Seeking Goodness

Seeking goodness, as I find my way outside of the mormon faith

The post-Mormon curse

Life has been good in the last year. We love our new location, I have a great new job, our kids are thriving. But I’m wondering how long it will be before I stop seeing correlations between real-life and my spirituality? For instance, if we’re sick or things are going poorly, I must admit I still wonder “is this because I left the church? is this a sign!?” The thought doesn’t last long, reason wins out, but… it’s still deeply ingrained in me to think that way.
For instance, we’ve been doing well financially since our move to Georgia. Add to it the fact I essentially got a 10% raise when I stopped paying tithing (a good portion of which I spend on charity and good works- preferably the very transparent kind) and I’d say this is the most “temporally blessed” we’ve ever been. 2 years ago, I would have chalked this up to “tithing blessings”. And now… I can’t just let it be, I have to assign it to something!
I still feel “blessed” and acknowledge that we’ve been very lucky, have good karma, or whatever supernatural force is out there seems to like us. I’ve always been “blessed”, “lucky” or whatever you want to call it. Like the time I lost my iphone just weeks after enabling the “where’s my phone” app, and was able to give the cops a description of the trailer park my phone had wandered off to. The cop was bored and went and checked it out- and I had my phone back the next morning. That’s how things always work out- I mess up, and somehow the universe makes it better. I always figured I had a great guardian angel. Maybe I still do.

On the other hand… the last month or so I’ve had a resurgence of depression, as I went off an anti-anxiety drug (that was doing a good job taking the edge off the emotions, but seriously ruining my thyroid). I can’t help but wonder if I’m more depressed now because I don’t have the spirit? Is God is trying to tell me something? Or because I have clinical depression and my chemistry is unbalanced? Nevermind the fact that the previous six months had been very happy (again- is this a sign that leaving the church was the right thing, or was my medication simply doing its job?)
I have to remind myself, I was depressed for TEN YEARS while in the church. At the time, I saw it as a trial that I could use to better myself- and I absolutely still believe that. As a matter of fact, some of my best attributes (empathy, self-awareness, a drive to improve) are clearly results of my struggle.

I am TERRIFIED of something bad happening to our family, like cancer or something, not just for the obvious reasons, but because of the assumptions people will make. Because I know what assumptions I would have made, though I would never have voiced them: “I bet they wish they still had the gospel.” “I bet they wish they had a ward family.” “I bet they wish they had the priesthood.” “I wonder if they’re being punished.” (That last one I would barely have admitted to myself- I never did believe in a God that worked like that).

How long do I have to be out of the church before  I can just take things for what they are, continuing to be grateful for the good and trying to make the best of the bad?

Category: Uncategorized
  • Thatcher says:

    Come on back. There’s no shame in it. We all learn different ways. As you said the Church gave you your solid foundation, you need that for your kids. Don’t use your kids as an experiment with a different way. You got the benefit, they won’t. If you continue with your kids there please continue to post the results for all to see. I’ve watched this many times and have not seen a “success” yet. On the positive side since you are in a new location you won’t have to worry about embarrassment on leaving the Church, no one will have to know really, but you should discuss it with your bishop, he will help you. I know I would welcome you back without reservation. You have an honest heart which is a great gift.

    April 27, 2013 at 2:58 pm
  • jooniper says:

    Thanks for the comment!
    It isn’t shame that’s keeping me away; all the reasons why we left still apply. We simply weren’t getting anything positive out of it. That isn’t to say there isn’t positive in the church- there is, but it only works if you can believe in the restoration and in the priesthood. I can’t. The cognitive dissonance made church exhausting and negative for me.

    I have talked with my current bishop multiple times, and while they’ve been positive experiences (he’s a great guy), I don’t think either the ward or my family has much to gain from us being there. Because doubt can be contagious. I think I’d be more welcome as a sinner- if I drank or smoked or had slept around- than I would as a non-believer who still follows all the rules. There just isn’t room in our church for those who don’t believe.

