Saturday, January 10, 2009

Confessions: Why I Stay, Why I May Not Be Able To

A friend of mine, The Faithful Dissident, wrote an entry entitled "Why Are You Still Here?" a few months ago (thanks, sweetie, for the correction :) . Those who read shared their reasons for staying, but even then I wasn’t sure how to respond besides “I don’t know.”

That’s a lie, really, but to tell the truth really opens up some wounds and I fear the salt. I know why I stay. Are they good reasons? Eh.

More and more I wonder if it’s worth it.

First I’ll start with the good, the things I do believe in, what I like. I believe in eternity. I can’t not believe in that. I believe in families being together forever, but to be honest (and despite Mormon myth), there are a lot of Christian and non-Christian denominations which believe this. It may differ, but there’s little that separates us. When we speak of families being together, most believers will nod their neads.

Moving on.

I’ve always believed in God. Even when I stopped attending my dad’s Assembly of God church and rejected all organized religion, I still believed in God. I still prayed. Today my prayers are rare, but I don’t doubt God is there.

I believe works are more important than most realize in salvation. Key to salvation? Heck no, but "faith without works is dead." That said, I’m tired of trying so damn hard. The list is long, and I can deal with that, but too many things on said list seem trite to this tired girl.

The temple. I’ve mixed emotions about the temple. Beyond the standard “hearkening” to the husband stuff, I’ve other issues. What’s with the women covering their faces with the veil?

(On a slightly related note, what’s with so much focus on the Church and less on God? I know this is a touchy thing for me to say, but I’ve always, always hated “Praise to the Man

Thankfully, at least in my area, we don’t sing that hymn often, but the discovery that my beloved ex-Stake President’s favorite hymn was Praise to the Man unsettled me.)

The people. My SIL became one of my best friends. We’ve changed so much in the past seven years, but when we were close (before we were SILs), she was an anchor. I loved her for many reasons. Before her and through her I've met some amazing people.

My husband. Need I say more?

Institute, much as I squirm to think of it now, saved my life. When I started college, I know for a fact two paths laid before me. Without the girl who introduced me to Institute and befriended me, I would have undoubtedly embarked on the wrong path. The church has been a godsend for me and my life. Much as I want to regret it sometimes, I can’t. We hear a lot of converts say they don’t know where they’d be without the church, but I have a pretty good idea. It is much of what frightens me about life without the church today. I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't have to be as scary as I (a) think it would've been, (b) am told it is, and that (c) many people lead good lives without it. It's not easy.

The knowledge God can speak to me. Priceless, and yet one of the most compelling reasons I struggle so much today.

And, much as I writhe within it, the culture. The social network. It’s wonderful. It’s just what a new convert from an angry family needs. It’s just what a teenager in the throes of high school needs. I understand its importance and yet understand all too well its restrictiveness. I think the consequences thereof outweigh the benefits. But maybe that’s just me. I don’t imagine anyone free from the Mormon spiritual struggle understands this (and I mean those who have ever, if only briefly, truly considered the idea of leaving), but there are many who do.

Isolation. Rejection. Pointed fingers and whispers.

Tough love…maybe. Perspective changes everything.

The story of the Book of Mormon appealed to me. I’d always rejected the idea of the Trinity. I appreciated the constancy of the Church. I appreciated staunch adherence to values.

And why not Joseph Smith? Would I as a person back in the day of Christ believed in Christ, or back in the day of Moses believed in Moses? Why not Joseph Smith?

That said, I know the possibility in believing in only part of the gospel. GA's love to talk about how if we accept Joseph Smith as a prophet all else falls into place - as in everything the Church has ever done, is doing, and will do. I don't buy that.

Onto some issues:

Four years ago or so, my family moved so my husband could attend the nearby university. The prospect of being on our own appealed to me very much; I’d tired of others referring to me as “Mary’s* roommate” or even “Eric’s wife.” I had a name, thankyouverymuch.

Some may speculate distance from family contributed to our struggles, but after a year we assimilated into our new ward. For all intents and purposes, I really liked our ward. I loved being on our own. I loved others calling me "Sister J" than "Eric's wife."

