Mormon Discussion

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sacrifice or not?

There was a comment recently that gave me much to consider. The gist of the comment was that a religion should make you happy, not miserable.

And then I started to wonder...what makes me happy? What WOULD make me happy? Does church make me happy? Do other things make me happier?

Church makes me happy. That much is true. But church also makes me uncomfortable. Church also makes me stick out. Church also makes me feel guilty for everything from not paying a full tithe to prefering a "Real World" marathon over a church dance. Church makes me angry, church makes me feel constricted in terrible ways, church makes me second guess myself, and church makes me feel like I can never be the Mormon I'm supposed to be.

Other things makes me feel happy without all those other feelings. My wonderful, beautiful, sensational non-member boyfriend makes me incredibly happy. He makes me believe that good things do happen. He makes me cheer up. He gives me hope for the future. He makes me feel content and satisfied.

Dancing with my friends at clubs makes me feel happy. It makes me move my butt so I'm getting some exercise. It makes me smile.

Then there are things that I think would make me happy. Or at least, more comfortable. I've never drank before, but there is a certain elegance associated with wine with dinner. I think I would like that.

I'd like (and have enjoyed on many more occassions than I'd like to admit) a two-day weekend. Sunday is spent sleeping in and then going out to have brunch with friends and family.

What would make me happy? I'd be very happy without church in my life. Not that I don't want church in my life, just that I'm not one of those people who believes that anyone without church is someone to be pitied and they must have a horribly unfulfilling life. I could be very happy without church.

And church makes me feel things other than happy. Is this a bad thing? Does this mean that church isn't the right one for me? Or is guilt, shame, anger, uncomfortableness, awkwardness, and generally feeling like you don't belong all part and parcel of the whole "sacrifice" idea? Am I supposed to be miserable at times due to a direct correlation between my church attendance and my miserable feelings?

How do you know that a religion isn't just demanding the appropriate level of sacrifice from you when you feel unhappy with it or the decision you have to make because of it? Or is sacrifice something different? Is a religion supposed to make you unhappy as well as happy? Are other things supposed to make you happier than the religion? Does that mean the religion is flawed or that you just aren't embracing it correctly?

Is it sacrifice or simply not the right fit?


  • Like you, I was only concerned with myself at your age. Giving up you selfishness is a hard thing to do, but is also the most rewarding thing. When you go about life looking for what life has for you, Church can be a drag. When you live life looking for what you can give it - and the other people in it - that is where true happiness is built.
    Abandoning selfishness is an incredibly difficult thing to do, but I have never been more peaceful and happy since I started trying.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 8:04 AM  

  • Your post askes a lot of questions. Of course my comments will be off the top of my head and won't address all the questions.

    I have had similar feelings at times. I personally have no doubts about my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and its restoration through Joseph Smith. I make a distinction at times between the church and the gospel. They are not always the same thing. Many of the negative things I feel associated with the church have to do with the culture and certain individuals in the church and nothing to do with the gospel.

    But, I don't think the gospel of Jesus Christ was meant to make us feel true happiness all the time regardless of what we do. It was intended to let us know what we need to become in terms of being christ-like. And that may mean sacrificing short term happiness for long term self improvement which I believe will lead to more happiness in the long run.

    Often I feel the teachings and practices of the church are partially meant to help us avoid saddness and personal tragedy in life other than to promote immediate pleasure.

    I think that is a general characteristic of all christianity is the hope for future and long term happiness sometimes at the expense of short term pleasure.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 2:10 PM  

  • There is a great website that deals with exactly these issues. It's a very readable site, and looks good too. Check it out at

    I read through the whole thing and it makes some great points!

    By Anonymous Joseph, at 6:28 PM  

  • There's a website that deals with this exact issue. It's a very readable site, and it makes some great points. Check it out at

    By Anonymous Joseph, at 6:31 PM  

  • I guess somewhere along the lines you have got some things mixed up you use the would happy, happiness in the wrong context . if you replace the word happy at the dance with the word pleasure you will see a difference in your life there are two types of feelin one is pleasure which is fleeting " like the smell of a new car , the other one is happiness which is everlasting

    By Blogger posted by, at 4:58 AM  

  • Yes, you are feeling guilt. But guilt is a gift. It is a warning sign...telling you that there is something dangerous, that you need to change something in your life for your own good.

    Pain is the warning sign of our bodies that what we are doing is harmful to us. If you didn't have the pain and the auto reflex to pull your hand away from a hot surface, you would be burned.

    In the scriptures you will find that if you continually do what is right, you will lose the desire to do wrong. Your "unhappy" feelings are your warning sign to examine yourself and fix why you feel uncomfortable.

    The good side to all this is that you can grow and learn through pain. The refiners fire so to speak you can be stronger than before.

    When your heart is in the right place, not the things of the world, you will have as the scriptures stated... a desire to do good continually.

    See King Benjamins address.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • I think the church definately brings happiness. And that IS what it is meant to do. The only reason that one may not be feeling happiness is because they aren't doing something right, the gospel is flawless. You feel those bad feelings towards the church sometimes because you have a problem with doing the things it asks of you. And so when you don't want to do something, it will probably make you unhappy that you feel you have to do it. But there are times that if you just suck it up and do it even though you don't want to, it will make you happy. Like service.

    By Blogger The Bluths, at 3:19 PM  

  • Make more posts!

    By Blogger The Bluths, at 11:59 AM  

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