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Episode 161: When Church Hurts

Jun 02, 2022
April Price Coaching
Episode 161: When Church Hurts

Episode Summary

It’s really easy for our brains to associate negative emotion with things that are bad or things that we should avoid. So what do we do when we feel bad at church?

Isn’t church the place where you are supposed to feel love, supported, included, not judged, welcome, needed, and uplifted? What do you do when you feel burdened, angry, lonely, judged, or condemned in the place that is supposed to help and heal you?

The truth is that church is no different than any other part of our mortal lives…it is taking place in a fallen world among people who have human brains. This means that church is not exempt from judgment, misunderstanding, offense, or even harm. And amazingly, none of that is a problem. In fact, all of it is happening by divine design.

This week on the podcast, I’m talking about what do when you feel terrible at church, how to handle being hurt by people who are supposed to be following a higher standard of love, and how to use all of the triggering moments at church for your benefit.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.

Hello Podcast Universe. Welcome to Episode 161 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price, I am so excited to be with you today. Welcome to Summer, right? It's hot where you are. It is so warm where I am. And I feel like that was so fast, right? That was the fastest two weeks of my life, and somehow we're six-months in, right? And here we are almost halfway through the year. It always just feels like such a surprise, right? Like somehow the days just add up. And here we are, the beginning of summer. And I want to talk to those of you who feel like the year has kind of gotten away from you. You had plans and ideas and goals and thoughts about the things that you wanted to do and create in your life. And somehow the days in the weeks and months have passed and you haven't taken the action that you really have wanted to on those things.

And I just want to invite you to a mid-year reset. So, the last week. In June. June 23rd and 24th, I'm doing a two day event to help you reset your year, do a little mid-year reset, kind of evaluate, figure out where you are except where you are. That is such a critical component. So, many of us are just like in resistance and a little bit frustrated and mad at ourselves for where we are. And that is not going to help us, right? So, we're going to spend some time like figuring out where we are accepting that and then making the adjustments and changes that that we want to in order to get to where we want to be, in order to start taking steps and progress towards creating the goals and outcomes and the results that we really want.

And you can do this in any area of your life as you look around, whatever area you think like that was supposed to be better by now, okay? You can bring that to the mid-year reset and we will work on it. It's going to be an awesome two-day event. Like I said, I'm going to hold it online so you can attend through Zoom and I'm going to do some teaching and do some coaching. You'll be able to ask your questions and really like figure out for you in your particular situation what you need to start thinking in order to move forward and to change things. And at that event, I'm also going to talk a little bit about my program, about my coaching program, and what it's like to work with me in case you want ongoing support as you go to achieve your goals and like whether or not you decide to work with me, this event is still going to be very valuable to use or to encourage you to sign up and get registered. So again, it's going to be June 23rd and 24th at 10 a.m. Pacific. It'll be an hour each day and you can get registered for that. It's a free event.

You can register by texting the word reset to 66866. Or you can also go to my website, you can always register my website or there's even a little like button at the very top of the page that allows you to get registered for that event. Okay, and if you can't make it live June 23rd and 24th, you're going to be on a beach somewhere, right? Then you can get the replay and you can apply those things in your life and everybody that's registered will get the replay. So, I want to invite you to that, encourage you and let you know that, like, it doesn't matter what has happened. What matters are the decisions that you're going to make now and how you're going to change things moving forward.

And speaking of resets today, I want to give you a reset or a reframe in the way you think about church and the role that it plays in your life, especially when church doesn't feel good, when it hurts, when it's painful, when it's offensive, and the people in it are offensive. A lot of us believe that church is supposed to help, right? Like it's supposed to make things easier, it's supposed to make things better. It's supposed to make the journey here on this earth in mortality a little bit easier, right? And then when it doesn't when it actually can make things harder, we definitely think that something has gone wrong. And so today, I just want to offer you a new way to think about this that I think will help those of you who want to feel better when you don't about church.

