curious_mormon

I don't feel like I belong in the Mormon community

Recommended Posts

I don't feel like I belong in the Mormon community. 

I feel that I am isolated toward other church members. I am of Pacific islander descent, but I don't think it has anything to do with my race, it might be.... The Mormon community here is mostly white/Caucasian. I came from a very poor family and background. I have been exposed to so much ghetto in my life and I may have picked up some bad habits while in high school. Even though I'm educated, those habits tend to slip up...things like cursing and just being myself. When I am being myself, and I slip( I am trying to change that)..people tend to judge me while at church. I am beginning to ask myself, is it my fault that I was exposed to bad influence all throughout my life? Should I look down upon myself? There's nothing wrong with change, but this whole thing is making me anxious. I am trying to belong but people at church don't seem to be "welcoming" to me. I gave a testimony when I first moved to my ward and I was being completely honest about myself.....that i was exposed to the ghetto and bad influences, that I used to drink, smoke, party, was a juvenille,I got wild and i ended up in jail and that one day the missionaries saved my life and gave me a book of Mormon to read and changed my life...

I feel like I am constantly being judged fpr who i was. When i look at the people and say whats up or say hi, nobody says hi back?! I feel isolated in the church. Sometimes I want to quit going there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Curious, I'm sorry you are struggling, and commend you for continuing to attend church even though you feel unwelcome there. There is a cliche that says the church is true but the people in it aren't.  It's true.  Sometimes members fall short of what we ought to be to the detriment of others, and that is wrong.  Most of the wards I have been in through my life (which are many) have been full of friendly, loving people, but there have been a couple that were closer to what you describe.  

Unfortunately, we can't change other people, we can only be an example to them.  If they are distancing themselves because of the natural man's fear of those who are different then you may win them over in time.  If they are unfriendly because they are judging you, then I remind you that pride and lack of charity are much more serious issues for them than what you have shared with us.  Pity them.  I think these kinds of people will be very disappointed when they stand before the Savior expecting a reward for their "piety" and receive instead a rebuke.  

Though it is painful, you need to keep going to church.  Remember you are there not to socialize (although when it works properly this is a healthy and welcome part of attendance) but you are there to worship Heavenly Father, and renew your baptismal covenant through the Sacrament.  I'm not asking you to do something I have not done myself.  There was a time in my life when, for different reasons, I found church attendance very painful.  I spent a lot of time crying the bathroom.  Like you I really, really just wanted to stop attending.  But I hung in there, and things are better now.  I am so grateful that I didn't give up during those hard times!  Consider the stories of the church pioneers, not to compare yourself to them, but to draw strength from their courage.  Look also to those in the scriptures that stood alone.  Abinadi comes to mind. One of our members, NeedleinA, recently shared a powerful video about Abinadi.  Remember that he stood alone preaching the word to the people as the Lord had asked him to do.  They rejected him, but he kept coming back.  He kept coming back even when he knew what the ultimate punishment could be.  Check out this video (it's barely over a minute long).  Again not to compare yourself (comparing is seldom helpful) but to draw strength from Abinadi's example.
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was 5 years old, I hospitalized my kindergarten teacher.  Yes, it was intentional, and yes I knew what I was doing (it was a necessary defenses against a monster).

Like you, I don't "fit in" at church.  People at church don't understand where I've been, what I've done, what I've felt.  People don't understand how thoroughly I understand Christ's atonement- how deeply I can testify of His forgiveness and healing.  People look at me strange because sometimes I make funny faces.  Sometimes people judge me because I say things which is outside the limited "normal" they know.  Sometimes they avoid me because they don't know what to think of me.

Like you, I don't go to church to be social or to be judged by people (though that does happen)---  I go to church to commune with my Lord.  I go to church to celebrate with the one whom has shown me such miraculous forgiveness and healing, whom has re-born me past all that.  And in turn.... I must show others forgiveness and healing.  I must forgive those people in church whom are afraid of the "unknown".  I must share my light with others, and not hide my re-born self under a bushel.  

Are you hiding yourself under a bushel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, curious_mormon said:

I don't feel like I belong in the Mormon community. 

I feel that I am isolated toward other church members. I am of Pacific islander descent, but I don't think it has anything to do with my race, it might be.... The Mormon community here is mostly white/Caucasian. I came from a very poor family and background. I have been exposed to so much ghetto in my life and I may have picked up some bad habits while in high school. Even though I'm educated, those habits tend to slip up...things like cursing and just being myself. When I am being myself, and I slip( I am trying to change that)..people tend to judge me while at church. I am beginning to ask myself, is it my fault that I was exposed to bad influence all throughout my life? Should I look down upon myself? There's nothing wrong with change, but this whole thing is making me anxious. I am trying to belong but people at church don't seem to be "welcoming" to me. I gave a testimony when I first moved to my ward and I was being completely honest about myself.....that i was exposed to the ghetto and bad influences, that I used to drink, smoke, party, was a juvenille,I got wild and i ended up in jail and that one day the missionaries saved my life and gave me a book of Mormon to read and changed my life...

