Tuesday, September 11, 2007

If You're Doubting, It's Okay

It is very difficult and painful when your Mormon world shatters.

If you are having a doubt about your faith, your Mormon leaders will tell you that YOU have a problem and need to pray and fast more. But the honest truth is that your human mind is doing a little bit of it's own thinking and it's giving you a subtle warning that something doesn't add up.

There were several factors that were all involved in my exodus. Ironically, they all happened at the same exact time. Here is a list of those factors. I will list them and then expound on each one.

1. Just a subtle doubt
2. Tired of putting on a "mask" in order to fit in
3. Just tired of church and all the demands
4. Pointless callings that take up hours of your time

1. I don't even know why, but after my mission, I began doubting the divinity of Jesus Christ. I began noticing that priesthood blessings really had no effect. It grew slowly. I remember sitting in sunday school one day listening to a lesson and every bit of it sounded like a fairy tale. I began to slowly realize that Jesus is a mythological character no different than any other "hero". I began to notice that teachings in the church and scriptures defy known facts, i.e. dead people don't come back to life, nobody can walk on water, people don't float up and down from space, etc... All these things are clear contradictions to the very world we live in, and it is a sure sign that Christianity is false. It's so obvious to me now that I can't believe I didn't see it years ago.

2. In the Mormon culture, there are certain guidelines that members are expected to follow. Those members that follow (or appear to follow) are held in a class known as "temple worthy". This is an elite group and only the most faithful and obedient fit into this class. Of course, all believers want to be included in this group. These are the top people, the heirs of the Celestial Kingdom. People in this group are not perfect but they have fully conformed to the rules of Mormonism and it is an honor to be in this group. They usually hold important positions in the church. In fact, active Mormons who are not in this group are looked down upon.

People in the "Temple Worthy" category are under a lot of pressure to maintain that position. People in this group appear to be very happy. Afterall, they have been told that ONLY by conforming to Mormonism can they be truly happy. But unfortunately, there are many unhappy people in this group. Oh, they will never admit it, because they belong to the "happy" group, but people in this group experience life problems as well as everyone else and many of them are just plain out depressed.

But they can never admit it because they have obeyed all the "commandments" so they can't possibly be miserable. They think that something must be wrong with them. So they continue going to church, putting on their happy smiling faces, pretending that life is wonderful. Afterall, everyone else in the group is happy, so if they are not happy, something must really be wrong. So to maintain their status, everyone in the group puts on their "happy mask" and lives the lie right along with everyone else. Not one of them admits they are unhappy and not one of them realizes that the system actually does not bring them real happiness. So they keep living the lie and blaming themselves for being unhappy. It's a nasty cycle and only a very few are strong enough to break out of it.

Ironically, those who break out are labeled apostates. Those people who are strong enough to set themselves free of this nasty, vicious cycle are put down, cast out, and forgotten. Very few people will ever realize that this process, while extremely liberating, is also very painful. Many people are shunned by close family and friends. This change can effect not only your standing in the Mormon church itself, but also the community if Mormonism is a majority of the population.

This process of setting yourself free from the "lie" earns you the respect of few and the judgement of many. But the entire reason you broke away was because you were tired of pleasing everyone else and looking perfect for everyone else. You realized that the time has come to please yourself and be honest with yourself. You realize that whatever anyone else thinks of you is no longer your concern. In fact, it's none of your business.

For a while, the people in the elite group will try to bring you back. They will wonder how you could ever walk away from the perfect system. But after a while, they will all forget about you and life in their nasty cycle will go on.

You are now free from the obligation of wearing a "happy mask" every sunday. If you feel like shit, then it's okay to feel like shit! If life isn't going your way, it's okay to accept it. If you feel unhappy or upset you know it's just a human emotion and you don't have to hate yourself for feeling that way. In fact, once you walked away from the vicious cycle, you have noticed that you have more love of yourself and more self confidence than you ever did before. People still stuck in the cycle can never understand this, and very few of them ever will. Most of them will spend their entire miserable lives in this cycle, hating themselves and wearing a huge smile.

Although you are labeled by them as the apostate, you know deep within yourself that you are free and they are not. They are prisoners to the system. They are in a prison that they cannot see or feel. The door to this prison is wide open; all they have to do is walk out. But for fear of what others will think of them, they choose to stay in their prison.

I was in the elite group and I was tired of putting on the "happy mask" and pretending that life as a Mormon was wonderful. I was miserable. I was getting sick and tired of church. And I was most tired of playing the pretend game. I was following all the "rules" and yet my life was not perfect and I was not happy. I was tired of lying about it to everyone around me and I was tired of lying to myself. I had to get out.

3. Demands, expectations, commandments, obedience. My last post covered this topic very well.

4. I had a calling as assistant ward clerk. While there were some good aspects of this calling, I soon discovered that I was going to church early for meetings, and staying late after church for meetings and/or tithing counting. The tithing part was actually fun. It was cool to see who paid what. I had the dirt on everybody! But for some reason, Mormons love meetings and I found myself going to meeting after meeting and they were completely pointless. The only thing they did was waste my time and make me resent the church. It didn't take very long before I was completely burned out.


It's hard to say which of these factors had the most influence on my decision to stop going to church. I can't put one above the other because they were all equally present in my situation. Quitting church has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The pressure is gone. Pressure to be in the elite group, pressure to obey all the commandments, pressure to believe in nonsense, and pressure to waste my time with pointless callings. It's gone! And I am free! If you're doubting it's okay! It's normal. If god didn't want you to think, he wouldn't have given you a brain!

Just another evil apostate...

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