I was baptized at 8, but I feel like a convert


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I'm a 20yr female from Ohio and my story is really weird. I've been curious whether or not there is a forum for lds members where I can speak out anonymously and I found it today. I don't have time to proofread, so I'll apologize for my primitive writing. I've never been an active member in the church before, but I was baptized at 8. I don't feel comfortable around other members (I've never had a mormon friend) and I don't have the background and lifestyle that seems to fit perfectly with what the culture of mormons expect. I read The Book of Mormon for the first time 2 years ago, and right now I'm reading D&C. I love the gospel, but I hate how the culture of the church makes me feel so it is often difficult to withstand attending church. (especially relief society and in my earlier years, definitely young women's) I identify most with lower class or lgbt mormons.

My parents are mormon, but my mom is addicted to pain medication, has severe mental problems and didn't take care of us (they had seven kids) or the house due to her severe bipolar/depressive tendencies. (She's also a little bit of a hoarder, collecting useless junk, and worst of all, stray cats. Always anti-social, in her room or crying/yelling etc etc) We have had 6 full grown cats in our house at one point, not counting kittens that we had to give away, so when I say that the house I grew up in was/is disgusting, I mean fecal matter, trash, rotting food, holes in the walls from sibling aggression, broken doorknobs, lots of trinkets and stuff and carpet that was vacuumed only a few times a year. She didn't cook either, so we ate cereal and macaroni all the time. I tried a chicken sandwich for the first time in High School. Our walls still have crayon and food stains from when we were younger. (They don't paint) It took me leaving for college for me to realize how unsanitary that house is and how I, and all of my siblings, were severely psychologically and physically neglected throughout our childhood.

My dad knows a lot about the gospel and went on a mission when he was young, but he's had to work to support the family. It's been very stressful on him with a wife this unstable and having to pay the bills. (she's ruined her own credit and has stolen his cards, my siblings cards before) So he was just never around cause he was working or sleeping. He was shocked when I asked him in high school once what the Godhead was. He said, "Well, sure you know what that is!" None of his kids were active beside 2, and he honestly thought that we somehow knew the gospel, but none of us did. To this day, I still haven't even read the Bible. I don't really know much about what happened during Christ's life other than the sacrifice.

Now, because of this neglect, my siblings have gone in every direction from having children at 16, becoming potheads, alcoholics, (it changes all the time) and even when one of my sisters got married in the temple and was the purest, happiest example... She started having delusions and now she's suffering from severe paranoid psychosis so she has a completely new, violent and less intelligible and full-of-life personality and I feel like my real sister is gone. (My dad is showing signs too) There is a lot of mental illness in my family. I have several nephews and nieces whom I love, but some of them are showing signs of neglect (and some mild abuse) too. (bad teeth, bruises, acting out etc) I've witnessed some horrible things that I am powerless of and have been investigating social services thoroughly, but have never felt it right to call due to the gamble of further abuse. Most of what is happening is neglect, not necessarily abuse.

It's taken me a long to get through/learn from the shame of my life since I left for college. I have frequented suicidal thoughts since I was a teenager and I still struggle with it today. It's embarrassing to admit that I hadn't been taught proper hygiene.... and I did bad in school, so I'll also admit that I'm ashamed of the knowledge I don't have that everyone in a normal society does. (simple geography, times table, variety of foods etc) I feel like I'm experiencing life for the first time.

I don't follow all the commandments, but I've tried as much as I can without being an active member and I still struggle, especially with pornography. It isn't frequent enough or an addiction that goes as far at interfering with my life, but the guilt and fear I feel afterward makes me super depressed and makes it hard to pray/read for a long time. I haven't tried any drugs or alcohol, I'm still a virgin, but I do purposely drink energy drinks for the caffeine to get through work and some schooling. I downgraded to coffee 6 months ago to help wean me off of it, and it has helped me a lot. (I am now drinking decaff) But the caffeine thing feels like nothing compared to the pornography thing, so I don't feel like it's a big deal.