Okay, so Byron Katie always says that pain is created when we think things should be different than they are, right? We feel pain. We create pain for ourselves when our expectations of how it's supposed to be isn't lining up with reality. Okay, and so today I want to look at how our expectations of how we think church should be and how we think the people who belong to that church and and profess to believe in Christ and are trying like supposedly to live a life like he does, right? How our expectations of that may be creating pain for us because it's not always our expectations are not always matching up with the reality that we face as we go to church. And I want to look at how our thoughts about these things are, of course, the true source of our pain, which is not to blame you or to blame me, right? Stuff to make ourselves wrong. It's to show ourselves that if if my thoughts are creating pain and I don't want to feel it, I have some options. I can change that. I have some power over my pain.

Like if church and the people in it could cause it, then like, yeah, we really would be in trouble because it's created by us. We do have some ability to change that if we want to if we want to feel differently. It's going to be a matter of thinking about things differently. And listen, please do not hear me say that you have to do this. You do not, you can think anything you want, but if you want to feel better, you can. This reminds me, I was listening to a podcast that Charlie Bird and Ben Gelati do called Questions in the Closet. And I just remember this one episode where Charlie Bird was saying, like, I'm looking for a reason to stay. I'm looking for a loophole in like, I want to be a part of it, right? And so, if that's you and you want to be a part of it and you're looking for a way and you're looking for a loophole in. But a lot of these painful thoughts are keeping you out, I just want you to know that that can change if that's what you want.

And listen, the things that I'm going to offer you today, just so you know, are not, quote unquote, the right way to think about things like, I don't know. I don't know the right way to think about things. But for me, these have been very useful ways to think about things so that they don't get in the way of the relationship that I want to have with God. And they don't get in the way of me showing up and like honoring my covenants and showing up at church, which is where I do want to be. So, these are the thoughts that I've used and find useful in my life when there is pain and hurt and offense that I'm experiencing. Okay, so I just made a list of some of the thoughts, some of the assumptions, some of the expectations that create pain for us. And I want to give you a reframe on each of those, all right?

So, the first one that I think can create a lot of pain for us is this idea that church is supposed to make us feel better, right? Like, kind of think that, like, that's why we go, right? Like like here we are in mortality. Life is hard facing all these challenges and like, church is supposed to be the place where it's just peaceful, where we feel good. Where at least is not adding right to our burdens that like it's going to be like the refuge from the storm. And of course that is a very nice idea, except that church isn't separate from the fallen world, right? Like, sometimes in our minds, we kind of think about like, here's mortality and here's the challenges, here's the storm. And that church somehow is supposed to exist outside of that. But it doesn't, right? Church is happening within that same storm. Church is happening in a fallen world with other people, with other brains who have thoughts and ideas and do things and say things and have total agency in which they get to choose those behaviors. And church is happening amidst all that, right? It is not in any way separate from our mortal experience, and it's not any way separated from the fact that every person you attend church with has agency and gets to choose.

So, to help you maybe consider thinking about this differently, what I want to offer you is to ask yourself and remind yourself what makes us feel anything? What makes us feel better? What makes us feel worse? What makes us feel good? What makes us feel bad? What makes us feel? It is always our thoughts. And when we go to church, we think it's the things that's happening outside of us that's creating those feelings, whether they're good or bad. We think it's the song or the speaker or the person who greeted us or didn't greet us. We think those things are creating our feelings, but always our feelings are created by our thoughts. And if we don't feel better at church, that's because we aren't choosing thoughts that feel great, right? And and that's not a problem, that doesn't make you wrong. But it's good to remember why we came to Earth in the first place. We came to learn to get better at choosing. And perhaps church then is just providing another opportunity for me to choose. My brain offers me thoughts, and then I get to make a decision, I get to choose how I think or feel.

Now, that doesn't mean you're supposed to choose to feel good all the time, even at church, like you're not doing it wrong if you're feeling bad. It's just good to be aware that like, I am making a choice and I just want to look at it and decide if I want to continue to make that choice. And every time I go to church and I get triggered or I feel bad or hurt, there's an opportunity there for me to recognize I'm making a choice and evaluate whether it is the one I want to make. Like if church isn't supposed to make me feel better, what is it supposed to do for me? It's there to remind me of my covenants, of my goals, of like it's there to remind me of who I'm trying to be. More like, of the qualities that Christ has, that I'm trying to develop more in my life. And if church is supposed to be reminding me of that, then all the better when I get triggered. And it hurts because that is the moment where I get to practice choosing more like he would.

