A Convert at 19 Writes
Thank you very much for your website. It gave me a lot of useful information on my way out of the Mormon church. I´m also very glad to be able to communicate to other exmormons.
Now, this is my story. Please, only use my nickname.
I was a convert to the Mormon church at age 19. I came from a home were physical and emotional were daily occurences. But then I read the pamphlets, that were printed in the Readers digest over many months. They said what a perfect family life somebody could have if he only was a Mormon. They also said, that Mormons were people who didn´t drink or smoke, and I hated cigarettes and alcohol. Most everybody else I knew did drink, and often I was made fun for not being able to get any alcohol down my throat.
So finally I met people I would fit in and would give me hope for a peaceful familylife in the future. I found the church on my own and when I got the missionary discussions I was more than motivated to believe everything. And why shouldn´t it be true that a young boy had a vision, that sounded so nice in my ears. And what was wrong with believing that we already lived in heaven with God our father, who just sent us to earth to get expieriences, and afterwards we would return to this loving father. I only was asked to read special parts in the Book of Mormon, about how to build faith, and about prayer and love. I never read the whole book before I got baptized.
And all the strange doctrines that are not even in the Book of Mormon, I didn´t get to know before a long time afterwards.
Like, that God was once a man, and that man can become a God one day.
Or that God had many wifes and that a celestial, eternal marriage in the afterlife also means sharing your husband with many other wifes.
Or that Mary had conceived Jesus by intercourse with God.
Or that black people were born with their skincolour as a curse from God, because they were less valiant in the preexistence.
Nobody told me that before I made the commitment. And afterwards I thought it was too late and too shameful to admit that I had made a mistake. So I didn´t listen to these nagging doubts for many years, just tried not to think about them. And I got in the Mormon habit of not trying to think outside the churches marked limitations.
So I got baptized, had to listen to strong negative remarks from my mother, only to see her get baptized herself a few years later. After baptism I got involved in the Young Adult social life of the church. I met my future husband, fell in love and promised him to wait for him while he served a mission. I was thinking about going myself on a mission while he was away, but decided against it and rather applied for a private tradeschool. I had saved some money, I had worked for myself, and had already paid the first 2 months tuition.
But then, one Sunday, a member of the stake presidency came to our branch and asked me to go on a mission while I waited for my fiancee. I told him I couldn´t go, I was going to school. But he wouldn´t take no for an answer and I, young and immature as I was, had never learned to say no.
So I sent in my papers to Salt Lake City and got called to a mission in my own home country.
But first I had to go to the temple, as all missionaries have to. It was a real strange expierience, I didn´t feel any spiritual at all,only confused. But again I tried not to think about it.
In the missionfield I had different kind of expieriences, met a lot of different people,some very nice really and others threw the doors in our face and called us names, even sent the dogs after us. My companions were mostly pretty nice girls, although it happened once in a while that we got on each others nerves,a byproduct of having to spend 24 hours with each other.
The work, meant a 12 hour day, 6 days a week and 5 hours the seventh day, where we had time to do our laundry and go shopping (that was not counted work). We worked in every weather and walked and climbed stairs, and knocked on doors and got rejected most of the time. One icecold december we went tracting for a whole month and didn´t get in a single door. But worse than knocking on doors was for me the so called GQing, the trying to talk to people on the street, in subways, trains or buses. It was totally against my upbringing to aproach strangers in that way, it made me sick in my stomach to do it. So I very seldom did it, and felt guilty for not being diligent enough.What also was hard on me, were all these restricting rules we had to follow, for instance that we were not allowed to read anything except the scriptures and one other book, called "Jesus the Christ". From this rule I nearly felt suffocated, I felt I was starving for something else to read.
The worst time I had was with my last companion. We were together twice, 5 months alltogether. She didn´t like me very much, I wasn´t as strong as she was. I had had backpains since I was a small girl, I couldn´t walk for more than 10 minutes or stand for more than 5 without pain. But because I was used to them since I was little I thought it was normal for everybody and never complained. But I had to ease my back with certain movements once in a while to relieve the pain a little. (Strangely these pains stopped a few years ago, I can now walk for hours without feeling any pain.Only since then I know that these pains weren´t normal) But my companion called me a lazy person who was just trying to get pity from everybody.That really hurt a lot because I had really tried my hardest and felt guilty for being not good enough anyway. When I decided to not talk to her any more except for workrelated things, she called the mission-president and complained. He then told her that I was just an immature little girl. I had trusted that man and had seen in him some kind of substitute father. I was really hurt, so during lunch break I went out of the house to walk around the block for only a few minutes to get away from her. She called again to complain and now I was told, that I would be sent home dishonerable, if this happens again. That was 5 days before my normal release date.
I had given up 19 months(one month extension) to work 12 hour days without pay, had used all my savings, had scrimped on food and lost weight, and didn´t even get a thank you, but only a threat.
