Monday, December 3, 2012

Moth to Light

I am drawn in like
a moth to the light.
I know it is beautiful,
warm and mesmerizing.
I know it will burn me
or zap me, destroy me,
but I can't stay away.
I am programmed somehow,
stronger than self-preservation,
deeper than rational thought,
is this driving force,
pulling me in.
I am drawn to the Church,
like a moth to the light.
I believe so much more
than what the Church has,
but I believe so much
of what the Church is.
I can't delete Joseph Smith,
or forget the First Vision,
I can't stop believing
that I am a child of God.
I know families are forever,
and that my Savior lives.
The songs and the scriptures,
the stories and prophets,
feelings and memories
of the love I once felt
all live in my soul and
I can't purge them out.
I believe in free agency,
that we all have a choice.
I believe there are many paths
leading to Paradise.
I believe the road is wide, and
the door is open.
But for me,
I can find no other way.
I can't get around this Church.
It is the light,
and I am the moth.
I want to soar on freedom's wing,
and feel the cool night air,
but I can't escape the light.
I know it will consume me;
I know it will destroy me.
I am drawn in like
a moth to the light.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

We must do better

Last summer, I was at the point of questioning my belief in God.  I was questioning whether any of it was real.  I couldn't figure out how to decide if the whole religion thing was just a big scam.  My kids were asking if they could live with their dad on a 50/50 plan.  That would mean one week with me, one week with dad.  And here I was, so far from God I knew I could not talk to Him. I hurt in a deep and dark place at the thought of losing even more time with my children.  I had nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.
And then, my friend invited me to go on a mission trip.  I decided to make a choice.  I decided to stop questioning and take a leap of faith.  I decided that I was going to believe in God, and I was going to follow Him, and listen for Him in my life.
I went on the misison trip.  I went to devotional every night with my team- an entire group of Baptists.  I spent every day serving the people in a remote town in Guatemala.  And something happened.  I quit thinking about the pain of the decision I had to make.  When it tried to come into my mind, I just thought to myself, "God, I am giving this to you.  I am not strong enough to live with this pain."  I focused on serving others.  I focused on sharing God's love with the sweet people I met.  I listened to these Baptists (who I had always been annoyed by) share their testimonies of God in their lives.  And somewhere along the way, I was converted back to Christianity.  I was able to feel God's love in my heart.  I was able to see God's love in the actions and words of those around me.  I was able to give up my selfish concerns and worries and focus on God's work.  And, I was happy.  I knew great joy.  And then it was time to come home.
I came home and realized my decision was made.  Somewhere in the backwoods of Guatemala, when I gave the weight of the burden to God, He made the decision for me and took the pain from my heart.  I would let my children go 50 percent of the time.  The burden of this ache would not be mine to bear. 
I came home and realized that I was a Christian once more.  I had allowed God into my heart and felt His words flow through me once again.  I was able to think of scriptures and songs that I hadn't heard or used in years.
I came home and had a new love for the Baptists.  The people who I had never been able to understand were now my friends.  They were now people that I could appreciate and love. 
I don't know that my idea of God and religion has changed completely, but I now have a clearer view, a stronger spirit, and a new theory on religion.
 In the months that I have been home, I have started attending church again.  I have gone to a few new churches, trying to find a church home that I can feel comfortable with.  I am not quite at home in any of them, and the ache for my old home in the Mormon church remains.  My children have asked me to go to church with them, and so I do.  It makes them happy, and it gives me time with them. 
I have a hard time sitting in the chapel during sacrament meeting.  I don't agree with much of what is said.  I don't like the boredome that ensues when uneducated or ignorant or poor-planning speakers stand up there droning on for 20 minutes.  I grow frustrated in the few Sunday School classes I have attended where half the time is spent with people chattering on about inconsequential things.  The two times I have tried Relief Society, I have been biting my tongue the entire time.  I often spend time reading in the Scriptures, looking up things on the phone, or walking out of class to stand in the hall. 
On the one hand, it feels like I am home- not loved and safe and welcomed- but in the house with the people I once loved and pretending that everything is okay.  On the other hand, we are just pretending.  I can feel them trying to reel me in; they are constantly finding ways to keep me at church for something-something about one of my kids.  I don't know if they think I am coming back to them, if they think I am there just for my kids, or what.  Frankly, I don't know exactly what my main goal is in being there. 
I haven't quit missing my church home.  I haven't lost the ache of its absence.  I haven't found anywhere else to belong, but I know I will never be safe here.  I know I will never send my children into this building or to an activity with the people without a slight edge of hesitation and worry.
Today, a friend's daughter was in a Sunday School class where the teacher said that "gays are an abomination."  Apparently, when this young girl stated otherwise, the entire class started gay-bashing.  I am appalled, even now,  hours after finding this out.  I try.  I give them the benfit of the doubt.  And every time, every time, there is something that I just can't live with.
And always, always, I compare what is happening within the church with my beliefs.
Today, during the insanely boring speaker in Sacrament, I decided to search out the scripture to define my beliefs.  I found it:
Mark 12:30-31: And though shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is  the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these."
I believe that we should, at the very least, love each other.  We should not just love the people in our ward, the people who are "like" us financially or socially.  We should love everyone, especially those who are not in our church building with us on Sunday.
To truly be a follower of Christ, we must serve each other.  We must spend our time, money, and energies to make life better for others.
I maintain my simple belief that the best life to live is a life lived trying to emulate Jesus Christ.  He is the one great Exemplar we must follow to return to our mutual Father.  When we truly believe in the divinity of Christ, and in humility, accept his grace, we gain faith.  When we have true faith, there is no other way to live an honest life except to follow His example.
Jesus did not spend His time with the wealthy and the well-known.  Jesus spent his time with the common man and the sinner. 
We must step outside of our safe churches and serve those who are not within the walls.  We must answer the cry of the woman on the street and the man in despair. 
We must love.
We must serve.
We must do better.
 We must put Christ back into His church.
We must not be afraid, for it is our children and our future that we prepare the way for.

