So, I've started to feel a little torn about my involvement in this and other ex-Mormon communities. On one hand, this community was vital in helping me get through the months following my decision to stop going to church. People have been amazing as far as offering advice and talking out issues with me. It has been a good place to vent and to connect with people now that I don't have church anymore. And I have talked with so many completely amazing people and made friends, and I love the great conversations I have with the people on this site and want to continue making those connections.
On the other hand, there is one thing that makes my constant involvement difficult for me. It's that this community is all about being not something. As a result I feel like I am constantly bombarded with negativity - understandable, justifiable, and sometimes necessary negativity, yes. But still. Every day now I'm looking at another post or comment tearing someone or something down. Disproving religion, mocking Mormon culture, criticizing religious people. Let me be clear right now: I am not suggesting that anyone on this site or anywhere else is too negative or that you need to be or feel anything other than you are! It's not you, it's me. It makes my whole mindset and the way I look at people different...more cynical.
You see, I'm an idealist by nature. I can be critical and analytical, but at the end of the day I just want to make the world a better place and people to get along and be happy, however that works for them. When I was LDS, I was about something, I wasn't against something. I deeply connected to Christ's message of charity and love. I made my life about it. About giving to people where I can and trying to look past my initial impressions of people to see them the way I believed God saw them. And that belief and that purpose truly made me better. I never met a single person that when I looked closer, I didn't learn to understand and love. There have been plenty of people I've disliked in my life, but when I lived up to my ideals and really got to know them, I couldn't hate them. I had friends that I wouldn't otherwise who truly made my life better. This belief was so powerful that it was actually the biggest factor in helping me overcome years of painful and debilitating depression. Along with my faith, I've lost some of that focus and peace. And I really want to get back to a place that is more loving, more generous, gives people more room to disagree with me. I would say it was that motivation that actually influenced me to leave the church. The treatment of women and gays was not in line with my perception of God's love.
I don't want to define my life by not believing in something or not being something. I want to find ideas to connect to that inspire me that aren't about bringing someone else's ideas down.
So this isn't a post to get advice about how involved to be in this community. I'll figure that out. What I want to know is what your life is about since leaving Mormonism? How has it changed? How is it the same? What inspires you? Really interested to hear your insights. :)
Respectfully, I believe sarcasm and humor have no place on LAM or in society as a whole...
You guys are cracking me up! LMAO!
Well I am with you on the negative emotion, that although directed towards the Mormon Church sometime sounds more like personal anger being vented because there is a place to do it and something to vent it against.
I went through the venting in a couple of months after leaving the building for the last time. But now I look at other churches, organizations, clubs, and political parties and I can see the rather universal "love to hate." My enemies sometimes define us. So I have backed off and decided not to try to let anger run my life. I can now talk about Joseph's 14 year old wife, doctrine on the Blacks, and Prop 8 logically. I do not want to hate. It eats me alive from the inside.
I like LAM because of the very smart people that comment on their time in the church and what they experienced. As an avid reader of history I can tell you that the history of the USA is not any prettier than that of the church. So as my Pastor says, Life is for Living, Love is for Giving and Joy is for Passing Around. I love being out but do not have time for negative emotion.
Dur de dur, I meant *hate* motivational poster crap. I define myself not by my ability to type.
Love the quote at the end Gene. I also appreciate the many articulate and free thinking people here on LAM.
Connecting on a very human level with others - compassion, empathy, a desire to share and understand, tolerance (and not just saying "I love you even though what you're doing is wrong/bad/disagreeable"), and love are some of the characteristics/attitudes I want to try and nurture in my life. I think that defining myself as an ex-Mormon will never happen.
Since joining the church I haven't really told any of my friends in my pre-Mormon life that I am Mormon, and I certainly don't intend to tell them that I am an ex-Mormon now that I'm finding my way out of the church. I never wanted people to label me then, and judge or assume based on the label of Mormon, and I wouldn't want them to do so in the capacity of me being an ex-Mormon either.
