Staying Mormon After Losing My Faith Part 3

I have also spent a lot of time trying to understand what others also go through when they experience a profound loss of faith. A couple of years ago I made a list of the reasons why I am able to stay active in the LDS church after losing my testimony and be happy enough. I share this list so that others can examine ways in which they might be able to help others who go through something similar.

First, I am able to express my views honestly in church. I live in Boston, which is an area that has more open-minded people even in the LDS church. It still took some personal effort to get to the point where I can say what I want to say during lessons, talks, meetings, and other venues and not feel a twinge of guilt that maybe I’m harming somebody who’s fragile. Because if I did not express myself, I would go crazy and I don’t think I could stay active and happy.

Second, my beliefs are not very set; they are still evolving. I know how much I don’t know and how much trust I place on various beliefs of mine. Some others who go through a major loss of testimony end up in a place where they know the church is not true. Other than considering that possibility, I never really came close to landing in that camp.

Third, I am respected by my ward leaders, my stake leaders, and enough of my ward members. There are probably people that think that I don’t belong in church because of the views I express, but if there are, they don’t go out of their way to make me feel like I don’t belong.

Fourth, I still feel inspired occasionally when I attend church. I also appreciate the opportunity to confront and consider perspectives that differ from my own. I am able to benefit and have my experience broadened by the perspectives of others. I believe that continuing to attend helps me in my personal growth.

Fifth, I have not been personally harmed by the church or church leaders. I know many people who have been, but that has not been my experience. Rather, my experiences with the church have been inordinately positive. For people who have been harmed by the institution or its leaders, I think it is especially difficult to maintain activity.

Sixth, I think that my presence in church is helpful to others. I am thanked all the time for the comments that I make in lessons, or when I express my beliefs during a testimony meeting. I think that my presence in my ward makes the others around me who struggle with the church feel more hope and camaraderie.

Seventh, I feel a commitment to the church. I chose to make the church a part of my life, and I think that I would feel a sense of personal shame for not holding up to a commitment I made. I don’t know how healthy this attitude really is, but I feel happy enough with it for now.

Eighth, I feel a personal duty to do what I can to make my community as good as it can be. That applies to my neighborhood and the city I live in and also to my ward. I want the church to improve. If I did not attend church, then I couldn’t help it improve or even feel justified in critiquing it. I want to do everything that I can to make it better. I wouldn’t be effective at making my church community better if I weren’t an active participant in it.

I want to conclude with sharing a little bit more of what I believe. I do not know that God exists, but I choose to believe that God exists. I have looked at the evidence on both sides, both scientific and experiential, and I choose to believe in God. Furthermore, I believe that this faith transition that I have gone through is part of God’s plan for me. I believe that God wants me to have this perspective so I can share it with others. I believe that the purpose of this life is to become better people—more loving, kind, compassionate, more understanding. In sharing my experience, my goal is to increase understanding of those who go through a major faith transition in the hope that they will find compassion and respect within their church communities as they navigate through their spiritual journey.

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8 Responses to Staying Mormon After Losing My Faith Part 3

  1. John Tilley says:

    As a practising believing UK Member of the Church I find the most difficult trial to be that of one of your children losing their faith and going inactive. Particularly when he and his wife are the parents of four of your Grandchildren now living in Australia, so your ability to help and direct them and their parents is now extremely limited.

    Has anyone else advice as to how to overcome this problem?

    EJT

  2. April says:

    John Tilley – My husband left the church over a year ago, so I know what you’re going through on some level. I think it’s different when your child leaves versus your spouse, because you aren’t living with your son who has left.

    As far as your son is concerned. He’s an adult, he can make his own choices. Don’t condemn him. Don’t try to talk him out of what he’s done, it will only make things worse. Respect him. Pray for him. Love him. Be there for him. This is a journey has has to make on his own.

  3. Sally says:

    I agree with April. I think you should encourage your grandchildren to stay active. Write letters often with personal testimony and experiences that will touch them- give them constant reminders that they are children of a loving Heavenly Father. Let them see you joyfully living the Gospel so that when they experience life without the Gospel, they will form a desire of their own to seek what you have. And praying for them- and your son and daughter in law- will always bring blessings. I hope you can find peace amid this heartbreaking time.

