Saturday, September 6, 2008

loosing my grip...

[or am I just losing it?]

A few days ago, I made all the necessary calls required to get out of all my callings and obligations to the ward.

But let me back up a bit.

Two, maybe even three years ago I wrote this:

"But I hang on. Lots of others in my situation have severed all ties, start to drink, smoke, swear, etc… Obviously they don’t keep paying 10 percent of their income to the organization. But not me. I am still there, gritting my teeth through most of the meetings, trying no to be too cynical of the things said in Sunday school. Trying not to deviate too far when I teach the kids their Sunday school lessons, not bring up any of the questions that torment me. I don’t drink or smoke, and I am fighting off swearing as hard as I can… but then I know lots of good members who do let rip with offending words, but they still have callings in high places, so I feel okay about my little slip-ups. And we do keep paying 10 percent of our income to the organization of the church. I say we, because I get little checks here and there from various art projects I do… and I usually slide on paying my tithing on them- is that a sign… am I loosing my grip on the rod? As long as “We” pay that comforting little 10 percent, I am content to ignore my own little irregularities. So why do I hang on? Here is the best answer I can come up with: deep in the spiritual experiences I have had with this theology, there have been good and Godly things that I have needed. I am content to allow myself to interpret things in a slightly different way, and to permit myself to see certain things as a result of the “false traditions of the fathers” while still remaining within the framework. Still hanging on. keeping silence a lot of the times, but hanging on."

Then, it was last year that I returned my temple recommend to my bishop. letting that go, but still hoping to hold on to the church as a non-recommended member.

Still hanging on.

Then, several months ago, I hit a fork in the road. I felt I could no longer go on as I had been going, I had to make a decision about The Church one way or the other; either re-enter as a fully participating member, or take a leave of absence for a bit. I was leaning towards a sabbatical. The same day I wrote that post, I was called to work in the nursery with my husband. These past few months have been quite hard, I have felt so stuck, arrested mid-step. More than anything, these past few months have solidified the desire to take a break. To step alway from the church, get some breathing room, something.

So now it begins. I have let go. I am taking a sabbatical. Taking a break. I'm going to start from scratch, and try to do some rebuilding of my shattered self-image.

Margaret Starbird in speaking of her own crisis of faith, wrote: "I feared it would turn me inside out. Doctrines I had believed on faith had to be uprooted and discarded, and new beliefs had to be sown and allowed to take root. The entire Roman Catholic framework of my childhood had to be dismantled to uncover the dangerous fault in the foundation and then the belief system carefully rebuilt when the fissure had been sealed."

Likewise, Jeremy (Chandelle's lover) spoke of when he left the church: "Without the constant need to check every decision I made against the teachings of that institution, a whole slew of possibilities previously closed to me opened themselves for consideration and action... I also had an intense feeling of fear. I was afraid of giving up the familiar. Afraid of ridding myself of a level of support that I had relied on all my life."

I am a little afraid. And shaky. Really, I don't know who I am anymore. And the day I made the phone calls to get released from my callings, I cried and cried.
Cuz I don't know where this is going.


adam said...

Wow, that was touching. Your openness about this is refreshing. I appreciate that you have a tone of humility and rawness without the bitter sarcasm that people often rely on when trying to distance themselves from a culture or set of beliefs.

I wish you the best on you future path, wherever/whatever it may be.

Bored in Vernal said...

♥ ♥

Natalie said...

best of luck in finding hope and happiness. I think that's what God wants us to have.

G said...

thanks adam and natalie.

I want to avoid bitterness and sarcasm as much as possible. Many close family and friends have a strong connection/relationship to the church, and I wish to cause as little alienation as possible between us.

and also, I view this break as being temporary (potentially). When I say I don't know where this is going, I really mean it. I fully accept that one of the places I may end up is back into The Church. All options are open right now.

we'll see.

BiV, I am interpreting your emoticon as sadness and/or disappointment.
I thought of you quite a bit as I came up to this decision to take a break.
Even after making the calls, I was a bit conflicted about writing about it, knowing that you (and others of my blogging friends) would be hurt by this.

I'm hoping you'll understand, and won't be too distressed or hurt by this step I'm taking.

Bored in Vernal said...

Sweetie, it is all love. I am interested to see where you will go and I love your thoughtfulness about your spiritual journey. That is what drew me to you in the first place. I am confident that you are doing the right thing for you at this time. I know how toxic the Church can be, and I have my own angst about it all. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to take a step back to see more clearly. You expressed this beautifully in your post.

G said...

thanks biv. I appreciate that.

"Nana" said...

I am so happy you are giving yourself the breathing room to make a decision! I hope you never feel pressure from me to break away from anything, I want you to end up with a love of self and the confidence to be you whatever you and up doing...I absolutely love being around AND when you where a firm member of the church. To me you are my sister and close friend, no church is going to change that. Self discovery is AWESOME...Happy searching!

Elizabeth-W said...