Friday, July 27, 2012

When does it end?

When does it end?  The agony? the pain?  Every time I start to talk about the church, a lump forms in my throat, my palms sweat, and I become bitter, agitated, and grief-stricken all over again.
It has been two and a half years since I lost my faith and my foundation.  I thought that I would heal.  I healed from my parents' divorce.  I healed from my own divorce.  I have healed from every trauma life has thrown at me.  But not this one.  I feel like Prometheus must have felt chained to the rock of his eternal torment.  Every time he felt the wound sealing shut, that damn bird would start squawking in the distance and it would begin all over again.  Unlike Prometheus, I have no Hercules to rescue me.
I have been trying to come up with a plausible theory as to why I can't move on as so many others do.  This is what I have so far:
  • The Church is an integral part of me (see my last post for more on this one)
  • My children are a part of it.
  • And the newest, most difficult to reconcile with: maybe I am wrong.
This is what I know:
I hurt- deeply, profoundly, in a place I didn't know could hurt so much for so long.
I can talk to God as long as I want- and He doesn't answer me anymore.
I disagree with so many of the beliefs of the Mormon church that I can't understand why anything about them matters to me anymore.
I want my children to be safe and happy, and I don't feel that my children are safe belonging to a group that will use their love for the group to hurt them. 

What does any of this mean?  I don't know.  All that I know is that none of these ideas belong together.  All I know is that this well of pain has not run dry, and I am beginning to believe that it may never dry up.
When does it end?
I can't answer that.

The agony in my soul continues.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I don't want to he homesick, but I am

I just finished reading Carol Lynn Pearson's memoir "goodbye I Love You.". It was poignant and moving and affirmed my belief in the fact that "gayness" is not a choice, a syndrome, an illness, or a disease. It is the way some people are.
One thing that stood out to me was a line in which Gerald says how he loves the Mormon church, but that the church despised him.
This is so close to my heart. I don't want to want Mormonism. I don't want to miss it. I don't want it to be who I am. I want to be rid of it. I want to be free of it. But I can't. It is like trying to separate my spirit from my body. I could not remain ME without it.
I tried to explain it to my mom, and she didn't get it. I don't know if anyone who doesn't know the depth of misery rejection from the church causes will ever understand what it feels like to be disowned by their family.
The LDS church is the foundation of my life. My home. My people. My family. Mormonism is the basis of all that I am. My morals. My values. My hopes. My future.
I WANT TO GO HOME. And I hate myself for that. I want to rip the Mormon out of me. I want to be free of the chains of Mormonism. But at the same time, I want to go home.
And I can't.
I stand on the opposite side of the battle in so many ways. I just don't see how I can go home again.
I want to.
I carry on
Ignoring the ache for my home
Knowing I am not the prodigal son
I am the pariah
I am the leper
I cannot go home
I stand at the gate
And nobody answers the knocking of my small and bloody fist.
The sound reverberates off the empty walls.
Nobody hears me.
I am crying into the wind
Choking on the pain.
Suffocating on the accusations, the defenses, all the words I never said. All the words they wouldn't share.
I hurt
And nobody can hear my pleas for love.
Screaming into a vast expansive void
Hearing only my echo in reply
Will the loneliness never end?
Will the answers never come?
Am I destined to be the wanderer forever?
Or can I ever go back home?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My own Mormon Story (excuse the length, I didn't realize how complicated it was)

