Looking for a home...

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jb_10mm
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Looking for a home...

Post by jb_10mm » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:43 pm

First-timer here.

So let me just start by saying I don't know where I stand. I have a very strong LDS background, served a mission, married in the temple, and even worked full time for the church for a number of years.

But ever since I was disfellowshipped 2 years ago (you can read my story here... it's not pleasant http://www.recoveryonedayatatime.com/20 ... ed-as.html) I have experienced several, significant issues with the church.

I've recently read the Gospel Topics Essays, the CES Letter, and FAIRmormon's rebuttal. It is a lot to process. Some things don't bother me. If I can believe that Joseph Smith, uneducated, could translate from ancient Egyptian golden plats, then I can believe that he used a stone in a hat to do it. Both are quite frankly unbelievable at face value. But what bothers me the most is this nagging feeling that I've been duped, and lied to. Isn't it a form of lying to perpetuate images of Joseph running his finger along gold plates in church materials knowing that this isn't how it actually happened? At least when I worked for the church, every single publication, image, word, etc that was published with the Church's name on it was very deliberate, and was the subject of multiple reviews by many different authorities. How could these incorrect depictions have "slipped" through unless it was a deliberate perpetuation of misinformation?

Anyway, for the most part, I really enjoy my association with the church and its members. Can I continue to live and enjoy the "based on a true story" (however loosely) life in the church? I loved the Greatest Showman. It had a good message that spoke to me on many levels. But it definitely is a departure from how things originally happened. But does that invalidate the good that I experience while watching it?

So, is there a place for me? Both the church, and most of those who have left seem to embrace a dualistic mode where I'm either all in or all out. Will I be forced down one of these paths eventually? Is it worth it to find a middle of the road path?

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Corsair
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by Corsair » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:44 pm

If you're polite, we'll take just about anyone here. You are asking some really good questions. And clearly people have come to lots of different answers as noted by the list of documents and forums you have visited. I can assure you that we don't all agree with each other on this site, but we would certainly love to talk to you about it.

Perhaps we could take a step back and ask more about epistemology. How would we know that something you heard is correct? This is quite critical with information about the LDS church. It's also central to the process of conversion. How would you confirm that God wants you to follow one specific path? How would any of us tell that the spirit is leading us to the truth? You have been on a mission and have taught people about getting an answer to prayer. When you are on a mission you already have your answer and are simply wanting to help your investigators find pretty much that same answer.

I'm also drawn to a nearly opposite question. What is it that you really want? We can't deny that the church has a plan for us that was laid out when we were born. It's baptism, priesthood, mission, temple marriage, children, service, and enduring to the end. But, what is it that you want? I'm not trying to get you to deceive your sense of what is true, nor asking what you want to be true.

Seriously, what do you really want to do with your life? Because answering that rather practical question goes a long way towards living honestly with whatever the LDS actually is. In broad terms, the LDS church just might be the "only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth". It also might be profoundly misled and filled with a regrettable amount of hubris. But it certainly wants your undivided attention either way. Is it worthy of that attention?

I would also recommend another tactic. Find someone you can talk to in real life. Over lunch, if possible. I don't know where you are from, but Mormon Spectrum is an amazing resource for letting people connect in real life no matter where you fall on the belief spectrum. I live in the Phoenix area and would enjoy meeting you if that would make any sense at all.

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EternityIsNow
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by EternityIsNow » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:26 am

I choose the middle way because we are all mortals with imperfect information and because of that, I feel safer and more honest in the middle. Life can be black and white sometimes and many other colors at other times.

Religion coevolved with humans. Our primitive brains like many parts of religion. We can exist without religion but many people like a religious community and that is natural.

One reason I stay in the middle is that lets me hold and share my views with both sides. I also feel an ethical obligation to support good directions and oppose bad directions in religions.

All religions need to continually update themselves to stay relevant and be good citizens in our society. People in the middle can help religions with that challenge.

jb_10mm
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by jb_10mm » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:05 pm

Thanks for the comments. Mormonspectrum.org looks like a cool idea, but I can't access for some reason. But I will look into that. It's easier to just post anonymously and chat online, but to your point, I'm often left feeling not truly understood. I need to start connecting with people

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Red Ryder
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:40 pm

Welcome!

This place is great for voicing frustrations and bouncing new thoughts and ideas off people who have been down the same path.

