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Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:50 am
I am having to ask myself some deeper questions and evaluate or re-evaluate my identity. With my wife (who used to be orthodox) now choosing to pull back from the LDS Church it has caused both of us to figure out what we believe and what we don't and re-define who we are and how we communicate that to friends and family. She has had a harder time with adjusting to not attending church very often. She gets a lot out of the Sacrament and the Sacrament Meeting whereas I just don't get much out of it. I enjoy singing hymns as a community but that's probably about it. What I now have come to admit is that I was bored in Sacrament Meeting.
But, I have a strong cultural/heritage connection with Mormonism and with my Mormon ancestry whereas my wife doesn't have that to the degree that I do. Neither of us find ourselves fitting into the ExMo or PostMo communities or identities. This is probably a reason for me coming back to NOM in addition to the amazing learning experience it was for me and the amazing community it gave me when I was here around 2010. I guess it's a journey and probably a lifelong journey to figure out what is best for oneself and figuring out who one is. I think I am still Mormon and maybe always will be. But I am disengaged, or separated, or in exile from the LDS Church because it was not a good fit for our family and actually was damaging to our family in various degrees.
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:52 am
My husband and I now ride bikes on Sunday morning - nature is our new sanctuary, the song of birds our sermon. We enjoy farmer markets, theater, live music, finding new restaurants, and have started cooking together - so much extra time to now spend meaningful time with one another.
Few people ask us our religious beliefs, but everyone knows we do not attend church. "not affiliated" seems a good label.
It is a journey. Self-discovery, being your own master, define yourself, it is a journey. Blessings on your journey
https://www.ted.com/talks/shi_heng_yi_m ... edcomshare
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:34 am
The idea of how to identify yourself, both to yourself and other can be hard. I don’t identify with the exMo or postMo communities. But my genealogy has straight pioneers six generations back, including several prominent names from Mormon history, and the journal most quoted on Trek. So, it is hard to drop all “Mormon” identifiers. And nobody else knows what a NOM is, so that works for online community, but not for explaining to friends and neighbors about who I am. So, I get the problem of identity.
What I came up with that fits me, doesn’t have the hostility of the exMo crowd, explains my heritage, claims my ancestors, and my marriage to a practicing Mormon, and doesn’t otherwise stick in my craw is that I was “raised Mormon.” I get the heritage, the scar tissue, the Mormon language, but still have a soft spot in my heart for Mormons. For me, that is the right amount of distance. It puts it behind me, yet still part of me.
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:29 pm
Stealth, you and the wife will figure it out.
I throw out the obvious cautionary tale to find your new identities together. Use every minute of your new found time to build your relationship. I’ve seen too many online stories of couples that both get out only to split up later. Steve and MaryAnn Benson, the institute guy and his wife, Kishkumen and his now ex. It’s sad but understandable.
I like what Steve Benson once said. “You cut me and I’ll bleed Mormon....” it’s intwined in our genetic make up and behavioral habits.
Enjoy the journey finding your new identity. We only have one life to live, yada yada yada.
Alas, I like the “raised Mormon” label but find too many people still question that.
So I’ve become a Chameleon of sorts.
Co-workers have no idea I was ever Mormon.
Friends are split between Mormon/NoMo/exmo etc. I interact accordingly. Family just thinks I have testimony issues. Etc.
Identity can be multiple labels. I prefer my hobbies and interests to reflect my true identity.
Those closest to me get to know the real me.
I’m a smart ass too!
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:43 pm
I've also contemplated personal nomenclature and failed to find one that really feels like it fits. Maybe it's because I've never really liked to be pigeon holed into particular categories.
I've found that how I describe my religion varies depending on the context and audience. When asked, yeah, I'm Mormon. For some reason, if the audience is NOT Mormon I tend to qualify that somehow. Such as, I still go to church most of the time, but don't believe everything most Mormons probably believe. I guess in a big way, I'm embarrassed to claim that religion without some qualifiers. Mormonism doesn't have a great history. What I've found though, is that most "non Mormons" see the religion as a positive thing. Mormons are usually really nice. They go out of their way to help people. They serve others and they seem happy. Most "non Mormons" seem happily clueless about the flaws and farts and issues and crap that bother us so much. I've wondered if "qualifying " my answer actually lessens my credibility of character, rather than enhances.
At any rate, I am what I am. I don't need to identify with a group or religion to feel good about myself. I'm me. I'm the only one of me. I'm different than I used to be, and different than I'm gonna be, but still essentially the same guy at heart. What's my religion? I'm not sure.. if you got some time, I'll detail my beliefs out to you and you can tell me what you think it is.
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:11 pm
I'm close to Alas here. If it comes up, I usually say I was raised Mormon but I left the church a number of years ago. I'm still a Christian now.
Then if they want to know more, I'm happy to engage, but I don't push it.
As Alas said, most people have a relatively positive impression of Mormons. However as the statistics show, I think Americans are getting further and further away from a need to identify with institutionalized religion.
They like or dislike you for what you are not for how you label yourself.
Posted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 2:17 pm
Most of my family agrees with this statement, but I'm a bit of a strange guy. I've always struggled to have an "identity."
The only real "identity" I've latched onto is that of husband, dad, and now grandpa. That's about it. That's what fulfills me, and it's probably why I stay an "active" member, and the only reason. For them. Because they seem to want me to be part of their church life. And they really are my life. And the best part is, they are just the best people. Not just because I'm married to my wife, and they are my kids. They are just so dang likeable. I have no idea how these great people turned out the way they have, with our largely dysfunctional family life.
