About three months ago, Elisa published a thought-provoking post “Are Women Quiet Quitting the Church?”. It garnered almost 200 responses, many of which were testimonials about women who were, indeed, quieting quitting the Church.
Quiet quitting doesn’t actually mean quitting. It means relaxing your effort to do what’s required but to stop doing more. Instead of “going the second mile,” you go one mile and that’s all. What’s the benefit to going the second mile anyway? The person who has compelled you to help benefits. If you have lots of time and energy and want to feel good, you might benefit from going the second mile. But sometimes going the second mile just makes you feel like someone is taking advantage of you.
Quiet quitting can happen in any context – career, Church, anywhere you spend time and energy. Several years ago, I cut way back on the time and energy I put into Christmas. We put up the decorations that my sons are willing to help with, and that’s all. I got rid of about half my Christmas decorations. I took the same approach to Christmas baking. We bake the cookies my sons care about enough to help with (which is a surprisingly short list). I made this change because I realized I was putting on a Hallmark-worthy Christmas and resenting the people who weren’t helping me. Rather than trying to force Christmas togetherness, I dialed back. Great results; no regrets.
I did the same thing about my career. I went to school during the self-esteem movement of the 1980s. I was regularly told that I could change the world! Do anything I set my mind to! Run for president! After a nervous breakdown, I am now content to just have a job. I like it; it pays decently; it provides health insurance. There are two possible promotions, but I don’t feel like working towards a promotion so I don’t.
My Church efforts lasted a lot longer than my career efforts, actually, and even outlasted my Christmas dial-down. My story about quiet quitting Church, and then completely quitting, is on Elisa’s thread. I stayed active and giving 100% in my calling for much, much longer than I tried to stay fully motivated about a career, or even about being the super hands-on mom.
Many of us have pulled back on Church activity – not just the women; plenty of men at W&T have stepped back from the full commitment of time, talents and everything that the Church asks for. My question for you is if that fit into a bigger context in your life? Did you step back from Church, and yet keep the same effort at work? Or did reevaluating your Church effort go along with reevaluating your career effort? Or the effort you put into other activities, like community service or even just decorating for Christmas?
Or conversely, as you’ve dialed down Church efforts, have other ambitions stepped into first place? Is there anything in your life that you’re as dedicated to as you once were about Church?
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We kind of loud quit. I had three callings, my wife two, two kids in seminary, and couldn’t see any way out of our faith crisis besides stopping it all. We were trying to do so much for the church and it turned out when we quit we were replaceable and little to no effort was made to talk us out of it. our bishop said as much in our exit interview. He told us that he understood and had many of the same concerns. Multiple active and on the surface committed women talked to my wife afterwards about how they too debated full on quitting. There are people that we miss and haven’t been able to fully replace the community we had in the church but wouldn’t go back.
My career blossomed as my church involvement pulled back, but I think that was function of life stage more than a deliberate rebalancing. I do a lot for Girl Scouts and put far more effort into their activities than my Activity Days calling. I’d much rather preach about opportunities in Girl Scouts than try to invite someone to church.
I dialed back my overt activity at church a few years ago. I now am in a situation where I feel like I define my relationship with the church instead of vice versa. But I’ve also ramped.up my efforts at work, because I really enjoy my job and believe in what my employer is doing. And I’ve deliberately given more focus to the personal activities/hobbies that I’m passionate about doing. So in a sense I’ve replaced the church activities that have a minimal amount of my personal focus with the things that I’ve always truly enjoyed but haven’t had as much time to do.
I had to dial back my life–slowly over a 10-12 year period because of mental illness. And now I can’t do much of anything–except live in my cave. But I love the church–and sometimes I miss the community of the saints. And strangely, even though my involvement in the ward is (regrettably) almost nil, the restored gospel is truer than it’s ever been for me.
I am trying to quiet quit anything I do that I’m doing out of insecurity or worrying about what others think of me. I guess I’m trying to quiet quit hustling to fit in.
Getting older for me has released me from some of the pressure I’ve always felt to please / perform for others. And I’ve learned that trying to fit in never brings peace because even if we succeed we always think on the back of our heads “but if they knew who I really was …”.
That’s inextricably connected with quiet quitting church because I was only able to redefine my church life when I could let go of the worry that I wouldn’t fit in.
I say “trying” because I still hustle for approval all the time and I am by no means free of the desire to fit in and make other people like me. But I’m freer than I used to be.
When I was a young woman my father was in the bishopric. He asked to be released. He didn’t talk much about it other than to say he thought his time was better spent at home. Many years later I learned this was part of the beginnings of his faith crisis.
He and my mother served on a mental health board in those years as well. They disagreed with the board and resigned and stood up and walked out together at one point.
These two examples of exercising personal revelation and authority have been a great blessing in my life. I was taught from a young age how to say no, and how to determine what is my problem and what is someone else’s (boundaries).
Because of this background I have never felt compelled to accept or keep a calling I didn’t feel good about.
I was also taught to share my concerns with others instead of resenting them. A person like me struggles to fit in in our church culture of never murmuring or complaining.
Personal authority is valuable in every part of life. I have had to make decisions all my life about how I can and cannot fit in, and how I will encourage my children to fit in or not. Emotional health is my highest priority as a mother. When we exceed the boundaries of doing so much it negatively affects our emotional health, there’s just no point.