Church is another place in which you get to practice your agency and your discipleship, and it doesn't exist outside of like the regular practice field. I think the very fact that it doesn't feel good all the time allows us to contemplate our choices and to recognize that we are making them and then get better at making them, which is why we came to Earth in the first place, to get better at practicing our agency. If we felt good all the time, of course, that would again be created by our thoughts, but we would be less inclined to look at that choice and notice it. And it wouldn't give us the practice we need to choose on purpose. The experiences that we want to have. The other reframe that I want to give you on this is that because church doesn't always make us feel good, and because there are things that aren't always like perfect and good at church, there is an opportunity there for us to make a contribution, to add to the goodness, to add to the healing. If we're relying on church to do all of that and there's no place for us to act, there's no place for us to grow.

There's no place for us to stand up and contribute our own love and genius and perspective, to the max, right? I want you to think particularly about the things that are not good about church. Like some of the traditions of patriarchy key or spiritual manipulation, homophobic traditions, marginalization of black and brown people. All of these things like we do not have to give them a stamp of approval in order to attend church. These are moments where we can make a contribution, where our thoughts can make a difference. And they are when we see these things, it's not a moment to, like, tell ourselves this isn't how it should be, but to ask ourselves it is how it is. Now, who do I want to be? How do I want to show up? What do I want to think? How can I use my native tongue in this religion? As Thomas McConkey calls it, right? Like we grew up in our religious traditions, who better than us to stand up and say, like, this needs to be different. This can be better.

And I think so many times the thought that it shouldn't even be that way at all gets in the way of us making a difference where we can. When I see things that don't make me feel good about my religious tradition, how am I going to use my agency to be a force for good here?

The next assumption or expectation that they can get in the way is that the people are supposed to be better than they are. So, let me just tell you right off that they aren't, okay? The people are supposed to be practicing. And that in and of itself means that they aren't good at it. We practice the things that we aren't good at. But here is the very good news. Them being bad at being Christ like, them being bad at love, them being bad at acceptance and inclusion and all those things and practicing on you allows you to practice as well.

So, let me explain, when people show up at church in a way that you don't like, right? And they're practicing, trying to, like, follow Christ. And the way they do that has some flaws is not great, right? That provides in and of itself a moment where you get to practice being like him as well. Seeing the frailty and the weakness and the mistakes of other people, and choosing to love them anyway. And listen, if they were better at love, then you would be getting less practice at loving. So, I personally like to think that is like a perfect system. God is like, you know what? You need to get better at love. So, I'm going to put you in a situation that is difficult but is challenging, that requires you to have some real practice and stretch your muscle of love. People are going to say things. They're going to do things that we could qualify as insensitive and judgmental, or at least our brain is going to qualify them as that, right?

Our own brains are going to be judgmental of their judgments. Our own brains are going to be insensitive of their insensitivities. Right. That's how brains work. We are all here on Earth. We are spirits in bodies that are experiencing the world through the filter of our brains. They are and we are. They are supposed to be judgmental, right? And so are we. And in that moment, when our brain offers us a judgmental thought about their judgments, we can look at that and decide what we want to choose.

Every moment that you interact with somebody that's, like, not positive, you know, that's challenging to love is a moment to practice. So, I think I already told you about this, but couple of months ago in Sunday school, the gentleman that was leading the discussion, he started the discussion by saying, okay, this is going to be a judgment free zone. And you can just like say what you want. You can ask whatever question you want. And like, as people started asking questions, I could see him, like visibly getting uncomfortable and like, my brain was like, oh, he said it was a non judgment zone, but there he is, judging them. Now, I'm not inside his brain, so I don't know that he's judging them. But what I noticed in that moment was that I was judging him for what I thought was him judging them. And I just had this moment where I was like, oh, right. Like, it doesn't truly matter if he's judging them. If in that moment what matters is that I am because that's what I came to work on. And that's where like my only power to change things is in my own head with my own judgments.

And so, I want to offer you that people supposed to be exactly who they are at the level of like love that they are capable of. There we are always exactly where we are. But that is not a deficiency in church. It is a benefit because then I get to practice what I'm there to practice. Another thought that can get in the way when we're at church is this idea that our prophets or our leaders or our bishops like our ecclesiastical leaders, this idea that they are different than us somehow, right? Like somehow our brain sort of like says that they should now be exempt from the human experience and that they shouldn't make any mistakes and they shouldn't, like, be human in any way, right? And I want you to know that this is not true, right? They are not different than us. They are still a spirit that is housed inside a human body with a human brain and everything that they experience.

