Jun 8, 2010

All That I Have Seen

Some of you may know Tracie and I have dwindled into inactivity with the Church. Not due to any personal issues, offenses real or perceived, more out of laziness coupled with a demanding baby and other excuses.

I'm not posting this to ask you to tell me why I should go back, because I know I should. And I'm not posting this to give you carte blanche to tell me why I'm going to Hell, I have better reasons than you do in that regard.

I'm posting because I feel like it, and to sort of sort through my own feelings of faith as well.

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth. That being said, one of the reasons why I stopped going wasn't laziness. I stopped going when I stopped feeling the Spirit while at church. I'm sure it can be traced to my own inadequacies and dozing off during talks, but I stopped seeing the value in attending. I didn't get anything out of it, and I know I wasn't helping anyone else get anything out of it.

When that happened, little things like boring callings (being one of eight ward librarians is a fast way to feel superfluous) or members of the bishopric forgetting your names or what you talked about the week before, start piling up and making it really easy to stay home. What's easier, to decide to stay in your pj's on Sunday and make omelets then catch up on cleaning up, or getting dressed in ill-fitting suits because you're fat, asking your wife to put your shoes and socks on because you can't reach (not due to fatness, thank goodness, but due to recent hip surgery), hear talks that sound like Charlie Brown's parents, feel ignored and invisible during Sunday school and priesthood?
I know, these are excuses, I'm very aware of the fact, thank you. I'm saying this because I want to change, and they say the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have the problem.

Because now, I'm not just missing church for myself, I have a son that I want to grow up in the Gospel. While I may have issues about certain doctrinal points, it hasn't influenced or wavered my faith. (I thought it was waivered, but spell check didn't). I have a background in the Gospel and scriptures to keep me strong, but Morgan doesn't. Therefore, I am making the commitment now to get back to church for Morgan's sake. If I have to, I'll read my scriptures while people try to expound gospel truths while relating them to skiing trips or exclamation marks. Because I want him to have a foundation of truth that Tracie and I can't provide alone.

But then, what of my doctrinal hang ups? It makes me wonder is that the reason why I stopped feeling the Spirit? I don't know exactly why our church instituted polygamy. I don't know why the leaders of the church then outlawed it. I don't know why it took us so long to give blacks the Priesthood, and if there will be a similar revelation someday towards homosexuals. I don't understand the disparity of preaching equality between the sexes, then the fact that only men may hold the Priesthood, and a man must preside over the family. If a marriage is one of harmony, how am I to lord over my wife in the name of harmony?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and I'm not looking for yours. Because it doesn't matter. I know that these things and more were commanded by God, and He has His reasons. When it all comes down to it, Emerson said it best.

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."



Troy said...

Austin, thanks for posting your thoughts and feelings on this topic. In our "culture" inactivity is something difficult to talk about. I am inspired by your courage to bring this up. I had no idea. I know that you and Tracie will figure this out and as you do I know that you will be blessed. If you ever need someone to talk to about this post, I am always here if you need me. Love you guys.

lynette said...

I cannot tell you how many times I've thought to myself "Why did I even come to church today?"...especially when you have little ones. You're not alone.

I don't want to sound preachy, because I know you don't need to hear that and I know you and that means you already beat yourself up about this.

But, that said, what I do know (and I think you're saying in this post)is that church IS important. It's not about what we wear, or who we're friends with, or even if the Bishop knows our names (although, that is REALLY important.) It's about our commitment to the gospel and our personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is one of the ways we show our love and dedication. It's about depositing into your spiritual bank account so that when a trial comes your way, you have something to fall back on.

Also, on a sidenote, I also struggled with church in Utah. We were active, but I really hated going to church. We changed wards 3 times (due to various moves and then they changed our ward boundaries) and I never liked going to church until our very last ward. Have you thought about switching to a married-student ward? A fresh start might be just what you need.

Wendy said...

Let me know how it goes. I haven't been to all 3 hours of church since before I was pregnant. Now we have to get back into the habit since we live with Jake's grandpa and we need to drive him to church.

Sometimes I get bummed out because I feel like I already reached my spiritual peak when I was younger and even with being a mom I don't know if I can reach that again. Plus the whole organized religion thing always been a touchy subject for us. I want my child to have what I had growing up but I so don't feel up to it sometimes. Maybe I'm just tired. I'm going to take a nap and think about this later.

Always appreciate the honesty!

Jacob I. McMillan said...

It's all just a matter of priorities.

Is religion a huge priority for you?

If it is, you'll practice and participate.

If not, you probably have other priorities that are more pressing.

