Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ministry and Suffering Alone

There is a rising trend of people talking about reaching out to those who are struggling. I'm not sure how I feel about that. While I don't think that reaching out is wrong, there's something about this effort that doesn't sit well with me.

It started with the new ministering program. I absolutely love the idea of ministering. I've struggled with the visiting teaching program for years. At the time of ministering, I had asked to not be visit taught any more. Unfortunately, it was misinterpreted to mean that I didn't want to visit teach any more, and I'd been entirely cut off from the whole program, but that is another issue. When they announced ministering, my heart sang. This is what I'd wanted to do and be, and never really knew how.

But then reality struck. Up until very recently, I've been pretty overwhelmed with my life. I've just barely gotten to the point where I'm strong enough again to try to reach outside of my own little circle. And I have found that by simplifying my life in order to manage it, I've created a habit of only dealing with my life.

Ministering requires not only serving, but also being able to be served. And I can't do that very well. I am fiercely independent, and the few times I've managed to admit to needing help, it has only been by compartmentalizing how I feel about being helped away from my mind. One of my greatest fears is being a burden. To the point where I'd rather suffer than risk being a burden to someone.

Because I feel this way, I also have an unrighteous habit of looking the other way when people are hurting. I don't want someone to take advantage of my weakness, so I don't serve unless expressly asked. Ministering to God's children doesn't work that way, though, as evidenced by my own life, where I've needed help desperately and not been able to ask for it.

So I guess that's why I have a hard time with this concept of reaching out to those who are struggling. I don't want anyone and everyone seeing my pain and weakness and trying to fix me. If I'm struggling, I don't want it to be visible enough for people to notice and help. But at the same time, I know I need it. Desperately.

I don't know what the answer is. But I know I don't want to be a project. I really would rather suffer than that. Even though I know that, technically, not being open enough to be helped is antithetical to Zion and God's Kingdom.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Hunger and a Thirst

This is a difficult topic to discuss, because it's offensive. I guarantee that someone is going to claim that what I'm saying is Pharisaical, that I'm saying I'm more righteous than they are. But I'm not. I have some very definite sins that I'm struggling with which keep me separated from God.

But despite this, an observation has been weighing on my mind. This is my attempt to explore what I'm feeling by intuition and try to ferret out the logical reasons why I'm so bothered.

I've been participating in various online LDS communities on and off for over 15 years. When I first started, I noticed that many people online resented the various rules we were given. Whether it was a rule as silly and simple as wearing white shirts to pass the sacrament, or as serious and grounded in doctrine as eternal marriage being only between a husband and wife, nothing has escaped the criticism of the self-selected Mormon intelligentsia.

For many years, I thought it was a bias. Those who struggle with feeling that the church is restrictive, and that the leadership are closed to change naturally look for a safe space to air their grievances, which the internet naturally provides in vast and varied venues.

But over the past several years, I've seen these paradigms spread and grow in the average Mormon community. This drive to fight against rules is a natural one. And sometimes those rules should be opposed. That's what makes this so difficult to discuss. It's 90% good mixed with 10% danger, and speaking against the 10% offends people, who then deflect your concerns to the 90% and claim thereby that you are wrong.

And my thoughts on this topic are by no means complete or fully formed. So let's start with what I know.

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