Saturday, November 20, 2010

It is not okay

At first, there was blinding pain.  Then, there was a raging fire.  Next, there was the hope of healing.  After that, a painful void.  Now, there is a feeling that is not a describable feeling.  Maybe it is somewhere between confusion, sorrow, grief, and bewilderment. 
I know many people who have left the church.   I know many people who just grow away from it and never look back.  I know people who fade out, and then fade back in.  I know people who are kicked out, but it is when they have gone seeking advice, help, acceptance, and repentance. 
I am none of these.  I was kicked out when I had stepped back.  I was too far away to be pulled back in, but too close not to care.
I say I don't care.  I say that I am fine.  I say that God's love is enough- and it should be.  But I am beginning to fear that it is all a lie.
I have read through my previous posts.  They stole my religion, my faith, my hope.  But what I didn't realize is they stole so much more.  They stole my ability to play the piano- for every time I sit down to play, I think of them.  They stole my ability to attend church- for every time I do, I think of them.  They stole my ability to pray- for every time I do, I think of them. 
I am beginning to realize a few things.  I am a Mormon.  I don't want to be a Mormon.  I believe the Church is corrupted, that men are making decisions that should be left to God.  I will not belong to any organization where I give control of my life, my soul, and my childrens' salvation to a mortal man.
I can not disbelieve Joseph Smith.  I can not disbelieve the word of God.  I can not disbelieve the things my ancestors lived, suffered, and died for.  I can not believe another religion.  I can not exist without one. 
I remain a woman without a religion.  Only now, I realize that it is not going to get better.  Only now, I realize that this banishment is real, is permanent, is final.  I will not deny my conscience and the truth of my soul.  And for that, I will remain here in limbo, unable to move back to this religion that broke my heart, but still attached as to be unable to move forward towards hope.
I understand, for the first time, Romeo's words, "say death, not banishment.  There is no life without Verona's walls". 
There was nowhere for Romeo to go where he could live in peace and happiness without Verona.  There is nowhere for Grace to go where she can worship in peace and happiness.  At least Romeo knew his love waited for him in Verona, for me, there is no going back for they have barred the door with their ignorance of what I've done and why I've done it.
If only that Bishop had opened his heart to God... If only he had listened to the Father... if only he could have seen in my heart what God could see.. If only he had been guided by the Light of the Spirit instead of the voice of man... If only... If only...If only...
I would not be in this twilight world.
My testimony:  I don't know anymore. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010


