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,
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!