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I know this much is true

So 80s, right? "Bah-bah-bah-baaaah-baaaah, I know this... much is.... truuuuuue!"

I have been thinking about testimony and Mormonism and space for those who feel on the outside.

After I made a blog post about how losing our baby boy had caused me to feel closer to God, and farther from my religion, and shared that post on Facebook (because if it ain't Facebook Official, it ain't real), I got several private messages from friends and relatives expressing both agreement and gratitude. So many feel the very same way and are afraid to speak up out it - either because they fear disappointing their family, or because of the fear of excommunication or even 'unofficial' shunning from the church family they love dearly.

Some snippets from messages I received (edited for privacy) --

  • I wanted to say thanks for writing and sharing your blogpost. You expressed very beautifully a lot of things that I felt as a member of the church. Not many people know this yet, but we are no longer active in the church, for many of the reasons you describe in the post. I won’t go into all the gory details, but I’d been struggling with many of the same questions and doubts for years, but unlike you I just wasn’t able to voice them. The feelings of inauthenticity and hypocricy were really starting to get to me, and finally last year I shared my doubts with my spouse.
    For me one of the big breaking points was when my daughter asked me why boys and men did everything in the church and women just worked in the Primary. I was unable to tell her what I really thought about it, but I also couldn’t bring myself to give the church-sanctioned response, so all I could say was “I don’t know. It doesn’t seem very fair, does it?” When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get away with pretending to be something I’m not for much longer, I knew I needed to speak up.
    Anyway, there’s a lot more to it, but what I wanted to say is thank you for writing about your experience from the perspective of someone who still has faith and hope in God.

  • Heather, I was really moved by your blog post and it's been on my mind all day. Thanks for being brave enough to share it publicly. I often feel at church that we don't share our struggles until after we can report a happy ending, not while in the thick of it.
    You gave words to so many of my own personal thoughts. Sometimes I chalk my feelings up to being a convert, (same age as you, even!) and just having different habits than those like my husband who are something like 11th generation Mormons. 😂 I can relate closely to your thoughts on the role of women in the church. It's a heavy weight on my shelf and unpopular to discuss. It bothers me more and more as my daughter grows older and begins to point out discrepancies between her and her brother. Sometimes I question my faith and feel intense guilt that I am brain washing my children with something I'm not 100% absolute on, but then there are so many positive and wonderful things that I love and it's such a difficult and twisty situation. I haven't worn my garments since the baby was born 2 years ago and I'm glad you mentioned that also.
Just wanted to say I loved reading your blog on your feelings toward the Church. I am very much in the same boat and it's nice to not feel alone there! I'm still technically active but in my heart I'm done. It's hard to not feel like I can say anything about it to my friends so thank you for putting yourself out there ❤️. Lots of love to you Heather!!


There were several others, but I feel these sum them up nicely. I'm not alone. I'm not alone in the church worldwide and I'm not alone in my local ward, either. The saddest thing is the fear that members have of publicly (even if that 'public' is just their own family) admitting they have doubts. I think perhaps only Catholics can compare to Mormons in terms of the family guilt to stay in the church and do the right things and go with the flow.

But I'm not sure (not ever having been Catholic myself) if their guilt extends into eternity or not, like it does for Mormon families.

In that regard, I am fortunate that I am a convert and whether I am Mormon or not, my parents don't care. My sister doesn't care.

I feel like I'm in a weird gray space in my life right now, in a LOT of ways. Religion is only one of them. I still say "my church" or "our church" in reference to the LDS church. I still love my church friends and ward members.

And yet I also feel very much on the outside of things, because as much as I want to believe, I find that in most ways, I simply don't.

Not the way the 'other Mormons' do anyway.

But I'm learning - through individual (usually private) conversations, that the "other Mormons" aren't actually all that believing either. Not all of them.

Some of them are, sure, who abide by every word uttered in every general conference since the early tabernacle days, who believe polygamy was good and right and will be good and right in heaven, who never entertain doubt or concern or criticism.

I believe they are the minority, however.

In between them, and people who resign their membership, is a whole array of levels of devotion and belief.

So maybe there is a space for me. At least for now. There are things I love - the people, the idea that we are eternal beings not just from now moving forward but from now moving backwards - but there are things I hate - deeply entrenched gender roles, refusal to ever apologize or admit fault, guilt culture that teaches us to constantly scrutinize our every thought and deed,

I do believe in
Christ and his love & mercy & gift
the innate goodness of human beings
God's love for and desire to see his sons is equal to his daughters
women have power and influence that extends beyond giving birth and meal planning
none of us really know and most of us are trying to do the best we can, with what we have

I also know that as I've been open with David about my doubts, about my disbelief in some areas, my frustration at other things, it's been a bumpy road, but ultimately we are closer than if I'd kept silent and begrudging. He still holds the church very dear, still believes in its basic truth claims while taking serious issue with some organizational or doctrinal aspects, and so at times I know I over-step and say or do something that hurts him. He has done the same to me, but we are far more open and honest about our feelings now. I admit that often times I only go to church to make him happy, and I know sometimes when we don't go, he would rather we did and he goes with me to another church to make me happy. Marriage is a give and take and neither person should be doing more giving or taking than the other.

And finally - a couple of weeks ago I was really thinking about bearing my testimony on fast & testimony (aka open-mic) Sunday. I had it all planned out in my head, so I wouldn't go up there get nervous and start babbling. I was going to say the things I knew to be true, and share some experiences, nothing negative, but nothing forced or false either. But as I sat there I just felt horrible, I felt like these people don't want to hear this, they want to hear rote memorized testimonies about Joseph Smith being a prophet and the Book of Mormon being blue. Then Jacinda got fussy so I took her into the hall. I sat down on the couch and let her toddle around, and then this older woman came and sat beside me. She's in her 70s, kind of a gruff seemingly unfriendly sort (but used to be Penny's primary teacher and was wonderful), we really don't talk much and I didn't know why she sat by me. She just opened with, "My baby girl lived for six hours. She would be 35 now and not a day goes by that I haven't thought about her. Don't let anyone tell you it's wrong to be sad or that you've been sad for too long." She went on to talk about her baby dying, and some terrible things that were said to her by her stake president, and well-intentioned ward members saying to her living children that the baby was 'too perfect' to have to stay on earth, which made them hate the baby because it made them feel like they were too imperfect. As we talked, tears just poured down my cheeks and I didn't even try to stop them. It was what I needed at that moment. Even though we lost our babies decades apart, the pain is the same, and I needed to know that it was ok that I still cry every day, that I still can't stand to see pregnant women or newborn babies. So I am glad I went that day, and I am glad I lost the feeling to bear my testimony and went into the hall instead, and that she came and sat with me. It was one of the best (yet somehow saddest) most REAL experiences I've had at church in as long as I can remember. I am grateful for that woman and her willingness to step outside her comfort zone and share her story. I am grateful that people like her exist everywhere, both inside and outside the church, and that my path gets to cross theirs occasionally.


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