Sunday, October 11, 2009


For months, Scott has said that he feels nothing at church.  I have still felt the spirit now and then.  Today I felt nothing.  I tried to pray during the sacrament to feel the spirit.  I prayed during testimony meeting when I felt nothing to feel something.  I enjoyed listening to Scott's ordination blessing as he ordained our oldest son to the office of a deacon.  Normally something like that would have brought chills up and down my spine and tears swelling in my eyes.  It was nice and all, but I felt nothing.  During Relief Society, the lesson was on Eternal Families.  During the part on marriage, I became uncomfortable and annoyed (not that anything specific was being said or emphasized, just that the temple sealing of one man and one woman is required for exaltation).  Instead of letting myself get annoyed, I tuned it out.  Then, toward the end of the lesson the topic turned to family, children honoring parents, etc.  The words of the lesson were sweet, and I love my family so much, but I felt nothing.

Scott says he is ready to move on.  He is stuck.  Stuck between feeling nothing and pretending to be a faithful, church-going member of the church.  He says he has decided that he needs to move on, and that probably means leaving the church behind.  I am jealous.  I want to be at that point for my own peace, but I cannot do it.  Maybe if Scott moves on, I will be able to as well.  But I worry about what this will mean to our children, to our posterity and generations to come.  Instead of worried, maybe I should just be happy that I can give them a gift. A gift of leaving the LDS culture behind along with all of the guilt and pain and agony that I am currently facing.

My patriarchal blessing says I will find joy in living, for happiness comes from within. Everyone says true happiness cannot be found outside of the church.  I have always been in the church and have rarely been happy.  Maybe it is time to experiment with the alternative. This is the hardest decision ever. For now I will continue to take it one week at a time, following the spirit as I make a choice each Sunday. That is all I can do until Heavenly Father tells me otherwise.


MoHoHawaii said...

I appreciate you sharing this candid post. I don't know if your feelings have evolved since you wrote this, but a lot of us have felt what you describe here.

While I can't speak for anyone else, I found peace after I disengaged from the church. It was a relief to put aside the cognitive dissonance and the conflict. I have absolutely no regrets even though it's not an easy transition to make.

It's absolutely not true that that those who leave are doomed to unhappiness. However, there is an effect that is common to many traditions such as orthodox Judaism, Islam and fundamentalist Christianity that causes those who leave to experience a loss of community. This loss causes them to grieve. It is part and parcel of having grown up in a religious cocoon and is not at all unique to Mormonism.

I recommend the film Trembling Before G-d (available on DVD) that shows the lives of some gay orthodox Jews. They are compelled to leave their religious traditions by irreconcilable conflicts, but they mourn the loss of the community and rituals they leave behind. It's illuminating to see this in a non-Mormon context. It somehow puts things into perspective.

Leaving the church doesn't itself have the power to make anyone happy or unhappy, but the loss of the familiar context, the daily rituals, the well-understood patterns of interaction and unspoken assumptions is significant. In fact, it's one of the reasons my blog presence is geared toward an LDS audience and LDS themes-- some part of me needs a connection to the traditions of my youth, even if I can't (and shouldn't) go back to orthodox belief.

As I follow the journey that you and Scott so generously share with others, I am impressed by the integrity, honesty and compassion that you both exhibit.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Wow, I really know what you mean. I also regularly wonder if I would be able to find happiness outside of the Church (I have always been taught--and therefore always believed--that I would not). I wonder about the eternal consequences of such choices (and especially how those decisions relate to my posterity, which you also mentioned).
Piggybacking off of MoHoHawaii's comment (which also resonated with me), I sometimes worry, would I be okay on a practical level outside of the Church?--would I be able to get along without the community, the traditions, the structure that I grew up in and around?
My conclusion is again an echo of MoHoHawaii's: we're not the only ones rooted in tradition, and like orthodox Jews and others, it hurts to be "uprooted". After all, we're always being told to "stay close to our roots" and everything.
I guess all I'm trying to say (with all this rambling:) is that I emphathize with your dilemma.