I am a second generation Mormon. My mother converted shortly after I was born and my father converted after that, but didn’t stay active very long. I don’t remember him ever being a church-goer. We were sealed in the Oakland temple when I was three years old. Only two of my five siblings are active church members.
My husband and I married in 1980 in the Idaho Falls Temple. He served his mission in Fukuoka, Japan 76-78. We met at BYU (of course). Two years after we were married we began our family and ended up with five children currently 27, 23, 21,19, and 17. We have two grandchildren ages 4 and 9 mos.
My church resume is typical; I spent countless years in Primary, did a short stint in YW (didn’t like it), and my last calling was Relief Society president. Well, my last “real” calling was a Primary teacher after RS president, but I don’t count it as a calling, because by that time I was awakened enough that I knew it was not a ‘calling’ at all so I asked to be released (gasp!). My husband was the quintessential priesthood holder.
I was true blue from the very beginning. I loved the church and did everything it asked me to do without question and participated in every activity and program available from the time I was a little girl up until two years ago. In February of 2006 I actually had some time to myself as my children were mostly raised and I began wondering why I was so unhappy with marriage, my life, and myself. I just wanted relief from the endless cycle of personal problems that plagued me and I was assured and taught that living the Gospel is the answer to all problems in life. So, I decided to put it all to the test. This began an intense personal spiritual quest for a ‘born again’ experience, which led indirectly to my leaving the church because I was certain that I would find what I needed in the church. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!
From November 2006 to July of 2008 I was a voracious reader and student of comparative religions and spirituality. I was a woman possessed! I threw all my beliefs under the microscope and dissected them thoroughly for truth. In the course of that study I found out the truth about religion in general and Mormonism in particular. My emerging beliefs from all this study did not gibe with what I was taught in the church and then the cog/dis set in and I knew I would eventually have to make the choice that I really didn’t want to have to make. How could I stay in the church now, knowing what I knew? I couldn’t.
In the summer of 2008, I finally unburdened myself of the yoke of the church. I took off my garments, turned in my temple recommend and wrote an email to all my family explaining my decision and gave a copy of it to my bishop. My son was on a mission at the time and so I wrote him a long letter so he would know from me and not find out accidentally through the grapevine. I didn’t have my name officially removed out of respect for my mother, who was terminally ill at the time and has since passed away, and my husband, to whom it was important that I not do it. I felt such a surge of personal power run through my body after making this decision. I knew I had retrieved a huge chunk of my spirit that I had left in the church.
In the ensuing weeks after the decision our family went through some very difficult adjustments and are still working through them. My bishop is a family friend and he offered love and support, as did most of the people in our ward. No one in our ward has ever treated me rudely. My extended family of siblings and their spouses, in-laws and friends were mostly supportive. My one brother showed his concern by grilling me about my salvation and that of my family. He meant well, but I was annoyed. We had some terse email exchanges that have put a strain on our relationship but we have made up and apologized. Ironically, it was my non-member SIL that showed the most interest in what I had studied that brought me to the decision and showed the most kindness and open-mindedness about the whole thing.
Today, the dust has now settled a bit and I find that I am in need of finding out who I really am and what kind of life I want to live. I am putting my Mormon experience in perspective and in putting two and two together I’ve realized that religion is one of the biggest illusions we will have to overcome here in Earth school and the truer one thinks one’s religion is the more effort it takes to put your trust in the Living God and not in an institution. I have never looked back- only forward!