I always worried about feelings of shame in regards to not putting my religious preference on Facebook ("LDS", "Mormon", etc.), or really to be outspoken about it in "real life" in general. Then again, I felt that it was my business and if I was happy and not hurting anyone, that's all that mattered. I would have made a TERRIBLE missionary ;)
As for the "negativity" on sites that are for ex-Mormons, I understand it. I don't think it's good to constantly be involved in it whether by active participation or simple passive presence, but I understand it. Sites like this one, and others for those who have left the church are, at least for me, the ONLY place where I can go and not feel judged. The beauty of this site, and others, is that even if we are all "ex-Mormons", I see such a wide range of beliefs and "Lives After Mormonism" that it is truly enriching and enlightening. So, I would say to anyone asking me that negativity with moderation is an important part of leaving the church, expressing yourself, and healing emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually (whatever that means for each of you). So, if you've passed the point where you need to express those feelings, remember that others haven't yet made it beyond that. I would assert that it's a natural part of the process of leaving something as encompassing as the church. There are few that understand just what leaving the church truly means in a life. Mormons are a people who have covenanted (in many cases) to give EVERYTHING to the church, and many that have made that covenant truly do give all that they have to give. So, leaving it is bound to leave a gaping hole that is filled with anger, sadness, apprehension, questions, and even loss. Anyway, I just thought I'd put my two-cents in on being patient and understanding with those that may seem "negative". It's always good to remember where we came from, and as I said before, I don't think too many can leave the church and not feel that they were living a life of disillusionment. Who wouldn't have some negative feelings about that?
I am inspired by each person that I meet that is willing to be honest (with some tact and sensitivity of course - being blunt isn't always the appropriate thing to do) and share themselves with others. We can all learn so much from each other and I think that we will realize that to label ourselves really limits us. We will constantly be evolving and adding bits and pieces to what makes us who we are. As we will also be taking away bits and pieces that no longer fit or blend well into our lives.
I've appreciated reading everyone's comments so far and look forward to seeing others that are posted!!!
Great reply, thank you. :) I think that if someone were to ask me what life is about now that I am no longer LDS, I would say something along the lines of your first paragraph. To me life is all about relationships and connecting with other people, learning from them, and focusing on love and compassion. Very cool.
And I agree about the necessity for some moderate negativity. Sometimes even extreme negativity, and I don't hold that against anyone here. I hope I am patient and understanding - even though personally, I'm in a place where I want my main focus to be on something positive.
I am a nice guy. I am nice to others, and love ice cream sandwiches. Mormonism was a a stick in myt butt for years, and others told me how blessed i was for havinf it there. What bugs me at times is that fact that I actually bought into it. I mean, everyone at Church had the same style stick in their ass, and once Sunday a month we all got together and shared how much we all knew that having the stick in their ass was the true way. if those that did not have a stick in their ass knew the blessings we would get in the next life for having that stick in our hind ends, they'd rush to have it also. Weeven prayed to know the truthfulness of the stick. We even called our scriptures, "sticks".
But I remember this, and it is part of my memories. I remember the mind games, the two years i spent on a Mission, Guys in the District getting sent home, or going home. I remember the crap about the word "testimony / mind game".
I am a different person now. I think my own thought, I returned to my Catholic faith, I speak several languages, and I have a very successful business, in spite of what they told me.... I am happy, I have goals and a focus. Others love me for who I am instead of what I emote to be seen or fake to be known by.
My life is happy, fulfilled, I have new friends, new aquaintances, and its very nice. And I still that Mormonism sucks and swallows... unapologetically.
Hey! I like ice cream samwiches too Does that mean I'm a nice guy?
As usual, I love your post Don.
The fact that we both like ice cream sandwiches sez we are both guys that have extinguished, or distinguished tasted. :) And yes, you are a nice guy.
Salt Lake is a stick in everyone's ass with their Holier Than Thou pontifications and if you were as smart and blessed as I am you'd want more sticks of various sizes and dimensions in your ass. They may even try to send people on free unpaid time off from reality to show the wisdom and share how an anal insertion of a tree part in everyones butt is to their spiritual benefit.
Salt Lake just burns my butt. And they are so freakin stupid!!
Is the stick up everyone's ass an ice cream stick? If so is there still ice cream on it?
When I pull out the stick what is on it?
2 things, really:
1.) My career as a professional musician (and, therefore, my music/art/self-expression).
2.) Finding common ground with people with whom I basically disagree (in politics, religion and so forth); i.e. I'm more interested in finding areas of agreement and working on that than arguing/having to be "right". I think if more people would take such an approach, we could solve a lot of problems in this crazy ol' world.
I was a convert at age 19 and ex'd at 33. With some bumps in the road, I just went back to being a non-member (but a non-member with LOTS of insight into the LDS faith!).