To help direct us in our efforts to provide support resources for you in your Mormon transition, please post as comments here the hardest parts of your LDS faith crisis. We are specifically interested in what types of content (podcasts, essays, guides), suggestions, and support you could use in your Mormon transition. Please be creative.
You do not have to use your real name in your comments, so feel free to remain anonymous.
From these comments we will begin to create written content, podcast episodes, programs, mental health resources, community, etc. to support your immediate needs.
Thanks in advance!
Hello. I am a 32 year old woman who was born into the church and was extremely active and a very “good” Mormon up until a about 10 months ago when some of my casual questions started to get more and more serious. I went back and forth on even wanting to explore it.
My marriage took a dive last Oct as I received an ultimatum of having to choose between leaving the clutch or staying married.
I’m not sure how, but we made it through that and are still married.
We both did not attend church for seven months and it was some of the best times in our marriage.
My husband has began to feel family pressure (which is where his ultimatum came from in the first place) about getting our new son blessed and has started attending again.
Not only that but he is now again on my family’s side wanting to re interest me in the church. He ordered the living scriptures set for our kids and because I didn’t object or intervene, I saw a text he wrote to my mom saying, “Leslie was ok with it. I think I might have sparked something inside of her.”
BUT, he loves that I don’t wear garments and have a higher interest in sex, and that I want to try a glass of wine now. But when my or his family is close by, he plays that side.
I get really bothered by it but I REALLY want to make it. I want to know how to stick on this road. To be true to myself but also stay married!
We love our kids so much and live each other too, but this is such a huge strain! It’s like this underlying current that can sometimes be forgotten in a kiss, but is 99% still there. Each of us wondering what the other is thinking. Each of us hoping, just hoping the other one chooses to SEE.
Where the contention comes is of course centered around our kids. We each want what’s best for them.
Anyway, I could go on and on and I’m not sure of what I’m asking for specifically. Just advice/encouragement on how to have a happy marriage as I journey alone completely out of Mormonism.
Do I go still, just to keep the peace?
Leslie, we were in your EXACT situation this time last year!! I know how you feel and I know hard it is. I started questioning the church first and it took my husband to “see” the truth (or rather, the LIES) of TSCC (the so-called church) about a year. Long story short, we are both out of the church now with our 4 kids and life has never been soo full and amazing!! John Dehlin’s podcasts helped a ton! Also, Shawn McCraney’s YouTube show called Heart of the Matter was huge in helping us remove the blinders from our eyes. Good luck to you!! Don’t give up on him yet!!!
Shawn Mcraney’s Heart of the Matter really really helped me. I knew I wanted a relationship with Christ, that show helped me do find out who he was and what my relationship was with him. I needed to unlearn a lot!
My heart truly goes out to you, as I experience this in my family to this day, and my previous marriage suffered a divorce as I couldn’t cope with how conditional our relationship started to feel.
Leslie, you and I have so very much in common. I could have written your post! I am a 32 year old mother of 4. Born and raised in the “covanant”, married in the temple to a returned missionary, and a faithful member up until about 2 years ago. I had a very difficult time leaving the church. My husband is still an active member, a member of the stake high council, and we have a great marriage…as long as we don’t discuss the church. He absolutely refuses to have any type of open discussion with me, probably because we end up in an argument any time we try to “go there”. The most difficult part of leaving was the ridicule and judgement I have received from family and ward members, telling me that I have been deceived etc. It is frustrating because the opposite is true! My advice is to just keep loving your husband, he has been indoctrinated and he really can’t help himself. He needs you. As far as the kids are concerned, we take it day by day, I keep them home from church when I can, I send them when I have to. Remember that you are both parents and you both love your children, lead with love and I beleive the truth will eventually prevail. It may take several years, but don’t give up!
The hardest part of my faith transition was finding someone to trust. Growing up I was taught to trust my leaders, confide in my leaders, and follow their counsel. But from a very early age I realized they had little insight, and were of no help. In fact they constantly made hard situations worse. In addition they never offered any real answers to any of the questions I had. As I grew older and started to research answers to my questions I would be asked where I got that answer from. The next response was, you shouldn’t be looking at unofficial documents. When I finally left I got torn apart by my TBM wife (ex now). We all make mistakes, and it is easy to tear anyone down if we really want to. So to those who knew me, knew the good and the bad. The bad was what was hung out there, thus the reason I left was sin. With my dirty laundry out there it made it easy for people to distance themselves from me. That was the hardest part, the ridicule from people. They don’t see it that way, but I was on the receiving end. They see it as I left to sin, and they don’t want anything to do with that, but I am always welcome back. The thing is my so called sins are nothing I feel I need to be ashamed of. I have always owned up to my mistakes, and they where never an issue when people thought I was a TBM. But the second I stopped attending they became an issue.
Letting down my dad and other family members. Fear that we won’t be together in the celestial kingdom. And then fear of me because I’m on the road to apostasy. The strife it has caused is appalling.
Overcoming anger towards the church and its leaders as well as navigating through the challenges of when family “disowns” you or disassociated from you. In other words coming to emotional peace with it all.
Others will address my general issues – but I grew up the daughter of a single, divorced woman, who later remarried as a second wife to a man whose first wife had died. I saw her mistreated, judged, and even harassed by priesthood leaders and faithful members. I spun all this into the idea that “the church is perfect, the people aren’t” and believed we’d get our reward in heaven for being second class citizens in this life. I came to a peace about that and my experiences growing up.
I’ve since had to re-frame everything outside of “the gospel perspective” and have dealt with a lot of anger about what my mom went through and trying to find my voice after submitting for years. There’s a lot of pain in that second class citizen group. Our story is extreme and anything but typical, but I think the general issue is a big one.
The hardest part has definitely been having my spouse, some of my children, my parents, relatives and ward and stake members think that I am deceived now and feeling like I’ve lost the depth in my relationships. I just want people to understand my heart is still the same and my spirit has pure intentions. I still have every desire to live a good life and hold to the same standards as I did before. But I will never be seen the same way. And it has caused so much anxiety and depression. I’m tired of feeling guilty for letting everyone down when it was the church that let me down. My relationships are very important to me, and this has caused incredible strain on them. I just am tired of feeling alone and misunderstood.
I think this has been the hardest part for me, my wife is a member and I’ve lost hope she will ever understand me. All my family and in-laws are members and so I stand alone. Here’s the hard part, all the other emotions that I’ve gone through to get to this part have been intense, anger, betrayal, fear…. but now I have no strong emotions to drive me, I’ve just accepted it but now I have no reason to fight, so just feeling of loneliness and apathy have started to set in.
The hardest part for me of leaving the church is feeling like God will now start punishing me for leaving. That I’ll lose my job, my house, my car, my kids. It’s a very real fear.
There’s also the reprogramming my brain about dating and sex. I was taught that being gay is ok, but acting on it us not. I can’t seem to move past that mentality. I try dating, and I’m scared to let it go very far because it’s bad, wrong etc.
The thing that finally shook me loose was having my first son…. I’d always thought that having a child would cement my faith. But it did the opposite… I had a good friend who was gay and he struggled to find a conventional relationship in the gay community, sometimes being labeled a prude for his lack of promiscuity and infidelity. He said to me once, I’d be a Mormon if I wasn’t gay…. he wanted a partner and a family… Anyway I had my son and I realized that if he were ever to come to me and tell me he was gay, I could never, ever expect him to live the life that the church does. I had been orthodox LDS all my life… labeled a “molly” in high school, served a mission, married in the temple, to this day I’ve never tried cigarettes or alcohol… but the thought of putting that burden on my son made me incensed. I know in the very fibres of my heart that God does not create contradictions. He would not make you the way you are, then expect you to choke on it.
Go be free and true to how he made you. He does not value you any less for it. F*ck anyone else who does.
Love your way of honest thinking & expressions…
I wish every one was like you & I but I can live with them not being, so open & honest. Its hard but worth it tofeel so free & still feel Gods love just the same as always😉
Heavenly Father loves you and does not want you to feel bad in your heart , follow your Heavenly Father and what he wants for you as his child , you have the right to receive personal revaluation that’s right for you, and then when he tells you what is right for you follow him, not other people , do what you know is right for yoiu in your heart , you do not have to do any thing you don’t want to do. You have free agency.dony let others tell you what’s right for you. Also Heavenly Father is more loving then we are, You are suffering enough, would you do that to your child? he’s not going to hurt you , He wants to help you not destroy you
2 Nephi 31:14
For years after I stopped attending Sunday meetings, that verse tethered me to the Church. I was never able to let go completely in fear of the consequences of turning my back on what I once claimed to know was true.
On the way out and having spoken to bishop, the whole ‘you’ll end up in outer Darkness ‘ thing spouted to me as a stern warning and to my husband who was invited in with me. I feel it was used more as a threat than a warning and they were trying to get my husband to side with them through fear.
So letting go of the hang ups and fears that we are all taught.
Also, the shunning that isn’t supposed to happen but we all know it does. Friends who are fearful of what you might say as if you are an infection they might catch. You can hear the awkwardness on the phone if they accidentally pick up to you. Bishoprics who say they want to talk to you before any you make any final decisions in trying to leave, but then never getting back to you.
The hardest part was feeling alone. it felt like no one in my immediate family/social circle understood or really wanted to. Online communities were great but the most helpful thing was meeting with others like me in person. That was a huge burden off my shoulders. Podcasts were also very helpful.
Fear was the worst part of me. I loved the church and my life and I was scared about it changing. I was terrified about displeasing God, betraying my family, and losing my friends. My whole identity had been shaped by Mormonism. I feared that I would lose myself. I kept it all a secret. I was scared to talk about it because I knew people would just worry and wouldn’t be able to help. The best thing for me was listening to expert opinions in podcasts and finding forums where I could discuss difficult matters of faith with other people. I never read or listened to much “anti-Mormon” material. It was the apologists who convinced me it was a fraud.
“My whole identity had been shaped by Mormonism.” You really hit the nail on the head! I am still coming to terms with the impact of Mormonism on my life.
Well there have many issues with having my faith crisis. First of which is my parents still wanting me to go to church and I don’t know what to say or how to say it. Instead I shut down.
I still want to believe in God but it is hard to figure out just how to do it on my own. I tried other churches and although I love them I hear that voice going “one true church” which bugs me.
Making friends! New friends…not based on religion but just friends. It is hard as I don’t know what I am doing. It’s not easy making friends when almost all your friends were Mormon. The ones that weren’t were obviously being judged by you for not being Mormon.
Anxiety of walking back into church activities knowing what you know. I was scared on a trip to Salt Lake City anxious at every historic museum we went to. I was jumpy.
The feelings of being “good enough” and not perfect still haunt me today. I wish that it would turn off but it doesn’t. Makes you sad to think about it.
And mostly having old books right in front of me telling me why Mormons were “persecuted” but not hearing a thing about how or why in church. It killed my faith.
As well as church disapline that wounded me so deeply I never truly recovered. Disapline given because I made a mistake and was looking for sympathy and a way so it wouldn’t happen again but instead got a slap on the wrist.
Re-building community. Leaving Mormonism has left me with a desire to create friendships and community completely outside of Mormonism. The ex-Mormon groups feel too much like I’m still holding on to Mormonism in some way. So, getting away from all things Mormon has been our family’s challenge. We know it will always be a part of our lives, given that our extended family still practices, but beyond that, the struggle has been to re-build community apart from Mormonism. That was my biggest struggle, but a year down the road, we are doing it. I just know that it has been very difficult. Hopefully, you can. Relate some resources that help others with that transition and make the process. Thanks!
How has this been? We are about two years out and my 12 and 10 year old really miss the community and want to go back. There is no way I can fully explain to them the depth of what I’m trying to do for our family by creating this new path without Mormonism but the lack of community is very difficult. I’m looking into local boys and girls groups in the community and they take lessons. Etc. Hopefully that will help.
The church was not interested in repenting.
The hardest part about leaving the church?
1. Having the bottom fall out of your life and not only doing it alone, but being demonized for doing it.
2. Getting letter after letter from family members who won’t talk to you, but have no problem writing a “call to repentance” letter.
3. Realizing that they will not hear anything you say and that talking to them and trying to explain only pushes them further into their cult.
4. Having your MIL write a letter telling you it is YOUR responsibility to tell her you left the church so she can prevent others from doing the same thing.
5. Losing almost every friend, finding out that the two remaining Mormon “friends” still think if they just hold on long enough their friendship will “bring you back.”
6. Listening to your husband: threaten divorce, tell you, you have no morals, claim we can no longer raise children together, call people to come over and call you to repentance, cast a demon from you. etc.
7. Having ex-mos tell you that you need to be happy so that members don’t see you as the “angry apostate.”
8. Having so much to process and very few people who get it, not even therapists really get it.
9. Realizing that you truly are alone because no matter how many ex-mo friends you make, once you lose family, you have truly lost. The grief is overwhelming.
10. Being in public and having your mind race with questions about every person you see. “What would it be like to be them, Never be mormon, have a family that loves you, be normal?” etc.
How well I know the dimensions of pain described here. And yet faith or belief is not a valve that can optionally be turned on or off. It is the result of convictions born through evidence. I cannot suddenly start believing the unbelievable or false scenarios again. Urgent fervent prayer over months and months yielded no answer from the heavens. The apologists, more than any other source, are to be credited with my disaffection through the transparency of falseness and faulty speculations that they promote. Now, my trust in any theological promoter is destroyed. I am skeptical of any religious motives. (Although, the pain is leveling out now after 8 years of hell — TBM wife does not wish to even talk about it, but we no longer talk divorce).
This! All of this! ^
This brings tears to my eyes, Mom of 5. I hope you can get the support you need.
You hit the nail on the head! All of this applies to me…all of it.
Yep. I often feel jealous of people that were never Mormon. And I feel resentful that I have to deal with all this.
I used to wish my husband, children and I had to go into the witness protection program so didn’t have to be in the church anymore. Isn’t that pathetic?
Not pathetic at all. Very descriptive
Re framing past spiritual confirmations in an agnostic current life view.
As members of the Church our social structure is preset for us. You move to a new city and all of a sudden your “friends” are provided for you through your ward. The Church becomes a life-long social crutch. Leaving the Church in mid-life, I realized that I needed to learn how to make my own friends. This is really hard to do as an adult. Most people’s close friendships are formed through shared experience (high school, college, etc.). How do we as ex-Mormon adults learn to make friends outside the Church and form close bonds?
Telling my sweet lady of a mom. She was/is devastated. She told me later it would have been easier to deal with my sudden death than me leaving the church.
My wife and I left at the time. While she was ready to leave before me she was very smart and patiently waited for me to figure it out.
I second this. Informing loved ones you know the news will hurt was the worst part.
By far the most difficult part of my transition was my wife inviting the Bishop over and ambushing me with an announcement that she was filing for divorce because I was “no longer trustworthy” since I no longer believed Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Stunned, I replied incredulously “You mean the only reason you are trustworthy is because you believe he is a prophet of God?”
Neither had an answer for that.
^Talk about mind control. So frustrating.
Confidence in self directed spiritually/mindfulness. In other words trusting a path of my own independent of all the voices and baggage that wanted to tell me otherwise. This was a difficult thing to imagine doing exiting an organization that frowned upon individuality and actual personal revelation that differed from the traditional script. I remember feeling like “what the neck do I do now” that this monolithic source of structure and power is no longer reliable. Where do I really turn for peace?
At first the hardest part was communicating about it with my spouse (and that covers everything from your relationship to how you run your family). Fortunately he was rolled with me somewhat (thanks to Facebook groups as “middle men” imo). Now the hardest part is choosing if and when to talk about it with parents. If/when is it necessary to set new boundaries (for example, it upsets me when all my dad talks about is church–but the empathetic part of me knows it is all he has and he doesn’t know any different).
I guess right now the hard part is letting some things slide.
1.For me is has been the doubting myself. What if I am wrong? What about the opportunities I may be denying my children. The church was the single most impactful thing in my own life. My mission experience changed my entire life, It influenced who I married and all my choices. The mental anguish I feel over this is excruciating. I genuinely want to do the right thing.
2. Having a Gay child made me feel that I had no choice but to leave even with all the historical crap I still wanted to stay and be a part and serve but with all the comments in church about gay marriage and how it is going to bring about the destruction of the world , comments made both in and out of church by ward members about gays getting married made it impossible to stay there
3. leaving behind the relationships that feel impossible to maintain. That social institution was a large part of our lives.
4 feeling a sens of loss and direction, that life has a purpose and meaning and a tangible one that I can teach my children
My mother was LDS but my father was innactive. Growing up I was given an option to attend or not. So I didn’t.
When I turned 18 I decided I wanted to really explore the church. I found peace. I also found my now wife.
Now, 13 years later, I can’t go on. With three children I’ve kept a smile on and still attend every Sunday. My wife and I had been seeing a counselor to help our marriage through my faith transition/crisis. I thought everything was going well up until the point when he finally just told me “if you don’t return to full activity and quit living in denial, guarantee your wife will leave you.”
I’m at a very low time. I have nobody to turn to. I sometimes feel that the sides are so polarized and I’m stuck right in the middle.
For a Church who claims to be all about family, they are truly home-wreckers. I’m so sorry for the way that counselor and your wife is handling this. Can you try seeing a non-LDS counselor? I’m sure you will get much different advice.