When we become anxious and depressed we are no longer able to feel and follow the spirit’s guidance as well
Quiet quitting church made it easy to justify quiet quitting other optional activities, like fundraising for and volunteering at my kids’ school activities. I can show up to sporting events and concerts, enjoy the game or my kids’ performance, and not think twice about what the other parents are thinking. I will contribute generously but I don’t have to be the doer. This has allowed me to be more present with my kids at home.
Quiet quitting church was much tougher. I was one of the handful of people the ward relied on to get things done. Once I made the decision to not pay tithing, quiet quitting (and now complete inactivity) was easy.
Oops. Posted before I was ready.
Because of my background and focus I think quiet quitting has been less of a problem for me. I have been more prepared for my spiritual maturation and faith transition.
I have still gone through a time where I have felt uncomfortable to speak up as my thoughts have changed from the main stream of the church. But I think I am mostly past that now.
I am doing my best to teach my teenage children that still attend church, to attend closely to their relationship with God and their own personal revelation instead of succumbing to putting leaders on a pedestal and blinding following. I believe this is is the road to emotional and spiritual health.
I met with my bishop and declared myself “member emeritus”.
I’ve found it curious that “quiet quitting” aspects of traditional LDS practice has led to an increase in religiosity/spirituality for so many. The plus side is that the Church is requiring less and less. There are fewer callings in each ward and demand for those callings can be severe, especially by those who view themselves as leadership material. While I fear that the gap will increase between the leadership caste and the rest the LDS community, it could well result in a increase of spirituality and happiness for the “have nots” vs. the leadership “haves.” Who would have guessed that those who do a little less are blessed more?
Anyone up for a fishing trip over stake conference weekend?
Similar to Elisa, people pleasing is in my bones. Shout out to Julie Hanks for helping me learn how to say no in an authentic way.
Whether it’s work or church or the non-profit board or my kids PTA or extended family duties, I’ve started the process of only going the extra mile for things that interest me personally. For church, that means turning down callings like high council because I don’t find value in all the meetings, but taking on a second calling in activity days because I work from home and have a son in the program and enjoy helping insecure 7-11 year olds have a safe space two afternoons a month to try new things.
For my non-profit board it meant finally stepping off the board after a decade and asking them not to call me for at least one year while I figure out if I will actually miss the service. For PTA it meant saying yes to being the auditor as long as I only have to attend the meeting where we discuss the audit results.
For so many people quiet quitting probably isn’t revolutionary in the least but for me it’s been a game changer in all aspects of my life. I’ve spent most of this newfound free time investing in myself and in my marriage.
I have quietly quit Sunday School & Elders’ Quorum meetings. The lesson & discussion materials are too filled with fear-based rigid dogma & stern authoritarianism for my sensibility. Many of the prominent ward members are “brethrenites” (no sarcasm intended) who thrive on this rigidity. I have tried to bring the discussions back to the two greatest commandments, Christ-like love. But this has mostly caused frustration for all concerned, although a few members have privately thanked me afterwards. One elder corrected me by stating that we will be blessed for obeying the prophet even if he tells us to do something wrong…. (facepalm). But I still go to sacrament meeting, do ministering, building cleaning and other service because that is what I believe in.
Tom sounds like the exact types of classes that need your input.
I’m still all in for teaching my 17 year old Sunday School class. I love teaching from the scriptures (NOT from the Come Follow Me curriculum which is decontextualized and painfully dull) and it’s great to see the gears turning as the kids actually start thinking. And I still minister with a whole heart: three sisters I love who are inactive and who I never invite to church. I bake treats and sometimes we go to movies. What I quit completely is church social events. Ward parties, RS gatherings…all finished for me. I never enjoyed them and now that I’m the lone mask wearer (heart problems) in the crowd, I feel like a circus freak. I still love Sunday services but I am so much happier without the bad social activities.
Monson’s dementia and Nelson’s “prophetic adjustments” were the final proverbial straws/nails for me…
So I have been able to invest more emotional energy at work which helped me focus and also fully comprehend some managerial dysfunction. I am now two months into a new job.
Working on the previously neglected areas of my marriage and devoting more time to hobbies. I had a stack of unread Liahona magazines that I recently banished to the outer darkness of the recycling bin and it felt wonderful !!
While my leaving the church wasn’t entirely, nor exactly my decision (looking at you 2015 Policy of Exclusion) the deconstruction nevertheless influenced a lot of other aspects of my life as well.
Around roughly the same time of my excommunication, Canada’s federal conservatives removed their official opposition to gay marriage and transgender rights. This was a lifeline for myself identity-wise as it ensured that I needn’t deconstruct and reconstruct my entire identity all at once.
While I’m still somewhat involved in conservative politics up here, I admit to slowly becoming less and less partisan over the course of mine, and my party’s respective transformations since. The party’s ‘pitch-fork-and-torch-waving’ communication style reminded me of the church own framing of its critics and opponents- to the point where I began feeling more repulsed rather than inspired by continued messaging.
In short, my energies went elsewhere upon ceasing church-activity, but these relationships became also transformed over the course of my de- and reconstruction- and not merely due to my choices alone. The organization changed- as have I.