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Dear ...

I’m really not sure who I should put after the “Dear” in the greeting for this letter.  Truth is, I know perfectly well this will never leave my computer.  Where do I start?
Dear Ward Family?  That’s not accurate anymore I guess.  I’m not sure I feel that connection, at least not in the way I used to.  But then, every family has a black sheep. So maybe there is a place for me.
Dear Friends?  Something is missing for that to be truthful anymore.
 Dear Former Friends and Ward Members?  The “ward members” part is the most correct, I suppose.  I know “former friends” sounds harsh.  But isn’t that the way that it really is?  Believe me, that wording is not the way I would like for things to be.  
Instead, I wish it could say, “Dear Friends and Ward Members Who Have Tried So Hard to Love and Support Me In Spite of My Change in Belief,”
But I guess some things are just too much to hope for.
I decided to write this letter for my eyes only after I had another dream last night.  It was the same as before; this was the good dream.  I’m sitting in the chapel, fourth row back in the middle pews, on the end just like I sat with my family for years and years.  Anyway, it’s Fast and Testimony meeting and I find myself standing up and walking a few steps up to the carpeted steps leading to the podium.  I see the Bishoprics’ smiles and little nods to me as I walk closer to the stand.  The First Counselor does his normal lowering of the podium to accommodate my short stature.  It’s a joke; he always used to catch me outside to foyer and rib me that I had still not grown an inch since the last month.  I take it in stride, in my mind.  That is one of the things I miss the most.
I reach the podium and lower the microphone closer to my level.  It’s that moment when you take the final breath before you begin to speak.  I never say a word; that moment simply freezes as I look out at the hundreds of eyes that are looking at me.  My brain keeps this moment in a holding pattern.  I feel like a sunbather taking in the sun’s warmest rays.  Except, this warmth is from you.  I relish the dream whenever it comes to me.  
But then, there is the other dream.  This one is a little bit closer to reality.  In this dream, I am sitting with the kids watching television when there is a knock on the door.  I go to open it, and I see several men in dark suits standing with their grim faces looking back at me.  It is a weeknight.  Their formality catches me off guard.  The bishop asks to come in and I meekly move out of the way to give them room.  Without a word from me, one of the grim faces sends my children out of the room.  I am asked to sit in a chair in the middle of the room; it’s almost like I am about to receive a Priesthood blessing, only I know that is not what this visit is about.  
I sit and seven solemn faces surround me.  None are sitting.  They state over and over how disappointed they are in my choices.  I cannot talk, I barely breathe.  I feel alone and unsafe.  This is my home and the chill is almost unbearable.
I always wake up just as my one close friend in the group approaches me.  That’s the worst part of the whole dream.  I see the look in his eyes.  Disappointment, hurt, shame.  The shame is the killer.  I can’t bear it.
The dream is eerily similar to the day the bishop did show up here.  Same grim face, same recrimination.  What always gets me is how the dream captures that same coldness.  What a change from the warmth of collective friendship.
Just so you know, the only issue the bishop had with me was my disbelief.  That’s it.  There was no gossip-worthy scandal, though I am quite aware of the few that have been invented.  I found out some things that rattled my testimony to the core.  It’s hard to believe that it could happen to me.  I would have expected even dynamite could not have done that.  It wasn’t an explosive that took it down.  It was the accurate version of the Church’s history, the one that had been hidden from me my whole life, that did it.  
I wish that life was closer to the first dream.  I never expect to be standing there again, looking out over the congregation.  But that warmth would be nice in the store when I see you, or at school functions, or even in your home.  Because I would really love that.  I still love you.  


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Welcome to The Peacewriter.

We all want to belong somewhere, to someone. It is a basic human need.

If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

Lose your testimony, and you stand to lose everything that matters.

There are those who exist on the fringes of the Church, who feel disenfranchised, even unwanted. If you are single, gay or lesbian, feminist, atheist, or uncorrelated, it can be tough to feel like a part of the community. You may feel that you do not belong.

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If you have ever loved someone who endured a faith crisis, you know that there are a lot of gray areas. Uncertainty is the dominant force; black and white become moot points.

Those who have walked the same path share a common bond, understood by few who have not traveled the same road.

This is the place to share common experiences, to find a voice, to be heard. This is the place to seek after peace, and to find it in the common ties we share.

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