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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.


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  1. Nicole says:

    Wonderful post, what scared me is that I could have written this exact post myself. It’s nice not to feel alone.

  2. D'Arcy says:

    How have you been dealing with it Nicole? That’s one thing I learned this weekend having lunch with a new friend, not feeling completely alone or insane for having these thoughts is a refreshing thing.

  3. Alisa says:

    D’Arcy, thank you for being so open and sharing your thoughts and struggles. I too think God is found in many places, and that there are so many ways to get close to the Spirit. I understand that sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and look at things from a panoramic view.

    I also think that there are many important things people of other cultures and traditions can teach us. I admire many people in the gospel, but I also admire some of my atheist friends for their strong sense of morality: their care of the planet, animals, and foster children who need a second chance.

    I think a few of these principles that are universally leading to God are:

    Protect those who are unable to provide protection for themselves.

    Consider the needs of others are as important as your own.

    Take time to be connected to a higher power.

    Seek peace for yourself, your family, your community, and the world.

  4. Anonymous says:

    excellent post – I know exactly how you feel . . .

  5. Salt H2O says:

    D’arcy,
    Reading your post was like reading what one of my best friends is feeling and going through right now. The first three paragraphs I thought, “holy cow! Is she writing under an alias?”

    You’d be amazed at the number of 30something females feeling your same thoughts.

    There is one area in which you are wrong, and that is others looking at you like you’ve fallen from grace. I’ve had many good friends chose to live different kinds of lives, and because I am their friend- I do not judge them.

    I think most people that leave the church or take a different route for a while think that those of us who have stayed judge them for leaving. We don’t, I don’t, as long as my friends are happy I’m happy for them.

  6. Zenaida says:

    d’arcy, I agree, I think many of us could have written this post. I can very much relate to your ‘old’ and ‘new’ characterizations of yourself. I really appreciate you sharing your story. I cope by connecting with others who are in similar situations. : )

    salt h2o, I wish I could agree with you that most people don’t judge. Maybe they don’t, and I’m just defensive, but in my experience, if they don’t judge, they are SO dissappointed, that it feels like judgement. Thank you so much for being open and available to your friends who have left. It’s an attitude I want to better incorporate in my own personality.

  7. another anon says:

    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.

    of course this is true, but that doesn’t mean the church doesn’t have certain things that others don’t, particularly authorized ordiances to bind us to heaven and to families for eternity. when we say this is the only true church that is a huge element that we are talking about. but we hear over and over that there is much good and much truth in many religions out there. when people in the church think otherwise, they don’t understand how things are.

    i think we may be surprised on the other side to see the mixture of folks who were not in the church who will be exalted, and the numbers of members who wont be. but that still doesnt mean that what the church has isn’t true and living, the only one fully authorized to perform ordinances and teach eternal truths about the plan and the atonement.

  8. G says:

    beautifully said, d’arcy (and great art, btw). My thoughts exactly (and almost my same path too).

    particularly the conflict about having been “such a good example” to people, and now feeling like you have become the moral to a story about how even the strong can fall.

    for me, it was the “one true church” concept that finally severed my belief in the church. all the other problems and conflicts and issues… I could chalk that all up to the difficulties that God must have in dealing with us mere mortals.

    But the absolute belief that the church was the only conduit for necessary ordinances of salvation… the idea that every soul must be baptized (dead or alive) and attend the temple (dead or alive) in order to be good with God, and that the leaders of this church have an extra special link to God that no one else has (this one in particular just didn’t hold up as I began reading the spiritual teachings and writings of other faiths.)

    I remember being taught (and in turn teaching) how merciful God was for revealing temple work so that everyone could have the chance to return to him… It was a shocking day when I realized that the truly merciful God I believed in didn’t need all that stuff.

    okay, sorry to ramble on… thanks for the thought provoking post.

  9. AmyB says:

    You can add me to the list of people who could’ve written that post!

    My close friends who remain devout LDS have been remarkably understanding and accepting of me, as has my family. But they still think that I am doing something wrong. That’s a little hard to take sometimes, even though I understand it completely because I’ve seen the world through those eyes before.

