Monday, March 24, 2008

No More Scare Tactics

I went to my new ward for the first time yesterday. I had so many hopes that it might be a place for more discussion and talking and more open than the ward I have been. Was it ridiculous of me to have these feelings?

I'm trying to justify my experience in some way....maybe I came on an off day or maybe it was more my attitude (most likely). But there were ten girls and two boys in the GD class and the girls all went off on how it is harder to do our callings because we are single and if we get the chance to have a date we are going to take that and not do our responsibility. Um, wow! Can I please use that excuse for everything I don't accomplish in my iife? As singles are we really that shallow? Do we live and crave the next date so much so that every other thing we are meant to do goes out the window? Ok, I know, I am ranting....I am being unfair, but come on! Do I really want to hear this stuff every Sunday? No. Am I so tired of church coming down to the fact that I am single, so something is wrong with me? Yes.

Then another girl went off on how if we don't do our callings then the blood of all those we could have helped will be on our heads forever. I raised my hand and said that was a scare tactic. That doing our callings because we are afraid of the consequences of NOT doing them is not the right attitude. Also that we shouldn't think so highly of ourselves. The Lord will take care of his church, he has shown that time and time again, and if we are not ready and willing to step in and do something he has called us to do, then he will call someone else. Callings are more to benefit us individually and help us work together as a community than to be worried about the act of saving people. The teacher got completely offended and baffled at my comment and was quite upset. The rest of the group just looked at me as if "my whole body were covered in scales."

Not too bad, probably, but I am really, really, really tired of doing things that aren't in my heart because I am afraid of God and because I feel guilt. I am really, really, really tired of doing things out of guilt instead of doing them for the right reasons. I am tired of living according to some type of scare tactic. In fact, I am scared right now to even write this because many people who leave comments on this blog are not going to understand where I am coming from. They are going to want me to make decisons that conform to the decisions they are making and to the decisions they feel I should be making. But I am really tired of doing that lately. So, hopefully you will still be my friends, even if you feel the path I am choosing for my life right now is not quite what you think it should be.

I have taken a month off of church and it was nice, after yesterday, I just don't think I am ready to go back yet. And yes, I realize, the more I don't go, you say the easier it is not to go. But if I don't want to go, then I am not going to go. Somehow having that option, as a friend told me this morning, makes going an even better feeling, because I am going for the right reasons.


Alisa said...

I can relate to a lot of these feelings, and I hate to say that this type of craziness exists probably just as prevelantly in family wards. I also wonder how much time these supposed dates are that make it impossible to do one's calling. Like a weekend mini-break?

I admire you for speaking out. I think God motivates us through love. I know it sounds cheesy to say that, but I really don't think God wants us to do things out of fear. I think it's helpful for you to remind people of that, besides, you never know if someone there was thinking the same thing and needed you to say that.

I remember a lesson in RS a few months ago about "Women in the Church," and the instructor had added non-manual quotes from Pres. Benson calling women out of the workforce. We then talked and talked about how women shouldn't work, and a couple of SAHMs commented on their righteous sacrifices. I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Yes, in an ideal world, none of us would have to work for a living. But the reality is that 60% of the women in this room are currently working, so let's talk about that. Let's talk about how we can work and do our best to live the Gospel." Unfortunately, I wasn't brave enough, and I thought the instructor was too fragile for that type of comment (she was newly activated and obviously nervous the whole time). I'm not too hard on myself though. I think sometimes the Spirit asks us to speak out, and othertimes not. I just hope I'm ready to speak out if the Spirit ever calls on me.

Chelle said...

D'Arc-I appreciate and admire your honesty and courage. About this, and other stuff too. I want to be more honest as well, and will, if anyone ever bothers to ask. :)

No more scare tactics. I get this. Making conscious decisions is not something that is universally admired, especially in the culture we come from. I truly believe that you will find your way, whatever that is. There is a lot of lip service to "finding things out for ourselves," or "choosing for ourselves," but when it really comes down to it, in most cases there is an answer they are waiting for you to give in church, or a predetermined choice you are "supposed" to make.

Being friends with someone contingent upon them choosing the same things as us is really sad to me. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as well. I know it happens a lot, but I really hope that people can realize that even if we don't always have the same core beliefs, we still hopefully have other things in common on which keep the friendship going. Instead of looking at each other like we have to change each other, whatever happened to the idea of acceptance for who we really are?

KB Studios said...


Oh it its the plight of the time of our lives as the " single " ones. Its harder to find more NORMAL people in wards we grow older. Peopel who truly GET the gospel. You are one of the chosen ones who seems to get it and enjoy the beauty of life as the Lord intends us.
My only worry by taking time off is that you stop obeying the Lord's commandments of attending church. We are there not just to be taught but to help to teach others. Its hard and frustrating. I am in the same place as you- I am now oldests in my mostlty 19 yr old ward. Life is so different through so many diffrent eyes and as such our interpretions of the gospel are just as different. However, the commandments from our Father in Heaven are the same. When one misses church, we miss the chance to renew our covenants with our SAvior, to attend the temple, and to recieve the blessings of taking a day out to serve the Lord and by serving others who need the gospel through yoru eyes.
I know its hard. It flat out sucks.
But what I do now is that obedience is important. Now whether or not you choose to attend that ward, that is your choice and the beauty of agency. I would hope that you would talk to your Bishop or Stake President. Maybe you need to find somewhere else to go. Whatever you go, don't cut yourself off of the blessings due to idiots in the church.

