JohnsonJones

I think I just lost my kid in the Church

Recommended Posts

I just got a call, my kid declared he cannot believe in the Church anymore.  I was mystified and asked him why?

His area is in crisis with Hospital beds and the Hospitals themselves are putting out requests to wear masks, not meet in large groups and other measures to try to contain the virus.  Apparently he just went to church this morning via Zoom.  They HAD stopped meeting for a few weeks when the numbers started shooting up.  They decided this week that they needed to meet again.

Their stake president stood up and said that they had stopped meeting and the president had received inspiration that he needed to repent on this and meetings needed to start up again (this, while the numbers are critical in their area and several of the members had already died from the previous times they met).  This is why they are meeting again, because the Stake President said the Spirit told him that they had to meet together.

My son was furious on the phone about this, but decided that this guy was so full of worshipping  Trump that they will put their own worship over that of actually caring what is happening in the community.  He cannot believe the Spirit would tell someone to do something that harmful to the community at this time.  His conclusion was if the Stake President was calling this the Spirit telling him that the Stake needed to meet right as the Hospitals were running out of beds, that wasn't the Spirit or any Deity talking, but a guy's emotional state instead.  He is not going to go to a Church which is dictated by political driven emotions rather than the actual Spirit of the Lord.

So, infuriated my kid just called me.  I guess to vent and to explain why he had...as of today, decided he could no longer be a member of the church and to vent at me.  He was upset.  Over ONE statement by his Stake President.  Emotions must be high.  I told him that people, even leaders, are only human.  However, it wasn't that this was a human decision, but being stated that it was revelation.  He feels, deep in his heart the Lord would not be asking the Stake to meet in an area where they are guaranteed to spread the virus leading to the deaths of those attending.

I've asked for the link which he said he uses in regards to Covid Risk assessment and the chances of people having COVID.  As it just happened the past few minutes I have not gotten the link yet, but I once again, do not know what to say or do. 

I actually also feel the Leader got things, but not necessarily revelation...but is letting their own feelings dictate to them what they feel is revelation.  I'm not there though and I'm not privy to the leader's revelatory process.  Unfortunately, it seems it is driving my son and his entire family out of the Church?  Hopefully this is something that is just his current emotion (he does tend to get emotional at times) and doesn't stick with him for long, but if it does...I really have no idea what to do.  When a leader says something that is obviously evil and callous...and says it is direct revelation...and people feel it is that way and are driven from the Church...how do you combat that?  The area my son is in IS pretty bad off.  I think this week there was a prediction that there would be no more beds for patients in the hospitals if things keep up.  The Church meeting in a ward seems to spit directly in contradiction to the seriousness of what is occurring in the area.  Because of this, at least one entire family (and if my son isn't alone, perhaps more) may leave the Church (I haven't given up hope from one phone call, but my son was rather distressed).  It seems contrary to everything the Lord would want or stand for...but...it is what it is.  If my son doesn't change, it seems he and his family are going to be out of the Church now.  What can I do?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have faith in the Lord and in your son.

A testimony is not truly built or broken on one individual's statement -- even though they certainly can cause mega rough spots and flared tempers.   Let time pass and trust the Lord.  The Spirit has your son & family in hand.  If you want to pray to feel that comfort & strengthen that faith, that is certainly a good idea.   I know I've prayed "Master the tempest is raging" many times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First and foremost, don't fall into the mistake of thinking this is something that can be fixed. There is nothing broken with your son. 

I consider what has happened with your son to be a breach of trust. I believe we all experience these breaches at some point, and it can be extremely unsettling (whether it is intended or not).

The primary advice I would give your son is to lay out every concern he has about the church and his leaders to you. Give him room to speak and be heard without judgment. When he is done, say nothing more than, 'can I have some time to think about this?'

Let your discussions about flawed leaders (and flawed disciples) and the possibilities of mixing up revelation with what-we-really-want for another day. 

Ultimately, I would guess that there are other concerns that have quietly existed for some time. The first step to helping is listening, understanding, and showing that you still love.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry to hear this about your son @JohnsonJones, I'm sure it can't be easy.

I'll take the side of the Stake President for the moment.