Something else of which I am uncomfortable discussing here started it all.

Then we read Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Not anti-material. Refreshing. Largely unbiased, and by that I mean as unbiased as a book written by a member can be. Honest.

Honest.

Polygamy. It hit home for me that year. The idea sickened me. I cried often, knowing I could not accept such doctrine. For some years I reconciled it, but to personalize it, to feel how it might feel, the reconciling process stops. The teaching that I must accept it or be damned didn’t help either. My husband fought with that idea as well for the first time. Until then he defended polygamy as “sacred.” No longer.

Enter first “What if I left?” thought.

Somehow, though, we managed and even went through a period of rebirth. We purchased some pictures, books, videos, etc. When our doubts resurfaced, peeking over the horizon like the beginnings of sunrise, we ignored them.

Long story short, then Prop 8 happened. Yes, my bishop said “oh you’re okay,” but his blessing failed to heal the gaping, festering wound that was first my friend’s reaction to my stance, and then the realization that the answers to my prayers were in vain if the Prophet had spoken; the idea our prayers are meant only to confirm and never to contest.

Many argue this point, but it’s there and I don’t intend to debate it further.

Open the floodgates to other issues I’d always silenced. Open the floodgates to the desolate land that is life inside this closet, inside the idea that if I left I’d lose friends and in many ways lose family. I’d be alone because, as an introvert, this is my social network. It would be gone. I’d take on the label of apostate, and nobody wants to hang out with an apostate. It's contagious.

Enter guilt and fear like I never knew possible.

Enter the emptiness that comes with really not belonging anywhere. I’ve so many issues with the church, yet I cannot accept many fundamental doctrines of mainstream Christianity either. In many ways this feels as if it would be a spiritual exile. Just call me Cain.

I don’t know what to do or how to do it, and putting everything into words proves far more difficult than it ought to be.

I do know this: The more I hear about how awesome we are, how much apostates suck, that I need to just suck it up and have hope and faith; the more I hear about how many people are missing out on the “one and only truth of the Gospel,” how righteous we are (and by definition, how wicked others are) and have to endure cultural traditions that blur with doctrine so that the line no longer exists…The more I have to be told to stay within my very small box or risk falling into sin (heaven forbid we mess up): the more I don’t want to be here.

We talk about accountability and freedom of choice, but I don’t see it anymore. There is no freedom here. Don’t drink (still have thoughts on this. Many will disagree), avoid the appearance of evil, don’t curse, give everything we can to the Church, serve serve serve with little focus on heart and intention, just serve; one earring only per ear now girls, Sundays are a day of church, meetings, and never seeing your family, etc. The list goes on and is largely meant to keep us from even the chance of sin. Where is the choice in that?

Where is the choice when it's either obey or suffer the consequences of eternal misery?

I’m tired of the word “worthy.” I’m tired of simple answers to complex questions. I’m tired of Pharisaical guidelines (again, the damn earrings, but there’s more). No beards? For real? The inability of the church to discuss difficult topics such as Mountain Meadows, Blacks and the Priesthood, and SEX. People! I need to do another post on sex.

I don’t want to strive for perfection. It’s an exercise in futility. I’m tired of having the weight of the world on my shoulders that is being a great example. I’ve had this weight on me before I joined the church, and in my experience it doesn’t matter as much as we want it to. Because of it I’ve never been true to myself nor have I ever allowed myself to make mistakes from which to learn from. I cannot tell my son to be good because his little brother is watching him. Surely there are better and more motivating reasons that pertain only to him, so that he'll feel he's "choosing the right" because he believes it's right and not because he feels the pressure to be a "good example" or has the weight of ensuring the souls of those around him are righteous because of him.

The world is not that bad of a place. We fear so much. Too much. It will come back to bite us in the ass and I’m tired of always looking back to see what’s coming. Let me enjoy life. Enough with the don’ts. I just want to live, be a good person, and live according to my conscience which seems to have served me very well thus far.

Oh, and by the way, the Spirit works in the hearts of non-members as well. Probably far more than we care to realize.

