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A Little Understanding for Post-Mormon Anger

When I was three, four, and five years old I passed most summers without skin on my knee caps. My father taught me to walk tall, breathe deeply, and fight back the tears. He also taught me that when it was too much for me to handle, his arms were strong enough to carry me and my pain.

I learned that his musk-scented shirt was the perfect burial ground for my tears.

When I had just turned eight I saw my father sob for the first time. I tried to understand how someone who stood as big as a tree could be brought so low, his arms circled around my sister and I, barely upright on the one knee that supported him as he hugged us gently, but so fiercely.

I learned what hurt meant from my father. I asked him why he was crying. He breathed in deeply, blew it out slowly, and in a deep and husky voice explained that there was a knot in his heart, the kind that you can’t see or touch, but can certainly feel. And, he said, he felt it every time he thought about losing his children.

He told me when I was much older exactly how long it was before that knot hurt each time he took a breath.

I learned about strength from my dad. I learned to stand up and face the sunshine, even if when tears streamed from my eyes.

Even so, there were some things my father’s life lessons could not prepare me for.

For all of the things that brought me pain in my life, little can compare to losing my faith. The pain that came from my disaffection has been some of the toughest to endure. I turned to the lessons my father taught me for guidance. I’m not ashamed to say that I turned to that musk-scented shoulder a time or two in the fray.

One thing Dad couldn’t teach me was the right path to follow along to rebuild my life. I think that’s a big piece of the puzzle. Your path won’t always follow the same footsteps another traveler treads; you have to make your own map out of the things that work for you.
It would be so much easier if someone could just write out the winning formula, the recipe that takes the quickest preparation time.

And nets the fewest losses.

The losses are the toughest part. Dad pegged it right. That knot that forms in your heart hurts each time you take one more breath. Even worse is when the people who walk away from you because of your doubts and questions leave you holding on to the blame for losing their love.

From that hurt came a steaming, burning anger that swelled up in my chest and squeezed my fists until they were tightly clenched each time someone spouted off more rhetoric. For months, my phone would ring out of the blue with someone on the other line tsk-tsking my lack of faith, my useless life devoid of the spirit and warning me over the darkened state I had singlehandedly plunged my family into. Patience and longsuffering went only so far. I wanted to lash out, to grab and tear and rip something until my anger was abated.


Cast aside.

Unwanted and unwelcome.

When you have been robbed of a voice before you can even form the words on your tongue, the stinging hurt elicits a primal rage. I was mad.

I stayed mad. For a long time. Until being mad just took up too much energy and I needed peace. Then I began to move on. I didn’t think a perpetual state of anger was best for me.

Once in a while I will read something in the DAMU that reeks of anger and spite. Or I will hear about the stereotypical “anti-Mormon anger” from someone who quite frankly has no idea what they are talking about.

There is anger, and unless you have walked this path yourself, you have no idea how tough it is to get beyond it. I don’t recommend staying in it one second longer that you have to.

But, I most certainly get it.

At the end of the day, I don’t think vitriol is productive for anyone. I have a tough time with anger that turns into name-calling and mudslinging, I don’t care what the platform, in religion, politics, or whatever.

But when you hear or read about a disaffected member who is angry, I can only say that I get it.

Even if you don’t agree with the point of view, I think it’s only human to understand.

It’s a common goal in the disaffected underground community to move past anger and resentment towards the Church. And I have great respect and throw my full support behind those who work to build bridges, to extend olive branches, to replace bitterness with peace. Each of these things is a guiding principle in my life.

But, just for a second, let’s give some space and compassion to the people who carry that anger around for a while. If you have walked this path, it is not too hard to see the honest evolution of that anger.

I am not justifying hostility; one is not always the inevitable companion of the other.

But the anger is born of the hurt, the betrayal you feel when you lose something as big as your faith.

And unless you know the full depth of that hurt, you really have no business judging it in someone else.

My dad taught me another life lesson that has carried me pretty far. He used to say, “You rob your own train, and I’ll rob mine.” Maybe that seems a little simplistic, and just a bit down-homey, but the truth is in the meaning. You do the one thing that works for you, and I’ll do what works for me. And let’s let off judging each other for it.

So for those who still feel the burning embers of anger flame from time to time, I get it. I really do.