The hardest part is the fear of my kids being shunned (which may be unfounded, I haven’t stepped away entirely) and the pain this will cause my husband’s family, some close friends, and a couple of members of my family. The other hardest part is giving up a tight knit community that has been probably the biggest influence in my life. But it’s hard not being able to be authentic, having to put up a fake front, in order to fit in. To worry someone might notice I’m not wearing garments and then treat me differently is a stupid, but real struggle. FB groups, like minded family members, and like minded ward members with whom I can be totally and completely open and honest have saved me a lot of pain and allowed me outlets of authenticity.
This is me too. I have 4 kids age 9-15 and live in Utah. I worry about them being ostracized by friends and finding the only accepting kids being the druggies (I know this is an unfounded worry). I have made the decision to leave, but haven’t told my kids yet. I still feel the desire to be part of the Mormon social group, but know I won’t be accepted once I come out. I to worry about what the neighbors and other tbm’s will think if they see me without garments and it is exhausting not being true to yourself. It is hard to live in Utah and not be Mormon. I look at those on my street who aren’t, and no one really knows them or plays with their kids. We have the opportunity to move out of state and are considering it for a fresh start. At the same time, I wonder if I can instill good values in my kids on my own. I still believe in God and want my kids to have religion but I am not sure where to do that. If we stop going, I don’t want Sunday to turn into a day of work and video games and tv like Saturday’s. I am considering turning it into a service day??
If I could get out of Utah, I would do it in a heart beat! I think it would be much better for your children to live as post Mormons outside of Utah too. I think your idea of turning Sunday into a service day is a great one. You could make Sundays family days and do things that help your family bond to each other. Best of luck with your difficult decisions.
I was so terrified of this! When we left we were living in a very LDS community in Davis County and I was convinced we’d all be shunned. I knew I could handle it but I didn’t want to inflict that on my children. Especially since all our neighbors knew us as members and our children had been attending primary. I was ready to move out of state I was so worried. Perhaps we got lucky, but we’ve had no issues. Our children continue old friendships and have had no issue making new ones. Our neighbors, unfortunately, didn’t really want to know our story, but they continued to love us and remained our friends. We’ve since moved to Salt Lake and the somewhat fresh start has been even better. We do have to go out of our comfort zone a little more to meet people because we don’t have the built-in social scene of church, but it’s been amazing. People really are good. And when we explain to members in the area that we are ex-members and would love to be friends but have no interest in being re-activated, they have been very respectful and kind. I sincerely hope this transition goes well for you. It’s not all roses and sunshine, but I’m thrilled to say it wasn’t even close to as hard as I thought it would be. We use Sunday as a family day where we go hiking or other activities that get us moving and appreciating each other. And each Sunday night we have a “lesson” about things we want our children to learn (money management, service, cleanliness, kindness, honesty, etc). I hope you find something that works for you!
It was very painful to come to the conclusion that your entire belief system is bunch of lies. There is incredulity, anger, emptiness but also a huge “now what?!?”. Then comes that sense of exhilaration, the freedom from the shackles of dogma feels almost physical. The world widens. There are decision to be made at every turn and it’s all new. That’s when the anxiety sets in. The fear of dying because now you no longer have the protection of your garments, the fear of losing your income because you don’t pay tithing. The reality of how awkward your interactions with family and friends become (and that is the best case scenario since there are many people literally treated like pariahs!). The loneliness for the loss of “the tribe” is breathtaking at times…. and it’s all so freakin’ worth it!!!
It is indeed all worth it. The truth does set you free after all.
I agree that, once I got past the hurt, anger, fear, and loneliness, what is most satisfying and blissfully sweet is the FREEDOM to think, do, say, and be ME. And the most astonishing revelation I encountered through all this is that I am still a GOOD person, not because I am obedient to commandments or faithful to a Church, but simply because I am, and have always been good. I kept waiting to see myself turn into a bitter, mean, drunk, drug-abusing, murderous prostitute the way I was taught apostates become without the Church’s guidance. Instead, I feel quite the opposite: my senses are keener. I am alive again for the first time, and anything is possible. And the best part is that I get to decide what that is. If there is a loving God, He/She knows that in my sincerity to find truth, They will make adjustments in my behalf as I continue seeking.
The hardest things for me were:
1. Mapping the territories of why I left without being perceived as attempting to undermine others’ faith. (How to explain to my LDS friends and family the actual reasons why I left in a way that would be truthful but also respectful of their right to believe what they choose.)
Along with this, effectively communicating the permanence of my decision (I ultimately resigned because after a move, my parents contacted the bishop of the ward whose boundaries I had moved into. )
2. Overcoming the sense of loss of community, especially in times when I could have used support. (I didn’t want to ask for help from my friends and family during the period of unemployment that came soon after I left the church because I was concerned they would see my struggles as trials intended to bring me back to the LDS church.)
3. Creating an identity based on who I am not who I am not. (Though I left the church in 2010, I am just now exploring the role of post-Mormonism in my identity. For the past 5 plus years, I have been exploring what I do believe and value and only now feel like I can contextualize and revisit my past within that paradigm.) Within this, developing a morality regarding dating, sex, alcohol, service, finance/charitable contributions, etc. Basically, in any area where, previously the prophet had spoken and the thinking was done, I had to press the edges and think for myself, decide what I consider right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable.
A coaching/guided journaling activity, perhaps with community or therapeutic support would be helpful with this.
I have a ton of specific ideas, “think alouds” to use a term from teaching, that I would be happy to share along these lines, but not so much in a public forum (and it’s pretty detailed for a comments section) but would be a willing volunteer.
The hardest part for me, when I was going through my faith crisis and left the church, was the betrayal. I felt betrayed by my church, my church community, and my family.
Counseling and my friends were the thing that got me through my transition.
My counselor at that time introduced me to “The Work” by Byron Katie. It was so incredibly helpful to me. I was feeling victimized and blamed everyone for not treating me the way I thought I deserved to be treated. Through “The Work” I learned that when I fill my head with a lot of “shoulds”, (e.g.:”they should treat me better” and “They should love me unconditionally”) I was unhappy, disappointed, and depressed. Once I realized that I could not change anyone’s behavior but my own, and I stopped being disappointed with how my family was treating me, I began to heal.
What I found was that as I changed myself for the better, my family and others changed too. As I learned to love myself and accept myself without trying to gain acceptance and love from others, I became happier.
Thanks for this. I have been meaning to look into “The Work.”
Over the past 10 years, I’ve listened to the audio CD’s of “The Work” 3 times. (My local library has it available.) Refresher courses are great reinforcement. For me, the audio was much more effective than the actual book.
* deepening the trust issues with church leaders
* the initial shock. The rug was pulled out from under me. Couldn’t catch my breath which resulted in a deepening depression.
* my husband believing I won’t be in heaven with him, and the anger he feels. We’re seeing a counselor.
For me the hardest part is the weight of so many different people trying to define me. The LDS Church says I need to believe a certain way, and when I see the podcasts and blog posts, they are saying the same thing. It’s frustrating that upon learning about the richness and complexity, there are very few resources that come from a place of richness and depth. Dogmatic thinking goes deep for Mormons and ex-Mormons.
Dealing with family has been the hardest part, especially with my spouse. We went to one group session about family relations and faith crisis led by a psychologist in Salt Lake City. It was wonderful! Group sessions are so helpful because the cost is much less. Sadly, because of the way insurance coverage has gone, all therapy costs for us are out of pocket. This adds up very quickly at $100 per session. Many people simply can’t afford private therapy. (Sad, but true.) Group sessions also feel very validating because you hear other people with similar problems.
Dealing with anger and feeling betrayed would be helpful. Finding joy again after losing your religion would be helpful too.
Podcasts are awesome! They can be listened to anywhere!
I have been a closet atheist for 15 years. During that time I have served as RS president, nursery leader and Hispanic missionary and have managed to tweak the callings to never go against my beliefs.
The most difficult thing is feeling I have no peers. Because I still attend and am a cultural Mormon and don’t drink (nor do I want to) family history of addiction, I don’t fit in with non Mormons. I mean, I can relate to them, but I can tell that look at me differently, not realizing where I stand. I also don’t fit in with TBMs, since there is so much I don’t ascribe to. I am lucky to have a calling that is all service (inner city Hispanic missionary). I can help with temporal, welfare issues .I feel like I am hiding out in this Spanish ward.(We have been here 5 years) I don’t know what I will ever do when I have to return to my home ward, because in all honestly there are so many callings I can no longer do with integrity. My son is a bishop, and he is the father to my only grandchildren. So I could never let these sweethearts know I am at odds with all their parents are teaching them. So I feel like an important piece of me is kept hidden from members and nonmembers alike. Thank goodness I can speak freely to my husband and he agrees and understands.
The worst for me was being demonized by family and friends. My oldest active TBM brother wrote me a letter indicating how the devils blood was running through my veins. Second worst thing for me was knowing the Mormon church willingly withheld horrific pieces of church history. I would characterize that as silent lies. Learning to trust in anyone has been a very difficult road sense then.
I am currently an active member who had my faith crisis 8 years ago. I do all that is asked of a good LDS Mormon, I pay tieths, attend all meetings, ect. I just don’t believe things the same way as I used to.
The hardest part about my changing beliefs is my extended family’s response, ( parents and siblings). I don’t expect them to change their beliefs but I would hope that they would be able to at least understand a little of where it is I am coming from. They are very defensive when anything is mentioned that is in any kind of opposition to what the church teaches. They can’t even talk about church topics without shutting down and ending the conversation. I have been accused of being a sinner, not having enough faith, and being too negative (they interpret facts that show there might not have been literal gold plates as negative). How do I get through to them that I am not the Booggyman.
You have no control over their response. It is a symptom of their fears. You can only love them and give them what you would most want them to give you, freedom from judgement.
I do love them and reach out to them often. I call each of my siblings and mother at least once a week (they do not live close by) just to say hi and tell them I love them. They do not call me. I do not judge them. I want them to be happy in what ever path they take. I would love it if they could do the same.
Not knowing how much to explain to my kids 10 and 7. The 10 y.o. especially has a good understanding of the LDS church and scriptures…where do I start to re-inform him of actual facts and truth. Plus the 7 year old wants to be baptized because the sibling was baptized.
The other thing is my spouse and I both left and I’d like to find another to attend occasionally but he is done w/ organized religion. Don’t want allow religion to be a rift between us ever again.
My transition has taken place over 40 years of my life. When questions arose it would have been nice to have a safe place to go to ask and discuss my questions. Going to believing parents/family or church leaders only resulted in cliche answers and party-line (believe at all costs) guidance, and also changed the nature of those relationships.
1- Bill-boards saying, “You are not alone in your Mormon questions/doubts…go to/call/contact ???? for honest/helpful answers and insights”.
2- A Mormon Transitions Hotline would be helpful. Connection with a real live person who has also been there.
3- The new “Mormon Spectrum” webpage is helpful in helping one identify where one is in his transition and directing him to like-minded support groups near by.
4- Human contact is important. On-line anonymous discussion forums were ok to a point, but real life human contact moved my transition along by connecting me with real people with faces and names.
5- MS and ME podcasts and Sunstone Magazine reminded me that I was not alone in my journey.
I really, really like the hotline idea. You do need a real person sometimes. That would be a nonprofit service I would support.
I echo what a lot of people have already commented about…FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS. The hardest part of my transition has been the lose of relationships I’ve experienced with my family who are still active believers. The LDS church emphasizes the importance of family and you grow up believing it and then all of a sudden you leave the church and those relationships change or dissolve and you are left with an empty pit of sadness and loneliness. I have received letters, emails, texts, etc from my father and it’s been so hurtful.
(Post Mormon Hymn)
“Families can be together forever…through the corporate Church’s plan.
I don’t really want to be with my own family…And the Church told my parent’s that I can’t…
The Church…has told them that I can’t.”
I think for me–the hardest part about leaving the church was, as a woman, I really needed strong support to really figure out WHO I was. After being told my whole life that I’m basically a second-class citizen, only good for eternal child bearing, and child rearing–even though I’d made my way somewhat, in this world, I know my deep seated low self-esteem was a product of my “role” as girl/woman in the church. It would be great to have some mentors, or support group from women who have ‘found themselves’ post mormonism. It’s scary–and the bigger questions when your faith is shattered (afterlife, etc) are certainly important things to address, but absolutely for me the day to day pressing issue was feeling completely unsure of what to do to start finding me.
Read Gloria Steinem’s book Revolution From Within about the journey to self esteem. As women we have to overcome society’s bias in addition to religion.
I want to focus my comments on the difficulty I find trying to remain an active member with the knowledge base I have and my lack of a traditionally believing faith. My wife is a TBM and I want to stay but I also want to be intellectually honest and not feel like a hypocrite in my church activities.
I wish there was a site where people all over could find other Mormons in transition in their area. It has been amazing to find an online community but part of me still feels somewhat alone not knowing any other people (except 1) in my area who I’d definitely have something in common with. Maybe actual Mormons in transition support group with local chapters or something and people could organize it and activities or meet ups on their own or something. I would have it be a ‘member’ thing on a website though so that people feel like that if they join not anyone could go on the site and ‘find’ them if that makes sense. This couldn’t work on FB unfortunately bc, just like me, there’s people I’m friends with on FB that I don’t want to know I’ve left the church. I really think this could be amazing!!! I really wish I knew people in my area who’ve made the same transition as me — we share the same Mormon culture but also have so much more in common no other Mormon would understand. I think we need the opportunity to connect and support each other in person and locally.
Molly – This site now exists! See: http://mormonspectrum.org. The community map can be accessed at the bottom left of the site!
John, I went to this site hoping for new friendships and contact with the post Mormon RS Utah county facebook group only to find this as a secret group. Ive contacted them2x with no reply. what’s it mean by ‘secret?’ And why so many ‘secre’t FB groups on this site
Secret groups exist so that someone with ulterior motives can’t just trawl Facebook looking for Mormons who are struggling, for example. People who aren’t “out” about their disaffection value privacy above all. I’m sorry the groups haven’t responded to your requests. Keep trying!
I’ve contacted the admin for the Post Mormon RS Utah County group and she can’t figure out why she hasn’t received your requests. Can you try sending an email request to join to firstname.lastname@example.org ? You can also join the main Post Mormon Relief Society group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PMRSfoyer/
– Feeling very alone, wishing we had someone who understood
– No longer feeling like we had much of a community connection (we are in a heavily LDS populated area)
– Deciding what morals to teach our children and how to teach them
– Dealing with the stigmas — they left because they were offended, wanted to drink, had no real testimony
– Talking to our parents about our transition, feeling a lack of understanding and support from them
Left the church at 22 and my parents were devastated. I’m very close to my family. I attended college wards mostly prior to leaving. I realized between the sexism and my disbelief in God I couldn’t stay. I felt like I was a hypocrite and dying inside. I’d hide in the bathroom during relief society and sometimes snuck home. I endured some unkind words that were rather personal from my parents. I kind of just wanted to disappear. Not exist. Things did get better with my family but I have so much emotional baggage. A psych evaluation pointed to PTSD. I have nightmares I’m physically trapped in church or people from church verbally assault me. I have nightmares about the church indoctrinating my little brother. I don’t know how to unpack my bags of anger and emotional damage, in part because living in Cache Valley means I’m confronted with church stuff all the time.
I feel like all these comments have said exactly what I’ve been feeling. The fear that there will be consequences for leaving. Trying to figure out a marriage where one partner still believes. Looking for community. How to deal with family that no longer views you in the same esteem. Looking around and wondering what it would have been like to be born a non-Mormon, feeling envious of those people and their relationships. Wishing family and friends could see I’m still a good person with a good heart.
I am a closeted unbeliever and still attend church/fulfill my calling weekly/hold a temple recommend- have been doing this for about 3.5yrs now. I try to be the most honest with my husband but he still does not realize the full extent of my unbelief (he still thinks I can rekindle my testimony).
I hear “It gets better” after you “come out” and live an authentic life. But I really can’t see the light on the other side of that move. By leaving the church I would hurt my husband, my parents, my siblings and many members of my close knit extended family. Maybe I’m a coward to stay “in the closet” but I’m so afraid that my family will shut me out of their most intimate, soul connecting experiences- and I would never hear the end of their missionary experiences/lectures. I am painfully stuck. I find a lot of comfort by making new friends outside of the church and building great experiences in other places. But I sort of live a double life where I am not completely honest w/all my friends or family. I resonate w/ what Jason wrote, “How do I get through to them that I am not the Boogyman.” I wish there was a place at church and in my family to be more honest, daring, open, and accepting.
You are not a coward. You do it your way!
The hardest part of my transition will be telling a TBM parent, in the coming weeks. Having a script that shows how to maintain our grounding in a psychologically healthy way, when telling a TBM parent that we no longer want to remain active LDS, would be very helpful.
I anticipate significant shaming language will be used by my mother when I tell the truth about my transition, followed by withdrawing of all support for me and my family.
The hardest part of my faith crises is the feelings of guilt and shame. The lonely feeling that I am the only one going through this. I had a lot of fear associated with my crises too. Suddenly all of the relationships in my life had a large question mark next to them. Would the people I hold dear and love the most still want to be around me if I didn’t believe in the Mormon Church. Going through a faith crises alone is the hardest. Having no outlet to vent frustration and concerns is very difficult. It makes you feel kinda like a crazy person.