Now should you feel BAD if it's not a priority?

That's something you get to spend the rest of your life deciding.

Life is awesome.

Jacob I. McMillan said...

And a shout out to Charlie Brown's parents:

Wah-wah-waaaaah wah wah, wah-wah-wah. Wah-wah-wah wah waaaaah, wah-wah, wa-wa-wah.

Patti Johansen said...

Oh Austin, I hope you find peace with this issue, for your sake and the sake of your precious family. We all struggle with many of the same feelings. Hang in there, be faithful, remember the basics (read and pray and serve)and love yourself, your family and your Savior - He will guide you.

Laura said...

Ironically, my husband and I just got called to be assistant ward librarians, but there's only one other couple who does it.

I don't really struggle with church doctrine--I struggle with Utah Mormon culture. You know, the cultural things that are perceived as doctrine, and if you don't abide by them, then you've committed the unspeakable sin. HATE IT!

Luckily, my ward doesn't seem to purvey most of those attitudes. *whew*

Laurie said...

What Austin?? You are inactive?

Brett said...

I find it interesting how we all change as we go through different chapters in our lives which prompt new perspectives. I've thought of those same questions you put in this post, and I'm sure many other members, if not all members, of the church have as well.

It all comes back to personal salvation in a God run human church. It's hard to find spiritual bliss and satisfying answers on a plane that God cannot descend to, that's why the Savior is so awesome. Keep your eye on the prize/Him, and as you daily try to align your priorities with him, finding the Spirit becomes easier. I need this counsel everyday in order to "remember". Let me know if you want to make a midnight run to Wendy's when you visit again, miss you bud, just ask Alex. :)

Charlo said...

I know you are "supposed" to go to your own ward, but you should come to ours. church building is the new one between our condo and the freeway, 11 am.

Not because you are my project (ohhh I hate being a compasionate service project), but because I too am bored and quite frankly sick of sitting next to new people every week who don't remember me. We do have some nice people I think I could be friends with, I just don't have an "in" yet, and It would be nice to have Tracie there, so that I can make snide remarks to someone without feeling judged.

Besides I am far less shy with a side-kick (or, I would be happy to be here side kick). Hence why I struggled so much with the Belle Vs. Villa's purchase. I totall love the Belle, but I wanted to be in someone's ward where I actually knew somebody. I make friends easier when I have a someone I trust by my side.

So basically, I want to use your wife. Especially at ward activities. I can get by not talking at church, but activities, though I make myself go, are awkward.

And I'm sure Brett would be happy to have you there to. He doesn't think he needs friends, but he does.

See you sunday at the family thing, and join us if you wish for church too. I'm usually at least 30 minutes late though :) I'm working on it, at least I don't sleep through church now.

Charlo said...

p.s. I used to read the scriptures 3 times a year for 4+ years. I haven't read it all the way through once in my 5 years of marriage. I dare you to judge me.

I agree with lynette. Utah wards blow. They kind of asume everyone is a transient and unless you're part of a playgroup at the local playground, no one loves you.

Heather Mae the DIY Gal said...

I feel a lot with what you said. Ryan and I used to struggle sometimes when we first moved to Tucson. We hated hated the Utah Mormon culture and the close-mindedness that usually came with it. Then we got more children and they got older. Then it was easy to make the decision again for the sake of our kids and for ourselves. We have learned to ignore everyone else not worth taking the time to bother with at church. Young wards with constant transients are hard, but gets easier over time.

HailerStar said...

Your post reminded me of how much I miss our college wards ... How we were all weird and awkward there and those of us with odd (or twisted) senses of humor sort of all gravitated to one another ... it was fun and far less judgmental than things are now ...

Your thing about the man presiding over the home ... it's not about the husband lording it all over his wife ... Eve follows Adam as Adam follows God so if Adam is being a prick and being unrighteous and rude to Eve than Eve is purely justified in telling Adam to shove it and taking a hike to find someone more spiritual ... It is about teamwork ... and about both following God ... if one of you decides to be a jerk and grind the other one underfoot then that's not how the game is played ...

My two cents ... more like a quarter ... :)

PS. My captcha for this comment was 'bersatub' ... I wonder if it knew this was a religious post and was trying to mock 'bath-she-ba' ...

Erin said...

Dan and I were basically inactive while we lived in Utah. A lot of it was that no one ever seemed to miss us and no one ever depended on us being there. Also, we were lazy. So, to you Austin Beckstrom whose testimony I have heard genuinely several times over the years... Stop being lazy. :) AND come back to Texas. I would miss you at church :)