Posted by: Jay | July 16, 2007

15 minutes with the Bishop

Yesterday I went to the appointment I had made with the Bishop to let him know about the struggles I’m having with my testimony. I will recount the best I can our conversation. I’m sure that many details will be left out so don’t take this as a word for word dictation of our conversation, as it only represents a general overview of it.

We began the interview with a prayer given by the Bishop. He had no idea why I was there (other than to seek counsel or confess something). He started the conversation.

Bishop: What would you like to discuss?

Me: Well, I’m a little uncomfortable doing this, because I’ve never done it before, but I would like to be released from my calling in the Elders Quorum Presidency.

Bishop: Ok, I can call the Stake President today but it will take a couple of weeks before you are officially released.

Bishop: Are there any worthiness issues that are leading you to this decision?

Me: No

Bishop: I know you are in school. Are the time demands of the calling too great?

Me: No, the time is not an issue.

It was my intention to be as vague as possible and still honestly answer his questions. He began to probe more.

Bishop: Did someone offend you?

Me: No, not at all. No one has offended me. Last week the 1st counselor in the EQ said something to me that made me realize it was time to be released.

Bishop: What did he say?

Me: Nothing really. He just asked me for the Home teaching stats because they were due on Monday. I didn’t have them. I knew that if I were really doing my calling I would have had them. I guess it just woke me up to the absolute apathy I had for my position. I didn’t think it was fair to the ward or the EQ to have me serve in the EQ any longer.

Bishop: What made you decide to be released?

Me: I have been struggling with my testimony for a little over a year now. Last summer when I was asked to take the calling, I did. I now see that I made a mistake in doing so. At that time I was convinced that my concerns would clear up with more study into Church history and with prayer. While many of my concerns have dissipated, there are still a few things that trouble me. Most of what I am struggling with are statements of pasts leaders and events in Church history.

The first time I thought I shouldn’t be in this calling was when I was out with the missionaries. I used to go out several times a month with them. On this last occasion they asked me to bear my testimony to an investigator about the Book of Mormon. I did it, but I wasn’t sure anymore if I really believed what I was saying. It was after that I stopped going out with the missionaries altogether.

If you related my feeling to politics, I would say it is kind of like when Nixon did what he did. After that people distrusted politicians. I think I have the same feeling about the Church now. I had a very painful time the end of last year, which was probably my lowest point.

I don’t want to leave the Church. There are many things only taught in this Church that I believe are true and wonderful. I want to find answers to the questions I have.

The Bishop look slightly relieved when I told him I wasn’t looking to leave the LDS Church.

Bishop: As long as you are working on your testimony, that is what is important.
What did you mean by mistrust?

Me: [Unfortunately, I don't remember my response to this question]

Bishop: How is your relationship with your wife?

Me: Good.

Bishop: Does she know about your struggles?

Me: Yes, She knows about everything I am struggling with.

Bishop: Are you able to talk to her about it?

Me: For the most part. She gets frustrated, so I don’t talk with her about it much anymore. She feels like we just spin our wheels talking about the same things over and over. She has learned to tolerate the conversation for a while but ultimately it gets her upset. I don’t blame her I would have been the same way a year ago.

Bishop: Do you have someone to talk to?

Me: Yes

Bishop: Do you talk with your family about it?

Me: No, My family and my wife’s don’t know anything about it. We’ve decided to leave them out of it for now.

Bishop: Who do you talk to then?

Me: Just other people

Bishop: Have you told the Elders Quorum President?

Me: No

Bishop: I’ll let him know you are going to be released so you don’t have to.

Me: OK

Bishop: Would you be willing to accept another calling in the ward?

Me: Yes

Bishop: How about a teaching calling?

Me: I’m not sure. I mean I’m ok with it if you are.

Bishop: How about a primary teacher, scouts or something with the young men?

Me: I really don’t feel comfortable decided what calling I am asked to do. I’d rather leave that up to the Lord.

Bishop: Of course, I’m just trying to get a feel for what you would like. My counselors and I would all have to agree after thinking and praying about it.

Me: I understand.

Bishop: Would a call that only required Sunday service be good?

Me: Yes that would be good.

Bishop: Thank you for coming and telling me this. I think I understand where you are coming from now. I’ll call the Stake President today and I’ll talk the EQ president to let him know you will be released. I think it will take a couple of weeks before you will be released though. Thank you for coming and being so candid.

Me: I understand, thank you Bishop.

Bishop: Will you give a prayer before we go?

Me: Yes

The tone of our conversation was always pleasant. I did not feel judged by the Bishop. I left feeling a little sad that I was being released, but mostly happy that I would not have the calling anymore. I was relieved that the Bishop acted in such a positive way.

