Bluebonnet

Long Term Investigator

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Howdy and Aloha! I have been interested in the Church for many years. I was raised Baptist (it didn’t take) and only knew a few random things about the Church. As an adult, both an awesome LDS neighbor and a dear LDS family piqued my interest. I have learned a lot about the Church from them in the past six or so years, and have spoken to missionaries and attended Sunday services for a couple months in the past.

Currently I am an atheist, a single parent, and queer. Folks like me are not generally the target audience for missionaries or Church publications. I can tell that most folks I’ve spoken with don’t quite know where to go with the conversation when the investigator doesn’t start with a belief in any deity. I would love suggestions of info geared towards atheists or other non-Christians.

That being said, I am keeping the WoW, trying to pray and read the scriptures daily, and have started tithing partially (donating to the Church at least). It is a bit weird to do these things without belief, and hard to explain, but starting down the path and seeing what happens is the only way I know to get anywhere.

I honestly don’t quite know what I need. I can learn the terminology but many of the concepts are hard to wrap my mind around. And I really worry that I will never get that confirmation from the Spirit. I am trying to focus on the things I do know, what teachings already seem to fit, and just...keep working at it.

Any info or advice is welcome.

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I commend you for the right choices you have made so far and encourage you to continue up the path. When reading your post I was very much reminded of some verses in Alma, in the Book of Mormon, chapter 32 verses 27 to 43. 

27  But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
28  Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.  Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
29  Now behold, would not this increase your faith?  I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
30  But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow.  And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith?  Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
31  And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed?  I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
32  Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
33  And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
34  And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect?  Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
35  O then, is not this real?  I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
36  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
37  And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us.  And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
38  But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
39  Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
40  And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
41  But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
42  And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
43  Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.
 

You have planted the seed, you have felt these swelling motions within your breast, and now you need to decide if you will nurture it or cast it out. The choice is yours, as are the consequences of your choice. 

As for me, I encourage you to nurture the seed. The rewards are great and eternal. Casting it out just leads to emptiness and a sense of unfulfillment. 

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@Bluebonnet Hi there! Good for you! I am an lds member, former atheist. I did as you are doing, I started by obeying the commandments. I promised God that I would obey the commandments if He would speak to me. Worked for me! 

I know that you have been on this journey for awhile and probably have encountered the info below but just in case! 

Like you, I also read the Book of Mormon to understand the basis of the lds religion. I got an ebook from Amazon called the 24 hour Book of Mormon (BOM)  that I read while I was reading the Book of Mormon. The 24 hour version helped me to follow the plot. The Book of Mormon has flashbacks like the Tv series Lost so this book is helpful! I suggest skipping BOM chapters that mention ‘Isaiah’ in the heading. There is a great book by Ridges called Making Isaiah Easier but I would hold off for the moment. If you like you could purchase a timeline for the BOM from amazon. 

The website AskGramps is a great resource for cultural lds questions.

Personally, I would attend church. There is a Sunday School class taught in the 2nd hour that is really great. I found the lds people to be one of the great selling points of the church. Meeting people online can be helpful but...sometimes the online personality is the part of themselves that they normally hide - for good reason! Looking at you, @mirkwood

If you, like me, are somewhat Left of center politically, don’t worry. There are many lds who share your views. Most lds people are not American. The church leadership is pro helping refugees and has set up an extensive program run on volunteer labor and funds. 

I can send links to freely available manuals and videos for the BOM. Let me know how it goes with the BOM! If you like you can chat with missionaries online who will be happy to answer questions about the BOM and lds life in general. https://www.mormon.org/this-is-church

Edited by Sunday21

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Great answers above.

Besides the Book of Mormon, it's also good to study the LDS Gospel Principles.  It discusses things such as - Who is God?  If you attend Sunday services, there's a Gospel Principles Sunday School class you can attend if you're interested.

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Thank you for your replies!

Askandanswer- That passage in Alma has been pretty key in keeping me going! I am still waiting to feel anything with regard to the seed, though. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much, looking for the wrong thing, or just am not at that point yet.

Sunday21- I will definitely check out that book. Having some structure and extra info is great. I’ve been reading the seminary guides, but can tell they are meant for others. I actually stopped reading the BoM for a while and read through some of the children’s books. It really helped me become familiar enough with the places, people, and happenings to focus on more than just learning the background.

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45 minutes ago, Bluebonnet said:

Anatess2- I have started reading the Gospel Principles book on the Church's Library app (which is really useful).

Pwrfrk- Thank you!

Sunday21- was that book written by Larry Anderson? 

Yes Larry Anderson. A life saver for me!

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4 hours ago, Bluebonnet said:

Thank you for your replies!

Askandanswer- That passage in Alma has been pretty key in keeping me going! I am still waiting to feel anything with regard to the seed, though. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much, looking for the wrong thing, or just am not at that point yet.

Sunday21- I will definitely check out that book. Having some structure and extra info is great. I’ve been reading the seminary guides, but can tell they are meant for others. I actually stopped reading the BoM for a while and read through some of the children’s books. It really helped me become familiar enough with the places, people, and happenings to focus on more than just learning the background.

I used the children’s books too! Very useful to me. I gave them to investigators and they liked them too! 

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