I recently discovered a group of people led by a man named John Dehlin.  He, and others who help in his work, interview people who have struggled with profound differences with the Mormon church, but who are still Mormon in some sense of the word.  I still haven't listened to a podcast, but I participated in a conference yesterday that, as I mentioned in my last post, has profoundly changed me.  When you meet someone at one of these events, within a minute or two of your introduction, you are sharing your deepest, most personal story of how you have been impacted by Mormonism.  It was amazing.  It was freeing.  It was interesting.  It was educational.  It was so many things, I haven't been able to process through all of them yet.  It has also inspired me to write my own story.  I am terrified as I write this, for in this blog I have mostly ranted and shared emotions.  I learned yesterday at the conference that it is important to share our stories, to be honest, and to have the tough discussions.  I begin this here in my blog that only I read, but it is still so hard to face.
So here it is- my story.
I am a Mormon.  I was born into a Mormon family.  My ancestors are all through church history- Mormon history is my family history, and I have always been proud to come from the Pioneers.  However, in contrast to this pioneer heritage, I also come from a family of fence-sitters.  Most of my family members have been inactive, active, and we are all at various stages of activity in the church.  We have many non-Mormons, and only a few orthodox Mormons.  I grew up in California, where I apparently had a liberal version of Mormonism, and then spent my teenage years in Utah- the Mormon bubble itself.  Until I moved to Utah, I was very active in the church.  Once I moved there, I became less active and hung out with friends that the church would not have approved of.  It was as a teenager that I started to see that I had some very different views from the Utah Mormons I found myself around.  In order to be accepted at church by my peers, I had to dress a certain way, hang out with certain people, and do certain activities.  I didn't buy into this, so I was a social outcast even when I followed every rule.  I had friends who were gay.  I had friends who were bisexual.  I had friends who were not Mormon.  I loved my friends!  I figured that Jesus would love them, so why shouldn't I?  The people I was "supposed" to be friends with were cruel and judgemental, and I would not submit myself to that.
When I was 18, my high school boyfriend and I made a choice, one little, tiny, life changing choice that resulted in our daughter.  After I made it through the devastation of this situation, we went to our bishop, who showed us love, compassion, and gave us hope that we could still be good people.  This bishop married us and, a few years later, was the first person we told when we were sealed in the temple. 
We moved to Texas, and I found myself going to church because I no longer had friends or a support system.  I became very active, and eventually my husband did to.  One little boy later, and we were able to go to the temple.  I had many doubts about the temple garment, but my bishop assured me that they would pass and that everything would make sense once I went.  The first thing they asked me to do in the temple, of course, was to take off all my clothing (including my underclothes).  I was horrified and it was only through the reassurance of my mother-in-law that I went through the first ordinance.  There were some beautiful things about the temple ceremony, but there were many things that were confusing.  Nobody would ever talk to me about them outside of the temple because they were too sacred.  For the next few years, I was always nervous to go to the temple because the temple workers seemed so annoyed with me that I couldn't remember all the correct phrases to say and when to say them.  The temple scared and confused the heck out of me, but my leaders just told me that the more I went, the more I would understand.  So, since I can not stand to be inadequate at something I want excel in, and since nobody would give me any guidance, I just quit going. 