What type of work did you do for the church?
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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RubinHighlander
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by RubinHighlander » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:04 pm

jb_10mm wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:43 pm
But what bothers me the most is this nagging feeling that I've been duped, and lied to. Isn't it a form of lying to perpetuate images of Joseph running his finger along gold plates in church materials knowing that this isn't how it actually happened? At least when I worked for the church, every single publication, image, word, etc that was published with the Church's name on it was very deliberate, and was the subject of multiple reviews by many different authorities. How could these incorrect depictions have "slipped" through unless it was a deliberate perpetuation of misinformation?
More than the translation misinformation, for me it was the first vision accounts. Then there were so many other loose threads to pull on, it didn't take long for everything to unravel, then I really felt betrayed and lied to. It took quite a while to get over that and it was not until I freed myself mentally from it and accepted it for what it really was. Once I liberated my mind from it I was able to move on...mostly. I say mostly because I still come here, even after being out of it for over two years. Why? Because I still have family and friends in it and it still affects me from that aspect.

Anyway, welcome! We all empathize with the painful cognitive dissonance you are experiencing. Some are in the thick of it and some are past it, but it's real and you can have those feeling validated here without a ton of toxic anti-Mormon rhetoric; you can get that on Exmormon redit.
“Sir,' I said to the universe, 'I exist.' 'That,' said the universe, 'creates no sense of obligation in me whatsoever.”
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmYP3PbfXE

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Linked
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by Linked » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:58 pm

Hi JB, welcome to NOM! I read your story, that is brutal. I'm sorry you had to go thru all that. I was very angry with your 2nd SP, what a dingo.

My shelf breaker was confirmation bias and watching people swear by ideas that I knew were not true in other facets of life. The pain of being duped is real. A difficult thing for me has been figuring out where to direct my feelings of frustration. I try to avoid those who indoctrinated me and those who I am close to who are yet indoctrinated. And the current leadership are just products of their background. And even Joseph Smith may have been a pious fraud. But it can be so frustrating when you see the church actively hurting people.

So far I keep the church in my life because all of my family are fully committed. Mainly because my wife wants me to. And she doesn't want to tell her family of my disaffection. But it hurts.

I hope you heal from your experience ok. It's good to have you.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

jb_10mm
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by jb_10mm » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:23 am

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and your welcomes.

The good news is that I don't feel a need (at least right now) to have to choose one way or another whether "the church is true." The evidence and argumentation I've read about church historical claims (both from official LDS and non-LDS sources) leads me to believe that whatever the "truth" really is, it isn't the simplified, glorified version that I was taught growing up.

For now I think I prefer the Buddhist approach to existential questions, which is basically "why do you care?" I won't ever have concrete knowledge (empirical knowledge) one way or another in this life. So continually being focused on the past "where I came from" or the future "where I am going" will take me away from living life in the present moment. I choose to recognize reality as it is, and embrace it rather than try to explain it or assign arbitrary meaning to it. Is the church true? I don't know. And I'm ok not knowing. Is this present moment "true"? Yes. What is "true" about this present moment? I am learning to open up my senses, remove preconceived notions that distort reality to try and get at the truth of the present moment, and accept it. This seems like a great place to start for me.

My only concern is that the church isn't really ok with "I don't know." They want me to be all in, which I can't do. So I guess we will see where this path takes me.

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IT_Veteran
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by IT_Veteran » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:37 pm

Welcome! Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sorry it was so painful to get to this point in your life.

For me the middle way simply wasn’t possible. Once I no longer believed the church was true it mattered very much to me. It goes partly to your point about authenticity. It was anxiety-inducing to sit in classes teaching something I believed was false. And that was before I knew any of the stuff contained in the CES Letter. I lost my belief through a scientific worldview, having never delved into any of the other stuff.

I think more of it goes to the harm that is done by membership in the church. Your 2nd SP’s treatment is one example. He hadn’t no idea how addiction and recovery work, but his mantle of the priesthood was enough to dictate to you (and others) how it was supposed to. Attitudes in the church about sex are harmful because instead of teaching kids and teens how to prepare themselves emotionally and protect themselves physically, they just teach that all sex outside the bounds of marriage is wrong and that those participate in it are committing a sin second only to murder. Treatment of LGBTQ+ people has been atrocious. Worse, we were all taught that they way we approach homosexuality in particular is how God would want us to approach it.

