Things were fine back then, or so I remember. My best friend was also in the church, and lived right across the alley from me, and we were happy.
When I was approximately six years old, I remember thinking "I KNOW the church is TRUE! I just KNOW." I must look back on that and shake my head. How absurd.
I always felt a sense of pity for the friends and relatives that I had (even when I was six, and younger!) who were not Mormons, because they were simply lost. I was better than they, somehow. They just Didn't Get It.
When I was 12, I started relying heavily on the church, seeing as how my home and school lives were less than joyful. Young Women's during the week was the day that I looked forward to most. But those days were miserable as well, for I never found what I was looking for (I still don't know what that was).
I tried to have a testimony, but I just couldn't muster one.
Frankly, I did not like what the church taught. It made me quite fearful, and I hated myself for not being even remotely close to what I should have been. I figured that that was the reason for my lack of feelings towards things that were supposed to be Big Spiritual Events (ie-- Baptisms for the dead, reading the BoM, testimony meetings, etc).
I'd heard many stories about how people would just "know" that someone was accepting the gospel when they were baptized for them.
That they felt such "peace" and "warmth" when looking up at the painting over the baptismal font in the Chicago temple.
I never felt any of those things. I can not say that I didn't feel *anything*, for I always felt a _very_ uncomfortable silence.
Waiting in futility for something that isn't going to come, and never was going to come. Being stood up by the Spirit.
Fear and guilt ruined some of the most beautiful days that I've experienced. I could be sitting at home, all by myself, on a summer evening, listening to music. So peaceful, so tranquil, so beautiful. But I could never, ever enjoy myself, because I knew that I was a bad person, and that I would never get to live with Heavenly Father when I died. I would sit outside, staring at a distant star, and just cry and scream inside of my head.
Even worse, when I tried to repent of my "sins", I knew that it would not work. I did not have a "broken heart and a contrite spirit". I guess I just didn't CARE enough to repent. And that was even worse. What did I have to do, beat myself down into depression and suicidal tendencies before I could repent properly?
Heh, "Heavenly Father", nothing.
He seemed like nothing more than a big, cosmic asshole to me.
I grew older, I changed as most teenagers do. My appearance and personality gradually changed, as did my tastes in music.
For my sixteenth birthday, my mother bought two tickets for me and a friend of my choosing to see my favorite band at the time.
To this day, I do not know how every single one of my peers (and many adults!) at church discovered that I was going to be attending said concert.
I hadn't been getting too many comments about my appearance, and those I did get were rather mild. "Carrie. Well. Wow."
But.. *whisperwhisperwhisper* "Carrie is going to that concert!" until everybody knew. I wondered what the big deal was. Sure, the lyrics were "questionable", but the music made me feel good. It felt like Me. I was slowly becoming myself, and I liked myself.
Sure, I heard a few "Carrie scares me." "She listens to _bad_ music.", but those amused me and I laughed about it. If black hair and an eyebrow ring is all it takes to scare someone, I sincerely hope that they do not ever run into anything _truly_ frightening!
The leaders and bishopric weren't "afraid" of me, no. They were "concerned" for my welfare. Ahuh.
(Speaking of bishops and the things that they do.. those "interviews" creeped me out! I had to lie each time. "Are you morally clean?" "Yes." (*wither*)
Those were simply TOO personal, and I always felt that they were none of his business, and why couldn't god forgive me for playing with myself when it was just He and I? God seemed very, very sadistic in that respect, making timid, evil people like me feel like the lowest life forms on earth. Ah, I digress.)
Eventually I just stopped going to church. It was gradual. I'd miss a Sunday here and there, and then more frequently. I was very afraid of God and the Church, and was running away from them.
During the next few years I did a lot of foolish things. I started smoking, began drinking and smoking pot. I was carefree, and God was the last thing on my mind. I enjoyed those years, and haven't really come out worse for wear (although smoking still makes it hard to breathe at times:).
One day in 1997, I looked up Mormonism through AltaVista, and came across the name of Eric. I know Eric. My family was very close with his, for many years.
His site, and what it contained, shocked me.
It simply couldn't be the same Eric.
(With a last name like that, though... heh heh.)
Since I know that he was *quite* devout in his beliefs, I felt that his material _definitely_ deserved more than a passing glance.
I was SO relieved to find out that the horror and fear that I felt when thinking about God and Death.. was no longer a concern. Tons of weight lifted from my chest.
I was very angry for awhile. Very, very angry. The effects of this religion have been rather extreme. For years I was ashamed of my femininity. I've actually only overcome this within the past two years. Now, I wear long skirts because I _like_ them, not because I am _supposed_ to wear them. For me, that really is a big step. I've taken many. Too many to list here.
As for my beliefs now.. I do not have any. I would like to believe in a deity of endless love and understanding, but that's just a bit of a stretch for me. Unfortunately, a sentient deity seems to be a necessity for this girl. I've been taught that there was one all of my life. Some things just won't be changed.
I'm still searching for a replacement for the Mormon God. It's my biggest crutch, and I hope to be able to walk without it, someday.
