My Story by firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric, what a great thing to have this site where we can just say what we feel. I love it because the letters are honest and not hateful.
But my story is quite different from all the rest of these. So I felt I needed to add mine to the list.
I'm a 4th or 5th generation Mormon, and I was raised of "goodly" parents. My (deceased) dad was a very kind, understanding, wise Patriarch who gave very inspirational and insightful blessings to all the people in the stake. I got a few great blessings from him.
My unusual story begins when I was 7 years old. For some reason, I felt like I understood the universe, and I still feel that I have never been wiser in my entire life than I was at that age. I understood the universe, and I felt I could be and do anything in the world. That feeling left when I became eight years old, but before I lost this 'power' or 'wisdom', I made a covenant with God that all my tests would be mental and not physical.
As a result, I've never broken a bone, been admitted to a hospital, or felt any real pain. In fact, once when I was a teenager I was sitting in the front seat in a car that rolled over 1 1/2 times. All the windows were broken, but I didn't get one scratch! Also, I have always been able to turn off hick-ups in a split second, and headaches in a few seconds.
Unlike most or all of the other letters I see here, I had a 100% firm testimony of the church all my life. I could pray to God and get an answer 98% of the time. When my father and parents in law died, I felt no sadness, because I felt I could communicate with them in my heart whenever I wanted to. All in all, I've had a very happy and fulfilling life. And the saddest part was that I could teach my wife or kids (or anyone else) how to feel this way or how to communicate with her parents.
It always seemed a bit funny that nobody else ever got their prayers answered very often, and that so few people really had testimonies.
Then came the mid-life crisis a few months ago. I'm approaching 40, and I was really wanting to understand total truth. I would ponder and pray a lot, and study the scriptures. I knew the scriptures very well, and read them often. In fact, I'd been a 'perfect Mormon' my entire life. Then one day, two principles occurred to me:
1. All the miracles I had seen and heard of in the church also occur regularly in other churches and can be explained without even the concept of 'God'.
2. The great values I have in the church are actually my own values, and I can keep them, even if I don't believe in the church or in God.
For about a month I didn't believe in any god at all. A week after these thoughts occurred to me, I got an Internet account, and I spent 10-20 hours a week on the net studying every philosophy, culture and belief I could find. At this point, I decided to tell my wife, who had always had a very weak testimony. She was devastated. For the next couple of months (the last couple of months), I read about 1500 pages worth of books, including the first few books of the Old Testament, and parts of several church books.
My wife set an appointment to have us go to the bishop. He asked if I was studying and praying, and if I had read any anti-Mormon literature. Yes, I was studying and praying a lot, and no, I had not read any anti-Mormon stuff -- there was too much positive stuff out there to worry about reading negative stuff. Since then, occasionally I would run across some anti-Mormon stuff on the net by accident, and I've been shocked and how much black-and-white indisputable evidence there is against the truthfulness of the church.
So, where am I now? Now, I am a pagan. I don't believe in the Bible, except as a collection of chauvinistic myths, some of which teach good values, but most of which don't. I believe in a deity, or a force, that we can connect with. The pagans learned the tools to connect with that force, and use it to enhance our lives, our health, our intuition, and give us joy.
That is the force, the power I had as a child. It is only now, more than 3 decades later, after studying the ancient beliefs and traditions, that I feel like I have about the same level of understanding of and connectivity with the universe. Christianity not only denies that force, but they call it Satanic. Finally, I know why so few of my Mormon friends every got their prayers answered. They never learned how to meditate and connect with the Power. Because the church (and in fact, Christianity) doesn't teach them.
So what am I going to do now? My wife is a traditionalist, and she has several brothers and sisters (as do I). She feels that she would be a traitor to her family if she deserted the church. She feels that her deceased parents' main goal was to be together as a family, and that to do something so evil as to read anti-Mormon literature would be devastating to her parents.
My wife and I have always had a perfect marriage, and after all is said and done, my family is the most important thing. So we won't tell our children about my new ideas, and we'll keep going to church. And she will let me perform my meditation rites and improve myself spiritually as I desire. What frustrates and confuses my wife most, is that I have never been happier in my life, and that I have the classic Mormon 'burning in the bosom' almost all the time.
And the future? I'll put it this way. I think the future looks very bright for the entire family.
I am a grandmother who determined that when we retired and moved to another state I would no longer pretend to be active in the Mormon church. I do not feel a victim, I do not feel I was had. I simply was born in a small Utah community to goodly (well 1/2) parents who raised me as a Mormon. I accepted (although without fervor) all I was taught.
I did, however, as I grew older, question and I liked to break the rules, poo-poo the power of the Priesthood (I never personally saw it work--if things got done it was because women, who had more time than their husbands, nagged or did it themselves.) Among the most spiritual people I observed were woman, although if they were young women, they didn't have much of the spirit of forgiveness.
My husband was not fervent about the church either, but we attended regularly together with our children and did most of what was expected. Except go to the temple. I found that ceremony baffling and it didn't enrich my commitment to being a better Christian so I never went but once.
In Sunday school or R.S. classes I would always ask the question I felt must surely be on other's minds, but they were too shy to ask. Since we lived in the mission field, tolerance was more a part of the general philosophy. Members accepted my chosen gad-fly role.
But finally--and it is one of the blessing of aging--I no longer felt I had to pretend to something I didn't believe. I was helped in this decision because of a phone conversation I had with an old high school friend who asked, maybe 20 years ago, how I felt about the church. "I believe it." I answered. "Oh, come on now," he said. Just those words and the tone of voice was enough. I slowly, maybe taking ten years, came to see that the comfort the old shoe gave, was not enough. I didn't want to wear it anymore.
Now, unlike many former Mormons, I am an atheist. I don't believe in a god. I believe I might have come to this same point had I been born a Buddhist, or a Hindu or a Protestant. I do believe in the goodness of people. Many of my Mormons friends are among the best of people and I treasure them. I don't feel sorry for them. They are happy. They are trying to live good lives.They accept the boundaries the faith wraps them in and some of the boundaries are helpful, others limiting. So it goes.
Utah Mormons are a little different than the Mormons I knew in the mission field, but so many people in Utah have lived elsewhere and have more tolerance for differences, so. . .
And most people have learned their own survival techniques, whether it be avoidance, compartmentalized thinking, or accepting human nature as fallible and funny.