Growing up in Mormonism and an experience with a "Testimony"

There are a myriad of different aspects of Mormonism that have affected my life, but I will only touch on one or two of them. Perhaps pointing out some of the things that I have learned over the years will make the lessons easier for others. This is my hope.

My most painful Mormon experience was learning that having faith in something does not necessarily make it true. I will explain. I am 23 years old now, but I was only 12 years old at the time. My aunt was in the late stages of breast cancer. Things looked very grim. She was withering before our eyes. Our family fasted and prayed that she would be saved somehow. It was during this fast that my eldest sister received a "revelation" that if my aunt (who was an inactive member of the Church) started to wear her garments again and became an active member in good standing that she would be healed. My sister immediately called my aunt to tell her the good news. There were a lot of thankful tears of joy and relief. My desperate aunt began wearing her garments and became a model Mormon for as long as her health would allow. We were all sure that her cancer would soon be gone. That did not happen, however. Two or three months later my aunt died. I will never forget my sister's reaction after my aunt's death; still with completely blind faith and sincerity, she said, "I wonder why the Lord would tell me that? I just don't understand."

I wondered too. The old there-are-just-some-things-the-Lord-doesn't-mean-for- us-to-understand explanation would not salve over my doubting that time. One thing that I have found over and over in Mormonism is that an explanation or excuse can be divined for just about ANYTHING that doesn't sit quite right. And if something can't be explained away, members are told to rely on faith. "If we could explain everything then there would be no faith and without faith we couldn't be tested." Yes, I've heard it all.

There was something reckless and impulsive about telling a dying woman that she would be healed simply because my sister got a feeling that it was true. It's like letting go of the steering wheel while careening down a busy freeway. Pretty soon there's going to be a crash, faith or not. I have heard of or been witness to many other instances when blessings that promised healing or Patriarchal Blessings have turned out to be wrong. My great uncle's Patriarchal Blessing said that he would live to see the second coming of Christ. He died about 30 years ago at the age of 73. (An uninspired Patriarch?)

This is what I mean about an explanation for everything. I would challenge my Mormon friends to think of any potentially faith-shattering experience and I will give you at least two perfectly acceptable Mormon rebuttals. It is my belief that the Prophet could get up to speak at a General Conference to tell the world that the Church is a big hoax and at least half of the members would stagger for a moment and then, without skipping a beat, decide that the Prophet must have fallen from God's favor and was misled.

My own mother has done a lot of extensive studying of Mormonism. She read a lot of books about Joseph Smith and, unable to resolve his lying, conning, and philandering, concluded that he must have been a fallen prophet. I can only imagine that the alternative (the church isn't true) was too much for her to accept at the time. I can't help but resent the turmoil that my mother and I and so many other people must go through just to find out what an elaborate web of lies they've been stuck in for years and sometimes even a lifetime.

It is my personal opinion that if there is a God, He wants His children to think for themselves and to use their intellect to search for Him in their own special way. I believe there are many different routes back to Him. I do not want a handbook on how to live the perfect life. I want to find out for myself what road I need to take. Strength comes from doing the work and having the courage to forge your own path. I will continue to do just that using the tools that my loving family, books, and, yes, even the Church, have given me. There is so much wisdom out there that is just within our grasp. It is thrilling for me to imagine all that I have yet to learn.

Within the past year or so I made my final break from the Mormon Church. The information that I gleaned from the Internet, and especially this particular site, has been invaluable in my research. I am so thankful that these resources have been made available to those who are serious about learning the truth about Mormonism.

It's strange and rather disturbing to think that 10 years ago I would have been shocked and afraid of the person I have now become. What I now see as a healthy curiosity, I would have then seen as blasphemous, irreverent, even sinful. I do not "walk by faith" anymore. I walk with honor. I walk with dignity. I walk with what I feel is a full appreciation for this world; something I could never have done with the crippled spirit that I used to have.

Right now I am not sure about the existence of God. This is not a frightening thing to me. If anything, it makes me embrace life even more. And if there is a God, I am not entirely certain that he/she is particularly concerned with human beings. With that in mind, I look at life with new eyes. What a precious gift it is to be here. My heaven is now. I will search for my richness and joy here. I will try to complete myself here. Looking at life in this manner means savoring every morsel...both the bitter and the sweet. It is the struggle to become a whole person, it is the learning, it is the growth, that determines the quality of one's life. I am so thankful. Thank you, Eric. Take care.

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