Interestingly enough, as my husband and I had struggled to become worthy to go the temple, we had grown closer in our marriage.  Our second temple trip, and the very frequent reminder of multiplying and replenishing the earth, led us to our third child.  We were happy for the first time in our marriage.  It was great.  It lasted about a year.  It turns out that we had very different views of what the patriarch of the home meant, and very different views on how women should be treated and what they should be allowed to do.  So, in the end, the final straw in our very rocky, very tenuous marriage, was the church itself. 
After ten years of marriage, I was heading for divorce.  I knew in my soul that this was what God wanted of me.  I had spent years praying that we would make it.  We had gone to counseling.  I had spent years praying that I would be able to find the strength to submit my will to my husband's.  I had spent years praying that I would be in love with him.  And I spent the final year praying that I could just see him as I know Christ sees him.  None of it worked for me.  Finally, I did the unthinkable.  I prayed and asked if I should get a divorce.  I knew God would tell me no.  I knew he would somehow realize my pain and give my strength to carry on.  But He didn't.  I felt through my mind a great certainty and an answer that I needed to prepare to leave my husband and my marriage.  It was the worst crisis I had ever encountered in my life- for I am a child from a broken home- and I know exactly what I was doing to my children.
I tried to go talk to my bishop.  But it was summer, and he was out of town a lot.  I kept getting put off, kept getting put off, and I finally decided that I wasn't important enough for his time.  We went through a divorce.  I lost many friends.  It seems that divorce is much like leprosy and people are afraid of catching it- or at least that is the only answer I have come up with.
I carried on.  I threw myself into my work, into my children.  I continued going to church, accepting and serving in callings.  Eventually I started to date. 
During this time, I had researched surrogacy and was planning to be a surrogate for my aunt and uncle.  When they (miraculously) got pregnant on their last IVF attempt, I still had a strong sense that I needed to be a surrogate.  I found a beautiful couple that wanted a child, and I proceeded with the journey.  I told the women I served with in the stake primary presidency about the surrogacy, and I was shocked and hurt by their sudden and rude reactions.  Not only did they say hurtful things, but they went and, as I see it, "told on me" to the bishop.  He hauled me in to his office, and we had a talk.  He prayed that we would have the spirite with us.  He read to me the line from the bishop's manual that said, "the church strongly discourages surrogacy."  I asked him why that was.  We had a long conversation, in which the spirit presided, and I left that meeting with his words of, "I support you and so will many other families in the ward.  However, there will be those who have read these words and will not."  I was filled with hope and peace.  I was so glad he had felt the spirit and that we had been able to have such a wonderful conversation. 
I delivered two precious babies and carried on with life.  I found out that my ex-husband had been excommunciated.  I don't feel that the leaders had the right to tell me, nor that I had the right to know.  However, they told me before I could refuse the telling, and I dealt with the information.  He was apparently quite remorseful, and began the process of getting back into the church.  In the meantime, I was released from my last calling, and was growing away from the church.  I did not feel the love or support that I once had, and so I stepped back.
I was dating a wonderful man, a non-member, and I had grown away from the church.  By this point, about a year into our relationship, I knew I loved him and wanted to spend my life with him, but I was not ready to get married, as I was still afraid of the pain my first marriage had caused and very cautious about moving too quickly for my children..  Of course, not getting married quickly led to other problems, and I made the choice to be with him- in every sense of the word.
My children attended church with their father every other weekend, so when I was called and asked to come meet with the bishop, I figured it was in reference to them.  The executive secretary would not tell me why, and I suppose he probably didn't. 
Here is the crux:  I went in to meet with the bishop (the very same one who had told me that he believed my surrogacy was a good choice).  He prayed, and in this prayer, he asked that he would "be able to say the things that needed to be said", no mention of the spirit, no mention of anything normal.  I knew something was wrong. 
He asked me if I wore my temple garments.  I told him I did not.  When he asked me why, I told him I had never understood them, did not like them, and I frankly couldn't remember why I wore them, so I stopped.
He jumped right in to his next question, which of course was if I was having- I don't remember the exact words- but basically something to the effect of having sexual relations outside of marriage.  I told him yes.
He asked, and these words I remember exactly, if I wanted to talk about it.  I stated very clearly that I did not (how disgusting is that?  What would I have said?  Yes, it was great, thank you). 
I asked him why he was asking me these questions.  I asked him who told him these things.  He would not tell me. 
He went on in a rage, he was cruel, he was mean, he was distant, and the love I had previously known from him was gone.  I was now the enemy, and I could feel his animosity through the weight of his gaze.
He told me that I was wrong to be a surrogate (Yes, I realize this was a complete 180, and I was in utter shock).
He told me that I "mocked God" (which broke me as nothing I had ever lived through had).
He told me that he was going to hold a committee to determine what would be done to me.  He told me a group of eight or so men would be there- and me.
I told him I could not endure something like that.
He told me other things, but I don't remember.  I was broken; I couldn't speak; I wanted to; I wanted to say something; I wanted to beg for his love; I wanted to smack him upside his head, but I didn't.  I simply sat there and let him assail me with such verbal abuse as I did not know the man possessed. 
I left there, got into my car, somehow got home, and I remember my husband coming out to the car, but I couldn't get out.  I could't stand, I couldn't move my hands from the steering wheel, I just sat there, sobbing, shaking, and unable to speak.  He turned off the car and asked me to come in.  It was impossible.  I don't remember how long I sat there, but I remember the horror.  You know when a tornado runs through a city, and you see people standing there, holding a door handle, or a book, and they are looking at their entire lives gone- you see them looking where their house was, and nothing is left except a foundation?  Well, mine was the opposite.  Instead of a foundation with no house, I was sitting in my car, looking at my house wonked out on the ground, the entire foundation torn and ripped asunder. 
The bishop had destroyed my faith.  I completely understood that I had done something wrong in Mormon belief, and I completely understood that I could have a consequence.  However, when I was treated so cruelly by a man who had once loved me, when I, a woman who loves God with all her might, was told that I mock Him, when I was told by a man who had supported me that the very thing he had supported me in was wrong, when I was treated with enmity, I broke.  I am a strong woman, I have endured many hardships and pain in my life, so for me to break, well, that was something. 
Later that afternoon, he and another man brought me a letter detailing the events of this "discipline committee" (which I knew nothing about, this isn't something you are taught in Sunday School), they smiled and handed it to me.  I repeated that I would not be there.  NOBODY called.  Nobody came by.  I was left alone in my pain.
Later that week, a letter arrived in the mail.  I didn't open it for a few weeks.  I couldn't open it because it didn't matter.  I was broken by the way I was treated- not by an excommunication or a disfellowship.  I could have handled either one, but the treatment I had faced at the hands of the bishop had caused me to question his authority.  I knew in my soul that I had recieved personal revelation that I should be a surrogate.  Apparently someone higher up than him had received revelation that I should not.  I knew that the love I shared with my now husband was a love given to us by God, and I did not regret it (which was bad, because you are supposed to regret "sin").  How could my revelation be in direct opposition to the leaders of the church?  Surely, one of us must be wrong.  And since I only know my own revelation and know the Spirit confirmed it, I know that I am right in this matter.  How could a man who speaks to God be wrong?  I love God, I do not mock him.  How could men of God throw stones at me, when Jesus spared the woman taken in adultery?  I no longer had faith in the authority of the priesthood leadership, so the contents of the letter didn't matter. 
A few weeks later, I opened it.  I was excommunicated.  And it hurt, but I didn't cry about it.  They had already taken my faith, what was a membership in an organization that breaks people?