I’m still not sure if this will have any future implications (i.e. temple attendance, baptizing my son, passing the sacrament, giving blessings etc.) That is probably something I should have brought up. I can only assume that I can do all those things because he didn’t say I could not. Overall I’m happy that my questioning is not a huge problem with the Bishop. I think if it had been I would have been pushed away from the Church and had a much harder time reconciling my feelings. I pray that this experience will ultimately strengthen my testimony of Jesus Christ and draw me closer to God.

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Responses

  1. It sounds like he would have been comfortable with you holding your calling despite your doubts.

    I’m glad he was gracious and understanding. From other stories I’ve read it doesn’t always go that well.

  2. I’m glad too. Luckily I have a good Bishop:) I know that John Dehlin also had a similar experience. His Bishop was very understanding of his struggles. However, I have heard some stories that didn’t go well. I think the response really depends on your Bishop.

    I don’t know if he would have let me hold on to my calling, but it doesn’t really matter, I didn’t feel like I could really do a good job right now anyway. To be fair to the EQ I knew I had to be released. It was hard for me to do because I feel like God wanted me to serve and I let him down. But I also think that God understands what I am going through and is willing to give me some time to work things out.

  3. Sounds like it went as smoothly as possible without going into too much detail. It looks like your bishop knew when to back off and treated you with respect. I think I will use your conversation as a model when I am faced with the issue. Good job in taking an uncomfortable situation and making it as smooth as possible.

  4. Thanks Zelph. I feel much better now that my Bishop knows what I am thinking. I’m just glad he reacted the way he did.

  5. That sounds like a good bishop, not everyone’s lucky enough to have one that understanding.

  6. Jay,

    Welcome back. I have checked back from time to time to see if you were back. Looks like I’m a little late.

    I had a similar situation, except it was my wife that told the Bishop of my struggles. I was never called into the bishop’s office, but was released from my Primary teaching calling and called to the Nursery.

    One thing that I will be faced with soon (as you will) is the Temple Recommend interview. You are asked if you believe GBH is a prophet and if you support all the church leaders. (This may not be a problem.)

    You will also be asked if you believe the BoM is true (you may or may not have an issue here. I do because I no longer believe the BoM or BoA are true.)

    And you will be asked if you affiliate with anti-mormon groups. Be careful with this one as it includes online participation in anti-mormon forums. Let me assure you that your Blog is not anti-mormon in ANY way, so don’t get hung up on this one.

    As far as baptizing your son goes, or continuing to use a current recommend, there are NO problems there. It is about worthiness, not beliefs, and you have already indicated your worthiness.

  7. Please, How can you be a mormon and not believe that the BOM is true? This is a sincere question!

    How can it be that we can support the structure of the church that so clearly has betrayed its members.
    Oh, I am so hurt and angry right now, I just want to run screaming…yet the ramifications of family and friends… feels more overwhelming than that of the prospect of leaving the church.
    Having them look at me as if to say

    “how could you?” “you know the truth”

    You know… if you leave, you are pretty much saying that your family is no longer eternal and that your marriage is no longer eternal, so your spouse feels threatened… everyones brain automatically goes to “she must be having an affair” It is maddening… there is no winning here.

    By stating that you no longer believe in the BoM, you are denied a Temple recommend… or you could lie and say that you do, but then you come to that sticky little question of “are you truthful in all your dealings”

    “well no, because I dont believe that the BoM is true”

    so no reccommned, family hates you for ruining the eternal unit etc..etc…

    argh!!!

  8. cherryn,

    I was just wondering if this has been brewing inside for a long time or did you just recently started feeling this way? What is it that has made you so skeptical? Is it one thing or many?

    It sounds like you are going through a really hard, and frustrating time.

    I hope you find peace in your mind and in your heart. I would suggest to you that you listen to your own heart and not what others (whether they be LDS or not) tell you. Your family will most likely be upset but this should not stop you from making sure you do what is right. On the other hand there are many out there who twist and try to confuse you regarding the church. There is a lot of mis information out there.

    Good luck to you, I hope you find truth and peace. If you have any specific questions I know I would love to help you out as would many on here!

    Steph

  9. Steph,

    Thank you for your warm words, I appreciate them.

    In answer to your question, this has been brewing since I was married 10 years ago, basically when I first went through the temple… And I have finally found the courage to explore (regardless of consequence) the questions that have been hanging on my mind.

    I am reading alot, trying to find some inner peace, and reading some more… it is going to be a process, and I am committed to finding some resolution.

  10. Cherryn,
    I know exactly what you are going through. I have had such a struggle myself trying to figure these things out. Another good resource is a site called Mormon matters. It’s done by the same guy that does Mormon stories (John Dehlin). The most recent podcast deals with inoculating the Saints or being straight forward about these controversial subjects early in their membership. Listen to episodes 12 and 13. I’ll add the link to the website to this blog so you can just click to it.


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