Raised as a daughter of a Bishop, Stake President, Mission Presidency, and now Temple Presidency....and finding MY truth

Well, that about sums up my existance as a PK (Preachers Kid).  Forever I remember getting up in primary and sacrament meeting professing "I love my mom and dad and brothers.I know the church is true.  I know Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is true."  I'd shoot a dashing smile out to the congregation with my crystal blue eyes and blonde locks bouncing off the stage and down the stairs to my beaming mother.  Mom always sat alone with us because dad was up on the stand being Bishop or fufilling his Stake Presidency assignments.  Graduated from seminary, Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel presidency.  Attended girls camp for 6 years.  Met a returned missionary and got married after 2 1/2 months (at the suggestion of my parents because they didn't want us to submit to temptation and not be able to get married in the temple.  Forget the fact that I had no idea what love truly was or how to be married at age 18), divorced 4 years later after my "missionary from hell" was addicted to pornography and we were suffering from infertility and disowned from my parents.

This sounds like resentment and anger but it really isn't, it is just how it was.   

It is amazing how parenthood put me into a perspective of how I wanted to influence their life and assist them in their quest for self-worth and truth.  When my oldest was entering Sunbeams and I heard him "bare his testimony" in the childrens program that it hit me in my gut, although he was adorable and "said all the right things" I knew he didn't believe those things.  It was a script.  He was like a puppet.  and I was mortified.  I was 28 at the time and I began searching for my own testimony.  I had said I had one all those years, I believed I had a testimony, had even got married the first time in the temple with my golden ticket aka temple recommend, but I didn't KNOW the church was true, I merely HOPED it was.

This was a heartwrenching time in my life, asking people I respected and loved about my concerns.  Their response was not answers to my questions but promptings to continue to pray and read the BOM and I would know it was true.  My knees had rug burns from asking but no answer.  No Yes but also not a No.  I wanted it to be true.  God, please just tell me it is!!!!  My patriarchal blessings was spot on when it said I am blessed with the gift of discernment to know right from wrong.  Here I was seeking and hitting silence at every turn.  Being remarried to a non-believing Midwest navy boy with Coppenhagen in his pocket and Coors Light occassionally in his hand, it got easier to not attend church by myself and I got comfortable becoming inactive.

My roots had me talking Mormon lingo i.e. Pre-Existance, War in Heaven, Satan/Adversary, Thee-Thou-Thine (makes me laugh now).  A friend invited us to an Assembly of God and we went as a family.  I will never forget walking into the lobby (wearing my Sunday best ofcourse) and seeing people in jeans, shorts, tee shirts, casual work attire and a loud band through the sanctuary doors.  I stood there mortified with my newborn son #2 in my arms.  I stopped and said a silent prayer, "God if we shouldn't be here just tell me and we're outta here!" I listened to my heart, "No, this isn't wrong, its just different."  There was my answer.  People were standing, some clapping, some hands raised, smiling, some tears.  I saw pure joy!!!!  So this is what worsshipping is????  Seeing men, some single, some with the wives PRAISING their Lord.  I loved it!  It was so different from the hard wood pews, piles of cherrios and quiet books for the children, woman with runs in their hoses from loading their chilren into their cars while their husband were at priesthood leadership meeting, hymn books open,monotone singing.  That wasn't worship, it was more like a weekly funeral.

Fast forward to now where I have two amazing teenage boys, another divorce and re-marriage, moving from Arizona to Kansas.  I have tried many churches, some with religion and some that are non-denominational.  I like non-denomination due to my distrust of man-made religion and regulations. 

My parents have been forgiven by me for the judgement and abuse I endured as a child from a mother who hated me and a father who was busy in church leadership.  We always looked like the perfect Mormon family, They were recently ordained into the temple presidency.  I am one of their black sheep but regardless, I love my parents and feel that my father is one of the most spiritual men I know.

