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True Me Tuesday

I am currently having what some people would call a 'crisis of faith.'
Which actually translates into I haven't been to church in 7 months and I'm perfectly happy with that.
My faith in God has not changed or lessened in any way.
My faith in my church has definitely hit a road block.

Now here's the clincher.
It's always really bugged me when people stopped going to church because someone offends them.

Really? Is that as far as your devotion and faith goes?

Yet I have found it so incredibly easy to lay the blame on others for my own inactivity in my religion. I could blame the horrible rumors that I KNOW are out there about me (I've heard them, it's not me just being paranoid). I could blame the teachers at church who I completely disagreed with even before my separation and subsequent divorce. I could blame those few extremely close people who utterly back stabbed me and left me to fend for myself in a most un-friendly, un-christlike fashion. (Not you MC).

But the truth is I just quit caring.

I call it the Awakening.

The moment in my life where I just sort of woke up and realized how much time I was spending on trying to hide who I was because who I was--wasn't good enough for those around me.

This awakening was quickly followed by the Great Purge of 2012.
That's when all those people left.

The truth is... I really, truly, honestly have found that I feel so much less guilt and remorse when I focus my time on bettering my relationships with my children, my self and my friends (rather than on becoming a perfect (ridiculously unattainable) version of myself).

The sad aspect of this, however, is I know how I'm viewed.
I've been there, I've known people who 'went off the deep end' and left the church.
I know what they think, what they say and what they tell their kids. 
And I realize for the first time in my life how completely wrong that sort of behavior is!
I'm not a bad person because I don't have a desire to go to church or because I wear tank tops and shorter shorts. I'm not a bad person because I associate myself with people who smoke cigarettes.

I may be at a slightly higher risk of cancer... but that's sort of not the issue at hand.

The irony is that in seeking quality friendship, love, and acceptance I actually found it in the place I had been taught said me I shouldn't be able to (non-church folk).

These are people who genuinely respect one another, work side by side to build one another up, lend a helping hand to ANYONE they see, and are willing to try out new and interesting friendships.
It's an incredibly dynamic group of homosexuals, adults who were raised in polygamist homes, former drug addicts, and lots of awesome, respectful, loving kids. These are people who have often times dealt with serious life issues and have learned that the value of a person does not come in where they are on Sunday morning but how they treat others when no one is looking.

And they have great relationships.... happy, loving committed partnerships; sound, un-conditional friendships; honorable, open parent-child bonds. 

In my entire life I have never felt so welcome and accepted.

All the things I thought I could find in church I found outside of church.

I have really been contemplating this a lot lately and been truly concerned about 'coming out' for fear of the reaction I was going to receive. I know what most of you must be thinking (see above) and that's fine... but may I suggest one tiny idea that my bestest friend in the whole wide world told me this last year:

"A support group isn't there to give you advice... otherwise it would be called an advice group. Support groups are the ones that stand by you no matter what your choice is because they know at some point we all need to have another person around just to know we are significant."


Lisa said…
I don't judge you. Jared left the church about 4 years ago. Getting away from the west was the best thing we ever did. The church is very different out here. I'm sorry you have to be surrounded by judgy people. That's no fun.
I think you are amazing.
And I agree with you about how awful some people can act. It's the opposite of what Christ stands for.
heather said…
I hear you. And I'm sorry you had to move to Utah where so many members seem to be too caught up in the culture and miss the whole point of the gospel, which is obviously to love and serve one another without judgement.

I have a lot of friends who have left the church, and I always wonder why, but I'm afraid to ask because... Well mostly because it isn't my business. They do what they feel is right for them and who am I to judge that? I feel like asking would be perceived as a judgement on their decision. And I'm their friend either way, whatever they choose, and I don't want them to feel otherwise. Does that make sense?
Claire said…
Well, I didn't go to church for eight years once and all I can really say about that is, for myself, it appears to have been necessary for my spiritual growth. I'll never be the zealot I was before that hiatus, but I have a closer personal relationship with God, even though I'm more lax about the outward signs of being a good Mormon. My faith is firm and unshakeable, and not gauged by other's perceptions of it anymore. I can say the church is where I belong because of my personal spiritual experiences. I'd like to think everyone can find that here, but I'm not a jerk enough to insist on it :) For some people, the negative experience brought about by the human flaws of the church are just not something that the person wants to deal with, look past or overcome. My daughter Kellie is a prime example of that. She's had the rules of the church shoved on her without regard to her actual spiritual development. She just has to publicly toe the line and all is well. It makes her nauseated. She's also bisexual at least, possibly something similar but different. She's young. Who knows! But being Mormon and queer isn't an easy path, and pretty much impossible if you don't have a personal spiritual connection that seems to only thrive at a Mormon church.

I don't feel the pressure to be perfect but sometimes I do feel isolated, probably because it's clear that I don't feel that pressure and I think that can make people uncomfortable sometimes. Then again, my general self seems to make people uncomfortable sometimes. Oh well!

Live your life. Explore your self. Just don't close the door and keep an open mind. You may find that your spiritual growth and change in perspective is not incompatable with the church, just incompatable with the church as you perceived or experienced it before. Or maybe not. I used to say I'd never be Mormon again and look what happened! lol Never say never I guess :)
Ashy said…
Even though I haven't been in your shoes I think I can see where you're coming from. It kind of seems like a lot of people in the church people tend to get a holier-than-thou attitude. I didn't even realise it until I got to school up here in Idaho. Suddenly I was surrounded by people who weren't as "Molly Mormon" as I'd been raised. Suddenly I caught myself judging people by what they were wearing, by how they were acting. I felt (and still feel) horrible. Just because they don't act like I think/thought they should doesn't mean they aren't people, doesn't mean that they don't matter. Your post made me remember all those friends I had in high school- they weren't "Molly Mormon" standards but they were some of the most fiercely-loyal friends I had. I didn't really have strong friendships in the church, but in the outside world I totally did.

While I was initially shocked that your "friends" in the church back-stabbed you, I can kind of understand it now. Your post really makes me want to go out there and be a true friend, not someone who's flaky and judges people. I've been trying to be better, that's one of my resolutions, and your post gives me the motivation to continue.

You're amazing. I love your insights.
Amy said…
I'm glad you found a group of people to "support" you. I choose friends on the basis of who makes me a better person, regardless of religious status. The church is made up of imperfect people and that's one of the trials we all have to deal with. Hugs to you and I'm happy to see you posting again.
Cannwin said…
:) Thanks guys. I was totally bracing myself for a bunch of 'I can't believe you would do that!' comments and you guys totally made me swallow my own judgemental thoughts.

What would I do without you guys!?!
Rob-bear said…
Bear is a bit late (as is often the case), but at least I'm on the same page as the rest (figuratively and literally).

As someone who is active in my church (but not a Mormon Church), I'm sad to hear you share your story. I used to think (and say) that a church is not so much a museum for saints as it is a hospital for people who don't think they are saints. When we lose that focus, then church (of any sort) becomes unhealthy. And if you feel yours is unhealthy, it's probably not a good place for you, particularly when you're trying to recover from the Purge of 2012.

Like you, I have quite a few friends outside the church. They have very different ideas and feelings about some things. Yet we often work together on common causes in the comity. Which is good. And I enjoy their company. As I do yours.

Blessings and Bear hugs as you sort out what comes next.
Jamie said…
I feel ya, sister. I agree with all the previous posts. Just don't close the door. I've been having some great similar discussions in the fb group, Mormons building bridges because so many people I love are L/G. I hope will come back when the time is right for you...(and your not in UT...that might help;)).

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