Even their interactions with God and their messages from him have to be interpreted by their human brain, right? Like they are not getting straight downloads or emails from God telling them like giving them inspiration. They're asking him they're receiving thoughts and they're interpreting those. And like, listen, even if they could get an email from God, those emails would have to be interpreted, right? The punctuation would have to be interpreted like, you know, like when I send a text to my kids, they're just like, why did you use that punctuation, right? That means this thing like even punctuation has to be interpreted by a brain. And so, I want you to understand that like everything that your profits and leaders and bishops and and ecclesiastical leaders are getting, like all of that information coming from God is being interpreted through their brain, which means that like there's a part of their thoughts involved, but it is not a problem. And this is why in in the Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith talks about that like when God first gave Commandment to Adam, he says that he gave them through Adam and then Adam gave them to his children.
And he says it was always that way from the beginning until now. That's how God communicates with his children through other people, right? And when we see all their words without their understanding, like, we can create a lot of pain for ourselves. So, the example I have for this is when I was at BYU, I was a science major, I was a biology major, and as part of my assignments for one of my class, we had to pick an event that it was depicted in Scripture and then like reconcile it with scientific like understanding, right? So, my essay was about the flood and like if you read in the Bible, it says that the flood covered the whole earth. Now there is no scientific evidence that the flood covered the whole earth, right? And so, as part of my assignment, it's like I had to reconcile the words of these scriptures with the scientific evidence that we had.

Now, let me say two things about that. First, of course, scientific evidence in and of itself is an interpretation, right? Like scientists are looking at data and they're drawing conclusions and that's all done within their own brain, right? And the scriptures right there, the men and well, I don't have any scriptures that women have written, but the men that have written them, the events that they experienced and saw, like pass through their brain as well. And then they wrote them down, which again is an interpretation. Like when I summarize an event, like it's always just my interpretation and I highlight certain things and I emphasize certain things and certain things were more important to me than somebody else, right? And so, that's like, first of all, is to recognize, like, oh, these are all interpretations. And then as part of that assignment, the professor then asked us to go and read the words that had been given by prophets and apostles over over the centuries about these same events. And so, for my essay on the Flood, it was so interesting that like I found probably 50, it was probably 50/50. 50% of prophets and apostles who said, know for sure it's literal. This is exactly covered the entire earth. This is a literal baptism of the Earth.

This is exactly how it happened. And then 50% of prophets and apostles who were like, we don't know. And some of them were scientists who were like, I don't believe so, all right? And what like for some people, that can be very disconcerting, right? Because they're just like, well, what is the truth? If I can't trust science and they can't trust the scriptures and they can't trust the apostles? Like, what am I supposed to think? And I think that is by divine design. I think God wants you to think. I think he wants you to decide. I think he wants you to interpret. And he don't think that like he condemns you for your ability to think and interpret on your own. God wants you to use your agency to decide for yourself. To exercise your faith in the way that you have decided to.

Your growth in choosing what you want to believe is way more important to him than getting an exact printout of what happened and not needing to exercise any faith at all. So, how I like to think about this is when I hear things from prophets, from leaders, from bishops, from state presidents, from whoever that bother me. I like to ask myself why? I like to look inside myself and find out what. What assumptions have I made? What thoughts am I believing that are creating a discrepancy here? And what do I want to think? What do I want to choose? And I find that most often when I get triggered by something that someone has said or someone has said, like this is the way that it is, most often it is because I have made myself wrong in some way and I'm sort of like resistant to that and defensive.

And so, it's really important in those moments where I feel defensive and I feel angry and I feel frustrated, right, to ask myself, where am I making myself wrong? Like, What am I saying that like I'm doing wrong? Because they said it this way. And what does that revealed to me about me? Am I doing it wrong? Do I want to change something? Like, is it okay that like our brains hate to be wrong? Of course. And so, like, almost immediately when we feel like we're doing it wrong, your brain is going to get defensive. But it's like a moment to ask myself, am I. Do I want to change some things? If I'm not bad for doing it wrong, is there something here I want to change, or do I feel good about the choices I'm making? Do I feel good about the things that I believe? Like you are allowed to choose and you don't have to make anybody else's interpretation make you wrong. You don't have to make anybody else's interpretation of what God says make you wrong. If you don't believe that you are and I know I can hear a lot of you just like cringing and being like, well, April, like, there is, like, there is pure truth and like and there is like an answer out there.