    As for your comment “I’ve watched this many times and have not seen a “success” yet. ” I used to think this way. But now I’ve seen a lot of successful, happy, well-adjusted post-mormons. They just aren’t usually associated with former mormons because they don’t flaunt that they were once mormon. Not every ex-mormon is bitter or lives a wild life- just the loud ones. And I’ve seen some former mormons raise wonderful, well-adjusted children who go on to be successful spouses and parents. It’s very possible. As a matter of fact, the most predictable parenting outcomes I’ve seen come from atheists, not mormons. Pretty much every mormon family I know has had at least one child fall away, at least one child trapped in a mediocre marriage, or at least one child severely depressed. Mormonism isn’t quite the recipe for universal success we like to pretend it is. It works REALLY well for some people and for some kids (for instance, I have a few siblings that I hope never leave the church, it suits them so well), but for those it doesn’t work for, the effects can be awful. Just like everything else, we have to decide as individuals what works for us- hopefully consulting God along the way.

    I did get the benefit of being raised in the church- but I also got the downsides. I felt worthless as a teenage girl and I can tie that very directly to what I was being taught in Young Women’s- my eternal worth was waiting for me in motherhood and wifehood. I was suicidal after being misdiagnosed in high school with a disorder that would leave me infertile. How would I finds my worth and validation if not as a mother? What if all the worthy priesthood bearers didn’t want to date me (as seemed to be the case all the way through my senior year of college), or worse yet, I caused them to sin by my actions? My path to worth and validation was hinged on the future actions of others. I was so busy waiting to be the future me, for fulfilling potential, that I never bothered to be happy with who I was in the moment. What I needed to hear was that my worth was in being me, as I was, regardless of my status as a future wife and mother.

    And don’t even get me started on why I don’t want my son anywhere near YMs- I don’t want him to feel the self-loathing, guilt and shame that 99.9% of mormon boys feel for doing things all boys do. If I can keep him from going through what my husband went through, I’ll be very content. And if either of my kids ends up being LGBTQ, then we will stay as far away from the church as possible.
    I can still raise my kids the way I was raised- with knowledge of worthy goals, actions and consequences, or priorities and integrity. My parents did a great job of instilling those traits in a way that had nothing to do with “because God’s says so” but because living a life of integrity is the way to live a happy life. That still stands. So I’ll bring with me the good and leave behind the bad.

    The original post here wasn’t about missing the church or having doubts about my current path- I was trying (but apparently failed) to articulate the difficulty I am deprogramming my brain from associating good things in life with righteousness and bad things in life with “unrighteousness”. Logically, it makes no sense (plenty of righteous people have awful luck, plenty of sinners have wild success), but because of my upbringing, I can’t shake the nagging illogical thoughts.

    April 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm
    • Thatcher says:

      Okay. I never considered the “luck” thing. I think everything happens for a reason. It may be unpleasant at the time but it is for our good. Especially if we ask God for help. His goal is our happiness and he knows how to give good gifts. Sometimes he has to chasten us and again that is for our good. Not that he necessarily does painful things to us, though I think He could, but more often he allows things to happen to us that we set in motion by our own actions.
      If the spirit is striving with you, you might feel these “illogical” thoughts. Perhaps they are logical in that context.
      I wish the best for you.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:17 am
    • Jeremy says:

      Very well said, Jooniper. I agree with your assessment of the Church and many of its harmful practices/policies/culture.

      April 29, 2013 at 7:17 am
  • Reader says:

    Perhaps a bit of reframing would help? Think of the church and God’s plan/love/influence as two separate things. The latter is what many (and by your description, you) seek, and a church is simply a vehicle for that goodness. At one point the LDS church may have served that role for you, but currently it doesn’t (or perhaps it never did, but it served its role to prepare you to receive it). This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve given up on the reason – quite the opposite, you have now realized that the reason should be the driver of your actions. The church is a wonderful institution that can serve in the capacity of leading you to God’s love. But depending on how the institution is applied, it can stop being that vehicle. So rather than think in terms of leaving the church, think of it in terms of having expanded on it. Think of the church as somewhat like the Mosaic Law, rule-driven to effect action, but then having served its purpose, it was replaced by The Higher Law. Now you’re onto that Higher Law, living the Gospel of Christ more directly, it’s almost like the church serves as the Mosaic Law to you. Spend your time thinking of that, rather than counting how many church “rules” you no longer follow. Don’t think yourself as a former Mormon (post Mormon, ex Mormon, etc), but think of yourself as a Child of God. And I have to believe that when our intentions are true, when we live to the best of our potential, when we put our might mind and soul on living the Christian ideal, the God has to be pleased, even if it leads away from the church. And to the extent those precious truths you learned as a Mormon remain in you, you will always be Mormon. Don’t view it as an all or nothing.

    May 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm
    • jooniper says:

      Well said, and I agree! It’s good for me to be reminded, so thank you.

      May 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm

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