I found all information helpful. My first eye opening information was an hour long youtube video I watched thinking that it would be full or ridiculous myths and rumors like we have horns. The Mormon essays were also helpful. The exmormon community on Reddit was pretty good. A lot of interesting information. The CES Letter is what finally broke me and made me decide that something had to be done. What finally gave me peace was the podcast world. Mormon Stories was very informative and gave me a ton of cool information. Infants on Thrones was great for me because their group dynamic and humor helped me accept that the Church wasn’t true.
I have been very lucky so far that family and friends have supported me and stuck with me. My wife has been incredibly supportive of me even though she currently chooses and believe and attend. I know a lot of people have had horrible experiences dealing with others and I have been blessed. I always try to find people going through faith crises and to be the shoulder to lean on. I will be the source for people to vent and run ideas by. I am hoping to created a dialogue among my friends that it’s normal and healthy to question your faith and it’s not for everyone.
The most helpful resource for me was education. Mainly, education in why I and so many others are so easily manipulated by the church into believing things that are categorically false. An introduction to social psychology was a powerful force for me in gaining the insight into how that happens, and especially developing the courage to leave. I highly recommend books like this one here:
What would be a support? After leaving the church I really missed my involvement in the relief society. What I would love to see is a web site for people who are facing a faith crises that provides some relief. The person posts their name and address ( anonymously ). Then loving and supportive people can ether order them some flowers or a care package to be sent to their home. You said be creative. =)
agreee!!! That would be really nice.
Losing a world-view I had never doubted was hardest. It’s like thinking you have 10 million dollars in the bank which you get access to when you retire, and then finding out half way through making deposits that there is no bank.
I worried about my relationships with my wife and kids during the years I transitioned. Eventually they came to believe as I did. Now my biggest pain point is my parents who have doubled-down in their TBM world-view and believe my siblings and I are deceived. I am grateful for the life I had in the church but I wish it didn’t plague my mind as often as it does.
The hardest parts of my faith crisis are:
1. Anger at being duped. Feeling betrayed by my church. Anger that my family for generations have been betrayed.
2. Fear that if I told anyone I would be shunned/talked about behind my back without being able to explain myself. Fear that our business would fail because of the shunning.
3. Being able to trust my feelings. I feel like I am very cynical now. I will usually think sarcastic things about “touchy-feely” types of stories. It bothers me that I don’t want anything to do with any sort of serendipitous (god did it) type of experiences that my family tries to tell me.
4. Being alone in my dis-belief. Thank goodness DH is with me.
1. Being able to read about other’s experiences and knowing that I am not the only one to go through this.
2. Courage needed to admit to my family that I no longer believe, and yet I am the same person. My morals and values were not based upon the organization, but rather came from within myself. How do I tell them this without them freaking out and thinking less of me?
3. Ways to move on: but I really can’t because I have family that is still involved in the church. Maybe ways to show support for them while I strongly think the church is harmful.
The thing I struggled with the most was the abrupt loss of deeply valued relationships. It was devastating to realize that my life-long LDS friends and family suddenly did not approve of me, and my son’s LDS best friend’s parents suddenly wouldn’t let their son come over to our house anymore (my son could still go to their house, but our house was obviously too immoral). Leaving the church was a very private thing for me and it took two years… I always say I left the church by inches. Even after I stopped identifying as LDS, I kept it very quiet because my husband’s boss is our stake president. I was gone from the church for several years before anyone really knew, and I didn’t tell my family for almost five years. But here’s the thing- the second they DID know, many Mormons immediately assigned an apostate narrative to me and made wild assumptions about my character that were not true. Three women in particular have hurt me desperately. I lost my best friend of 25 years, a woman I cherished more deeply than my own sisters. I also received a very long email from one of my sisters bearing the most hate-filled, mean-spirited, testimony you could imagine when I finally told my family I had left the church. The other was a woman in my stake for whom I carried absolutely nothing but the most enthusiastic of good will- I absolutely adored her. When she became my friend on Facebook and realized I had left the church, the difference was night and day. I felt absolutely nothing but deep connection and love for these women, but none of them could find a way to accept me as a non-Mormon. Losing them left a hole in my heart that has never been filled, even to this day (I left the church in 2008, but as I write this today I have tears streaming down my face). I would have loved support in navigating the sudden loss of deeply important, deeply meaningful relationships. I felt utterly rejected and nearly completely alone.
Realizing the church has lied to members and non-members about the foundational events of the church was overwhelming. Realizing that I did the same thing on my mission in Louisiana and Mississippi in the mid 1970s sucked. And then the realization that my husband and I raised our children in the church cult was the worst (two of them were full time missionaries). Now my entire family is out. RFM has been a wonderful resource as has been your Mormon Stories. It’s a long and winding road.
I am full of anger. The more I learn, the angrier I become. I greatly struggle with showing compassion, love, and understanding to loved ones that still believe in the LDS religion. But since I hope to receive these things as a non believer, I try very hard to offer them up whenever I can. But mainly I feel great isolation and daydream about what it would be like to have family relationships that had never been tainted by the Mormon church’s touch.
My fathers family were polygamous before “the Church” banned the practice. My mother is a first generation convert. I was raised in a devoutly Mormon family members in a small Utah town. I married in the temple at age 19 and had three children.
I began to have intellectual doubts when I was 14 years old but I complied and obeyed out of respect for family and fear of rejection by friends and community. At age 30 I stopped participating and walked awY forever. I realized that I was exhausted by the rationalization required to participate in something I had come to disrespect. I could not endure the hypocrisy of teaching things I did not believe ie. “Better to be dead than have sex outside marriage.” But most importantly I had come to the realization that I did not want my three beautiful children polluted by this religion.
The results were so different from what I had been taught. I did not feel guilty or unworthy. I felt free, very free to live as I personally believe and to love all people. Despite the bishops threats, my children did learn the difference between right and wrong. They learned it from me. And in return I earned their respect and appreciation. I have never once in thirty years regretted the day I walked away. Those who truly love you will be there for you. Be yourself, live your own truth. RESPECT to all who have the courage to find their own path.
Very grateful for this message. I had a similar situation and find the path difficult but one that I will always be grateful for.
Your message touches me. I’m 59, and was baptized at age 8. I had serious doubts as a teenager, but complied and obeyed, as you say you did. These last several years my wife and I have been empty nesters, which has allowed me more time. I began researching some of these questions I’ve long had. You know what happened. I’ve remained active in the church though not believing for the past two years or more. My wife is understanding, more so than I expected, but she does not sympathize with my views. My children know that my testimony is not the same, some know more than others. It has hurt them. But I still have good relationships with them, their spouses, and my beloved grandchildren. I’m contemplating name removal. I feel it would provide me some relief, as I presently feel I have one foot in and one out. I’m concerned about it causing more hurt to my wife and our children and their families. Yet I feel it is not right for me to stay in, even if only on the records. Your statements inspire me, “Those who truly love you will be there for you. l be yourself, live your own truth.” I’m not saying you helped me make my decision. I’m not doing anything too fast, at least not for now. Just wanted to thank you for inspirational your inspirational thoughts. I wish you the best.
Coming clean to family – many parents, in particular – about how I really feel and about where I really stand with regards to the church. It’s not a fear or rejection – I know I won’t be rejected. I just don’t want to break their hearts – and this absoutely would.
The hardest part of the transition is the fear of upsetting, offending my husband.
As far as what would help me
types of content (podcasts, essays, guides), suggestions, and support you could use in your Mormon transition. Please be creative.
This is what would help me, for each controversial topic:
1. Tell me the belief and it’s corresponding commandment/rule.
2. Give me the argument for why the belief is garbage or misguided or false
3. Tell me how to navigate through or around that controversial topic why staying active in the church
I’m brand new at this transition. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of reading and research that is required to vet out the truth. You and countless others have already done the work and research – give me the False Doctrine Essentials course.
I feel very strongly that I am in the generation that can change the church. We have to keep our members in the church to effect change. We have to be the change we want to see right? We can’t be the change if everyone leaves. Let’s make this an inside job. Help me understand what is crap and what is worth keeping. Instead of focusing on why we leave – let’s focus on what there is to stay for. How can we make Jesus Christ, and not the Book of Mormon, the keystone of our faith?
The hardest part was the the toll it took on my relationship with my husband. We don’t have kids yet, and I had to watch him decide if I was worth the struggle or if he should get out before we have kids. We are still together, but it’s hard to adjust to being a part member couple.
The isolation. The church conflates family and love with religion. When you’re out, no matter how logical or justified your reason, they don’t want to hear it. You’ve been deceived, period. They will not listen to anything you say but will call you to repentance at the drop of a proverbial hat.
Living in the ‘morridor’, none of my old friends will talk with me. Family isolates me and won’t let any other family member talk with me one-on-one… there’s always three or four and they act like they’re conducting an intervention.
Losing family members was probably the hardest thing for me. I was in my early twenties when I left the church and am the only family member that has left, the rest are very much true and faithful members. My family (parents and siblings) didn’t speak to me for 7 years. We speak now, but it’s mostly just through email. I’m in my early 40s now. The damage has been done, so we’ll never be close again. Plus, why would I want to hang out with a bunch of family members that think I’m “listening to satan”, unrighteous, fallen from grace, and someone that will never be with them in the eternities. It’s too difficult, so consequently I just avoid most family members, especially my parents. I’ve learned over the years to replace these types of relationships with good and true friends instead.
– help for doubting members with believing spouses (and help for believing members with doubting spouses). there is already a lot out there, but I think it needs to be continually addressed so that new people coming out have fresh new material to listen to. this can be one of the hardest parts of a faith crisis.
– podcasts and blogs for teenage children whose parents are distancing themselves from the church.
– help with knowing how to talk to TBM parents and siblings. what kind of boundaries should be set?
– how to go about creating a new identity after leaving the church.
– finding healthy, mature post mormon support groups and friends.
My kids struggle with the changes they see in me. I like this idea of a podcast or something to help them get through my transition and to help us continue our good relationship. They need help seeing that I can still be the same good parent that I’ve always been even without our agreeing about the church.
I will be honest, I view most of religion as “religious fiction” so it didn’t impact me when it became undeniable that the mormon texts were manufactured. From the religious part of it, the hardest part was learning how evil and perverted joseph smith was. I knew that brigham young was a very bad person but it was only later that I learned how evil joseph was.
For me the hardest part of the mormon church is the people of that faith that I have interacted with. I have seen the most vile treatment of parents by children. I have seen leaders abuse their positions of authority. The institutional sexism, racism and homophobia was too much. That is what I needed to get away from. I didn’t want to be a member of a group that was so opposite from my own sense of right and wrong.
How and when to tell family and friends. How to guess their probable reaction, minimize conflict, get the courage to do so.
Im about 10 months out of the church and these are my top 3 struggles:
1- Loss of depth, respect, and understanding in my relationships with TBMs
2- Trying to figure out what’s real and what I actually believe, or in other words, trying to navigate the world without a play book and without “knowing” everything. (This part has been challenging and painful but also freeing and exciting).
3- Watching good intelligent people buying lies and ignoring facts/ rational thinking. It’s all I can do sometimes not to freak out and shove all the ugly facts in their faces.
The alienation of my family has been the hardest part. My mom really feels like she failed as a mother because I have “fallen away”. Family get togethers, both with my family & my husband’s, are awkward. You don’t realize how much Mormon’s talk about being Mormon almost all the time until you aren’t Mormon anymore. I just have to keep my mouth shut about how bonkers it all sounds to me or all of their misinformation, not only because it will cause strife but because I think its disrespectful.
I am in a similar boat to Leslie. The main difference is my wife and I do not have any kids. It has been three years since my questions led me away from the church and my wife is still as TBM as you can get. It has been a huge strain on our marriage, but somehow we always seem to get through it. She was even recently called to a leadership position in her ward. She acknowledges there are things she does not understand, but says we don’t really know anything at all anyways and only God knows everything, that in the end everything will fit together in a way our minds just don’t understand right now.
My wife is an extremely intelligent woman, with a very strong background in science so it is very hard for me when she completely rejects scientific research and data (associated with the church of course). It has been very difficult to not think less of her, because to me she has abandoned logic and reason. How do I get over it all and stop worrying about or hoping that she will see things from my perspective? How do I not think lesser of my wife? How do we make a slowly dying marriage last, even when our beliefs and views are so different?
Thanks for all that you do!
Isolation during a long transition of people gradually understanding where I was. I took the path of not writing a letter or coming out quickly. It was best for me but lonely.
Losing a community and Sunday ritual.
Worrying about how my children will be treated in a predominately LDS area.
Fighting a sense of loss of myself, rebuilding my self worth not dependent on church social and spiritual worth.
The hardest thing for me is the relationships with my family, friends and ward. The worst is trying to make our marriage work now that I no longer believe but my husband is a TBM. I hate the loneliness of feeling like I have no one in my life who I can really talk to. Even with those who know about my disaffection, I have to be so careful and guarded when I talk to them because I don’t want to make them feel like I’m trying to destroy their faith or get in an argument because they feel attacked when I share the problems I have with the church. Podcasts have been great. I wish there was a way to help my close friends and family understand what my faith transition has been like in a way that would help us understand and communicate better. The problem is all of the things I’ve found that do that are coming from post and ex Mormons, and I think most believing Mormons wouldn’t even look at it for that reason.
Emotional blackmail by the church… if I leave I am putting my children’s salvation in jeopardy, don’t I know I’ll never be able to spend eternity with them, now they won’t be sealed to anyone, etc.
Community I had once thought I was close to dropping me without a second thought when I stopped attending regularly.
The church’s stances on LGB issues, and lack of anything for T issues. Even the resources they say they have for LGBT people have nothing for trans individuals.
Last of all, don’t insinuate that I lost my testimony because I was offended or had my feelings hurt. I may be angry about the bigotry that still exists even though it’s denied, I may be angry about the white washing of history, but I did not have my feelings hurt or get offended by “an imperfect person in a perfect church”.
As an aging one time fully committed and totally active member, with many friends in very high [church] positions, I came to the realization many years ago that the church was not what it claimed to be [and I know some of those same friends covertly felt the same way]. My greatest difficulty has been seeing my family, all of whom were temple married, with all males being returned missionaries, suffering pain because of the programming I laid on them. This has caused them, as they have came more and more to an understanding of the real truth , much difficulty in dealing with wives, husbands, extended family, in-laws, etc., and even with their own children, [my grandchildren]. This has caused me much pain, anguish, and regret, and the wish that I could take it all back and start over – but alas, that is not possible!
My whole world has tanked in just about every way.
My wife divorced me.
She turned my children against me.
She moved out of state and took my minor children making it very difficult to see them at all.
Those who claimed to be my friends (in the Church) abandoned me completely.
I went from supporting a family of the 10 of us, to living alone in a one bedroom apartment.
I had few non-LDS friends at all so had little outside support.
Then my health started to fail from all the stress.
I started going to counselling and was diagnosed with PTSD.
Because I had abandoned my own family earlier in life for the Church, I had little support from my birth family who were not members of the Church.
I could see the price I was paying and started to wonder if this was a result of my leaving the Church so I rejoined the Church to show my kids I was willing to do anything to restore our family.
Nothing I seemed to do worked. As my children distanced themselves from me, All of my children have moved away, out of the area and out of state.
I didn’t cheat on my wife, or molest anyone, wasn’t in prison, or a substance user, wasn’t violent or neglectful. I wasn’t in prison or hurting anyone, but my questioning the Church at all was enough for my wife to quit and to bad mouth me to my kids and all her family.
I got more discouraged and angry about all of it which only served to distance them even more. To have worked so hard, and given so much to my wife and children and have them treat me so has been crazy.
The loneliness is murder now. I don’t seem to fit in either in the Church or out of the Church.
Trying to make sense of all that’s happened has been brutal.
I’m doing some wildly amazing things in my life with my art and contributing to the community but nothing seems to give me much solace without the support and love of my wife and kids.
In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined life turning out like this.
And now Joseph smith’s seer stone is displayed and more facts about how he didn’t use the gold plates to ‘translate” the Book of Mormon, and many of my kids think of this as further proof Joseph Smith was a prophet. It’s all been enough to make a sane man crazy.
So sorry, Bob. You have sacrificed everything. Don’t give up. You will find peace. I promise.
the hardest part: the absolute sudden loneliness.
I seem to have weathered leaving (June 2014) really well compared to what I read from other posters. BUT I wish there were more established communities of ex/post/former Mormons. I really envy (well, maybe not for other reasons) those who live in Utah because of the “meet-up” possibilities.
I am way over here in Florida and, once you are out, you really are alone unless you already had some non-Mormon friends. In my case, I only had one non-Mormon friend and she was very busy with her family and life.
If there had been – or if there was – a community of us within 100 miles, I sure would (have made) make the effort to attend. The horrible and utter isolation was the most difficult transition I had to accept.
Maybe you could encourage/organize “self-help” groups of ex/post/former Mormons????? That would have greatly eased my transition.
Much of what other posters have said. However I think if I need help in anything it’s explaining to my spouse what I have found and my feelings on the church.
I tried years ago when I initially found much out there about the church and its shaky past and told my spouse what I has concluded. It cause lots of issues in our marriage and what not. I ended up making a stupid decision to make up some revelation I had in a dream, just to make things right again with her and me and figured that I’d just suck it up.
Problem was I started sinking back into it again, I won’t let that happen this time but I gotta figure out how to breach this again with my spouse and make sure they understand it.
