Heartsick and betrayed
I am writing this letter to share my experiences in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is not easy.
Let me begin by giving you a little background information. My wife and I were born in Utah. We were both baptized into the church when we were eight years old. Neither of our parents were active in the church, so we had no knowledge of spiritual matters in our childhood. Even though our parents were not active, our roots go very deep in the church. I had no organized religion in our home, but my parents taught me the value of truth and honesty, to work together as a family, to help others, to love and respect all people and to live and let live. I love my parents and thank them so much for all they sacrificed and gave to my brother and sisters and I. There were seven of us. I was taught to be responsible at a very young age because my father became ill and I had to go to work to help the family. Mom worked hard, but just could not do it all alone. Not long after that, I meet and fell in love with my wife. It was one of those love stories. You know, love at first sight for both of us. We dated for two years and then we were married. Our first child came a year and a half later. She was the light of my life. I never realized how wonderful it was to be a dad. She was so small and helpless. Eighteen months later we had another little girl. I felt the same about her. I loved my wife and my little girls so much I felt a great responsibility to take good care of our little family. Life was a struggle like I'm sure most young people feel in trying to make ends meet and adjust to family life. We were doing reasonably well. I had learned the value of work from my parents. I was in construction and had to travel sometimes. This is when the next great change took place in our lives.
We had a terrible experience when our oldest daughter was five and our youngest three. We were living in Idaho then. I along with my two daughters and several other people were in a building when a windstorm came up and the building collapsed. Our little five year old was killed instantly by a falling beam. My wife and I were devastated. Our world turned up side down. My wife was in such shock that she had to be sedated for several days. I was numb all over. Remember, neither my wife nor I had had any religious training in our childhood. So for us this was the end of our little girl. She was dead in a cold coffin in the ground. My parents were very supportive. We stayed with them for a while.
Then one day we received a phone call from a sweet woman who said she had something she wanted to share with us. She had read the article in the paper about our daughter's death. When we arrived at her home we were welcomed in such a loving way. She said she had a tape she wanted us to listen to and so we did. The information on the tape talked about where we come from, why were here, and where we go after this life. It was every thing we wanted to hear, that our little girl was with her Heavenly Father and that someday we would be with her again. We knew nothing about any of this. We then became active members of the Mormon church. We threw our whole heart and soul into it. That was 35 years ago. We were quickly fellowshipped. We meet many wonderful people and made many friends. We were told that Christ's church had been restored to earth and that if we would do all that we were asked we could be with our daughter again. We could be an eternal family. If we did not do the things we were asked to do, we could not go where she would be, we could not be together as husband and wife, nor have our other daughter with us.
One of the first things we had to do was get ready to go to the temple so that we could be sealed together forever. We had to go to some classes to get ready to go to the temple. We had to wait a year to prove that we were worthy. That was the longest year of our lives. We wanted to be connected to our little girl again. We thought this was the only way. We were also concerned about our extended family. This was all so new to us. We wanted to share our new knowledge with them. We were close to my parents. They were like our best friends. We wanted them to be with us after this life also. We talked to them about what we were being taught. They listened the first few times, but they did not take it as seriously as we did. We talked to some of the people in our ward and were told that some make it and some do not. By make it, I mean the celestial kingdom, where families can be together forever.
We became more aggressive in talking to my parents. Finally they became angry and told us they didn't want anything to do with the church and that we were no longer welcome in their home if we kept preaching to them. Of course we immediately stopped talking to them about it. We were told by members that sometimes you have to give up your own family to do what the Lord wants you to do. We became less and less involved with my family. I look back on that now and it makes me sick and ashamed. My parents had given me all they had and I was turning my back on them. We were so taken in by the love of the members in our ward that they became our family.
We were so excited to learn all that we could about the LDS church that we started asking questions about things we did not understand. Some questions were answered, but many others were not. We were told to live by faith and that someday we would understand. We were told about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I was so caught up in trying to learn all that they were teaching me that I stopped asking questions and thinking for myself. That was a big mistake. I thought they knew what they were talking about and if I wanted to be with my family again I had better do what they said. We went to the temple that next year. I did not understand any of it, but again I was told to live by faith. I was starting to form an idea of who my father in heaven was and what he was like. I felt he was someone to fear. I started looking at others not of our faith as people I had to save. Missionary work! It did not take long before my wife and I became totally converted to the Mormon way of life. We had many friends in the church. In every ward we moved into we loved the people and they loved us. They taught great family and community values. We both served in many positions including those of leadership such as in the Bishopric and as the Relief Society president. We served a two year stake mission together and two years as temple workers. During all of this time we had more children and taught them that this was the only true church on the earth today. We had been told that heavenly father and Jesus had told Joseph Smith that the rest of the churches were an abomination to them. We bore testimony to them of that. They trusted us. We had put our many concerns and unanswered questions on the shelf and did not talk about them. Questions like polygamy, blacks not being able to hold the priesthood (that was racist to me), the Journal of Discourses and why did so many of the early leaders leave the church? Why was everything so secretive? Why was there such hostility toward the church in the early days? Why did the early church leaders talk of exterminating those who would not join the church? Why were so many people I knew, including my parents, not going to be able to be with their families and father in heaven? They were as good as many of the members of the church. Why hadn't many of Joseph's revelations come true? Why was there so many pilot programs and changes in the temple ceremony and doctrine? The list goes on and on.