G, I 100% know this feeling of being scared. For a time, I really thought I might need to go to some inpatient facility; it was that messy in my head. I took a break of several years, and it was during that time I married my non-member husband.
Here's what was helpful to me, for what it's worth. Just because I didn't feel connected, didn't mean I didn't still think the WofW was basically a good idea, or honesty, or charitable giving, etc. Much of who you are is who you want to be, anyway. You really don't need to evaluate whether or not murder is now up for consideration.
I don't mean to sound glib. I just mean that much of what we choose to do in a day you'd choose to do, regardless.
I think what was hard for me was trying to find balance. A non-church example: Several years ago, I worked with women who were addicts who had been in abusive relationships. When they learned about having healthy boundaries they had difficulty moving from being completely taken advantage of to being completely selfish. It would take quite awhile for the pendulum to get back in the middle, to take care of self but be interdependent.
Whatever may seem like the opposite, for you, maybe you don't need to take it that far--find some middle ground.

JohnR said...

If it's any help, there's a loose community of us who have left recently but who still have connections to the church (through spouses, extended families, or desires not to completely sever ties), and who are working out our individual journeys together. You already know many of us, and we empathize with your struggles because they are our struggles and we love and accept you for who you are. You already fit so well in this community.

What's more, though I think it likely that your transformation will be alternately painful, strange and wonderful, I believe that by casting off these longtime constraints, you have taken a huge step towards reaching your full and glorious potential.

Numismatist Facts said...

Good luck in your journey of discovery and the ups and downs that it will bring. My own journey was long but ultimately very rewarding. The hardest part was dealing with family and their disappointment/resentment. The one thing that I have always been able to do is to respect other's freedom to worship (or not) in his own way. My daughter is very active in the LDS church and I support her 100%. Hubby is a lay minister in the Buddhist Church and he knows he can count on me for support there as well. We all have to find our own way.

Again, I wish you the best.

G said...

thanks all, for your comments!

nana- bless you! and thank you, for always being there. Nope, I have never felt any pressure from you to do anything but be me.

elizabeth-w yep, messy in the head. I get that. thank you for sharing your story. one of the scary things initially for me was the losing lines drawn in the sand; all the dos and do-nots. when I went to buy my first box of green tea, I was shaking- it was a step I felt I had to take... but it felt a bit like "well... what is now to stop me from doing LSD?"
kind of weird, to discover that good common sense is pretty helpful, even if a strict religious code is not used.

"You really don't need to evaluate whether or not murder is now up for consideration. "

JohnR, thank you so much. the association with folks like you and jana and others, who have gone through similar ordeals has been incredibly valuable.
thanks for being a friend!

Numismatist Facts, thank you for sharing how it works in your family, that sort of support and openness is what I hope will work out in our little family as well.

Bored in Vernal said...

I see that you changed the title of this post from "loosing my grip" to "losing my grip." I think you should change it back, and here's why: Losing your grip seems like it is something out of your control and even has a connotation of mental instability. Whereas loosing your grip seems more self-directed, something you are doing purposefully. Loosing your grip is giving you an opportunity to decide what the bedrock of your own faith will be. Plus the feeling of "letting loose" is something that seems wild and free.

I think you had it right the first time.

G said...

I think your right, biv.
embarrassingly, the original title "loosing..." was a typo.
(can't spell worth a darn!)
but i've thought about it back and forth a bit, and I agree with you.
thanks for your input!

G said...

(though sometimes it does feel out of control... and the allusion to mental instability is not lost on me!)

EmilyCC said...

G, I know this is a decision you haven't taken lightly, and it sounds like positive step for figuring things out. May blessings and love be your constant companions as you take this journey. Love you and your courage!

Ellen said...

I don't think I can add anymore to what everyone else has said above me, only that I love you and I admire your courage to make this decision. Your honesty in tackling these issues is inspiring. Please keep blogging, I love to read where this road is taking you.
Good luck!

G said...

thanks, ellen and emilycc

flygirl said...

Just want to add my well wishes and confidence that you figure it out. It's difficult but brave to actually make conscious decisions about the church as well as other things. No matter where you end up, or how the journey proceeds, you can know that you are there intentionally and to me there is something beautiful and peaceful in that alone.

chandelle said...

G, I don't have anything productive to add, just that I love how kindly and openly you are sharing this experience, and I gotcha back, babe, whichever way the road takes you.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog from the link at Exponent. I sure wish I knew you in real life, so that we could talk. Because I went through the same thing, too - a journey of over five years. However, I was single at the time. The pressure of how your decisions will affect your husband and son must be suffocating.

I just wanted to share one thing from my own faith journey: I started out with the two things that I knew were true.

1) That there is a higher power/God.
2) This God communicates with us.

And I went from there. I decided that I was firmly Christian, that the God I believed in was Jesus Christ. And then I dived into the New Testament. That is where I solidified my testimony of Jesus as Lord and Savior. And then it went from there - I ultimately ended up back in the Mormon church.

But sometimes I feel like I belong to a different church from the other LDS people. I feel such a focus on Jesus Christ, that I don't always relate to the concerns and experiences of the other LDS members. Oh, well. I'm there because I believe the LDS doctrines, not because I believe in the LDS social life.