Just yesterday I was in tears contemplating returning to the ward building because of its familiarity. I know, right????  are you kidding?  We recently moved from the city in Arizona to the country in Kansas.  Guess what?  In this small town there is still a LDS ward building.  What the?  So I call my dad in tears and express a quandry if I should return to church.  OK, quit rolling your eyes!  Yes, I know the response I was in for.  HA HA  I really considered going back.  Then I talked to my old visiting teacher in AZ who I LOVE and admire because she accepted me for where I was and listened to my concerns with the church.  Turns out she has been extremely inactive for the past year, not paying her tithing, and allowing her teenage son to make his own decision to not go to church.  At 54 she is questioning.  OK, I am rambling.  I am confused, and a little, ok A LOT irritated that I feel a pull to the LDS church.  There, that's a small part of my experience.  Thank you so much for this site.  PLEASE if you feel inclined to respond, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  And if I can be of help to anyone in their journey, I am here.  -Kristen   

 

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You will have thoughts of confusion for some time.  It's perfectly normal, and there's nothing wrong with you.  Weird about your parents and your divorce.  You were still just a babe when you married, after all. And yes, the kids are all brainwashed to say what they are supposed to during testimony meeting.  The first time my husband attended church with me was a fast and testimony meeting.  And after listening to the women's sobbing stories that had nothing to do with God, he burst out laughing and we had to leave.  He went only once more, and the sacrament speaker was a woman who told all of us all of their rules in their house, how their children were successes, what they did daily, blah blah blah.  He flat out told me to never ask him to come again, because that wasn't what church was.  He was raised a Methodist.  As far as non-denominational churches, I find them more scary than the others because of their legalism concerning misinterpretation of the Bible, which I don't follow literally.  We go to a Presbyterian, because of it's social justice stance, but I lean towards Unitarian, after reading "If Grace Is True" by Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland. I also enjoyed the Biblical research in Jack Roger's "Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality."  I love differing interpretations of scripture, and how they were discovered.  My advice to you would be to read as much as you can that pulls you away from intense legalism, because we were raised in legalism, and never learned to think for ourselves.  And don't let a church grab you just because they like to jump up and down to rock music.

 

Kristen,

I loved reading your story, I wanted to comment mostly on this part:

When my oldest was entering Sunbeams and I heard him "bare his testimony" in the childrens program that it hit me in my gut, although he was adorable and "said all the right things" I knew he didn't believe those things. It was a script. He was like a puppet. and I was mortified.

I remember being bothered by the parade of children going up on the stand. On some level it was cute and charming, but it always bothered me for exactly the same reason you stated. Now that I'm older, I see Mormon adults doing exactly the same thing, repeating what they have heard without giving any real thought to how silly it all sounds. I was surprised that you embraced the Assembly of God people.  My experience was not the same and I thought they made the Mormon's look normal.  To each his own, maybe it's good we have so many religions to choose from or not to choose from.

Bar Kokhba

Bar, You had good instincts when your child was 3.  I never did make my kids go up there and repeat what I was telling them, and I think in 35 years in the church, I bore my testimony twice.  Not because I'm shy.  I just thought it was ridiculous.   As for the Assembly of God, I can easily see why an ex-mormon would be attracted.  Mormons are so rigid, except when it comes to noisy, rotten, kids.  The Assembly feels free to clap their hands, move about freely, hug each other, and have times where they form groups to pray for each other.  I visited one small Assembly group I enjoyed, although eventually the doctrine would have made me leave.  I wanted to go back, but my husband said he'd shoot himself before going back, and I felt we should be supportive of each other, so we kept looking.  And keep in mind he was raised Methodist, so non denominational, pentocostal, baptist,or any group that refuses to commune with reformed churches was pretty much off base, until we found the baptist church we stayed at for a while, till they kicked me out.  If anyone here wants to find a church, find one that encourages doubt and conversation about scripture, and the way things are run, including the pastor's knowledge of the money factor.  After 24 years, I'm finally blissfully happy with the Presbyterians, but it took a while, and man, the choirs those people have are to die for.  I love my choir.  Or, if you want to be an atheist, that's totally cool.

Thank you for your comments.  This Sunday my son and I attended the Baptist church here in our little town.  My boss and her family attend.  Kinda took me back to Sacrament meeting with reading from the hymninal.  Liked that the preacher is a female (77 yo).  We'll see.  I was surprised my 14 like it due to the large number of elderly people and very small.  I mentioned that there didn't seem to be very many youth and his response, "that's what I like, you won't make me go to youth group!"  Ha Ha, smart kid!

 

You attended a baptist church with a female pastor???   American baptist?  Southern baptist?

Aparently it is American Baptist. 