And I am not going to disagree with that. But I want you to know that there's no way for us as mortals to know it completely here, and especially through, you know, the lens of other people. Like, one of the biggest reliefs to me in my faith journey is to recognize, like, I'm allowed to be wrong. And I can ask myself, Am I wrong about this? And other people are allowed to be wrong. And then we're all just like working our way back to God and trying to interpret things the best way we know how. And I can still believe that God talks to men and women without believing. There's only one interpretation, that's where we get hung up. We're like, If God said it, then there's one interpretation. But he said it and every person who hears it is going to have a different interpretation. Just like on this podcast right now, I'm saying the exact same words and every one of you listening is going to have a different interpretation of that.

That doesn't make my words not real. That doesn't make the communication like, unreal. You just have to recognize that this is the system through which God communicates with us. And he doesn't see it as a problem. He doesn't see it as a problem that it has to go through an interpretation system that's going to be different for every one he's talking to. It's going to be shaped by each person's experiences and knowledge and biases. And that isn't a problem, because that is the mechanism by which our faith grows.

The very fact that there are multiple interpretations is the mechanism by which we are allowed to grow our faith and receive our own inspiration and our own personal revelation, okay? The last one that I want to talk about is just this idea that the church and the people in it need to be better for like the purposes of God to be fulfilled, right? Like in order for, like this all to work out for me to get back to him and for like me to, like, receive all the blessings that I'm going to be able to get from him. Like, the church needs to be better, and I really want you to think about that for a minute, right? The Scriptures tell us that God's purpose is the immortality and the eternal life of man. Immortality was accomplished when Jesus Christ died. For every one of us, that part of His work is already done. The next part is eternal life. And sometimes we think that in order to like for that part to be fulfilled, that the church has to be better. But I think through its imperfections and the imperfections of its peoples and leaders.

I think through those imperfections, like the purpose of eternal life is being fulfilled, right? Because eternal life is living like God lives. It's like loving, like God loves. It's like being like him being worthy to live with him in his presence. And in order to do that, we have to, like, be able to love people as they are, right? God doesn't love us because we're good. He loves us as we are because he is good. And that is what he's trying to create in each of us. More goodness, more love. And we accomplished that not in the absence of imperfection, but in the presence of it, right? It's a lot like families, if you think about it. I've heard so many of my clients say, like my family needs to be better in order for us to to be good and to be holy and to be able to return to be with God. And I think it's the opposite. I think the more challenging your family is, the more challenging like the more opportunities you have to practice love.

Like that is what is going to make you more holy, more like God. More able to live with him. And again, I'm not excusing all the behavior and giving it a stamp of approval. What I'm saying is that it is imperfect, and that is not a problem for your ultimate goals. If your ultimate goals are to attain more divine characteristics, to pattern your life and live your life and show up in your life more like, Christ does. Then any of these imperfections are not a problem. They are a benefit. They are the way, Christ is who he is because he could choose love. When people were the worst. When nothing in the church was right. And he used that love to make it better. And that is the opportunity that each one of us have. When church hurts, it is an opportunity for you to be the healer, the healer of yourself, and the healer of others, and the organization as a whole.
I love knowing that the church and the people in it do not have to be perfect for me to be able to use my agency to get a little more perfect at love. And in fact, they're designed exactly as they should be for me to be able to do that. This isn't easy work, but you are not alone in it. If you ever find yourself stuck believing a thought that is creating pain for you, you can always ask your Heavenly Father what he thinks. He is willing to share his thoughts with you if you ask him. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening, and I'll see you next week.

You're almost halfway through the year. And if you're looking around and thinking that things were supposed to be different this year and they aren't yet, I want to invite you to the mid-year reset. This free to day online event June 23rd and 24th will help you figure out where you are. Understand why you haven't made all the progress you wanted and learn everything you need to know to turn that around. You can register it. or text the word reset to 66866. No matter where you are right now, you can get anywhere you want to be.

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