Fish out of water

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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stuck
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Fish out of water

Post by stuck » Fri Oct 21, 2022 8:42 pm

I don't know about you guys and gals, but lately I am feeling more like a fish out of water at church activities. I am sort of ignored especially by the bishop and eqp since they know my status (beliefs). Anyway, it sort of makes me not want to go. I have already stopped going to elder's quorum. I wouldn't attend sacrament but do so to support my wife and kids. How do you all cope with going to church activities and such?

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Hagoth
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Hagoth » Fri Oct 21, 2022 9:32 pm

My experience was that a lot of people seemed really interested in me for a week or two when word of my disaffection got out and they were actively discussing me in meetings. Not interested enough to actually attempt a conversation about anything faith-challenging, mind you.

Then I seemed to become invisible. If you don't tease the lion maybe he won't bite?

I think secretly they probably wish you would just become inactive and not be another guilt-inducing obligation for them to feel bad about. It's really a shame. I don't go to any activities any more, but I always go out of my way to be friendly when I bump into someone from the ward.
“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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alas
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by alas » Sat Oct 22, 2022 12:20 pm

You either go and accept that you are invisible, or stop going. I have never heard of anyone being an accepted member of the community as an unbeliever. It is like when you stop saying all the stuff you are supposed to say, even if you don’t come out as an unbeliever, you just become a nonentity. You can be as friendly as anybody, but if you don’t say the right things, you are ignored. I put up with it for several years, just keeping quiet about being a feminist and unbeliever. I thought I could go just for the Christian parts and just to be with my spouse. But I was just a nonperson. I wasn’t there as far as the believers treated me. For me, I decided that the environment was triggering too many abuse issues and so I eventually stopped and that was when I first came out, even to DH.

So, go and support your spouse, but you ARE a fish out of water. Just accept it is because you love your spouse, not because you are trying to be one of them. You are not one of them, and I don’t know how they know it if you never say anything, but you are not saying the right things either. You can even be open that you go to be with your spouse, and sometimes find a few people that accept you on that level.

dogbite
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by dogbite » Sat Oct 22, 2022 3:09 pm

That was always my experience. The church members really aren't my tribe.

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Red Ryder
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Red Ryder » Sat Oct 22, 2022 5:26 pm

You’re contagious now.

I’ve felt the same way. Then I learned not to care what ward members think about me.

Life got better.
“It always devolves to Pantaloons. Always.” ~ Fluffy

“I switched baristas” ~ Lady Gaga

“Those who do not move do not notice their chains.” ~Rosa Luxemburg

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Mormorrisey
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Mormorrisey » Sat Oct 22, 2022 7:24 pm

That's the NOM reality - neither fish nor fowl, condemned to be on the sidelines while the Mormons do their Mormon thing. For me, it's been over a decade it's been like this, and not only have I accepted it, I have embraced it. Much to the chagrin of the other Mormons around me. They don't know what to say, they don't know how to act around me, and that's cool.

It was the redoubtable pirate Corsair who likened the situation to Rorschach from the movie Watchmen, who, while in prison, shouted out to all the inmates who wanted him dead, "I'm not trapped in here with you, you're trapped in here with me!" I have made that my mantra ever since. It takes some serious attitude to pull this off, but it works for me.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

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Culper Jr.
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Culper Jr. » Sat Oct 22, 2022 8:53 pm

Yeah, the church doesn't care about it's members outside of the context of what they can do for it.

The only time the church responds to anyone is when it thinks there is something it can gain. Once you get to the point of what the church considers defiance, where you set limits to what you will do the church is pretty much done with you. If you are inactive but not really defiant you represent a potential active member where the church gains from your service/money/attendance. If you are active and church broke of course the church gains from your service/money/attendance. But once there is any level of defiance to the church's authority through questioning or setting boundaries they are just done with you.

And really, there's no coming back from it and church leaders know that on some level. Once they realize they've lost that control, they know all they can do is contain the spread. I've been in this ward for 23 years. I've served in callings from nursery to high priests; served in the bishopric, clerk, scouts and as a temple ordinance worker. I lasted about 6 or 7 years of that 23 as a nuanced NOM type until I just couldn't go on with one foot in and one foot out. The second I started questioning and putting any limits on what I would do for the church people I had served with for years would barely speak to me. I finally sent the bishop my resignation and they couldn't get me out fast enough.

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sparky
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by sparky » Sun Oct 23, 2022 5:17 am

I have given up on finding real friends and community in the church. I'm still friendLY when I attend church things with DW, but I know those relationships will never be more than superficial acquaintances.

I'm finding my people elsewhere. For me, I've joined a running group where I feel like I can be myself and nobody else ever even thinks about Mormonism.