During the worst part of this pain, I didn't keep a blog or a journal.  It happened during such a busy time that I had no time to write- and I wish so much that I had been able to.  I so wish that I had been able to track my pain, to write when the wounds were fresh, to always remember the searing pain to my heart.  I wish I had... but I can't change that now.  Once I started this blog, I was at a pretty good place.  I spent several months feeling like I was okay now.  Maybe it was only one month, six weeks, but enough time that I thought I was healed. 
But I'm not.  Some days everything is fine.  Some days are great and I glory in the love of God.  Some days I feel like there is a vast black emptiness in my soul.  Some days, I feel like I have left God behind and struck out on my own.  Some days, I feel blasphemous just for being happy.  Some days I feel that it is wrong for me to enjoy my life without the LDS church.  Some days I feel prideful- like I have taken all credit for my life being good and denied that it was God who gave me all that I have. 
Why must I feel this way?  Why must I feel as though I have to be Mormon to be one with God? 
These people broke me.  They broke my heart, they broke my trust, they broke my belief in their unity with God.  Why can it still hurt so much?
I have put so much distance between me and them. 
A church friend called and wanted to have lunch- I denied her even that because it would hurt me.  Is it wrong to protect my heart from further pain?  Maybe I should have gone so she would not feel rejection as I have...
I am having a celebration of an important event in my life- I will invite nobody from the church.  Is it wrong to want only happiness on my joyous day? 
I saw a family from the church.  The wife asked a question.  The husband (who knows what happened) turned his head and never even looked at me.  Is it still wrong to protect myself from them?
I have left the LDS church.  I have not stepped back.  I have not taken a break.  I am not going through a disciplinary action.  I am gone. 
The scriptures say in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."  These people have destroyed my faith in their religion and their leaders.  They have broken my hope.  They have denied me charity.  When- according to them- I was in the most need of help and love, they cast me out into the darkness of the world. 
What do I owe these people?  What do they owe me?  Nothing.  I am nothing to them as they are nothing to me.
God is love.  That is my favorite scripture, and always has been.  If something is not love, it is not of God.  Simple.  Case closed.
So why did I wake up this morning to my mind writing a letter in my head to the stake president about how unfairly I was treated?  Why?  Why?  WHY? 
I cannot believe that they are right.  So much of what has happened goes against God.  There are so many beliefs they have that I just do not share.  I know that God is God no matter where or how one worships.  I know this.
Why do I let this eat me up inside?  The only explanation I can come up with is that I spent 30 years eating, drinking, breathing, living, learning this religion and so I know nothing else.  It is through this church that I found God. 
And the worst part, the most unspeakable part of all is that when I pray, I feel like nobody is listening.  Not anymore.  Not to me.  Not to anything I say.  And the only reason I can think for Him ignoring me is that I'm wrong...
And the emptiness I thought was shrinking was just moving around.  And now it fills me more completely.  The sobbing and shaking have subsided, and I am now left with just a dull, unending void.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am an oldest child.  They say that makes me a leader and a perfectionist (and these can be exchanged for other words like "bossy", "over-achiever", and the like).  I will claim all of them, as they are probably mostly all true. I have realized that I can accept other people as they are, but I expect myself to be at the top of whatever I am doing.  I do not have to be "the best", but I have to be "my best." 
However, there is one thing that I just cannot deal with.  There is one thing that has been bothering me so very much these days that I can hardly stand it.  Hypocrisy.  And the Mormon church- as I see it here- is overrun with it.  Please try to follow my train of thought here:
1.  When this organization has put together a "handbook" that covers so many topics about life in very general terms, it becomes the job of local people to interpret what was meant by some handbook-writer in another state, or heck, maybe in another country.  When these men are given control over  a group of people, they are given control over their membership in the church, their standing within the church, and how much work they will be asked to do for the church.  These men are handed this handbook, and are supposed to use it to decide what to do with these people. 
2.  So, in one ward, a young couple ends up getting pregnant.  The bishop performs the wedding for them.  They are never disciplined.  In another ward, a young couple ends up getting pregnant.  The bishop disfellowships them.  This is discipline.  Why the disparity?  Who knows?  Why is one couple helped out and one couple punished?  The sin was the same?
3.  A man in a ward is cruel to those who are not as "perfect" of a Mormon as he is.  He has people who try to avoid him because of his attitude.  He looks at those who do not follow the rules to his liking with great disgust (trust me on this, it is a horrible thing to face on Sunday morning).  He is  made a leader.
4.  A man who was excommunicated tells his ex wife that he cannot re-join the church until he catches up on his child support (which would be that article of faith about obeying the laws of the land).  And then, a few weeks later, he is baptized.  Huh?
 Yeah, and this same man cruises around wearing a hat with a naked-lady silhouette on it.  You guessed it,  that would be him honoring the temple of the woman's body that was made by God. 

And my attempt to connect all of these ideas:  There is no consistency!!!!!  Men do what they want to do, or what they think is best, or what their counselors think is best, or what they hear in the gossip mill, or- who knows why they do what they do?  These men are the worst type of hypocrites. They act like they are perfect, they act like they actually know what they are doing, but they don't. 
One member of the bishopric goes around cursing all the time- no problem.
One church leader makes other people stop attending church because of his cruelty- no problem.
One bishop supports a woman in her actions until he changes his mind and tells her that she is wrong, once her actions cannot be stopped- but he can't explain why they are wrong-no problem.
One woman acts out of love and in the privacy of her own home- kick her the hell out.