My spouse is very open minded but when it comes to the church I’m afraid it’ll just be a repeat of what happened before.
Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
I swear John that you almost need to design a 12 step program to help people detoxify after they leave the church. The brainwashing/mindjob goes so absolutely deep (especially in those born and raised in the church) that its so very hard to untangle.
Well said, anon. I went through this alone in a state other than Utah. I turned to my Stake Pres with my questions and was harshly chastised and later ostracized from my ward and stake where I had lived and served for 25 years. I truly hope you find friends to talk to nearby.
I’ve been away from the church for over a decade but still feel an emotional isolation. I would say I’m pretty happy with the amount of social friends I have but when it comes to dealing with my family I don’t really have anyone who understands. Some sort of social network is an excellent idea. It sounds funny that a 12 step program would be helpful but it’s true.
I would definitely purchase a program to help me overcome all the difficulties of leaving the church if there was a good one for sale.
My faith expansion happened earlier this summer. I was blind-sided by it, but fully accept it. My husband is still a believer. I spend a lot of time formulating how I will talk to people still in the church. I want to feel acceptance & respect, and want them to feel the same from me. I still haven’t come up with a way to say “I have left, but still value & honor your beliefs.” I would like more info/ideas/support on how to communicate in a healthy manner…even when I am being attacked.
The freedom of leaving the church comes with a lot of baggage. But something that I can actually carry because of the strong knowing/fire that exists within, because of the choice I’ve made to leave the church.
The reason I start with that sentence is because it sounds just like a testimony that used to give every month on fast Sunday growing up in the LDS religion for 22 years. My point is, I used to get annoyed at my thoughts and my expressions and the way I wrote in the way I spoke about things. As a result I was quiet and didn’t say much about my passions spiritually for the longest time. I have been out of the church officially for 9 years…but really about 12. And I’ve continued to study spirituality and feed that passion that still exist inside me. It’s only been until recently that I’ve become grateful for my LDS upbringing, specifically the way that church taught me how to freely express my passion of the heart .
I recently found a book that is immensely helps me demystify exactly where I stand spiritually and psychologically, because that is the single largest gap to bridge as I exited the church, eventhough my conclusion is not really one at all…but more of an infinite path…I’m comfortable with this infinite nature. Others that I have found myself surrounding myself over the years with, have decided to follow other ‘schools’ and create a similar to the blindness to that what I experienced as I was in the Mormon church. It sucked all the passion out of me to simply detach from one religion and attached to something else, because the largest fire that I felt within was and still is my heart…and that didn’t need to attach to anything in order to receive the fulfillment that I feel.
So…as a recommendation, after all of the research, and reading, and asking, and YouTube watching, and blog posting, etc. this book provided the foundation of a language that I feel exists and has awakened within me. I’ve provided the same recommendation to a few friends and they have felt similar that it had nothing to do with a attachment to another school of thought – but rather focus on the enlightenment that exist within. It’s called the inside out revolution – By Michael Neill.
I really appreciate how candid everyone has been with their pain and suffering and loneliness…I can tell you first hand. I know that feeling. I honor you for your courage to post and talk about it….and relieve the pressure.
For immediate response to these REAL emotions that are being felt…here’s a quote from the book I mentioned above, to allow you to peak into it a little bit:
“When or thoughts look real, we live in a world of suffering. When they look subjective, we live in a world of choice. When they look arbitrary, we live in a world of possibility. And when we see them as illusory, we wake up inside a world of dreams.”
Most of all, I am terrified of being wrong. I’m afraid to talk to my husband about it, because I know he doesn’t want to hear all of the things I’m learning. And if I am wrong about the church, and I decide to tell him everything I’ve been thinking and he leaves too, then it’ll be my fault.
I’m still having my crisis while attending church and holding a TR because I am afraid to take a step that is more permanent. I’m afraid my family will be disappointed and that every time they look at me it’ll be with a “concerned-for-your-salvation” undertone. I’m afraid that my husband won’t be able to look at me the same if I stop wearing my garments. I’m afraid that I’ll have no friends because I work from home, so the only people I see are church members. Every week I am afraid of going to church because it always seems to send me into panic attack/existential crisis mode.
I feel incredibly guilty for wishing that my husband and I had found each other in a different world, where neither of us had been raised in the church. And I dread talking to my mom–who means well, but always wants to talk about my doubts in the frame of “well what parts of the church DO you believe in?” and then tells me that if I wait it out, things will make sense later.
So… I guess fear/shame management is what it all boils down to? Right now it just seems like no matter what I do, I lose.
Disclosure: I am a believer (and i’d like to think reasonably well informed)
I think there’s a false dichotomy created here on mormontransitions.org (as well as the mormonspectrum site) that you are either
transitioning to inevitable post/ex mormonism or “liberal/progressive form of Mormonism”
Of course it depends how you define liberal/progressive and orthodox.
I mean start at BYU. I can think of many many professors (particularly in the humanities, philospophy and sociology colleges) who are well informed and thoughtful – but would hardly be considered “unorthodox” to me.
Again anecdotally, where i live (fairly conservative contra costa county) i just am not seeing people leaving in spite of the fact that people have read rough stone rolling. There really ought to be a category for Mormons who get through the discovery of “troubling” information and come to peace within the faith.
Wow so many good comments. Some background on me. I’m 30, a single straight man, and I had my name removed from the records of the church in January after years (10 to be exact) of straddling the fence – going for 6 months – leaving for 6 months – etc. My doubts which started at BYU and continued on my mission / into my somewhat typical post mission Utah life were steady and always on the forefront of my mind. For 10 years I tried to explain away my doubts and look for reasons to stay, but finally I had to accept that I just didn’t believe or ever would believe the way so many around me did. I had/have so many struggles and so many things that would have helped (and could continue to help) my transition that it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few:
. I probably would have left the church sooner if I believed there was a moral, good life outside of the church. I know thats crazy sounding but it was almost as if I thought Mormons were the only happy people in the world, and I was just going to turn into an angry – bitter ex Mormon if I left. I didn’t want that. A whole podcast dedicated to “post mormon stories” would be incredible. I could not get enough content from people who have left the church and are leading normal healthy lives. I really believe transitioning Mormons need this reassurance. That there are people out there who have done it and are better because of it.
. It’s a big scary world out there for transitioning Mormons and they need a little help navigating it. If you’ve ever seen “The Island” with Ewan McGregor it is a lot like coming out of the underground bunker for the first time. Alchohol, sex, etc….what are these things? How do I incorporate them into my life? What’s the right balance? Most individuals probably sort this out for themselves during high school or college. A lot of Mormons do too but there are also a lot who don’t drink or do anything “worldly” until they start transitioning at the age of 27, 35, 55! etc… Some life coaching and practical advice / content / podcasts on a healthy way to incorporate these things into one’s life would be awesome. Also here’s a great clip from The Island if you’re interested 🙂 https://youtu.be/qucb-tFTDuk
.Losing your community. Unless you’ve done it you just don’t know. When leaving the church you lose your community in some way, shape, or form. Its very sad. And it needs to be replaced. The church spends a lot of time fellowshipping new members. Well we ex-mormons really need to spend the same effort fellowshipping our new members. We need friends and a proverbial home to shelter our heads during what will probably be the hardest time of our lives. There can not be enough mormon stories conference type gatherings. They are so needed. Coffee shop get togethers. Lagoon days for those of you in Utah. Night at the ball game. Whatever. I would actually really dig an ex-mormon home teacher. That would be legit.
I converted my ex-wife in 1966. Subsequently, her entire family joined. We raised 5 kids in the Church. Now, I am faced with this dilemma: I would have to come clean with my disbelief to about forty people. I simply couldn’t explain to any of them (all but five are TBMs) in terms they would understand why I have come to the decisions I have. I know they would continue to love me, there’s no doubt about that, but I would know they thought I had been brainwashed, or had some unrepentant sins that I was trying to hide. So I continue to live as a closet doubter (nay, disbeliever)
I belong to a Mormon online discussion group and have been a member of that group since the mid 80’s, back when you had to dial up to talk to anyone. Many of the people on this list share my beliefs and having daily discussions have helped me immensely. On occasion, we find ourselves in the same state and have lunch or dinner together. That has been great to know that I can bitch and moan to people who understand me. That works best for me thus far.
Sunstone and Dialogue are helpful in that I can read about things dealing with the Church that I would never hear in Sunday School. I try to attend Sunstone when I can and find that uplifting. It’s always good to be among fellow reprobates. 🙂
I would like to hear more about suicide and mormonism; suicidal thoughts that lead to a faith crisis, reconciling suicide and suicidal ideation with the doctrine and plan of salvation, suicide prevention in a mormon family, and finding healing inside and outside of the faith after a suicide attempt or a period of serious suicidal ideation.
The hardest part for me is navigating the marriage. My faith crisis took me by surprise 6 months ago, and my wife and I are essentially dysfunctional with communication, even before the crisis. I have only opened up a little to her in the hope that I don’t scare her away. I feel like I would be just fine if I could just leave Mormonism all behind. My relationship with my parents and siblings has never been very close, and I have a few people outside of Mormonism that I could call friends. I just want to move on, but I have a wife and kids who would suffer so much without me. So I am trying to move slowly to keep the marriage intact (and hopefully improve it).
I have found several of the Mormon Stories podcasts helpful. I really wish that my wife was willing to listen to them. I asked her right at the onset, and she said she could not listen. One place that could use a little more detail I think is the early stages of faith crisis, what kinds of things are good to share and what things tend to strain the relationship too much. How to strengthen a marriage that was so centered on the church. We have a lot in common, but it’s hard to see that when such a big piece of what was there is now gone. I also have a hard time seeing things in a positive light, so that’s another area of support.
I’m a woman, in my mid twenties, stay at home mom, with 2 young children. My husband still believes (as far as I know) and attends church with our nursery aged child. I take the baby with me to a different church.
I am a convert. It was 8 years from my baptism to when I realized I no longer believed and that I didn’t have to anymore. The hardest part has been retraining my brain to think outside of mormonism. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone who grew up with this. For years I felt unfulfilled and uncomfortable at church because of doctrines and policies I disagreed with. I also found the worship lacking beauty and boring. But I thought I had to deal with it because it was true…and I didn’t think my life would be good without it. It wasn’t until the end of last year I realized the manipulation, fear tactics, and brainwashing I had undergone.
Something that would have really helped me initially in communicating to my believing husband would be how to explain the manipulative behavior. I had no language for it.
Fear of disappointing my family. Starting with my wife, next my parents and in laws. I have grown up following the cultural script to a tee, but now as a 33 year old I’m afraid of losing the respect of my extended family. And making them sad. And next the associated self-loathing for having these fears and not telling them. I still haven’t told them.
On the other hand I have found friends that I can talk to and feel comfortable sharing this, most importantly my wife who had been very supportive.
My Meyers-Briggs type is INFP.. Which seems to help explain my challenge.
I also am INFP on the Meyers-Briggs. It would be interesting to know how much our personality types play into our reactions and attitudes following our faith crisis. I tend to think that those who feel free and happy and peaceful after leaving definitely have a different personality type that those who struggle for years with guilt and sadness and a profound sense of loss. I am glad you can talk to your spouse ChooseTheRice. My biggest source of depression right now is knowing how much I’ve lost the respect and admiration and the ability to communicate deeply and authentically with my spouse.
i think Seminars or podcasts and even regular classes to practice on some necessary life-skills we didn’t receive as Mormons would be very helpful. I think a lot of these comments and concerns stem from a lack of security with oneself and self-blame for not following one’s tribe and not being able to deal skillfully with the potential fallout. For example, We need to learn how to communicate assertively, to recognize passive aggressive (or outright aggressive) communication and deal with it. I know I still struggle with it. The other thing I’d like is to learn and practice setting and maintaining healthy, and appropriate boundaries and knowing that you can walk away from abusive behavior. We need help retraining our friends and family (who also lack the skills and are victims themselves) on what is appropriate, respectful responses. We need help recognizing and dealing with this type of behavior so that we don’t get steamrolled. I think many of us have a learned helplessness and lack the tools and skills to navigate dealing with our family respectfully, assertively, but authentically.
For all the Church’s talk about helping families, what do they really do to help families? What do they tell us to do–read your scriptures, pray, pay your tithing? How does reading about the atrocities demanded by a Bronze Age tribal deity in the Old Testament supposed to help me when there’s a conflict over washing the dishes? Or my daughter doesn’t want to talk to me? You know what would really help families? Learning to listen. How many times were we taught to listen with empathy, without judgement? How many of us were taught how to resolve conflicts? These are the skills that would truly help families but which we never learned. Of the LDS Church truly cares about families this would be an integral part of our curriculum and Mormons would be among the best resolvers of conflict and listeners. Instead we get more obedience, more conformity, more getting in line. I know it would have helped my family immensely.
I was just so lonely. When you’re a Mormon, you have a hundred friends. I didn’t really want to be around my Mormon friends anymore because I hated the look of pity on their faces and I didn’t want to hear Mormon phrases all the time. I’m just now getting over it. It took years.
Also, I felt like so much of my life was wasted being good at something that wasn’t real. I was so good at being Mormon. I had perfected so much of it. Other people admired how great of Mormon I was. After realizing that Mormonism was a fraud, I felt like I was a really good storm trooper at comic con. Why couldn’t I have taken that effort and been a really good doctor or public defender or homeless advocate?
Wow, brilliant observations. I totally relate.
I’ll just cut to the chase of what is being asked here:
1. I like anything that puts you in contact with real people, e.g., connecting to local groups, hotline, alternative meetings.
2. I dealt with depression during my transition. There is a great sense of loss that comes with losing the certainty you were raised with. Genetics played a role, but the circumstances threw me into severe clinical depression. I found it difficult to find therapists dealing with religious transition issues (I live on the East Coast). It’s hard enough just hard to find a good therapist in general. It would have really helped to have a list of therapists who deal with certain mental issues in connection with a religious transition.
3. Support and resources for marriages with one believing spouse and one nonbelieving spouse.
4. Podcasts are great. Hearing stories of others in the same boat or who have traveled this road really helped. Sometimes it’s better to hear a voice of another human being than to just read about all this stuff.
Wow. The pain and sadness I just read in all the comments reminds me I’m not alone. But it IS a painful and lonely process coming to the conclusion that the way we’ve raised our children is based on so many false and misleading teachings. (And the thought that I could have ever believed some of the things I now see in such a different way.)
Some of our children haven’t been active for years and now I can relate to how they must have felt as outsiders who disappointed their parents. While they now are relieved, we’re on the other side now, faced with disappointing our other kids and grandchildren who remain active and TBM.
In addition to that, we realize that we’ve centered all of our friendships around the church too. So to leave means losing all of those. I hope that won’t happen, but it already is to some degree. (It’s so hard to try and talk to a TBM whose only answer is to bear testimony in the face of a history of lies. So much pain caused by fraudulent claims and continued excuses for them!)
We just wish we’d known sooner.
One of the hardest parts for me is that I feel I have been (dishonestly and unfairly) discredited before I’ve even begun to have a conversation with my more traditionally believing loved ones. I feel frustrated and angry and hurt by this because I believe it is akin to “bearing false witness” against me. It’s a scary and lonely feeling to look someone you love in the eyes and attempt to discuss troubling aspects of history and be met with disgust and disdain. There exists this immediate accusation that I have courted evil in the way of “anti Mormon” rhetoric…and I have not. I have always been very careful and conservative about the “sources” of my learning. I believe I am entitled (yes entitled…I don’t use that word often or lightly) to some kind of support and defense from the recognized leaders of the Church in a way that validates my right and responsibility to come to my own conclusions about things that have happened in the past. I believe it is extremely dishonest of the leaders to continue to ignore the past and current mistakes and human error. I also believe they should value honesty and integrity in the same way they preach to the masses. I do not believe “the ends justify the means” and I would think this is becoming more obvious as the consequences of generations of dishonesty continues to effect the lives of the members…in the way of personal and familial breakdowns…implosions… and intense suffering.
Last week I was feeling nostalgic so I went through my childhood and teenage memories, I was surprised at the love and dependence I experienced for the church. My hopes of being the type of person/member that my parents, siblings, and friends in church could look up to. I have had many fears and lack of trust in myself to find who I am and where I stand now that I do not have these “gospel laws” hanging over my head. It came to me that I never was taught how to follow or trust my intuition growing up. Growing up all I had to do was follow, and seek approval. Follow the prescibed a+b=c formula. My journey since leaving the church has been one of learning to trust my intuition but the fears I have in that has lead to depression and anxiety. The discomfort of anxiety and depression has been my biggest teacher so far as I seek out therapist to help me untangle the mental mayhem I feel, meditation, and philosophies that guide us inward.
Beyond this I feel heavy physically, I am a yoga teacher so this heaviness is very uncomfortable and hard for me to just ignore. There is a fear that if I put to much of my faith into one thing like I committed to the church that it will also let me down. So everything I do is half hearted very protected. Not a very comfortable place to be.
There is some surprises in the social realm where I still think to much like a Morman to be understood by non-morman friends and yet think to freely about my opposing beliefs and values to be accepted by past Morman friends. So it is very lonely. My family has come around and are understanding of where I stand now but it is still different, a lot of disappointment, sadness, judgement, and worry fill the air on my part and my families part.
