To stand or not to stand

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
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To stand or not to stand

Post by Reuben » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:12 am

Background: I haven't attended a Mormon church in about 15 months. I'm on good terms with the ward leadership. My wife gave a great talk in sacrament meeting a few months ago in which she outed me as an unbeliever - with my blessing. I rarely see old friends from the ward.

Yesterday, my wife accepted a calling as a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. She'll do a great job. The bishop has invited me to stand in the circle when she's set apart.

On the one hand, I'm glad the bishop asked. Mormons need to see evidence that people like me aren't broken and shouldn't be alienated.

On the other hand, when I had a breakdown almost a year ago that kept me home from work for three months, an important part of healing was letting go of my old Mormon identity. The prejudice that's pervasive in Mormon culture and reinforced by Salt Lake is a lot easier to deal with when it doesn't feel like it comes from your own people.

On the third hand, this could help me feel like prejudice against me doesn't penetrate the local ward very much.

On the fourth hand, feeling more welcome in the ward could make Salt Lake's reinforcement of prejudice hurt even more.

On the fifth hand, maybe they need some dissonance between what they're told and what they observe - which is just a restatement of Hand One, and we have a cycle.

Yesterday I felt fine with it. Today I don't. I can't predict this Sunday. I would rather not decide based how I'm feeling on Sunday anyway, unless my entire objective is to ensure that next week goes well.

I suspect that my wife is self-sacrificing enough to want whatever I need to be mentally healthy. There's a good chance she would worry about what people might say on Sunday if I attend, anyway. I should probably ask her, though.

I'm not a fan of thought cycles. Usually they mean I'm missing something. What am I missing?
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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Just This Guy
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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Just This Guy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:42 am

The way I look at this is this: This is your wife's moment. Forget about yourself for a bit and go do what she wants this time. It will help to maintain your relationship with your wife and friends from your ward.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by jfro18 » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:49 am

I'd ask your wife what she prefers... if she has a strong preference one way or the other, then it will make the decision easier for you.

I went for my kids blessing a few years ago and I felt incredibly awkward there - I did not join in the blessing which I think rattled my in-laws a bit, but I just couldn't participate in something that bothered me so much.

That said, they never asked me if I was going to do it until literally a minute before so I just didn't even really think when I said "No, I'm OK." If they had asked me in the days leading up I would have asked my wife what she preferred, because even though it made me uncomfortable, the event was completely meaningless to me, but very meaningful to her.

Hope you get some direction there... it might take the anxiety off if you know what your wife would prefer. And if she seems non-committal then think of what's best for your mental health and make sure to stick with it and not overthink it like we *all* do. :)

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by dogbite » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:24 am

Id skip it. Stand by your disbelief.

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by crossmyheart » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:05 am

People will connect the dots that you are only in attendance out of support for her new calling. Setting apart is going to be done behind closed doors with very few people in attendance. Those in attendance can be made aware in a brief statement as you are walking to the circle that you are grateful for the opportunity to show your love and support of her decision despite your philosophical differences.

Forgoing the anxiety of the moment- a month from now, or a year from now, will it matter to her? If symbolically it represents supporting your wife and will create a better bond between you two- then do it.

If she agrees your attendance and participation will only lead to increased curiosity and reactivation efforts- then skip it and buy her flowers instead.

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Linked » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:09 am

That's a tough decision. The hardest decisions are the ones where there is no obvious choice because the outcomes are unknown or similar. For your mental health I would recommend selecting a set of criteria, deciding based on those criteria, and not looking back. Whenever you wonder if you made the right choice, you can point back to your process and know that you did the best you could. I did this for a job change recently with multiple great options and it has really helped me avoid the "what ifs".

And since this is your DW's moment I agree with what others have said about getting her input on what she would like. Does she even care if you are there? Or is she comfortable with you supporting from home?
"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

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Red Ryder » Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:22 am

What are you missing?