LESSON NUMBER THREE:  There is no consistency in the LDS church.  It is just a bunch of imperfect men without the capacity to judge going around and judging people as their whim dictates.
MY TESTIMONY:  God is love.  God does not want us to judge one another.  He is the great judge.  I know I will stand accountable before Him one day and I will accept whatever consequence He chooses to give me for my actions on this earth.  I will humble myself before Him, and He will see my heart.  I do not accept the authority of men who do not know me, my actions, or even their own law.  What I have done has been done in love, has brought joy to the world, and life to the world.  I do not regret my choices.  I do not take them back.  I will not cower before men and give in to their unholy acts in the name of God- for God does not condone cruelty and the doling out of pain as a punishment for bringing love to the world. 
MY RELIGION:  I am a Christian.  I worship God whenever and wherever I am.  I want to be an example of Christ to all that I meet.  That's what it all boils down to I guess. 

Friday, June 11, 2010


One of the most difficult aspects of losing the support of the LDS  church was the people I thought I was losing.  These are the women I had been "friends" with.  These are the women I have served with, talked to, visited with, and considered to be my friends for the last ten years.  In our technological world, I had many of these women on my facebook page, they were my friends who saw what I posted, on the rare occasion that I posted something.  Was it one of them that started talking to the Bishop?  Was it one of these friends that began this ordeal that ended in me losing my church family?  I didn't know, and looking at their faces broke my heart, so I unfriended all of them.
Some of them messaged me and wondered what technological glich had unfriended us.  Some of them thought it was for other reasons, but they still wanted to be my friends.  Some of them I could not bear to keep on, but some of them I decided to think about.
One day, while she was unfriended, one of these friends drove into the baseball practice fields and dropped her son off.  I was sitting on the sidelines watching my child practice on another field.  She didn't see me.  But what if she had?  Would I have ignored a woman I have known for ten years?  Would I have walked right by a woman I have worked with and cried with and laughed with?  And the thought of not knowing her was so terrible, that I went home, emailed her this situation, and added her back as a friend. 
Soon after that, she sent me a facebook message telling me that she had a dream in which I was at church crying, and that she tried to reach me but I left too fast.  Oddly enough, this was just before a church event I went to for my child.  I told her I hoped I didn't cry.
Funny, but the day of the function arrived.  I was sitting at a table with my child, waiting for the event to start.  This "friend" walked up to me, put her arm around me, and said she was glad to see me there and glad that I wasn't crying.  And then she didn't talk to me again for the rest of the night.
It was funny that some of these ladies didn't want to lose me as a facebook friend.  It was funny that these ladies all said how glad they were to see me at this church function.  It is funny that they told me how much they cared about me.  What really just makes it all so funny is that that is all they said.
They didn't come by my house to see what happened.  They didn't call to see if I was okay.  They didn't sit and talk with me throughout the evening.  They just want to feel like they were doing the right thing.
I know that if it were a true friend who was in trouble or in need, I would go to them.  I would not wait to see what they did, I would not stay away, I would do what any friend would do- I would go to my friend and I would put my arms around her, and I would tell her that I was a friend, not because of a church connection, but because I wanted to be.
Funny- what you learn about friendship.  Funny- I don't miss any of them.  Funny- I thought that I was unfriending them and I felt bad for it, but that was before I realized that they had already unfriended me.  By leaving their church, by renouncing the rules that guide them, I was apparently renouncing my right to claim them as friends..  So even though I thought I was the one choosing to give up these friends, it was really a two way street- I removed them from my facebook page, but they removed me from their hearts.
Now I live with the consequences of not only losing a religion and a church, but of losing the people that had manned my world for so many years. 
It is nothing more than another loss.  It is only more pain.  The scriptures say that we as humans will be purified by fire, that through trials we will be made strong.  I know that these trials have been brought into my life by my own actions.  I know that through these trials I will be made stronger.  My faith in God is as strong as it has ever been.  I struggle to see him without the Mormon church to guide me.  I miss the routine, the safety, the easy answers, and the knowledge that I was never alone.  I still believe that there was a better way for these men to handle the situation of me.  I still believe that the Church is run by men, and because of this, is subject to error and misjudgement that hurts people and goes against the will of God.  I cannot believe it is intentional, but I believe that it is wrong.  It still hurts, I just don't think about it very often now.
LESSON NUMBER TWO:  Friends love you because of who you are, not because of anything else.
MY TESTIMONY:  Now, I hold onto God's love for me, and my desire to be an example of Christ.  For now, this is enough.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am a woman without a religion

