“Are you Mormon?”
Being raised in an unbelievably conservative town, I’m not surprised by this question anymore. There have been times in which I wish I could respond, it’s frankly none of your business or, why does it matter? But I hold my head up high and politely respond, No. I don’t normally add to the conversation and I usually move on, but I thought I’d lay it all out on the table the best way I know how. Writing.
I was born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho. a.k.a Mormonville. (based on my experience)
I went to church every Sunday like a good-mormon-girl.
I loved primary. It was my favorite thing.
I loved to sing primary songs, and give talks. I also liked saying the prayer aloud after Sunday School meetings.
Keep in mind, I was young. I attended church regularly until I was in high school. Even after my mother died, I still attended church.
I was 12 years old when my mother died. Many like to refer to her death as the main reason I disconnected with the LDS religion. They’d be wrong to believe that. I suppose that’s the easy way to respond, because statistically many remove themselves from religion or find themselves in religion after a loved one dies.
My mother was, yes, the reason I attended church all my life. It was just something we did. I was never able to truly understand why we went to church, and to this day I still don’t. The only explanation is, everyone else did.
Growing up in the church; however, I didn’t do all the things the church required. Simple things like: eating out on Sundays, or playing with other children after church, or changing into regular clothes for the rest of the day, or going swimming on Sundays were things, all frowned upon by the church, but that my mother allowed. I never saw any harm in it. The church wasn’t a constant thing in my head. It was just something I did on Sundays. Maybe, in the eyes of others, I was raised in the LDS religion…the wrong way…whatever that means, but it provides me with a better understanding as to why I drifted away. Maybe if it had been a more prominent thing in my younger years, rather than just a thing I did, than maybe it would have panned out differently. Maybe. But I highly doubt it. Because of the things I learned later in life.
I quickly learned in life, I didn’t need a church house to attend every Sunday to practice religion. And even later I learned I didn’t need a religion to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father.
I know God. I know God on my own terms. I know his love for me is never-ending and constantly changing and growing. I know he blesses me daily. I know he provides me with comfort in knowing my loved ones who have passed are cheering me along on the sidelines. I know he loves unconditionally. And that is all I need to know about him. I don’t need to know details about anything else. I think that is why I drifted away from the LDS church. I remember sitting in Young Women’s one Sunday afternoon listening to my Young Women’s leader and realizing I was alone. I had no other family that attended church with me at this point in my life. My sister no longer attended, and for a long time I tried to get her to join me each Sunday – but when she would ask me Why? I didn’t have an answer, other than that I didn’t want to go alone. But as usual, I was alone and I tuned out my leader because of this. I thought it was unfair after Sunday school that everyone else went to meet their families and go home, and I had to wait for a ride from my father or walk home. (or get a ride)
By this time in my life, a teenager, I did some soul searching. I wanted to discover answers about myself. By doing this, I discovered I wasn’t happy attending church. I was tired of listening to things I didn’t necessarily believe in. I never did, and I never would. It took me a while to realize I didn’t have to continue to attend church. It took me even longer to realize I didn’t even have to have a religion to be content and happy with my relationship with God.
Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of Sundays where I would attend sacrament meeting and feel so spiritually uplifted that I would be brought to tears.
But then there were days when I would get so discouraged and down just thinking about the afterlife. Thinking about the LDS’ views on where I would go to after I died. Where my mother went to. And where my father, a homosexual, would go.
I was terrified to think I wouldn’t spend eternity with my family based on the fact that my dad loved men instead of women. This is probably a huge part in why I don’t affiliate with any religion.
I never pictured God to hate.
I never once in my entire life believed God was capable of such a thing. The LDS church instilled a kind of fear inside of me that I was no longer comfortable dealing with. I no longer wanted to feel anxious inside believing that God did not approve of a certain lifestyle. Especially one of my father’s. I never believed he would do such a thing. I believed he would accept, and that was all there was to it. Many times people, even my own extended family, would try and help me understand why God loves homosexuals, just not the act of it. I never understood. And as much as the church is growing with the idea of gays, they still have a long way to go – and I didn’t want to be a part of something like that.
I have removed myself from the LDS church, or from any church because I don’t believe in one or the other over another.
Another thing that bothered me was the hypocrisy I experienced. I would attend church weekly and go to school with the same young men and young women. Often I would see these people go against what the LDS religion believed and show no remorse for it. They’d attend church and partake in the sacrament as if what they had done the night before didn’t even matter.
I know we as a human race are imperfect. I know that people make mistakes. I know that as young men and women it is so much pressure to put so many rules, like the LDS church does, and not expect them to fail. Isn’t it proven that people want to do things they are told not to? Isn’t it in our nature to want to rebel? I believe so. I believe that forcing someone to do something only increases their desire to do it. I believe we as people need to come to our own consensus as to how we should lead our lives. Yes, I believe the church provides people with a guidance. But I felt pressured to live up to all that was asked. And I didn’t always agree, so I removed myself from becoming a hypocrite in that way.
I also felt consumed in the lifelessness around me. I felt many members of the LDS church were on a one way highway and didn’t account for all the others that couldn’t necessarily live up to achieving the goals the church required in order to go to heaven. The highest heaven. I felt many, who would express their testimony, were reading from a pamphlet. I didn’t feel like it was spiritual whatsoever, but rather a black and white highway to heaven. It was one way and not the other. There were no exceptions. I felt lost. And afraid.
I believe I am much better off from feeling that pressure, hate, and hypocrisy that surround me from that religion. That’s not to say I haven’t meant kind and caring mormons in my life, because I have. I just believe that I am a person not meant for any religion, and I feel completely confident in saying I have a loving relationship with God, without religion. And I’m okay with that.
Thanks for hearing me out.