My eyes are open, and now my heart can heal.
Generally, I don't talk much about my LDS days. It's…. too traumatizing, if I'm to be honest…
Don't get me wrong. I come not to blast the Mormons, I come to share my… perspective. Experience.
Take this as you wish, but please take it only for how it is intended, and not for how it sounds, because what I am about to say is going to make me sound like a raging jerk. And again, I don't mean to come off that way.
This article was shared by a friend on her Facebook wall. I read not only her statement about what my friend read and her experiences in Mormonism, but I read the comment that a friend of hers had said to her.
And I sat here and thought, after a good chuckle, “When is the record gonna get changed? Seriously?”
I was raised LDS, like the author of above-mentioned article. I had a love-hate relationship with their....... Church ..... for a long, long time. Lies from Bishops, verbal bashings from Bishops, outright judgmental attitudes from pretty much every ward I've ever been in because I didn't have money or 100 children to chase, I didn't drive, I didn't come to church dressed all super fancy... The list goes on. Each time I've had a Mormon engage me in conversation about why I don't want to come back and why I left, I get pretty much the same answer, sometimes phrased differently sometimes verbatim from the last person, but it's always the same thing: "Oh, it's because your ward is just full of bad seeds." But.... Think about it like this: How is it every ward that I've ever been in is "just full of bad seeds?" Forgive me, but that smacks of “copout” more than I'm sure anyone's really willing to be honest enough to admit! Oh, and let's not forget my personal favourite saying, "The Church is perfect, her people aren't...." Yeah, okay.
I mean.... Forgive me for my blunt and direct question here, but.... to my Mormon readers I ask (as gently, but firmly as I can): Are you guys trained to say this? I've seen this being said to me, and to other recovering Mormon friends over the years, and it just makes me laugh, to be honest. I have a lot of respect for the LDS Missionaries. A lot of respect for them, because it takes a special (zero sarcasm there, I promise you) kind of patience and resilience, and let's be honest here, bravery, to knock on a total stranger's door and ask if they'd like to talk. I don't care what the topic is, it's hard to knock on someone's door and ask for a moment (or few) of their time. I, myself, have done this not only from a religious purpose (years ago, in a Church I belonged to in Texas, we went on community outreaches to share the Gospel with people, and then a couple years ago my old Church when I lived up in the northern end of town, I got to help out with a really neat outreach that we did in the community, we broke off into different teams and were “assigned” to share not God specifically, but love. The “team” I was on, we just went round a neighbourhood and passed out wildflower seed packets. That's it. One “team” was assigned to the local fire station to make them food. One was assigned to stand at the local gas station to find some random person to pay for their gas. One was assigned to a different area to pass out bottles of water to people either out for a run or out walking their dog. You get the idea.), but from an employment purpose – I had a job that entailed we go out and canvass the area to talk about environmental issues and try to get donations for our cause. Didn't exactly find that job to be very rewarding (or financially sound).
The article in question, I read carefully, and with each thing, all I could do was agree. Without flinching or second thought. At the end of it, my immediate thought was, “My sweet, gentle Baby Jesus, finally! Someone gets it! Someone's finally put a voice to what I endured! I'm not the only one!”
But, again, I say this not to be nasty about things, I say this out of honesty and frustration, and self-disgust. And let's not forget the guilt factor!
Oh, I could write volumes about the guilt!
Mormons are honestly far superior to the guilting of people who've fallen away (or in my case ran away) than any other group of people I've ever encountered. And I am not exaggerating here, I promise you that.
I am being one million percent serious on this.
People like to joke about “Catholic guilt” or “Jewish guilt,” but I promise you, you don't know “guilt” until you've lived as a Mormon and then left their…. Belief system and encountered well-meant comments about trying to come to your senses and come back. I have.
Again, I do not say this in order to bash them. God love them for their sincerity and their conviction on their beliefs. God love them for how convinced they are about what they've been spoon-fed since the 1800s. Clearly, either they're incredibly naive, or the higher-ups are just that silver-tongued in how they come off.
I know I, myself, was sucked in pretty quick. I know, I, myself, was convinced for a long time that what they told me was some how mandate from Heaven itself. It took a lot of convincing, Biblical teachings – not the Book of Mormon, but the Bible – and the most unlikely source: A Webster's Dictionary, to convince me that the Mormons are pretty much more full of crap than a manure factory.
I'm just saying.
Do with this as you wish.