I had so many questions.  Why, when I went to my leaders for help (about garments or divorce) was I ignored or told that it would all work out?
Why is there no consistency in Mormon leaders' decisions?
Why weren't my leaders there for me when I had questions?
Why were they only there to judge me?
Why did the bishop change his mind about surrogacy?
Why, when I was not attending church, did they call me in to ask if I was doing very specific things?
Why did they lie to my ex-husband and tell him that I was trying to remove my children's names from the records?
Why, when I showed my ex-husband tangible proof of this lie did he still side with them?
Why are people cast away when they are at their most vulnerable?
Why don't they love you even when you do something wrong?
I will never know.

Next month will mark the second anniversary of my excommunication.  I have spent the last two years living.  I have married my husband.  I have loved and raised and cheered my children on in their endeavors. I support them in the choices they make, whether they are in the church or elsewhere.  I have carried another surrogate baby.  I have loved and worshipped God.  I have tried to live as an example of my brother Jesus Christ.  I have lived with hope that I will find happiness in religion once again.  I have lived with a void where my faith in Mormonism once resided.  I have lived with the pain of losing my foundation, the rock I built my life upon.  I have lived without the friends who abandoned me. 
Recently, I have allowed myself to question many things about my beliefs.  I have realized that there are many things about Mormonism that I have always lived in opposition of.  I realize that I just put away my doubts and questions because I was happy as a Mormon.  But now that I don't have that good feeling from the Mormons that people use to rationalize their beliefs ("but it must be true because it makes me happy"), I have given myself permission to doubt.  I have given myself permission to judge for myself whether something is true or not.  I have been forced outside the box of Mormonism.  I have been forced to step away and look at it without the lens of Mormonism.  And it is good that I have, for I see so much more truth now.
A few Mormon men destroyed my faith in their church.  I have learned and grown so much from this experience.  Do I wish I didn't have to face it?  Yes.    Do I wish I could go back to simply believing and having faith and a foundation?  Yes.  But I can't.  I can't be that person again.  I won't be that woman who is broken by a man with no right to break her.  I will be strong and teach my children that they are not that person.  I will teach them that no man has the right to break them.  I will make them strong through my weakness.  And I will strive every day to be a better person, a better member of my community, a better human being.
I will stand for those who are broken, and I will defend those who are not strong enough to defend themselves.  I will never again be a victim.
I am still a Mormon pariah, but now, I want to be.

