Sunday, March 27, 2011

SUNDAY The Absolute Most Fulfilling Day Of The Week!


This will quite likely be a humorous blog, why, because its Sunday Morning!

Its funny, on Sunday mornings I have that old feeling I once had as a missionary for the LDS church, I want to go and share something with the world, kind of feeling.


Its an amazing and powerful feeling, I seem to experience each and every Sabbath day as I consider now indeed what Sunday means to me. Now, I realize that to do so I must be careful and respectful of the delicate feelings that those who do not feel the same way as I do and whose experience is quite different then mine each 'Sabbath day'.......BULL-CRAP!(no that's not the word I was thinking)


Just as I am making my world the place I enjoy and love, there are millions in filling pews all across this continent that are hopefully doing the same with theirs.


Its 10:49 am here in Smithville, as I woke up, actually pretty early for my now normal Sabbath risings. I sit here in my robe, thinking......."hmm what am I going to do today?".



The sun is shining, snow will be melting, I have so much to do, like always......na....the Sabbath is MY DAY OF REST! There is a scripture in there somewhere right, like
.......

Mark 2:27 - "The Sabbath Was Made For Man"

That's right, finally something biblical I can latch on to! I am most certainly following this command at this point in my life. No laboring, (trust me I served as a bishop, Sunday felt like 'labor' to me, every single week!), no work, no worrying about all the crap I have to do the rest of the week. I can sleep in, I can catch up, I can plan my life, I can enjoy my kids and jump into the hot-tub or catch a flick with the family, and on and on.

Life is so full of choices so seldom had in my former life, controlled by callings, obligations, guilt, indoctrination, the long list or rules and obligations. How did I ever put up with it for so long.

I am trying hard to have my blog, as one LDS friend kindly reminded me show the advancing side of our family or....
 

"a place of enlightenment, beauty, service and joy."

In my opinion, that's exactly what I am referring to. At least the enlightenment, beauty (alright I don't look so hot at this moment) but joy.......hell ya! I have more joy right now in just one of my chewed off finger nails then I formerly had in my previous LDS life in my entire closet of blue suits, white shirts and ties (and rather ugly underwear).

I mean, come on lets be honest for just a moment, who the heck really enjoys sitting in church for three hours every Sunday morning, trying to keep our kids quiet, trying to look the part, while some very nice elderly lady with obvious bowel issues continually passes gas. Or if your in leadership, meetings upon useless meetings afterwards.

Sure okay, ya, you get to 'feel the spirit' once in a long while and feel good about things.

I feel more joy in the spirit sleeping in on Sunday mornings and thanking the universe for my freedom of current choice then I ever did in any F&T meeting, or priesthood meeting, Sunday school class, tithing settlement, current calling meeting, special youth meeting, evening leadership training meeting, or bishopric meeting, welfare or ward correlation meeting, or 'bishop I have a problem abusing myself' type of meeting or, 'your members donations are low' meeting, or.......well you get the point, I hope by now.

The only meeting I have on Sunday now is the 'choice of boxers' meeting which is conducted usually in the PM after lots of lazy lounging around, snuggling with the wife, chatting with the teenagers about what is happening in their lives, then the walking the dogs with with my amazing spouse meeting, or the meeting to acquire a Starbucks white chocolate mocha.

Or the "which bathing suit to wear" to the backyard 'staycation' we are going to have in the hot tub or the pool (in just a few more months). And very, very soon the warm weather is going to allow me the privilege of the 'where to take the vette for a spin' meeting.

And you know what....it is far, far, far more peaceful around our home, more 'eternal family' feeling kind of stuff, then ever before on any formerly LDS active Sunday.


Man I sure love my Sunday meetings now!
If I were reading this right now I would likely be thinking "man Norm, it seems like Sunday's is all about you! Kinda selfish inst it?'

YEP!

Sundays are a day, to spend....with me. Where I get to do what I want to do. Isn't that what the scripture above says.....who is the sabbath made for? 


THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR ME!

I love Sabbath days, NOW!

(sorry if this appear a 'your rubbing it in' post, that's not what its meant to be, its meant to be more......YAY me!)


Please feel free to add your comments in regards to what you enjoy about your.......Sabbath!




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Please tell me I can leave the LDS Church Alone WITHOUT CONFLICT! My Friend Sophia



Recently I had a friend write something pretty cool on their Facebook page. It seemed to click with my once hopeful experience.of departing from the LDS church and all things LDS without any issues, pain, hurt or care.


Unfortunately that was not my experience, once departed.