Circles In The Sand

Conference is just around the corner and it seems as though many of us now on the outside of Mormonism are beginning to steel our nerves for the upcoming event. Every six months men and women preach to anyone who will tune in as though God himself wrote the words on the teleprompter. If there is one thing we can always count on it will be someone giving a talk about how to love and reach out to the apostate in the family. And every six months this results in overzealous family members crossing socially acceptable boundaries in the name of God and whatever speaker gave them their hair brained ideas. What I find ironic is that it is the apostate who in the wake of conference tends to become the most Christ like. We bite our tongues until the salty taste of blood fills our mouths. We read well meaning letters and emails from family members calling us to repentance and endure a barrage of guilt trips placed on us all in the name of inspiration and love.

Conferences generally result in an outpouring of pity and prayer on our behalf. I don’t pity them, and I don’t pray for them to leave to church. I can see they are happy in the church so why would I want to disrupt that? Ironically no matter how happy someone is out of the church they convince themselves that you really can’t be as happy as you are pretending to be and deep down you are just begging to be rescued.

With all these good intentions looming on the horizon I decided to write this piece more for my own benefit than the readers. Hopefully someone will take something useful from it:

I hear you.

But you can’t hear me over the voices in your head telling you to rescue me. You’re afraid if you abandon the voices telling you to try harder, pray harder, that I will be lost forever and it will be on your head for not listening, for not saying the “right” things. Maybe if you just clip this article or remind me of this fact, just in case I forgot, or pull out that long lost patriarchal blessing you're sure I haven’t read in years then the spirit will reach out and touch me and I will fall to me knees in shock at how far I have strayed from the truth. Or maybe I will be struck down and appear in a state of sleep for 3 days while angels visit me and call me to repentance and on the 3rd day I will rise, praise Jesus, and cry repentance unto the people for the remaining days of my life. Our heritage is rich with these stories, to give up trying to bring me “back to the fold” is akin to loosing me forever. You are the only hands of Jesus, how can you stop?

I see you.

But you can’t see me. You focus on what you think I should be, and who you think I am, you can’t remove that image of the elect, the chosen, the Saturday’s Warrior the church created of me in your head. I understand, I believed it once too.

But what you fail to hear and see is that I am exactly the person you hoped I would be. You taught me to place a high value on truth. I searched for the truth and I found it. Would you have me follow something I know isn’t what it claims to be? Would you ask me to ignore personal integrity, and live a lie? Would you ask me to turn away from the truth in order to follow the crowd? You raised me to stand for something. You raised me to stand with my own convictions even when I was in the minority and no one else would follow. I am standing alone in a room filled with my own family. Maybe you should ask yourself why-what could she know that would cause her to take such a stand? I have never drawn a line in the sand that pitted my beliefs against yours. I continually redraw the circle that encompasses all of us despite are varied beliefs. I do this by respecting your values, and not challenging your beliefs and taking joy in the fact that you are happy where you are.

You say I have lost my faith. I have faith. It may not be in the places you would wish for it to be, but my faith is where it needs to be. I have faith in my family, that one day they will still the voices in their head and hear me. I have faith that one day they will see me and the strength it has taken to do what I felt was right for me, without judging you. I have faith that one day you will be just as proud of me out of the church as you would have been had I stayed in the church. I have faith that one day you will put family before church, and feel at peace with that.

Thoughts on Suicide

I had to confront suicide of a good friend recently. I’ve been fortunate that this is the first time someone close to me has committed suicide. This was a whole new experience for me. I’ve dealt with death many times, some unexpected, some were a welcome from the suffering. What I found interesting was the unexpected emotions that I was confronted with. Anger, regret, betrayal were some of these. These are new emotions for me to tie with a death. I gotta tell you, this was new to me.

I spoke to this friend only hours before he took his own life. He left no note and his family hasn’t said much what they speculate as to what the cause may have been. I began to wonder why do we all need to find the reason, or cause of what caused him to do this? What if he had slowly been planning this? What if something completely out of the blue set him over the edge in one moment? But the real question is, why do we need to know? Is it to simply satisfy our need to calm our unclear nerves or minds? I think it is telling that all of us feel like we need to have a clear, logical answer to something that is completely unexpected and unnerving.

Suicide isn’t something that hasn’t crossed each of our minds at one time or another. As humans we all deal with emotions that involved depression. It’s not a good experience. Some require therapy and medication to cope with severe depression. I am not immune to this either. I have thought about taking my life to the extent of planning out an action to do it. I was in my teens and I was very depressed. This is nothing new looking from the outside in, but to me at that time, it was all consuming. Nothing else mattered. Nothing. I went as far as pushing the knife in causing only a small cut, but luckily I chickened out before it got really serious.

