My Church Experience Part 2

I know I don’t owe anyone explanations or disclaimers. But because the comments and messages I am receiving are getting out of hand I need to add this part for my own sake.

1. If the tone of this post feels negative it is because while yes I love the church (why would I stay in it if I didn’t love a lot about it?? No one is making me stay.. my husband would support me 100% if I wanted to leave. I stay for a reason) because my job is such that I am exposed to SO many opinions, so many people who have access to me and can tell me whatever they want to say, I PERSONALLY, have had a much different experience than a lot of you. I get that a lot of you have grown up in the LDS church with no issues. While so much good came from my experience, there was also a lot I had to work through. I get that a lot of you don’t come across these judgmental and immature people but I do on a daily basis. I think a lot of people assume influencers are exaggerating when we say how bad the messages are that we receive but I am telling you, it is bad. So I am not going to change how I talk about my experience just because you feel hurt that it wasn’t similar to yours? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

2. If you feel like this post reflects poorly on the church then I am sorry but this is the truth for me. It bums me out that so many people are more concerned about how the church looks and how they look in response to that – more than they care about hearing the stories of people who have left, are considering leaving, or having questions. Again, we preach missionary work and a big part of that is setting down our ego and listening to the member’s and their concerns… not just bringing NEW people in.

3. I am not doing this to “justify” my life choices so please stop saying that. I am 31 and haven’t worn my garments in YEARS. So what, I took all this time to get justification? No. I never needed it nor do I now. I also am not at all “rehearsing my doubts” (quoting from comments her referencing a conference talk) and I think that particular quote from conference could potentially be very toxic. Why should people not voice their doubts? I think if you are going to voice doubts, don’t only do it with people who will agree, try to also have a different perspective so you can actually seek answers and fresh outlooks but I absolutely disagree that people shouldn’t “rehearse doubts”. I will not blindly follow and not ask questions and voice concerns just because I am told not to.

4. Please do not disrespect the temple garment – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is only one of many religions that wear religious garments and it is so inappropriate to mock or make fun of any garment worn by any religion. I have talked about my stance on them but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have incredible respect for anyone of any religion who wears these garments that are incredibly special, symbolic, and powerful to them.

5. Like I said in my first church post, I realize that these issues are not at all exclusive to the LDS church.. I realize these issues are in communities and other religions. I can only speak to the religion I know though. This applies across humanity.

6. “but garments represent commitment to the Lord and people can make judgments about your commitment” (quoting from a comment below) let’s say it does.. What I am saying is let people be less “your version of committed” than you and can you be okay with that? They are okay with it. So can they still be a part of the church and you just let them do that and worry about yourself? Commitment is different to everyone and many people are happy with the level of commitment they have to the version of the God they believe in.

7. “why don’t you just leave the church then?” (again quoting from comment section) – and I know so many have asked this respectfully out of genuine curiosity so thank you!!! I don’t have to agree with everything to be a part of something. I could switch religions and even still I wouldn’t agree with everything. I don’t see my only options as, believing everything, follow everything and stay, or have questions and leave. We are going to teach our kids that they can question anything, they can pray and ponder and read and learn and will find answers and it is also possible they won’t and that is okay. It is fine to not know every detail. The goal is to just do what you can to feel God’s love and to feel like a worthy human capable of endless possibilities and worthy of every single good thing in this world. And to show people that same love and view people as worthy and capable humans who are also so loved in the eyes of God.

8. I am absolutely NOT responsible for anyone who decides to not wear their garments or not go to church or whatever after reading this. The people reading this are intelligent and thoughtful humans who will read it and make informed decisions on THEIR own.

9. Lastly, we have a freaking COOL community of members surrounding us and there are sooooo many good, fabulous, inspiring people I look up to in our church. I have felt welcomed and included and loved by so many. I am so grateful to know so many amazing people who have impacted my life in positive ways.

You all had so many amazing questions about the church. I went through and wanted to start answering them but realized as I started typing that my answers for a lot of them were some version of “I don’t know”. There is a lot I don’t know right now but honestly I am cool with that. I am excited to be having questions that are leading to healthy discussions within my family and all of you and together we are figuring it out. Not in a hurry at all. There is so much time to think about these things and figure them out as they come. Currently feeling very at peace with where we are. But that being said I didn’t feel comfortable sharing too much info because honestly I don’t want these posts to be all about my concerns but more about broad cultural changes that honestly NEED to change or so many people will start leaving. 