I've felt the spirit so much throughout my life and I can recognize it, and I have a testimony of some important basic things, but I feel so alienated to other members because my life is just so different. No member could possibly understand where I'm coming from and I become so angry at the culture of the church so often that I feel judged before I can even get to the building. I feel like I struggle most often with whether God loves me or not because of the life He's given me compared to other people, even non-members. I have a strong testimony that, no matter how awful I feel and run away from the gospel, I can't deny the truth of The Book of Mormon and that God is real.

If anyone is into the enneagram, I am a six... Security is a big deal for me. I've tried skipping relief society, and then I've tried just going to Sacrament, but nothing keeps me active. Trying this at a singles ward has been much better than a family ward, but It's sometimes hard because then looks and appearance has some clear emphasis that gets my anxieties flared. I'm really just a genderqueer, super self-conscious art student who knows really... not much about the gospel, but enough to have a testimony. I honestly feel like a struggling convert, but because I'm already baptized or my family is mormon, they hold me to certain standards and sort of turn the other cheek. And when I don't meet those standards, I'm just a 'stray' or a 'bad mormon,' whose fallen off the 'straight and narrow' when in all actuality, I've never been taught the gospel before and I'm trying to learn all on my own. This might be my own anxieties attacking myself, but my sister has been to Utah and she's had some really scary stories about their cultural standards.

Is there anyone else out there like me? Are there any members that were born into the church and feel like converts? Any converts that have been baptized, but still feel like converts? Are there any LGBT women/men in the church that have problems with dresscode or the gender roles within some of the culture? How can I become an active member given my circumstances? Could anyone provide insight on the harsh/closed off culture within some of the members of the church? How can I grow a testimony that God loves me? I don't have a strong family and I've never dated/am really scared and feel too fragile for dating. I feel hopeless and lonely a lot, but I read the scriptures and I just know that I should be going to church and meeting people.

I'm pretty desperate for insight.

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And I guess the best advice I have to give is that we all feel like outcasts or like we have worse problems or weird quirks at one time or another, but what we need to remember is that church isn't meant to be a social club. We are there to worship and renew our covenants. I have spent more years than not without friends at church. For the most part my social life was either nonexistent or outside of my ward. You can find friends with similar enough interests that respect your values outside of your ward. Focus on learning and serving in the Gospel while you're at church and not so much on whether people accept you. Seek for the Lord's acceptance. Chances are that in time, you'll find someone who you connect enough with that you can be friends, but even if that doesn't happen, it's okay to fellowship and serve with people who you wouldn't hang out with otherwise.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

All the problems that you see outside the church, exsist in some families inside the church as well...we just hide it better. :eek:

Seriously, I know of a few families with incest (not currently, in the past). Other kinds of abuse, neglect...etc, etc. Of course, there are healthy families too. There are LGBTQ people, I remember when I was in a single's ward (eons ago), I knew 4 or 5 guys that were gay, and in various stages of keeping the commandments. And of course, we have people with mental illness including anxiety, scizophrenia, depression, dissociative identity disorder, PTSD...etc.

Don't let the fancy clothes and hair on Sunday fool you. Get to know people, let them get to know you. You will find that some are what you expected, but others will surprise you.

About your education...I will tell you what I tell my children, "Your education is your responsibility". I mean that to be encouraging. If your level of education makes you feel uncomfortable (and it seems to, but I think you are being hard on yourself, you write better than many. ;))...anyway, if your level of education concerns you, YOU have the power to do something about it. All you need is a library, and the world can open it's self up to you. Books don't care if you are shy or outgoing. ;) You mentioned you have never read the Bible...no time like the present. :) I would start with the New Testament though, the Old Testament is harder to understand.

Welcome to the board, and back to the church!