You already excused yourself from church by your absence and wife's announcement. If she needs moral support then go and watch from the disbeliever chair. If she doesn't then stay home and validate her by genuinely asking her how it went.

Stop over thinking this.

Edited to add:

Just listen to dogbite!
dogbite wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:24 am
Id skip it. Stand by your disbelief.
...and CrossMyHeart has it right too! Buy her flowers!
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Stig » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:00 pm

That's a lot of hands...
“Some say he’s wanted by the CIA and that he sleeps upside down like a Bat. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

“Some say that he lives in a tree, and that his sweat can be used to clean precious metals. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by wtfluff » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:27 pm

Reuben wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:12 am
I suspect that my wife is self-sacrificing enough to want whatever I need to be mentally healthy. There's a good chance she would worry about what people might say on Sunday if I attend, anyway. I should probably ask her, though.
I'd say the discussion with the wife is what needs to happen.

Do what's best for you and your wife: What others ask or think doesn't matter. :mrgreen:
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel


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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by No Tof » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:08 am

The advice above is good regarding doing what is best for DW. If it makes her happy consider doing so unless it would be a serious negative for you personally.

FWIW, I have stepped in to the "circle" a couple of times in the past to set apart my DW and have to admit it was a chuckle both times. The first time I nearly pulled my hands out as the BP started in about my wife dealing with the hardships In her life, AKA me, but just laughed because any real discernment would have also detected the alcohol in my system and coffee on my breath. :lol:

The second time an area authority was also there and couldn't tell I was anything but holy. DW appreciated it both times.

Hope it works out well for you in your marriage. AS many of us know, being in a mixed marriage is a roller coaster ride.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Lithium Sunset » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:50 am

Stig wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:00 pm
That's a lot of hands...
That’s what I thought haha.

Hope the conversation goes well and you both end up in a comfortable place.
Last edited by Lithium Sunset on Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Hagoth » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:32 pm

Find an option that no one would expect. Stand a couple of feet outside of the circle, or pull up a chair and sit in the circle, or stand in the circle but put your hands on the head of the guy next to you. Nah, I'm just messing with you.

I can't answer for you or anyone else here, but my general course of action is do what I think is best for myself and wife and that's the limit of my need-to-please circle. My wife has no allusions that I will every regain my testimony and she appreciates it when I am willing to step a bit outside of my comfort zone for her, but she would never expect me to do something that I find intellectually or spiritually repugnant.

I agree with those who say you need to let your wife weigh in on it. If she wants you there you don't need to pretend that you believe in magic, you just have to stand there with your hands on your wife's head. If you don't have the right to do that I don't know who does. If it's not a big deal to her, then don't. For what it's worth, I had that discussion with Mrs. Hagoth last time she was set apart and she didn't care if I joined in the reindeer games, so I didn't.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by 2bizE » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:37 pm

You should go all out. White shirt, rainbow tie, suit, garments, CTR ring, paper scriptures in the satchel, tapir lapel, Moroni tie clip, and a Starbucks coffee cup. Try to confuse everyone.
They will say “look at that conservative, liberal, republican, Democrat, gay-supporting, iron-rod holding, heathen, exmormon member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by crazyhamster » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:54 pm

I agree totally with discussing it with your wife and taking her feelings into account, and that this is between you two only.

If the ward is anything like mine was though, your participation WILL be taken as a sign that you have had a change of heart/seen the light and are either on your way back or are open to it. Whether you want to give that impression may be a consideration.

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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by moksha » Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:09 am

I could see a husband being honored if his wife were on hand to see him inducted as the Grand Walleroo at the Eternal Order of the Waterbuffalo. You want to share those special moments with your significant other.
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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Re: To stand or not to stand

Post by Random » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:17 pm

What did you end up doing, Reuben? If you stood in, how did it go for you?
[They] which knew me from the beginning . . . would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Acts 26:5

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