I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) by parents who converted when I was three years old. One day there was a percolator coffee maker that I liked to watch bubble and one day there was not. One week my dad smoked and one week he didn’t anymore. I had an idyllic childhood which was not as quintessentially Mormon as, say, one raised in Utah, but it was close to perfect. My dad worked long hours my mother was a teacher who gave her spare time and energy to the Church. My mother often reduced my fears with anything in the world by referencing that we were a family sealed together in the Temple for “time and all eternity” and that any hardships here were only temporary and like all things mortal “this too shall pass”.
Then in my third year of college my father rejected in very short order: fidelity, the church and then his marriage to my mother. He returned to cigarettes and alcohol. And my idyllic world was broken. Since that time I’ve been literally ALL. OVER. THE. MAP. of faith. I left the church and faith for a while and sowed numerous wild oats that bore bitter fruit. I realized my best friend was my soul mate, married him, returned to the flock, and we sealed ourselves to each other in the Temple.
Went through a time of moral superiority over others thinking that I’d do everything right in my home and the result would never be as disastrous as my parents end had been. In attempting to do everything right, my unmatched loyalty to the church as an institution began to shake when I felt certain practices of my church thoroughly lacked the perfect connection to God I was expecting… So now I am in the dead center of a faith crisis. I don’t know exactly where God is but I look for him in my everyday and in analogies to the joys I experience as a mother. I have some anger with the practices of my religion but I am trying not to take those out on my Creator.
There is much I love about being Mormon. The sheer organization of it all is amazing. Lessons are coordinated world-wide. Meeting styles are the same in Seattle and in the Congo. Sunday revolves around the Sacrament and it’s not just a bi-yearly occurrence. There is no paid clergy, we teach each other. Volunteerism and service is the heart of most messages. “Do as the Savior would do” is the mantra. When my brother died suddenly there was a woman from church at my mother’s side right away when I was miles and miles away. We mourn with those that mourn and stand with those in need of comfort.
The flip side of the organization of the Church is we are rampantly correlated: Meaning, the church has a stand on almost every issue that exists and if you are true believing you should agree with that viewpoint. If you don’t, life as a Mormon can be lonely. Disagreement is met with “Either you believe the Prophet is a prophet, or you don’t.”
Culture sometimes trumps faith and what you “do” is easily judged because from sleeve length to what you eat involves guidelines.
I am currently in a place of disaffection with my church. My sister was turned away from a mission because of her body size. I don’t think the opportunities for my daughters in the church are as prominent as the ones for my sons. I am deeply saddened by my church’s involvement against rights for gay individuals. I am devastated that my church built a billion dollar shopping mall to protect real estate interests.
I attend church services but feel out of place. I don’t know how to stay and I don’t know how to leave… And sometimes I don’t know who to talk to. Talking to people who are not members can be complicated because they are unfamiliar with the ins and out of church membership. Talking to church members is difficult because I can’t make them my punching bag for the church. They did not cause the feelings of pain I have – the church is an entity that they are not responsible to represent alone.
I feel my purpose is evolving. I hope God has a purpose for me, but I don’t know what it is yet.I find incalculable joy in motherhood and that is all my focus at this time in my life, but I also don’t want my identity only to rest with my children. So I hope for involvement in bigger tasks outside of the scope of life right this minute.
Today my relationship with God is peaceful confusion, and the only message I want to share for certain is that you are loved more than you know.