How I’m actually finding peace outside the LDS church

CoffeeCatDogKid | How I'm actually finding peace outside the LDS church

In the last few years, I haven’t just undergone a faith transition, I’ve undergone an entire life-outlook transition. My Church-self was judgmental. I didn’t understand why gay people “chose” to be gay, I didn’t like it when my family stopped at the store for groceries on a Sunday, and I chastised my mum if I saw her with a cigarette. I was selfish, ignorant, and judgmental. Today, I have developed into an open-minded, loving, and including person. I learned that homosexuality isn’t a choice, it isn’t something we should classify as a struggle. It’s a part of who our brothers and sisters are. Sexuality isn’t black and white. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if you shop on Sundays, whether you drink coffee or tea, or even if you want to have sex before you get married.

We all experience huge life changes. For some of those, we can’t be quick enough to stick a photo on Instagram, tag a comrade on Facebook, or share it through some social medium or other. For other life changes, they’re huge in your life, but may go unnoticed by the swarm of those that crawl your Facebook feed for their social update.

But eventually people notice the small things…and they get curious…and they start asking questions. And many of you have asked. I went back and forth about writing a blog post and putting it out there—because mostly it’s nobody’s business, but at  the same time I recognize the irony of putting it out there inviting discussion and questions.

So let me put this out there real quick. I stopped attending the LDS Church. I haven’t yet removed my name from the record, and have no intention of doing so in the foreseeable future. If you’d like to read on, I’ll share some of my deepest emotions with you for a short while, and if you don’t care to read on because this announcement makes you angry beyond belief, or sick to your stomach with sadness, that’s okay too. I still love you, for the person that you are, and I admire your commitment to your faith in the face of so much adversity. What I won’t accept, however, are hateful comments. I also don’t intend to debate doctrine with anybody.

Faith transition is a long, exhausting, drawn out process. I’ve sat in countless Church meetings where we, as active members of the Church, pointed at those who had already left and remarked that they had taken the “easy way out” or the “path of least resistance.” In the last 24 months, I have learned that this could not be farther from the truth.

Let me just say it again, leaving your faith is the most heart-wrenching, soul-crushing, and exhausting thing you can ever do. It is not the easy path. You have to analyze everything you’ve come to believe, you have to break it down and try and figure out what is true and what is false, which parts do you believe in and which do you have to leave behind. At the end of all that, you have to spent time breaking the hearts of your closest friends and family. I spent months, almost years, thinking about my belief system and the different aspects of my religion. But the more I thought about things, the more I realized that I just didn’t believe it. So when I tell my friends I’m leaving the Church, they find it hard to understand—and I get that. I don’t expect anybody to understand in a few minutes what it has taken me years to conclude for myself. I spent countless nights awake, too many hours in angry tears. I clawed at my faith, grasping at that last straw, hoping that somehow, if I just worked hard enough, it wouldn’t slip away from me. I even almost took a job at BYU in a last ditch effort to force myself to stay in the Church.

But when I decided to start living the way I wanted to live, I found peace. When I stopped making myself do things or believe things I didn’t agree with, I found serenity.
I’m not writing to justify my decision, because I have found joy in my path. I have never been happier with my life choices. For those of you who are curious, though, let me highlight just a few topics that I have wrestled with over the past months and years.

  • I never felt God answer my prayers. I always trusted that God existed, and I trusted that the missionaries told me the truth. I don’t know why, but I did. But in the years after my mission, I cried out in prayer for answers to my questions. I never felt the answers. I was eventually forced to conclude that either God did not exist or did not care to answer. Either way, that didn’t fit the description of the God that mormonism teaches.
  • There are certain doctrines I have never fully believed in. I don’t believe it is wrong to drink coffee or tea, or even alcohol.
  • I cannot ethically support an organization that has participated in massacres, encouraged the wedding of underaged girls, the marrying of men to other men’s wives, the suppression of blacks and the priesthood, the revoking of the priesthood from women, and the restricting of women’s rights in the Church and its temple rituals. More recently, the policies towards homosexuality and innocent children are unforgivable and unforgettable.
  • I cannot support an organization that uses donations from its members to invest in the stock market, builds $2 billion malls, or purchases hundreds of thousands of acres in Florida.
  • I cannot be part of an organization, which, after its very own persecution, campaigns for religious freedom but at the same time will expel students from its flagship university, ruining their academic futures, just because they want to exercise their own religious freedoms and practice something other than mormonism. Instead, these students are forced underground, and they fight with depression and anxiety, living in fear that they will be uncovered.

Some of these are harsh. But they are what they are. For so long, I wanted none of this to be true. Eventually, I couldn’t lie to myself anymore and I began the transition to move into a life that makes me happy. And I have no regrets.

That said, so many of my LDS brothers and sisters, friends, and family are such kind and loving people; their faith makes them strong and brings them joy. I admire their strength and their steadfastness in the face of adversity. If the LDS religion fulfills their lives and makes them happy, then I fully support that. If my kids one day decide to pursue a path in the LDS church, then I’ll support that—because they are free to choose a life that makes them happy, and that is what we all deserve.

If you have questions about specifics, my door is open. You can call me, you can text me, you can Facebook message me, or however you feel comfortable. For most things, I’ll have an answer for you, and for some things, it’s just personal, or I don’t even necessarily have an answer myself.

And for those of you who are struggling, hit me up with questions if you want. Or if you need a safe space to vent, let’s go get lunch and talk.

—Alec

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