I recommend picking a hobby and finding a local group to join. Or find an ongoing opportunity to volunteer to help out in your community. It will help you more than anything else to release Mormonism's hold on your brain.
Mormorrisey wrote:
Sat Oct 22, 2022 7:24 pm
It was the redoubtable pirate Corsair who likened the situation to Rorschach from the movie Watchmen, who, while in prison, shouted out to all the inmates who wanted him dead, "I'm not trapped in here with you, you're trapped in here with me!" I have made that my mantra ever since. It takes some serious attitude to pull this off, but it works for me.
I'm trying to develop this kind of attitude. Van your give an example or two of interactions with members where you asserted this attitude?

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Mormorrisey
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Mormorrisey » Sun Oct 23, 2022 7:31 pm

sparky wrote:
Sun Oct 23, 2022 5:17 am
Mormorrisey wrote:
Sat Oct 22, 2022 7:24 pm
It was the redoubtable pirate Corsair who likened the situation to Rorschach from the movie Watchmen, who, while in prison, shouted out to all the inmates who wanted him dead, "I'm not trapped in here with you, you're trapped in here with me!" I have made that my mantra ever since. It takes some serious attitude to pull this off, but it works for me.
I'm trying to develop this kind of attitude. Van your give an example or two of interactions with members where you asserted this attitude?
Have some interesting high council stories that I need to share, and when I have time I'll give a report that will better illustrate how I deal with things on a macro institutional level. But I'll give two examples from just the last few weeks, that just gives a micro flavour to how I tend to deal with Mormons around me. I try to be gentle, and just keep it matter of fact, but I also don't really want to be involved in Mormon busy work. Just last week, one of the ward family history consultants was asking me about my family history and temple work. I just said, "well, I'm busy enough and I just don't have time or any real desire to do it." This person is very nice, they know that I'm not particularly orthodox, but this admission was shocking to them. So they said to me, "but don't you want to make sure that your ancestors get salvation?" Without missing a beat I said, "well, I don't really want to subject anyone I truly care about to the what the church is doing." Again, bit of a shocked silence, eventually they said "nice chatting with you" and they went on their way. And that's really what I want; I just don't want to be involved.

Another story happened the last time I spoke on a high council Sunday - my SP friend showed up that Sunday, and sat down. The bishopric member I was sitting beside, who knows me a little bit, asked, "are you going to change anything in your talk now that he's here?" I just said, matter of fact, "Not. One. Word." And that was that. But to me, it's just about being straightforward - this is me, this is the way it is, and that's that. Hope that helps.
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Mon Oct 24, 2022 1:03 am

Mormorrisey wrote:
Sun Oct 23, 2022 7:31 pm
Have some interesting high council stories that I need to share, and when I have time I'll give a report that will better illustrate how I deal with things on a macro institutional level. . . .Just last week, one of the ward family history consultants was asking me about my family history and temple work. I just said, "well, I'm busy enough and I just don't have time or any real desire to do it." This person is very nice, they know that I'm not particularly orthodox, but this admission was shocking to them. So they said to me, "but don't you want to make sure that your ancestors get salvation?" Without missing a beat I said, "well, I don't really want to subject anyone I truly care about to the what the church is doing." Again, bit of a shocked silence, eventually they said "nice chatting with you" and they went on their way.
I enjoyed this anecdote and I'm looking forward to your high council stories.
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being.

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moksha
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by moksha » Mon Oct 24, 2022 2:05 am

I like the Eucharist portion of Sacrament meeting. It is short and the most spiritually nourishing part of the entire church experience.
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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stealthbishop
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by stealthbishop » Mon Oct 24, 2022 9:26 am

This is definitely one of the major areas where the rubber meets the road.

It can be really challenging to know to whom or to what extent do we open up and share our belief or non-belief. I know with good friends of ours who are still in the church, I still don't believe it is best to share a lot how we see that the church has been and is damaging. For now, that is working. And we can still have a decent time together.

I sort of believe in the concept of the reverse temple recommend/worthiness interview of sorts. When I interact with LDS family, friends or anyone LDS, I am determining if they are fully prepared for me to allow them into "my temple" in a way with regards to my beliefs and thoughts. Beliefs and thoughts can be sacred ground and we don't have to let anyone in that we don't feel is worthy of walking that sacred ground with ourselves. Said another way, I do block people from having a "TR" with me or perhaps giving them a "limited use TR". Or maybe they only have access to my "lobby" or "visitor center". Maybe they can only access certain spaces in my temple that might be a little less sacred than others. Said another way it's the idea of not casting our pearls before swine less they get trampled.

I agree with others who said that it is important that you and all of us find other community/tribes. Orthodox LDS believers will not understand us. It's not to say we can't attend things but they may have a variety of sometimes maladaptive responses to us showing up. They don't always handle it well. And TBH they are in an awkward position of either doing too much to reach out or doing too little. It's an awkward position for all involved. It goes with the territory unfortunately.

