Date: May 29, 2016 02:39PM
Before I tell y'all about my current exit from the LDS church, it might be good to briefly summarize how I came in contact with it first.
I was raised Catholic. That means, I attended mass weekly and I was taught by nuns in school until I was 12 and switched to a public school. Still, I had questions about my Catholic faith, and particularly the trinity gave me headaches. When I was in my final year of high school, LDS missionaries knocked on my door. I had never heard of the LDS religion, and I was curious, so I let them into my house for a glass of water. Neither of the two Elders were much older than me, so it soon became a chat among friends about basketball (once I found out they were American). They said that they would like to meet again soon and tell me more about *why* exactly they were all the way in Germany. Still curious, I accepted, and they started to teach me about what they believed. Before I knew it, they invited me to mutual, and then to church, and I really enjoyed it. Most of my peers in school just partied and got drunk all weekend, and while I freely participated in that lifestyle at the time, it was somewhat dissatisfying (especially the morning after). At church, it was different. People were kind, their lives seemed in balance, and I seemed to encounter fellow youth with good values who lived up to what they believed in. I was impressed. The missionaries continued to answer all of my questions, and I finally was baptized by one of my YM friends. It all looked dandy, so to say.
Pretty shortly after my baptism, people started asking me about going on a mission. I was very hesitant at first, but I ultimately warmed up to the idea. I submitted my papers and was called to a different part of Germany (very creative, I know). Still, I was excited, and my first couple of months as a missionary were actually quite fun. Work wasn't as hard as I was told in advance, I was good friends with the three other Elders in my first area, and we actually had quite a bit of fun. But after about two months in the field, I noticed that something was wrong with me. I started spending a lot of time in the bathroom throwing up, I was dizzy all the time, I lost weight for no reason, and our morning runs turned into walks more and more because I couldn't run anymore (I actually love running, and I had completed about a dozen half marathons by the time I left on my mission). In my weekly email to my mission president, I made note of the changes I had seen. He just said that a mission is tough, and that I should just suck it up. So I did, for a while, until I passed out one morning in our apartment. I called the mission office and they said that I should get some rest and talk to the mission "nurse" on the phone later that afternoon. It wasn't a very enlightening conversation, and even though I was doing a little better, her advice that I shouldn't tell my parents and just keep going as usual made me cringe.
P-day was a couple days after that, and I emailed my parents about what had happened. My dad, who is a lawyer, then decided to give an angry call to the mission office, demanding more information and an adequate medical check-up. Even though I was a little embarrassed about it, this angry call and his threat to sue the church for negligence obviously helped. I was home (and in the ER) 48 hours later. Turns out, my condition was rare and life-threatening, and I probably wouldn't be alive today had I stayed on my mission. With the right treatment, however, I was fully functioning again within a week (although I'm still on meds to prevent a relapse).
After I started recovering, I met with my bishop and my stake president. They suggested that I pray about whether to go back out or stay home and move on with my life. I decided to stay home, and that's when hellfire broke out in my ward. I was shunned by just about every member of my congregation, and even the missionaries didn't want to talk to me anymore. I decided that it was probably time to take a break from Church, so I stayed away for a few months. I spent a lot of time researching the church, with literature both critical and supportive of it, and found myself soon in a "faith crisis" (which turned out to be a blessing). I also enrolled in university in a different city and moved out of my parents' basement. In that new city, I started "shopping around" for a new religion, because I felt like I still needed and wanted some spiritual stimulation. Unfortunately, I let myself be talked into going back to the LDS church to "try it again elsewhere." In the city I now live in, there is just one small branch, and most of the members there are actually related. Still, I honestly had a good time there, and even went on a few dates with the only female YSA in town. It all went well, until they found out that I had returned early from my mission, and then the whole shunning game started again. This time, I stuck around, but at the same time began evaluating my own faith a bit closer, rather than just reading and comparing he-said-she-said literature. It wasn't until then that I noticed how my deepest beliefs really do not line up with the core LDS beliefs.
It was then that I decided to let go. I have not made a "public service announcement" out of this (and few people know I've left), and I have no plans of officially going through the steps of resigning to be honest, but I've let go from the church, and I'm happy about it. I've hit the back-paddle. I can now believe whatever I feel is right, without first needing to reconcile it with a church that will assess my "worthiness" based only on whether I fit into a tiny box. I can act kindly toward people because it is the right thing to do, not because I will be rewarded eternally for doing it (or punished for not doing it). I have let go of much guilt, fear, and cognitive dissonance, and while these are emotions that are just part of life to some extent, why should I create them artificially by being part of an organization I don't believe in?
I'm glad to finally join the Ex-Mormon ranks. Chances are I won't be very active in this forum, but it sure feels good to share my story and get that rock off my soul.