We had total trust in our leaders and did all that they asked of us without question. We were taught that they had been called to their positions by God. By this time in our lives we had moved to another state and still very much influenced by the Mormon faith. We were happy, or so we thought. The pressure to be perfect was still a heavy burden to carry, but we gave it our all. We were told that if we had family prayer and family night that none of our children would go astray. Then one day I felt as if I had been hit right between the eyes. Our oldest daughter was a teenager. She was going through some of the same teenage pains that most of us feel. She was not always making good or right choices. My wife came to me one day crying. She said that she thought it was easier to lose a child in death than to lose one spiritually. After all we had been told we could be with our daughter who had died. We were concerned for our teenager. Would she make it? We had done every thing we thought our father in heaven had asked of us. It had not worked. Well life went forward. Then one day my wife came home from Relief Society overwhelmed and crying. She said that there was no way she could do everything they wanted her to do. She had never said no to a calling. After all, we had been told that those callings came from God and he would not ask us to do anything that we could not do. She had tried so hard to be the perfect Mormon mother. Not long after that she had a nervous breakdown. We did not tell any one of our personal struggles. We thought our family just was not as good as others, so we were not being blessed.
We loved our children so much, maybe too much, because when they would do things that most normal children do when growing up, we would worry about their eternal salvation. The pressure it placed on us was tremendous. Our children were growing up fast. Our oldest was going to get married. She met a fine young man who was not a member of the church and had fallen in love. They would not be going through the temple. As I look back on that experience I am so glad they did not go to the temple, because his family would not have been able to see their own son married. Later he joined the church and they went to the temple. All of our children have been sealed in the temple and our son went on a mission. I tell you this to help you understand how hard it is on us to have our children so dedicated to the Mormon religion.
The years went by and then upon retiring I stopped long enough to take a close look at the doctrine that had bothered me. Well know I have done that. Feelings that it was wrong came first. Then I set out to prove to myself that what I was feeling was wrong. I loved the church and the people in it. To my surprise the more I studied and asked for help and talked with others the deeper the church got itself into trouble. I had been deceived. I was sick and hurt. Things keep coming up that proved to me the church was, and had been hiding and changing information to fit their needs. I was shocked to say the least. I had been taught by my parents to be honest. I then went into more research costing a considerable amount of money. We did not have the money in our budget but I had to know for myself. I felt because of my teaching in the church of temple marriage, eternal families, and eternal salvation I would loose allot. I continued the search even under some reservations. The truth came out. The more I studied the more I found. If the church were true and had all these problems that I have found, then if it was of god and Christ, I did not want any part of their kingdom. All of the questions that I had asked so long ago kept coming to my mind. And many more. I took them one at a time. I started to share some of my feelings with my wife and children. They thought I was crazy and that I was loosing the spirit of the lord in my life. We had been taught that if a member of the church was questioning doctrine or the leaders, that they were losing the spirit. I could understand how they felt because I had felt that same way about others who questioned or left the church. I continued to study on my own. I know my wife felt uncomfortable, hurt, and even angry with me during this time. I continued to share my feelings whenever I felt I could, trying not to hurt the family. Well that was about four years ago. Little by little my wife started to look at the history of the church, and doing some research on her own. The church she had dedicated her very soul to was crumbling before her eyes. She did not want to believe what she was feeling, learning, and hearing. She went through such pain. It was hard for me to watch her. She had also been taught by her parents to tell the truth, not half truths, but the whole truth. The church had not done that.
Through all of this my wife and I often cried together. The church and its teachings had been such a great influence in our lives. It contains many good things. It had reminded us of who Christ is. It had given us family values and a great circle of friends, whom we are not sure will still be our friends when they find out how we feel. For the good things the church gave to us and our family we will forever be grateful. We just wish the church would tell the whole truth about its history and origin. The more we studied the more we found and the more trouble we found with the church. All the information we researched was in Mormon history books. We searched out personal journals, diaries, family histories, especially those of our own families. We were sick with what we found and continued to find. When I first started to research all of this, I was determined to prove the church was right, but that did not happen. I am at the point now that I have never been happier. Our lives are now free and we no longer carry all that guilt. The concerns that we have for our family are getting much better. We are letting them find out for themselves and they are. We are not preaching to them to get out of the church, they are finding the truth out for themselves, mainly because of our example and love. This will be their decision and we honor what ever it will be. We are so glad that it's about over. We know it will continue to take time, but we have a lot of that now. We will live our lives the way the Savior taught. He said, "love one another". No more unanswered questions, guilt, or fear, just peace.
To reach the author of this particular story write to: Happy Now . He and his wife also help individuals in the St. George Utah area recover from their Mormon experience.
An excellent reference to the above story can be found at:
Mountain Meadows Massacre
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