I speak not to you as just some incredibly jaded individual because I was never accepted to be a Relief Society worker, or my ex-husband ran off with a Sunday School teacher (he didn't). No, no, no. I speak out of personal experience and truth and observation that I, myself, have experienced.
And blatant answers to prayers that I didn't even realize I was saying in my heart.
Talk about spitting out the proverbial Koolaid and having the wool yanked from my eyes! I was floored when I found out what I'd been taught was all nonsense, and let's be blunt here: not of God (and I can prove it).
But, that's not what this is intended to do: start a religious debate of any kind, so please, please, if you insist on defending Mormonism, please be mindful that I am not trying to attack, so please be just as respectful and be nice, you're not going to change my mind, nor are you going to convince me it's at all a Christian religion. Because it isn't, and again, I can – and will – prove it if it comes down to being necessary to do so.
To be fair, the article's author talks about how male-dominated Mormonism is, but let's be honest here, isn't all religion out there mostly from a male perspective? No, please, put down the pitchforks and torches. I'm not going on some kind of feminazi type rant here. I'm just saying. How often were women talked about in the Bible? Not very often. Sure, there's mention of a few that did some pretty incredible things (shoutout to Rahab, Deborah, Rebekkah, Hannah, Lydia, Dinah, the woman at the well… to name a few that I can think of off the top of my head…..) but to quote one of my favourite (and not exactly spiritually sound) movies: “…….the people who held the pens were men.” Thank you, Salma Hayek for delivering that line with such venom. Ha ha
Anyway, all bad jokes aside, she's right: though the Bible is God-breathed, it was human males that jotted down what the Holy Spirit dictated to be written (but… No one knows who wrote Hebrews… Wouldn't it be something if it was written by a woman? Again, not coming from a feminazi perspective, nor am I coming from a “I'm just a lowly woman, when are we vagina-bearing individuals going to get some respect around here?” kind of perspective! I'm just saying, it would be pretty cool if that were the case. And if it's not, well, then I'm totally cool with that, too. Either way, it's something that's crossed my mind a few times here and there over the last many years.).
Like the author of this article says happened to her, Mormonism made me hate myself. Not in the way that the abuse I endured at home and at school for many years made me hate myself, but in another way. From a religious standpoint. I was literally made to feel like I was not only a life-support system for a vagina that was to only be used to squeeze out as many babies as possible (and now that I am no longer physically able to do that, due to medical reasons beyond my control requiring me to have to have a partial hysterectomy in 2011, I wonder.... does that make me less a woman now that I am unable to procreate?), but I also wasn't good enough for God to love, I wasn't good enough for God to hear me, too, because I'm just a “lowly female” and it's only the males that were allowed to talk to God for me. True story, I was actually told by a Bishop (for those playing the home game, a Bishop is the equivalent of a Protestant Minister or a Catholic Priest) that if I have an issue, I'm to take it to a priesthood holder in my household (a male, to clarify), and they were to take my issue to God, and they would “pray” about it, and they would come back and give me what “God” told them I should do that “He” felt was the right course of action. Yeah, there's a lot of quotation marks there, eh? Well, let's be honest and real here: Mormons are not Christian! Mormons do not even believe in the Bible! Trust me. You ask a Mormon a question specifically about the Bible, and what's the first text they whip out to answer your question? The Book of Mormon. There are so, so, so, so many other things that are pretty blatant in provable situations that can clarify that Mormonism is not a sect of Christianity, and if you're interested in those situations, start with reading up on their history. Trust me, if you know anything about the Bible, and about Jesus' inability to change and lack of desire to change, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
Let's be honest here, dear reader(s), if you are Mormon and you disagree, well, I can appreciate that, having been in your shoes and encountering this perspective from others time and again. But one day, I woke up. One day, I realized with all sincerity that what I was being led to believe was entirely and wholly wrong and not of God.
So, not only am I facing the constant struggles of just being me, as a person, but being me as a woman. I know from a human standpoint, of course I'm not worthy to talk to God, but I believe with all my fractured, bruised, broken, diseased, gloriously imperfect and human heart the Cross was implemented to change that. I second-guess myself all the time because of the chauvinism I've not only faced as a kid growing up, but because of the outright abuse I've endured by the very people who should've been raising me to love myself and have a healthy self-esteem. Then, I join a ….. Church (I'll be nice) that has a doctrine in place that basically not only minimizes me because I happen to have the XX chromosome, but has basically said I'm good only for raising babies and keeping the house clean and making sure dinner's on the table for my husband every night.
