UU Mormon

Doubly Inactive

Posted on: June 15, 2010

I confess, we haven’t been to church in months.  As my husband pointed out, I’m now inactive in two churches.  Maybe I should go looking for another church to be inactive in.  Maybe I could set some kind of record.

The thing is, I’m just not very spiritual.  I always enjoy church when we go, I’m happy we went, but it doesn’t fill any particular need for me.  My life and psyche don’t suffer from a lack of spirituality.  Not that I’m fulfilling my need for spirituality in some other way, but that I really don’t have one.  I suspect a lot of people won’t believe that.

The way spirituality is expressed in the LDS church makes me deeply uncomfortable.  I don’t know why, because I did grow up with it, but I don’t like it and break out in a cold sweat if I have to participate in it.  I will go to great lengths to avoid public prayers, I’m uncomfortable even listening to them, and I hate hate hate testimony meeting.

I don’t even like personal prayer. When I stopped praying entirely it was like a huge burden was lifted.  I think this is because prayer has always been an expression of my anxiety disorder.  It was about my fears — I had to pray to prevent bad things from happening, but, as you’ll hear in any testimony meeting, if you don’t watch how you phrase things, prayer can make bad things happen. If you want to be a better person, God will make you suffer. As a “test” or to give you the “opportunity to grow”. So praying was a dangerous activity, but not praying was dangerous too.  What a horrible trap to be caught in. So being able to stop was a sign I was getting better.

Spirituality at the UU church is much nicer. It’s about love and kindness and being your best self.  Good stuff with no trickster gods or commandments to be perfect.  I enjoy it.  I’d like to go.

But it does feel optional (part of that lack of commandments about obedience and perfection, probably).  And when my daughter doesn’t wake up until nine on Sundays, I can NOT bring myself to wake her up.  Her need for sleep feels like it outweighs my nonexistent need for spirituality.

We went to the church picnic last Sunday, since it was in the afternoon and I didn’t have to wake anybody up. And the kids wanted to go because, well, there were snowcones.

The only problem was that I only know three people in the congregation and none of them were there.  I have not done well at making connections.  That’s really not my strong suit.  The funny thing is that I’ve become closer to several people in my LDS ward since I stopped going to church.  In my entire life I’ve never had friends in my ward and now I have a bunch.  How does that happen?

I’m going to get more serious about going to church, though not immediately, and not for my own sake.  But as my kids get into middle and high school I would like them to have a peer group where the focus is on treating others with kindness and respect. Also, they have to take OWL.

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5 Responses to "Doubly Inactive"

It seems to me that you’re trying to shift paradigms. In the LDS Church, the prevailing paradigm seems to be that you need the Church in order to be spiritual. You have to go, and the entire organization is geared towards helping you understand just how much you need them.

I can’t speak with any authority on UU, but I suspect it’s a different relationship, one where you can participate as you feel the need, or not if you don’t…

Actually I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to say… I think there’s a difference there…

Ultimately I think spirituality is something 100% relative to you personally. For myself, giving up prayer, sunday worship and even the notion of an interventionist God and Christ had little, if any impact on my spirituality. But I have started trail running, and there is a feeling I get, which is almost describable standing on a mountain top, running along side a stream or just being out in nature that strikes me as intensely spiritual and leaves me feeling renewed and more in harmony with my concept of what God is.

Maybe I just haven’t found the channel for spirituality that speaks to me yet. 🙂

I have a neighbor who, from the way she talks, apparently finds the Atonement to be a valuable and meaningful tool in how she deals with life. To me it’s just an abstract idea with no helpful or useful application.

I wonder if part of it is simply temperament or personality. I’m an IS-something-something (I kinda go either way on the F/T and J/P, but I’m definitely an S). Maybe I’d be more spiritual if I were more intuitive.

Well, I’m an INFJ, and I’m not very spiritual either. I’m not even sure what being spiritual is, really. Maybe I *am* spiritual and don’t know it! But I don’t feel that way.

When you say that you stopped praying entirely and it was like a huge burden was lifted, I know exactly what you mean. For me prayer used to be like flossing my teeth–I knew I was *supposed* to be doing it, morning and night, so if I didn’t do it, I felt guilty, but I never actually felt like doing it, and unlike flossing my teeth, I didn’t necessarily feel better afterward. More like, well, I’ve done it, guess the destroying angel can pass me by now–but what a chore. These days it no longer eats at me that I don’t say my prayers morning & night like I’m “supposed” to. To the extent that I have personal prayer, or what I consider an actual attempt at transcendental communication, it is usually accidental. I decided at some point that trying to be in a habit of praying regularly was not working for me and was probably not working for God either, since I imagine those prayers were a lot like reading someone’s boring Facebook status updates, anyway. I just stopped stressing about it–and the fact is, the destroying angel probably won’t pass me by now, but whatever. We all gotta go somehow, right? Anyway, I like not worrying about whether I’m praying often enough or whether or not my prayers are “sincere” enough, whatever that means. There is significantly less prayer going on, and it may not be a good thing, but it does feel like a burden lifted. I am sick and may not be making any sense, but the day I stopped worrying about whether my blog comments made sense? That was also a burden lifted. 🙂

That makes a lot of sense to me, madhousewife. I know we’re supposed to make prayer a habit, but if it’s a habit, isn’t it less meaningful? Doing it the way you are, praying when you’re moved to do so, surely your prayers have more significance that way. Seems to me, anyway.

Funny, in my college church (Catholic) the entire 4 years I was there the point was always brought back to “becoming the best version of yourself.”

But it probably was meant to imply, “and the best version of yourself is a good Catholic who does what they’re told!”

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