This is the letter I wrote to my dad when I decided to leave the church...
To My Dearest Dad,
I wanted to write you this letter because there are obviously things I need to say to you or rather...want to say to you...and I’m not very good at discussing feelings on the spot because I end up just crying or giggling. The first and most important thing that I want to say to you is that I love you so much. I especially love discussing history, mysteries, and science with you...I always have. I’ve been tormented over the last few years because you are the ONE person I desperately wanted to discuss certain things with but frankly I was afraid to offend you...and naturally I don’t want you to judge me or think that I’m your “prodigal” daughter. So let me say this secondly...I’ve never been happier in my life than I am right now. Never have I felt closer to God or had such a respect for our existence...never have I had such pure LOVE. The church teaches that when one starts to question the church it must be because of Satan’s influence...not true. All I can do is sit here and type these words and pray that you believe them...Satan has no influence over me or my feelings or my decisions. I want to you to know that I’ve never done anything against the religion that would open me up to “Satan’s influence.” I just wanted to you to know that. It’s taken me weeks to decide how to go about doing this...how to tell you how I feel. Not so much because I’m scared about what you think about me...I’m just worried about you! I know you. I know that you are going to read this letter and that you wont sleep. I know you’ll worry about me and my family. This is why it’s taken me so long...I don’t want you up all night worrying about me. It would be silly to...because like I said, I’ve have found a peace I’ve never felt before. My marriage has never been so strong and solid...I’VE NEVER FELT SO STRONG AND SOLID. So please keep that in mind as you read this... So ok...I’m going to get it all out from the beginning...I actually haven’t really sat and mapped this out so hopefully it isn’t too long... Are you ok? Really it’s ok...I promise.
Dad, I’ve always been a very honest person. I know what I feel and I can’t just neglect those feelings...I can’t brush certain feelings aside. I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been an “iffy” “I’m not sure” kind of person. I have very strong instincts...very strong. And I can’t not listen to them. So throughout my teenage years it always bothered me that I never received answers to my prayers...and I discussed this with a few church leaders at various times. That’s why Vesna Poier use to say I had such strong faith, because I would openly admit that Heavenly Father never confirmed to me that the BOM was true or that Jospeh Smith was a prophet. Bob asked me one day after seminary why then did I still read my scriptures and live the gospel and I said something like, “I’m sure Heavenly Father will tell me one day.” I even told you one time that I was frustrated because I’d read the BOM ...ask for a testimony and...nothing....never got the “burning.” You said something to me like, “That’s because you already know.” (You weren’t the only person to say this to me) And I believed you....for the most part. What I truly believed deep down was that my answer was in the temple and that the day I got to go through the temple...everything would make sense. I really believed that. Dad I dedicated my life to the church...I was active and obedient .
I met Chris. I loved him right away. He was my bestest friend ever ) Honestly I was terrified to get married....hehe...and people would like to think that we got married so soon because we couldn’t wait to have sex...nope. I wanted to go to the temple! I was starting to lose my patience with Heavenly Father and my lack of personal revelation that the church was true. I needed to get into that temple because I just knew it held all the answers to my doubts. Before I got married....I studied and prayed...and I was so excited. I was more excited to get my endowments than I was to get married honestly. I walked out of the temple that night in shock...not at all the great things I learned but in the lack of them. You have no idea what was going through my head that night. I was utterly distraught and shattered. Now, I know that people say it takes time and repetition in the temple to start to fully understand it...I can accept this. But what I couldn’t accept were the feelings I had in the temple. Dad...it felt WRONG. Down to my bones I felt wrong being there. I didn’t feel the spirit...and I know what the spirit feels like...I do feel like I am in tune with the spirit and the spirit is not what I felt there. I can’t even say specifically what did feel wrong just that down to my bones...I felt wrong. The next day I had to wake up and get married in the very place that made me feel like crap the night before. I still look back and regret my wedding...the wedding felt wrong...the words were wrong...”’Obey my husband?” Did he really just say that...omg...what the hell is this...I have to YES now don’t I? Omg, I can’t believe this. Why is everyone smiling...this is awful’” These are my thoughts as I am getting married. Seriously. I could not help but feel this overwhelming sense of unease. The garments made me feel...how do I say it...stripped of myself. I hated them. Most girls don’t like wearing garments cause they can’t wear short shorts or reveling tops...now Dad I ask you...have I eve been one to dress immodestly? No. So that was not my issue like other priesthood holders have suggested to me. Once again it just felt awful. Well after a few weeks of contemplation I thought...well there must’ve been something I missed. I went to the temple as much as I could. I’d go with Chris, I’d go alone...I’d pray and pray...and still nothing. If anything those awful feelings intensified with every trip to the temple. I mean, mentally I can sit there and accept the temple...Dad, physically I couldn’t...like I said...down to my bones...it did not feel RIGHT.