  10. Anonymous says:

    ditto, ditto, ditto… But I am not to the point of sharing, more or less just “stewing in my juices”. Husband, parents, children would not understand and I am a chicken and feeling a little dishonest for my hypocracy.I am a 50-ish woman and I just think, “in a few more years..” Hanna Tycc

  11. Caroline says:

    I love your title, D’arcy.

    I too believe God is a big, big God. That God is much bigger than our little church.

    I have chosen to remain active, but I too am uncomfortable with ‘the one true church’ rhetoric. Exclusivity claims don’t resonate with me.

    After years of struggling with my faith, I think I’ve discovered that my problem isn’t that I can’t find God. It’s that I find God everywhere. In my church, in other churches, everywhere. It’s been wonderful to discover that.

  12. Anonymous says:

    it is strange and scary to admit that I am here too. I would have never guessed it.

    I too think as Mormons we fail to see that there are many who will receive more then us after death who are not Mormons. There are so many good people out there.

    We fail to remember that God is no respecter of persons. And that he loves the man next door and the jew across the street just as much as myself. I see these people being happy. I have discovered even in the church that people dont want all there is that we offer and are content with that. They will get there reward and be happy here after I am sure.

    So I still attend church and I am in the process of discovering for myself what it is I truely want. And then I will do my best to do what I can to obtain it.

    I do believe the church true. I am often very disappointed by people who do judge. We are very bad on this account. We judge people not of our faith. and we judge people within our faith. Your either not good enough or you are to good.

    I like, no I love the idea of recognizing people can be happy on so many levels. It gives me the freedom of not feeling guilty for whatever I choose and being able to trueily respect others for whatever they choose.

  13. D'Arcy says:

    Well, I wrote this post because I have been feeling quite lost and lonely. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and kindness. Thank you for sharing your similar experiences, and thank you, in my small world of people who don’t get me, for being understanding.

    Alisa: Your ideas are beautiful. I actually printed them out so I could concentrate on them more. They are truly the basis for altruism instead of the egoism I so often find myself entertaining.

    SaltH20: Maybe I need you for a friend! 🙂 I have actually been meeting with a lot of pitied glances, outright censuring, flinging testimonies and the opinion that my friends are right, I am wrong. They will love me anyway because that’s what you do to those who falter, but they truly do think less of me for my decisions.

    Another anon: “fully authorized to …teach eternal truths about the plan and the atonement”

    The point of the post, anon, is that I don’t agree with this. I don’t believe that the LDS church is the only one fully authorized to teach eternal truths. I thank you for your testimony, but it is exactly what I am hearing every Sunday and it is exactly what is causing me doubt and disbelief at this time.

    G: Thank you so much for your thoughts. I have had many of the same echoing in my mind. Most of all, that I was a pretty stalwart missionary a while ago and now to feel so completely different has been quite the journey.

    Caroline: amen to that

  14. Lessie says:

    Just want to chime in and say thanks for this post D’Arcy. I’m one of those agnostics you were talking about. It’s so odd for me to be happy–cause before I left the church, I was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t be once I left. But I am. I just don’t know how to make my family (in-laws, mom, sister, etc.) believe me.

  15. Janna says:

    The question I’ve been asking myself lately is, “Is the church a useful vehicle/tool/resource for me to practice and develop my Christianity?” For me, the answer continues to be a resounding, “Yes!”

    I’ve been surprised at myself, since like many others, D’Arcy’s words resonate with me as well. At the end of the day, though, I still want involvement with the Mormon church. That may change, and if it does, I know that it will be the right decision for me, too.

  16. EmilyCC says:

    Great post, D’arcy! It sounds like a tough journey. I hope it gets easier and more peaceful whatever path you choose.

    I’ve found that as I get older I get sad when people leave the Church, not because I think they’re wrong or I’m worried about their salvation. I’m just sad because these friends and family made the Church a richer, more diverse place.

    That said, I understand everyone needs to find God, and the Church isn’t the best place for everyone to do that.

    I’d like to be supportive to people when they choose to leave. What would your (and our commentors’) ideal response be when you tell someone you’ve left, you’re doubting, etc.?

  17. Zenaida says:

    emilycc, I think the very fact that you are asking the question means that you are open to be understanding and listen to doubts and concerns without throwing out an emotional tirade. The church is so deeply connected with our emotions, that I understand where some of the outbursts and misunderstandings come from. People that get angry and upset (in my experience) do so because they care.