I feel like I am constantly being judged fpr who i was. When i look at the people and say whats up or say hi, nobody says hi back?! I feel isolated in the church. Sometimes I want to quit going there!

People in the church come from a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of pasts. Some good some not so good.  We all go to church to try and become better people, learn from others and be uplifted.

I do not understand why anyone would bear their testimony about all the bad decisions they made and not expect people to look at them differently. Don't do that. It serves no good purpose you have self-ostracized. 

People are people members or not don't make the mistake of thinking that you have entered some nonjudgemental zone because you are at church. You wouldn't put yourself on blast in a job interview don't do it at church.

Going forward just be you, I am just me when I go to church a work in progress but I don't put all my peccadilloes out there for people to see.  The key is most sins are in your past leave them there.  You said " I used to drink, smoke, party, was a juvenille,I got wild and i ended up in jail" sounds pretty typical for most teens aside for the jail part....but you'd be surprised. 

 

Omega

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh.  I once brought my cubscout troop to my house to help me recycle my dad's beer cans.  They looked at me funny for the next decade.  Then my Teacher's quorum advisor trusted me to pick the movie, and I accidentally got the one with nudity in the first 5 minutes.  I remember taking my cousin on a 'swearing spree' right before his baptism, because, you know, the baptism takes all the sin away. I gathered plenty of odd looks from people that I didn't figure out how to interpret until 15 years later.  

I can't begin to describe how freeing it was to stop caring what other people thought about me.  Let them gossip.  This is your faith and your church - if they struggle with unrighteousness, that's their problem.

If you ever come to my ward in Colorado Springs, you're welcome to sit with me and my family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a recent convert, with no friends/family in the church and with massive social anxiety, I can understand somewhat what you're feeling - it's sort of that "fish out of water" feeling. However, there's always bound to be at least some nice people, who are willing to let you sit with them during church and who are happy to talk to you, so find those people and enjoy their company. And remember, the main reason why you're at church is for God - to feel closer to God and Jesus. So as long as you go to church, partake of the sacrament and read your scripture, that's all that really matters. I know it's difficult but don't leave your feelings of isolation hinder your church-going experience :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

curious_Mormon,

I'm sorry you feel this way. I agree with that others have said - the church is not foremost a social organization. It would be nice if people treated everyone warmly. I think that is how Christ would treat everyone. But people have their hangups. It's also possible that people may think better of you than you fear.

I would recommend that you try to let go of your worries about this. Just be your best self, keep trying to live the gospel, and reach our and serve people. And definitely keep going to church, to take the sacrament and learn (and be reminded of) how to be a better disciple.

Edited by tesuji

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other thing is time.

How much time has gone by.

They are waiting to see if in fact you have changed, or it was just a temporary fad.  Just a thing to try to fit in. 

Or is it a total life change that will last?  Will you endure to the end?  Or will you end up back out there in the street with the old ways.

I'm not questioning you.  I'm not asking you for answers.  I'm just saying those are the questions you have to ask yourself, and answer to yourself and to your maker.

Whether those people are smarmy to you or not does not matter.  What matters is who you are, what you will become, where you are going.

I know there are many with me, still the same way.  If I were to read their minds I know they are saying "that guy will never last, he won't make it.  He'll disappear one day soon."

It's just human nature.

I just joined the church (having been called in) at age 65.  Can you blame them for being skeptical?  I don't.  But I know who I am, what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and where I'm going. 

That's what's important.

And I know, some have told me, that I'm an inspiration to them.

dc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im socialy awkward, its tough for me to enjoy myself when im in a crowd...wait, I hate crowds. Whether at school, work or church Id much rather be with one friend and stick with that one person the whole time. At church that means my three friends are my three daughters (wife is inactive). After sacrament when my daughters go to class I get social anxiety because I feel that everyone is staring at me like im a loner, sometimes I would go straight to the car and take a nap until church was over. The best thing that happened to me was that I got a calling and that gave me a sense of purpose and reason to communicate with others. 

 

One good thing that helped me was to accept the fact that Im in an uncomfortable environment and to not beat myself up over it as if there is something wrong with me. I have learned that I dont need to be a 100% active participant in the ward. For example I was asked to give a talk in sacrament and I politely declined because I was in a hard time of my life and didnt feel like getting up infront of the ward, a year later the bishopric approached me again to give a talk and I felt honored so I accepted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

Just remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners.  You're a patient in the hospital.  So are all the others.  It's a place where we're all patients.  Maybe they're worse off spiritually than you are.  They need your help more than you need theirs.  Serve, love, and have faith.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

Just remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners.  You're a patient in the hospital.  So are all the others.  It's a place where we're all patients.  Maybe they're worse off spiritually than you are.  They need your help more than you need theirs.  Serve, love, and have faith.

Amen. Well said my friend. 


One of the first things my bishop said to me "We're all sinners here." 

Edited by MormonGator

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, David13 said:

True the church is not a social club.  But yes we are there to fellowship.  And that's an important part of it.

dc

Exactly. If you are rude, unpleasant, unwelcoming and surly you have absolutely no right to wonder "Gee, why don't people join the church or stay here?" 

(Not you meaning David13, of course)    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now