I could use people in my life who are going through the same thing. I live in Alberta Canada so maybe a sunstone convention out here would be helpful in meeting other people in the area who are experiencing the same thing. I also think that material or pod casts that speak about the social difficulties, learning to trust the intuition that took u out of the church, maybe having open councilling sessions where John asks questions and works through answers with a willing ex morman during a pod cast. I have found these types of pod cast very informative and healing.
The question comes up often about why I do not just go back if I am so unhappy? The problem is that I am even more unhappy being a follower. I have turned to coffee, alcohol and drugs to find an out but none of them work…..I need to find a spot within that I can trust again.
Thank u John for all u do to help yourself and others through this process. Much love goes out to your family for their support in these things. It’s not easy but so important!
I could have used some counseling help back when I was still a believer — counseling that told me to stop beating myself up, to stop worrying that I wasn’t perfect, to stop worrying about peer pressure, to stop chasing after the love and approval of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t give it, even with strings attached. For me, transitioning out was a piece of cake. I had escaped from the looney bin, from the prison.
I am an adult(ish) convert to the Church – I chose to be baptized when I was 18. The hardest part of my faith crisis has been dealing with the events that led to my initial conversion. I know I had a spiritual experience that led me to feel the Church is true, so how could it be true then but not now? Why would I feel compelled to join the Church if it wasn’t true? Was I fooled into having an emotional reaction that I misinterpreted to be the Spirit? Does pulling away from the Church now mean that I’m admitting I was wrong? My family relationships were really messed up due to my zeal for conversion and still haven’t recovered – do I tell my parents I put them through all that for nothing? Will they tell me “I told you so”? What will happen to the relationships with the people who really supported me through my conversion? Should I do a vow renewal since my parents couldn’t be at my wedding?
I would really love some resources – podcasts or articles – that address these issues that are unique to the convert experience. I’m in plenty of ProgMo groups on Facebook, but it seems like the majority of members are born-in-the-Church folks and so even within these spaces, I sometimes feel like I have no one who can relate to my experience.
By far the biggest thing that I needed (and still do), are quality, non-threatening resources that my parents could read that would help them understand where I’m coming from and what I’m going through. The lack of dialogue between us is painful… I don’t know how to start it, and they don’t really want to talk about it. They just hope that it’ll go away, and with the increasing passage of time, they are becoming less and less aware of what my feelings really are.
We left nearly 4 years ago with our whole family orthodox LDS UK based (both parents having high leadership positions). We have come to the conclusion that our family can never understand unless they themselves are having cognitive dissonance. The price we have paid is never having the relationship we once had. Things have calmed down a great deal. We have cordial relationships with both sets of parents as their children. However the church is avoided on both sides. Our world view threatens their whole identity. This is not something they want or feel safe discussing. I spoke at length to a psychiatrist about it. He said in his professional opinion just being around them being a kind daughter, seeing that my life didn’t fall apart and I was being a good human would be the greatest tool in them challenging their world view. Discussing the facts would simply re-inforce their position and even see me as the enemy due to their indoctrination. It is terribly hard when you yourself are going through such a huge life challenge – no longer believing Mormonism – when your parents have put you in that position, and you are on your own. More than anything we wanted our parents validation. We have accepted it is a gift they cannot give. Mormonism is their whole lives and they would not be able to function without it. I accept that it is their haven even if our hell. It does get better. We have focussed on our relationship and being with our children (all now out of Mormonism too). We have made NON LDS friends and found meaning by doing good in our community. We visit our local C of E church (even though pretty agnostic), it provides a community and is loving. All the best in your journey – time helps hugely!
The hardest part for me is knowing that so many people I love not only remain ignorant to the issues that took me out of the church but the fact that they demonize me for knowing these things and taking action on that knowledge. Most of my family members and friends ignore the issue as much as possible but that makes our interactions feel hollow and fake. I have told them I am an open book so many times but they won’t talk. Frankly, the more of a community that is built around FoMos is what helps me the best. To know that I am not alone makes a huge difference. Podcasts can be cathartic but also keep you form moving on. I want more people to interact with in a real way that can relate to me. I also would love to have access to economic counseling from non LDS counselors.
Mormon Stories Podcasts were a big help, also Facebook support groups. My family is catholic so I did not have to explain anything but I would have loved easy to understand resources to use to help friends understand where I was coming from. I got tired of the “you left the church so you could sin” look
Hardest: renegotiating every single part of my relationship with my still believing spouse.
Also hard: figuring out how I wanted to parent, figuring out how to tell my family who lived far away that I no longer believed, figuring out how to make friends and act like a normal person outside of my Mormon circles, being completely dropped from all my old Mormon social circles and seeing my husband and children like wise ostracized based solely on my actions.
About a year and a half ago I thought I would take a “leave” for a few weeks. I have been active for over 40 years. I joined just after high school. I married in the temple. I disagreed with a lot of things but kept my mouth shut, like a good little Mormon woman should. After 18 years of marriage my husband was arrested as a convicted sex offender. I spent the next 20 years as a single parent. Even though I was treated badly for being divorced and single, I stayed, because I believed it was the right thing to do. A few years ago I married a non member. But still my social life revolved around the church. But my unhappiness continued to grow. I could no longer view the treatment of women and LGBTQ individuals as acceptable. The last Sunday I went to church the LGBTQ bashing was more than I could take. A couple of weeks later I discovered many of the social media sites on Facebook. It made me realize I wasn’t alone in my feelings. But now I am at a point where my anger toward the church is growing. The lies they have told about Joseph Smith and the seer stones are just the tip of the iceburg. I thought my Branch President would want to know why I wasn’t at church. I have had visiting teachers once. And even they don’t want to know why I’m not coming to church. I am grateful to be away. Let the healing begin!
The hardest part has been figuring out the “what now?” My wife and I are both on the other end of our faith transitions, but are still attending church because we haven’t really figured out where to do. Most importantly, we worry about what to teach our young kids. For the most part, we feel that the church did a decent job of putting us on a good path during our youth (although in hindsight we don’t think the use of fear/guilt was the most productive). We are concerned that we won’t be able to create an environment that will prevent our kids from “going off the rails” during their teen years. More materials and/or podcasts on how to post-Mormon parent would be helpful. For instance, the Calderwoods are in the thick of this transition right now and even suggested some reading materials (which we ordered). John, I think you are in the thick of it as well. Some additional podcasts focusing on this specific issue would be very helpful, even if its just people sharing their success stories (or failures) as their kids graduate from high school and go on to other paths (as opposed to going on missions).
Also, as for resources, podcasts are indispensable to the faith transition. They have been a perfect medium for me and my friends. One thing that could be helpful is to further categorize podcasts so a newly transitioning individual is not staring into the abyss of 500+ MoStories podcasts, 100+ Thoughful Faith podcasts, and 350+ MoExpression podcasts trying to figure out which ones to listen to. Because my faith transition occurred a few years prior to that of my wife and close friends, and because I’ve listened to probably 500+ podcasts during that time, I’m sometimes asked what podcasts would be good to listen to for certain issues or when someone is at a particular stage of the faith transition. It would be interesting if MoStories had a “beginner’s packet” of 15-20 of the best podcasts that will give a good introduction of the spectrum that’s out there (e.g., Top 10 myths/reasons, Givens/Bushman, Swedish Rescue/Hans Matteson, Psychology of Religion, Runnells/CES Letter, Why I Stay, etc.) Just a thought.
Get paid. Write a book, make an App. Collaborate with the other big guns, funny guys, historians to make a movie or documentary. Show the real history of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It’s the root of the Church and all of our problems. We all researched factual history and concluded the Church is a lie, or at least fiction. Go big. The time is ripe, especially if a Parker/Stone Book of Mormon movie is in the works. Exploit that. Get on the news! Get paid!
The cause of my faith crisis was the “seer stone”, translation process of the Book of Mormon, and Book of Mormon historicity. I’m 24, RM, married in the temple, and my wife & I both stopped going to church together recently. The most difficult part of the faith transition was the fear of rejection from family & friends. It has taken me months to talk with close family & friends about how I feel & what I have gone through, and a lot of them don’t know yet. I’d love to hear more about how to talk about this with family & friends, without damaging the relationships I have with them. The podcast community is/was the only support My wife & I had during our faith transition, and we thank you for all that you’ve done from the bottom of our hearts.
I need(ed) (a) current members who were compassionate and understanding, (2) a therapist, (3) friends who were out of the church, who saw the church’s faults but were also compassionate and understanding toward current members (within reason)
Basically a cycle in a way of understanding along with an impartial source who understands how the human brain works
The hardest part of my faith transition was not being able to share the pain of the transition with my believing husband. It was a very lonely time for me. I attempted suicide to try to escape the pain and loneliness I felt. The healing and recovery process was difficult because of lack of support. I finally found some online groups that have made the transition a bit easier, but still would like some FTF friends. It would be nice to have support groups in remote areas outside the Mormon corridor. I would be willing to start one if I had the help to figure out a web page/facebook page. Thanks, Lonely in Star Valley Wyoming.
I’m a 57-year-old ex-Mormon. My faith crisis peaked when I was about age 29 (several years post-mission), and I simply walked away to take a break, and I never went back. This was of course pre-Internet and there was no support whatsoever. I had a brother that I talked to before I called our mom to tell her I was no longer going to church, but that’s it. After that he never seemed interested in discussion the church, and our older siblings had left (all but one) without ever being committed to our believing in the church, so there was little to discuss with them. So I went it alone. I went through an atheist/Ayn Rand/libertarian period, but I was bothered by the anti-religious bent, and I eventually drifted from that. I moved to Japan during and after grad school and just really put all church issues on the shelf at that point. I finally resigned 5 years ago in the wake of Prop 8 (specifically, after viewing the documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition”), and almost immediately became aware of the post-Mormon world of blogs and podcasts. I joined postmormon.org and was briefly active. I browsed their files and read for the first time the sorts of church history secrets that had driven many others out. I discovered Mormon Stories Podcast and later the community on Facebook. I’m quite active now, making up for lost time, I guess. Also, I now live with my elderly TBM parents, and MSPC participation is an antidote to living in close proximity with true believers.
To sum it all up, I lacked community support when I left the church originally, and that’s why I participate now. Also, dating options are limited at best at my age as an ex-Mormon living in Utah County (Orem, aka LDS Central), so this is my best shot at social support. Thanks for all you do!
Dealing with the loneliness of losing all family and friends at the same time, How to meet people outside of a church setting.
My biggest struggle was and continues to be the condescending and false assumptions that my LDS friends and family make about me and others who have left the Church. All of the first ten have been applied to me at least once by LDS family, friends and acquaintances within the last three months. The last is a catch all that describes the process of creating a faithful narrative to explain away apostasy.
Here they are; the faithful narratives to explain away apostasy (as taught in LDS Church culture.)
People apostatize because and only because:
1) They have not taken the time or made the effort to pray.
2) They did not pray sincerely or long enough or did not listen intently enough for an answer.
3) They were too prideful or impatient to receive an answer to their prayers.
4) They desire to sin and leave the Church to alleviate guilt or accountability for sin.
5) They were deceived by Satan or the evils of this world.
6) They lost their light through sin or lack of faithful prayer, church attendance, scripture study, church service, etc…
7) They were offended and don’t know how to handle conflict well enough to remedy the offense.
8) They are too lazy or apathetic to make the effort to do all that the Church asks of them.
9) They are selfish and are unwilling to give enough of their time and talents or make the emotional or financial commitment to the Church required by their Temple covenants.
10) They never had a “testimony”, they never REALLY believed in the first place, they were only pretending to believe (maybe they were even pretending all that time so that they could deceive and ensnare others.)
11) Any other reason that puts the blame squarely on the apostate, allows the Church (and its leaders) to be blameless and alleviates cognitive dissonance in the Church member.
I have found that humor is the best way for me to overcome the anger, frustration and sadness that tends to surface when people that I know and love make these horrible generalizations about me and impugn my character, or avoid interacting with me because of these Mormon narratives.
John, forgive me for not reading more carefully earlier. I blame the combination of my iPhone and bad eyes 😉
Here is the comment you asked me to post:
Here is a go at creative: To be honest my struggle is leas doctrinal, or better, I continually make peace with doctrine. My issue is self worth. See, having been raised LDS, I feel wether in or out, that Mormon will always be part of my ethnicity, so to speak. What I struggle with are actual feelings of self identity now that my eternal purpose has reoriented. Sure I don’t go to church, but I still appreciate the core family values and healthy living aspects I learned via Mormonism. Additionally, I feel like a good wife, mother and world citizen, yet I have a hard time disassociating the fact that simply because I do not attend church (something people can see) that I am as good as those who do. Does that make sense? How do I reorient the worth of my soul?
One additional thought I don’t see captured in anyone’s comments or experiences:
How would one connect with a mental health professional who has some background in this area? How would mental health professionals who don’t see a lot of transitioning LDS patients get up to speed on these issues without putting the onus of education on the client and/or reading a bunch of research?
I mean, this isn’t my field, and I didn’t see a therapist during my transition, but I have seen therapists who took a while to wrap their heads around the way being LDS was affecting my mental health (and some who, in retrospect, never quite got it.) So, maybe some PD/resources for professionals and a directory of professionals who focus on or have done some training on transitioning LDS? (Bonus points if they do teletherapy and/or are available in areas that don’t have high LDS population)
I need help with three things:
Thankfully, things are good with my spouse. And I’ve gotten used to being dumped by church members who I thought were friends, but turned out to be anything but.
But my good parents–I want to have a relationship with them outside of church, but church has always been so intertwined in our family, and I don’t think they can separate the two. They will feel a need to preach to me whenever they see me, and I will start avoiding the preaching by avoiding their phone calls and visits. That’s not exactly a recipe for the friendship I’d like to have with them as they become elderly and need my help.
And–the real killer–my adult and teen children. Some of them are fine with the changes in me, and others are definitely not. They are getting defensive whenever a church topic comes up. They do not understand why their mom who raised them to be the most super active Mormons turned her back on the church. They are sad and angry, and in their minds I’m becoming the evil and/or lazy inactive member. This is so distressing to me. I don’t want to hurt my kids–like a good Mormon mom, I have given my whole life to them. They are everything to me, yet I now feel like the church’s teachings are separating them from me and putting up a big barrier between us. Since they are remaining active, they will continue to be fed the teaching that I’m not a good mom and that their eternal family is in jeopardy. It’s my own fault for raising them this way, but for now, how can I preserve our relationship when they don’t feel they can trust me anymore (due to my turning away from what I taught them)? (If only I had raised them to be lackadaisical Mormons, this would be so much easier!)
2. Fear of being punished by God, and that my life will get really terrible without being active in the church.
3. Fear that my husband and I will become different people. Will we start being selfish without the requirements of tithing and church callings? Will we be unfaithful to each other without the constant teachings on marriage and family? Will we become alcoholics? This sounds silly because we know so many happy and good people outside of the church. But we also know former members who now live lives we wouldn’t want to emulate–and their downward slope seemed to begin with leaving the church.
It seems like there are good ways to leave and bad ways to leave–I want to figure out how to do it well, with maturity and integrity for myself, and with respect and compassion for others. And I’m completely clueless, because I never in my wildest dreams imagined leaving the church–it’s not something I ever prepared and planned for!
I felt like many above. Most people didn’t understand or felt defensive so I couldn’t talk to them.. A lot of people that had left the church were really negative. I would like a safer place to talk about concerns other than Facebook since it isn’t completely private. At least at first I was searching and hurting by myself. The Mormon Stories Podcasts were the most useful to me. I like when people tell about leaving and are respectful of the people still in. I will always be surrounded by Mormons and I need to show respect. I would love to hear how people leave but still remain a friend in the society.
How to express yourself to family and friends. The pain, joy and excitement for a new life that you might feel. Specifically at different times. Initially I was sad/mad/afraid. What is too much info to share? How do you share it? Later I was just relieved to be out and to have told people. What then? What is a good positive way to interact with your TBM family and friends?
The hardest thing was having my two daughters taken from me when I refused to stay in the atheist closet when asked to teach 12-13 year-old boys stories I knew were lies. Your podcasts helped get me through that time, as did finding a new ex-mo community. Now I’m happily remarried and have a great relationship with my daughters, much to the chagrin of my very mormon ex!
My pain has varied a lot over the last year. I luckily have pretty understanding family and my husband and I are on the same page with our feelings toward Mormonism and all the crap we have recently seen go down with the modern church as well as discovering the historicity stuff. I see the value in religious education in the moral sense for children and thats been the hardest part for me. I thought I would always just raise my kids Mormon and as long as they stayed in the church everything would be fine. It’s taken some major reprogramming to view leading a moral life as a humanist or nondenominational Christian and so I’ve been investigating other churches like Christian Science, community of Christ, and unity which are less dogmatic and focus more on being a better person and unconditional love. Some of the froofiness is a little off putting because I’ve had 34 years of Mormonism and boring 3 hour Mormon church but I really enjoy the messages on some of unity.fm podcasts and they interview a lot of different religious backgrounds. Discovering other religious leaders podcasts has been really healing for me. I would love to have resources for ex Mormons on community building and moral/non dogmatic religious education (or Sunday school type of stuff) especially for children. Links to other organizations, kids mindfulness/yoga classes or any other parenting resources would be so helpful. Even a link to wiki pages of other popular religions and what they believe would be really helpful. I had no idea how cool community of Christ was until I listened to Mormon stories. It’s really helped me to turn my despair into excitement for what I can really discover about other people, religions, and schools of thought without having to filter it through the lense of Mormonism.
