Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It Ain't Mental Masturbation

Yes, I know. Last post schmast post. I have some things to say, so I figure I'll probably go through a few phases. I don't want to post often - I've too many other things I need to focus my energies on. But sometimes I have to get it out.

It's no secret I've different beliefs and feelings than I did even five years ago. Some want to believe I'm merely questioning, but that ship has sailed. That said, the inner dialogue continues to torment me. For every thought/assertion there is an equal and opposite one. It's led me to believe there are really no answers, though I know the standard response for that as well.

I reject the notion that I must either believe it's all true or all not. If Joseph was truly a man, he messed up. Often. But we refuse to acknowledge this beyond simple lip service to please the masses - indeed we'll say that and then throw him a gigantic and rather embarrassing 200th birthday party while singing Praise to the Man and teaching serial church lessons about how wonderful he was.

I'm tired of doublespeak. I'm tired of hearing the prophet and the GA's are always right except for when they're not. That stories and history and even scripture don't change except they have but that's okay because it's revelation. That I can consider voting for gay marriage and still be a worthy member in good standing but that my actions will reveal if I have a "true" testimony or not. Screw that.

We like to think internal struggles of this nature indicate Satan is at work. I know it's easier to say that, but those who struggle in the Catholic or Jehovah's Witnesses' church experience the same struggles. They are taught their church is just as true as the LDS believes in its only truth. Their beliefs are just as valid as our own. Their leaders say the same things to them. Not too long ago I read a conversion story of a brand new Catholic and it was word-for-word a standard LDS conversion story. It was mine. Just Catholic. In this way truth as we know it is subjective.

So I feel guilt and doubt either because I'm doing the wrong thing or because Satan wants to keep me from doing the right thing. It's getting easier, but even then the voices quip it's because I'm drifting further and further away from God.

We have an answer for everything. Makes my brain hurt, especially when I consider my dad and stepmom have probably been praying for years that I'd "see the light." So the answers to their prayers are being answered while the prayers of some faithful LDS friends go unheeded? What's up with that? Raises more questions than answers.

So I don't know that I'm right but I don't know that I'm not either. I'm tired of focusing on the insignificant things (such as what I eat or drink or even wear) and ignoring what really matters.

It's not all cut and dry, and yet we insist it is. I can believe whatever I want as long as I keep it to myself. I can do whatever I want - free agency, after all - but if I choose to drink coffee I won't get into the highest degree of heaven.

"Well of course. If you can't follow the smallest commandment how can you be expected to follow the big ones?"

"That's ridiculous. It's coffee. It's not as if you're telling the world Christ doesn't exist. Christ doesn't care about what goes in the mouth after all - it's what is in the heart."

Do you SEE the bullshit I'm going through?

The inner dialogue never ends. I'd call it mental masturbation but that sounds like more fun.

I wish it wasn't so hard, but it is. I need the respect of good friends and good family and I'm scared to death I'll lose it. I know my member family will be afraid I won't be sealed to them anymore, perhaps disappointed in my "example." They've heard of the consequences. They don't want me damned to hell and I do appreciate that.

But I've always killed myself over doing the right thing and over other people. I don't want to be a martyr anymore. It's miserable and I can be good without that burden. So I picked a side, but not because I wanted to: because I can't not now. Not if I'm to be true to myself.


Shadows said...

Good to have you back. In more ways than one.

DMI Dave said...

Welcome back, Lisa. If you post more than once a month, your posts will be shorter and easier to follow.

Lisa said...


Dave: Are you asking that they be shorter and easier to follow or saying they will be?

I'll admit to long posts but trust me when I say I do cut down :)

Gwenny said...

I don't envy you this time in your life. And I do understand what you are saying. My thoughts are with you while you struggle.

AmbiguouS One said...

Lisa, I have struggled with the same thing for a long time. However, I think it is worth pointing out that God can and does give His children personal revelations that may dispute the Church's teachings. For example, do you think that Abraham did a double-take when the Lord commanded him to sacrifice (aka murder) his son? Of course he did! I believe that many men have been told by the Spirit to not serve missions for one reason or another. My point is that God is personal; He knows you better than you know yourself. And your relationship with Him is more important than being able to impress people in the ward by saying "I have been to Church every single Sunday! I am so righteous!", etc... God is the only person you need to worry about. Screw the negative comments from others because they do not know what He has told you.

Scott said...

I think it is worth pointing out that God can and does give His children personal revelations that may dispute the Church's teachings.

I struggled with this concept so much when I felt so strongly that I should not only not support Prop 8 (not that it mattered much to a non-Californian) but that I should actively support and promote the concept of same-sex marriage. I eventually came to the same conclusion AmbiguouS One did, but I had to reach that conclusion mostly on my own.

I was thrilled, then, to find a supportive statement for this concept from a GA the other day. Elder Packer gave a BYU Devotional on Oct. 15, 1996 titled "The Unwritten Order of Things" that is mostly about all of the things that bother me the most about the Church--the little nit-picky rules that are "unwritten" but that we are supposed to follow anyway.

But hidden is his talk is this little gem:

There is one authorized “end run” around the bishop, the stake president, the General Authority, and everyone else in our line of authority. That is to our Father in Heaven in prayer. If we do that, we will in most instances solve our own problems.

In context, I think he's saying that we should take a problem to our immediate authority (our bishop)--that we should not try to overstep his authority by going directly to the SP, a GA, etc.--but that we can go straight to the very top, to God. By implication, though, this would mean that when we do take a question directly to God (taking the "authorized 'end run'" around all the other church authorities) the answer we receive trumps any we would have gotten if we had gone through other channels.

I already knew this (that is, I had already come to know this, finally) when I found this talk, but it was nice to have it in writing.

Alan said...


Delighted to see you couldn't stay away. And to see so many of my own thoughts echoed in yours.

Justice Westermark concurs in the opinions of his learned colleagues Drew and Scott. Can't do better than that.

Keep posting!

Steve M. said...

Good to have you back!

I was a little disappointed that the post didn't have anything to do with masturbation, however. :)

Lisa said...

AmbiguouS: I agree

Scott: I'm pretty much past the point where I'm willing to even stretch far enough to believe I'm allowed to bypass the leadership and go directly to God. That may be okay for little things (callings, even) but even when I approached my bishop about Prop 8 and my own personal prayers, as cool as he was, he still insinuated that my testimony was probably weak at best since I intended to vote no. I found this sentiment to be shared by the majority of our leaders.

I just can't let my mind attempt to wrap around that anymore.

Alan: Thank you :)

Awww, Steve. I'll have to fix that for you.

T.J. Shelby said...

Lisa, not only was the "weak in testimony" argument implied in my case but that I must be a vile sinner incapable of receiving personal revelation. When I mentioned that my personal revelation but my Prop 8 position in opposition to newest addition of holy writ: The Prop 8 Memo, he then questioned what source I was getting my answers from.

I'm with you...I'm fed up.

djinn said...

Lisa, so many of us have been where you are now. It's difficult. In that vein, I'd like to answer AmbiguouS One. I've always loved the story of Abraham and Isaac, because, even as a small child, it read to me as the end of Child Sacrifice. Abraham decided to not sacrifice his child. Abraham made the choice. God was just the scapegoat.