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It sounds to me like numbing out and running away are your primary coping strategies. You use pornography and stimulants to dull your senses. You use judgment and blame to distance yourself from personal responsibility. You hate yourself and you imagine that others hate you too. And you fear that God will think about you and your life the same way you do. Sounds to me like you are living in a boat load of lies. No wonder you need to run! That sounds painful!

Perhaps that knowing in you about the BofM and the reality of God is the anchor you need. Perhaps you are learning that running away doesn't really work. There is light and life and peace when you think about your knowing in these areas, huh? What would it be like if you let go of the lies and started to move towards the light inside you?

Maybe if you did you'd start learning the lessons of love and how to live them inside yourself. One thing I know for sure. Self hate begets hate. Shame begets fear and hiding. Fear begets more fear. Avoidance begets unattended festering problems. And blame begets denial of who we really are and what we capable of doing.

What would it be like if YOU stopped judging yourself so harshly? What would happen if you faced your emotions and dealt with them? What would happen if you took up your personal responsibility in self love instead of self reproach? And what if you trusted yourself and God so you could do hard things together?

When we love ourselves, we love others more. We understand God more. We start to understand how He really sees us and what He really wants for us. And we start giving others a break. We don't get so hurt by their judgments or weakness. We become less harmed by this world and more empowered in emotional and spiritual and behavioral ways.

I hope you can see that the answers you seek are inside the knowing you already possess. Don't be afraid to go towards that light. Jesus will meet you there. And if you get quiet and start to ignore the lies and fears, you start to hear his gentle whisperings. The ones that are filled with tender mercies, forgiveness, and precious direction.

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Mad Silentist,

I've spent the last hour drafting and redrafting this post examining your statement point-by-point and trying to strike the right tone.

Instead, I'm going to write as the Spirit moves me.

To be perfectly blunt, you are operating on rumor, hearsay, and stereotypes about Mormons- and using them to justify your own behavior.

You are the one who is being judgemental- a classic passive-aggressive posture designed to put us on the defensive and justify your position.

... I feel so alienated to other members because my life is just so different.

Hmmm....I wonder who would possibly want you to feel alienated from the members of Christ's Church?

Did you think that there would be no opposition? Did you think that all you had to do was declare your acceptance of salvation and life would be hunky-dory from that point on?

Whether from outside influence, stubborn inertia, your own insecurities, or the warm snuggly feeling of your own "comfort zone" (no matter how miserable), the impulse not to change is a powerful one.

And projecting those insecurities and prejudices onto others is an excuse for you NOT to change.

Pointing fingers at the Saints, feeding your own insecurities and feeling sorry for yourself is the path of least resistance.

No member could possibly understand where I'm coming from...

How do you know that? Do you think that we were all born in well-to-do families?

Do you think you are the only one who had a mother who was not-quite-right in the head?

Do you think you are the only one who suffered neglect at home?

Do you think you are the only one who was left to fend for herself by neglectful parents?

Do you think you are the only one who grew up in squalor and ignorance?

Do you realize how arrogant- how self-centered- those assumptions are?

... I become so angry at the culture of the church so often that I feel judged before I can even get to the building.

And yet it is YOU who are doing the judging.

You ASSUME we cannot relate to you or to your struggles- and preremptorily reject us based on that assumption.

You ASSUME we are judging you- but it is you who find US "lacking".

I honestly feel like a struggling convert, but because I'm already baptized or my family is mormon, they hold me to certain standards and sort of turn the other cheek.

Outside of your own whispered insecurities and imaginings, WHO holds you to these standards? What have they said or done to "punish" or "alienate" you for your "transgressions"?

I have a news flash for you: we are ALL converts.

We will not be redeemed because we were baptized.

We will not be redeemed because we were born to parents sealed in the Temple.

We will not be redeemed because our parents never missed a sacrament meeting or donated the most money to the Perpetual Emigration Fund.