A gay mormon changed my life

I went to a conference yesterday put on by Mormon Stories.  It was very powerful, and I am profoundly changed. I am working through those feelings now, but there is one story that has hit me at the very core of my soul.
It is the story of a man- a sweet, kind-looking, and humble man. 
He stood before us to bear his testimony, and this is the story- from my memory and in my own condensed version:
When I was a young boy, I felt an attraction to other boys.  I knew that it was wrong. 
I went to college, and before my mission, I told my bishop that I had these feelings and attractions to other boys.  He told me that if I went on my mission and served, if I did God's will, I would be cured
I went on my mission.  I did my best.  I came home.  I was not cured.  I felt I had failed.
My bishop told me that if I just got married, I would get better.  So I got married.  I had two children.  I was not cured.  I was not better.  I was still gay.  But I still loved the church.

Now, this man, his wife, his children- an entire family- will pay the price. 
As this man spoke, something inside of me broke open.  Maybe it was compassion, empathy, love.  I don't know for sure, but I now know that this, if nothing else, will keep me forever from rejoining the LDS church.  This beautiful, amazing, and faithful man has had his entire life destroyed because his Mormon leaders treated his innate sexuality as an illness, or a disease, or something that could be overcome.  His suffering has been prolonged, and innocent children and an innocent woman (whom he was counseled not to share his illness with) join in his suffering.  And this man still loves this church.  The actions of his leaders disgust me.  And the saddest part of all is that there are so many others like him, and so many leaders just like his.

How can an organization that claims to be of God do this? 
I have only one answer, and it is devastating.
This organization can not be of God. 
How can the Mormon people allow their religious organization to condemn faithful and true believers?
I believe there are a plethora of answers.  Maybe they honestly believe their leaders are God's mouthpiece and don't question them, maybe they don't know any gay people, maybe they don't want to think about it... I don't know. 
God is love.
God is compassion.
God loves ALL people.
It breaks my heart to see a church that I once loved destroy people who so desperately cling to their beliefs.  It enrages me.
As a member of the LDS church, I was taught to stand up for those who were different.  There is even a Primary song that says, "if you don't walk like most people do, I'll walk with you..."
I am making a stand.  The Mormon chruch has broken many people- my people- and I will stand with them.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Time passes quickly.  I spend my days working, raising my children, loving my husband, working on my house.  Sometimes I don't realize how long it has been that I have been outcast.  I guess we never really leave the beliefs of our childhood. 
I don't think I know anymore than I did last time I wrote.  I don't know anyone else in this position.  I know so many who have left the church.  So many who belong.  So many who were excommunicated and worked to get back in.  But nobody, nobody, like me.
I wonder sometimes if I am just too prideful.  I know I am stubborn, but am I stubborn at the price of my soul? 
I know that they had every right to kick me out.  I know that they had grounds and that my actions go against the teachings of the church.
I also know that they way I was treated was inhumane.

Is there really a difference in what  they did versus how they did?

 That is my question.  I give them what they did.  I can not get through the how they did. 
If a criminal admits her own guilt to a crime, does it matter if the judge and jury tell her she is evil and will rot in hell as they condemn her to death?  Does it really matter if they kill her lovingly or maliciouisly?  She was, after all, a criminal.  Their cruelty doesn't change her crime.  Their imperfections and their guilt do not change her crime.  So why does it matter?????

I guess the only answer I have to my own question is that it matters to me. 
If the judge and the jury are criminals themselves, do they still have the right to condemn me?

LESSON:  I don't have any. 
MY TESTIMONY:  I know God lives.  I know He loves me.  I know His son, my brother, lives.  I know they are my family.  I know the only way to return home is to be an example of Christ and spread good works upon the Earth.  I know He hears me when I talk to Him.  What I don't know is why I still can't hear Him anymore.