Posted by: Jay | March 4, 2008

Doubting and its effects on others

doubt.jpg

This post has been a long time in the making. I have thought about it a lot and wondered if I could even fairly represent what my wonderful wife and children must be thinking. I’ve even asked my wife to write something expressing how my doubting had affected her so that those of us that question can see how it influences our loved ones. She agreed to do it, but I think it is low on her to do list. So I guess I’ll take a stab at describing how it is affecting her and others around me.

I don’t have any illusion that my questioning only affects myself, for that I am truly sorry. It saddens me to see my wife on occasion feel overwhelmed with it all. She puts on a brave face most of the time, but I know that sometimes it hurts her, which is the last thing I ever want to do. Though on the whole she is supportive of my spiritual wanderings, there are moments (just like for all of us) when she is overwhelmed with life and my current spiritual condition troubles her.

I also worry about my children. At this moment they are unaware of anything I am going through. I still read scriptures, pray, and attend Church with them whenever I am home. They are also very young still and probably wouldn’t understand even if I explained to them what I am going through. Most of all, I fear that explaining it to them would only cause confusion and make them loose faith in religion altogether as they continued to grow. I would much rather they slowly learn and decide on their own than have me impose my opinion upon them. However, My wife and I do agree that they should be informed about Church history as it truly happened. The question is when do we expose them to it and how.

I realize that my extended family is also affected by my doubting. This includes my own siblings and parents as well as cousins, in-laws etc. Right now they know very little of my condition. This is on purpose.  My wife is afraid to her families reaction to me  if they knew my current state of unbelief and  if I expressed my true feelings to them and she is probably right to assume the worst. Eventually, I think it will come out that I’m not a “full” believer, but for now I am content with things the way they are and am not in any hurry to include more people in the drama of my life.

Another thing I struggle with is how this site is received by those that visit it. I have anywhere from 30 to 450 visits a day on this blog (depending on the post). Most of those people do not comment and I wonder what they are thinking. How has my blog affected them? Some of them are probably members that are finding out facts about the Church for the first time. Others are investigators that may wonder why the missionaries have not told them any of the information they find here. I’m sure that some are set against the LDS faith before they visit this blog and take my struggling as confirmation of what they already know, secure that their faith is true and right. What do all these people think?

Though I’ve thought about it a lot and felt some apprehensiveness about publicly posting my thoughts as I wrestle with Mormonism, I feel that it is important to be honest and open. Who are we, as LDS, to think that our faith is above such questioning? Why should we expect our history to be free from blemish when so many others are not? Shouldn’t we be troubled by such things as polyandry, racism, “lying for the Lord” and the like? I think we should. I don’t believe that ignoring these problems is a good thing. I don’t think that dismissing non-members that bring them up as “anti-Mormon” is good either. We should understand our own history and, if it is what we believe, be able to defend it. This doesn’t mean that we argue with non-LDS folk, it simply means we are able to explain “our side” to others not of our faith that may not understand.

So my doubts may be influencing or affecting others, but that may not be such a bad thing. I imagine that most of these people will be affected little by anything I have written. A few may begin to question and desire to study more to know for themselves what is true and what is not. I believe this is overall a good thing.

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Responses

  1. The story of your brother-in-law made me realize how blessed I am to have married a woman who is understanding about my struggles in faith.

  2. Once in a while my DH will say that he wonders what he’s done by exposing me to these problems with the church. It’s clear that I would not be where I am without his influence. And sometimes that makes me mad…..not that he exposed me to it all but that I didn’t figure it out on my own first! :)
    Really though, I don’t agree with the people who go out and share everything they’ve found out with everyone they know. That’s not a judgment of them because I recognize that they must feel it’s their duty to share the ‘good news’ with their loved ones.
    However – I think a loving, not-bitter blog about your thoughts is a good thing for people who come across it. Believers or not. Maybe TBMs can see the other side of the story and realize that we still love if not only bits of the church, then at the very least the people in the church. That we are trying to work through these issues the best we know how.
    I wish I would have been brave and open-minded enough to read blogs like yours when I was a TBM and my DH was discovering all the problems within the church. I did not react well and it really put a strain on our marriage. I’m embarrassed that I acted that way. But I was scared of reading anti- stories and thoughts. Not that yours is but I had the mindset that everything not for the church was against the church. I’ve found that that’s not always the case.
    Anyway – you are lucky to have a supportive wife and that’s a pretty big deal in a situation where there are religious differences. She must be a good woman!