We are not be saved because our grandfather was Joseph Smith's second cousin twice removed on his grandfather's side, or because we were born under the proper sign of the Zodiac.

We will be redeemed if- and only if- we accept Christ as our Savior and struggle to keep that covenant as best we know how.

That goes for everyone from Thomas S. Monson down to the smallest child in Primary.

Each of us must make a choice. Each of us must build his or her own testimony- no matter who their parents were or what their circumstances.

You are no different than the rest of us, no matter how fashionable your sins or how many support groups try to tell you your preferred sin is exempt from the laws of God.

I don't know who you believe is judging you, but here's a news flash:

The Church is not a resort for the Godly, but a hospital for the sick.

Everyone who sits in those pews is a self-admitted sinner.




The only thing we have going for us is the same hope and assurance you have received: that the Book of Mormon is true, that Christ loves us and has provided a means by which we can become like him.

Yes- there are judgemental Saints, and there are busy-bodies who are intent on minding everybody's business but their own.

They are a tiny minority- and infinitesimal fraction of the membership of the Church.

The rest of us are too caught up in our own struggles- and we do struggle- to be worried about the speck in your eye while dealing with the mote in our own.

My advice to you is to stop making excuses. Do what you know is right.

Go where the Spirit is leading you.

You complain that you are ignorant of the Gospel? Whose fault is that?

Stop making excuses and park your butt in a Gospel Essentials class. They have them nearly every Sunday.

Stop with the finger-pointing. Stop with the self-pity.

Stop looking for reasons to stay the way you are and start looking for opportunities to become more Christ-like.

Edited by selek
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I will not speak to the spiritual issues, but if you are in college, I want to strongly recommend that you seek out a counselor on campus. This does not mean you have an illness, but I think you have issues that would benefit from being talked through with a trained therapist.

Somethings I want to mention so that you don't feel like you are the only one (btw, I am a convert of 2 years).

I have mental illness in my family. I have one sister I can't even talk to because her schizophrenia makes a conversation impossible. Other families have this issue. You cannot solve the problems this creates, but you can learn how to help yourself deal with them.

I have a great aunt who was a lesbian; she and her partner lived together for 50+ years. My mother and one of my sisters were classical singers and always had gay men around in choir, etc. No biggie. I'm a college professor and use examples from the LGBT community frequently in my teaching. I happen to have at least 2 LGBT in almost every admitted class (small program), and those are the ones who are out. I'd bet there were more. I think it's important to show lots of types of people in my examples and the LGBT community is included. If you are gay, you aren't the only one. Most people don't care anymore.

Regarding the new foods, etc., that is what college is for. I'd probably only had pizza 5-6 times in my life before I went to college. I'd never had a bagel. I'd never had a lot of Japanese, Chinese, etc. Almost everyone I met in college had already gone to Europe. People took family vacations to interesting places - I went to Girl Scout camp. : )

Now is the time to learn. Rather than being depressed or ashamed that you don't know these things, make it exciting by going to a new restaurant and trying the food. If you can't afford eating out, go to the library and get a cook book and try easy versions of foods in which you are interested. Try to do this with friends. And if you don't have friends right now, do it on your own anyway. If you need to learn more about geography, try cooking foods from various regions as you read about them.

You have a lot to overcome, but you can do it. As much as it pains me to say it, I'm going to go all Mormon here and suggest that a positive attitude about what you still have to learn and having more self esteem will do wonders for your general temperament. That and about 6 months of sessions with a good therapist. Where I come from, every one has seen a therapist for one thing or another. You don't need a lifetime of Freudian analysis, but you could use a hand to hold for awhile and someone who will be there for you.

I hope you stay in touch with us.

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Posted (edited) · Hidden

Church members do not come in one size fits all. Every member is an imperfect human and an unique individual. Church members are not all born and raised the same way. Please stop telling yourself you don't have the background or lifestyle to be active in church. That is simply not true.