    The conversations I appreciate most are the ones with people who don’t try to preach you out of your doubt. Chances are, you’ve been sitting in the same Sunday School lessons, etc. and it’s not any one thing they can brush away with doctrine or ‘testimony bearing.’ I think people are more likely to respond if you take in their story, try to understand and relate where you can, and even if you disagree, allow that person to feel validated by sharing their feelings rather than ostracized. For me, the hardest emotion to deal with is the dissappointment you can see in someone’s entire demeaner, being dismissed by friends as someone who has fallen, or taken up as a project that needs fixing.

    I also try to avoid being overly defensive and maintain an open mind myself.

  18. Lessie says:

    “taken up as a project that needs fixing.” Zenaida, I think that’s the one that I encounter the most–whether in reference to me, or people who left before I did. Although, when it’s been someone famous (like Richard Dutcher–spl?) it’s been just pure judgment. Anyway, as I said, the whole fix it ideal just doesn’t help. It only makes things more awkward. It’s just difficult to get people to understand that–especially the people who don’t think that true happiness can be found in other places. If I knew more people like emilycc, janna, or Caroline, then maybe this wouldn’t be such a difficult transition at times.

  19. Deborah says:

    D’Arcy: I’m glad you wrote a guest post for us!

    Your comment about the loneliness is particularly poignant — and it’s an emotional reaction I often hear from those questioning their place in the Mormon community. I spent a couple (or more) years renegotiating my “place” in the LDS community after leaving the singles ward but remaining “single” at church (interfaith marriage). The word lonely probably best captures this struggle at my most conflicted moments. Partly because the community of Mormon women has been so key to my identity and base of friendship. Still is — but certainly my “communion” with sisters online helped ameliorate these feelings.

  20. G says:

    emilycc, I was thinking about that the other day, the discomfort, awkwardness, etc… that is often associated between members who have left the church, and those who stay (or the various different stages in between).

    I think it is a bit like a very nasty divorce with what it does to those who are the friends and relatives of both parties. how do you love them both, and not get drawn into picking sides?

    it’s hard. I am still working it out from my side.

    while I hope others will be open and respectful of my beliefs, I find I need to be very careful and be open and respectful to those who believe in the church.

  21. Dora says:

    On conversations that I don’t appreciate … when peopel try so hard to testify of the truthfulness of the gospel that they don’t pause to listen and understand the issues of the person they are trying to save. It’s like those Ugly Americans who think that people abroad will understand them better if they just speak English louder. A little empathy goes much further than a ton of preaching.

  22. Alisa says:

    Dora, I just had this happen to me last week. I was caught off guard and kept on the phone in a parking lot for over an hour while I was preached at for saying that I see God in lots of places. It was so draining. I very much agree with what you said.

  23. Brooke says:

    I am yet another who could have written a similar post. It’s a relief to see that there are so many of us. I haven’t been very open about this kind of viewpoint except with my husband and a few close friends, precisely because I know how some people will feel about my beliefs. I used to think that way too. I inwardly cringe whenever I reflect on certain conversations I had even just a few years ago.

    But hope I can put fears of others’ reactions aside, and be more open about my feelings. And for certain, if I do believe that God has a plan, it’s a huge, gigantic, enormous plan that we can’t even begin to fathom as mortals. Thank you for sharing, D’Arcy.

  24. bones says:

    D’arcy! Oh my goodness! I am new to the blogging world, though I’ve been reading ’round the ‘naccle for a couple of years. I just posted my first blog and I used some of the same wording as you, specifically the “eat, drink, and be merry”. I had not read your post before I wrote mine! You said exactly what I have been feeling lately! Thank you for this post. Thank you for putting into words the idea of God being a “Big God”. I love it.

  25. D'Arcy says:

    Thanks Bones,

    I really appreciated your comments. It sounds like your experience has been similar to mine in the religious sense.

    I always saw my testimony as a huge rock that was firm and strong. It was transformed for me on my mission though to a very fragile glass globe, and it finally shattered this past year. I keep looking at the million fragments and don’t quite know if I should put them all back together how they originally were or if I should just create something new out of them.

    Right now I am just looking at the mess wondering what to do so I don’t cut myself too deeply.