The worst is not knowing how to deal with so much anger. I also wish I could take all my money back since they’ve been buying things with tithing that I 100% don’t agree with. I’m also devastated at the amount of judgement and demonizing the church puts on those who leave. I also hate not being able to ask for help or say that I’m having a hard time because everyone will say that’s what I get for forsaking God and forfeiting all of my blessings by being disobedient. I also hate not knowing what else I might be doing or participating in that is hurting others… I am extremely wary of blindly following without realizing it again. So scary. It’s been a rough journey so far.
Right there with you TJ.
I want my money back, too! I paid 100% tithing on my GROSS income plus Fast Offerings and 2 Mission Funds for over 40 years. It was the one thing I could say I was “perfect” in. I don’t even want to think about how much that would total now. Meanwhile, I was often forced to choose between buying deodorant or hairspray when I went shopping because I didn’t have enough money left over to buy both. My husband and I raised five children this way.
The worst is trying to convince myself I have worth in my children’s eyes knowing that I can’t baptize them and may be absent at their weddings.
The second thing is learning how to have constructive respectful conversations with loved ones about religion without getting extremely angry.
I drank the kool-aid for 22 years. I had an amazing life growing up Mormon; my ward was wonderful, the building and grounds (Bonneville) were some of the best any church has used, our neighborhood was friendly and supportive, even of the non-members, we had fun regular activities which I’m told don’t exist so much any longer. I graduated from seminary and attended the LDS Institute of Religion at the U of U campus.
And then… I started thinking for myself. I really got to know individuals who were disenfranchised by the church and its policies, and became aware of the organized and hypocritical political action against those individuals, including LGBT, African Americans, females and victims of abuse. I was extremely dismayed by the patriarchy, operating in a world designed to wield authority and control over everyone else, which most of the time seemed to cater to the whim of the individual with the authority. I first decided the members were the problem (not the concepts), and I could no longer validate the organizaiton with my presence.
Of course, after I came to this realization, I started seeking information a bit more actively. I discovered the book, “No Man Knows My History,” by Fawn M. Brodie. This renowned biographer, like me, was raised LDS and had become disillusioned. Unlike me, she had research skills and access to many individuals and records that are no longer available. This book, and other events contrary to what I’d been raised to believe, caused me to re-think my position about the church doctrine:
1) Joseph Smith was a convicted con man; long before he announced his “first vision,” he was tried and found guilty of “money digging,” a practice where he’d put a “seer stone” into his hat and find buried treasure. He was so convincing, people he’d conned still believed in him afterward, even though no treasure existed.
2) Joseph was not poor or uneducated; his parents were school teachers, and he knew the bible inside and out. He had several close relatives who started their own religious sect before his foray into prophecy.
3) The theory of natives as a lost ten tribe of Israel was a popular theory of the time posited by Rabbis of the New York area and written about in newspapers to which Joseph’s family subscribed.
4) Joseph (and many of his early cohorts) was a mason, and many of the temple rituals are directly borrowed from Masonic rituals.
5) Joseph had the revelation for the Word of Wisdom shortly after meeting Sidney Ridgon, the leader of a large congregation of teetollers. He and many of his followers converted after the Word of Wisdom was adopted, a doctrine Joseph himself never embraced.
6) Joseph married women as young as 12 & 13, as well as women who were already married, many of which were secret at the time. This disturbing information is now being distributed as fact by the church in its new efforts at transparency.
7) It has been documented that Joseph was aware of and intrigued by religions in the era who condoned multiple partners and free love.
8) That Egyptian funerary papyri Joseph bought from a travelling salesman and claimed was the Book of Abraham; he did not realize the rosetta stone had already been discovered.
9) All the “revelations” which were too conveniently timed and all happened to coincide with what Joseph was trying to accomplish at the time (for example – convince his wife to condone his philandering).
10) Mentions to Nephites being “white and delightsome” were changed to “pure and delightsome” in the BOM (and other, similar racial preferntial distinctions) after it became no longer fashionable.
11) One day – blacks can’t hold the priesthood. The next day (and one lawsuit later) – it’s all good.
12) The church activated its membership to oppose the ERA; why was this policy so threatening to them?
13) The church activated its membership to oppose gay marriage; why have they felt the need to restrict access of LGBT to having legally recognized relationships?
14) All the child abuse scandals which were swept under the rug, knowingly and advisedly, by church leaders.
15) All the church leaders who have counseled countless abused women to stay in a miserable, harmful, abusive (even dangerous) marriages.
16) Up until recently, women with deceased husbands needed permission from their children to enter a new temple marriage (even if they were divorced before death).
At what point do we stop and acknowledge that it is the doctrine that is flawed because it was invented by its flawed people? At what point can we separate ourselves from the cognitive dissonance and recognize that Joseph Smith was one of the most successful con artists in the history of mankind with one of the longest cons ever perpetrated?
My experience separating from the church was typical… my family was unhappy with me. My mom constantly worked to “get me back.” My announcement of divorce from my husband, who was an atheist, was immediately responded to with the hope I might now be “free” to rejoin the faith. My church records mysteriously followed me to every new residence. Missionaries constantly showed up at my door. I wasn’t completely ostracized, but I was long (and still, occasionally,) made to feel the misfit and outcast. Luckily, I had no struggle finding a continual source of other disenfranchised people with whom to build relationships.
How I finally resolved the worst strife in my familial relationships was several fold. One, after 6-7 years, I finally summoned the courage to tell my mother that I had given the subject long thought and research and did not believe in the doctrine and would never be coming back. She was hurt and distanced herself for a time, but eventually realized she would rather have a relationship with me than ostracize me for having a different belief system. I am grateful for this, even though it is not everything I would hope, and I like to think my family have come to realize I am a good person with a high sense of morality and ethics, regardless of my difference in faith. Another contributing factor was that time heals. People react in the moment with fear, but when they see there is happiness and joy, and that everything will be ok, they gradually will come to accept the “new normal.”
For those of you still going through this transition, I encourage you to stay strong. Find your new tribe, they will be of great strength to you. Be kind and courteous to everyone, love your people, even those who would discourage you, but exercise your boundaries. Don’t be afraid to counter programming of children with, “your way is ok for you and your family, but my way is ok for me.” Don’t be afraid to be happy. You are powerful and divine all by yourself, although your power can multiply with loving connection to others. And, much of what you learned growing up is still very valid. (In fact, don’t be surprised if you become a better “Mormon” after you are no longer one.)
I’m really angry and cynical right now at the church. My goal is to stay in the church but with some of my own boundaries – not the church’s. But I can’t stop my anger whenever I go to church, listen to people at church, read faith promoting or truth promoting materials about the church.
I would also love to hear how people make church work for them. Perhaps even hold a temple recommend but have progressive views and lifestyles.
I just want a non-religious ward. I liked being Mormon. I miss primary and linger longers. I just don’t think it is true. I would love to meet others like me and have the social aspects without the rest. I think someone should make a site/app just for that kind of meet up.
One more point, I would like a place to meet ex-Mormons that isn’t all about talking about Mormonism. I get fatigued of that talk and sometimes just want more casual friendship.
As a person who loves to connect with others about meaningful things in life, it has been completely disheartening having to either sensor what I say, or risk the contention–or even worse–the ending of relationships. Family discussions are reduced to surface things, but I’ve lost friendships & clients by simply bringing up the latest news surrounding Mormonism.
I’d love ideas on how to approach these people in a non threatening way, but a way that might inspire a meaningful discussion. (Ironic that they expect the entire WORLD to be open to their missionary message, yet are completely closed to even looking at their own history, much less hear about it!)
I’d also love to see some sort of campaign for weddings, in light of TRUE family togetherness, be held with entire families, & sealings done later. Thanks for asking John–we appreciate your help!
I agree about the sealings after the wedding. I missed my daughter’s wedding and it was one of the hardest days of my life plus it was tough for her.
I have not seen much regarding “older” members that leave. Most online forums that I know about seem to be filled with younger people and families with small children. I am almost 60 and I have not stepped into a LDS church for 7 years. I have lost most of my LDS “friends”. It is a very lonely transition. I would like to see meet ups for people that are older and have empty nests.
I am 63 and was active for over 49 years. The LDS church was my social circle. I live in rural Nebraska. It has been a lonely transition for me also.
There are quite a few of us in the same boat (I’m 63), and two things have happened, we found that we’ve been embraced by the younger crowd, and that there are actually quite a few of us in that “older” age range. We just tend to be a little quieter.
I’m 59 and it is refreshing, just to realize others my age are of similar views. Would love to connect with some of them!
The most stressful part of my current faith crisis is wondering how this will affect my 3 young kids. I do believe there are positive aspects to the LDS church but I don’t think I believe a lot of things about it anymore. My husband wants to be totally done with the church. One of our daughters has already been baptized, how do we not baptize the other 2? He has said its up to me how I want to raise our kids religiously. I’d like to hear podcasts from people who are able to take what they feel are the “best parts” of Mormonism to them and teach their kids without having them be indoctrinated by the church. How do people successfully stay somewhat associated but remain true to themselves and teach their children accordingly. It’s a real struggle for me!!
I wouldn’t worry too much about the other 2 children Megan x if they when they are truly old enough to make a decision to follow Christ ( and I’m not talking about being 8!) you could baptise them as a believing Christian if you are one. If not there are plenty of pastors who’d do it for them. Baptism into the Church really is just about membership.
Just my thoughts, but id quietly drop all baptism talk and use Sundays to do cool family stuff, they soon forget the church 😉
My crisis of faith took years. And it wasn’t till I looked back that I had anarrative to realize what had happened and why. I am happy now but feel isolated from mainly family. I don’t get invited to family events. When I was sick and needed a kidney transplant no one helped in my family or even asked how I was doing. My husband and a friend offered to give me a kidney but I waited and was able to receive one from a deceased donor I think the hardest thing has been feeling like I still have many of the values I was taught as a child but I don’t see these values practiced by many in the Mormon faith and it makes me both sad and disappointed. I was told to give to others, help your fellow man and woman. I chose to work in the non- profit world. But was criticized by family for those decisions. I have come to terms with being the best me I could be and not needing to live up to others expectations. But wish I had had more support in some form when my crisis was thevworst. I didn’t have a community to go to or even knownwhere to find one.
My husband left the church 6 years ago. I began questioning at the same time but it took me until this year to leave. While I feel a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I don’t think I will ever be able to tell my family. The hardest part of my faith transition has been overcoming feelings of fear, shame, and anger. I was never taught how to deal with these feelings, because as long as I was righteous, I shouldn’t feel feelings of shame, contention was of the devil, and if you are prepared you won’t be afraid. As you can imagine, it just becomes a circle of negative emotions – I feel angry which makes me feel ashamed which makes me feel afraid and then back to angry about the entire situation…. which all manifests itself in passive aggressiveness… and then hello again shame. I wish I had more coping strategies for dealing with these feelings. I feel like an emotionally-stunted 30 year old.
I really would like to see a section of “mini-sodes”. These mini-sodes could be 10-15 minutes of video/audio of regular members and what started their faith crisis, how they navigated it, what resources they used, how family reacted, how Church members and leaders reacted and where they are now. Like the “I am an ex-Mormon” videos but specifically addressing the things above. Just a thought
I love this idea!
I am a 35 year old single mother of four. I was born in the church. I grew up in Southern Utah. As a teenager I questioned the doctrine and social structure of the church. And then left the Fold. I went through a period where I made a lot of questionable choices. But now I have come to a balance where I feel comfortable. I encourage my kids to believe in what they feel comfortable with. And to be open minded about there own and other peoples beliefs. We discuss this on a regular basis.
I still live in sothern Utah. I find my self in situations where I have to defend my belifs, faith, morals, and even my parenting on a regular basis because I don’t attend ‘the church’.
One of the most upesting experiences happen just recently. Two men came to the door early one morning. They asked to speek to my 15 year daughter. When I said she was sleeping they kept insisting. I told them I was her mother and anything they wanted to say to her they could say to me. “Don’t worry” one of them said “we are not missionary’s”.Then he snickered.
At that point they l told me that they are seminary teachers and ‘oh my gosh’ my daughter wasn’t signed up seminary yet this year and they came to get her signed up right away.
I told them that I know for a fact that she wasn’t interested. They asked me why. I said we are not active. This lead to an endless stream of questions about my faith, or lack there of. Why am I not letting go to seminary? Why do I not go to church? Have I read the Book of Mormon recently? And they where not really interested in anything I had to say. They cut me off and made me feel really uncomfortable. I ended up taking there stupid form and saying I would discuss her attending seminary just to get them to leave. Then I waded it up and threw it in trash.
I would have rather spoken to missionary’s. They tend to be polite.
I was so angry! If you are a strange man I never me before DONT come to my door demand to see my 15 year old daughter. And don’t come to house and shame me for my beliefs.
Amen to that Netty!! That would have been extremely upsetting to me.
The hardest thing for me about my faith transition is trying to figure out how to navigate my life with a still-mostly-TBM husband, but especially with a narcissistic mother. I think my husband and I are solid enough to make it, but I’m not sure I can say the same of my relationship with my mother. I am the only remaining holdout of her seven children who is still actively involved in church, against my better judgment at this point. There is so much pressure from her. I honestly don’t know how to proceed.
Hard parts are the strain on family relationships.
Trying to find a social group is harder and can feel lonely.
It’s also hard as a parent because it isn’t just MY crisis, it affects my children so trying to find a good medium is a struggle.
Would really love to see more resources to help unbelieving adults connect w/TBM parents. It is difficult to let your parents down when they have spent their entire lives teaching you the gospel (and they choose to serve multiple missions in their senior years- it is their life purpose to raise “faithful seed”). I want to maintain a healthy relationship with my parents but I know they reject my decisions regarding my faith. they constantly try to bring up gospel principles with my kids and they feel a desperation to teach my children the scriptures/”follow the prophet” lectures. I try to ignore their constant lectures but I feel our relationship drifting when they don’t respect my experiences or care to listen to my point of view.
Talking with family and spouse was helpful – though the Mormon stories podcast’s was a lifesaver for this. Knowing where to now – This is me at the moment. Stories on where people went to after mormonism would be great.. Creating a healthy relationship with the church in the interim until there is a clear path. Having boundaries re. discussions with other church members / friends so as not to isolate yourself. Controlling anger. Knowing when to back off on the process. Finding the right support community (on-line or local). Thanks for all you do.
I struggle with deep anger feelings after learning true church history. I feel like I’ve been ripped off. 10% of my income plus thousands of hours of busy work in callings that now feels like time wasted.
Also, struggling with complex family relationships and a strained marriage.
36 year old female here, convert of 16 years, mother of 2 children, currently in the process of divorcing my extremely faithful spouse. I formally resigned in Dec. 2014. There have been a lot of challenges.
1) Learning to peacefully coparent with a person whose values are very different than mine. This is especially challenging when he criticizes my choices to drink coffee/alcohol, stop wearing garments, etc in front of the kids. Also, it’s challenging to hear from your heartbroken 8 year old that his TBM cousins informed him that “Mom won’t be with you in heaven now” because you’ve left your temple marriage and the church altogether.
2) Coping with the reality that the supposedly “Anti-Mormon lies” that my Dad informed me about when investigating (and that the missionaries vehemently denied) were actually truths. My Dad died in 2012, before I left the church. I am so deeply, deeply regretful that I never had the opportunity to apologize to him. Thankfully, I have always remained close with my own family, despite joining the church.
3) Trying to share my viewpoint (and increased information) with my 8 year old believing son, without making him feel threatened. My worst fear is that someday he’ll learn the full picture and ask me, “You knew all this. Why didn’t you tell me?” Right now asking him to question his beliefs feels a lot like questioning his connection with his Dad, so I try not to provoke him too much. Still, I hope to be able to open up his worldview a bit beyond the black-and-white thinking he’s currently locked into.
Leaving mormisim has been rough. Each day I feel I learn something new and see the world in a new light which does provide some comfort and excitement. My mother and sister have taken it the hardest. They are disappointed that and fear what will happen to me in the next life. It bothers me at times to know they choose to be pained by this thought. I find it hard to talk to many people I love about the issues. They want to know and understand my reasoning but do not want to know any “issues” the church may have.
For me the best things are being able to comment and share and vent with others who have traveled a similar path. It helps me know I am not alone. I also have discovered a new world of books I feared to read before, books like Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, Zealot, Not Fade Away, and many many more that have opened my mind to viewing the complex world we live in, in a whole new light. I do still at times find that cognitive dissonance creeping in while reading, but it has become easier easier by reading many different books on science, history and philosophy to notice it. To correct it and to be open minded.
It is still difficult at times, I cannot be “me” at some of the family functions with my family without the feeling of the “eyes of judgment and disappointment” upon me. It hurts more that they cannot be happy for the path I found that has more internal peace and joy in it for me, because my path does not conform to their ideology.
In the end. Talking to others in a similar path has helped me, reading and learning new things, other lines of thought and others perspectives without pre-judgment of their stance has opened my mind, it has done wonders to help replace the narrowness of the thinking and view Mormonism had instilled in me. Those walls are down now and the world is a fascinating place. I am always excited to learn new things now. I no longer fear the unknown and how it will affect my belief system. I now embrace the challenges presented to our limits of understanding and growth.
