Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why I stopped believing


I wrote this several months ago, and have been too chicken to post it. 
I attended an event today that made me realize that I need to post it. 
Please know that this is not meant to offend, but rather to be upfront about who I am.  I hope we will still be  friends after you've read this.

Two years ago our family made a big decision, a life changing decision. I haven't talked about it here because it is not a popular decision and most people don't want to hear about it. I feel like I need to talk about in now. I hope you will take the time to read all of this and know that I am not trying to change any one' s mind, but rather explain where I am at, and that despite this big change. I'm still me.


So here goes....... We no longer believe the LDS church to be true. Please keep reading. I promise this is not meant to be anti; I just want you to try to understand me. I think that when someone leaves the church people think they did so because they we're offended or because they want to sin, or they are just lazy. That isn’t the reason, for most of us it is a very long and often painful journey.

I've always struggled with religion. There are so many really great things about Mormonism, things that I loved and that gave me comfort, but there have always been things that I just didn't get. So I would put those things on my metaphorical shelf and hope they would work themselves out. I relied on the testimonies of those who were older and wiser and more righteous than me. They got it, so I just needed to try harder. I just kept piling things on my shelf. Some of those things were light, like work for the dead (I just don't get why it's important). Some of those things were so heavy they almost broke my shelf like polygamy and Prop 8. Two year ago I knew I was going to have to put my daughter on that shelf and I didn't know if my shelf could hold her up too. Bri was turning eight and we needed to make a decision about baptism. I had real doubts about an eight year olds ability to make that decision. We don't let eight year olds vote for president, or decide if they should go to school every day, we don't even let them decide on their own bedtime. Here I was at 33 not sure if I really believed it, so how could she be expected to make such an important decision. So I decided I needed to figure it out. I began to really study and pray and look for the answers to the questions that really bothered me. I did not find the answers I expected to find. I won't go into to detail, but I was shocked with what I found out about the beginnings of polygamy and Joseph and the number of wives (33) he had and their ages (some as young as 14). All the things I found out about Joseph and his wives are easily found on the church's own website, and what bothers me is that I was never taught any of it.

I also learned some very troubling things about Joseph Smith's past, the first vision, how he translated the Book of Mormon and the book of Abraham. Again this information is not hard to find and much of it can be found on the church's own website. And again in 33 years I was never taught any of it.

I also came to realize that I just was not okay with being part of a church that preaches that we should love one another.... unless you gay. I have known enough homosexuals to know that it is not a choice, nor a challenge to be overcome. I know that they are born that way, and that they deserve to find love and happiness just like everyone else. And that they should be allowed to marry and have families. I understand if the church doesn't want to allow it, but to use church money and to tell members to influence the government is not okay with me.

So in the end my shelves broke.

But I'm kind of glad they did.

I'm sad that my decisions about what was best for my family have hurt or caused distress for many people I love. I'm sad that I've have lost friends and acquaintances and that other relationships are strained.

In the Young Women’s program they talk a lot about integrity. I felt that for my own integrity I could not continue to be a part of the church. This is by no means a judgment on any one else and what you should or shouldn't do. If the LDS Church makes you happy…. live it, love it!

I was very lucky to have lots of support on my journey, most importantly Jon. We have grown closer through all of this and I feel like our family is the better for it. We now spend our Sunday as a family doing something fun. It's my favorite day of the week. I was a little scared about how to parent my children without the church to tell me how to do it. My children will still be taught to be honest, to treat other kindly, to serve others and that they are special children and of great worth. They are great kids, we are a great family.

There have also been many times in this journey that I have felt utterly alone. It is terrifying to go against the grain. I have always been a people pleaser. I often feel the need to prove that I am still a good person, that I’m happy. I was lucky to find a support community. I’ve meet people through podcast communities and just by being open and honest about what I’m going through.

Maybe that is why I need to share this now, so that if you have a shelf that is full, that you will know that you are not alone, you are not a bad person. That there is support and that there is life after Mormonism.

At this point we are still trying to figure out where we will land. For years I had people telling me what was right or wrong or what I should believe and for now I feel like I just want to figure it out for myself. I try to be positive and not speak unkindly about the LDS Church, it shaped who I am and I think I’m a pretty good person so it cannot be all bad. But, part of knowing where I’m going is looking back at where I have been. Part figuring out what I believe now is deconstructing what I once believed.

So I ask for your patience, your support, your respect and most of all your love. Because the one thing I’m sure of is …………All you need is love.

Some websites I've found helpful through this journey:
http://mormonstories.org/
http://mormonthink.com/
http://mormonexpression.com/
http://mormonexpression.com/voices/

7 comments:

hmsgofita said...

Heartfelt post. Thank you for your courage, Alison! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Good job expressing yourself. I'm proud of your integrity. Love you, Mom

Anonymous said...

My shelf broke a couple months ago. It has been heartbreaking. I am leaving a long term position that I love at BYU as a result. I still lack the courage to make a post like this and "come out" to my extended family. I hope it goes well for you.

Katherine Of It All said...

You are so smart and wonderful and brave. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Darren R said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story, it is a lot like mine. I am glad to hear your family is facing this together. I still have a believing wife who has been very supportive.

Going against the grain isn't easy, but living authentically its sure easier to go to sleep at night.

JM said...

You have amazing strength, your words are lovely and honest. I would feel bad for anyone who would choose not to be a friend to you for they are truly missing out.

Tommy + Monica said...

I will still look up to you...(I always have)! Love you & love your strength! :)