  3. I think I’ve told you before in other posts, but I’ll say it again. I think you’re doing the right things, and I think your approach is exactly right, especially as far as your children are concerned. In my opinion, to just bury your head in the sand and ignore your doubts would be very bad for you in the long run. As someone who was born into one of the restoration churches, and who converted out, I can say that your difficulties will not end when or if that day comes that you decide to leave the Church. In my life, being RLDS, I didn’t have nearly as much problems leaving as you may have if you end up going that route–and I’m not saying that you will. I was a senior in college when I converted, and I went to a different state for grad school, so I just kind of started over in another place. I didn’t have the burden of extended family living and/or worshipping with me. Plus, RLDS has a lot in common with Protestantism. There is so much that LDS believe and practice that we do not. There was no worry that somehow I would be “unsealed” from my parents and family, for example. That and many other things you have to worry about were non issues for me. My Dad was really upset though, but he blamed the Evangelical missionaries who “got into my head.” He believed that they would have ALOT to answer to God for.
    My opinions have changed so much in the last 23 years. I was so sure I knew what I was doing by leaving the RLDS church. I thought I knew it all! So, even though a person may be 100% sure that something is wrong at one point in his or her life, time and experience can change one’s views very much. In my opinion, by taking your time now and exploring everything, (and being cautious toward your family and protective of your children) you are more apt to make the right decision.

  4. I think people who express honest doubt are the ones who have the best chance at finding common ground with people of differing faiths and opinions. I think there is a “frontier” of spiritual seekers who operate at the fringes of religious institutions (as opposed to being imbedded at the core of the institutions). These brave souls who live on the spiritual fringes are the ones who will find each other and who will find ways to have true, meaningful dialog with each other about their faiths. People who are entrenched in their religions are not generally open to finding out about what others believe unless it is with the aim of using that information to try and convert them. What you are doing on your blog is to create space for dialog to take place. I think you are courageous and honest, and I’m grateful for the forum to read others’ thoughts and share my own in the safe, respectful arena you have provided.

    Don’t worry about the “lurkers.” For one thing, there are many automated systems that “sweep” the internet looking for whatever words, characters, or phrases their parent companies are interested in. If you have a site meter for your blog, you might check it and notice that lots of the”hits” last less than one second. And the people who *have* found your blog by googling and following links etc are seekers. If they see something here that causes them to question or use their God-given brains, there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

    I’m grateful for this blog, where I come to make sense of my past, to ask questions, to learn, to share. Thanks, Jay. –Suzanne (Sunny)

  5. I think you’re doing the right things, and I think your approach is exactly right, especially as far as your children are concerned.

    Thank you!

    You are lucky to have a supportive wife and that’s a pretty big deal in a situation where there are religious differences. She must be a good woman!

    She is a very good woman! I realize that I’m very luck. She always expresses to me her hope is that I will resolve my doubts and return to “full belief”. It isn’t always a bed of roses. She does have her moments of frustration, but we can always work it out. I’m very grateful for that.

    I think people who express honest doubt are the ones who have the best chance at finding common ground with people of differing faiths and opinions…People who are entrenched in their religions are not generally open to finding out about what others believe unless it is with the aim of using that information to try and convert them.

    I agree on both counts. If we are truly honest we have to admit that no one really knows if religion is a construct of man or if God is real. We all trust that it is. We base that trust on the indirect physical evidence, reliance on others testimonies and our own spiritual experiences, none of which is solid evidence. When someone really starts to think about it, faith is not such an easy thing to have. In fact, it can be really scary sometimes.

  6. Jay

    You said about your wife
    “She always expresses to me her hope is that I will resolve my doubts and return to “full belief”.

    Does she actually know the issues we/you are dealing with ?

    I really can’t understand why anyone has difficulty seeing these problems unless they are not aware of the problems themselves.

    As a result of my enquiring about things , I have ended up being ignored by most persons I ask and one person said she was looking into it all and would contact me very soon ! I actually believed her ! hahaha

    The result -I think she went to her Bishop with the printouts I gave her on ‘Blacks’ and rather than help her out and explain anything he has probably told her to not contact or respond with me .( Maybe because I’m Satan or something and that I’m trying to stop her exhaltation ??)

    The result is ‘Ignorance ‘ from her.

    This is what I have found when trying to talk with most LDS members . One member of the Bishopric even told me that Joseph Smith only married widows to help them !?!? I challenged him over it and told him the real deal on Joseph Smiths marriage practices .

    The following Fast Sunday he was testifying(bragging ?) how he had to ‘defend’ the church ?

    He was just lying to me in reality or at best was duped himself and actually believed the nonsense he was talking.

    The whole thing is quite ridiculous really. Now I understand the term Morgbots ! :)

  7. Does she actually know the issues we/you are dealing with ?

    Yes, she does. She’s read RSR and I’ve had many conversations with her. However, she takes a more faithful view of things. Basically, saying that we don’t know everything and that she will not judge. I don’t completely agree with that approach, but that is what she has chosen and I respect her decision.

