Stage 1 Problem - Anxiety - Question - Fear
How The Pattern is Used in Mormonism
The Closed System
Prologue to Stage 1
Basic Survival Needs. This first stage concerns Human Relationships and Life. A problem exists, something is missing, and this void makes our lives feel empty, or incomplete ... we can even feel as if our very survival is threatened. Its core is centered on our closest ties to reality --- the family.
Unsatisfied longings urge us to seek fulfillment so that we can feel complete. This lack becomes a problem because we cannot function well until the problem is solved; in some cases, we may even become incapacitated emotionally and mentally. We look for solutions and are vulnerable in our search because we are going into unknown territory; we have no previous experience to guide us. We seek out those who seem to know or have answers ... those who can help us fill the void.
Whether one is born into Mormonism, or not, everyone's need is for genuine, human social relationships ... personal, sympathetic, caring relationships ... to be understood --- to love and to be loved. These are human needs that are acknowleged in the Open System of reality. We are individuals with social needs. If these needs are missing, a void is created. Between each stage of the maturation process, there is a transitional stage of relative confusion. Ideally, to reach the next stage of growth we will have been previously taught problem-solving principles, in general, in order to apply them to a present confusion. Ironically, this is not applied nor taught in the realm of family relationships within Mormonism, even though its doctrinal base is the family. The words may be spoken, but the means are omitted.
Every problem has a personal or social element in it, and as a result, our feelings or our perceptions of a conflict can cloud, temporarily, our ability to think clearly. Those with experience know that it is always best not to make long range serious decisions while under the sway of confused emotions. They have been made aware of this, and expect the confusion that arises out of this potentially positive growth process. Just like the "growing pains" we experienced in our bones as children, we experience mental and emotional "growing pains." But, if we have not been made aware of this normal process, we are extremely vulnerable to answers given us from any source that promises to relieve the pain we are experiencing ... anything that will fill the void. In that case, we depend on our pain or pleasure impulses; whatever "sounds" like the answer we need and makes us feel better, is "good;" what doesn't instantly make us feel good, is "bad."
What is bypassed is the reasoning process which would allow us to be able to see the "fine print," the "Buts" of a contract, and where it all may lead. We use this same reasoning process when we buy a used car or a house. The emotions are still there, but are grounded in reasonable reality. This applies to the most important decisions we make in this life; it is mentally and emotionally satisfying to know what we are buying, and that we have chosen it rationally, with confidence. This is the real world of choice in the Open System. There can be no real choice without this knowledge. The Closed System of Mormonism gives "lip service" to reality, then negates it by keeping its members in an emotional, and rationally confused state of mind from which they "choose .... without choosing;" they "choose" the label that best fits their needs without being shown the contents.
The following examples of the first stage, A Problem, show how it applies to new converts --- how they chose Mormonism. For the majority of Mormons born into the church their choice had already been made for them.
I will list only the Post number after each excerpt. In some cases, you can follow the same Post through other stages, thereby seeing The Pattern as it evolved with that particular person. The Posts themselves can be read in full on Eric's Recovery from Mormonism site which is listed on my internet LINKS page.
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The Pattern in Mormonism
Personal Experiences of Others
Stage 1 A Problem - Anxiety
Posts by Women Converts to Mormonism
"I joined the LDS church at the age of 14 through the urging of a high school friend. .....I was not very popular in school, but among the LDS youth I found an instant kinship."
"I joined the church at age 8 with my family. My parents were trying to salvage their marrage and they thought that perhaps the church might help them. Unfortunately, they were beyond help and eventually divorced. Over a period of time, all my family members stopped going except me. I found acceptance at church and as long as I could get a ride,
my mother let me keep attending." Post # 9
"I was raised Methodist in rural North Carolina, but always felt something was missing from my life. "... I ... became even more attracted to the Mormon lifestyle. I wanted that sense of security that comes from a church that can answer all your questions (there's and explanation for EVERYTHING) and tells you what's right or wrong so you don't have to think for yourself. As an adolescent about to turn 17, desperately trying to fit in somewhere, life was confusing and scary, and I needed that guidance." Post #13
"I was being harassed by my "ex-husband" and feeling glad to be out of my home on Sundays,
in a place where my ex-husband would not be able to find me. At that point, my intentions
were only to continue to visit the church."