Well said Kristen. There are still emotional and psychic strings attached... Trust and know you will eventually let go of these invisible hooks.... Thanks for sharing! 

Great story! My only advice would be to just do whatever makes you happy. I believe that we are on this world to experience life and to find happiness. It's not about some church or their arbitrary rules. I don't think God cares if we get baptized in a certain way, or drink coffee of beer. All it is, is trying to find out who you are and being your best self. I don't know if this helped, but maybe you should try to go back, (just once) and see if it brings happiness. If not, then you will be better off by finding that out. 

Good luck. 

D-Rock, I really appreciated your post.  I agree, God cares not how or whether we get baptized.  The real thing in my mind, and it's a doozey to try to implement, is the 2nd commandment.  Loving others as we love ourselves.  When our fuses get a little short, it's really hard to do that, be it politically, or with another religious affiliation.  And I would add that any religious affiliation is going to have issues to be dealt with.  It's a matter of not getting involved and finding other ways to fill your time, including volunteering, or, to keep looking until we find a religious fit that makes sense.  And it took me probably close to 18 years to find that fit.  Nobody should feel like they should stay somewhere just because they get to know everyone and get baptized there if they find they have issues.  Universalism is a really nice fit for some ex-mormons.  That's my take, but, like I've said, I walk across the street to the Presbyterian church because of it's liberal stance and non literal take on scripture, and it's work in social justice within the community.  And I love having a female pastor!!!!!  So cool!!

Wow, that thing about children and bearing of testimony.. I so recognize that. i spoke to my 10 year old soin yesterday-my soon to be ex husband still takes our children to church.. I asked my son what a testimony is.. He doesn't know. I asked who the Holy Ghost is? He doesn't know. This is a child we raised in the Church, we have had FHE , Scripture readings, going to church, Primary etc for 10 years. He supposedly made his own decision to be baptized two years ago..


Why did I not see sooner? My soon to be ex still  can't see.. I want to start planting sound thoughts in the childrens minds. Teaching them how to think for themselves now that I have awoken.

Anyone have any good advise?

We have to have sound thoughts planted in our minds if we want our kids to think for themselves.  Your child may very well be contented with his life right now, and you can't force change where none is needed, no matter how grave the situation is to us.  It really didn't hit my son until he became a deacon, and they kicked him off the "team" so to speak, because his hair was too long.  That was my opening, for explaining that he didn't have to do anything to please God or get to heaven, and perhaps it was time he did not allow them to control how he felt about himself.  It came later for my daughter, when she was abused at girl's camp by the bishop's daughters.  If we cannot grasp many other ways of living, our kids won't be able to.  My daughter is now a Buddhist.  My son is an atheist.  I am Universalist, though attend a Presbyterian church cuz it's so darn fun and so socially grounded in community.  Perhaps some dialogue as to how others believe?  Do they have friends at school who believe differently, and, do they think that's wrong?  Can you explain why that's not wrong?  Good luck.  I think he needs some time to adjust to the divorce.

Hello Kriten!

I think its normal to feel a pull to a place and a system of support that is familiar to you. 

It sounds like you have lived through some pretty challenging emotional feats. Divorces are emotional traumas!  Moving to a new place is not easy!  It seems natural that you would long for a familiar place and people to welcome you and connect with you. Dont judge yourself.  If you need that support--and want to go back--then do.  Only you live your life, no one else.  And living based on what someone else wants for you is simply giving up your life.  

If you decide you dont want to go back--try joining another group, such as a Mom"s club or a hobby club (if you like to sew or hike or whatever).  It sounds like connection is what you need right now, not necessarily a particular Church.

 

I am always amazed (and inspired) by the courage it must take a person to leave the LDS Church when they have active families, because of how much the Mormon church encompasses a person's life and dictates everything (for the benefit of the Church, not the people in my opinion). It seems not being active in an otherwise active family would cause a lot of isolation.  I have friends who are nonbelievers but  still are active (they go once a month so they dont get on the "list" and have home teachers sent to their house).  But they go because both of their parents and all of their siblings are members and the cost of leaving would just be too great. (They are both atheists!)

 

I couldnt do that because I would feel like I was lying all of the time, but I have so much family that is inactive, I am not confronted with the conflict all of the time.

 

Thanks for sharing your story! 

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