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!

13 comments:

  1. It is ALL okay, and part of the healing process. Just like you mentioned, Norm, there are many stages of negative emotions and feelings that we go through in leaving due to the loss and subsequent pain as we deprogram and sift through fact and fiction, what can be believed and what needs to be discarded. It is very disorienting as we realize that our former reality no longer serves us and leaves us in a place of uncertainty and bewilderment. It takes courage to leave behind all traces of comfort and familiarity as the old self dies and the new self emerges. It also takes lots of time, patience, and kindness to ourselves as we transition and find that place of safety and peace once again. There is a time for this and a time for that..a time to be angry and a time to be at peace. The joy and peace do come after we give honor to all of the voices inside of us that need to be heard, and that pace is different for every individual. I found it a longer journey than some because my testimony was as yours was - the deeper it is, the more it hurts. But oh how wonderful, free, and alive we are once we pass through it! I am so happy for you that you have reached a point where you are ready for the next stage. :) We have to be true to ourselves FIRST, regardless of whether other people like what we have to say or not. Your voice does matter, and we will all enjoy watching you grow through this process as you no longer need the validation of church members or whomever to know that you are perfect just the way you are and there are people out here that love and accept you unconditionally. Just as you give to others, so shall others give to you. Love is the real truth. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am in the process of removing my name from the rolls of the church. This has been made much more difficult because I believe my Bishop has not sent my request. I have emailed both him and my Stake President, and as of yet they have made no attempt to contact me to fill me in on the rest of the process. This is hurtful, and it shouldn't be. Its' just wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My favorite part of this entry was reminding the still LDS camp that integrity is a real reason for leaving and we wouldn't take that lightly considering it effects our eternal salvation. Mourn if they must, but at the end of the day leaving the LDS faith IS an option, and a good and healthy one just as it would be for someone converting to Mormonism is for others. I am glad I know you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The journey - for you - has been long, and sometimes arduous. It is time put in equalling time put out. While I can only guess who your were speaking to, I would think "balance" is the correct message, and the fact that you would get that from one who is "in" the organization should be lauded. As your friend, I would always "coach" you to continue in the search for balance. So many groups today represent the tipping point, or have swayed the pendulum so far in any one direction, that balance of perspective is often the first victim of all the stages of grief you mention here.

    It is my opinion that until we can step back and say we're not going to be these things on either side, that balance can't be achieved, and as such; the absence of balance can only create the "harmony" associated with the extent of which the pendulum has swung.

    But balance can happen, if you let it.

    Good luck!!

    Much love & friendship.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I identify very much with your comments and am glad that you continue to post . . . Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  6. From Gabriele Thompson:
    Yea -- it's time to leave it all behind and look to a glorious future -- one filled will many brilliant and wonderful colours, one filled with numerous choices and options, one filled with new experiences, new challenges and new rewards. Life is wonderful. Life is grand. Ride the wave.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Carol Brunaccioni....sometimes people need to realize that just because we do not attend church that we are not good people...I feel that sometimes having the church in your lives adds added pressure of trying to keep yourself perfect or as perfect as we can....we need to just accept people for who they are and for all the positive that they have brought into there lives and others.....kindness, love, and appreciation for life is what comes naturally and what we continue as parents and friends to instill into our lives....do not judge or think that you are better as I was taught we are all equal and we are all humans and make mistakes, but the difference is that we learn from our mistakes and move on but those who like to gossip continue to talk and bring up those past issues and that is what makes it hard to move on....we must forgive ourselves and not allow people to judge us and to be cruel in the manner of bullying and gossiping....they are no better than what we deal with everyday of our lives....the world would be a much happier place if people would just keep their negative opinions to themselves if they would realize that their harsh words stay with us forever...how do we learn to forgive if those who are members don't forgive.....go back to the basics of what you have been taught in the church and use your own judgement to make the right decisions in your life....stop the gossiping and just learn to accept eachother for who we are.....I have not been to church in 25 years but that is a choice that I have made.....It is not because I do not believe what I was taught it falls upon not being accepted for who I was....It saddens me that things have not changed.....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow - this is all very comforting. I don't know you. A mutual friend "like"d your link on facebook.

    My husband and I just made the break over a year ago and I can relate to the phases you described. It was and still is at times very difficult. I am grateful to have made our break (with our seven kids) as hard as it was. I would rather live in reality than cling to nice stories that the LDS church teaches to comfort.

    Good luck to you and your family. You sound similar to us (my husband had a much more difficult time then I did moving past this although it was difficult nontheless). We are working on the balance thing too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow.....did you really say you and your seven children? That must have been noticed in your ward! Feel free to friend request me on facebook. I would love to get to know you better, our families letters were sent in March 6th 2010.

    Norm

    ReplyDelete
  10. It is frustrating that so many LDS assume that those of us who leave do so for trivial reasons (we were offended or we wanted to sin.) For my husband and I, leaving the LDS Church was one of the hardest decisions we ever made. We agonized over it. But trying to explain this to our Mormon friends was a frustrating business, one we've abandoned.

    I think it's because instead of having "beliefs," Mormons have "knowledge." People in mainstream churches have beliefs, and they understand that everyone can believe as he/she chooses. Not so with the know it all types. The cross-over in politics would be people with opinions vs. "people" with "facts," I suppose.

    I do wish you luck, Norm, and am glad you are blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good luck! (Although I doubt you'll need it.)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I honestly hope you find peace and fulfilment!

    Your Friend,

    Paul

    ReplyDelete