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The Death of the Black and White Worldview

I was raised that life was made up of absolutes.  No wiggle room, no compromise.  Some things were to the left, some were to the right.  Everything fell on one side of the line or the other.  Gray area was not a concept I learned until I was an adult.  Growing up in the Church reinforced that view of the world.

What did that mean for me?  As a young person, I formed the habit of categorizing everything that came into view.  This made life more difficult than necessary.  Quickly assessing situations and people and throwing them under one label or another didn’t make interpersonal relationships very easy.
In an odd way, this habit caused an inner turmoil that waged a silent war I did not even understand between my heart and mind.   My early training and the habits it formed existed contrary to what my heart knew.  The final battle in this inner war would be fought years later after a complete paradigm shift finally released me from my black and white understanding of my world.
I take full responsibility for my own cognition.  I understand the reasons behind this worldview now; I can see how my early religious training and parenting formed that very early in my life.  But still; I don’t lay blame on anyone but myself for the thoughts that bounced around inside my own head.
As an adult, this thinking pattern set me up to be a diehard absolutist in moral and spiritual matters.  I felt that the church was true, therefore everything that came out of the mouths of any leader was truth and to be followed without question.  After a while, this rigidity made it tough to relate to others in the Church who held a more balanced view of leadership and their opinions.
At one point, my personal motto was simple.  “If the prophet (or the bishop, or the stake president, etc.) says it, then that’s what I do.”  No compromise.  No question.  The Church was true.  That was all that I needed to know.  Anyone living outside of a similar worldview was at odds with God.
Call it fate, call it whatever, but life has a funny way of throwing you into a tailspin.  Somewhere in my early thirties, my black and white thinking crashed head on into a crisis of faith that rendered me senseless.  My world burst into shards of glass.  Not only was my faith and my worldview shattered; my inner operating system was completely upended as well.  
I began freefalling, headfirst into an abyss.  No life jacket, no net.  As I flailed around and struggled the find my own footing, I underwent a drastic paradigm shift.  My black and white thinking was gone, jettisoned like the belief system I had known my entire life.
I was scared.  Terrified.  In fact, even now fear does not seem strong enough to describe the turmoil.  I was building from the ground up, a block at a time.  A new foundation seemed to form.  Somehow the black and white thinking was gone.  A battle had played out when I wasn’t watching.  
Opening my eyes for the first time through a redefined worldview, it was clear that the internal moral system I had fought to repress was in charge.  And as awkward and scary as it was, and in many ways still is, it is a change that I welcome.  Even relish.
Clarity is a priceless gift.  So is pure sight.  That same rigidity that once ruled my life now induces a knee jerk reflex.  I recoil whenever I hear blanket statements made about groups of people.  
That new thinking even applies to the former spiritual home that once played such a role in the architecture of my inner paradigm.  Dismissing my life as a member of the Church as a mistake would be a lie, just as painting all former and disaffected members with the same bitter paintbrush would be a gross misrepresentation of the individuals who have walked along a similar path.  
If I have learned anything it is this: make no assumptions.  Decide nothing based on limited information.  Human beings are chaotic and diverse; they beautifully defy rigid parameters.  Not every member of the Church thinks the same way.  Not every struggling dissenter should follow a predetermined path.  
Truth is found everywhere.  It is found inside the Church, just as it exists in a million places in the world at large.  I learned to give up on the idea that one set of ideals, one limited philosophy could contain everything in this world worthy to be called truth.  Light emanates from every corner of the globe.  The real tragedy is in cutting off sources of enlightenment simply because they do not follow a prescribed set of rules.
Tumbling around through life can be scary.  But, I’ll take it.  As much as I used to cling to certainty for dear life, existing in the unknown is unpredictably reassuring.  Sanity exists in the realization that people, that life, is too complex to be pigeon holed by the limited perceptions of mankind, no matter how well meaning. 
Life is about a quest for peace.  Peace is found between the lines, somewhere in the layers of chaos and mess that constitutes life.


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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.

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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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