Its funny you know, even though this has been a life changing and overall positive experience, its also been very hurtful. There is nothing like being de-friended by about 65% of your former LDS friends simply because you no longer believe as they do. Many of my other former LDS friends have seen this stat far higher. Its also painful and hurtful to be called Anti, or apostate or other not so nice names by SOME of the faithful followers of Mormonism, (one close friend called me a Satan worshiper, gotta find my new horns!).


HOWEVER


This is what has NOT happened.


-No job loss,


-No binge drinking


-No broken marriage


-No kids on drugs


-No financial woes (if you only knew the truth about this one)


-No wife swapping


-No sickness


Actually, nothing bad at all, still waiting for the sky to fall, guess that's the real test for the LDS membership, to see simply how wonderful and fulfilling the former Mormon's lives indeed are and not feel jealousy, envy or spite in some manner.




My small amount of experience in regards to this matter of departure from the LDS faith is that those who have given the most (the most committed, the most active, the most dogmatic) often have the most to recover from, once departed.


My friend Sophia wrote an amazing Facebook note. We are Internet friends, but she is one who felt they could simply leave the church and basically be completely done with it!

No issues, move on joyfully without any hurt or pain.



Sophia is a model exmormon in many ways, if you view leaving without feeling like a part of you has died or was taken from you as helpful and healthy.

I wanted to share with you, how she communicated her "decent from on high" to the place on the earth where she now resides.



This is in no way reflective of Sophia's membership activity, but its likely fair to state that she may have been more 'balanced' in her approach to the LDS church as a member than I was.


She has thus far, done a fantastic job of simply moving on, but I think its fair to state that living in Utah for her and her family likely complicates the process tremendously..


Regardless I support her cause, although not easily done. I have seen so very many former Mormons who simply cannot move on until they face the anger, guilt, etc. Many of the stages of leaving the LDS church it would seem are similar to the stages of getting over the death of a loved one I think I have mentioned previously.


Personally, I found it much more difficult than that, but the stages were similar.


I wanted to post her note here for my readers and ask your thoughts.


Obviously I have been given permission to do so, you will likely find delight as I do in her tone, humor and approach.


Dear LDS/Mormon Friends And Family

by Sophia Leckie Shepherd on Monday, March 14, 2011 at 7:55pm
Hello! Thanks for reading! Hey, wait a minute, you aren't LDS why are you reading this??? Okay, fine...




Most if not all of you know I am not LDS anymore. Nobody offended me, nothing dramatic happened with fellow saints, and I didn't misplace my testimony like a pair of car keys to be found at a later date! My experience in the LDS church has always been glowing clear up to the end! Oh, and it has nothing to do with Glenn Beck falling from my grace!


When I take inventory of my life, callings, actions, reactions, experiences, friends, miracles and genuine heart I will dispute to my death the charge that I never had a 'real' testimony to begin with. Sure I am immoral and imperfect but even so I was and am still in a constant state of self improvement which is partly to blame for the situation. I have had a handful of LDS  loved ones friends and family write me exhaustive private massages bleeding with testimony and gospel truths. Many have even taken liberty to write my husband as well (wow). It is easy and hard to understand this reaction and I forgive you and appreciate you because if we were alive in Brigham Youngs time my headless corpse could be found in the back yard as a result of my disbelief and whoever did it would be justified through love! My best closest childhood girlfriend left the church several years ago and my reaction was immediately one of love and genuine acceptance. I won't deny that somewhere a dark side of me secretly popped microwave pop corn and waited for her life to fall apart, not to mention the pity I had for her for short changing her life's potential for happiness, joy, and bliss!


I also decided that no matter what, not being LDS was not in the stars for me and my little family. Period. In fact, if you would have told me a year ago that I would not be LDS and that Satan would pull me by my hair out of the church single handedly I would have had a really good laugh and then cursed you for your complete ignorance. Seeing how I don't believe in Satan and have experienced a quiet in my mind unlike anything I have ever had in Mormonism (maybe Yoga helps too) I would still not believe you. Plus, being LDS is very easy for me! Everything is predictable and prescribed in list format and easy to follow (it was for me)! It is a nice comfortable path, as I once described to an athiest "full of well lighted trails and ample benches and water fountains!" Only to later re-discover 2 Nephi 9:41, 50-52! Funny! I compared his path to having a machedy having to make your way through a dense jungle! A viable and exciting option in life for sure!


