March 1st, 2008

Joseph Smith

Hymns and Friends

So it has been a long time! I guess I haven't felt the need to write for a while.

I was thinking about hymns and primary songs and how they still pop into my head so often. The brilliant little chants that have been scratched deeply into my brain. I haven't been to church for years now but they still come floating in so easily and reminding me to follow the prophet or hope they call me on a mission or so many other hypnotic little phrases. What an excellent tool they are to implant ideas in heads in a catchy and unforgettable way.

But the real reason I wanted to write was some very good news. Some people very close to me recently revealed to me that they no longer believe the church is true. I was surprised and happy to hear about their journey out and I am proud of them. They have a lot of hard times ahead but I know they will make it though. They have decided to keep the news secret from a lot of people at this point because it would cause so many problems for them. Indeed, they are in a really tough spot with that. I wish they could be themselves and have their families be proud of them but in this case they have to keep up appearances and lie to keep the peace.

I think about how lucky I am that I was able to pretty much rust rip the bandaid off with my family. It wasn't fun or easy and it still hurts. My family is very devout but my parents are more open minded than some, even though I have encountered nightmares with them and I know they are upset and they still are hanging on to the hope that I will come back to the fold. but I haven't been disowned. I haven't been though a lot of the hellish things that many exmormons have had to face. They do still love me. My husband was a convert so when we left his family didn't have any problem with it. it hardly mattered to them at all that we were turning away from mormonism. I know it was hard for them having their son convert but they have never seemed to let it change things. Even when they couldn't go to our wedding. They had to sit outside and wait as their son went though the secret temple ceremonies. They had to feel rejected and alone as they were surrounded by strange people who seemed to speak another language. They were amazing in how well they handled it all.

But these people who are close to me have time bombs on both sides. Both from such devout families. The kind of attitude that they would rather die than see their children leave the one true church. That manipulative attitude has left them in fear or revealing themselves to the people who should love them most unconditionally. The church is more important than anything and leaving it is pretty much unforgivable. In this way I have seen how the church strains relationships and, the church that so strongly preaches family, breaks them apart.

So the exmormons have their dilemma. Should I be "out and proud" at the risk of hurting those I love or should I spare their feelings but compromise myself? I think that often there is a bit of a middle ground where things end up but it is hard to know how to balance things best. I find that even though I have told my family about my disbelief I am still "in the closet" to so many people in my life. Fear keeps me there, wondering how my relationship with others would change if they knew. I try to be honest. If someone asks me "are you mormon?" (and I live in UT and people do ask this) I will be honest and say I am not. But I find that even more often people just assume I am and I let them assume. I wonder sometimes if that is dishonest but at the same time it would seem stupid and unnecessary to make a huge deal about it to everyone just to stop them from assuming things about me. People make assumptions all the time about all sorts of things and I can't really stop that but I don't want to be dishonest. It is a strange dilemma I suppose. I feel there are a few people who I should perhaps tell but I do fear losing their friendships. I have already lost friends because of my decision to leave. But what kind of a friend are they really if they would let this destroy our friendship?

Anyway, back to the people who recently "outed" themselves to me. I wish the best for them and I love them and I will be there for them always. I am happy for them because I know that even though they have started on an excruciatingly difficult path, the rewards of truth and freedom and growth will be great ones.
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