    One member of the Bishopric even told me that Joseph Smith only married widows to help them

    It is troubling when even our leaders don’t have an accurate understanding of the genesis of the Church. It’s hard to help anyone struggling with these topics when you don’t understand them yourself.

  8. I think we all struggle with doubts in our lives and it is through doubts and struggle that we learn and grow.

    I used to have very serious issues with the LDS church and for a number of years (about 7) I sort of “went through the motions” so to speak. As I’ve grappled with various issues with the Church one thing that keeps me coming back is that regardless of history, etc. I feel much happier being an active member of the LDS church than when I’m not.

    My testimony is that God is there for us regardless of what others (even an ignorant Bishop) think and do.

    You mention about your family descriminating your brother-in-law for his lack of belief. That shows that they are essentially afraid and motivated by fear instead of love. If you continue to pray and find out the Lord’s will for you and answers to your questions, they will come and you will (and already do) have a much more compassionate heart for those who struggle with faith.

    I appreciate your openess and your sincerety and I’m sure you’ll be blessed for your sincere heart.

    http://www.graceforgrace.com

  9. Jay

    ” Yes, she does. She’s read RSR and I’ve had many conversations with her.”

    RSR is a good start. Have you mentioned the Book Of Abraham being an egypytian funeral papyri ? or asked her to identify between males and females in facsimile No3 in The Book Of Abraham page 41.

    I bought RSR to check if what I was reading on the Internet was credible .I was suprised to see that Bushman had actually confirmed these things.I was more suprised he included them rather than they were true.

    I think reading parts of JOD and the teachings of Brigham Young were real eye openers too. The contents don’t inspire me to believe that Jesus was in charge of the church at the time( quite the oposite ).

    Its strange also how the JW’s have claimed that Jesus returned in 1914 and personally gave his approval to them as the sole true organisation ! :)

  10. EJ:

    Have you mentioned the Book Of Abraham being an egypytian funeral papyri ?

    Yes.

    I was more suprised he [Bushman] included them rather than they were true.

    I’m glad he included them. I only wish that more people, in and out of the Church, would read his book.

    The contents don’t inspire me to believe that Jesus was in charge of the church at the time( quite the oposite )

    I think many people, even some LDS share your opinion to some extent.

    ama49:

    I used to have very serious issues with the LDS church and for a number of years (about 7) I sort of “went through the motions” so to speak.

    I think that’s where I’m at right now. I’m really quite apathetic toward the Church (and religion in general) and I don’t know when or if that will change.

    I feel much happier being an active member of the LDS church than when I’m not.

    I have times of happiness too. Sometimes I wonder if I would be happy attending a Church outside the Mormon faith. I think I would be. However, because of my familiarity and belief in many LDS teachings I am inclined to stick with what I see as the best option.

    Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your comments and support.

  11. Hello Jay… Long time no chat :)

    Seems like things have been moving right along for you.

    In answer to your questions, how does doubting effect your family/loved ones…

    Well if you are open about your journey of questioning and doubt, then the road can be perplexing and difficult!

    If you keep it to yourself and then one day just dump it all, then it can have more of a damaging effect.

    Once you see that the church is not perfect, and that there are a mountain size pile of lies it is a little difficult to go on believing that all in the world is wonderful “as long as you just believe!”

    I for one jumped ship, I came clean with my family and I am SOOOO much happier for it. It was a very long, tearful journey, however now on the other side I feel the most wonderful sense of freedom anyone could possibly want!

    I was completely unaware of the overabundance of guilt layered on you by the church. So subtle and sneaky you barely notice, until one day you finally feel the weight and think…what the heck is going on???

    Anyway, I think in the long run it is all about perspective. If you need someone telling you how to live your life, and how to act, speak, spend your money, dress, behave, raise your children etc, etc… then by all mean organized religion is for you, and the mormon church will help you right along, and in that case you would feel happier living the life than not.

    I however am not that person. I will not be living by their rules anymore!!!

  12. Jay,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I have many of the same struggles, although I discovered the information and my spouse closely followed me with the doubts…so we are both in the same boat.
    My exteneded family was just informed of my struggles with belief, and although this has been difficult, our family relationships are good….however I know they don’t think as highly of me anymore as a person and mother, and this is painful.

    One thing that you said that struck me was you said that your extended family does not know of your “condition”. It almost sounds like you are stating that something is wrong with you………What condition?

    I have been going through this process for 3 years and one thing that I have finally realized is there is nothing wrong with me….I do not have a ‘condition’ of any kind. I am just believing what feels right to me- and trying to find peace, I have done nothing wrong.

    How we believe spiritually is personal, private, and not something that we should feel obligated to do. We do not need to think and believe like other people around us. We all have the right to believe what we believe.