And let’s not forget the awesomeness of Joseph Smith – his 200th birthday celebration was ridiculous. So much pomp and circumstance over a man. Yes, he did much, suffered much, etc, but come on.

I wish everything was easier. There are days I long for freedom of the confines of this church, and I feel them more as shackles these days than anything else. But I know where I would be without having joined this church. I can’t deny its power in my life. Being told if I leave all sorts of hell will pour down upon me...well. This is safe. But do I want to stay where I merely feel "safe"?

The grasp is firm and unyielding. Guilt and fear are strong, strong motivators, and the fact it is guilt and fear keeping me here gives me only more reason to think I’m in the wrong place right now. Perhaps I’m done.

13 comments:

Amanda said...

"Again, guilt and fear are strong, strong motivators..."

My immediate, gut-reaction instinct to this statement was, "If you're only still there because of guilt and fear, maybe it's not such a great place to be."

Then I saw your followup statement.

I'm not saying you should leave. I'd never be one to encourage someone to stay or leave either way. Each person has to find within themselves what is right, and yes, it is really hard to leave a place that has been a touchstone for a long time. It's also hard to stay when you don't feel that touchstone property anymore.

Good luck to you.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Lisa, I wish you and I lived near each other. We could talk for hours. :)

The post you referred to must be the one called "Why Are You Still Here?" It's interesting to read everyone's responses.

I have also thought many times the past couple years about leaving the Church. I still do! Some people fantasize about sex, I fantasize about leaving the Church. :) I've often fantasized about being Catholic (not that Catholic teachings are any easier, but I love the way they worship) or Buddhist, or something other than a religion that ever taught polygamy or racism!

Like you, "Rough Stone Rolling" rocked my world. In good ways and bad. I felt I got to know and love Joseph Smith better -- warts and all -- because of that book. The one exception? Polygamy. I had a similar view on it that your husband did before. To me, it certainly felt weird, strange, crazy, but because the prophet said it, it must have been true, right? I don't anymore.

I think that if I had lived back in those days, I would have probably been among those who considered JS to be a fallen prophet. Polygamy, particularly his marriage to Fanny Alger and others around her age, is what would have sent me over the edge. Personally, I can't believe that God really wanted him to marry all these women and have sexual relations with some of them. Maybe someday I will believe it, but right now I don't.

So this means that I believe JS was a fallen prophet, right? Well, not really. I believe he was a human, fallible, egocentrical (no offense meant to him, as we all have an ego) human being who made mistakes -- many of them -- even big ones like polygamy or the destruction of that printing press. The reason why I don't regard him as a fallen prophet is because I honestly believe that he did what he really believed God told him to do. I believe he truly loved Emma as the one and only true love of his life, and the only reason why he kept other wives hidden from her and hurt her the way he did was because he felt he had to, in fear of being "smitten by an angel," as he described. So why did he do it? Impossible for me to say for sure why, but I regard it as a mistake, perhaps out of misinterpretation or lack of understanding -- just like I regard the priesthood ban to be. The priesthood ban, and all the many teachings surrounding it, is something that, in many ways, is even more disturbing to me than polygamy. Both are things that I previously (grudgingly) accepted and tried to believe. Now, after much thought, study, prayer and anguish over these things, I feel compelled to reject them. This doesn't mean that I see the Church or the prophets as a complete fraud. It just means that I see and acknowlede that mistakes are made and will continue to be made. I do not have a testimony of polygamy or the priesthood ban of being doctrine from God and if I am ever asked in an interview, I will not be afraid to say so. It is only when we feel bound to accept prophetic infallibility (which Mormons insist that they do not believe in, but in essence do ) that we feel that this is an all-or-nothing church: either we accept it all, or we don't. If I had to be one of those people, then I would leave because I would not be able to reconcile things in my conscience.

