever reason, there are too many that just don't. They, more often than not, tend to make statements that make things worse. President Nelson has been guilty of those comments. Even Brad Wilcox, who has given some great talks on the topic of grace, said some things in either a youth or young adult talk (I can't remember which) that I know would have made things worse for me if I was that young.

So what I would like to know is how can I become more without letting these things get to me so much that I become depressed, burnt out, or have anxiety or panic attacks. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?
Roy
Posts: 6736
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Roy »

Ilovechrist77 wrote: 27 Jun 2022, 07:51 So what I would like to know is how can I become more without letting these things get to me so much that I become depressed, burnt out, or have anxiety or panic attacks. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?
Sustainability through boundaries.

I try to ask myself what I can potentially maintain indefinitely. Tithing is an easy example for me. I think I could maybe manage a payment or two. I also could pay a donation to the church that I feel is fair based on my share of the building costs etc. However, that would be looked down on at tithing settlement and would cause me to have negative feelings about the church. From a sustainability perspective, it is safer to not make payments.

Another example is that I avoid Sunday School. Sunday School has class participation. This can lead to feeling isolated because it is easy to feel ganged up on as more and more people express opinions that you disagree with. I have also made comments in Sunday School that were rebuffed (sometimes gently and sometimes not gently) and those experiences were negative for me.

As you may have deduced, my sustainability boundaries make me LESS active in the church. The church has a smaller footprint in my life.

I still need community and spirituality. I try to diversify. This is harder because I need to put in efforts for involvement in multiple organizations. However, I am more in the driver seat and can reduce or even stop my participation at any one of them as needed.

In summary, my advice is to weigh what activities in your LDS ward you most enjoy (or least dislike) and then do those. For me personally, that equates to Sacrament Meeting and helping out at YM/YW activities.
"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
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 732
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Sustainability through boundaries.
Thank you very much, Roy. With everyone you said, that would probably work for me. It's just difficult at times in the work with so many members and leaders that are so fully in that equate, or seem to, equate everything with the Lord. Drives me nuts, but then even members that are completely in can't do everything all the time. I have some friends in the ward and I get along well with pretty much all of them, so I'll just have to be honest with my boundaries when I need to.
AmyJ
Posts: 1090
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by AmyJ »

Ilovechrist77 wrote: 27 Jun 2022, 13:59
Sustainability through boundaries.
Thank you very much, Roy. With everyone you said, that would probably work for me. It's just difficult at times in the work with so many members and leaders that are so fully in that equate, or seem to, equate everything with the Lord. Drives me nuts, but then even members that are completely in can't do everything all the time. I have some friends in the ward and I get along well with pretty much all of them, so I'll just have to be honest with my boundaries when I need to.
A) I think that features of the environment include "equating everything with the Lord" and "an implicit competition to score as many righteous points as possible" - my best guess is it's a community hierarchy thing.

B) Boundaries are useful here - I think you will get more mileage from the positive side of them "I am focusing on this" instead of "I won't do that". It's a lot harder to argue with someone who isn't arguing with you:) Also, it shuts the conversation down sooner because we explicitly teach that everyone has the gifts they need to focus their lives.
User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 4825
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by nibbler »

If you're thinking about being more active in the church, it's definitely worth a shot.
Ilovechrist77 wrote: 27 Jun 2022, 07:51 Although some of the brethren know how to address people that really struggle with faith in the church for whatever reason, there are too many that just don't. They, more often than not, tend to make statements that make things worse.
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.
One of the things that gives Jesus the ability to succor people is that firsthand experience. I don't know whether Jesus would be as effective a healer unless he knew exactly what we've experienced, so he experienced our infirmities to put himself in a position to be that effective healer.

I try to extend grace to the leaders because I believe most of them are in a position where they're attempting to support people that are experiencing something that they've never experienced for themselves.

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.
Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
— Douglas Adams
Roy
Posts: 6736
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Roy »

nibbler wrote: 28 Jun 2022, 07:08 I try to extend grace to the leaders because I believe most of them are in a position where they're attempting to support people that are experiencing something that they've never experienced for themselves.
Yes. Ironically, I feel like I have been in a similar place to where they are now. Therefore, I have an obligation to monitor my response to my leader because I have the capability of seeing things from his perspective. Whereas, my leader is often incapable of understanding things from my position.
nibbler wrote: 28 Jun 2022, 07:08 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.
I think we sometimes see the word "infirmities" to refer to ailments and sickness. Another definition simply refers to weakness. I like to think of Jesus taking care of a group of toddlers and saying to himself that they are so weak and helpless and funny in their attempts to assert independence. Sometimes they even hurt each other. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
"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
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 732
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Thank you for the comments and advice, everyone. AmyJ, I agree with you that everyone has spiritual gifts that are needed in their own ways. Being patient with members that believe differently than me definitely can help. Even with the leader worship and some of the harmful teachings against the LGBTQ community. But then the church will have to change eventually to how it relates to them. So I pray to God that will get better.
User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 7781
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by DarkJedi »

Let us know how it goes. As someone who also isn't participating currently I'm curious.

I do think the "church" has made some headway, at least in rhetoric, with being more inclusive. I don't think what many of us experience is actually the church, it's people who are misguided. Don't take that the wrong way, because from one point of view the people are the church, and I agree that most of them (leaders included) are trying to do the right thing but end up doing it wrong because they don't know what to do. Their intent is not generally malicious, but with some individuals it can be whether they intend it to be or not - and perception is reality.
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
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 732
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

That's a good point, DarkJedi. I know we're all guilty of doing things wrong because we don't know to do. Even the ancient prophets did lots of things wrong even if it they weren't the same things that the modern ones in the church are guilty of now.
User avatar
Ilovechrist77
Posts: 732
Joined: 08 Nov 2011, 21:42

Re: I'm Thinking About Becoming More Active In Church

Post by Ilovechrist77 »

Just wanted to mention that I went to church finally. A good friend of mine that's the ward mission leader gave me a ride to and back from church. I work with him anyway since I have a calling as a ward missionary. I'm friends with his son who's only a year or two younger than me. He's a bishop now, too. Haha. Time goes back fast.

Anyway, it went okay. A ward member's second wife gave a decent talk how they went when his first wife was dying with cancer. Family history and temple work had to deal with the topic also. The second talk was kind of boring. A member of the stake presidency gave a talk on the Come Follow Me scripture study program. Part of the reason it was kind of boring was because of the fact that too many leaders of the church feel that it was a prophet is really trying to act as much than they can never be wrong. Well, I've been praying about the patience to deal with it and it's getting somewhat easier. Fortunately, the one thing I did like about his talk was that in the talk he would often use the word guidance, advice, and recommendations. That made it little easier.

Gospel doctrine went okay. The woman teacher, the wife of my ward's former bishop, does try to get people to think out of the box a little bit.

Overall, church went well. I was a little worried about coming back. But I think I'll be all right. A lot of the things that bothered me about the church when my faith in it first shifted don't seem to bother me now. Unfortunately, I don't know what to make of how the church deals with sexual abuse, but then the issue is being covered by another discussion on this site. I pray that God will help the leadership straighten this issue out in this life. Just a minor complaint about my ward, though. I wish our didn't have to start at 9 am. I hate getting early for church. Haha.
Post Reply