Let me tell you something: I did everything I could to be a “good little Mormon girl” and do what I was told. I did everything that was asked of me. My son died of S.I.D.S. in 1996 when he wasn't quite 8 months old, and I was actively practicing Mormonism, my daughter just a little over two years later of Anencephaly when she wasn't even born yet, and I fully believed for a brief moment that it was God's way of punishing me for not coming back to Mormonism (I'd left and come back for a good while before finally leaving for good in 2007). For years I blamed God because of the the gross misconception that if I did everything God told me to do, my life would be filled with roses and cotton candy and puppies and unicorns and rainbows and glitter every single day. I have a living child, my youngest, who lives with her Dad because I wanted her to be brought up in a stable, healthy environment, something I, myself, could not give her for a long, long time due to my self-loathing and hatred, and grief. It was a decision I made on my own because I had no one else to turn to at the time to counsel me. I do not regret for one single second that decision. I know I made the most loving choice by her, and though she may not see it right now, and though it's conveniently forgotten by her father, well, God was there, and God heard my pain, and God held my hand (and still does).
I can tell you with all certainty, God is not to blame for my horrible losses, nor is He to blame for the other..... things I've endured. Neither am I. It's something that I had to really wrestle with for a long, long time, and years and years of therapy, and yelling and screaming at God to the point of going hoarse and getting a raging headache from the screaming and yelling, and talking to grief support groups, and journaling that I've finally, as best I can, have learned to deal with every second of every day.
I did what I could, and sure, I tripped and fell on my face several times, but I still got up and did whatever the Bishop or the Stake Prez or the Relief Society Prez, or the whatever-you-want had to say. I did what I was told “God” wanted of me. And yet…. Here I am.
I'm only just now starting to accept myself, my gender, my body, my shortcomings, my humanity. I left the Mormon Church for good on 6 August 2007. Yes, I remember the exact date and I remember the exact time, and I can even track down the address not only where I myself was living at the time, but the precise location where I came to terms with what I'd been taught my whole life was bogus. Here it is, 2016, and I'm starting (finally) to understand that I don't have to define my femininity by my religion or my lack of worthiness to talk to God directly because I'm female.
Not an easy thing to get away from, let me tell you, but I did it. I struggled with that decision for a long, long time, but I have maintained my distance quite successfully.
Again, not trying to be rude, or attacking, or condescending or anything of the sort, just trying to state the obvious here.
What I don't get and refuse to accept is the fact of how judgmental Mormons dare to be, yet they claim they love Jesus.
I could go on ad nauseum (until we're sick of it) here, but I don't have the time, and I'm not going to try to get into any sort of debate about this, because I think it would be a colossal waste of time, to be honest.
Sure, there's no doubt going to be someone going to tell me how their ward is "filled with single parents/grieving parents/non-custodial parents/people who aren't well-to-do who are loved and accepted," as you say. But take a look at this from an outsider's (and a person who is incredibly jaded) perspective: how do they look every Sunday? Honestly? Do they drive a nice car, do they have to depend on rides? How many children do they have? I'm being serious here. Are they "dressed to the 9s" as they say? Dresses on the females of the family, nice suits on the males of the family? Fancy degrees, fancy 40+ hour work-weeks?
I don't come from money, I have had to scrape and scratch, and claw, and save for everything I've ever purchased. I don't dress up to go to Church because I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't believe God looks at my clothes, but looks at my heart to see where I stand with Him. I figure I'm not dressed like a 50 cent hooker, and I'm not drowning in makeup, nor am I there to participate in some sort of fashion show. I am there to learn about my Jesus and talk to Him because He deserves my attention and time and love and He deserves more than I could ever give Him, but He takes what little I have to offer, and He cherishes it, and He shows me every day that love, even when I am at my worst, that's when He loves on me the most. I don't have a car – I've not even had a license in almost 11 years, and quite happily so (personal reasons) – and I don't think that God cares a hoot about that. I think He's happy with me just as I am, even when I fail Him, He loves me enough to dust me off and set me right and patiently wait for me to come to Him and talk to Him. And trust me, I have a very difficult time talking to Him, thanks somewhat to what I went through as a kid, but the more I think about what that Bishop said to me, I think it's a larger part to do with that. And it hurts. So much.
Take a look at this without taking another sip of that Koolaid and think clear for a second. Not from a Mormon POV, but from an outsider's POV.
Just... humour me. Please?