The main reason why I stay is because, like you, I believe in families, the Plan of Salvation, etc. This may sound strange, but I think a lot about death. Maybe it's because I work in a nursing home, but in a way I think I've always been extremely conscience of my mortality. Life and death are scary things and I would have to deny a lot of unexplainable phenomena -- which I can only attribute to God and the Plan of Salvation -- if I were to deny the Church completely. So I stay because this makes total sense to me. I also love the idea of temple work, although I must confess that I never had a good, warm feeling in the temple when I got my endowments or the 2 or 3 times I went back afterwards. It felt strange to me, lonely, sort of "dark." I still wear my garments and am in most ways temple-worthy, but I don't want to go back. Part of it is because I have too much anger right now. The other part is that I just never got that warm, fuzzy, peaceful feeling that would make me want to go back.

I am also having trouble accepting the Church's teachings on homosexuality and gender. I still don't know exactly what to make of homosexuality, gay marriage, etc, but I especially have a big problem with transgenders being excommunicated for something that only a handful of us can truly understand what it must be like for them.

I know that the things I've said are enough to get my labelled as an apostate by a lot of Mormons. However, it's 100% honest and it comes only after really -- and I mean really -- devoting a lot of time and thought to the issues -- more than most Mormons care to do. I think that the reason why we wrestle with this stuff more than most is because most don't care to know about it. How many would want to sing "praise to the man" who married teenage girls? Not many, which is why many prefer to take the attitude that "what you don't know can't hurt you." In a way I think they're right, because dangit, this stuff hurts!!! But for those Mormons who criticize fellow members like you and me -- who question a lot of things and even reject some of it -- and think that that qualifies us as being apostates, I challenge them to do the research, ask the questions, and then see just how "weak" our testimony is for feeling like this and still believing in the Plan of Salvation and going to church faithfully.

Lisa, I think that what you and I are going through is like the Gospel equivalent of advanced calculus. It's no small feat that we're still here. Sometimes I amaze myself that I'm still active, despite all that now know. I guess I just honestly believe, "no pain, no gain." I think that also applies to spiritual matters.

I think you and I deserve a good pat on the back. :)

Clean Cut said...

Well the only thing that puzzles me is the sentiment that you have felt "shackles". I can't really relate to that, but I find the challenge of "knowing" of these things you've mentioned (as well as the Faithful Dissident) while at the same time finding joy, meaning, purpose, and goodness in the Church quite a fascinating way of living my life. I think there's always another perspective at looking at things...

Here's three posts that come to mind:

Is There Another Approach? (to Polygamy) by Julie Smith at Times and Seasons

Richard Bushman's Introduction to Joseph Smith and his Critics Seminar at Life on Gold Plates

My Paradigm Shift-"Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling"--my reaction after reading the book.\

I plan on publishing a post on "Tensions in Testimony" soon that I invite you to share your thoughts on here in the very near future.

Clean Cut said...

I should also say "good luck"--hope you can find faith and joy as you face these tensions head on...

Katie said...

For me, it comes down to my personal relationship with God and the Savior. My testimony of them has been strengthened by the Book of Mormon, and therefore I believe it to be the word of God. Therefore, I stick with it. Do I believe Utah culture to be the word of God? Heck no. Do I think that perhaps some church teachings, as Clean Cut above suggests in his blog on Rough Stone Rolling, are the results of the prophets' infallibility? I think its possible, but it doesn't change my testimony of the Book of Mormon.

I guess the question to ask yourself is why join any church, or be a member of any organized religion? What is the importance of it to you? For me, it is the relationship between me and my Savior. There have been times when I have had serious disagreements with church leaders about various issues, but my worst-case scenario response has typically been to leave the ward and attend another rather than to leave the church.

Concerning poloygamy, I think its like this: if its true, then its true, and its an eternal priciple, and nothing you or I do can change that. Personally, I don't think God is going to force anything upon our families like that, but if he did, in eternity, demand that my husband have more wives? Well, then I would work to have a change of heart and if I couldn't, then I guess I would have to choose a lesser degree of glory. We get to choose where we stay, afterall. But I think God is willing to wait for us and work with us if we are trying to understand.

