Religiously Bipolar, this is how I have been describing myself over the last year. I have alluded to it but I have never really delved into it too deeply. I have avoided it for a few reasons, it is a sensitive topic for many people and I was concerned with feeling judgement from all sides. I believe in being really transparent and tip toeing about this issue feels unnatural for me. So here we go, I am just going to word vomit all my conflicting thoughts and ideas on you all. Ha-ha.
I am going to start with where I am now and then explain some backstory. I am starting a new study and I am going to share it with you all as I go. I am going to be studying all the scriptures in chronological order. This means I will be studying from; The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants, The Family Proclamation to The World, The Living Christ, Preach My Gospel, and all General Conference Talks. Holy Hannah Banana- that is a whole heck of a lot to read and study when you consider it all. Here is my purpose; to gain a new and deeper understanding, to deepen my faith and testimony, to answer questions I do not know the answers to and to discover questions I don’t even know that I have yet. If you are interested in joining me on this journey, please follow along on this weekly update on my chronological studies. I will be adding my weekly thoughts and reflections and scriptural references every Monday.
I am following this list of LDS SCRIPTURE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Now, for my own religious journey story, if you are interested in my background coming to the study please read on, if you are only wanting to follow along with the scripture study feel free to stop reading and wait for the next post.
I did not grow up in a religious family. I went to churches sporadically as a child because I wanted to, often on a church bus that came to the neighborhoods we lived in or with friends or family who were church goers. So I attended dozens of different denominations throughout my childhood without really claiming any affiliation with one or another. In my young 20’s I lived with a roommate with a deep faith and I remember antagonistically grilling her on her beliefs and trying to understand it, sorry Kim, I was a pain and you were super gracious. Kim got me to go to her non-denominational church and I loved it. I dove right in, like within a week I had started volunteering in the special needs ministry and I was all in.
At the end of my 20’s I was pretty much still in the same place spiritually, I hadn’t grown a ton but I had not taken any steps backwards. I loved the Lord and knew I needed Him in my daily life but I never felt like I found my true fit denominationally. I went to a few different churches during those years. Then there was a huge shift, and I ended up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can read about my conversion here and my baptism here on my old blog.
As a baby convert, and only member of my family (my husband did not join the church), we moved halfway across the country and had a new ward to figure out and a new schedule. My husband’s work schedule changed from a Monday-Friday day shift job to initially a third shift job and now second shift. This made the logistics of how to get our five, high need, kiddos through the three hours of church (which we had never really mastered in our original ward) by myself hard. I had to figure that out within a ward where I knew no one and no one really knew us to know the challenges our children face that make them coming to church a difficult prospect. Into the mix also came that we lived closer to my family, none of whom are members and who do not totally understand my draw to the church. All of this difficulty dug up every doubt I had ever had, everything I did not understand about church policy or doctrine and a million questions I did not have answers to. I met with our new bishop to seek guidance and had what was not a good conversation. I am not going to get into what was said but it has taken me almost a year to work through it and get over it. I have been pouting and angry, I am not going to color it any other way, I have been a cranky baby about it. Suffice it to say he is a human man, and although I now understand where his intentions were, it was not a good representation of that position.
The last year has been a year of feeling like I have split religious personality disorder. It really comes down to this- being LDS works for me personally, but has not worked for everyone else in my life. I also felt like there was this mold of perfection I needed to shove my crazy, wild family into to fit us into the Mormon world. I had a conversation with my dear friend Heather recently and watched this YouTube video by Haleigh Everts that made me realize that maybe I was assuming there were doctrinal things that made it so there was not room within this church for my children and all their challenges and needs, but that assumption may be wrong and that some of it was just cultural norms. I think I was making it harder than it needed to be trying to make us fit into my perceived notion of others expectations. This revelation does not solve my logistical issues with getting through church with my kiddos but it helps me with the ideology struggle some. If that makes sense?
What are the logistical struggles, you may be wondering? The main issue-I am one person. I have six kids total, but of the five that live at home still, they are all six and under and all have special needs. I can seclude us in a separate room like the relief society or primary room and listen to the sacrament meeting through the speakers, but that only solves the first hour. The next two hours are where the wheels come off. I cannot be in multiple classes at one time helping each kiddo where they are struggling and within the church they would all be in different rooms based on their ages. I cannot help my kiddo with autism handle the sensory overload that is just being in the church building (not counting all the people), while also being with my kiddo with an attachment disorder who will be acting out because he struggles following any acceptable behavioral idea when I am not with him right now, while also being with my kiddos with Apraxia who cannot communicate easily with people and often do so in their own little language, and still also be with my kiddo with a sensory issue, ADHD, and an auditory and visual processing disorder which makes a classroom setting a challenge. So, yeah… I do not know the solution to that. While I wait for an idea to occur to me I am going to focus my efforts on this study. I hope you enjoy following along and I look forward to all we will learn and discover together.
As my history with religion should hopefully have made clear, I am not a religious scholar so I may get it wrong from time to time- this will just be a window to me learning as I go.