Taking a break

I think we might be taking a break from church for a while. This is not effective immediately, but my sweet husband and I have been talking about what church means to us, and what it used to mean, and we both think it would be beneficial to take a step back and reevaluate.

Church, for me, has been part of my identity. For him, it formed him, but he doesn’t feel like he needs to stay in the mold, though he is grateful for the formative aspect. After all, we never would have met, nor would we be the people we are, without the church.

We now face the problem of our callings. He’s in a leadership position, and I’m the organist. We both feel like we have something to offer, but so far haven’t been able to reconcile ideological differences with the church.

The church, whatever it actually is, isn’t what I always thought it was. Even my wonderful spouse is sometimes surprised by what I have thought in the past, what attributes I ascribed to the body of the church, or the doctrine. I’ve been a member all my life, with nary a doubt, until two years ago. When those doubts arose, I found all sorts of stuff that contradicted my previously formed ideas about the church. My thinking changed, as well. And topped of with the depression, my idea of the entire world changed.

Last week, I decided to let go of the stifled feeling I got from church. I decided to distance myself, to give myself some space. I went about boxing things up in my mind, and moving them to the storage unit. I didn’t throw anything out, or have a bonfire, or anything. I feel so relieved, so much more peaceful. I don’t feel like I’m being squeezed to death, or like I’m grieving the loss of my best friend. My head feels clear, not cloudy.

I have thought about what I will do with my Sundays, when we finally do taper off our church attendance. I might go to the local yoga studio, where they have a Sunday morning practice. I would be so much more peaceful after an hour of yoga than 3 hours of torture, listening to things I don’t believe or agree with. I might also attend the local Quaker Meeting, or any of the various other local churches. There are at least five within walking distance. Or we may decide to do hikes and bike-rides as a family.

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~ by woundedhart on July 8, 2008.

10 Responses to “Taking a break”

  1. THis is a great post. I am where you are in life. I too am taking a little break from religious services. I spend those three hours hiking in the mountains. I need the peace, serenity and beauty that it offers me rather than the well-intentioned negative energy that often comes from church services. Also, not having been raised in an LDS community, I am still adjusting to the lack of neighorliness in LDS communities.

    At some point I will come back off of strike, but for now my soul is better served where I am.

  2. I think Quaker Meeting is a great way to spend a free Sunday (or Firstday, as the Friends call it) and so is yoga!! However if I were you, I’d try a variety of things. During our family’s transition we found one of the most satisfying way to pass Sunday mornings was to do “beach church” where we went early to a local beach and shared some poetry and/or meditated with each other. Then we’d play in the waves together and just feel totally alive. It was very helpful in affirming our bonds with each other even as we were leaving so much of the familiar behind us.

  3. I wish you luck in your journey. These types of issues are never easy.

    What I would say is, in the volunteer organizations I’ve participated in (and I’m counting the LDS church in those numbers), usually the organization gets by. They either find someone else to step up to the plate (i.e., be the organist) or do without. It’s always nice to feel essential, like an organization can’t live without you. But they can. Sometimes it can be painful (depending on the personalities involved). But the times in my life that I’ve taken a break, a breather and said no have always brought clarity for me.

    I realize what is really important.

  4. I realize that you aren’t directly asking for advice or for approval, but I thought I would share a few thoughts here anyway.

    Do you view this break as some kind of trial period, and if so, of what duration? And if you do approach this as kind of a test, what “parameters” are you using to determine whether the break will continue or whether you want to return to activity in the church? I’m also curious to understand what you seek to obtain by attending other churches?

    I suppose this is really none of my business, and you obviously do not need to reply to these questions. These are just thoughts that come to mind….

    I don’t know the concerns that you might have about the church, and perhaps I couldn’t help resolve them anyway. For me, it is important to distinguish between the gospel and the church. As I see it, the gospel is the perfect plan for our eternal happiness. Part of the plan is administered by humans, and this part is the church. I see the doctrine, the authority, and the ordinances as pure and from God. Since we are all imperfect mortals, even those called by God to administer the plan, from Adam to Moses to Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson are imperfect. They make mistakes- we all do. But the fact that a human makes a mistake should not change the truths of the gospel.

    A key element of the plan is faith. There are questions that we may never have answers to, but we can still choose to believe in core aspects of the plan- that there is a God, that we are His children, that he sent his son to show us the way and to provide means for our repentance, that the gospel provides the authority to administer essential ordinances, that he calls prophets to teach and guide us.

