Date: February 01, 2016 12:17PM
I was born and raised in the LDS church and had many siblings and very protective, sheltering parents. Out of all the kids, I was the most rebellious. But, believing the church was true and feeling all the guilt and fear that went with disobeying, I stayed very innocent and good all through high school. Because of the church, I separated from my truest friends because they started to party. I began hanging with kids from seminary because I they were the only ones I seemed to have much in common with anymore. I realize now that my other friends left me because of how self righteous I was.
Fast forward to a couple of years after high school. I got married in the temple at age 20, but I did so unworthily. This caused so much guilt it was hard to bear. I did it because I could not stand the thought of my parents ever knowing I was unworthy and the temple marriage was a must. I started feeling different at church and noticing I wasn't feeling the spirit. A couple years later, I decided that I needed to confess to the bishop so I could feel the spirit again. All these stories I heard in testimony meeting told me I would be filled with joy if I confessed. All this emptiness would go and I could feel right again.
After a very painful, embarrassing confession to my friend the bishop, he told me I was forgiven because I was so young when it happened and I didn't need to stop taking the sacrament or anything. I waited for the flood of joy, but I felt nothing. I thought it would come back at some point at church, but it never felt the same there again. I began feeling depressed because I wondered if I had really been forgiven. This sadness and disappointment in myself began to define my self worth.
Not much after the confession incident, my little brother left for a mission. He had doubts about the church to begin with, and being on a mission made it worse. After a year of struggling through it at the urging of the mission president, he refused to baptize an investigator who requested he do it. At that point, the mission president made him an office elder so he could talk to him more and help him work through his doubts. This did very little for him. He wanted to come home and started telling my parents in emails. My parents talked to the rest of us children and told us to pray for him and tell him to finish his mission. They told him he would not have a place to stay or anything do if he came home. They didn't know about my struggles in the church at that time, so when I emailed my brother it was very different from the email they requested.
I told him if he wanted to come home, he could stay with my husband and I and our two young kids. (He was 20 and I was probably 23 or 24 at that time). He told me later that he had laughed out loud when he read my email. He did take me up on it though, and came home from Europe and stayed with us, much to my joy and satisfaction!
My mom was very upset with me when he told her his plans. It caused a big upset within my big extended family. Church members pitied my parents. I felt semi-bad for them. And guilty that I was getting him all to myself to hear his mission stories and be with him while he got used to being back in the US again. But my joy at seeing my brother home safe is the strongest feeling in that memory. Once my parents knew there was no convincing him to stay, they welcomed him home with open arms.
He told me all about his doubts during those summer months. He came to church with us, but refused to participate in any prayer or blessing because it felt like a lie since he didn't believe. He told me stories from his mission and my feelings about the church went from some mushy, obscure, doubts, to something more solid.
My parents convinced him to go back to College in my home town that Fall and then BYU in the Spring. I'm not sure how he got back in. But he was gone from me and those that loved him. He was very unstable and being away from family who would listen to his doubts without judging him.
Something happened to him there, and he committed suicide that spring while attending BYU. This has been the darkest moment of my life. I will not go into detail about my sadness or what it did to me, but from that point on, my tattered testimony was trashed.
I still continued to go to chirch to keep my husband and parents happy for a while. Then after a few years it became more and more difficult listening to people share their testimonies about how much God loved them and protected them. Also, I couldn't help but notice all the inconsistencies in the scripture since my brother had shown some to me. I stopped going about 5 years ago. My husband stopped going a couple years ago. I am the only one in my family who is inactive. But who can blame me? My mom has not given up on me, but she knows after all that has happened I will not come back.