God is a Big God
I am a 30 year old single woman who has fit the faithful LDS girl mold in every respect in my life. I grew up attending church weekly, praying, not watching rated R movies, not daring to have an impure thought. I went to BYU. I thought I was ready for marriage and babies at 19. I served a faithful mission at 21. I kept my temple covenants, and I continued for quite a few years to keep some type of hope for the ideal LDS husband and family. However, over the years, I have wondered a lot about if I really want children. Over the years as I date LDS men, I wonder if that’s what I really want. Over the years as I attend singles wards and find myself continually judged on my marital status, I find that my heart is no longer in the gospel as it once was.
I am glad I was given the moral compass I had in my youth, but a lot of the things I used to believe in were presented to me in very black and white terms. Now, I see the world as a lot of gray.
Growing up and hearing a group of people begin their rote testimonies the same way once a month “I’d like to bear my testimony; I know the church is true.” I always wondered if they really, really, really knew this. And if their church was true, somehow that made me think that other churches must be false. Realizing slowly over the past few years that it doesn’t mean this at all has been very liberating to me, yet I find a lot of my closest friends can;t cross this bridge. We are the chosen people, we are the chosen church, we are the ONLY TRUE CHURCH! I love thinking about God in a big way. I love thinking about him choosing each of his children for something great, not just a certain group. God is a Big God. But, because most members believe in the one true church, they automatically assume that they have the monopoly on happiness. Because we believe that “wickedness never was happiness” then we honestly believe that people who don’t believe the truths as we believe them just can’t be as happy as we are because we are “enlightened” and endowed with the truth.
I think I am beginning to believe more in the fact that there are Universal laws and principles, and when we abide by them then I think we are aligned with God….no matter what church, what faith, what conception of God we have, when we live in accordance to spiritual truths, we receive the benefits. It is very possible to be a happy Muslim, a happy Jew, a happy Agnostic. I think that this is a hard concept for devout Christians to recognize a lot of the time. We (or they, I don’t know where I fall right now, I guess) tend to see happy people without the gospel as what I call the “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” type of happy, filling their lives with things that only bring momentary happiness. Isn’t it great how I have been able to put people in labeled boxes for so long?
Currently, I am making a choice not to go to church. It’s a very, very hard place to be to see things in a different way and to be so uncertain that the path I have chosen for my life is the right path or not. But it’s even harder when perhaps I used to be an example to someone, and with my current choices, they will only look at me as some fallen-from-grace person, lost soul, uncharitable, unfaithful, not enduring-to-the-end type of a person. And I completely get having these thoughts! I have had them myself about everyone who has ended up leaving the church or going inactive. Most regretfully I have had them towards my siblings, especially my closest sister. She is so happy in her life and in her career. I never fully believed that she could be happy without the gospel, but once she let go of all the guilt at not doing what she was “supposed” to be doing and she lived her life in a way that was true to her, she has found true peace. But I never got this, never. I just continually tried to preach at her and I truly regret doing that. If anything my current experience in this realm is teaching me that things are never that black and white in the course of our lives. When I say my sister is happy, it truly isn’t the “eat, drink, and be merry” type of happy. She prays more than most, she is so giving and kind and loving. She has true charity and less judgment than a lot of regular “church going” people. I need to clarify this again, because many people in the LDS faith believe it is impossible to be happy if you are not strictly keeping all the commandments the way they believe they need to be kept.
I have been trying to be really open with my friends and family about the struggles that I am going through, and yet, ironically, I completely understand their need to share testimonies and their innate tendency to feel sadness and disappointment with my choices. I get this, because the old me would have been disappointed in the me right now too.