 I am a woman who spent my entire life believing in something good, something that would protect me and guide me through this world.  I put my faith, my trust, and my life into a religion that I believed.  I may not have always lived it to the best of my ability, and at times I didn't even try, but I believed.  I believed that God was at the head of the Church, I believed that my leaders had my best interest at heart, and everything I knew about God and salvation and how to be a good person I believed through the lens of Mormonism.  Even when I had questions and doubts, I believed.  Even when I didn't understand, I believed.  Even when I saw things happen that I competely disagreed with, I believed.  What else would I do?  I was an obedient daughter of God, and as such, I followed the men He had put in charge. 
I am a woman who knows who she is.  I am a daughter of God.  I am endowed with the ability to make choices for myself and my family.  I am endowed with the right to receive revelation from God.  I am endowed with the power to be a mother.  I am to honor the priesthood and the men who hold it when they act in harmony with God.  This was what the Mormon church taught me.  And I believed
I am a woman who has been an "all-in" Mormon, a "mostly-in" believer, an "inactive" Mormon, a "sort-of active" member and any other degree of Mormon you may have encountered. 
And then, in a phase of inactivity, I was asked over and over and over again to go talk to the Bishop.  I went.  I was accused of very specific "crimes" against God.  I don't know where the rumors started, I don't know why they started.  So where did the Bishop get this "information"?  I don't know.  He wouldn't say.  But he decided that a week later he would hold some kind of "council" to determine what they would do to me.  I was afraid.  I was alone.  I had no idea what in the world he was talking about- a council?  I had never heard about this stuff, this is the stuff they leave out in Sunday School, and I was terrified.  Why was I being called out?  Why were things I did that the Bishop supported suddenly sins?  Why was the man who was supposed to be my leader  looking at me with such contempt?  What is going on?  What had I done to deserve such cruelty?  I came home that day, and I cried.  I cried.  I cried.  I shook and I cried as my faith ran down my cheeks in torrents, and I knew in my heart that what he had done to me was wrong. 
I did not go to their meeting.  Sitting in a room with a bunch of men and talking about personal topics... waiting for them to ask me questions about none-of-their-business... putting my faith and my relationship with God into the hands of men that don't even know me... going into a hostile environment with not one soul who loved me... I couldn't even think about what the Bishop had said without sobbing.  I was in no condition to be judged by these men.  Hadn't they read the story of the woman taken in adultery?  Who are they to cast the first stone? 
And because I would not go, because I would not say I was wrong, because I have acted out of my own conscience, because I have acted in my life as I feel is right before God, and because this did not coincide with what the leaders wanted me to be doing, I was excommunicated. 
LESSON NUMBER ONE:  I am a woman without a religion.  But I am not a woman without faith.  The first thing I have had to learn is that God doesn't operate only through the LDS church.  I have always known this and believed that people who believe in God can communicate/believe/etc with Him out of the Mormon context, but I had always viewed Him through the Mormon lens.  Now that the Mormon lens has been ripped away, I have learned that God is everywhere, and I don't need a church or a leader to take me to Him. 
Ironically, the LDS church taught me that I can have personal revelation from God- and this I take with me. 
In double irony, the personal revelation that I have received from God will keep me from rejoining their church- if I wanted to- because they have decided that what they believe superceded what God believes.
MY TESTIMONY:  I know God lives.  I know that I have grown closer to Him since losing the LDS church because I don't have any lens, I don't have any impediments between us.  It is just me and God, and He is still there.  God will never leave me.  He is truly my Father, and I am His daughter- and I WILL NEVER WALK ALONE.