There are more things to consider in life than just the potential of 'Covid'.

Our stake meets every Sunday for the full 2hr Church and has for months.
Our stake offers in person services AND all meetings are sent over Zoom.
Each member/family can decide for themselves which avenue is best for them.
Stay at home if you feel more comfortable there OR come to church if that is better for you.

The Stake President needs to consider not just the physical health of his stake but also the spiritual, emotional and mental health of his stake.
There are problems far more damaging to many members beside the hype of Covid. Isolation, depression, suicide, lack of friendship, lack of human interaction, etc. can be more damaging and longer lasting than the potential of Covid. I've spoken with several mental health professionals and they say that our fear of Covid, the isolation from Covid, stay at home orders, zoom learning for school can be more traumatic and damaging than Covid for many people.

Can you die from Covid... perhaps.
Can you die from choking on a grape during lunch... perhaps.

Some individuals are so consumed with the infamous death stalker 'covid' that they are willing to subject others to a whole host of other mental and emotional problems instead.
If someone doesn't want to go to Church... don't go. There are plenty of people who need in-person church.
Having been through many discussions and counsels with our Stake President, he takes into consideration the whole picture of the Stake... much of which the average member may never be privy to.

 

Edited by NeedleinA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Thus sayeth the Lord, the piano playing is too loud."

That actually happened. I believe the pastor spoke with the individual afterwards, and indicated that she was 'in the flesh,' with that last word she gave. He did not discount that God had used her in the past, nor deny that she had spiritual gifts. This one was of personal opinion, rather than the Spirit, though. And...if he (the pastor telling her this) is wrong, then he will bare that responsibility before God.

Okay...it's not an LDS example, but there are many similarities. Leaderships discerns a matter, and truly believes it has God's answer. Most of the time their spot on. God has spoken. Once in awhile errors are made.

So...either the young man in the OP has many built up grievances, and this was the final one, or he's being rather judgy--something that particular generation loves to accuse us mature ones of. He may be right, but sometimes we can be so much so that we're still wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, MoE and I agree on something.

Whatever he is focused on right now is rarely the reason someone leaves the Church.  And for one to cite a single person's single statement that may or may not be a mistake stretches the imagination.

He may simply be wrong about his view of things.  He may be right.  But the truth is that there have been things festering underneath that are not even related to this event.  It is either the "final straw" or it is just an excuse.  The real problem was much deeper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the Scriptures we learn of the Lord's ministry.  We also learn that many followers turned away when they did not like what he had to say.  He did not tell them the things they wanted him to say.  We should not be surprised that this winnowing continues.  But it really sucks when it is a loved one struggling with it.

Our leaders are imperfect, and sometimes that is all the excuse we need when they say things we do not like, to walk away.  But that says more about us (or the one walking away) then it does about the leader, the church or the Lord.

You can't really tackle this one head on, because they have already made up their minds.  All you'll do it alienate them.  Instead you need to wait and love them, the Lord is not done with them yet, and so neither should you be. 

Share this post


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

Wow, MoE and I agree on something.

You'd agree with me more often if you wanted to be right about things. :D

This happens to be an area in which I have a lot of experience, being over 15 years into my own faith crisis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, NeedleinA said:

Our stake meets every Sunday for the full 2hr Church and has for months.
Our stake offers in person services AND all meetings are sent over Zoom.

Where I live, we haven't had an active case of commission transmission of covid since about June. And yet it was only a month ago that we started having all the ward being able to attend sacrament meeting instead of what had been happening since about April, when the number of people allowed to attend had been cut in half due to social distancing requirements. There has been some speculation that Priesthood and Relief Society meetings might resume early next year, but nobody knows for sure yet if or when that will happen. Priesthood and Relief SOciety have been having lessons via Zoom since about May, but Sacrement meeting has only been broadcast via Zoom just once. I believe these same sort of practices have been in place for most of Australia, except for the state of Victoria, which only resumed face to face meetings last Sunday. I don't believe that Stake PResidents, in this part of the world,  have much discretion about what meetings to run, when, and how, as I think those decisions are coming out of the Area Office.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, estradling75 said:

In the Scriptures we learn of the Lord's ministry.  We also learn that many followers turned away when they did not like what he had to say.  He did not tell them the things they wanted him to say.  We should not be surprised that this winnowing continues.  But it really sucks when it is a loved one struggling with it.