Whatever you choose- I love you:) You are such an amazing woman and your example has pulled me through many times in my life when I wanted to give up. When you used to live in Tallahassee, you taught me the true value of personal scripture study. Whenever I came over I was so impressed to find books of good literature that you were sutdying. Since that time, I have deceloped of love of my own study outside of church and institute. You even made comments about thigns you wouldnt do because of the covenants you made in the temple- and since I have recieved my Endowments those times that you said that have echoed in my mind, helping me to leave situations that owuld have been scarey. You have been more influential than alot of the lessons I have in church.

Whatever you choose- I hope that you are prayful about it . You will make the right decesion:)

I love you:)


Jessica said...

What a great post. I feel a lot of the same things. Even though I've had a chance to be released from Primary, I won't take it because I don't want to go back to SS and RS where I know I won't speak my mind, or if I do, it will reflect badly on DH, (aka, EQP).
I was reading the abstracts for sunstone west, and one talks about ex-Mormons not being very different doctrinally than liberal Mormons. It was an interesting thought.
I don't think God motivates by fear, either.
When I do feel God's love, it is always encouraging me to change. Sometimes I realize there has to be a balance between being myself and being better, ei repenting.
Thanks for the comments. If you ever want to do a guest post for Ex II, let me know. This one would be a great one.

Jessica said...

I meant to include the link to sunstone west (it's really interesting, i wish i could have gone)

Marie said...

That's funny -- I really like the instruction and discussions in my ward overall (I'd invite you, but I don't think you're over 30 yet), but even with an excellent teacher our discussion in Gospel Doctrine this week ended up in the exact same place as yours. It started with Jacob's statement that he was giving his sermon so that the sins of his people wouldn't be on his clothes at the last day, and then the teacher decided that it was appropriate to extend that idea to all of our duties and responsibilities. My problem isn't the idea that we lose something when we don't fulfill our callings. I believe that we do, and that at some point we will feel that loss and remorse if we don't repent. What makes me want to laugh is the idea that we can make or break someone's salvation by our actions. That is a common misconception and utterly false. But we get so used to using it to motivate missionaries that we think it's really true. ("If you don't knock the last door on the street, the person inside might never hear the gospel in that Special Way that only You can teach it to them, and they will curse you at the last day for their lost salvation!") Besides being a scare tactic, like you say, it's incredibly arrogant. If you fail to help someone and the next person called fails them too and on down the line -- Christ will still save them in the end. We shouldn't flatter ourselves that we have any real power to destroy others' souls, any more than we have any real power to save them. We can encourage people to move toward light, and we can encourage the opposite, but any deprivation endured in this life because of the failures of other human beings will be made up by Christ, whether that means additional opportunities to consider the Gospel or repent or whatever. We should participate because it's exciting to be part of God's work -- not because we really think our participation makes or breaks the program. Insanity.

Now wouldn't it have been nice if I'd spoken up and said what I was thinking like D'Arcy did?

On that topic, I agree with Kim. I have been in many wards that have been so frustrating to me, but I have decided that there are two reasons I will always attend: 1) at the very least I need both the ritual of the Sacrament and the ritual of mere presence among the congregation of my fellow Saints in order maintain my covenant closeness with God and 2) I am called to teach (as we all are), even if I'm not the teacher. I'm usually a pretty bold commentator, and I've developed a thick skin over the years -- I expect that people will think I'm odd or argue outright with me, but if you really feel prompted to set right a misconception in the Kingdom, isn't it kind of exciting to hear it hanging in the air, whatever happens next? When I taught gospel doctrine recently in a rather stale ward my classes were not well attended, but those who did attend were faithful attenders, insightful commentators, and when I was released the bishop spoke of his wife's gratitude for my lessons in front of the whole ward instead of just saying his usual "we'd like to thank her for her service..." It may feel like you get a chilly response, but there is almost always someone there who either had their own misgivings settled by what you said, or had new and important questions raised that it was time for them to start asking. There's a reason we're all called to seek revelation -- because human nature tends toward stagnant thinking and well-worn grooves, and while we don't often need new doctrine, we ALWAYS need new ways of understanding the doctrine we already have.

Good luck to you, though. I know how that feels.

fromthestecherbush said...

Matt loves to quote a talk by Elder Oaks that impacted him deeply as a missionary. It talks about 5 motivations for serving in the church.
I'm not sure if I can remember everything but I think you'll get the basic idea
1.hope of earthly reward(priestcraft) benefits
3.fear of punishment
4.sense of duty or loyalty(qualify for the heavenly blessings)
5.hope of eternal reward
I think that you can see the truth in this both in looking at the progression of child to adult and also in the scriptures. The Lord loves his children. He wants us to do what's right because the love that he has for us, is reflected from us.
But some people are just not ready to obey for those reasons. So there are commandments, and even consequences that he tells us must be faced.
I wonder what it would've been like for Pres. Hinckley at church? I'm sure to a certain extent he was shaking his head wondering when we would get it. Or maybe once you've achieved charity as your motivation that isn't a problem anymore. Maybe you can see more easily where others are in their progression and allow them that right to improve.

