Mormon Discussion

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Ebb and The Flow

Maybe it's just me.

But maybe it's not.

I'm an ebber and a flow-er (I didn't want that to read as "flower." You get it).

I'm in church and then I'm out.

I love it (mostly) and then, not so much.

I commit, fail, recommit, fail, re-recommit...you get the idea.

And before anyone waxes Mormon on me and says, "Well no one's perfect! We all do that, EVERY DAY!" I'm not talking about like, I forgot to pray. Or I had bad thoughts about my neighbor. I mean, I stop going to church for a loooooong time. I don't "stand in holy places." Etc. Etc. I'm not talking about little things here. I'm a serious tidal wave on the shore or a complete and utter drought on the coast. I'm ALL in or I'm ALL out.

I can't seem to make it work for me all the time. I haven't figured out why. A part of it, it's my nature. I always get really into things and then bore with them quickly. Maybe that's how it is with the church.

Maybe it's because I grew up in a lackluster Mormon home. My mom still teaches Sunday school and then kicks back with a Mike's Hard Lemonade at the end of the day. She was pregnant with me before marriage. She's never expressed to me that chastity is a huge deal in her home. Nor is drinking. (Drugs however, is another story. Illegality isn't cool).

Maybe it's because most of my friends aren't Mormon, so it's hard to reconcile what the church teaches with what I see all around me.

There are a million maybes. Maybe I don't fit in. Maybe I don't like waking up that early. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I ebb away and stop going. I engage in all the things I said I wouldn't do anymore, but I do them again anyway. I don't read my scriptures, I don't take sacrament, I don't maximize my callings...I completely pull away and go 100% inactive.

And then I flow. I come back. I'm repentant and hopeful and happy to be there. I give 100% of myself. I long for callings and talks, love to go to class, love to discuss the church, love FHE and all the activities.

But, inevitably, I stop going again. I don't know why. It just happens. And then inevitably, I start going again.

It's a dichotomy within me--all or nothing.

I never "give it up" in the sense that I don't believe or I don't want to practice or I don't still say I'm Mormon or that I would deny God and what I know. I just don't do the things I know I'm supposed to do.

Why is it that people like me can't keep it together? I wouldn't say I'm any less faithful than others. Believe me, I've seen the church work in my life in spellbinding ways. I can't deny what I know because I've SEEN it. I wouldn't say it's a lack of faith. It's really not. I do believe that if I needed a mountain to move and believed in the Lord enough, it would move. My belief or faith isn't the question.

Is it my committment? I want all the same things I always have...temple marriage, exaltation...
Is it because I'm lazy? I tend to be that way in a lot of things. I really don't think I was ever in the front lines of the Lord's army. I was probably in the tent, drinking a pop and watching VH1 marathons of "The Surreal Life."

What are the secrets of those people who keep it together? How do people keep going? How do people, like myself who haven't lost faith or disbelieve or even have a problem with the church at all, keep it together? This isn't a thing of "You just need to know that HF loves you" because I do know that. I can't explain it.

So how do you all out in the world do it?
How do you keep going?
How do you stay on the ball all the time?
And I mean it--I don't mean "on the ball" as perfect. No stories about how sometimes you really feel you aren't humble enough or grateful enough. I don't mean to downplay those as trials, but they are soooo not the same thing as I don't want to go to church anymore. I mean, how do you actually stay as committed as possible. I'm sure not that.

How do we prevent the ebb and just keep on flowing?

7 Comments:

  • Great post. I'm not sure, but there is alot of cultural momentum. If one is raised in an orthodox church, one tends to stay. Beyond that, I do think it is a matter of faith and not the faith that you describe.

    By faith I mean relationship with Jesus. There are alot of people attending church out of cultural momentum that lack faith. My ebbs and flows are a function of this faith. When I feal like I am on good terms with the Lord, I am talking to Him and feel like he is reciprocating. That is when I am at the crest. There are many of reasons that I might trough, but the relationship suffers. The only difference is that our troughs are in different places.

    By Anonymous J. Stapley, at 7:23 PM  

  • Your struggle is common within our mormon world. In all the world for that matter. I think when all is well, we tend to lax off and then when things happen, we recommit. I know before I went on my own journey of deciding what I REALLY wanted in life, I was the same way. Long periods of time of inactivity, and then recommittment. This last 2 years have been the hardest I've ever gone through - For me, well, it was a decision that I wasn't going to just be Mormon because I was born and raised that way. I have the temple marriage and the priesthood in my home, but it was ME that hadn't committed myself to Heavenly Father. Once I realized that Faith wasn't an issue - Like you said I KNOW of the works of Jesus Christ and My HF IRL., it was MY making it an every day committment, making my life and relationships stronger with the people who would sustain me, encourage me and support me in those times of drought, that's how I stay committed. Good Luck!

    By Blogger Lolly, at 10:28 AM  

  • As to the all or nothing thing. It's not easy to be a middle of the road type in Mormonism. It's very discouraged in just about every way.

    I'm not sure this is for the best. But I don't know how to make it better either.

    I do know that I know a number of people who would be open to going to church if they could just go, and not have a million other expectation heaped upon them. ANd it's a bit sad that if that's what they can do, we don't make it easy for them to do it.

    By Blogger fMhLisa, at 10:22 PM  

  • fMhLisa points out that there is a religious experience, a cultural experience and a spiritual experience all meeting together at Church.

    For reasons I do not understand fully, the physical attending of meetings is somehow necessary to all three, but for many, only the spiritual part of it nourishes them. So they drift off because they are not connected with the cultural and the religion.

    Then the hunger for the Spirit pushes them back.

    Others can coast along, like someone floating in the tide, others are washed in and out.

    I don't really know why.

    But I know I need to stay in the way, so I do.

    Know that isn't much of an answer.

    By Blogger Stephen, at 8:13 PM  

  • Thanks to everyone who has commented. It's really interesting to see and hear the different points of view on this. They are all very helpful!

    By Blogger mellancollyeyes, at 3:58 PM  

  • I feel your ebb and flowness. Some days I feel 100 percent Mormon (and happy about it). Other days, I'm just completley cynical about it. Of course, maybe my being gay and Mormon has something to do with my wishy washiness.

    In any case, it seems as though a person can willingly leave the church, but it just won't willingly leave the person. I stole that thought from someone else. It's a truism for me and my life.

    Wishing you the best... Gay Mormon

    By Blogger Gay Mormon, at 4:06 AM  

  • I know how you feel about the church. I am a convert of about 9 years, and I contibute my not wanting to go on Sundays to just darn right laziness. Getting up on Sunday and getting dressed so that I can spend 3 hours in church just does not excite me sometimes. I make myself go because of my family and I feel I am the example and need to get them there. I am 60 yrs old, raising a grandaughter who is 14, and I want her to have a strong testimony of the church, so we go. They have me as the YW secretary. I don't much like kids, so what in heavens name am I put into the Young Women thing?? Don't like it much.
    I will have to admit, I enjoy it when something comes up and we don't go to church, just wish it was not 3 hours, and wish we did not have to have callings that take our time, like visiting teaching. Drives me nuts.
    I will pray for forgiveness after this, I am sure, but Heavenly Father know my love for him, and he knows my faults, and still loves me. Ya know, we cannot ask for more than that!!
    Now take on the day, and at least go to Sacrament on Sunday, OK?

    By Anonymous Cindy in Texas, at 4:17 AM  

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