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.