I haven’t posted for a long time and I am going to try and gather my scattered thoughts yet again. I have sat down at the computer numerous times to write another post but each time, as I reviewed what was on the screen in front of me, I realized how angry I was. I could not get past the negative, and so each time, I clicked that garbage can and walked away.
I had to seriously contemplate why I was so angry. I am so happy with my life and my choices so I couldn’t reconcile my feelings. After months of pondering this, here are some of the conclusions I have come to. Again, let me remind you, these are my own beliefs and opinions, based on my own life experiences. I don’t expect you to come to the same conclusions. All I want is for everyone in my life to respect, love and accept each other regardless of religion.
I think I was “too Mormon”. What does that even mean? Let me explain myself a little better.
I bought it, all of it! I believed everything I was taught and NEVER questioned. I had a literal belief of everything in the scriptures, lesson manuals, conference talks, sacrament talks, Sunday school lessons, Womens Conference classes, etc… I soaked it all in and took it at face value. When President Hinckley told us not to put off marriage and children for education, I complied. When he told us to take out our second earrings, I complied. When we were told to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year (can’t remember which one), yep, I complied. I was the crazy Young Womens leader that would NEVER cancel an activity during the week, even if we had a temple trip planned for the weekend. The first two years of our marriage, my husband and I spent every Friday night (date night) at the temple. I am not going to even try and hide my anger over that one. Newleyweds with no kids spending 2 1/2 hours sitting across a room from each other with no chance for any interaction. Wow I wish I could have those nights back. My point is, my faith in the church was a verb. I attempted to live the gospel to the fullest, HOWEVER, I was not perfect. I struggled with many things including daily family scripture study, family home evening, geneology, and most definitely visiting teaching (I never felt all that strongly about being or having an assigned friend). I will say one thing, I tried!!! I tried so hard to be the perfect mormon. We even went a couple years with no tv on Sunday. My kids remember my husband sneaking upstairs, huddled in front of a teeny tiny TV, watching the muted Superbowl. That one didn’t stick because I love football too much!!
OK, what is wrong with all of the things I listed above? Sounds like what all mormons should be trying to do right? I believe these experiences I had living the gospel are what took me away from it. Allow me to ellaborate. I had tried so hard and sacrificed so much to try and be a “good mormon” that when I came across information that contradicted my beliefs, my whole world came crashing down. How on earth could I have been so involved in the church and not know that Joseph Smith married young girls or other mens’ wives, or kept it hidden from Emma (she was my hero for so long)? I had the opportunity to go to some of the big church historical sites just a few months after I was baptized and let me tell you, it sealed the deal for me. It made it all real and my testimony grew strong because of that experience. One of the things I remember about that experience was in Nauvoo. We were in the Mansion House (Joseph and Emmas home) taking the tour. Someone from another group asked about Joseph and polygamy. The missionary leading the tour explained that there were numerous women who were sealed to Joseph because after he died, they all flocked to the temple and had the ordinance performed so they could be sealed to him in eternity. He went on to explain that this was the very reason that the sealing rules were changed and women could only be sealed to one man. Well, guess what? I BOUGHT IT!!! So when I found the true information that has been proven and acknowleded by the LDS church in their essay, you bet I was angry!!! Someone coached that missionary, a representative of the church, on how to answer that question. He lied, they lied, and I based my belief on those lies. This is one of the NUMEROUS reasons I am angry.
I am a big user of social media. Maybe that is pathetic to some but I enjoy seeing pictures of old friends or reading articles that a family member has shared. I share pictures and comments and in a way, consider Instagram my online family history. One thing that has made me realize that I was once “too Mormon” is seeing how many people do not wear their garments. Hey, if you are on vacation, I guess that means you get a vacation from the garments too? When the temple worker told me to wear my garments at all times (even possibly leave one arm in during my intimate moments with my husband (TMI??), I complied. I remember wearing my garments to the gym (or swimming pool), changing in the locker room and putting them back on before I left. I fought those uncomfortable, hot ,sticky things through a trip to Hawaii!!! Again, I was taught, I complied. Sometimes it makes me so angry to see someone who has sent me a negative message about leaving the church or posted a super churchy message on their fb page posting vacation pictures in short shorts and tank tops. It is hard for me not to judge so I remind myself it’s not them, it is me…I was “too mormon”.
So now that I have acknowleded my anger, some of you might be thinking that I have turned into one of those bitter, angry anti-mormons. Yes and no. It is so hard not to be bitter and angry about sacrificing so much for something that I now believe is not true. I have life long consequences from those sacrifices, some good and some not so good. So lucky to have my four awesome kids because I don’t think that would have happened if I wasn’t “too Mormon”. So greatful that I learned how to speak in public and not throw up or organize meetings and lessons and activities. I also learned to work with others who I might not have anything in common or possibly not even like. On the other hand, it is hard to not become bitter because I never pursued that college degree or had a Mothers Day dinner at a restaurant (oh we make up for that now)! We also owe numerous family members money that we will never be able to repay because tithing came first (rather than actually paying off debt) or using our own slim salary to purchase hundreds of dollars in supplies needed for our “family” of ten on a pioneer trek. How awful it is to owe money to family!! BUT, and it is a big BUT, I have never been happier and more at peace with my life. I love the freedom I have and I completely embrace the loss of guilt that I carried around trying (and always coming up short) to be “too Mormon”.
I hope that my story, opinions and insight will continue to help others that are struggling. I enjoy hearing from so many of you, friends, acquaintances and even strangers and have such a strong desire to help you any way that I can. I will continue to talk about this as long as I need to and as long as I feel like it is doing some good. Thanks for your love, support and respect.
I am attaching a link to a youtube video that was sent to me tonight from a friend from high school (so very very long ago) that has left the church as well. I sure don’t have his talent but I do understand his feelings all too well.