Once I started looking at the harm caused, I knew I’d never be back.

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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by jb_10mm » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:12 pm

Thanks "IT_Veteran"

So hear me out, this is something I've been thinking about. I've heard others talk about how important the church is to them, not because of the doctrine or the claim that it is the "one true church" but because of the people in it. If I take a very objective view, I can recognize the church that exists today. Whether its history matches the history it teaches, it exists, and the majority of my family members and good friends are part of it. So by leaving the church, they are all conditioned to make certain assumptions about me, that in their view destroys any level of credibility or influence that I might have.

So, if I agreed that there are things that the church teachers/does that are damaging (for example how it deals with sex and addiction), and I'm worried for my kids, friends, family etc. then leaving the church puts me in a worse position to actually help them. They will look at me as someone trying to destroy their testimony, etc. However, if I stay in the church, recognizing the good it does, can I make an influence (however small) in curbing and helping to correct the issues that remain regarding things like how the church deals with addiction?

This isn't really an issue about authenticity, but perspective. I authentically recognize that I can't definitively know one way or another whether the "church is true." I can authentically recognize the good parts of the church, and its teachings that I can choose to believe in (even without having definitive knowledge). I can authentically use my experience to influence, etc. I can still be honest that I don't know, and actually much of what I've read and studied tells a story that differs significantly from the official story. But that I choose to remain a part of the church regardless (if they'll have me). Idk if that makes sense.

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IT_Veteran
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by IT_Veteran » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:28 pm

It does make sense and I appreciate your perspective. My own DW shares much of it. I won’t refer to her as an unbeliever, but she is troubled by the history of the church as well. She’s expressed that she prefers to remain in the church for now, and try to counteract he harmful things that are taught, rather than leave it as I have. She has chosen this for some of the same reasons you have, but primarily because we have a 13 yo that still believes and a 3 yo that enjoys seeing her friends every week.

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GoodBoy
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by GoodBoy » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:45 am

jb_10mm wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:43 pm
Anyway, for the most part, I really enjoy my association with the church and its members. Can I continue to live and enjoy the "based on a true story" (however loosely) life in the church?
I had the exact same questions you did. I trust people to make the best decisions for themselves because you are way more familiar with your situation than I am.

I'll just share what I did:
After I lost my faith I was a quiet, tolerant, non-believer for about 6 years. That gave me time to transition mentally, prepare my wife and kids, and to some extent my extended family, and for me to find an alternate community of friends since leaving cold turkey will leave you pretty much all alone and that is likely going to result in some hurt and therefore anger. It also gave me time to process mentally the whole thing. Then I resigned out of the blue and stopped going to church most of the time. I did it like this to communicate that I was confident in my conclusions and to relieve any of my dear friends from responsibility of trying to "save me". I still attend occasionally to see my good friends and hobnob with them in the foyer and/or go help in nursery with my wife.

My conclusions: The church isn't true. There is no doubt about that. But that is OK. I believe that true believing Mormons (TBM)s are good people who are trying to do what is right. Just like me when I was a TBM. Humans are wired to believe myths for some reason. Look around the world! Those myths can unite us and help us identify our tribes, cooperate, and reduces some of our anxiety. So Mormons aren't wrong or bad. They are just deluded. And there is very little you are going to be able to do to change their minds and trying is going to probably lose you friends and make you frustrated. I've decided to be respectful of their beliefs, the same as I would be respectful of a Muslim or a Hindu. I don't try to change their minds. I sit quietly while they bear their testimonies of things that they think that they "know". I say prayers and sing hymns. I still feel the spirit, the same way I feel the spirit attending the Mosque with my students. I don't try to fight good feelings. I just enjoy them. I let my wife and kids choose for themselves what they want to do with their lives, but I don't let them choose for me what I should do with my life. I try to give my kids all of the information that they will need to make fully informed decisions and because they don't receive any non-faith-promoting information at church I am often the guy that gives my kids cognitive dissonance and I know that is hard for them and they sometimes resent me for it. But I just relay facts, I don't make conclusions for them.
Always been the good kid, but I wanted to know more, and to find and test truth.

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moksha
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by moksha » Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:52 am

A sampling of typical NOM posters: Image
They look like a welcoming bunch.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Corsair
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by Corsair » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:34 pm

moksha wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:52 am
They look like a welcoming bunch.
Thank you for getting a shot of me on my good side.