    If I lived in Iraq, I would be expected to be a Muslim, If I lived in China, I would be expected to be a Buddhist and if I were not, I would suffer some pretty horrible social consequences……I am sure it would be MUCH worse than not being a believer of the LDS church and living in Utah or around believing members (which is a much lower scale).

    I realize that I was born a Mormon, My ancestors go back on both sides and personally ‘hung’ with Joseph Smith…..Does this make me obligated to believe as they did? NO…..Does this mean something is wrong with me because I don’t? No.

    Discovering truth and following our instincts on what feels good and right is something that everyone has, it does not mean that something is wrong with us if we have our own beliefs, it is a God given right for all of us to think for ourselves……..and especially living in a place like America…a place where religous freedom is what it was based on. We all should feel free to believe as we want and not “fear” (although unfortunatley, this is easier said than done).

    Just remember that the fact you are doubting does not mean anything is wrong with you. If it makes you feel any better, well over 99% of the world thinks that Mormons are a little crazy, and they don’t believe in Joseph Smith or even know who he is….so you are not a minority, that is for sure.

    What I have realize is this…..Like it or not, I was born into a Mormon lifestyle. I didn’t mind at all at first, but now that I am 90% sure I don’t believe anymore, I realize that there will be social consequences to this. I need to decide what will be best for me and my family, and figuring that out is not going to be easy.

    Will I be happier if I leave the church and go elsewhere? Will the social consequences make me more unhappy than hearing week after week that “I know the church is true and Joseph was a prophet” if I really don’t believe it?….Well I don’t have the answer yet and hopefully, one day I will.

    However, I do believe in the statement “Bloom where you are planted” and I believe we need to do this with the circumstances we are born in.

    I believe in truth as well, no matter how painful it may be.
    Good luck!

  13. Cherryn,

    Welcome back! It has been a long time. How is your husband taking your disaffection with the Church?

    It almost sounds like you are stating that something is wrong with you………What condition?

    I suppose my comment stated more how faithful Mormons would view me than how I view myself. I do not believe I am “sick”. Frustrated and at times confused, yes, but I’m not sick.

    I agree with you about making the best out of where you are. That’s what I’m attempting to do.

  14. Jay,

    It seems like you are doing the right things, especially since you have a believing spouse. I also agree with what you said about not pushing your beliefs on your kids, but also letting them know the true history.

    I am trying to figure out how to do this too…I feel I owe it to my kids to teach them the truth. I know I would be upset if my parents knew things they kept from me. Finding the right way to do it is the difficult part…..

    You said that you may someday share your disbelief with your family. From someone who just did that, it has been OK and relationships are good….however I found with my experience that the key is you have to let them know that you still REALLY like the church (even though you may have to stretch it a bit) and that you are not angry, just disappointed. Also, I would not go into any details either. For the most part things with my family are still good and I feel like a weight has been lifted from me now that they know….it may not be as bad as you think.

    Josephine

  15. I agree there…

    I have many happy memories in the church! MANY I mean I lived and breathed it for 32 years, so there better be some good ones in there!

    Also, even though I have left the church does not mean that I am throwing all caution to the wind and shacking up with every man that crosses my path… (yes some people thought that I just wanted to be wild for a while, therefore I was actively searching for a way out in order to fulfill my lustful desires)

    I just let my family know that while I am greatly disappointed and grieved to learn of all the whitewashing and lies, I still do look at the church with happy memories! After all the morals are not so bad, the diet, not so bad…

    It is just all the layers and layers of guilt, and the piles of “you are not good enough unless you are doing ….” (insert any number of things here)

    I will tell my children the truth of it all, I will not stop them from doing what they wish, after all it is their life… but they will have both sides of the story.

    I think that to have all information possible is of great importance! I wish that I had have had ALL of the info available to me before I made a life long commitment to the cult! (which it is) I can tell you… IF I had my hands on 1/4 of the real history there is NO WAY I would have signed up, and I would not be suffering from the guilt of having partially raised children now living in the church’s clutches!

  16. Jay…

    My husband is having a hard time with it, but he has stated many times that it is my choice and that he did not marry because I was a “MORMON”, he married me for me, and he will stand by me and the family!

    I know it is hard for him, it has been hard for me too!

    I feel terribly for him, because I know how I would feel if the tables had been turned, and he was the one jumping ship… I would feel very betrayed, like my celestial partner was just leaving me hanging!

    But I just don’t believe all that stuff anymore… and I can not go on living a lie…

    At the end of the day though, we are working things out, we are trying and that is really all you can ask for… right.

  17. I think keeping it from your kids is the right call. It would be too hard and confusing for them. And they will come to choose their own path as they grow. As much as the lds way of life is strict, I think it has overwhelmingly good points, such as faith and friendships.


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