Our leaders are imperfect, and sometimes that is all the excuse we need when they say things we do not like, to walk away.  But that says more about us (or the one walking away) then it does about the leader, the church or the Lord.

You can't really tackle this one head on, because they have already made up their minds.  All you'll do it alienate them.  Instead you need to wait and love them, the Lord is not done with them yet, and so neither should you be. 

This sums up my feelings.   I wish you all the best.  It can't be easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really dislike this Covid thing.  It's brought out the worst in people at Church.  I never had any of my kids have big problems regarding the church overall that I couldn't handle before this year.  Now, within the span of months I've had my kids deciding that the Church is acting in a way that is hostile (and from what I see, though there could be greater oversight from Salt Lake rather than passing on it, all the decisions that have affected them is due to local leadership.  It's local difficulties rather than anything necessarily with the Church as a whole...at least that's what I'm seeing with their problems) and not wanting to attend or be members again.

It is starting to wear on me heavily.  I love my kids and want the best for them.  I wish this disease had never made it's appearance.  It seems the worst attitudes in many people have come out and I hate what it's doing to people and at least some of the member of my family.

Edited by JohnsonJones

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

I love my kids and want the best for them. 

My single active mother lives with my married inactive sister.
It is always a toss up...who is going to be the bigger influence on the other. Will my mother's testimony shine bright enough and bring my sister back to the Savior OR will my sister's continual criticisms pull my mother down to her level?

Chin up Brother. You may be the light that they need even if it doesn't feel like it.
We know we are in the middle of a worldwide spiritual sifting right now... hold tight.

Edited by NeedleinA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We often get reminded about how the Church leadership is not infallible; how they can make mistakes.  But it’s still a gut-punch when those “mistakes” become, not arcane matters of distant history whose effects were felt by people who are all dead and gone—but something in the here-and-now that hurts us personally.  Our pride, our financial stability, our time, our health.

The book ”Drawing on the Powers of Heaven” was a big deal in my mission.  The trouble was, it was emphasized in a way that led missionaries to think that you could “bargain” with God to get the numbers of baptisms, commitments, discussions, contacts, etc. that you wanted—and that if God didn’t give you what you thought you deserved, it was because you had sinned.  I remember vividly one of my last zone meetings, when an AP came in and screamed at all of us because we had only baptized ten people rather than the twenty or thirty we had set a goal to baptize.  There had been some tension building for some time; but it was an absolute shock to me to realize that not only was this AP not inspired; but (as I started piecing together other experiences I’d had with him over the past few months) he was actually the closest thing to “evil” that I’d ever met in my life (up to that point, anyways). 

I eventually reconciled the situation with the idea that “sometimes God puts people in leadership so they can have enough rope to either save themselves, or hang themselves”.  As I’ve matured, I’ve added nuance and charity to that perspective—much as @NeedleinA has said, those of us who aren’t in leadership are often not in a position to see or experience the things and pressures that those in leadership are confronted with.  That took time, though.  One of the immediate reliefs, via my mission president, was getting a fresh insight on the “obedience culture” that had saturated me throughout my life— that obedience is important and usually rewarding, but that I didn’t have to follow anyone to hell.  I’m much more comfortable now quietly opting out of a really harmful decision or initiative until it blows over—as it always does—and in the meantime focusing on my obligations to my family and my ministering and (until they release me!) my calling.

But oh, that disillusionment!  My goodness; how I wanted out!  How I wanted—still want, sometimes—to damn the lot of the smug SOBs who ran roughshod over so many people in the name of ego and false piety and numbers!  As I wonder what kept me “in” at that time—both in the church, and in the mission field—I think what helped the most (besides the fact that the mission office had my passport!) was probably the following:

—I was having excellent experiences studying the scriptures.

—I had gained a huge testimony of my patriarchal blessing; and through it, of God’s familiarity with, plan for, and unconditional love for me.

—I had learned to complain to God—to grouse, to cry, to scream and cuss—and then, to shut up and listen to Him talk back.

