When I first started this blog, I had all of these same doubts, questions, and the knowledge that I might not be able to hack it.
I didn't want to admit that, though.
When I first began discussing lefty topics with fellow LDS on Facebook, I did so to feel a sense of community. The good people there gave me strength. I thought maybe I could do this, that who I am doesn't have to contradict the Church, that maybe I was wrong concerning everything and could be a middle-roader without sacrifice.
Numerous faithful, liberal members of the Church fight valiantly against sweeping generalizations that one cannot be a liberal Mormon and yet a good Mormon. Some succeed better than others. It's a hard fight to be made in a Church which seems to pride itself on being rooted in "family values," in being "pro-life" etc. and can't see past their ideological noses. Funny, really, because the Church is technically pro-choice and is based on as many liberal ideals as conservative. But whatever. Nobody wants to see that.
When I first began this blog, a girl from my stake came by to discover I support Obama, I am Pro-Choice, and I thought Prop 8 was a load of crap. She said something to the effect of "Except Obama, everything you just said goes against the Church!" These are basic stances many liberal members have and must contend with, along with a very real questioning of our faith and worthiness. This is the reason many choose to remain in the closet. I daresay this is why so many of us became so aggressive when it came to Prop 8. In our own way, we know what it's like to be shoved into a closet.
Over time, though, I weakened. My doubts raised to a piercing scream I couldn't ignore anymore. Knowing that my bishop could find this blog and call me in for expressing my opinion and discipline really rubbed my fur the wrong way. It's happened to too many others. Good members everywhere have walked into their bishop's offices where they were asked to shut down their blog. One commenter at The Faithful Dissident's recent post says his bishop told him he wouldn't sign his temple recommend based on his blog. He shut it down. Call me prideful, but there's something seriously wrong with that. I don't think I could shut mine down. Not in good conscience.
Freedom of expression, shut down. There's a reason so many abhor censorship - it brings to mind far too many things I'd learned in school, so much history we'd rather never happened. We live in America where we are supposed to be free to express our own beliefs. Without America, we would have no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I should be able to say I respectfully disagree and why without fear of rebuke. I should be able to discuss why I think marrying gay couples won't be the end of society as we know it and encourage people to reconsider their vote.
But, one might say, if you don't believe, why are you here?
This is my eternal soul, that's why. For so long I fought against the cultural crap - I could sweat the culture. I could rally against and scream about it all I wanted. There are some things about LDS culture I really love but most of it just sucks. But this is my church, I've been grafted to it. This deals with my eternal soul. I believed in enough for it to matter.
I didn't want to be this stereotypical liberal Mormon girl on the precipice of apostasy. I wanted to be an activist of sorts, change minds. I've never wanted to be an activist for anything until this past year. I wanted to be an example, so the first time I expressed serious doubt with the Church. I thought great, so much for being an example. But I couldn't keep pretending. That wasn't fair.
The Faithful Dissident says that without the courageous gay community who fought for so long to have others know their orientation is not a choice, that without courageous Mother's Who Don't Know fighting against the June Cleaver or Die mold, that without activist members this church never would have changed. And despite what many orthodox members will insist to the contrary, this Church does change.
I wanted to be part of that so much. I'm a martyr. I would be more than willing to fight except I don't really believe this anymore, not enough of it at least. I could still attend (and do) without being "worthy" of the temple, but...I would be willing to pay tithing if I could and if I believed in what I was investing my money in. It's not really a matter of faith. I would be willing to avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol if...well, as stupid as it is to make a point to drink this stuff, it's just as stupid to make a point not to drink it. I could give it up, though. Much as the garment top bugs the absolute shit out of me, I would wear it. These things matter about as much as they don't in the eternal scheme of things, and instead of worrying about the piddly crap, I'd rather spend my time focusing on other things that will make me a better person because I've so far to go. So that's what I'm doing.
This is the church that most closely mirrors my lifelong beliefs. BUT! sometimes the best form of protest is the one we make with our feet. I have a difficult time believing God would place me on the same shelf as the man who couldn't give up everything he had and follow Christ because I have an occasional cup of coffee - and no, I was never addicted to the stuff (though I freely admit addiction to soda).
My bishop knows I'm having a crisis of faith. At least that's what I told him. The truth is I've been having a crisis of faith for four years now; my husband for the last eight - I didn't even know about his doubts until I expressed my own. The truth is I'm at my end. I requested release from my calling as a Relief Society teacher because I couldn't stand up there and do what I could to show these girls that the norm isn't always the best way, that there are good people outside the church, that the culture doesn't always jive with the doctrine. I couldn't stand the material, of people trying to sound biblical instead of like regular members of the human race who are trying just as hard as I am.
They are no better than me and I am no better than them.
I never wanted to be the rule. I wanted to be the exception, but sometimes it's not worth the fight, not worth the mental abuse one has to go through. I've a family. I worry about enough things. I guilt trip myself, I don't need any help.
There are good, liberal Mormons out there who do believe and have testimonies. I just don't know what I have to add anymore but more of the same, more validation to the idiots' belief that "Liberal Mormons aren't Good Mormons." They do exist, and they're amazing people with very valid views and concerns. I hope more members accept them and give their ideas a moment of their time. I wasn't always like this. I used to be a Limbaugh girl - it was because I listened to other views that I began to change my mind. Not everyone will, but acceptance is all we ask for. We need each other, after all - apostate or not.