For me…. It’s the patriarchal blessing being held over my head by my Dad. I have a very descriptive and intense blessing that centers around me staying 100 percent TBM. I would be fascinated to know or hear a podcast from a former patriarch who has been through a faith transition and can delve deeper into the whole patriarchal blessing process. I still feel guilt due to what my blessing says.
My husband stopped going first. In an effort to understand him, I started searching. My patriarchal blessing tells me to study church history intensely. Well imagine my shock and horror when I did just that, and found out so much that made me feel completely lied to. People say this stuff is anti Mormon that I read. Um, nope, it’s just true church history! I’ve been told to keep going to church and “just don’t think about it.” (The stuff I’ve read). I can’t unlearn it.
After not going to church for a while, I tried to go back for a period of about 3 months, after severely struggling and being depressed for about 6 months. Hearing lessons in relief society about how I will be “given,” to someone who is worthy of me in the next life (my husband no longer attended church at this point) was upsetting. What if I didn’t want anyone else? What if I’m crazy in love with my husband?
Then… watching the struggle and self loathing from a fellow ward member who recently divorced and came out as gay, watching the pain and anguish on his face as he didn’t take the sacrament is what sealed the deal for me. I no longer belong at church. I can’t handle having to de-program what my children are taught in primary anymore. My oldest turns 8 next year. I recently told my mom that we wouldn’t be baptizing her. My Dad thinks I’m responsible for my future generations being “lost,” and not being together forever. I know his fear and belief are real, I used to believe that way. But the stress it puts on family relationships is awful. My father’s fear for me and my family is real to him. It’s real because he doesn’t know any different.
How many people stay in the church or baptize their children purely out of fear of what their family will think if they don’t? If fear wasn’t a factor, how many would leave the church for good? I think a lot. I don’t want my children to grow up with this fear in them. They will have such a beautiful huge world available to them, and they won’t fear it! I know had I not feared “the lower kingdoms,” I would have done my young adult and single life much differently!
My relationship with my TBM wife. I can deal with anyone else thinking I am deceived, but I need her to see me for who I am.
The hardest part about leaving the church after 40 years is missing the “feel good” part of being a member. The mind always wants to go back to the good feelings we have experienced in life and the church is all about forever families, community, service etc…. there were so many wonderful aspects. After studying church history I learned that I was presented a story that was not only inaccurate but down right dishonest and we had raised our 5 children believing the same story. There is a huge part of me that wishes I was as naïve as I was when I was being taught the lessons before baptism. However, the greater part of me would have never listened to that story if it had been the accurate version. There are so many parts to the grief I have experienced in the present day church and church history. My mind felt fractured the more I researched and wondered how much more I could withstand before having a nervous breakdown. The church came along when I was 18 years old and disenfranchised from my family and community. It was the perfect fit at the time. I met my sweetheart at church and the morals we were taught and the fellowship we enjoyed helped us raise our large brood for which I am grateful. However, the damage the church causes outweighs the good it may do.
People say “You can leave the church but you can’t leave it alone.” I believe this is quite normal and probably has a lot to do with discovery. My mind was not capable of fully understanding what it’s taken me 6 years to comprehend. The sores reopen the more the church is forthcoming with peep stones, wives, priesthood ban etc.
As far as what could help someone like me who has had a crises of faith and is at the brink of no return, Mormon Stories was a large part of my recovery. I have listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts I understood the evolution of the church and my part in that evolution. I began at 53 to ponder about everything I was taught like Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the bible etc. No one could do this for me, it was something I had to do on my own. John Dehlin should be commended for his courage and strength in bringing Mormon Stories to the public although I am sure it cost him a great deal emotionally and financially. I look back on my recovery and am so grateful I had not experienced a “Nervous Breakdown,” but a “Nervous Break though!”
My wife and I are 35 and 40 with 3 young kids and a month ago we sent a letter to friends / family saying we didn’t believe the truth claims and that we weren’t going to attend any longer after being active members our whole lives with leadership callings etc. the thing I’m thinking most about these days is how to fill the void in our lives that the church left. more family time is a great addition, but I’m not sure how to back fill the sense of community we had with the church. the church was our primary source of social interaction and most of our friends we met in our current or previous wards. We’ve debated looking for other churches, but that doesn’t seem to be a great option as I’m feeling burned by organized religion and not really interested in leaving one rigid, dogmatic culture just to enter another. I’ve seen a few communities in our area (Los Angeles), but none seem to really work well for families or they don’t meet often enough to create a sense of community. it may be an impossible task, but regardless, it is what is most on my mind after leaving.
I also am interested in continuing to learn and supplement my knowledge of the church so that I can be sure to be educated when talking with friends and family that are still TBM. We are educated people, and although a bit prideful I admit, I don’t want to be viewed as intellectually lazy or uninformed (basically I want to continue to learn to back up the conclusions we came to). Essays are great, and although there are downsides to it, summaries of issues similar to the CES Letter are valuable to me as well.
Lastly, very interested in keeping abreast of the current state of the church, what’s happening with growth rates, hearing more stories about people similar to me that are leaving, activities of the church to either be more open or shut dissension down, etc.
in the end, you have done a tremendous work for which we are very thankful. keep doing what you’ve been doing!
I need help with my teen and young adult children who are baffled and hurt by my raising them to be the activest of active Mormons, then turning around and going inactive. Like any good Mormon mother, these kids have been my whole life and I don’t want to lose the close friendships we’ve developed. Despite my efforts to support and listen, the church has become a huge barrier between us. They see me as a turn-coat and someone not to be trusted.
I can handle losing my LDS friends and the confidence of my extended family if I have to. But I refuse to let the church’s teachings take my kids away from me without a fight. How do we rebuild our relationships on a foundation other than the church?
I am now almost six years out of the church. There were different things that have been the hardest at different stages.
Seven years ago, as I was facing the things I didn’t believe about the church, and recognizing the teachings I didn’t agree with, I fully believed my family and friends would prefer I was dead than that I be honest with them about my beliefs. I came so close to suicide – but trying to make it look like a hiking accident, or a horseback riding accident. I prayed that I would get cancer, so I could do my family the favor of dying but I didn’t have to go on living the lies I had been living.
A list of mental health providers that were not LDS would have been really helpful at that point. I ended up going to a man that was LDS, and he tried to tell me to pray more and go to the temple more, and I would fight with him about how unhelpful (and near the end of therapy with him, unethical) those suggestions were.
Six years ago, the community of people on Mormon Stories was the most helpful thing I could think of then, or think of now. It was a place where I could work through my own thoughts, get feedback, express anger (and nobody freaked out), and it was SO SO SO helpful. I made relationships with people online that have become some of my best friends in real life. I am beyond grateful.
Now, sometimes without realizing it, I slip back into old thought patterns and behaviors. I get afraid to be me, because ME is not good enough. I feel unworthy, but I can’t tell you why. With contemplation, it’s usually a general feeling based on old beliefs. I no longer believe that I have to be perfect to be worthy, but sometimes I still feel those old feelings. Resources on overcoming old beliefs when you no longer believe them are helpful. It is also helpful to listen to podcasts or read articles and blog posts by people who are going through the same thing I am…
I also appreciate our local “support group” of post and uncorrelated Mormons. Since most of us have been out for a while, we get together for book groups, barbecues, and socials. When I go out of town, I feel comfortable asking the people there to take care of the animals and take in the mail. It’s nice to not feel like we have a community again.
My biggest current challenges are reconciling the choices I made while in the church and reclaiming my sense of power. My choices came from a place of such deep powerlessness and those choices and that powerlessness continue to burry me even 4 years after leaving the church. I need competent therapy and that’s been hard to come by.
Transitioning out I felt the void of leaving my tribe and struggled to integrate into the broader community. I didn’t know about any of the Post-Mormon organizations, whether online or in real life. I was fortunate my elder’s quorum president was part of the local Mormon Stories community and he put us in touch with them. But I was shell shocked and couldn’t wrap my head around the group so it wasn’t as useful as it could have been. I didn’t understand what I had gone through at all or what the group was about.
I also felt panicked about providing a point of reference for my kids concerning morality and ethics. I don’t feel that way now, but I do sometimes worry I’m not proactively teaching them enough about ethics. I’m stuck a little in that space between wanting to teach and not wanting to indoctrinate and having a hard time navigating that space.
Communicating with my TBM family is a bit of an issue. When I announced I left the church some of them were interested in why. I was in the thick of making sense of my experience and answered their questions, but now that it’s years down the road the dialogue is over and my views are different from what I last told them. I haven’t even let them know I resigned though it’s been 3 years. I’d like to keep communication about church open and haven’t figured out how to do that.
Finally, legal stuff regarding the church would be helpful. I want to ensure my and my children’s names aren’t even looked at by the church. Since my family of origin is TBM they continue to provide genealogical info and such. I think the first step is to ask them to not do that, but otherwise I’d like a complete cease and desist on the church in every way regarding my family from now through forever. I don’t want some distant relative 50 years from now to have us baptized or placing our names in their databases. These people shattered my life in ways I will never be able to recover from fully and having my name on some roster of theirs is sickening to me.
Thanks for doing this.
The hardest thing for me is dealing with a complete loss of faith in God or Jesus that came after the rejection of Joseph Smith as a prophet. I tried hard to hang on to a little bit of belief, but in the face of my experience and reading , I couldn’t trick myself into believing anymore. Of coarse the hardest part of not believing is not having an afterlife story. My moments with my husband and kids are now bittersweet. I can be loving them to pieces , and the next moment mourning the fact that this is all temporary. It really gets depressing sometimes. I wish I had just been born atheist or better yet agnostic.
Please please please do research and a podcast that accurately timelines the birth and development of baptism interview questions and temple questions.
My biggest faith crisis and as I see the major issues with the church’s growth and activity is all these policies and laws that put requirements on accepting christ and making us worthy of the spirit, etc.
I feel an awakening to the added/evolved requirements to accept Christ and join the church and attend the temple will help us see that the lord originally was not that concerned with anything but our desire to accept him and the church might have lost its way and momentum by requiring acceptance of historical Mormon history (baptism and temple questions) and not drink coffee or beer to be worthy of being in a congregation, lds church. Of course the principal lds apostles baptized 100s and 1000s in Europe. “Do you believe in Christ and accept him as savior”? , – answer “yes” . .. Then baptized and asked to join the saints in salt lake. It can also relate to those who are baptized today, majority probably answer yes to the questions not really knowing what that means to agree with the questions. I know many members who answer the temple questions but tell me, well they don’t fully agree but they answer just to do it. I feel if these questions needed full explanations today in an interview, Temple reccomends and baptisms would decrease. Would be an awesome topic and way to feel more comfortable being a believer in more of the spiritual Christ centered side of Mormonism , but be more ok that I can’t answer the temple questions. And even more, knowing if I lived in Joseph’s time, there would have been no questions and I would have been sealed up in the temple eternally with my belief in Christ Alone.
I would enjoy helping in the research if you were interested in this topic as a podcast.
Besides the looks of disappoint from my family and friends, losing the potential to date. My decision to not marry in the temple immediately disintegrated a meaningful relationship. Sad about that fact I ask the question, “where can I go?” Growing up a mormon you’re dating is very structured for you. Dances, seminary, institute, and when you’re ready, get married in the temple. Now that my faith and confidence in the church are gone I have no where to turn. Besides leaving the state i’m not sure what options a twenty-something year old has! Tired of feeling like I’m cancer to everyone around me.
To me it’s still a process. My family is very orthodox. To the extend that I feel comfortable on calling my father a fanatic. All he talks about is church and everything related to it. Anything else is completely unimportant. He works for the church all his friends are general authorities and growing up on that environment, especially through my teenage years was claustrophobic, to say the least. I wasn’t allowed to have a friendship outside of the Mormon church. My friends would go to the movies, to the mall, have barbecues and I could never ever join them. When I was 18 and somehow manage to date a boy who wasn’t LDS, my dad would give him a lecture about the church every time he stopped by (in addition to the many, many copies of TBOM he gave him). Needless to say, I couldn’t take it anymore and we broke up. To date a RM was priority #1 to my dad, regardless of my feelings.
My faith transition started last October, after my husband brought up his. At first I wouldn’t listen. Goodness, I even thought of divorcing him. I mean, how can I be married to someone who didn’t believe in TBOM anymore? Anyway, It’s been almost a year now and though I am ready to leave, I just can’t build up the courage to do so. I feel like I’m now suffering with anxiety and a high level of stress because I can’t talk to my parents about this. The church is their life and to have a member of their family leaving, means I am doomed to a life of unhappiness. l also feel that if my children make any mistake now and in the future, it’s because they don’t have the church in their lives. I still consider myself a Christian, but the church is now everything but. My children are only taught about JS and other prophets. Jesus is seldom mentioned, so even for my children’s sake I don’t think I should attend anymore. My biggest awakening was when you and Kate were excommunicated. It was devastating for my faith.
The hardest part for me is just not knowing anything. I don’t know who I can talk to about the things I’m struggling with. I don’t know what I believe about anything anymore. I don’t know what steps to take next.
It feels good to know I’m not alone online, but it doesn’t change not knowing a single person in my life that I can turn to.
Listening to podcasts and reading the stories and comments from intelligent people that have struggled with the same questions that have bothered me for 25 years has been the biggest help.
One thing I started doing for myself (that I would have loved some helpful tools or assistance with) was prioritizing and summarizing the issues I had with the church so that I could more effectively express my concerns to friends and family when they chose to confront me with why I was no longer attending church, wearing garments, keeping the word of wisdom, etc. it would be interesting to see a tool that would take you through a series of questions and generate a very well written summary of a persons primary concerns so that they can use that to better express themselves in those moments where you have to think on your feet – usually with emotions running strong. Maybe this already exists and I just don’t know about it, but I basically did this for myself and it was helpful in giving me a narrative I could share when those situations presented themselves and I was able to feel a bit more confident and a little less flustered.
I felt the same as you, Tyler—& wish I could see what you came up with!
Pulling away from life because of fearing rejection.
Feeling as if life has no purpose.
Distrust, loneliness, living in secrecy, regret for representing the church as a missionary.
I was so proud of the church. I was so defensive of our history. I honored the prophets. I am ashamed at all the things I stuck up for that turned out the be bullshit.
I lost chances, lovers, friendships, and opportunities in life because I put the almighty church first.
The hardest thing about my LDS experience was cognitive dissonance. Understanding what cognitive dissonance is, and that I was experiencing it, was important in transitioning out of religion. The resources I appreciated most were therefore psychological ones. I think that resources to help people understand the psychology of religious experience would be great – not necessarily to lead people out of religion, but to better understand the process of their experience of religion.
(Longer discussion in replies – I don’t want to make this comment balloon).
1. (Church history based) I really really want to be educated on the birth and evolution of baptismal and temple questions. I feel if I could better understand when and why these came about, it would help me to continue to realize how much the worthiness standard has grown into the current church. And if there was more evidence showing that the first 100,000 members were based on acceptance in Christ is what made them worthy to me a member and get endowments and use priesthood, that would help me today where I feeling a belief in church historical claims have nothing to do with salvation and worthiness.
(I would love to help with research on this topic of you would like to make something of it)
2. I feel like a lot of fear of leaving the church is about not being able to say “I don’t attend the lds church because I have felt christ has lead me to this belief that isn’t supported by the church, etc”. Having a good explanation of how people still keep covenants they have made because we chose that in the church for Christ, rather than the church, but now feel like it’s time to take what we’ve loved about Christ in the church and spiritually advance/ take the next step” – maybe rock waterman would be a good guest to talk about coming to Christ through in-activating from lds church. I feel many people are list and hurt if they don’t see changing their mind about the lds church as a another step toward Christ than losing him.
I researched my way out of the church about 1-2 years ago and stopped going. I really wasn’t prepared for the coverup that the church has gone through to smooth over it’s past and the way that it has reacted to people who have shared that coverup and history publicly. Mormon Stories podcasts really helped. Mormon Expression podcasts helped. places where this could be discussed certainly help as well. Sharing my views with my wife was such a nerve-wracking thing to do because I didn’t know how she was going to react. when she shared that she didn’t really believe that the church was true, it was a huge relief. However, she has friends in our ward and she still likes to take the kids to church for activities, etc. When I was transitioning out of the church, what I needed was a way to find out more information and to discuss/process what I was learning. I still need that, but I think that I’m more in need of someplace to land at this point. I stopped going to church, but I’ve realized that I really need/want that community and people that I can call friends. I don’t have a landing place where I can take the kids and help them have a community/other kids that they can be friends with, etc. I don’t want another church.. at this point, I think I’m done with religion period… The void that leaving it has left though hasn’t been replaced by anything and I think I need something like that more than I originally understood.
The hardest thing about my LDS experience was cognitive dissonance. Understanding what cognitive dissonance is, and that I was experiencing it, was important in transitioning out of religion. The resources I appreciated most were therefore psychological ones. I think that resources to help people understand the psychology of religious experience would be great – not necessarily to lead people out of religion, but to better understand the process of their experience of religion.
(Longer thoughts follow in replies, but I wanted to answer the specific questions right away).
