A Path Away From Religion
I've been trying to write this blog post for months. And it wasn't that I didn't want to or that I was worried how it would be received but more that I needed to know I could write it well and put my thoughts out there in a way that made sense and would come from a place of love. I know that this will be perceived in many different ways depending on who's reading it but I'm not here to convince anyone that what I'm feeling or believing is right and what you believe is wrong. I'm not even trying to state one way or the other but it's been long enough "hiding" behind this apsect of our life that I feel it's time to just let everyone know where I stand and why. And since I'm always advocating authenticity and being real and honest, I wanted to be clear on this so I can confidently be myself without people maybe thinking I'm a hypocrite.
And yes, I guess this post is to inform our social circle of this but it's even more so meant for anyone who feels like they are where we have been and to let those individuals know that it's OKAY and that we understand what you're going through. Really, I don't believe you NEED to have the answers, I don't believe you need to KNOW for sure what you believe in and stick with that your entire life. I do think there is a place for hope and faith and it does amazing things but I've come to realize that I don't necessarily want to live my entire life just on faith. I don't know exactly what I feel or what I "know" and maybe that's okay. And honestly you can't ever truly "know" anything anyway unless it's scientifically and/or mathematically proven in my opinion. It all comes down to emotions, opinions, and yes.. faith. And I can't speak for the rest of my life or heck, even 6 months from now because I'm constantly changing, evolving, and adpating but RIGHT NOW these are my thoughts and feelings and this is what is bringing me real and honest happiness.
I was baptised into the LDS church when I was around 11. It was a light for me in my difficult family situation and I do believe that the spirit of it helped me through a lot of dark times where I wasn't strong enough to get through it by myself. I had a solid testimony and never questioned any of it because.. why would I? I'm not going to give you a full history of my religious life because it doesn't really matter for this post. Flash forward several years and I found myself just not feeling "enlightened" or happy by any of it anymore. I tried to go to church and read the scriptures and fill my life with doctrine and spirit because obviously that's what I was missing right?
My husband has usually been on the same page as me with religion especially the last few years but I don't want to speak for him and his feelings so I won't. But together we had decided to "take a break" from church for a while. Nothing "happened" that made us feel this and there aren't really solid reasons behind it (besides a few things we don't like and don't agree with). We just thought... Why are we doing this if we aren't enjoying it or finding the value in it? Dustin has always been really into documentaries and has just really always loved learning and researching things (albiet sometimes really pointless things that sends us into a 2 hour YouTube rabbit hole but...it's cool) We just started thinking.. why not question some things? Why not explore other ways of thinking? Why not think about what we need to do to find happiness? And of course the strange thought that maybe we DON'T find happiness within the LDS church? We spent a lot of time just really NOT sure what we wanted to do or what we really believed in and honestly I felt a lot of pressure and guilt from feeling that way and like I couldn't admit these things or express them to people without receiving a swift rebuttle and questioning. So we sort of continued this "journey" quietly and sort of stayed under the "radar" which I know sounds so dumb but that's what it was like for quite a while!
For anyone who is close to me or follows me on social platforms knows that I've taken a serious path of self discovery and self love in the past year. I found myself 8 months pregnant, slipping into depression and not knowing who the hell I was. I had just done what I was "supposed" to do for so many years. I had given myself to the gospel and then to motherhood that I wasn't sure who I was outside of those things. The church is very proactive about families and the role of a woman as being a mother. I know that it's so important and I wouldn't ever regret being a mother but I don't think it's my all encompassing purpose. I'm still ME. I'm only 25 and feel like I have so many things I want to still do and try. I know that there is a place to be selfless but there's also many times that I need to be selfish. I started to discover my own self strength and my own natural ability to heal myself and to listen to my instincts to guide me through my choices. I had found peace and acceptance realizing that I don't need to have all of the answers and that yes, sometimes shit happens that is out of my control and isn't dependent on my choices at all. I started to feel like I didn't want to just do things because it's "good" or because "you'll find out why in the next life." This is the only mortal life we get and I want to LIVE it fully and crazy and with endless possibilities! I realized that I could live a good life and be a good person without any labels and without expectations. I could be an AMAZING mother because I was first loving myself and taking care of my needs so I could fully give to my family!
After telling someone close to me about this, they said they wanted me to remember who I was and I know it came from a place of love but I was a little taken back. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I DO fully know who I am and who I want to be. I know I'll continue to change and grow but I'm just trying to be the absolute best version of myself everyday! And I honestly think its odd to believe/expect that humans should be permanent beings as far as who we are, what we believe in, and even who we love. I don't think we are wired or made to be that way. I'm certainly not the same person I was 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. And I hope I'm not the same person 5 or 10 years from now because I hope I would have learned more, grown more, become an even better version of myself!
I'm not sure why it's assumed that people should believe in their religion their entire lives? We are constantly changing and learning. We change our minds about lots of things but for some reason if we change our minds about religion, it is unacceptable and perhaps unbelievable. Your truths change, your opinions change, and your circumstances change and hopefully you adapt to those and let them lead you to your happiness. Yes, there was a time when the LDS church was my truth and my life. It was everything to me. But as time has gone and as I've learned more about the world and more about who I am and who I want to be, it just didn't fit anymore. I think it's more important that I am listening to my heart and my soul telling me that I feel peace and clarity during this time of my life. I am not saying that the mormon church is "wrong" or that any religion is right or wrong, but for us right now.. it's not right, any of them.
For the first time in my life, I feel free. And I know that many will fight that and make claims that I am being "blinded" or have been taken by the devil or that my happiness and freedom is fake and temporary or that I'm destroying the salvation of my family. And honestly it's hurtful. Again, that's your truth and not mine. I'm not interested in pointing out how odd I think your way of living is or how I don't feel it's right so please don't discredit my own wisdom and choices with your hurtful and unsupportive comments. I'm not wanting to be divided anymore or feel the pressure and guilt that just seems to come with organized religion. I just want to be myself. I just want to be human. Loving, kind, supportive, inclusive, with no regard to who or "what" you may be.
So I guess you could say what we're living by and teaching our children is.. to be human. Be YOURSELF, find your happiness, love everyone around you, learn learn learn and question. Make mistakes but don't consume yourself with guilt or shame. Be honest and real with others, don't show off or compete. Follow your passions and dreams and your instincts! Love openly and without expectations. Trust yourself and believe in your own inner strength. FORGIVE yourself and others. Just be a good person no matter what day it is, no matter how you feel, no matter whats going on around you. Most of all, it's OKAY to not know everything, it's okay to think differently and to BE different. Let your heart and your voice influence the world around you for good and always leave the room a little bit brighter and people a little bit happier.
If you're reading this as a faithful church member, please just love and treat us the same as you always have. Please don't be sad for us or scared for us. Please don't bear your testimony to us. Please don't invite us to church, please respect our choices in our personal lives and in our parenting. Please just be our friend, be happy for us, be supportive and be kind!
And if you're reading this as an "inactive" member or a questioning one, know that I'm always here to talk to! I won't try and convince you of anything or entertain trash talking but I will listen and offer my thoughts if wanted. I offer love and understanding so reach out if you feel like this connects with you!