I typically do not broadcast my opinions over the social media. I am rather more comfortable in one on one discussions. With that said, I am submitting this in response to my son’s (Jefferson’s) request for my feelings.
A bit of background, I am a lifelong member of the church. I have gone through a period of in-activity in the church (a post-divorce period). I am currently a strongly committed and very active member of the church. For perspective on the request for this discussion, my wife and six of my nine children have left the church. I guess that qualifies me to post my opinion here.
Let me start by saying that with each of the seven immediate family members who have left the church, I have had very different feelings and reactions. Each person and each case is different. The emotions and feelings for each were affected by their individual personalities, the life changes they were making, and so on. The biggest common feeling was questioning. I wanted to understand the whys. My comments here will be pulled from all of these relationships, experiences and expectations. This is a general response. I could expand on each person individually.
I have listened to each family member individually and treated them separately. I have listened to each issue and read about and pondered each issue questioned. I am sure I do more searching and reading than everyone knows in my hope to learn and understand. No knee jerk reactions. In many cases I am still pondering and learning. I have tried to understand where each person is coming from.
That said, on some issues it boils down to the typical ‘agree to disagree’, accepting that we all have our own opinions and feelings and I respect those. In rare cases I strongly disagree and this primarily comes from my feeling that from my perspective, the path taken or the point of view taken will lead to some amount of misery or sadness. I do not judge or love these family members any less. I still want the best for them and of course I have my own opinion about what leads to happiness. I believe all of these family members know who I am and what I believe. They also know that I love them even though we see differently.
A big piece of my wading through these issues and opinions is trying to understand where, why and how the opinions are formed. What has led each person to where they are. Why do they feel the way they do. This whole process is interesting, educational, inspiring and thought provoking.
I have broadened my view of people and the world through these insights. I have deepened my ability to love and accept and support. Don’t get me wrong, I still do not accept that some of the directions chosen are good or even right for the people I love. But I do feel I understand.
This process has been fertile ground for me to go deeper into my own beliefs, feelings, perspectives and attitudes.
With relation to the church, my testimony, my commitment, my spiritual life and my relationship with God, it is now only stronger and deeper.
We are all more comfortable hanging with people who have similar values, principles and directions. While members of my family have gone in different directions, the bonds I have with them hold true. I dearly love to hang with each of them and share our lives. I love and enjoy each of them.
I am happy to talk with anyone individually about any issues or feelings, no holds barred, no love lost.
A couple of thoughts to ponder that might lead to understanding some differences of thought. These thoughts bubbled up from readings as I have tried to understand the path of my family members. They point to threads that seem to be common, at least in our family.
Is your experience with religion “a HAVE TO religion or a religion TO HAVE”?
“We are not mortal beings trying to have a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a mortal experience.”