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NewLight
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by NewLight » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:48 pm

Welcome jb-10mm!

You are on a good forum with decent respectful folks here. Though I don’t post much, I still get quite a bit out of the information and dialog that is shared. I had to respond to you simply because about four or five years ago I found myself pondering the same thoughts you are expressing now – is it possible to stay in the church and be a catalyst for positive change and honesty?

I believe anyone can reach an answer for that question, but it will always be intensely personal and a lot of factors, such as family relations, employment, neighborhood, personal experience etc. come into play.

When I first started pondering the question, I somewhat naively thought it would be possible to help the Church change. I became the person in classes who offered alternative views, who opposed the “us versus them” mentality, who brought up that perhaps we needed to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community and that the Church’s track record in showing love to that group really was not that great. I would mention the importance of love in lessons as talking about the true history is not welcome. As a person who wanted to hang in there and help usher in change, I found it mentally and emotionally exhausting – after some year, I simply could not do it any longer so about 18 months ago, I quit attending. My wife was not far behind me in this as she was finding it very hard to teach the Laurels the whitewashed lessons and felt that her integrity was being compromised. She stayed longer than I did, but then quit attending almost 14 months ago.

Some people can stay in that sort of limbo mode and be the liberal voice for years attending the meetings, but I believe it would be very tough to do and I have respect for those who can pull it off as the Church, though it doesn’t know it, needs those voices.

I have to say I felt a little bit of dread when I quit attending – I had been a counselor in the bishopric in my area and my wife had major callings in our ward too. We were quite well known and we really loved our ward family. Who wants to lose that?! On the other hand, it was next to impossible to attend the way it is – it’s just too hard to hear things like “The Nauvoo Expositors had anti-Mormon lies about Joseph Smith” and not call bulls***. In short, we totally quit attending. It helped that virtually all of our children were right there with us – we are definitely lucky in that respect.

Now the good parts…

First, you do not have to lose your LDS friends. Just keep being you and don’t be a jerk about what you know and those friendships can last. My wife still attends the book club that she started years ago with LDS women in our area (note: they probably have never used a book published by Deseret Book in their readings but are all active in their wards). My wife and I just had a lovely BBQ last Sunday with the Elders Quorum President and his First Counselor and their wives. We have known these guys for years and love them. The way we have handled it is made it perfectly clear that we still want to be friends, but we have no interest in coming back to church - ever. Somehow, that approach has worked out.

Second, if you have spent your whole life in “LDSity”, you may not realize that there are other wonderful communities out there you can become a part of. I know Mormon Spectrum was mentioned and we found a community in our area (Tooele County – just west of Salt Lake City) through them. We have parties, breakfasts, lunches, get togethers, Saturday/Sunday hikes, and whatever else and we have made some great friends through the group we are a part of. They are wonderful, genuine people who care deeply for others in the community and they have taught me plenty about unconditional love. It is also great to be part of a group who will welcome anyone struggling with staying LDS and listen and offer support.

Finally, we now have another day, Sunday, we can use for more family time. Again, I count myself lucky on this one, because all my kids are on the same page with us (they are grown and married). We had a lovely Father’s Day picnic in American Fork Canyon that we would never have shared if all of us had callings in our respective wards.

Bottom line – if you do try and stay to make a difference and find, like I did, that you just can’t pull it off, know there is a life outside the church for you that is joyful and offers both meaning and love. But try as they might, do not expect the TBM group to understand your decision for leaving. Most simply can’t get it.

Cnsl1
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by Cnsl1 » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:41 am

I've appreciated reading this topic and I can relate to the feeling of wanting to stay in the church but maybe not be of the church, so to speak.

I have tried to stay in, to "lift where I stand", to ignore the ridiculous, embrace the good, support the unconventional, and provide an example and occasional quiet voice to another viewpoint. For the most part, it's worked pretty well. I understand that I'm possibly one wrong leader away from being pushed out, however. The staylds forum has helped me tremendously. There are several people there engaging in the same process, standing on the same edge of the Mormon road. I encourage jb to check out that forum as well.

