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?
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?
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?
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?
Bishop: I’ll let him know you are going to be released so you don’t have to.
Bishop: Would you be willing to accept another calling in the ward?
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?
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.