It’s Okay

Tender mercies … protecting the fragile from a reality they actually will be better for knowing.                        

As I grew older and began to dissent, one of the admonishments I received was that I should refrain from questioning the LDS version of a gospel of Christ. By questioning, I might be influencing others of less spiritual strength and causing them to lose their faith.

This never made sense to me as my own spiritual strength was something given me from God, not loaned to me by someone else inside or outside any church. The idea that I have power in and of myself to overrule God’s influence in the life of someone else belittles God.

As persons of faith, perhaps our faith is most tested when we are tempted to not trust God’s processes. Like overbearing and over-protective parents, do we hover around someone else thinking we know more about what is spiritually best for them than God?

Are we then failing to trust that God is at the helm?

This is not license to move about testing God by presuming to speak for Him and insert ourselves in between God and another soul. It also is not license to willfully decry the spirituality of anyone else as not equal to our own – AND – if we are not persons of faith, it is not license to go about tearing down religious attitudes in others.

For if we are not persons of faith, then why would we struggle to attack something we ourselves do not believe exists?

There are many who are quite content to live in the simplest arenas of belief – who feel no need for deeper spiritual and mystical experience and have no hunger to come any closer to God than they are right now.

There are others who are so secure and established in a fixed and unchanging spiritual mode, that they truly are afraid of really exploring and testing what they really believe. In some cases, people like this will be critical of explorers, questioners and testers who are on a quest to come to know God as God knows them – in a highly personal and spiritual context.

Traditional formulas full of shoulds and should-nots are like paved roads. There is much to see from the road, but you never know what meadows and mountains exist if you do not step off the road and make your own trail into a wilderness of opportunity.

Nowadays the internet is a melting pot of literally hundreds of “post-mormon” or “mormon dissent” or “ex-mormon” web sites, blogs and discussion boards. After a while it seems like if  you have been to one you have been to all of them. Even the most senior moderators on the most senior discussion boards will tell you that there is hardly anything, any issue, any circumstance or any thought, gripe, rant, disappointment or disillusionment that they haven’t already seen many times over.

What’s with  the veritable plethora of angry, frustrated, disappointed or disillusioned human beings who do not seem to be able – in  a wise, mature or logical way – to write off their connection to the LDS Church and simply get on with life?

I don’t have an answer.

However, in analyzing my own experience now going on 20 years, I might stereotypically qualify and quantify what I suspect bothers not only me but many who are disillusioned, disaffected, and offended to the point of some sort of festering resentment.

Simply put, for lifelong members of the church, there is an emotional trauma connected to learning as an adult that the facts and concepts that were declared and manipulatively taught to us (which we then naively accepted and internalized)  when we were children are not in any way true, let alone factual.

For  those not born into the religiously programmed  notions but who “converted,” the same might be said in that things taught by programmed missionaries or  programmed members were taken literally and uncritically accepted. The assumptions of Church proselyters were accepted to the point of “testimony” leading to baptisms and commitment to the same things we lifers were taught as children.

Like wide-eyed sponges, we took everything that those we trusted told us. We absorbed what we assumed was the only truth there is. We became not unwilling conscripts but more like unconscious conscripts into the artificial reality that began with Joseph Smith’s stories and evolved under the direction of his ecclesiastic heirs who only elaborated more fully their own literal-minded acceptance of Joseph’s stories.

The “true-churchiness” point of view; that way of seeing and believing – trusted as it was for years – broke down.

The church never had an adequate response to disillusionment it could not contain by exhortation to conformity, exhortation to more intense and frequent prayer on very limited subjects, and unspoken or blatantly declared accusations of doubt, sinfulness or even apostasy.

None of these approaches, used by the Church as tools of control, worked anymore.

Why?

Over the past twenty five years the Church has lost permanently any control over that contrived narration that encourages blind believing and unjustified fidelity to a cause the Church itself cannot prove exists. The pretended truths constantly crash against the wall of indisputable facts that reveal the pretenses as childish, immature and invalid.

There are tens of thousands of LDS Rip Van Winkles who have awakened from twenty or more years of blissful (or not-so-blissful) slumber to discover that the reality which secured their lives when they fell asleep no longer exists.

Such reality was never real.

The theological and religious lullaby  that worked so well in the past now comes across to  awakened souls as not much more than a medley of childish adolescent ditties.

Such is the constancy of that hemorrhage of disillusioned believers that more than likely will continue to grow until the core of remaining church membership will barely facilitate Mormonism’s on-going decline into the same mediocrity of traditional main-line religions that have little or no influence on the lives of its youngest adult generations.

What then might we do with our Mormon heritage and connections?

I propose that what we have left in terms of churchiness is the very real fact of “It’s Okay.”

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it
… only for social occasions
… only for supporting family or loved ones in a religious life event important to the family
… only to enjoy the sociality and friendship of the culture

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it
… to be a friend of the church
… yet keep it’s demands and requirements at arms length
… to accept no calling unless you feel like it
… and never fear the religious ill-will of the master and commander who supposedly leads the Church

It’s perfectly okay to go to church only when you feel like it
… and not go when you don’t feel like it
… to participate whenever  you desire for your own reasons
… and have no intention or goal of arriving in the Celestial Kingdom.

It’s okay my friends.

We are not responsible for the happiness of anyone else in our lives.
They are responsible for their own happiness.

In that regard, just as we know we have no right or obligation to impose our beliefs on anyone else or make a relationship with anyone else conditional on our being pleased by them, they have no right or obligation in the reverse.

We owe them our maturity.
We have no obligation to reward spiritual and emotional immaturity.
If relationships are that fragile and conditional, someone needs to be the adult.
It is unreasonable and makes  no sense to be in a relationship where one soul is responsible for the contentment of everyone else.

If friends and family want a conditional relationship with you … are you not obligated to ask them to grow up?