Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bitter Sweet Religion

Why do I stay in the church? I have thought about this many times, but today the question was spurred from reading the article Enduring Well from this months Ensign. More specifically from this quote,

"Ye seek me, not because ye desire to keep my sayings, neither because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26, footnote a, from Joseph Smith Translation)

So, why do I continue to seek God? Why do I do it here? What have I tasted? I have had, multiple times, experiences that should have driven me away. I continue to have these experiences. What keeps me here?

My Hubby has asked me more than once; even stated that he is surprised I'm still willingly around. In response to his questions I always reply, "Because I know."

What do I know? That the Gospel is true? That the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the Priesthood Authority needed to perform ordinances that last? That "the church is true, but the people aren't"? (don't lie, you have all heard this one)

I always thought it was stupid for people to leave the church because someone offended them. I understand that over time it gets harder and harder. In truth, it's not so much the offensive act, as much as it is the supposed "man or woman of God" committing the offense. And when it becomes more frequent there seems to be no point in sticking around. Love, Truth and Kindness just don't seem to be present anymore.

So, what is it that keeps me around? What did I taste? You know, I don't remember. That's the problem with time, it gets harder and harder to recall things. I don't remember what I tasted, when, or why. What I do know is that it was something I tasted more than once; so it MUST have been good. What I'm tasting now is bland, sometimes bitter and often revolting.

Maybe it's just the HOPE of sweetness that keeps me here. Someday. someday.


Mrs. B. Roth said...

Really good post, well said. And a question I think I need to answer for myself, as well. I often feel like I don't really need or want the church in my life anymore ... but I know I couldn't turn my back on the Gospel. I'll have to go read the article.

(I am so grateful for the internet and to know I am not alone and crazy in my feelings and perceptions - Thank you!)

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Okay, here I go again, commenting.

My parents are converts. They joined the church before the met each other. And they both had completely different experience when they joined.

My dad's was good!

My mom's, not so much.

No one even acknowledged her presence, no one befriended her. People were actually rude and mean.
On top of that her family was giving her unbelievable grief for joining a "cult". She was alone.

She told me once that if it hadn't been for her testimony, she never would have stayed.

It's so hard. Knowing the gospel is true doesn't mean putting up with rude, mean members is easy!

I say good for you. Stay strong. You're awesome!

Don't forget it.

Amy said...

Along the lines of "the church is true, the people aren't," I recently read this essay:
and it changed my outlook on the church completely. Seriously, read it.

Chris said...

Hey Phannie, I linked over here from Mrs B Roth's blog. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your words and I always like to hear people being honest with their beliefs and feelings.

I personally get annoyed at the way people are portrayed who do decide to leave the church (sometimes very respectfully). For instance the story that we tell so much in Sunday School about Thomas B. Marsh leaving the church over something as trivial as milk strippings. His real concerns (which had nothing to do with that story) were very valid and would actually stir up some very interesting conversation in a Sunday School class.

No one is allowed to respectfully step out of the circle. It's much easier for members to spin the facts to make it appear as though people who leave the church always do it because they were too easily offended, or they have chosen to embrace sin.

I think one thing that is lacking in our church is a forum where people can be totally honest about their concerns and experiences good and bad. It's not right to try to use guilt on someone when your argument fails to convince. The invitation should always be extended but let's be honest here none of us have met brother Joseph. There is a lot of things to weigh and consider about the church (good and bad) and if someone feels activity is not the best thing for them at that time in their life then we have to believe that they are sincerely trying to find happiness on their own terms and we should respect that and not look at it as some sort of a back-stabbing.

All members can really do is be loving and patient and let people see (through example) why they need the church in their lives.

The wrong thing to do is talk about how much you "know" things to be true because you are at the same time saying " I KNOW you're very real concern to be invalid"

Sorry to write so much. Thanks again for the thoughtful post. I relate very much to what you have said.

Phannie said...

Thanks Amy. I will go read the article for sure.

Chris, your comment was the perfect length. You are SO right. Thanks.


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