You’re Sad I Left the LDS church
I understand that this can be confusing and painful. I’m sorry that I had a part in giving you pain. I am sure it is hard for you to see why I would no longer feel at home there. I learned many good things growing up in the church, and for that I am thankful. I learned to be honest. I learned to freely serve those around me and even complete strangers. I learned to value truth. I learned to value a wholesome and virtuous way of life. I love how you also embody those values and try to live your best life. I love how you try to be a good neighbor and to love and serve those around you, even those who are different. I admire your integrity. I love you just the same as I always have.
I had a decent upbringing in the church. My participation helped me make some good decisions and helped keep me out of some potentially dangerous ones. I struggled at times, because I felt like I could never be good enough and I tried to be exactly obedient. The church lifestyle was no problem for me. Sure, it was hard getting my children ready and off to church each Sunday while my husband was in meetings, sure, it was hard reading scriptures daily with the family and family home evening weekly. But I could do them, and I did. Even for a few years after my testimony in the truth claims of the church fell apart. There came a time when I realized there were a lot of core beliefs that the church holds that I couldn’t subscribe to. It was deeply painful, especially because people I loved and respected spoke spitefully about people like that. But I just couldn’t believe anymore, no matter how I tried.
For a while I struggled with trying to get my testimony back. Fasting and prayer and scripture reading did not yield the promised fruit. It was when I finally said “I can’t do this anymore God, can I step away?” that I finally felt peace. Believers often paint disbelief as an ‘easy out’ for people who ‘couldn’t cut it’. That is very much NOT the case for many of us. I spent many nights in tears and days struggling with things I learned and with the feeling of being completely unmoored, like a foundation had been ripped from under me. I was never taught to trust myself and my ability to discern between good and evil. But I eventually went through the painful process of evaluating each former belief and deciding if it was something I could bring with me or if I had to leave it behind. I finally began to have more peace as I realized I was still a good moral person and that I would be okay. Sometimes people who leave the LDS church are accused of doing so because they ‘wanted to sin’, ‘wanted to dress immodestly’ or ‘wanted to drink coffee’ or other such things. I think they actually re-examined their worldview and their concept of ‘sin’ or ‘modesty’ changed. Or their understanding of a personal code of health no longer included ‘no coffee’.
There are still things I definitely struggle with. I miss feeling like I ‘know’ what happens after death. I have to admit I have no idea -but this doesn’t give me anxiety like I thought it would. I feel weirdly at peace with the state of not-knowing. I trust that I am doing the best I can, so if I go on and have to make an accounting to God after this life, I trust that God is good and will understand what I’ve been through and that I’ve done the best I could. I also really miss the sense of community and knowing I had a group to reach out to who would respond when I might find myself in need. In the past it was such a comfort to know I could reach out to my new ward or branch when I moved, for example. Now I have no idea how that will work. And I don’t know who I will reach out to if a serious health condition threatens my family. I also find myself reflecting on existential questions from time to time. And there are things I just don’t know.
I know that, when you say you are praying for me, you mean “I love you.” And that you have good intent. If you are worried about my spiritual well-being or where I will go after I die, please try to trust God. If you believe in the goodness of God and in eternal progression, then I hope that will give you comfort about me or others like me. Trust the character of God and that God is more loving, more compassionate, more generous than you had suspected. That if you care about what happens to me or others who have left, God cares infinitely more than you and will find a way. Let that bigness of God give you peace.
Please don’t be afraid of me. I have no desire to take your faith from you- I trust you to know what is best for you. I have hoped that we could remain friends, though I have pulled back at times because I was hurting. I think we still have more in common than different. A lot of our values are still the same. We both strive to be agents of love in the world. Perhaps there are times when you or I will be surprised by some of the things we think differently about now. But I think we can still learn from each other. Perhaps there are times when it would be appropriate to have a longer discussion about something. Perhaps we can each share more about our journeys in time.
We seemed to be the same and now we’re not. If I say I am upset with the church, you feel I am upset with you. I’m not. You feel like I am ruining the ‘forever family’. That is not how I see it at all. I realize these beliefs and the consequences of disbelief are very real to you. I’m sorry your beliefs are causing you pain. I am especially sorry I had any part in that> I never wanted to hurt anyone. I’m sad when I think of the pain I have caused to others I care about. I get that it is going to take some getting used to, but the truth is I don’t believe in the church, and find that the best thing for me is to disassociate from it. Can you accept that I am acting in integrity? That I can still love and respect you even if I have to distance myself from your church? I will still try to support you and be there for you when I can.