ByAThread

How to regrow my dead faith

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I am writing from my daughter's graveside. Today is her 5th birthday. I wish she could be raised in her eternal family after the resurrection but her family doesn't qualify for that.

I have a strong testimony of the gospel but my faith has completely died. I go through the motions to set an example for my children, but I have no hope or energy left. My oldest son just went back to BYU this week so that means I'll have to bless the sacrament on Sunday and I don't know how I can do it.

I can't think of a single good thing that has come to my life by trying to live the gospel, and that includes my children who will no longer be mine after this life is over.  I was born in the church but wasn't really raised in it. It wasn't until I graduated high school that I really became converted and served a mission. I'm the only one from my family that's even active, but for what?

My "eternal" marriage is completely busted and after years of putting all my heart and soul into trying to fix it, I have accepted that my "eternal companion" just doesn't care. There has been absolutely zero physical contact of any kind between us in over four years.  She gets her need for physical affection filled by cuddling and holding hands with a friend of hers and everyone including our marriage counselor and priesthood leaders are perfectly fine with that, so who am I to argue?  I have detached from her completely to protect my own emotional state and because I don't have the emotional energy left to try and bring her back into this marriage when she already considers herself "married" to someone else.  So I am completely alone. I don't have a single friend in the world or in Heaven.  During the entire pandemic I have heard from my fellow ward members exactly twice, but never to ask how I was doing or to check on my well being with my father (who lives with me) spending a month on what we expected to be his death bed. No, my EQ Pres, only cared enough about my family and me to see if I would help someone move. No one talks to me unless they want something from me.

I don't blame God and I don't blame them. I have come to accept that I am just not good enough for Him or anyone else around me.  If only I was a better human.  I gave up praying a while back because I can no longer muster the hope to convince myself that God has any concern for anything I have to say, He's going to do whatever He wants to do regardless of my will or desires.  My entire life I have always tried my hardest to do the best I could (which is why I'm the only one of my siblings still active) and it just hasn't been enough for Him.  Three and a half years ago I got the distinct impression that the joy at the end of the road would be worth the pain, but I am burned out, broken and beaten and my road has ended as far as I am concerned.  My faith has completely died and I have no hope left.  What is the point to this life when there is no expectation left of being able to achieve exaltation because your partner has moved on completely? Everything else is meaningless.  Why bother with any of the commandments when the best they will get me is second place?

I'm not looking for marriage advice because no one who reads this knows enough about my situation to say anything meaningful and I am fully aware it took both of us to get this marriage to where it is today.  I'm looking for answers on how to rebuild my faith from complete hopelessness.  I don't want to be where I am spiritually, but I don't see any way to move forward.  I don't need any meaningless platitudes or Sunday School answers.  I need some nuts and bolts things to move forward in a hopeless situation because right now the only positive thing I can come up with each day is that it's one less day I have to live going forward.  I will not divorce because it is more important for me to be present for my children still in the home, at least while they are still mine in this life.  Plus my wife has already turned one of my children against me and I am trying to do everything I can to sustain the relationships I have with the others.  And even if I did divorce that wouldn't solve anything for me because I no longer believe I am capable of creating a happy marriage (if such a thing even exists) so why put another woman through that heartache and misery?

So there it is, how do I regrow a faith that is completely dead?

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First of all, I'm moved by your saying you feel like your faith has died.  I'm sorry for the loss of your daughter, especially at such a young age.  I know that my faith was jarred when one of my favorite CTR-4 students was diagnosed with cancer; I cannot imagine how shaken yours must have been.

If there was a time in your life you know that your faith was strong, go back and read your journals from that time in your life.  If you haven't kept very good journals, start.  It's okay to reminisce in your journal; write about the things that you remember doing, thinking, and feeling during that time when your faith was strong. Mosiah 18:30 talks about how beautiful the waters of Mormon are to those who came to know of their Redeemer there, because that's where they came to know their Savior.  If at all possible, physically return to those places in your life.  For me, it's my college campus and the grounds of the Winter Quarters temple.

Read your patriarchal blessing.  View it as a way to see yourself and your life the way that God sees it.

Recognize that it's going to take time to regrow your faith and be patient with yourself throughout the process. 

Surround yourself with uplifting, positive media and entertainment.  Keep note of what the things you are reading, watching and listening to are causing you to feel.  Even if you are only consuming "church approved" media, it can still cause you to feel hopelessness, especially due to your situation.  You may find that, for the time being or years to come, there are lessons you skip over.  I still get kind of prickly when I hear talks geared towards parents of wayward children because it reminds me that there are so few resources for children of parents who have gone astray.  (The closest I can get is a scripture somewhere in the NT about loving God more than your parents and that Elder Oaks was raised by inactive parents, but there are no "this is how you deal with this issue" talks that I've found like there are with wayward children.  So, if anyone has any....)