  26. G says:

    “…wondering what to do so I don’t cut myself too deeply.”

    yes.
    and that was beautifully put.

  27. skyeJ says:

    This post is exactly me right now. I’m glad I checked Exponent today. I go for a while sometimes where I can’t stand to do the “Mormon blog” thing, but there is always something here on Exponent that gives me peace and comfort. Peace and comfort is never a bad feeling. Jessawhy, you’re not alone.

  28. skyeJ says:

    shoot. I meant D’Arcy, you’re not alone. Neither are you, Jessawhy! 🙂

  29. Deborah says:

    For those still commenting here, be sure to check out our new site:

    the-exponent.com

    We’ve transferred all the archives, so nothing will be lost 🙂

  30. Rosamund says:

    I just found this post today and can add my name to the list of those who could have written it. Thank you so much for your candor and thoughtfulness. You sound like someone I could be friends with.

  31. Carrie says:

    Thank you D’arcy. My journey is so similar to the one you describe. My faith in the “one and only true church” has been shaken to the core by the emotional abuse I experienced at the hands of my RS counselor. This abuse lasted almost two years and was handled poorly by my leaders. Why is that always the case?

    Trying to understand the abuse directed towards me led me to the internet. I found that my abuser was a textbook example of a female abuser. Cruel, malicious, good at projecting a “public” face to others, believable liar, etc. Then my research led me into a completely different direction as I tried to learn more about the church to which I belonged.

    After twenty years of being uncomfortable in church my research revealed why. The church is currently and has been for the last decade “cleaning up.”

    Things taught in my youth are no longer mentioned. Doctrine was taking subtle shifts in new directions. Temple practices truly are tied to Masonry. I was shocked at what I had refused to look at for so long. I am angry with myself and feel more than a little free ironically.

    I wish I had the guts to contact this abusive sister to tell her two things:1) GET SOME HELP and 2) “Thank you” for demonstrating by your behavior that no way could this be Jesus Christ church here on earth.

    Since leaving, my saint of a my mother-in-law (I mean that without sarcasm. I have never seen this women take a misstep- until now.) has accused me of being under Satan’s grasp and endangering the celestial life of her grandchildren.
    The letter she wrote broke what was left of my heart.

    I can remember one of my female history professors at BYU looking at me with sympathy when I verbally defended my senior thesis paper that delved into the hazards of Exponent to Mormon women. I argued that women should be taking their concerns to their priesthood leaders and husbands rather than relying on a magazine. Especially, a magazine with such a rocky history with church headquarters.

    I understand now the look that was in her eyes. It probably went something like:

    “Wait. Just wait. Something is going to shake your testimony to the core. Abuse, financial hardship,time. Then you will understand what these women are trying to voice and why they have to voice somewhere other than the church.”

    I have toyed with the idea of contacting her to see if she remembers that fresh faced, knowing all the answers girl back in 1993. I would like to tell her that I understand that look she gave me. I also understand now why she said so little in defense of the magazine. It was 1993. The church sanctioned witch hunt for intellectuals was occurring.

    My metamorphosis began three months ago and has been filled with anger, sadness, and grief. Through it all, I know that God understands my decision. Friends and family still do not understand. To them I am:

    -a sinner
    -mislead
    -deceived by Satan
    -dangerous and full of subversive ideas
    -an apostate
    -a project
    -shunned
    -ignored, then maybe I will go away

    I have never felt so alone in my life. After a lifetime in Mormonism, how do I define a life without it constantly directing my seconds, minutes, and hours?

    I am fortunate to have a husband who is willing to let me take this journey though it worries him and baffles his own testimony of the truthfulness of the church.

    It is interesting that I feel closer to God than ever before. I see things differently. More universal. More kind and more Christ like. Almost as if I have graduated from high school and am now ready for college. I fell like I am being prepared for new and better training. But it is scary out here in this new frontier. My neighbors seem to be hundreds of miles a part.

  32. Caroline says:

    Carrie,
    How awful that you’ve been treated so badly by some LDS. Thanks for sharing your story.

  33. Carrie says:

    Thank you Caroline. That post was rambling. There is so much in my heart. You read it anyway. Thank you. It means more than I can express.

    Carrie

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