That is great you love the gospel. Hold onto that love. Don't let negativity diminish that love.

There is no such thing as lower-class church members to me. I am sorry you feel that way. You deserve to be at church as much as anyone else does. We are all sinners and all in need of repentance.

You have had a difficult childhood. The past does not have to define your future.

You mentioned your siblings have made wrong choices because of neglect. Children who haven't been neglected still make wrong choices. Getting married in the temple does not guarantee church activity. Life is messy for everyone regardless of church activity.

Reporting the possibly neglect/abuse of your nieces and nephews sounds like a smart move. You could be the one to stop this abuse. It is not fair or right for children to be neglected. Neglect is a form of abuse.

You have gone through some hard things. Talking to a therapist could be very helpful.

You can follow all of the commandments. How about scheduling a meeting with the Bishop? He can help you. You can repent and be forgiven.

There are other members that can understand where you are coming from.

I have felt like a stray at church too. I know it can be hard to feel like you belong at church. The thing is though, if you choose to focus on negative thoughts, you will have a negative experience at church. You are assuming what people MIGHT think. You don't actually know what someone thinks unless they tell you. You are not a mind-reader.

God loves you and everyone. Have you prayed and asked God if he loves you? Pray and ask to feel his love for you. Keep reading the scriptures, they are a source of love and light. You have gone through trials. Having trials does not mean God does not love you. Everyone has trials of all sorts and sizes. Don't give up because you are loved.

Christ died for you and for everyone. He understands you perfectly. The Church of Jesus Christ is his church. Church members may not always be true but the gospel is.

I like what LP said about not letting the clothes fool you. There is more to people than appearances. You have to dig deeper to really get to know someone.

Edited by Star_
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Is there anyone else out there like me? Are there any members that were born into the church and feel like converts? Any converts that have been baptized, but still feel like converts?

Yes. Maybe not exactly the same, but yes. I am almost 18 hate young womens and hate my combined class. I feel like I don't belong nor fit it. I love the teachings don't get me wrong I just don't fit in with the people and the way they teach things.

No one in my immediate family is LDS (they all went inactive) and so I usually take my younger brother with me or a really good friend. Sad thing is when I leave for school in a couple of months he will fall off to. I feel so a lone in my ward. You are not alone.

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I've been a life long member, went on a mission, and I still feel insecure at church. Part of my insecurity problem is because of the poverty I grew up in. My mother was widowed at the age of 38 with seven children ranging from ages 18 months to 16 years. I was nearly 7 years old when my father died. My mother had no skills, except typing, and had to go to work. We lived on a dairy farm at the time, which my mother could not keep up. She ended up selling it about 4 years after my father died. We moved from Northern California to Southern Utah, where we knew absolutely no one. Mother found a secretarial position. We lived in a house I was so ashamed of. I never invited my friends over. Mother didn't do much cleaning. She was too tired after getting home from work. My younger sister and I did the house cleaning (which wasn't all that great).

Even though there wasn't much money, we were lucky in that we (the children) knew we were loved. We were taught the Gospel in our home, but each of us needed to gain our own personal testimony. I know my mother sacrificed personal items for herself so that we could have clothes (which she mostly sewed). We need to be careful in assuming that just because children haven't had dental work or other doctor visits, that they are being neglected. In my case, the money wasn't there to get needed services. I do not consider that neglect or abuse. That is poverty. There is a big difference!

We often assume when we are sitting in church, and looking at the other members, that their lives are nearly perfect. Rest assured, that they have trials and insecurities too. Many members in my Ward have no clue to my insecurities and trials. Like them, I'm able to hide it quite well. I love Relief Society, because sometimes the sisters will really open up about what is going on in their lives and will mention some of their trials and sufferings. We all have weaknesses and trials that we are working on. Our commonality is the love we have for our Savior, Jesus Christ. He has suffered for us. Lay your burdens at his feet, let him take on your cares. You will find the peace you are searching for.

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