Apr 11, 2012
Yet somehow, coming to grips with this reality has been a long, painstaking process. I ignorantly thought that once I accepted this statement, the hard part would be over. And yet paradoxically, I have been resisting coming to grips because I knew I would be facing a rough road, probably similar to what Tierza is anticipating in her last blog entry.
When losing your faith becomes reality, as a Mormon, who do you tell? Of course, my wife is aware of the issue. And to the extent possible, she can probably accept it even more readily than I. But admitting this fact to other family and church associates will be a much more difficult task. And then, as kids grow older, how do you let them in on the awful secret?
These are all questions to which I will not be finding easy answers anytime soon. So all I have is the experience. When Mormons feel blessed, they give the glory to God. They imagine how much worse their lives would be if they did not have the church. In contrast, I look at my journey of loss of faith, and my life has really not gotten much better, or much worse. Depending on how you look at it, life is still pretty damn good. But that doesn’t make being an apostate any easier to deal with, as far as family relations go.
I have always been good at recording my life experiences in a journal. That is, until the last six months or so. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to face the inevitable. I knew the train was coming. I just didn’t want to get on and/or get smashed by it. When I open the pages again, the first words I will write are the title of this post.
Then I will write about how two or three years ago, before accepting a call to the bishopric, and another call to teach adult Sunday School, I had a brief moment when I said I was done with church. I cried. My wife and I embraced. I had already been struggling for quite sometime. It was painful. Yet it felt like a tangible weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was eerily similar to repentance in a bishop’s office.
Again, seven or eight months ago, I remember hearing Phil Collins singing the song “True Colors” on the radio. It reminded of a performance of the same title by a gay choir from San Francisco I had seen many times. Yes, Cindi Lauper did a version, too. Again, tears flowed. I felt I had been sent a message, from where I don’t know, telling me I needed to part ways with many of the beliefs of my youth.
Then two weeks ago, I met with my current bishop. I asked to be released from my Sunday School calling. We talked about testimony. He asked me if I had one. I said it was complicated, and then I danced around the issue. After our talk, I kicked myself for not being honest. I should have said, “no. I don’t have a testimony.”
That same bishop stood unexpectedly before our ward (he was not scheduled to talk, but was moved to do so at the end of the sacrament meeting). He said he wanted to speak to those who feel they are on the fringe. I was wondering if he was going to extend an olive branch; maybe he even had me and people similar to me in his mind. Instead, he went right to challenging everyone to stop picking and choosing commandments. He talked of his 85-year-old father, who has never been baptized, and how his life was essentially wasted outside the church. Then he challenged everyone to find out if the church was true if they did not already have that conviction. Because if it is not true, he would just as soon go fishing.
I think really for the first time, I got the message. It was time for me to get off the fence. As I have already expressed, I don’t know exactly what getting off will entail, but after listening to my bishop, I knew which side I would be on.
There are a lot of people out there. People are born into and live under some pretty shitty situations. If there is a god out there, it appears to me he/she/it did not see fit to bless me to be strong in faith. Again, realizing and accepting this reality has helped to lift another burden in my mind. No longer do I have to run in circles to defend Joseph Smith, or the Book of Mormon, or Brigham Young. I don’t have to make myself crazy trying to fit into a mold that doesn’t fit me.
I am sure I have some pretty ugly hell to pass through up ahead. I will be prayed over. I will be the center of various family stories. I will continue to be invited to come back to the fold. And those are just the pretty parts. Somehow, in such beautiful irony, as people remember every year the resurrection of their lord, I will likely be remembering that it was a similar Easter Sunday when I finally knew my faith was gone. Sometime I may have hope that it will return. Just not very much hope. And though I feel like I have just experienced the death of a dear loved friend, I still feel cautiously certain that this is the road I am meant to follow.