I became a Mormon zealot at the age of 19, while on an LDS mission. My own thoughts were subjugated to those of "the Brethren." I became convinced that the way to love God, myself and my fellow man was to follow the prophet faithfully and work hard to save the non-Mormons from their misery. I continued in this state until I hit a wall at age 33. I had been married for 10 years with 5 kids and one on the way. I was both a Ward Mission Leader and a Den Leader at the time. I was maxed out and miserable in just about every area of my life. My marriage was struggling, my relationship with my children was deteriorating, and financial pressures were mounting. I'd always been an avid temple goer, genealogy researcher, scripture reader, tithing payer, home teacher, family home evening holder and on and on. I lived the Mormon "Gospel." The peace of mind that the scriptures promised to the Believers, however, wasn't there and it was getting worse by the day.
I soon lost my desire to attend Church, but was far too committed and afraid to not. For several years I continued to live by Church teachings and pray that I would get my testimony back. Then one day the Stake President asked me to be the new High Counselor. "At last," I thought, "my prayers have been answered! While serving in this new calling I'll certainly regain my testimony." Serve I did, faithfully for the entire three year rotation. When I was released, however, it was clearer to me than ever that I and the Church were on two completely different wavelengths. I saw suffering throughout our Stake, people feeling alone, unloved and unsupported. I had worked to do something about it for years. This desire, however, didn't seem to be one that was shared by my fellow leaders. Our mandate was to preach obedience. From the reports the Stake President would give, upon returning from training meetings with Apostles and other General Authorities, it was obvious that preaching obedience was what they wanted as well. The mantra seemed to be, "If everyone would just follow the rules, everyone will be happy." Well, I did and I was miserable. My neighbors seemed pretty good at being obedient, as well, and they didn't seem too happy either.
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