 

1 hour ago, ByAThread said:

I don't have a single friend in the world or in Heaven.

I'm a lonely gal myself.  Some years moreso than others.  (Unwed, childless, seasonal depression.)  When I catch myself feeling this way, I think about all of the people I've done proxy temple work for.  I imagine at least some of them would like to greet me, shake my hand, give me a hug.  I feel they are my friends and are cheering me on in my righteous endeavors.  Even though I can't see them and can't remember most of their names, they know who I am and they love me for what I have done for them.  They are the friends I know I have when I feel I don't have any.

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Hi ByAThread,

Sorry to hear your story.  A few things:

- You are not alone.  Over the last five years, for whatever reason, I've met well over a dozen men in similar situations. I personally know four LDS guys, three of them in my ward, who would resonate personally with your story.

- We all NEED love, acceptance, friendship, joy, companionship, fulfillment, spiritual/emotional/physical intimacy.  We need relationships, friendships, contact with other humans with whom we can connect on various levels.  

- Soul-crushing loneliness is soul-crushing.  I'll go one step further, and say you, as a child of God, deserve these things.  And you can pursue them in ways that do not violate any covenants, or make you a bad example for your kids.  To the contrary, if you treat yourself as God would have you treat yourself, you are being a good example to your kids.  The trick is to find legitimate ways to meet your needs.   

Here's a list of priorities: God first, you and your spouse second, your kids third, and you fourth.   If you're doing right by God, if your efforts are not fruitful with your spouse, if you are doing right by your kids, then absolutely you should be taking care of yourself.    Find a divorced dude at church and invite him to lunch.  Open up to him a little.  Can you hug your kids more?  Create and nurture friendships with other guys.  Meaningful service to others might help.  Not sure if you're a cat person or dog person, but you can find basic physical touch and affection from animals (and unconditional love from a dog).

I'm just some random guy on the internet, so take this for what it's worth.  Bless you brother, and I'm sorry.

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To say I'm sorry to hear these things is an understatement.  I'm sorry for your pain.  

You may not like my advice, either.  Change is hard.  Change often hurts.  I can, however, tell you what built my faith as an adult convert.  First, I had a testimony that the Book of Mormon was scripture.  However, that was the ONLY thing I believed to be true.  I had a testimony of nothing else.  With that established, I worked to establish testimonies of other things.  I lived as HE wanted me to live.  

What do I mean by that?   Well, I read my scriptures daily.  I served my brothers and sisters every opportunity I had, and looked for more opportunities.  I didn't wait for the EQ President or the Bishop to call me, I called THEM.  I was relentless in my ministering.  I lived the Word of Wisdom, gave up bad habits I had, lived the Law of Chastity, and gave it everything I had.  With that, I began to build my faith.  I was receiving more than I was giving.  I was converted more each day.  When I back off from that, I notice a distinct difference in my life and relationships.  

Take that for what it's worth.  I'm not an authority on anything.

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I’ve struggled with prayer for a long time. Still do, in fact. Recently I’ve been studying the General Conference talks of Neal A. Maxwell. It has been of great help because he has such a wonderful, true perspective. Here are some things I’ve learned.

The world would tell you to take time for yourself, to find yourself, to love yourself. That’s only descent advice if you know which self to do that with. Hint: It’s not the self the world is usually talking about.

We mortals are dual beings. We have a natural/fallen man and a divine child of God wrestling for the supremacy of our soul. The scriptures tell us what to do with the natural man. We are to “put it off” and to “deny ourselves” (see Mosiah 3:19; Luke 9:23). The self we should nurture is our divine self. We do this by following the first great commandment and through the atonement of Christ. We put God first. We strengthen that relationship first. Remember that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Start small. You already have the desire to live with God in the Celestial Kingdom. Let that desire work in you (see Alma 32:27). Talk to Him through prayer. Don’t mince words. Just tell it like it is, as you have done here. He already knows, of course, but it’s important that you acknowledge that you know it, too. Ask for strength. And then watch, observe. He works by small means, too, and you have to pay attention to the subtle ways He will let you know what to do. Keep hanging on even if it’s just by a thread.

Here is a wonderful talk where Elder Maxwell talks to people in exactly your situation. Read it over and over. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1991/04/lest-ye-be-wearied-and-faint-in-your-minds?lang=eng

I hope this helps, even if just a little. I hope you are able to find peace.
The Prince of Peace has the power to confer peace. -President Howard W. Hunter

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