So in a very small way I found I was jealous of my friend. I know how messed up that sounds, but to be honest I still find myself with suicidal thoughts. But I never entertain those thoughts very long. As harsh as it sounds, suicide is a very selfish act and I could never put those I dearly love through something like that.

In fact, my 12 year old daughter recently told me that she has thought about suicide from time to time. This wasn’t something that I wanted to hear from her. After I calmed myself down I sat next to her and told her about my friend. I told her some brief things about him. Things like he was a father of 4 kids, had a great job and how generally happy he was. I then went on and told her about the times I’ve thought about it as well. With her eyes wide open I said, “Tell you what. If you do decide to go through with it please come talk to me before you do anything. And in return, I will do the same to you. And even after talking to me if you are still determined to still go through with it, we will do it together. Because, to be completely honest with you sweetie, I just don’t want to be around if you won’t be here to share life with me. So what do you think? Deal?” With tears in both of our eyes, we did a pinky swear on it. So the deal is now set in stone.

I’m still having a tough time coping with my friend taking his life. I wish I could have been a better friend to him. Someone he felt like he could trust and confide in. But I loved him and even if I was that friend he may have still done this. Who really knows? But what I do know is that death is hard to cope with, but suicide is something that I wish on no one. Suicide is easy for the one who does it, but the family and friends who are left. Man. That just isn’t fair. I just wish that my friend would have taken a moment to really consider those who loved him dearly before himself.

So if you are in that place, or just simply considering it, will you do us all a favor and talk to someone first? Anyone. In fact, I freely extend the offer of a listening ear. I do know how overwhelming those feelings can be.

Cut Off

Remember these verses in the Doctrine and Covenants from Seminary days? It’s ironic to me now that my favorite year was the year we studied the D&C and Church history.

I memorized the verses. I was a scripture chase pro.
I was also strengthened by the words.

11 Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:

12 Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;

13 And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.

14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;

15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;

16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth fold and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

It felt good to think that I was going to be on the side of the Lord, that I would surely be counted among the stalwart and righteous when the end of time began. The signs were everywhere, after all, and like many on my generation we were promised over and over from the pulpit that ours was The Generation. You know the one, saved for the last days, prepared since the beginning of time to help usher in the Second Coming.

And I was going to be among those who withstood temptation, who held to the rod and stayed true.

When I read these verses now, a small flame of indignation kindles deep. I did all that was required. Yet according to these words, I am cut off because I walk in my own way, which happens to run contrary to the words of the Lord’s servants.

Here is my problem. Later in the chapter, the Lord tells us that he makes no excuses for what he has to say. He says that what he says is scripture, and will all be fulfilled. And he says that the words of his servants are the same as if he spoke them himself.

Okay, I get that.

But, what about the words that have changed? What about the things that were spoken by his mouthpiece once, but then declared by another one to be false doctrine? What about all of those neatly repackaged statements that maybe outlived their usefulness, that were once true but then conveniently swept aside when they stopped matching the Church’s current PR position?

This frustrates me. This paints the ones who find themselves struggling to reconcile belief with the troubling skeletons in the Church's closet with that “prideful and hard hearted” brush.

So any true believing member can squarely place those of us who have broken up with the restored gospel in the right box. We are the ones who stopped giving heed to the words of the Lord’s anointed.

What I wish they could understand is that this place we wake up one day and find ourselves in, this is not a vacation in the sun. We didn’t just forget to say our prayers for a week and then poof! Satan got to us.

Before we are cut off from the arms of family, from the love of friends, I wish that they could spend a minute walking around in the same shoes we took on this difficult journey. I wish they could see how much we pray, how long we spend on our knees trying to make it all work. How we pour obsessively over the scriptures to find some key to unlock the mystery.

They seek not the Lord?


Neither give heed to the words of the prophets?

Big fail there, too.

So really, whose sword was the first to fall?

Kiley's Letter of Apology

Kiley over at We Were Going To Be Queens shares a poignant letter of apology to someone she knew from her days as a believing Latter-Day Saint. She writes:

I need to apologize after all these years for judging you through my beliefs and trying to push something on you that you did not need. I look back and wish that I had not shut you out. I wish that I had been a better person. I wish I had been a better friend. I’m sorry.

who we are

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.

You belong here.

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.

This is The Peacewriter.

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