new england fall
Date: October 05, 2018 12:45PM
Ultimately, I left for my daughter. So that she would not be raised in a culture of staying at home, having kids, getting married too young, giving up a meaningful profession, having no real voice in her faith. I knew it was time to go when I thought, "even if this is all true, I don't want it for me, or for my kids."
I was raised in the Mormon faith, served a mission, went through the temple, and was active until a few months ago. For many years, I have distanced myself from a lot of the doctrine and practices, but I kept going to church because I do believe in God and Christ, and I wanted my children raised in a community of faith.
However, as my daughter got older, she would ask questions or make statements - one night she said, "I think I'm just going to the second kingdom, not the highest." I told her my version, that we learn and grow now and hopefully forever, and that God won't pigeonhole us. I had a conversation with my mom over the summer, where my mom said she tried to do the same thing, to temper what I was taught in church with her own more rational, forgiving view of faith. I realized it didn't work, I was fully indoctrinated by 21 and saw my mom as an infidel, not a full believer. That conversation with my mom made it very clear to me that whatever I whispered in my kids ears after church was not enough. They would believe what they learned at church.
Also, seeing the children ripped from their parents at the border and hearing the children and parents misery at their separation made it very, very clear to me that no loving God would do this. At least, not a God that I wanted anything to do with. I would not teach my kids that a select few of humanity gets to keep their family ties, and the rest are torn apart for eternity.
I wanted a simpler expression of my faith in Christ. I made a list of the things the LDS faith expects me to do - daily prayer, scripture study, family prayer, scripture study, go to church on Sunday and Wed, temple attendance monthly, etc, etc. I felt like I was a failure for not doing all these things. I just wanted something simpler.
I knew a few families who had recently left, and I spoke to them about their experience. Both had found churches, the liberal, progressive Christian, New England variety, like the UCC or UU, that were open, loving, and affirming. Church was 1 hour on Sunday and included fun, interesting lessons for kids. There is no long list of stuff I'm supposed to do. If I come to church, great. If not, fine. There is no judgment. I had no idea that there were other wonderful communities of faith to raise my family in, but I am so glad that I found one.
When I spoke with the Bishop, he warned me about the world not being a kind place. That without the church, my kids would be subject to it. I know he meant well, and I used to believe that line of thinking, but now I see that "the world" raises wonderful people. People of faith and without faith who live good, satisfying, moral lives.
I have such hopes for my daughter and sons now. They will never have a spiritual to-do list 30+ items long. They will not be asked private questions about their beliefs and bodies and feel shame about their choices. My daughter can be and do anything she wants, with no pressure to closet herself in a house full of kids she didn't want and give up a profession she loves. I no longer feel constant guilt and shame for not conforming to someone else's idea of spirituality.