I was devastated, but strangely enough I still didn´t have enough of the church. Instead I felt guilty for not having been good enough. I must have been a masochist, but that didn´t give me any pleasure, only pain.
So I came home from my mission and got married nearly right away to my now also returned missionary fiancee. We both had used up our savings and were poor like church mice. We didn´t even have money for real wedding-rings. The owner of the jewelry shop told her assistent, who wanted to be nice to us, to not put the rings in a pretty box, because they were just friendship-rings(The friendship marriage has lasted for 18 years so far, so it wasn´t too bad.) We got married in the temple of course, my family and his couldn´t attend.
The lack of money didn´t hinder me to get pregnant right away. The child was stillborn with a lot of inner defects. The doctor told me that one reason could be, when the mother didn´t eat properly the months before she got pregnant. That meant of course another guilt trip for me.
I had 3 other healthy children the next few years, we all went to church regulary, held callings and did all we were supposed to do as Mormons. But more and more I lost my ability to turn off my thinking capabilities. I found too many things in the Mormon Doctrines that were totally at odds to what I had learned about scientific discoveries. And the racist and sexist attitude behind many doctrines started to trouble me deeply.
It really made my stomach turn when the missionaries came for a visit and started to talk with my husband about the "deep stuff" like the blacks being decendents of Cain. And my husband who was in many things more liberal than me, (I for instance had prejudiges against gays, but he helped me to see them as people that can be just as faithful to their partner as straight people can.) he never treated black people different from white people. But he didn´t find a thing wrong with believing that racist doctrine.
It also made my stomach turn to listen to talks and testamonies in church and hear constantly about the last days,and how we had to be prepared,and what terrible desasters would soon come upon us. I hated geneology, I thought it was a terrible waste of time and resources, while there were so many problems in the world of the living.
I started to get interested in politics,and my conscience told me, that most of the policies the church indorsed where plain wrong and uncaring towards poor and troubled people.
Finally I started to go less and less to meetings until I was nearly inactive. When my now strong believing Mormon Mother found out, about my inactivity, she really was mad. She told me I didn´t appriciate, what I had and was totally ungrateful and evil. And that I didn´t deserve the happiness I had with my husband and children. She even said darkly that something could happen to them because of my ungratitude to God. I just hung up the phone and couldn´t talk to her anymore for over half a year.I let my husband or the children answer the phone, when I thought it could be her. The children of course found it strange, that I didn´t want to talk to my own mother. And I couldn´t explain it to them either.
After a few years and a move to another place, I tried to become active again, for my husband and my children´s sake. I tried for nearly 2 years, I even accepted a calling in primary again. But when I had to teach children something I didn´t believe in and what even was against my conscience I couldn´t handle it any more. I asked to be released right away and started to become more and more inactive again.
But then I found this website and all the information in it about the real history of the church and I realised, that I didn´t owe the Mormon church anything. I didn´t owe to an organisation that was built on a fraud, and its builders were criminals and sexual predators. I can accept honest mistakes of people who truly believe in their cause, but the things I found out now, I couldn´t accept any more. So I talked to my husband and told him that I had too many problems with the church and asked him what he would do, if I resigned membership. He told me he would be sad about it,but it wouldn´t make any difference to our marriage.
So I talked to the local leaders and wrote my exit letter. They didn´t give me a hassle as I have been afraid of, but were actually pretty nice about it. I got the confirmation-letter that my name had been taken off the records one month later.
Now I went back to the catholic faith of my childhood. I´m too much of a sceptic to believe literally in the bible, but I heard and read from many catholics, who don´t do that either. They see God as much to big to be defined by men, and the bible as book of parables about the relationship between God and men, in the way men saw it at certain times of history. And this believe is fine with me. I also realise, that the catholic church doesn´t have exactly a spotless history either, but nowadays I can see the efforts that are made to really feed the hungry, care for the sick both in body and in soul and try to make peace between all the different nations and religions of the world. There is even catholic theology that preaches against oppression and injustice in the world. The mistakes and failures of the past have been recognized by the catholic church and some apologies have been made.
I like the familiar rituals and the music in the catholic church, they give me a feeling of having come home again. And I love the spirituality I have finally found again. I don´t have to drag myself to church-meetings any more just to get my stomach turned. When I go to mass I feel at peace with myself, sometimes even exited, but always full of joy.
My children have taken my apostasy worse than my husband has. They don´t want to hear anything even remotely critical about the church. So we came to the agreement that I wouldn´t talk about the Mormon church at all and they would accept that I didn´t go there any more.
I only hope, that if they one day will find out the truth about the Mormon church themselves, they will not get to hurt by it.
I haven´t told my mother yet and I don´t plan to in the next future. I really can get along without the hassle it would produce.
So, thank you again for the website Eric,
and many greetings