  4. Aaron Smith says:

    Hello, I want to share. I have gone through a very similar situation. My faith was shaken, I struggled at church. I saw how imperfect the system was, the imperfections of the leaders. However, like you, I had the same meta physical experience that told me the book of Mormon was true. I held onto that. I read all sorts of things about Joseph Smith and the polygamy, the evidence Against the bom and other things. Logically, the story just doesn’t make sense. But metaphysically, it does. I have stuck to the metaphysical feeling. I have prayed and begged for help to understand. I can’t explain it, but I get these overwhelming feelings of comfort that I am to trust the stories. That I am to believe the church is true. I have never felt this anywhere else. I have checked out new age things, like clearings, I have checked out other Christian faiths, I have checked out the idea that we are just energy, and I have felt good things from them, but it is not the same. The LDS church has a power that I continue to come back to. It feels royal, compared to the other feelings. One thing that has helped me and continues to help is the understanding of “taking the leap of faith” it is so scary to do, cuz I chose to believe without evidence, and I fear I will brain wash myself. But when I take that leap, the overwhelming feeling of peace comes over me. I feel clear and it tells me that the church is true. Although I can’t logically explain it, it is true and I testify of it. I go with that feeling And I trust in it. Second lions has a very powerful quote in it where Robert Duvall says you don’t have to believe in something whether it’s true or not. You believe in something because it’s worth believing in. I choose to believe in the church andi get confirmations that it is true, but it only comes after I take the leap of faith, through much praying and pleading. And keeping the commandments to the best of my ability. Trying to listen to spiritual prompting and acting on then. I hope this helps, god bless

  5. Aaron Smith says:

    Watch “Second Hand Lions – Things worth Believin’ In” on YouTube
    Second Hand Lions – Things worth Believin’ In: http://youtu.be/wJemDZcgIZE

    Here is the clip

  6. anonymous reader says:

    Thank you author. You helped me a lot

  7. Looking for the Perfect Path says:

    Thank you .This is the closest explanation of what I’ve been going through the past 5 years. I too lost my faith and not because of anti-rhetoric which is 99% false or misleading. I felt the same things during testimony meetings and lessons. My bishop knows. My wife knows. I am a cub scout leader so thankfully am not put in front of audiences to testify. I go to church to support my wife and children. I don’t know of a better place for any of them to be on Sunday. I think of church as Santa Claus for adults; it helps us be good and make good decisions.

    I choose to believe in God and Christ. Here’s where I don’t fit in with anything I know: I still feel that the Book of Mormon comes from a divine source. Unfortunately, I am blessed and cursed with the need to follow logic over feeling. I think the contradicting evidence is weaker than the supporting evidence. My best conclusion, and I hate saying it and readily admit comes from no divine source, is that Joseph Smith was a great man… until he realized that people loved him.

    I’ll try not to get into apologetics and stick with me here, but I have to touch a couple of points for the sake of understanding. God’s mission for Joseph was to bring us the BoM. Everything else was all Joseph. Brigham Young’s teachings hint at this – his gospel is very different from what is taught today. So, I started going backwards from him to when it got messed up… When did things start getting ‘weird’? A thorough reading of the original Book of Commandments hints at this. Yes, I read it on my own, not from anti-sources. There are not an insignificant number of omissions from our current D&C.

    Every now and then leaders come out with statements that are anti-Christian. The whole thing about gay parents and their children should have been grounds for excommunication , but instead, members got upset for a week or 2 and then brushed it aside because… this is their Faith, it is who they are, and they would be lost without it.

    Anyway, I never share my misgivings with anyone. Only my wife and bishop know. I think a testimony is a beautiful thing to have and miss mine. I wouldn’t take it from anyone. I go to church and I am lost.

  8. Entertaining my Faith says:

    I too have had a total restructure of my beliefs the last 5 or so years. I have chosen to keep attending church. I take my kids to scouts, activity days, mutual. They love it. I loved the church in my youth and was a hook line and sinker Mormon for decades. I went through a lot of hurt and disappointment with a divorce, life, and mostly just as I learned more and more things about the church historically and even now that didn’t sit right with my principles and contradicted what I thought I “knew.” Now I know I don’t know and never did know, but believed and can only believe now…and those beliefs are different today than they were. I do go to church still for a husband, for my family, and yes, even for myself. Today was hard in Sacrament Meeting and I wanted to get up and correct the stake president as he spoke because I disagreed with line after line that he uttered . I question now almost every ordinance, every practice, every doctrine: is it of God or is it of man? I believe a number of practices, doctrine, preaching, etc. were not revelation at all. So how do I know which things are revelation? I don’t. I have had to come to terms with the idea that it is OK to not know everything. It was hard to come to that point, as feeling like I “Knew” was an anchor in my life, and that anchor had slipped away. So going to church is hard sometimes, but I will stay the course as best I can. I can no longer believe that the LDS church members hold an exclusive on eternal life. I have hope that Christ is there. I believe he will return again. I believe he will save me from myself. In my studying I have found that the LDS church does most closely resemble Christ’s teachings and church. Despite its failings, it is a great institution, I believe with only the best intentions. I read the Book of Mormon and have concluded bits and pieces were taken liberties with, but the entire thing consistently teaches that which is good and pure and holy–to follow Christ. My opinion is it is a good book regardless of who wrote it! So I stay. But whereas in the first half of my life my spiritual struggles seemed to consist of following the straight and narrow, now my struggles are internally in my soul, heart, and brain, and I don’t doubt that for the rest of my life I will need to be working towards a place of peace as the pieces of my blown-up faith base, so to speak, settle (if you can follow that.) I do believe in the end if I keep trying, God knows my heart and my intentions, and it will all be okay. But for now, I feel very alone because the very mention of such things frightens those stout believers. I know because I’ve been there.

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