WandererO

Not Perfect but with High Expectations

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This is a long complicated story and I have multiple questions. Many of which I have partially answered myself but I want some advice as well.

I am the daughter of the relief society president and a member of the bishopric. I am also a counselor for the Laurels president in Young women's. I love the gospel but I am definitely not perfect. 

I have been dating long distance for over 9 months and am so in love with my boyfriend. He is so respectful of me but has been struggling with the church for a bit. Recently I reached a point in my life where I was struggling with many things and my testimony was failing me. We were best friends before we started dating and before he moved and I tell him everything and we are so comfortable together. Recently I got to see my boyfriend for a lot longer than usual and because of my comfortableness around him and my joy in being reunited after a long time, we quickly became overly physical together. We both knew we were never going to break the law of chastity. The problem was that we had allowed ourselves to blur the lines. Justifying that because we were not breaking a commandment it was acceptable.  Many of the Strength of Youth principles were broken. He was completely respectful of me but as stereotypically, he is more physical in our relationship and I am more emotional. So a week after he left I had been thinking about it for a while and realized that even though my boyfriend is so enthusiastic about marrying me and me him, we shouldn't be arousing those strong feelings before marriage. The next time he visited I got to talk for a long time about it with him. I expressed how I felt and he was very good about it, we set new boundaries, he was so sorry that I had felt guilty and was going to try so hard to keep me from ever feeling guilty again. I expressed my feelings about the church and how much I wanted to gain that connection with it again that I had lost the previous month or more. We really settled ourselves.

I felt really good about the whole situation. But once I had discussed it with my parents: how we had gone a bit far but I had worked it out and it wouldn't happen again. They were supportive, especially about the part that I had been losing my testimony. I talked to them, began reading my scriptures again, praying again and felt peace... for a little bit. I feel as if my parents completely view me based on this discussion I had with them. EVERY time I am alone with them they pick up the discussion of repentance, Strength of Youth on chastity, policing my boyfriend and me more and how I might not be able to take the sacrament for a bit. This surprised me because I didn't think it was as serious as that due to the peace I previously felt about the situation. I was already embarrassed about disappointing them, now I can't move on from it because of how often they bring it up. I brought it up with my boyfriend and his parents know of the whole situation, and he didn't take the sacrament last Sunday out of guilt. I have been praying for forgiveness and guidence for the situation and felt so much peace from these spiritual experiences that it had not occurred to me that I would no longer be worthy of partaking of the sacrament. Each time a parent brings the conversation up I feel horrible again. I feel as if I actually had sex outside of marriage due to the extreme way they are taking it. I know that they care about me. But I no longer can focus on that peace I felt discussing the topic with both them and my boyfriend because every time I remove it from my mind one of my parents brings it back to full focus and make me feel horrible about myself. I have told them over and over that I talked to my boyfriend about it before them and how respectful he is and how we have established boundaries, but they continue to bring up how I should have acted in that situation. 

My other question on temple worthiness has to do with me being a president's counselor in the Young Women's. I was asked by my president if I could do baptisms with her early in the morning this week. I asked my mother if I could take work off the morning my president had planned (I am employed by my mom). She surprised me by saying that she didn't think I was worthy of the temple anymore and that I would have to talk to my bishop first about whether I could partake of the sacrament or attend the temple. I didn't know how to tell my Laurels president. I don't know what to do. I ended up telling her that I wouldn't make it the day they were suggesting so they moved it to a different date. Putting me in the uncomfortable situation of not being able to tell the truth or lie. They all have such high expectations for me. I am so involved in all my church activities and people see me as the daughter of my parents, who have such important roles in my ward. I am not perfect though.

 

So I guess the advice I want to know is: When I talk to the bishop what could I expect? If he tells me I can't go to the temple, how do I tell my young women leaders and presidents that I won't be able to go no matter how many times they change the date? Any other advice would be wonderful. It has been a period of roller coasters, with my testimony and questions. I am so stressed about whether my feelings of peace are false and if I really should be feeling guilty every second of the day over this. I don't know if I will ever be comfortable going to my parents again for their advice. So very lost I would appreciate any advice

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The best advice I can give you comes from the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Don't Panic.

From what you've described, you've shown all of the traits of repentance.  Your parents are concerned the a priesthood leader may need to be involved.  There's no harm in this.  Schedule a meeting with yourself, your bishop, and one of your parents.  Go over the issues with him just like you did with your parents, and listen to whatever advice he has for you.

Whether or not this affects your worthiness to take the Sacrament or go to the temple depends on, for instance, the frequency of your transgression, the severity of it, and the inclinations of the bishop.  There isn't much you can do to control any of those at this point.  If you are asked to abstain from those practices for a time, submit yourself to that.

As for your friends asking you to attend the temple, all you need say is "That time doesn't work for me."  If they press or try to rearrange on your behalf, you may feel free to say "Go ahead without me. I'll go along the next time I'm not feeling so pressured."  

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Welcome, @WandererO!  Do what @MarginOfError said!  It'll be OK.  If necessary after that, explain to your parents what you've explained to us:

1) That you understand and appreciate their worry about your spiritual well-being

2) But that constantly bringing it up is hindering the repentance process, causing you to dwell on the sin over and over and over, but that's not how it's supposed to work:

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/58.42?lang=eng&clang=eng#p41

... if the Lord is willing to drop it, we should be too. :)

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I assume by your saying that your dad is a member of the bishopric that he is not the bishop himself, and certainly although they love you and worry about you they are expressing those feelings in a way that is not helpful to you.  You need to talk to them.  Since you told them what happened I would suggest you ask your dad point blank if he feels you should go see the bishop about it.  If he says yes, do it. 

I don't know exactly what the two of you did, but I'm a bit worried (because of ideas other teens I've encountered had) you might think that since you didn't have intercourse that you didn't break the Law of Chasity.  That idea is not exactly correct, the standard is to not have sexual relations outside of marriage, and you can have sexual relations without intercourse.  I hope you also understand that with the Law of Chasity (like most things) there are degrees of violations.  A moment of weakness is not the same level of sin as willful rebellion.

If he agrees that this is not a matter to take to the bishop and you feel the same way, then politely tell your parents what you are telling us here.  Tell them the best thing they can do to help you is forgive and move on.  They need to give you a chance to prove yourself. 

Also, you parents may feel some level of guilt over this and blame themselves to some degree for not doing a good enough job as parents.   You might want to say something helpful to them about that as well.

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