What is polygamy is not true? Well, then 1) like Clean Cut, I don't necessarily think it makes Joseph a "Fallen Prophet," just a fallible one, and 2) it just doesn't change my testimony of the church, which is founded on my testimony of Jesus Christ as found in the Book of Mormon.

Luckily, its not like I have to really think about this all that much these days, since we are not currently asked to live it. And its not in the temple interview whether or not we believe it to be a "true" principle.

The beard thing is just a BYU thing, not a general church rule. The single-pair of earrings probaly wouldn't kill my testimony either.

I kinda think it just comes back to why you chose to join the Church. Is it because of the roots (Jesus Christ and the Atonment) or branches (social network, families being forever, polygamy, etc). I guess I don't feel you should tear down the whole tree if a few of the branches annoy you...

However, if you root system is something different than Jesus Christ, then only you can answer how much is too much.

Chris and Annalee Waddell said...

This post broke my heart. I hope that you find your way through prayer. I believe it is a very powerful tool in finding our way. Our individual lives require personal direction from the Holy Ghost on top of prophetic counsel. Know this, each person on this earth is a child of God, LDS or not. Appreciate that He wants you back with Him and will strive with you to reach that end, LDS or not. I too have unanswered questions, but like Katie said it comes down to my personal relationship with God. I am in the church because I believe it is true, but my faith is not perfect. I can relate to you on the issue of polygamy. I take great comfort in realizing that after Jesus, the practice of sacrifice was changed from slaying animals to offering up a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Why, then, could not eternal marriage change from polygamist unions to one man and one woman sealed for eternity? The other things, like not drinking or having one earring seem trite compared to obtaining mercy through repentance, resurrection, and eternal families and the structure thereof. If you do decide to leave the church, my hope would be that you find what you're looking for. I would also hope that you wouldn't be one who leaves the church but cannot leave the church alone. Please don't persecute others for their beliefs, LDS or not. Your life is yours, live it.

Lisa said...

First of all thank you for your comments.

I really wish I could express myself better at this time, but it's proven more difficult than I'd like. Perhaps in time.

Chris/Annalee, I worried most about your response. Thanks for being cool.

There's a lesson coming up in Relief Society/Priesthood on apostacy that really ruffles my feathers.

There are many who "leave but cannot leave it alone." If that is the path, I will probably talk about it like I do now, but I've no guile toward the Church. Like I said, it saved my life. I do believe those who are very angry and lash out do so because of the reactions they get. That doesn't make it anyone's fault, but it is hard to deal with it all. I do think lashing out is inappropriate though. When we do so, at least in my experience, we tend to cross the line and start saying things we don't mean or just aren't true.

I've been persecuted before for my beliefs, ironically enough for joining this church. I've no desire to pay that forward in any fashion. I would hope to show people the same kindness I would like from them.

I realize right now I do have much anger. I'm having difficulty in seeing the forest for the trees. Most of which I complain about are trite and reconcilable, perhaps not to the satisfaction of many, but to satisfaction nevertheless.

I do have fundamental issues right now. I hope some things change, I really do, and I'm not ignorant enough to see that the Church, despite its insistence to the contrary, does change. It evolves.

What I see as pertinent to my eternal salvation may differ though, and I know in saying that I may anger some people. I have much to work through to get to the raw core of things, and I'm so thankful for good readers who seem willing to support me through it.

Thanks.

Laura said...

I appreciate the honesty of your post, (which I'm sure must be difficult if members of your ward are reading it).

I also have major issues with polygamy. It's one of those bricks that just doesn't seem to fit anywhere right now because I can't understand how God could command something that would make me feel horrible about myself. I struggled with it for a while, but then realized that if I reject J.S. as a fallen prophet for practicing it, I must also reject Abraham, Jacob, MOses, David, Solomon, etc.... So it isn't really an issue I take with the church, but an issue I take with God. Why are women treated as possessions in all scripture? Are we merely prizes to be awarded to righteous men? I just can't see Heavenly Father thinking that way of us.

I take comfort in the way Christ viewed and treated women. As for everything else you mentioned, I don't really have any words of wisdom. Just a sincere hope that all will work out for you whatever you decide.

Natalie said...

