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!

12 comments:

  1. Yes one can "carry on"...and NO it won't leave you alone. If the church leaves you a lone it ceases to be what it is. Even with your records off the likelyhood of missionaries knocking on your door in the future is real. I had ward missionaries drop in just last night as a matter of fact and invited them in and had a delightful exchange of ideas and conversation. The force was strong in my home and they wanted to come back sometime. They invited us to church and offereed to teach the discussions. I love them. I really do. I spared them no feelings especially on Satan, loving everyone, and my home being my temple. One of them kindly said Satan was very real and testified to me, and that it is impossible to love everyone and have a home temple calibur with little ones, oh and life is where we are tried and tested and I said, "I think life is to have joy." It was overall delightful. Good feelings, vibes, energy, "the spirit" abounded.

    The LDS faith is my diving board to jumping in the pool of life. Come in, the water feels fine!!

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  2. I sure hope Sophia can do it!

    I find myself wanting to fight against the abuse. Change it. But, I guess the reasons I left were very different... and if someone hadn't fought against it for ME, I'd still be there.

    So, I guess for me, they are right. I won't leave them alone. It turns out that as hard as I tried to be a meek and quiet woman, I'm not. And I will stand up for others who think they have to be quiet.

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  3. Jen, this is really cool, I have watched you for a while now in your transition out of the LDS church. People like you and Sophia remind me of trying to be balanced. In the past your voice has been very soft.

    It would seem that you also have now realized that for many if not most of us, being angry and vocal is a necessary and healthy step to moving forward.

    I don't think its something that we need to do for the rest of our lives but if we dont validate our feelings by accepting and being honest about them, we humans tend to push them to a place deep within us where they can become even more unhealthy.

    I commend you for your desire to approach things softly in the past and I commend you for your willingness to listen to your soul and do what is best for your ultimate health by getting it out in whatever manner necessary now. I will be here, cheering you on.

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  4. It is amazing to me that believing Mormons complain that ex-Mormons won't "leave the church alone" when the Mormons continue to knock on our doors and try to win us back. Similarly, the LDS whine about being "persecuted" when people protest legislation the church campaigned for, etc. They want all of the credit and none of the blame, and no matter how you argue, they're right and you're wrong.

    However, the growing number of happy ex-Mormons is an example they can't ignore. It's getting harder and harder to portray us as morally bankrupt losers.

    I laughed out loud at the "wife swapping," and love the car!

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  5. Thanks Donna, ya the wife swapping comment, I was going to add (yet) in brackets after the comment to add more humor, but I was afraid some of my family might not see the humor or understand it as a joke, being that we may now be under the influence of Satan.

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  6. Norm I understand where you are coming from and honor your path. From my point of view, the more one fights against, or dedicates their life to a good cause they usually just bring more of whatever they are resisting upon themselves. So instead of being anti-war, one should be pro peace. Instead of being against the church and its ways, one should be pro their own ways. You can never go wrong when you are being true to yourself in my opinion.

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  7. Sophia, well said.

    Everyones path is unique, as long as each of us can accept one anothers path, we can all progress and grow. Your last sentence is the most important, in my view. We must first, be true to ourselves! That seems to be a key to fulfillment.

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  8. @Donna......did you happen to notice the license plate? :)

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  9. Sophia - I know you are so right! For now, in this moment, I need to fight. I see it as the pendulum swinging too far, but if I don't let it swing, I'll never get to the middle...

    You seem to have found a way to just BE there, which I think is amazing!

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  10. Love the license plate, Norm. It's the perfect response to those "I Can't I'm a Mormon" t-shirts.

    Also, I wouldn't worry about the folks who think you're under the influence of Satan. They probably already assume you're wife swapping, along with knocking over liquor stores, drinking like Yeltsin, etc. ;)

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  11. I would say be pro to who you are...pro critical thinking, pro for helping people and pro to helping others along the journey out as well. I enjoy the support I get from other post Mormons so I participate in forums and other groups. It's nice to have a community. But I don't really announce that I'm not Mormon. Most of my in-laws still don't know and some of my friends. If people ask I'll tell but it's not something I'm telling everyone...that's me. Everyone has their journey and I think that's great!

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  12. Well, I think I've managed to leave the church and also leave it alone. I put up two posts on my blog (just Google Carolyn mychange and look for the two posts from October 2010)so that if people wanted to know why I left, they could know straight from the horse's mouth without having to wonder and come up with outlandish stories (probably the best was that I left because I went back to school. Puhlease! Do you really think that being educated means you can't be Mormon? And if so, what exactly does that say about mormonism?)
    Anyway, haven't blogged about it since and don't need to. Although I wish with all my heart that I'd left the mormon church when I was a teenager, and don't believe there was any benefit at all in my life that came about by being mormon - and indeed a lot of negatives that I would have avoided had I not been mormon - I am not interested in publicly attacking the church. If people ask me what I think of the church, I tell them - whether they are members or not (although with members I will try to word it with as little offense as possible.)
    So yes, I feel it is possible both to leave the mormon church and also to leave it alone. I believe that my path was made somewhat easier by the fact that I've had doubts about it since I was a child. So finding out the church wasn't true, was more of a culmination of years of doubt rather than a massive shock. It was purely the transition between only wanting to know it was true, and for the first time in my life being willing to receive an answer about the church, even if it wasn't the answer I wanted (because I really did want it to be true.) And while I felt sad to realise it wasn't true, it didn't devastate my life and in fact brought a lot of peace.

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