D'Arcy said...

I agree Amber, there is so much that I judge. I know this and I haven't be able to rise above it lately, thus the reason to let things go for awhile. I don't blame ANYONE for my decisions. If the reason I didn't want to go to church anymore was because of comments and hurt feelings, I would have stopped going at 12. I am not kidding. But I didn't because I wanted to go and I believe that was the main way that I could be good.

I have a lot of things to deal with in my mind and in my heart. It's a very very hard place to be to see things in a different way and to be so uncertain that the path I have chosen for my life is the right path or not. But it's even harder when perhaps I used to be an example to someone, and with my current choices, they will only look at me as some fallen-from-grace person, lost soul, uncharitable, unfaithful, not enduring to the end type of a person. And I completely get having these thoughts, I have had them about everyone who has ended up leaving the church or going inactive myself. Most regretfully I have had them towards my siblings, especially my sister April. She is so happy in her life and in her career and no one could say that she is not happy. I just never fully believed that she could be without the gospel, but once she let go of all the guilt at not doing what she was "supposed" to be doing and she lived her life in a way that made her happy, she has found true peace. But I never got this, never. I just continually tried to preach at her and I truly regret doing that. If anything this experience is teaching me that things are so black and white in the course of our lives. But again, I don't expect anyone to really get what I am going through and it's fine. Just that I won't get a lot of disappointment from people, but I feel that I already have. And I get it. The old me would have been disappointed in the me right now too.

D'Arcy said...

I meant to say things are NOT so black and white in our lives, or maybe just my life for me right now. Also, when I say April is happy, many of you think that it must be the "eat, drink, and be merry" type of happy and it's not. She prays more than most, she is so giving and kind and loving. She has true charity and less judgement than a lot of regular "church going" people. She doesn't party or fill her life with useless things. I need to clarify that again, because again, many people in the LDS faith believe it is impossible to be happy if you are not strictly keeping all the commandments. I agree, wickedness never was happiness, but simply not going to church every week doesn't make a person wicked. A person can still be a very spiritual, prayerful, faithful person without the three hours a week.

I am also not saying that the three hours a week isn't needed by many, myself included. All I am really saying is that I am not getting anything from the three hours a week right now, so I am choosing not to go for a little while. Again, I know that looks like the kiss of death to many of as you will.

I believe my struggles are very real for me, and I believe there is a great lesson within these struggles that God feels I need to learn.

D'Arcy said...

And Marie, I am over 30, can I try your ward sometime?

I am 30 years, 6 months, and 10 days.

Chelle said...

The happiness thing, the living without guilt, seeing other people TRULY do this outside the strict confines of the church was one of the major things that changed my outlook on life in a major way.

For me now, a good example is someone who is truly authentic in their life, someone who does what they believe in, not necessarily what I believe in exactly. Someone who lives their life honestly, to the best of their ability, who is kind to others, and is doing the best they can. Someone who loves others no matter what. You are a great example of that, and have been there for me when I have struggled with similar issues.

KB Studios said...

Reading your posts, I can completly feel your heartache. I went through this thing last year when I was so over involved with church and I broke down. I went from completly " perfect " to making it to church every Sunday hatefully.

It wasnt until I realized, very recenty, that no matter what else it comes down to whether or not you feel the church is true or not. Point blank. If it is, then you know what to do. If it isnt then you knwo what to do too. Only, you and the Lord can figure that out. What I do know is that, no matter what comes , you will still be that woman who changed my life. Whether or not you are a member .

But I will say this- guilt doesn;t come from the gospel. It comes from within. We do it to ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, there are things in your heart that aren't healed. Honestly, I have been going to therapy for over a year to get rid of the "guilt" And the guilt wasn't because of my spirituality but because of the way I handled things- saying yes and being a victim. If that makes sense at all.
Now, well I am becoming the Woman that I know the Lord wants me to be. Free of guilt , free of burden. What I am full of is His love. I know now, more than ever the church is true.

The journey for you will be different and I know that I can not even begin to imagine how things are for you but what I do know is that yoru Father in Heaven will love you and so will we as your friends. Our friendships are not conditional on your temple worthy status. Just D'arcy being amazing. Simple as that.

Love ,

Marie said...

If you'd like to visit our ward, drop me a line and I"ll give you directions. There's no way they'll let you officially into the ward until you're exactly 31 because our ratio is so ridiculously girl-heavy (3 Relief Societies!) They are extreme Nazis about age limits, for reasons I understand. But if you keep your head down they probably won't catch you :)

Gustav said...

Dear d'arcy

chelle's comment reflects my view - especially the following words:

"For me now, a good example is someone who is truly authentic in their life, someone who does what they believe in, not necessarily what I believe in exactly. Someone who lives their life honestly, to the best of their ability, who is kind to others, and is doing the best they can. Someone who loves others no matter what."

Have a good day!