So that’s where it started I guess. It’s been over 6 years. For the last 6 years I have struggled and had such internal conflict that nobody knew I was going through. I mean painful conflict. Everything in my heart, mind and soul was telling me that everything my life revolved around was false...not only false but wrong (like bad). And I want you to know that at this point I had not done an ounce of research...nothing. All I was going off of were my gut feelings. The last time I went for a temple interview was 4 years ago. First, I interviewed with Bro. Dewberry and I told him how I felt. I told him I didn’t know that the church was true...I didn’t wear my garments because I felt like crap in them (physically and emotionally)...I told him how I was searching and searching and that was why I wanted a temple recommend. He said he admired my honesty and agreed that I deserved a recommend so that I could continue my quest for my testimony...I was in every other sense worthy to go. Then I had to interview with Pres. Lowe. That was a much different interview. I was again open and honest with him and he was...a jerk. I know for a fact that that man was not called of God. I KNEW it sitting there with him that night alone in that office. He smirked his face at me and said, “The spirit is impressing on me ... you don’t have a testimony because you don’t want to know.” Dad, it wasn’t just his words...it was everything about him. You can sit here and tell me the man walked on water and I will still to this day never forget the “falseness” he carried. And I sat there and thought, “This guy is who I have answer to...to judge me?” He later (after a whole list of other stupid comments) “decided” the give me a recommend for “my son’s sake.” I left there knowing that I would never again sit in front of a man and let him decide whether or not I was a worthy person...there was no God in that.
So basically it continued from there...I felt more and more unease with the church. And I couldn’t ignore that. I decided about 2 years ago that I did not believe the church was true...I just hoped it was...haha. But what I also decided was not to fight my feelings anymore...I was going to trust myself....be open to what my heart was telling me. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years...just absorbing all I can from all perspectives with an open heart and open mind and just really concentrate on how everything makes me feel. A year ago was when my research started (I know....now you’re worried). I hope it doesn’t freak you out or offend you when I say learning certain things was like FINALLY breathing after holding my breath for so long. I finally had substance behind the gut feelings...it was invigorating and relieving...and freeing. ...but I won’t go into all the things I’ve learned...that is not at all the point of this letter. We can leave it at this... I know you will love me no matter what...and I will love you no matter what. I just had to get this out. I had to let you know how I feel...and how long I’ve struggled and fought it. But Dad I can’t fight it anymore. You know how you get anxiety sometimes and there is nothing you can tell yourself or do to get rid of that feeling? Well that is how I feel about the church. The last few months it’s even to the point where my throat feels like it swells and I can’t breathe just pulling into the church parking lot. Dad, I need you to trust me and not think the typical Mormon thoughts about me.(I know what they are...) Having your support and understanding will be the final piece to my healing. Please think of me as a strong and happy woman who loves her family more than anything. Trust me that I am in happy place now...I love my life more than ever...I’ve never felt so happy...so free to learn and grow and progress...I am good Dad. Thank you for reading this letter...I wouldn’t have been able to sit in front of you and get this all out. I love you.
(Ok now go take a Tylenol PM so you can sleep )