    Another key aspect to the plan is agency. I believe that as we choose to exercise faith and that faith is evidenced by our actions of obedience to commandments, our faith is strengthened, and we are blessed with additional light and knowledge.

    I admire you for considering your circumstances and for trying to do what you feel is right for you and your family.

  5. I so identified with this posting! Our region has just finished a huge youth program which included aspects that required the young girls to participate in something which made my daughter completely uncomfortable. We tried to protest to our stake leader because many youth were saying the same thing. Rather than listening and understanding, we were threatened (we were “sowing the seeds of apostacy). Our daughter was made to feel that she had done something wrong. My husband and I were left to wonder and shake our heads. I teach Sunday School, for seven months, every Sunday the first ten minutes of class would be the kids in my class “venting” about how horribly the leaders were treating them. We were told that nothing could be done because the leaders were “called and set apart to run it” No one who was in any form of leadership did anything remotely for the kids, it was all for the glory of them, as far as we could see. The event happened, the kids survived, it was OK, and still I wondered why not one person beside my husband or my father, or me, said one word to my daughter about her choice not to participate (in fact, our stake leader made a joke about us to his daughter who told our daughter about it). This is not the church I believe in, I have no doubt that if Jesus Christ were here, he would have removed the offensive part, taken our daughter in his arms and thanked her for being valiant, and apologized to her. The gospel is true–I hate the church right now. When I was growing up, leaders cared more about the people than about “status” as far as I can see, that is not the case anymore, how sad. I won’t stop going though, because I truly beleive that if I stop, the “royalty” wins.

  6. I realize we don’t know each other, and I just stumbled here by accident. I also realize that you are struggling and want to find some peace and some answers. May I share something from the other side, so to speak? I’ve been in my ward’s primary presidency for about a year now. And just a few Sunday’s, with NO warning at all, my friend, the Primary president, and her husband, the Stake YM president, abruptly announced that they were leaving the church. It was devastating. The impact that has rippled the ward has been difficult. I realize you are trying to find some peace in your soul–for your beliefs and for your family. I respect that. But you cannot always predict how your actions will affect others and what positive or negative reactions will come. I’m not saying you should reconsider your decision because of what it will do to your ward. But you may have to face those reactions. It has been so difficult to try and soothe our beloved primary children. The youth in our ward were absolutely devastated as the YM leader had been their leader a year previously. I just wish you could see what I’ve seen in the last month. It’s been very painful.

  7. Like the previous comment, I too stumbled upon your blog. It is nice to know other people are questioning. How can we support each other? So many people are willing to share their fear, but isn’t this what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to figure things out for ourselves, to question, and find our own testimonies? I would love to hear back from you. Feel free to email me.

  8. The Becky from the above comment told me about this blog. I am at the point now where I don’t know if I will ever go back to church because unlike previous posters I don’t think either the doctrines or the people are true. However, I support other people who would like to stay in the Church. My father recently sent me this forum that might help some of you: http://www.staylds.com/.

  9. We left a very toxic situation at our church where we were members. My husband and I have raised five sons in the church. We made sure they were in Sunday School and church every Sunday. We participated in midweek programmes, etc. My husband led worship services, I joined the choir and we started a Seniors’ Ministry. Last June, because we stood up for the right to privacy…a secretary read our private email to my personal email to our Pastor and responded to it (“as an act of friendship”). (I was appalled and didn’t know how many private letters had been read by said person). I had never stood up before as I hate conflict. Neither the Pastor nor board supported us and we were made to be the wrong ones for “making a big deal out of it”. Being disillusioned by the whole “church business” , we left and have not returned to any church building again. I have a bible study with a lady each week and have grown closer to the Lord since I left the church building. The bible and the Holy Spirit have been my teacher and the Lord Jesus Christ is my Pastor. He alone is the Good Shepherd and the Pastor of the sheep. I can see that the church organization has become corrupt and even led by unconverted or carnal men. I believe my husband and I will return to attending another church, but I no longer believe ministry or relationship with the Lord is contained within a building. I have found peace. The pressure to “do” has been lifted off me and even when I prepare a meal for my family or elderly mother, I realize THIS IS ministry. No longer will I listen to the DOGMAS of legalistic teachers who think they are my Holy Spirit. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. (Psalm 23)

  10. Excellent blog right here! Also your website rather a lot up very fast! What host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink for your host? I want my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

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