Yes, I live in Utah and surely that had something to do with it, right? No. Yes. No. Maybe. Who knows! Utah is dynamic and it is true disturbing and wonderful things exist here as a Mormon Mecca Micro sector of LDSdom but the longer I reside here the more the wonderful things far out number the disturbing things!


I want to provide you with an explanation, a testimony, as to why I am no longer LDS. I am no longer LDS anymore because for ME (that means me not you) to support the LDS church in any capacity is endorsing many things I can not in good conscious (that means in order to not compromise my integrity) support. At the end of the day it was an easy choice (because if I have to answer to God then I have to be accountable and follow my light always-even if I don't want to!). I am a lover of knowledge, simplicity, wisdom, divine nature and God. I believe the scriptures when Jesus answers that the greatest commandment is to Love God and then everyone else. I didn't love people as well as I could being LDS. Further, I believe we are all Gods born perfect with light and capacity that is limited only by our own exposure or lack thereof  to truth and rightousness not prescribed by man, but by God alone with a built in barometer of right and wrong standard on every human being!
Being LDS is a huge distraction to me. I am a huge fan of personal revelation. I am closer now than I have ever been to establishing a house of order, love, and cleanliness not to mention a body and mind that is healthy and congruent. Shortly after the turn of this new year I released myself of all man made precepts, false beliefs, and rely directly on the source now and made new covenants to acknowledge and honor all mankind as my eternal family. Believe me when I say I am happy, more at peace, and continually learning! I know, how blasphemous right?! "By what authority do I release myself if not through grevious sin!!?" you ask... well my own! Okay jokes aside.... Having The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a bad foundation in this life to start from! It can't NOT be a part of me, its like blood type! A type that my kiddos will be the direct benefactors from!


I am a big reader. I am a HUGE fan of mankind (yeah, you!). From the penniless barefooted across the seas to the Ivy league elite. Acknowledging the light in all men encourages me to entertain all spectrums of ideas. Diverse, controversial, uncomfortable, confusing, clear, and fun! So many brilliant minds on the planet so little time! I have truly been carefully led down to hell because line upon line and precept upon precept I have arrived to a place where I understand that your physiology actually changes based on your beliefs. Your reality changes. (Bruce Lipton's 'Biology of Belief') and I made the funny mistake of diving deep into the Bible's New Testament only to get the wind nocked out of me! At least I was somewhat prepared for it this time! I learned the historocity of the Bible and the reality of its inception and was forced to apply that to my paradigm (Thanks Bart Ehrman!) Life is so much more exciting! I read opposing views. I liked FAIR (Foundation for apologetic and information research) and tread lightly as I digest information available and make decisions regarding it. My decisions don't end up being like anyone else's. I am unique as are my own conclusions based on my own perceptions of the information I am exposing myself to!


Lastly and Most importantly I love you, and cannot tell you how thankful I am for you being a part of my life! I appreciate the respect you have shown me by closing your eyes and dedicating a half of a second to what it would feel like to convert to Mormonism from being Muslim or Jewish or Baptist. How hard that would be to your family still in their respective beliefs! Now turn that back around to a Mormon converting from Mormonism to something else! Sure, I didn't know that was possible either but I am here to tell you it happens. It really happens. It happened to me, I have converted to something else. That something else doesn't have a label, although it maaay be considered "new age psycho babble" to some! 30 years in Mormonism doesn't just disappear. I remember your testimony as it is constantly written day to day by your deeds and your words and your thoughts! Please applaud me, do not pity me! Be happy for me just as you are when one converts to Mormonism! I am still the same fabulous Sophia I just don't give 10% to the LDS church, go to church 3 hours on Sundays, or worship in the temple. My children are well cared for, loved, and also exposed to the faith of our fathers. I would happily support their choices to be baptized Mormon if that is what they want (when they are 16+ years old- that is)


If you are finding that your heart is beating fast, your face is tense, and you feel inclined to hold a special fast in my behalf, please stop. Just love me. Love me. Please just accept and love me. As is.


Namaste


p.s. You won't be seeing a ton from me about it all! I am hell bent on proving one can leave the church and let it alone. The bigger question, will it leave me alone??? :o)




Norms Comments continued



What do you think? Can it be done, can someone leave the LDS church that was faithful, extremely involved, fully committed and really have nothing to say about it?

The jury is out!

Sophia, we all wish you well in your quest, ultimately the problem becomes, can the LDS church leave Sophia alone?

We shall see, we shall see!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BALANCE AND FULFILLMENT




Balance.

Last week I received a message from an LDS friend that I sincerely respect. It was a criticism if you will, in regard to my handling of the recent battle on my blog from a former member of my ward. His criticism was not exclusive to me, but generally critical of both sides and the overall tone of the debate, if you can call it that.



