Date: July 25, 2016 03:04AM
I haven't set foot in a Mormon church for about 18 years now.
My husband got me out. This is how:
I was born and raised in the Mormon church. My mom was a convert in her teens and my dad came from a very large family and was raised in the church.
My dad always came across as a rock, firm in his testimony, and unwavering in his devotion to the church. But that was the problem. Between work and the church, he never seemed to have time for us 5 kids. He was too tired to give anything else at the end of the day. Sometimes he would actually fall asleep during church meetings. I remember at age 8 trying to show him something I made in the living room. He was motionless, unresponsive, and in some sort of a daze. It was like the lights were on, but no one was home. That happened a lot. To this day, I can't think of too many good memories with my dad. I know he was around, but I just don't remember him really "being there". Kind of ironic since TSCC purports to be all about family.... Yet, it sucks the life out of you so that you can't put your family first.
I could tell early on in my life that my mom was only tolerating the church because of my dad. Any chance she got, she would make an excuse not to go to church. "Oh my back hurts, I feel sick,etc." That didn't sit well with me. I often felt jealous that she was able to get out of going to those long and boring church meetings.
Then, when my parents said we couldn't go to the store, go swimming, or have friends over on Sundays, I often wondered: "What if this church is not actually true?" "How would I feel after this life if I found out I could have been playing with my friends and swimming all this time!"
Despite those early doubts and observations, I tried to be the best Mormon and daughter I could be. I prayed, read scripture, tried to pay attention in meetings and classes, attended all church sanctioned activities, etc.
I learned about the holy ghost and the "burning bosom" and wanted to feel that spirit desperately. I never did, despite how hard I prayed. I felt like a hypocrite, but tried to put that in the back of my mind. Instead, I made it my goal to try that much harder.
I waited until I was 16 to date, only dated Mormon boys, obeyed the word of wisdom and the law of chastity. I was a "good girl" and well favored by my parents. I was a successful student, had a lot of friends and seemed happy. I met a boy my Junior Year of high school whom I feel in love with. We dated for 2 years until he was called on a mission. I told him I would wait for him. We had plans to get married in the temple when he returned.
But, then a year after he left and I started college, I met a non-member guy that would eventually become my husband many years later. We dated on and off for 7 years. Each time breaking up because of the religion. He entertained the idea of joining the church, but just couldn't do it because he didn't believe in it.
I was devastated and depressed because I felt like I had met the love of my life, but "religion" was getting in the way. I started seriously considering leaving the church to be with him but just wasn't brave enough to pull the trigger. I was still living with my parents and under their emotional control.
It left me with two choices, either leave the church and marry my soul mate or stay in the church and find a way to finally gain a testimony of it's truthfulness. So, I decided to go on a mission. Before I left, I told him that I didn't want to be with anyone else, and if he really loved me, he would become a member of the church and be waiting for me when I got back. He did exactly that. For Me. I owe him so much because of that.
I did finish my mission though. I don't regret it. I learned a language, got away from my parents for a little while, and figured out that I truly did not want to be a member anymore. Oh and by the way, I never got the "feeling" I was supposed to get telling me the church was true either. I faked it while bearing the same testimony everyone else was giving for years so that I didn't look abnormal to anyone.
The two things that sealed the deal for me during my mission was the former principal of polygamy and how it was handled, as well as the refusal to give black men the priesthood. I served and proselytized in areas highly populated with people of color who refused to talk to us because of this racist and exclusive view. Not to mention, we were never equipped as missionaries to provide a satisfying answer to two topics that were well known to be sensitive issues. If the church was not in the wrong, why wouldn't our missionaries know how to reply to questions on the topics? This infuriated me and left me with a bad taste in my mouth when I returned home.
Despite all of this, I was still horribly afraid of leaving the church and disappointing my parents. Luckily, my now husband loved me enough to not only wait for me, but get baptized into a church he didn't really believe in, get married to me in the temple, wear the "magic underwear"and go with me to church. He even accepted a church calling for a time.
We moved a few hours away from my family so that we could start our own life together and I could finally feel free to make some of my own choices. About a year into our marriage, my husband announced that he was done wearing the underwear and going to church, and that was that.
Then he said to me: "I will fully support you if you still want to stay in the church, but first decide for yourself what you want, not what anyone else wants, but what you want. If you truly believe in the church, stay. But if you have any doubts or don't think the church is true, then you are just wasting your life and your time."
It was then and there that I felt like someone had lifted a heavy burden from my shoulders. Almost like someone was giving me "permission" to leave the church. Within a few months, I too stopped going to church and never looked back.
My entire family is still active Mormon and I am estranged from most of my family members now, especially my parents, due to irreconcilable differences, but I have never been happier.
My husband and I are still happily married, have two wonderful boys and will celebrate our 20th anniversary next year. We moved out of state, away from the clutches of my family and I have found a new identity and new relationship with God, apart from mormonism.
In many ways, my husband saved my life.