I've never really centred my identity around work, either. Sure I have a PhD which I'm proud of, and I loved to teach, loved my students and feel very privileged I managed to do it for just over a decade. But it wasn't my identity, not at all. When it ended, there were no jobs in Canadian history, so I just moved on to a job that's not even close to being in my field. A lot of Mormon folk over the years have told me that "you haven't met your potential" because of this, and I just shrug. It's not your life, why do you even care? A job's a job, and the one I have now pays the bills and gives me enough extra that I can go visit my kids and grandkids fairly often (until this GD pandemic.)
Nor have I centred an identity around my nationality. I'm Canadian, I love Canada, but if someone offered my a great paying gig in Singapore, I'd leave tomorrow. So that's not really part of my identity either.
And so that has strayed to my feelings over my religious identity. I'm a Mormon, of sorts, but the kind of Mormon I am just defies description. I'm not even sure I'm NOM anymore, I'm more of a PIMO type (Physically in, Mentally out). I'm just not trying to reconcile any of it. So maybe I'm not the best person to ask, how to figure out an identity. I just seem not to care enough to label myself.
But I certainly understand the struggle to find an identity, especially as you draw away from a very high demand religion, that was really your life. Trying to fill that particular hole would be a big challenge, so I wish you luck, stealthbishop!
Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:54 am
Hey thanks for the feedback everyone. Much appreciated. Reminds me a lot about why I loved and continue to love this place.
Identity is an interesting concept. It obviously means different things to different people. The church is actually making it easier in some ways to use the word "Mormon" since that is now a faux pas term amongst orthodox LDS thanks to RMN. For me Mormon is more than a religion. It's sort of like Judaism but in it's infancy comparatively speaking. It's a religion but also a culture.
(FUN FACT: I'm a member of the Mormon Mental Health Association. It's an association of therapists who are culturally competent in Mormonism and maintain high ethical standards in counseling and therapy. Well, when I was on the board of the MMHA way back when, the LDS Church actually threatened to sue us for using the term "Mormon" in our name. Natasha and the Board decided to fight back and they backed down).
Like Alas, with those who are not LDS, I've noticed myself saying that I was "raised Mormon" because to others it is seen as a religion and I don't want them to think that I'm aligned with what they see as orthodox beliefs and practices (which to them are basically WoW stuff, anti-LGBTQ, and polygamy).
It's an interesting journey. Especially for DW who is still very early into this transition. As part of her Sunday practices she wants to listen to Music and the Spoken Word which I of course fully support whatever is best for her. It took so long for me to finally say or even realize that I was just bored to tears in Sacrament Meeting normally.
Thanks again for the feedback everyone!
Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:01 am
First let me also give you a belated welcome back to NOM! I primarily lurk because I have a difficult time getting my ideas down in a satisfactory way. I've been at NOM in one form or another for probably 10 years now and I've always appreciated your thoughtful and compassionate contributions to the discourse here.
I don't have any keen insights into the problem of identity, I just want to say that your post resonates with me, as I've also been struggling with this. I never realized how much my identity was wrapped up in Mormonism until I started mentally pulling away. Like a fish not seeing the water it swims in I suppose. Trying to define my identity now has been difficult. I'm certainly not post-mormon, as I still continue to nearly fully participate with church meetings, a calling, from the outside I appear and act orthodox. But i can't consider myself 'fully' mormon because I have lost my faith in its leadership and doctrine. My path to figuring these things out would be easier if my wife and family were out with me, but they are firmly entrenched with no signs of ever changing. So i'm the one causing the family stress and disappointment so I have to balance how far out I can tolerate being considering their feelings. That I am a total people pleaser does not make this any easier. I'm afraid i'm heading to an identity of 'resentful participating non-believing Mormon who is afraid to pull away for fear of damaging family relationships and avoiding dealing with the disappointment of others'
That's not a great place to be but that's how it feels for now.
Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 12:55 pm
Identity eh? If there's one thing that MORmONism likes to attempt to squash, it's a personal Identity. MORmONism tells you who you are, and who you are supposed to be. You're never supposed to "be yourself," you're always suppose do be like someone else: Jesus, a made-up pre-historic "prophet, some currently living old guy who lies to you about how he talks to Elohim-near-Kolob, or any other of a long list of "MORmON good examples."
After over 40 years of trying to be someone else, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes another 40 years to figure out who I am. So to quote a MORmON phrase: I'll probably figure out my "identity" when I'm dead.
Other folks can label me whatever they want. At this point I don't really care, and I haven't really spent too much time trying to find any labels to apply to myself, so I guess I'll just continue to be Fluffy.
Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 11:17 am
I love the new motto of NOM 2.0:
A place to love and accept the people who think about and live Mormonism on their own terms.
That fits perfectly for DW and I now that we have gone mostly inactive. I still have family that is very orthodox and we still have friends who are orthodox that we are very close to. I think it is a new beginning for both of us in figuring out who we are and who we want to be and how to honor the connections we still have with others.
This is the right place! Not surprised since it has been a place that I loved from day 1 like 10 years ago. It's so good to be back!
Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 11:51 am
I’m trying to find identity elsewhere.
My name is 2bizE and I am a fly fisherman, a father, a husband, and a food enthusiast.
Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:28 pm
I've just recently used the phrase "raised Mormon" for the first time in a couple situations, explaining that my remaining ties are primarily family, culture, and intellectual interest.
Like Red Ryder, I find myself using the chameleon approach. I've asked myself at times whether that's an honest and authentic way to go about it, and I've concluded that it's the best I can do. My "authentic self" (if the self is even a valid concept) really is stuck somewhere in the middle and probably always will be. I suspect that I won't even be able to or even really want to make a clean break, but I also can't see myself regaining the beliefs I once held.
As far as identity goes, reading and thinking about philosophy over the years has kind of ruined that concept for me.