Lisa, I don't have an answer for you. I'm going through a period now too where my faith isn't as rock-solid and unquestioning as it used to be. But every time I go to church, and participate in my calling, and really delve into a personal understanding of the doctrine and scriptures, I feel something pulling me back.

I think so much of our potential has been thwarted by past interpretations of doctrine. Some of Joseph Smith's wives also had other husbands. He ordained women and African Americans to the Priesthood. Mormons used to be radicalized socialists. The church now today likes to portray itself as a single, teleological continuation of what it has always been.... but it is in some ways radically different than the church of previous decades or dispensations.

When I am troubled by an issue, it is often helpful to look at the doctrine behind it. Almost always, I find little or no scriptural support for the issue that troubles me. The doctrine is pure. For example, I've been dreading teaching the Second Coming to my seminary students because I hate all the doom and gloom and incredibly murky symbolism. But a friend of mine (a Methodist) recently pointed out the amazing revolutionary potential of apocalyptic scriptures.... the earth and its people are going to be purified. It is our responsibility to begin that process now.

One of the first people to know that Christ was the Savior was a prophetess in the Temple. Why is it impossible for a prophetess to exist today?

John Matos (on facebook) is my best example here. There are some things about "Mormonism" that I reject at face value, but these things aren't the doctrines. They are the practices. Those with a different perspective have to stay in the church if we ever want to hope for that perspective to change. If we can attain a deeper understanding of the doctrine than is reached in most Sunday School classes, we'll be able to re-orient our testimonies to overcome the troubling inconsistencies. Hugh Nibley is an amazing example of that. Many of his opinions are decidedly against mainstream Mormonism, but they were 100% backed up by scriptures and doctrine. We can't let culture dilute the truth.

I'm sorry you feel all this Lisa. :( It's so, so hard.

As far as another point someone made:

"Why are women treated as possessions in all scripture? Are we merely prizes to be awarded to righteous men? I just can't see Heavenly Father thinking that way of us."

I think we have to remember that every piece of scripture we have was WRITTEN by men. I think there would be quite a different feeling if some women's voices were in there.

wesley's mom said...

I don't even know where to start.

I could have written this post.

At this point I stay because I am afraid of the turmoil it would cause in my marriage if I didn't(that and the paralyzing fear of ending up on some "fellowshipping list"). I love my husband and he really doesn't have any doubts (not that he will admit to anyway) and he would be crushed if he knew how conflicted I feel. I'm not exagerating, he would be beside himself and he would not be able to understand why I don't "get it".

I don't feel like God speaks to me. Not in the way everyone claims to KNOW he is speaking to them. I don't believe that I would be reserving a spot in hell if I left. I don't believe LDS spirituality is superior to that of other faiths. I don't believe in following blindly, and I don't believe that if I don't receive "conformation" of certain doctrines that I need to pray harder.

"Where is the choice when it's either obey or suffer the consequences of eternal misery?"

Exactly, where is the agency we profess to rely on?

Cindy said...

I can relate to so much of this it's amazing. Yesterday my husband and I went to the marriage and family class and endured another round of "yay for us for marrying in the temple", "marriage means so much more to us and we work harder on it than those who weren't married in the temple". We, of course, fall into the category of not married in the temple. I too have a hard time accepting polygamy. I also get sick of hearing how "evil" the world is . Sure, it is in countless ways but the liberal side of me says we need to look in the mirror when we talk about that too. There is a lot of good in the world. The whole all or nothingness of it gets to me. I don't believe it's an all black and white world.
I am also bothered by the way we seem to put more emphasis on the church and the prophet than the Savior. And the idea that if I go through the temple my MARRIED sex life will somehow be the church's business makes no sense to me. Sex and religion mixed together is just creepy to me.

