Friday, March 28, 2014

My mind took the RED PILL

The moment that truth became more important 
than my need to be right…. 
the shelf collapsed unbelievably fast.

I think these are going to be some important and random thoughts and changes in my mind that I wanted documented in my "life blog".

March 25 at 12:09pm
My first e-mail was sent to John Dehlin who I found at after desperately searching for someone to talk to who I suspected had been through a similar experience, and who I suspected, may have been able to help me find the support network I knew I'd need.
Here's what's going on. I'm a fifth generation Mormon. I've been the Relief Society President for almost a year now, and the past few weeks, I've felt like I've discovered that Santa isn't real. I don't have a single event, but the culmination of many thoughts, and just ideas that have fit together in a flash to make one whole idea that has left me to question most of my religious beliefs since childhood. I'm 40, and wise enough, I think, not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but I'm not sure what to do about my role as RS President. If I'm just facing this at the age of 40, I really don't want to cause others to question their faith by abruptly stepping down as I feel a "do no harm" obligation to the 100+ sisters I lead.

But, I feel like getting back to where I was would be like starting to believe in Santa again when I got to the place of figuring out it was just my parents; kind of tough to go back.   I'm sort of feeling like I've been cheated on with the church, and am feeling a bit betrayed, manipulated, and frustrated but there are just too many doctrines that are difficult at best to reconcile. And, with this shift, it really doesn't matter about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the doctrines now, I just don't believe anymore.

Any suggestions? My thought is just to cope with this myself and with meditation and to stay the course. My parents just accepted a mission call. I "came out" about this to my husband, and he's felt the same doctrinal dilemmas for years but loves our family and me and didn't want to hurt his marriage; felt like him questioning his belief in certain doctrines would hurt his marriage to me...and to be honest, it may have before I felt like this. 
I love my calling, but just feel like I'm in uncharted waters. Can I still lead and encourage with no belief system anymore?  Okay, I believe some things.  Like I believe that we should love (serve) others, and avoid hurting ourselves and others.

John linked me up with a support group for sisters who had husbands in high responsibility callings, or who were in callings themselves with high responsibilities.  Here are some random comments.
March 25 at 12:17pm my son professed he didn't believe anymore at 17 after finishing 4 years of early morning seminary. He's 19 now and lives with a friend in our neighborhood. My daughter is 15, son is 8, and baby girl is 2. I think that time is what I need. My husband seems happier recently knowing he's not alone with me in how he feels. He's a high priest and has very high moral standards.

I think it would be hard either way if one spouse doubted, and the other doesn't. To be honest, until that "shift" I would describe took place recently in my mind, I would have quickly felt that my husband was leading me "astray" if he had discussed doubts with me and would have felt super threatened by him trying to convince me. I'm sure he's had doubts for years and years, but didn't tell me until I opened up just recently about my own doubts. 

Honestly, I don't think anything could have rushed me into this decision in my mind. It happened for me, at my pace, when my mind was ready to accept what I'd denied for a long time. And those convictions of spirit were part of what had me cross over. 

People in other religions experience these same convictions, stirrings in their hearts, and "witnesses". Mormons aren't the only ones "sure" about what they feel in their hearts. The problem is that the complex human mind can create all kinds of stuff; convictions, bad feelings, good feelings, overwhelming feelings of unity and togetherness (the temple and temple dedications), but that doesn't create KNOW for me. Once I reached the place that if your conviction is "knowing" because of what you've felt, I realized that there is a problem. You can hope, you can believe, and you can feel strongly about anything, but knowing about anything of the spiritual nature doesn't hold water with me. 

March 28 at 11:07am
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night wishing I didn't feel this way and I could change my mind back again. I feel like I'm losing a loved one after 40 years. I've decided to tell the bishop how I feel and that I think it would be best to be released as RS President. The frustrating thing is that I used to pray about stuff like this. Now I really just have to follow my heart. As much as I love my calling, I've always been proud of my integrity I've developed in my adult years. Perhaps some day I can lead a women's organization that celebrates service and love, and respects doing no harm to yourself or others. Should I tell my counselors and secretary first?

Okay, plan is to give myself more time. Thank you to these inspiring words, and all you the support I've found in a support group. This is exactly WHY I felt I needed a support group. Please keep reminding me not to do anything drastic! “ Religion is a realization -- not talk, not doctrine, nor theories -- however beautiful these may be. Religion is being and becoming, not hearing and acknowledging. It is not an intellectual ascent -- but the transformation of one’s whole life.” Swami Vivekandanda

Potential practical downsides to public resignation Somewhat selfish/narcissistic -- your problems are not always their problems Seems to lead to a downward spiral of cynicism, bitterness and negativity High risk of alienation from LDS family, friends, and community Can be highly disruptive to children / marriages Important life decisions should rarely be made from a place of anger and pure emotion Would you sell a car or house without having a replacement plan? Gives you little room (from an ego perspective) to change your mind later.

Where is all began for me last year was me questioning my own "knows". It was a change of heart that had me realize that I don't "know" anything. I excitedly told my sister that I don't "know" anything, and she said "are you a doubting Thomas now?" in a not nice tone, and proceeded to list the ways she "knows". I understand that "know" means stuff very different to different people, but it feels to me that by saying that, you may also be saying that if you don't "know", you're not part of the club yet, really.

Perhaps there is something to empathy and compassion for others that is a biological food for our minds. To me it boils down to I don't know, but I am happier when helping others as long as it is in moderation. Meaning, I need to stay healthy and alive by taking care of my body and mind first, then as I have physical and emotional space, I can share with others (spouse, children, extended family, friends, etc). This is a very different mantra I feel than the culture of serving others at the expense many times of your own wellbeing. I've found my ability to care for me and how well I'm doing this corresponds to my capacity to give and love and serve others.

As I mentioned before, I'm taking it one day at a time. One thing I learned back in college in a class, was that when ANY crisis occurs, to try to keep doing the things you do every day like eat when you're hungry (and feed your kids dinner every night except when you need to order out), exercise (as much as you used to before it), and be mindful (of your heart). I'm still on a roller coaster of emotion, but I'm thankful to be enduring this when I'm 40 instead of in my Sociology of Religion class in my early 20's. So, today I'd love your comparisons, analogies, and metaphors to this experience. My best so far is that I took the red pill (Matrix). I discovered I was in Mormon River Rapids and I've just grabbed onto a branch to pull myself out. I'd love to hear other metaphors?

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