I don't really listen too much to people who live in glass houses as some that have been critical of  my Facebook posts or blogs, however when someone who I respect has something to say, regardless of their beliefs, at the very least it often makes me stop and listen.

This was one such individual. Much of the context of his message I felt was unfair as it kind of blamed me for others reactions and comments, however as I considered carefully the overall purpose of his letter, I could not deny that some of what he indicated was likely true and that I may need to reflect more carefully on my overall attitude towards members of the LDS community and my opposition towards the LDS organization.

It was not that I felt my opinions were wrong, its just that I felt that they may at times not be helpful to me.....I really don't care about whether they are helpful to the LDS community or organization.

In any life-changing event, there comes a time when you feel the need to move on to the next step or place of comfort.

I am there now....I desire to simply move on to a more fulfilling and enlightening place where joy and peace are a greater part of my journey than historical or doctrinal evidences or proof. The bottom line, is that I feel the need to do so for me.....not because of any desire to put my experience or knowledge aside in any way. Simply a healthier focus on what time I have left in this life.

It is fair to state that for many people who leave the LDS church the departure and loss of faith is similar to the experience of a death of a close friend or loved one. The many aspects relating to overcoming the death of a loved one, as far the stages of

  • shock or disbelief,
  • denial,
  • bargaining,
  • guilt,
  • anger,
  • depression,
  • acceptance/hope.
Not necessarily in the above order.

My wife has had an easier time during the departure phase of the journey than I have, we have discussed this many times and its apparent that although she was very much into the traditional aspects of her LDS journey,  she never bought into the spiritual or cultural ones hook, line and sinker as I did. Basically her identity was not formed by her association with the LDS church, while mine definitely was.

I was in, I was in 100% all the way, completely, fully, so when I found out the fraudulent aspects of the history and doctrine and current financial deceptions and my LDS faith and belief was destroyed by actual historical and organizational fact, not only did my belief in the LDS organization fall apart but along with it went my own identity and purpose.

Rebuilding these has been far more difficult for me than for my wife whose identity was not fully formed by her association with the LDS organization. Things like participating in community and writing a blog have been things that have helped me to formulate my new non-LDS identity while allowing those things which I learned of a positive nature while in the LDS org. to continue to be significant in my new being.

Finding myself without clear purpose and identity as a result of departure from the LDS organization, as many have found, place's you in an attitude of hurt and anger as you realize by deceptive means and purpose how much the LDS lifestyle and belief has literally stolen from you. Now stolen is not really an accurate word because we gave freely of our time, talents, money, beliefs and lives. At least as freely as anyone that has a gun pointed at them gives their money to a thief. Similarly the LDS Church threatened us with far worse things then a bullet from a gun......keeping us in fear of our eternal salvation seems to be quite significant and powerful for many people even today.

People often think that those like myself who have discovered these things and then depart, are deceived by Satan, or more often they feel that we must have some sin we are hiding or likely some ulterior motive. It is often very hard for regular members to accept that our own intellect and personal integrity are the true motivating factors.

Do they really believe that we would so easily give up everything we have been taught if we were not ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN of the correctness of the decision? If we are right......the LDS church has stolen much of our lives from us, if the LDS church is right....then we have given up far, far more than a bit of agency and fun in this life, we would have given up our eternal salvation and the salvation of our family members.

There is no way that we would make the decision so lightly.. Even in our worst moment....as I indicated, we are absolutely certain what we have done is right for us and our children........and our children's children!

What I have come to accept though, upon review and careful consideration of my friends letter, is that sometimes being as extreme in my personal opposition to the LDS church as those who are extreme in their view within the LDS community may likely not be any more healthy or fulfilling. It may actually result in a lack of balance similar to that which our lives previously displayed while serving and giving far too much of ourselves and our time and our families lives the the LDS organization.

I do not wish to make the same mistakes, now having my life, if you will, given back to me, as I did when I was instructed to fully give it to the LDS organization.

I therefore have decided to do what I can, to move past some of my more extensive involvement within the LDS community and simply continue to offer kindness and love and support to those who need it most.

There is so much life, still yet to live, that I have no intention of being caught in the reciprocal efforts I once was such an advocate for as a former faithful and fully believing member. Maybe balance is needed and healthier in both places.

I am taking my life back and desiring to move forward, as the purpose of this blog indicates to a "place of enlightenment, beauty, service and joy.".

Please wish me luck on the journey!