Do I have _any_ beliefs in Christianity anymore?
No. I find it all to be a faery-tale. A very _interesting_ faery-tale. I am particularly in-like with Catholicism and all of it's ornate trappings. :)
Will I ever go back to Christianity?
Probably the day I return to Mormonism.
But do I still read the Bible?
Why yes! Sex and violence make excellent bed-time stories. ;)
I find Revelations to be particularly interesting. It's a LOT less stressful when you are no longer afraid of what is written.
I suppose I'm agnostic, with heavy atheistic leanings. Extremely cynical. I no longer take things, or people, just on faith. I do not have faith. I have reason.
If someone or something wants my complete belief _so_very_badly_, they or it will have to prove themselves to me.
Ultimately, I believe that we _are_ what we are searching for. And so I am trying to turn around and look at myself, to find what I am needing.
This is one of the hardest things that you may ever have to do.
Look at me, sounding self-righteous. I'm young, have patience, I think I know it all, remember? ;)
I wish everyone the best in their chosen paths, and here is to hoping that we will all find peace.
If anyone would feel the desire to contact me, they are more than welcome to do so. However, if any TBMs think that it is their mission to harass and proselytize, I shall go about my mission of having your account revoked the moment you violate your service's Acceptable Use Policy. Don't try me, I've done it before. :)
.-. Skerry Carrie, Quite Contrary! Nasty Probe Mistress \ / "No really!! I'm a freak. See, it says so on my backpack." -+- Goth Milk? & "Postal Notes": http://www.execpc.com/~skerry |
I was baptized surrounded by my family, friends, and fiancÚ (who was not a member). It was a particularly hard time for my mother, who has always been semi-Catholic, and had serious reservations about the Church from the beginning. Still, she was there, and tried very hard to be happy for me. Today I feel sick when I think about how this must've killed her inside.
After my baptism, I was active in the Church, doing Institute, a few dances, etc. But since I was engaged to a non-member, and had a lot of non-member friends, the church did not become my entire life, which has made the transition out much easier. Soon, I began to worry about my fiancÚ's lack of membership, and persuaded him to take the discussions and get baptized. He did both, although he always told me he didn't really believe in 95% of what they taught him. Right now, he is on the "outward bound crusade" with me.
Things began to go downhill church-wise when my Institute teacher made some very homophobic comments one night. I was raised to accept and respect EVERYONE, even if they behaved differently that I, and I found this blatant disrespect to be cruel and inconsiderate. I immediately began to research the background of the Church with regard to this issue, and was appalled by my discoveries (aversion therapy, shock treatments, etc.). I shared my findings with my fiancÚ, and we decided then and there that there was no way that we were going to raise our children to believe that homosexuals were evil people who had "chosen" to be the way they were. We also thought it strange that a prophet of the Lord would sanction a "cure" for homosexuality that involved pornography, and that was deemed unsafe and ineffective by a wide range of doctors and mental health professionals, including the APA and ApA. When we brought this issue to the attention of our bishop, he told us that since WE weren't gay, we shouldn't worry about it, and should continue to "hold to the rod". I responded that I wasn't poor, either, but I still donated money to charity. He then asked if this issue was important enough to miss the Celestial Kingdom for. I told him that if the Celestial Kingdom was filled with homophobic people who couldn't tolerate diversity, I would just as soon go the other way. Naturally, he begged us to stay in the Church, and has continued to mail us all sorts of literature on the topic (most of which has strengthened our resolve to leave).
Lest anyone think that homosexuality was the only issue that turned me off the Church, I will hasten to add that there were several other views that were also unacceptable to me and my fiancÚ. In the interest of space and time, I won't go into that here.
Currently, I am still on the church roles, although I have not gone in months. I am still unsure where to go from here, and although I have made many wonderful friends in the LDS Church, I don't think I will stick with it. No matter what, my family has to come first, and I know that I cannot expose my future children to such potentially- damaging views as those that I have encountered. I hope that I can stay friends with the LDS people that I have grown to love dearly, and that they will continue to love me in return. I am looking forward to a beautiful wedding (in a non-LDS church), and would love to invite them, if they will come. I am so grateful that I realized that this was not the church for me before I got married in a LDS Temple, out of sight from my family and most of my friends. I am also eternally grateful for such a great fiancÚ, who has gone through all of this with me. He is a rare person, and I plan to hang onto him forever.
To the Church's credit, they have helped me to understand myself better, and given me a lot of advice on being a good parent. I do not necessarily disagree with all of their ideas about what makes a good, successful family (although I don't think the parents have to be different genders to do so), and plan to implement some of the techniques I've learned. The Church has also been helpful in exposing me to Christianity on some levels, and I am grateful for the experience.
I have come to recognize that "the spirit" whispering in my ear was probably my own conscience, and I am glad that I know what to listen for now. I also know that the Church can seem like a very enticing permanent solution to temporary problems, but that it often takes more than just religion to get through some crisises.
My advice to investigators would be to take a long time before joining the Church. I could've saved a lot of people pain and suffering if I had just waited longer. There is plenty of time to make a decision like this.