Look at it this way, if you were working for a company and you started being public about what you saw as negative about the company and how it's a bad place to work and customers are having a bad experience or the product or the service being provided is damaging or bad, or that the leaders of the company are fraudulent, then eventually you would get some pushback from the company. What this suggests is that this is not just unique to a church and that this type of stuff is wired into human beings as tribal creatures. When we engage in anti-tribal activities (in the lds case it might be publicly saying you no longer believe, or saying that the church is damaging, or not wearing garments anymore, or not attending church, etc.), tribes punish to one degree or another. And punishments can take various forms too. The bottom line is that we all need a tribe or tribes that align with our values more. NOM is a tribe but sometimes we also need some of the face-to-face contact even if it is just in a small way.

Deciding whether we attend church or activities is an individual decision and always depends on the context of you, your spouse/family, the ward and the local leaders, and the event. It's a tough call to learn and figure that out and it can evolve and change.
"Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess"

-Depeche Mode

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Linked
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Linked » Mon Oct 24, 2022 10:31 am

I feel it too stuck. I am limiting my involvement to SM twice a month to support my DW. I get the infamous "I haven't seen you in a while, it's great to have you hear!" regularly. There are a few genuine connections in the ward with whom I enjoy chats pretty often. But for the most part it is just awkward.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my neighbor and counselor in the bishopric and he asked if I was up for speaking in SM and I wasn't up to reject him so I said I might be. Later he texted me about speaking and texted back no thanks. Later we were chatting and he said it was no problem but he thought I was open to it because we had talked about it.

All this is complicated because my DW needs me to not be a problem. Full honesty would bring her unwanted attention. And like Stealth said, many of these people aren't worthy of my full honesty; pearls before swine and all that (their phrase...). So I have these weird interactions where they don't know what to do with me. It's quite stressful.

During SM I play with my kids and look at my phone. Last week I watched a football game.
"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

stuck
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by stuck » Tue Oct 25, 2022 12:25 pm

Thanks everyone for your responses they were all helpful and insightful. Just a side note, awhile back when I asked my EQP that I didn't want to minister anymore that led to him inviting me to breakfast and I let him know that I no longer believed. Curiously, his wife this past Sunday spoke and said she recognized that there are probably several in the ward that had lost their faith and members should be more accepting of this. But she said something like wouldn't it be really cool if the church was true? And encouraged us to have faith in an aspect that was really desirable and perhaps our faith would grow. Unfortunately though that's like asking a 12 year old to go back to believing there is a santa claus because wouldn't that be neat? Right?

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Linked
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by Linked » Tue Oct 25, 2022 3:16 pm

stuck wrote:
Tue Oct 25, 2022 12:25 pm
Thanks everyone for your responses they were all helpful and insightful. Just a side note, awhile back when I asked my EQP that I didn't want to minister anymore that led to him inviting me to breakfast and I let him know that I no longer believed. Curiously, his wife this past Sunday spoke and said she recognized that there are probably several in the ward that had lost their faith and members should be more accepting of this. But she said something like wouldn't it be really cool if the church was true? And encouraged us to have faith in an aspect that was really desirable and perhaps our faith would grow. Unfortunately though that's like asking a 12 year old to go back to believing there is a santa claus because wouldn't that be neat? Right?
Wow, that's a big conversation! How did he take it? How are you feeling about it?

I think it would be really cool if someone gave me a million dollars, should I have faith in that too?
"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

stuck
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Re: Fish out of water

Post by stuck » Tue Oct 25, 2022 3:57 pm

Linked wrote:
Tue Oct 25, 2022 3:16 pm
stuck wrote:
Tue Oct 25, 2022 12:25 pm
Thanks everyone for your responses they were all helpful and insightful. Just a side note, awhile back when I asked my EQP that I didn't want to minister anymore that led to him inviting me to breakfast and I let him know that I no longer believed. Curiously, his wife this past Sunday spoke and said she recognized that there are probably several in the ward that had lost their faith and members should be more accepting of this. But she said something like wouldn't it be really cool if the church was true? And encouraged us to have faith in an aspect that was really desirable and perhaps our faith would grow. Unfortunately though that's like asking a 12 year old to go back to believing there is a santa claus because wouldn't that be neat? Right?
Wow, that's a big conversation! How did he take it? How are you feeling about it?

I think it would be really cool if someone gave me a million dollars, should I have faith in that too?
Well I didn't get into details with him. I just told him that after I learned about the Blacks and the priesthood essay, that that's what took me down the "rabbit hole". He said that there may be some scientific evidence that goes against Mormon belief etc. He sort of bore his testimony to me though but said it's good for members to think for themselves however. Plus he's a Ute fan in Utah county so maybe he is a bit more nuanced than most? I feel ok but I think he ignores me a bit more at church since our conversation. Maybe he feels like he needs to keep his defenses up?

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