I understand it might feel disingenuous to carry on in an organization you no longer believe in, or believe in differently than you did before. I try to focus on the palatable parts and ignore the rest, for the most part. It's still an organization of people, and for the most part, good people with sincere hearts who want to do good. Nice people. Sad people. Distressed and anxious people, needing a friend. I have to take breaks at times. Sometimes I cannot handle it... Sometimes I need to skip church, go home early. There are some callings I cannot do. There was one I thought I could do and felt really inspired about, but stake leaders eventually interdicted (after initially being very supportive) and so I quit. I've lived in the same ward and stake for quite a while so I suppose enough people know, or have an idea they know, where I stand so accept me where I am. I participate on my terms.

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IT_Veteran
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by IT_Veteran » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:10 am

Cnsl1 wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:41 am
I understand it might feel disingenuous to carry on in an organization you no longer believe in, or believe in differently than you did before. I try to focus on the palatable parts and ignore the rest, for the most part. It's still an organization of people, and for the most part, good people with sincere hearts who want to do good. Nice people. Sad people. Distressed and anxious people, needing a friend. I have to take breaks at times. Sometimes I cannot handle it... Sometimes I need to skip church, go home early. There are some callings I cannot do. There was one I thought I could do and felt really inspired about, but stake leaders eventually interdicted (after initially being very supportive) and so I quit. I've lived in the same ward and stake for quite a while so I suppose enough people know, or have an idea they know, where I stand so accept me where I am. I participate on my terms.
I've wondered how different callings would have affected my ability to stay in differently. I had to leave. I spent almost a year as the EQP where I was out to family and bishop as not having a testimony. When I accepted the call the year prior, I didn't feel like I had a testimony, but that the calling would probably be fine and I'd regain a testimony eventually. If there wasn't all this pressure to stay in, to voice support, to raise my hand and sustain leadership I don't sustain, to participate in priesthood ordinances I actively disbelieve, I could probably stay.

I got tired of sitting in the bathroom or in a quiet classroom for the 20 minutes before church actually started hiding from the aaronic priesthood looking for people to help with sacrament - I'm in my mid-30's. I was asked by the RSP at one point, out of the blue, to give a blessing to a woman in the foyer right before church started.

There's just this expectation that, if you're at church and you're an adult, you are a believer and you're interested in participating. Even when someone (bishop) knows I wasn't either of those things, they try and keep you in by asking you to dedicate time to it. He asked me to chair a committee on emergency preparedness. At the time I was working my primary job, playing Army one weekend a month, finishing my last semester of an MBA, driving for Uber on the weekends, and serving as a board member for a non-profit. When I listed all that, he offered to put it on the backburner and revisit it in May. No thank you!

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moksha
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by moksha » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:44 am

IT_Veteran wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:10 am
I got tired of sitting in the bathroom or in a quiet classroom for the 20 minutes before church actually started hiding from the Aaronic priesthood looking for people to help with sacrament - I'm in my mid-30's.
That could have been resolved by not wearing a white shirt and a tie. You would feel comfier without the tie and no one would fret that you got food poisoning from Sally Jensen's Jell-O salad at the Church potluck.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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IT_Veteran
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by IT_Veteran » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:49 am

moksha wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:44 am
IT_Veteran wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:10 am
I got tired of sitting in the bathroom or in a quiet classroom for the 20 minutes before church actually started hiding from the Aaronic priesthood looking for people to help with sacrament - I'm in my mid-30's.
That could have been resolved by not wearing a white shirt and a tie. You would feel comfier without the tie and no one would fret that you got food poisoning from Sally Jensen's Jell-O salad at the Church potluck.
That's eventually what I started doing. Then I stopped going altogether.

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MalcolmVillager
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Re: Looking for a home...

Post by MalcolmVillager » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:20 pm

Welcome. I just read your intro and personal story page. Brutal. I believe that the church and its teachings/culture have caused supposed addictions among thousands of poor victims.

This place is a godsend and truly saved my sanity during my most dark night of the soul. I don't post as much now si ce I have found more peace, my wife is somewhat coming along in her faith journey (so we can talk about most topics openly now), and I have found FB groups that are more active and have real faces.

I am completely non-believing now. I go most weeks and hold a TR and stake calling. I have told DW that I will make it to our youngest baptism next April. We will see where the journey goes from there. I am super mormon culturally and so the facad is easy in my community.

Good luck on your journey. Go slow. Be gentle on yourself and others. Don't make any final decisions. Take it one day at a time.

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