"I was nineteen and a nursing student in Canada when I joined the church. I wonder how many converts join the Mormon Church because they are in a vulnerable position when they meet the missionaries or a member of the church. I grew up as a Ward of the Children's Aid Society and lived in a foster home. I experienced a lot of ridicule from other children and adults who called me "illegitimate orphan. ...So the timing was right for me when I met the missionaries who were teaching that God loves all of us." Post # 22-1, and #37
"When I was 21, I met a young man who befriended and comforted me after my Dad's passing, and while my Mom was dying. I was EXTREMELY vulnerable at that time as I felt my whole world was being erased. He and his family took me in, and made me feel that they would always be there for me..."
Post # 32-2
"I was 12 years old and we were living in Council Bluffs, IA when my parents were divorced. Shortly thereafter my older brother, my sister, and I had the missionary discussions. My father still refused to give us permission to be baptized, but our stake president said we could go ahead in order that my older brother who was only 14, could receive the priesthood so that our home would have the priesthood in it. We were trebly marginalized; being a divorced family, poor, and not from Utah, we were on the fringe of the ward."
"I grew up in Orange County, California and as a young child, I was burdened by the ongoing family problems of my home. The fighting between my parents at one point became so bad, plus the fighting between my older brother & my father (his step-dad), that I can remember going through severe depression & wanting desperately to die. Life had no meaning or purpose & I didn't think I could be strong enough emotionally to endure home life."
"My marriage wasn't going so well and we lived in Puerto Rico at that time so I was a long way from my family. Well guess who knocked on my door one day???? Right!!! Two fine looking young men in white shirts and ties."
"During the initial period of my separation and divorce, I turned in desperation to the Bible for some type of guidance, because I was scared about being a single mother and was unsure as how much strength (psychologically) I had. It was right about this time that the missionaries came to my door."
"As I look back now I know I was vulnerable to the church's message. The wholesomeness, family togetherness and built-in social life were all things I wanted to be part of."
Stage 1 A Problem - Anxiety
Posts by Men Converts to Mormonism
"I grew up in the steriotypical "dysfunctional" family. My father was an alcoholic. My mother divorced him in my teens. I lost one of my younger brothers in an accident at an early age......Basically, I was a sitting duck for Mormonism, or "golden" as the missionaries would say."
"After finishing college I married an inactive Utah girl and moved to a very small rural Mormon community. At first we felt kind of lonely and isolated. The local towns folk made the initial feelers regarding our interest with their LDS church. By not rejecting the fellowship and inquiries of these members my wife and I were giving them passive approval of continue their activity. Soon the flood gates opened. The more we embraced the local ward, the more the doting church members went out of their way to make us feel right at home. It seemed that the whole town had an interest in our welfare. My older brother showed up for a few days and assisted the local members with their missionary efforts. I was baptized soon after. We bought a beautiful little home. Life was good in our corner of the world. In a way I was taking the path of least resistance. .... Sometimes it is not always clear when this is a good idea."
"One of the common threads I have observed in this group is the vulnerability within ourselves, converts, when we are looking for a church to join. I was extremely vulnerable with trying to hold my marriage together, and dealing with the moral guilt of having participated in a war. It (war) was a time when many of us lost our innocence, and how fantastic it felt to be baptized and forgiven, but it was only an illusion. That experience of reality/illusion is something we all shared when we were members of the LDS Church. It is a fantastic feeling to be a part of this forum, and to finally experience reality."
Stage 1. A Problem - Anxiety
Posts by Couples Who Became Active in the Church Later in Life
"We had a terrible experience when our oldest daughter was five and our youngest three. ....Our little five your old was killed instantly by a falling beam. My wife and I were devastated. Our world turned up side down. My wife was in such shock that she had to be sedated for several days. I was numb all over. Remember, neither my wife nor I had had any religious training in our childhood. So for us this was the end of our little girl."
Post # 25.
"... I was getting homesick for California and after having my first child I felt like I needed my family. So I guess the church was the closest thing to that."
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The problem creates a need for answers ... the Where, How, Why and When of a solution. It is in this mental and emotional confusion that Mormonism steps in with a formula that fits all problems. This it does in Stage 2 and 3.
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There have been many others letters posted to Eric's site since I did this survey which show further examples of these stages in The Pattern.
See Next: Stages 2-3
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Next Page: Stage 2-3 Agreement - Ambiguity
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