It seems a lot of us are at this inflection point where we have been a part of something, and really dedicated a large part if not all of our lives to this religion… and you become an adult and really start to wonder if a lot of the shame instilled perhaps stemmed from some of the teachings. Of course so many good things came from it too… but you can’t help but start to wonder how you can teach your kids within that church without them having those same shameful feelings. Shame is so huge in the church whether you choose to recognize it or not. The first therapist I went to joked that “she never sees a Mormon come through who doesn’t have issues with shame.” So I guess the question for a lot of us is, how can we make that dramatic cultural shift within the church? Is it possible? If it isn’t then where do you stand? These are all the questions I currently have. 

When we moved to New York City we had the coolest ward (except for of course anonymous from my last post, lol). In one Sunday school lesson a guy was teaching and came to a part of the lesson where he shared his concerns with this topic and shared how he didn’t know how he felt about it and if he believed it. Everyone just chatted super candidly and it was the FIRST time in church that I ever heard people talk about concerns out loud as if it wasn’t something to be ashamed of. It was so cool. I want that more. So badly. I desperately just want people to be real and chill and not feel like we all need to have the strongest testimonies and believe everything without a shadow of a doubt. It is not realistic. I want more authenticity and less judgment. 

Some members are extremely touchy and defensive when it comes to talking about anything to do with the church’s imperfections. I know I definitely was for years. You will often hear, “you have to separate the culture and the church” and on paper that sounds great and I listened to people telling me that for yeaaars and tried to do that.. but it is impossible to go to church, be a part of the community, serve your community, hold callings, and “separate the culture”… I mean you are literally a part of the culture when you are a part of the church. The lessons you receive from members of that community will make huge impacts on your life. And while it seems we are doing away with the age old analogies of equating girls who do anything sexual with a boy to a piece of chewed up gum and all of those incredibly cringey types of lessons, we still have a long way to go.  

I had an experience a while ago that I shared a little bit of on social media but going to share it on here as well since it illustrates exactly what I am talking about. I was looking for an herbalist to see during a time when I felt very out of whack. I had blood tests done to see what I was low in and was hoping an herbalist could help me go over my results and help me find a good routine to get in and get everything back where it needed to be. I was recommended to a woman by a friend. I show up to the appointment wearing an Aje dress (it is a freaking cute dress btw) .. when I sat down it went to about mid thigh. She is sitting cross legged and barefoot on the floor in front of me. I am sitting in her office and towards the end of the appointment she looks at me after looking directly at my legs and this is the exchange we had:

Herbalist: “are you mormon?”

Me: “yes… howcome?”

Herbalist: “are you married?”

Me: “yes..” 

Herbalist: “I noticed you aren’t wearing garments..”

Me: “yeah I don’t wear my garments”

Herbalist: “but you were married in the temple were you not? Did you not take covenants with the lord?”

Me: “yeah but I have decided to not wear them”

Herbalist: “wow… what a shame.. you would be so much more blessed if you wore them”

Me: “I am actually very blessed and don’t believe I need to wear them to receive more blessings”

.. she continued to lecture me on why garments are so important to HER and why I should be wearing them. I did the whole “uh huh” thing not caring to even engage with someone who couldn’t possibly even think to stop talking and pause her self righteous rant for a moment to ask why I had decided to not wear them – or even try to see my point of view or what led me to that decision. It could have been an insightful conversation for possibly both of us had she been willing to see my perspective on the matter and drop the holier than thou attitude. 

You find this a lot in the church, and in general honestly (myself included sometimes!). Where we don’t stop to just hear someone’s perspective when in a polarizing conversation about the church. We immediately put our guard up and act as if any imperfections within the church are a direct reflection of us and we take it so personally. At least I did for so long. We have come to believe that there is this black and white and anyone in the grey area is sad, not as blessed, and in need of missionary work. It is this very thing that I think drives so many people away. This “feeling sorry” for me because I don’t do religion how you do religion. I would bet that any adult who has made the conscious decision to leave the church or to do the church their way, has done so because it actually improves THEIR life. I truly believe that people in tune with their spirituality have a vibration and light about them that is undeniable – but that spirituality does NOT have to look the same as yours to be special. Just like parents have to parent each child differently, not every religion is going to work for each person – which is why it is so great that there are so many religions and spiritual journeys available to people. 

I think it is fascinating that our church is all about family and being Christlike.. Yet sometimes when a family member chooses to leave the church or have a different lifestyle there are strained relationships because of it. How can a family who lives a religion all about family and Christ – end up choosing that religion over family? I just get confused by this because if push came to shove I would choose good relationships with my kids over literally anything. *I know this is not the majority of cases*

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