—I had read enough conference talks to be reasonably secure in the belief that, whatever tomfoolery I was seeing locally; the higher-ups were decent men whose vision and ideals harmonized with my own.

—I had an excellent companion who sympathized with/validated what I was going through but who was absolutely focused on the Savior and who—I knew, though he never had to say it—wouldn’t put up with me giving voice to the most poisonous of my doubts.  There were boundaries to my public statements of disaffection. 

—Physically, I was in the best shape of my life.  I had energy.  I wasn’t in constant pain.  My body could do whatever I told it to do.  

—I was actually kind of an incompetent missionary (deeply introverted; hated making contacts).  My self-confidence was pretty well crushed by the middle of my mission, so I was open to the idea that someone out there might know something I didn’t know or be able to do something better than I was able to do it.

—I had no idea what was going on politically—and I mean, both in terms of global/national politics, and church/mission politics/power dynamics. I didn’t let my own struggles and disaffection and anger and grief get fed by, or feed into, some larger movement.  It was, fundamentally, just me and God; and we figured it out in the end.  🙂 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I remember one young man who asked for counsel about his educational choices. He was a freshman at a very good university. A week after I had given the advice, he scheduled an appointment with me.

When he came into the office, he surprised me by asking, “Bishop, could we pray before we talk? And could we kneel? And may I pray?”

His requests surprised me. But his prayer surprised me even more. It went something like this: “Heavenly Father, You know that Bishop Eyring gave me advice last week, and it didn’t work. Please inspire him to know what I am to do now.”

...

He already knew he didn’t need to go to a bishop on such a problem. But he had learned to sustain the Lord’s servant even in his mortal weaknesses. He eventually became a stake president. He carried with him the lesson we learned together: if you have faith that the Lord leads His Church through revelation to those imperfect servants He calls, the Lord will open the windows of heaven to them, as He will to you.

 -- "The Lord Leads His Church"; Oct 2017 General Conference.

The rest of the talk is very helpful counsel in light of the current situation.

Edited by Carborendum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe we live in a time similar to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel.   Mostly from scripture we are led to believe that Nimrod intended to build a "way" to heaven.  Josephus in his "Tradition of the Jews" indicated that Nimrod intended to build a high place that would save mankind from an additional flood.  We know that in the last days that there will be a great deal of "trouble" come unto the world.  The question is not how to avoid trouble but rather where we put our faith in time of trouble.  Do we place our faith in that which is flesh and of this world or do we put our faith in spirit and that which is of G-d?

I have always felt that if the brethren with the presiding keys are making bad decisions - I should take the matter up directly with them - not my parents, not other members, not the press, or not anyone else that was not involved in "the" decision.  In the early history of our church Joseph Smith made a very bad decision to go a head with the Kirtland Safety Society.  This brought about the greatest excuse for apostasy seen in the Last-days.  Half of the Apostles, the two councilors of the First Presidency and most of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon "golden" plates fell into apostasy.    

I have a son that is struggling with all things divine.  He served a mission, married in the temple, attended his meetings and read the scriptures daily.  When his wife left him - he blamed G-d.  He could not understand why things went wrong when he was doing everything right.  He no longer keeps any of his covenants - including the Law of Chasity.   He demands he is happier now than when we was loyal to his covenants.  As I have discussed this with him - I have reminded him that great sailors are not made great sailing on calm seas - that the greater the storm the greater the faith that is needed to overcome and sail through the storm.  Great sailors are made great by great storms.

Having faith in leadership does not mean that they will not make mistakes - but faith is that G-d will assist them even in their mistakes.  I have told the story from my youth of meeting with President Hugh B. Brown and having the privilege of asking him questions.  I thought in my youthful intelligence that I could "catch" him with the following question:  Do we support our bishop even if we know for sure that they are wrong?  His answer was that we support our bishop - especially if he is wrong because he will need our support far more then; than when they are obviously right.    I would add - supporting our leaders does not mean that we do what ever they tell us and never give any feed back.  It means we sit in counsel with our leaders - in the same manner that when we pray to G-d we open our hearts and speak according to our understanding - and exercise faith that G-d will answer our prayers - but not always as we though our concerns ought to be ansered.

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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