However, I have no intention of going anywhere at this point. To be honest, I don't know if it's true. Parts are I'm sure but I got so tired of trying to do the right thing and never measuring up that I just kind of gave up. That and I was tired of the self hatred. The things I do know is my testimony of the Savior and the Atonement. I don't know of any other church that can give me the support the Church gives us in raising our kids with the morals I believe in. I am mostly grateful for my membership in the church but I also feel like the biggest Mormon freak around (or in Utah anyway). I feel like the only active, tithe paying, no plans to go through the temple any time soon member around. Sometimes I wonder if they will someday tell me, "Look, either get off the fence and commit or get out". I stay for the good and for wanting my family to have a belief system and for the testimony i have of Jesus Christ. I also have to be honest and admit if I did leave the church it would be difficult for me and my kids living here in Utah. It's simply easier for a kid to have friends if you are LDS here. It's just the way it is. And I do like the feeling of safety that comes with it and not having to worry about who they are with so much. I don't know how to wrap this up. I feel like I should say something along the lines of "I would be indeed ungrateful if I didn't....blah, blah, blah." But I am grateful to be here and I've found that your perspective is constantly changing. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. You may want to step back and give it some time. I remember when I had three kids 5 and under and the stress of that affected every facet of my life. And I'm selfishly glad to have found that there are others out there that are confused too.

Steve M. said...

Wow, if I sat down and articulated "Why I stay," it would probably come out very similar to what you've written. Lisa, it appears that we're on the same page with respect to a number of issues.

I can empathize with "not belonging anywhere." On the one hand, I've never been particularly close to my LDS peers; my whole life, something has separated me from them, and whatever it is has been exacerbated over the past few years. But on the other hand, although I have great non-LDS friends, I don't quite fit in with them either--and it's definitely due to my "Mormonness." So I'm not enough of a Mormon to fit in with other Mormons, but I'm too Mormon to fit in with non-Mormons. It's a frustrating situation.

Frankly, I don't know where my path will lead. There are plenty of times when I yearn to never enter a chapel door again. But then, there are other times when I feel at peace with Mormonism (in spite of my unorthodoxy). I'm not sure how this drama is going to play out.

I think there is a lot of goodness in Mormonism. But then, there is a lot of goodness in a lot of things. And organized religion seems to have a number of unfortunate tendencies (as Prop 8 taught us). I have to wonder whether the good outweighs the bad, and even if it does, I suspect that I might just as happily find my goodness elsewhere.

But it's complicated. My idea of happy doesn't typically include being disowned by my family and in-laws.

Anyway, that's enough out of me. Lisa, have you considered participating at NOM? It's a friendly community.

Lisa said...

Laura: I, too, take comfort in the relationship Christ had with women. I also recognize that men miss out on some things as well, but ultimately they do seem to get the bigger end of the stick.

But whatever, right? *shrug*

Thank you though, for your support. It means much.

Katie: Thanks for your comment. I joined because I liked the Church. I believed in the Godhead and not the Trinity - always had. It was little things like that. I liked the strictness of the church. I had friends. I felt a yearning for an organized faith, a foundation if you will.

But just because a person thinks of leaving or does leave means nothing about their belief or roots in Christ. The belief in Christ and in his atonement are in many branches of Christiantity and even elsewhere. I think that was your point though: if a few of the branches are bothering me...

But those branches are very much attached to that tree. To the leadership, those branches are too connected to be ignored or broken. Core doctrines I've discussed don't sit well with me, and I don't want to live like I believe in them. It won't work.

Natalie: I know you're having issues, too, and I'm glad you feel like you can tell me about it. Really. That first step is hard, and it doesn't always lead to the road out.

I know that in most cases the doctrine is pure, that the members have interpreted it wrong and made culture doctrine. It's when the leaders speak and I want to scream.

wesley's mom: *nod* Please see the last paragraph in this comment :)

Cindy: Everytime I think I'm alone, I find I'm not. The Internet is so wonderful for that.

Thanks for the support. Though I say I know I'm not alone, it's good to have that reinforced sometimes :)

Steve: I have glanced at the NOM website, but not the forum. THANK YOU. I had no idea there were others just like me.

That doesn't sound like my idea of happy either. We'll see what happens. But thank you, so much, for sharing all of that with me. We should talk more. Facebook?

Really, anyone is welcome to join my facebook blog group. We can chat there too.