There were so many things about which I experienced cognitive dissonance. First, I had so much cognitive dissonance about being gay. I remember sitting in my parents’ office when I was 13 or 14, reading Boyd Packer’s “To Young Men Only” and being terrified. Physically shaking, terrified. The clear message I got was that even a vague gay overture would permit the use of physical violence against me. The Miracle of Forgiveness was similarly terrifying because it placed gay sex just above murder in terms of punishment.
So I created very strict mental rules to make sure that I was good, thinking somehow that righteousness could save me from physical violence in the here-and-now, and spiritual violence in the hereafter. Religion, especially the immature version that most people experience (and which is reinforced through correlation), provides nice clear lines about what is good and what is not. In retrospect it was silly, but being able to check off those daily goals during my mission was reassuring. No matter what else was going on, as long as I checked off those daily goals, I knew that I wasn’t too bad. I say silly, because waking up every day at a specific time may be good discipline, but it does not make you a good person, etc.
Those desires to be firmly within the lines lead me to enter a mixed-orientation marriage. Even though I have always known that men are sexually appealing to me and women are not, being married was clearly within those lines that would route me to heaven. Moreover, I understood that Mormon doctrine, with its focus on procreative potential as essential to godliness, and therefore, the highest heaven, could never accommodate homosexual relationships without significant doctrinal shifts.
The problem, of course, is that being in those lines didn’t stop me being gay. Every time I saw an attractive man, I felt the disorientation of cognitive dissonance. My sexual desires were totally incompatible with religious rules, and so one of them had to win out over the other. Classic cognitive dissonance.
As long as I really believed in hell, religion won out. Fear of hell, and the spiritual violence I thought God would commit against me for some gay interaction, kept me deep in the closet and in those safe lines.
But the second thing about which I experienced cognitive dissonance became a bigger deal. I did not see how it was possible for Adam and Eve to fit into even a modest view of evolution and the evidence that the world was at least more than 10,000 years old. The more I learned about early human experience, the harder it became to accept that homo sapiens were so unique that we alone were entitled to some special place in God’s sight. Some of the things that troubled me the most back then were that Neanderthal buried their dead, suggesting some belief in the afterlife, and that the Chinese have written history going back well before 10,000 B.C. I simply couldn’t reconcile those established facts with a classically Biblical view of history that put Adam and Eve at the start of some special line of creatures entitled to salvation, and everything before which was not. Over time, more and more evidence supporting biological evolution, and discounting the idea that homo sapiens are uniquely savable, persuaded me that religion was not correct on these basic points. Again, major cognitive dissonance.
Once I accepted that religion was not correct on the basic points about the origin of life and uniqueness of homo sapiens, other doctrines started falling. Eventually, my belief in – and terror of – life after death dropped away. That gone, the power that fear had exerted in repressing my sexual attractions went too. Earlier in August was the anniversary of the day I came out to my then-wife. We stayed married for a few months more and then divorced.
Given the recent anniversary of such a significant event for me, I’ve been thinking about how much has changed since that scary night when I told her. I’m now openly gay and openly atheist.
There are definitely some things I miss from my LDS experience. I believe that life and the universe really are much more complicated than can be reduced to anything for which clear lines dividing good from bad are appropriate, and sometimes I miss the certainty of those lines. I feel more honest about my interactions with the world, but sometimes that honesty imposes its own weight. I also miss the easy interaction with people outside work that church provided, and the opportunities it presented for casual socializing with people with whom I would otherwise not likely cross paths.
But I certainly don’t miss the cognitive dissonance. And surprising to some of my still believing friends and family, my acceptance that this life is all we have has made me happier with it. I really understand now the wisdom of a Japanese phrase I learned as a missionary – 一期一会 (ichigo-ichie). Roughly, it is the idea that every interaction is unique, and needs to be appreciated as such.
1.) I have always wanted to understand the birth and evolution of baptismal worthiness and temple worthiness interviews. These were defiantly not in the restoration. And the reason thousands joined the church in england and the frontier US was because the questions was, I imagine, “do you accept christ as your personal savior?” (PERIOD) When I remind myself that these questions and standards were created the past 100 years, it helps me to see that they are not a necessary standard with the restoration of the gospel or the church itself. These required questions when referring to church historical facts or word of wisdom, making then necessary to accept christ to be baptized or enter the temple I believe have stopped the rock from rolling forward and tie in peoples worthiness to feel in the fold of christ with these questions that are meant to exclude people for actions or acceptance of authority, rather than a profession of christ. I would love to know more about this, as an active lds member who does not have a current recommend due to my own integrity to answer the questions honestly, I have saved myself from the awkward interview that Im sure I would be found un-worthy. But my devotion to christ and the gospel has never been stronger living without the pressure of these questions. I would love to better understand their birth and evolution to understand better that they were developed as control, not as a revealed doctrine from the lord. This would help me attend church, which I do feel the spirit often, but be able to better defend my position to exclude myself from having to answers questions that have been developed into required spiritual worthiness beliefs.
– I would enjoy and make myself available for any research to help this podcast become a reality.
2). I would really like to hear a podcast from members who’s transition out of the church has been very positive and christ centered. I feel that those of us who are distancing ourselves from the correlated doctrines and stance of the church are doing this as an express to become closer to christ and one with his spirit. But members who are active are so afraid because I feel they see so many leave the church and disregard the sabbath, never talk of baptismal covenants or temple covenants. We know we made this commitment with christ, so we should feel like we still very much own the covenants we made if we still feel like they were genuine. A discussion with people who have left the church but inspired their TBM friends and family because they have made it clear the decision was made to come closer to christ, this would be awesome and inspiring to hear and a great paradigm to use when making devotional changes in our lives. Rock Waterman would probably be a great person who could facilitate this discussion.
My transition has been pretty typical–I’ve experienced most of the things people here describe, minus dealing with kids, since i don’t have any. But for me, almost all of my faith transition has been positive–exciting, liberating, growth-promoting, invigorating, intellectually stimulating. But the hardest part, hands down, is how to deal with orthodox family. For the most part, I haven’t dealt with it, actually. I haven’t told my parents, haven’t discussed it with my one remaining orthodox brother, none of my aunts/uncles/grandparents/in-laws who are Mormon. At this point many of them have probably figured out something is going on. I’ve just avoided discussing it completely. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a significant source of stress. I know the church and the culture encourages them to see me as an outcast, a failure, someone to fear, dangerous, or be pitied and mourned, etc. I know because I used to feel the same towards members who left. And that knowledge is stressful, depressing and very inhibiting for my relationships.
One of my biggest trials has been the challenge of balancing authenticity with acceptability. I consider myself very fortunate that my wife and I have experienced our faith transition together; aside from her, however, the vast majority of my loved ones and dearest friends are true-believing, devout Mormons. I have no desire to jeopardize those relationships, nor do I wish to share anything that might cause anyone I care about to go through the pain that we have experienced. As a result, I remain largely “in the closet”. I am slowly learning to be more authentic, but any time I share anything that doesn’t fit within the accepted Church message or culture, I have to deal with potentially negative reactions from people whose opinions are important to me.
I am very grateful for the handful of personal friends I have discovered who share my views. I am also grateful for the A Thoughtful Faith Facebook community and the Mormon Matters podcast for helping me see the positive side of my faith transition, and for helping me find the words to frame my new worldview in a way that does not feel as threatening to those who do not share it.
Another challenge for my wife and I relates to concerns over our children. On the one hand, we worry about our children hearing messages at church that are no longer in harmony with our values, or that may cause them to view us negatively. On the other hand, we want them to learn the positive messages of Christian living and a personal relationship with God. We also worry about the social consequences of being labeled “inactive”, “liberal”, or worse, “apostate”, in a community that is very heavily Mormon.
For now, we have chosen to remain semi-active. We occasionally visit the services of other faiths or replace church with family lessons at home. I would love to see more resources for parents who want their children to enjoy the positive aspects of Mormonism without getting weighed down by the dogma or the shame- and guilt-based messaging.
My husband stopped believing about 6 years ago. I was still active and unaware. The hardest part of that was his lack of compassion towards me. He did not give me time to adjust. He just dove straight in to another lifestyle. He would not let me speak with any family or close friends because it was his story to tell. I felt very alone and struggled with extreme anxiety and depression. Therapy and drugs helped. Also I was willing to listen to Mormon Stories and any podcasts or things he recommended reading. We also kept an open dialogue.
A year ago while listening to the 3 Interfaith Amigos on Mormon Stories, it hit me, and I had a spiritual awakening. It had been gradual up to that point, but I realized that day that I no longer believed as well. It was exciting internally, but the difficulties were finding how to talk with my family. It took over a year to finally talk with my mom. It was so painful. I didn’t want to hurt them.
So the most difficult thing for me is knowing how to speak with still believing friends and family. I know what they are thinking and feeling since I was once there. I want to be compassionate and keep close to them, but often feel that the relationship unfortunately changes. They have a sense of loss and label us as outsiders. My mom told someone that out of her four children, she just has one left in the church. She feels like it is her fault, like a failure. That really hurts me. I really wish that we all could just have grace and love for one another wherever we are on our journey.
I also like learning about how families and children can be raised moral and successful without religion. I think that TBMs see us as forfeiting blessings or having less of a fulfilled life without covenants and such.
Hi I’m Jill, 57, and basically started leaving the church at age 34. The church had a lot to do with my divorce. I tried to stay in “for my kids” that were 10, 8 and 4 but after a few years of having to sit on my hands during Relief Society and Sunday School so I wouldn’t raise my hand to respond to lessons that were either hurtful or just plain wrong. For my mental health I finally stopped going. Remarried a non-member to the horror of my friends which were all Mormon. (We have now been happily married for almost 22 years.) I also had my name taken off the records of the church as did my return missionary daughter. ***My problem is…. that after all these years, the more I learn about church history and just the church in general, I can’t let my frustration go! I want to discuss it with family and friends but they don’t want to even discuss why I left. I feel sad about that and frustrated. My husband tells me to just “get over it” but he doesn’t understand what it’s like to grow up extra active in the church, leaving, trying to replace the place of the church and Christianity and I wonder what’s wrong with me. I see a therapist to talk about it with, but that’s about it. I just wish I could have my family and friends understand me. My therapist encouraged me to make new non-Mormon friends which I have and they are great, but my life long friends and most family members just make me feel that they either resent the way I feel for ruining our Mormon relationship or feel sorry for me. I don’t look forward to another 25 years feeling this way.
I can totally relate to your story as I stopped believing in the church when I was 35—last year to be exact. Despite not having attended for a while, I can’t unglue myself from church history books and analyses of Joseph Smith + all the other church leaders. The more I learn the more frustrated I become at all the whitewashing that has gone on for years. Fortunately for us, my wife also stopped believing once the church published its Gospel Topics essays on polygamy. She too often asks why I can’t just get over it and study something else in my spare time. Lately though we have been reading some church history books at night together and she has been a welcome ear to many of my concerns which she happens to agree with. It’s brought us closer which I’m grateful for. I do wonder if I will ever let the topic go. We expect our first baby in December and never intend on putting him through the same ordeal that we went through for a combined 36 years of our lives.
The hardest part is being estranged from extended family. My Mormon family has insisted that I remain silent about my faith crisis in order to remain a part of the family. According to them, I am not allowed to talk about my crisis in public or in private. My extended family will not come over to my house for fear that my ‘sins’ of drinking coffee, tea and alcohol will rub off on them for I feel alienated.
I was not allowed to read a poem about my Mom at her funeral because I am considered an apostate. I am the same person, I love my family, I love life, I am kind and honorable, yet I am treated an outcast simply because I had a faith crisis.
Is there a way to mend this bridge?
My family is insisting I return to church in order to have full fellowship in my family and I think this is unreasonable and I refuse to bend to their demand as I no longer believe.
I feel we are at an impasse.
I am currently in the bishopric in our ward and starting to have some issues with the church and how things have changed over the years. When I point out these things to most people they just don’t care. It seems like I’m the only one that cares about the discrepancies in the history. I enjoy the church but I really dont want any calling right now. It’s hard to get out because so many of our social connections are also church related. Then there is the question of my wife who also is one of those people that just follows it. If she were to do some research she would see but no one does the research because it’s “anti”.
Pretty smart to say it’s good to ask your questions but then only approve church materials to find the answers.
Wade, I agree that most TBM,s just don’t care. I also agree that the church is smart to say okay to have questions, but then only want you to look at their material for answers. “Frustration” is the best word to describe this.
There needs to be a place for young adults to connect. We just left in January and two of our kids are worried about how to find friends/spouses now that we are no longer TBMs.
I saw the infamous The Book of Mormon musical last night, for the second time. As I was sitting there with a huge smile on my face literally the entire time I wondered, “What is it, besides the obvious hilarity, about this show that just makes me so happy?” Out of all the complexities of feelings, I think it comes down to not feeling alone. Someone else out there gets it. I am not alone! Finally! My family history dates back to a great great grandfather loaning money to Joseph Smith. There’s a copy of the receipt and all. Along with all of my immediate family, my 50 odd some cousins and all my Aunts and Uncles are all devote Mormons. Total black sheep here. I started doubting the happiness I would have within the church when I was a teenager. The decade long struggle to find my true self was excruciating. The guilt, the shame, the feeling my parents didn’t feel pride in me simply because I was wavering in my faith. It was all very emotionally LONELY.
Just recently, finding this online community of peers to help with lingering anger helps. Or as I like to call it, “righteous anger”. I no longer feel guilty for feeling angry. I have a loving husband who tries his best to show his empathy in my pain but sometimes it helps more to find others who know exactly how I feel. I didn’t have that in my 20s.
I feel very confident about the choices I’ve made in life and can absolutely attest to how full my heart is. But to have a family, my “tribe”, to show me they can’t see my complete happiness will forever place a penny sized piece of doubt inside that I will forever resent. And I still haven’t quite figured out why I’m unable to openly share online these feelings for fear of “hurting” family members. Having parents and siblings who can’t see my true happiness and joy in life is truly a rain on my ongoing parade. I love my family despite their religion. I wish that they loved me despite my happiness outside that religion.
The hardest thing in my transition is finding a spiritual home or a community of mormons that loves me for me, unconditionally, where I can feel safe to just be myself, where I can openly respect lgbt relationships, openly discuss church issues, and where I can authenticly live the gospel of Jesus Christ in the way that I understand it in my heart.
To be honest, I don’t know. I went through my faith crisis 25 years ago when there was no help. I think, honestly, that you just have to rely on what you know, and who you are. Look outer darkness in the face and say “Nah, I don’t think so”. Stand your ground.
Being ostrasized by other LDS members for my changing beliefs was the hardest part for me.
I think another really hard thing for me is finding people like myself outside of mormonism. Even though it became too toxic for me to tolerate being in the church, there are still many things I liked about it. I do not have any desire to take up drinking or even coffee for that matter. I still feel most comfortable dressing modestly and want my children who are out of the church to try to live moral lives. I have retained many of the lifestyle choices that I got used to in the church. And that is how I feel comfortable. However, many that leave the church embrace things we didn’t grow up with. That is fine, because that is their choice, and I have no desire to criticize those who choose differently than me. It would just be nice to have a ex-mo group that still I guess you could say had a more conservative feel to it for those of us who are not necessarily of completely liberal mindsets. I just feel trapped because I don’t fit with the mormon crowd, but I also don’t necessarily fit with the ex-mo crowd. I wish there was something in between.
My suggestion with regards to resources would be as follows:
1. You’ll have people transitioning in two camps: the ones that go atheist (or agnostic at best) and those who remain “Christian” in some fashion. I fell in the latter and had a hard time “shopping” for a church. I think you tend to see everything through the Mormon lens and it’s not easy to just show up to a church and start believing. I would so much appreciate a structured approach that can help me transition from one faith to another. Information on what each faith’s values are would be useful. I REALLY don’t want to be disappointed again and find out there was meat after milk… a survey of what you believe in and based on your answers what faith may accommodate you best would be great. I know, I’m lazy. It would also be great if you had a couple Mormon stories episodes featuring people that successfully transitioned from LDS to something else and how they were able to do this.
2. The hardest thing for me at the moment is living with a TBM wife. I can’t emphasize enough how much non-believers out there suffer. I wish I had material I could read that would put me at peace about how a marriage can work given two different sets of belief. Now that I don’t have the Mormon glasses I REALLY struggle to see any value or utility to the religion, despite my spouse telling me there is. I’d rather my kids not grow in it and have them heartbroken if they were to go through what I’m going through. I constantly think about what may be best? do I stay with my TBM wife to try and keep the family together despite living with the LDS church as third wheel? or do I leave the marriage, resign my membership and de-program my kids on the Sundays I get to keep them home with me (or in another church)? perhaps studies of kids divorce impact vs. an oppressing church impact would help me decide?
I have struggled with being LDS ever since I was very young, I never truly felt like I fit in the Mormon mold. Every time I heard that it was the only true church and that everyone should belong in the church, my heart would drop, It made me so sad. Constantly being told that LDS members had true and ever lasting happiness, I sure didn’t feel happy, I was more happier with non members than members of the church. I have been off and on with the church because it truly has tons of benefits, especially with education, and it has great wonderful morals, but I can’t deny the conflicting emotions I can’t get rid of and how all the research, all my pondering and meditation does not line up with the churches belief system, I feel like I’m in a cage, I have no choice, but to do school programs from BYU Idaho. I know it’s a great education system and I tell myself I should be grateful that I have this opportunity, but I can not lie to myself, I am not free and it’s torn me apart.
My sister is going through a transition and asked me to relate mine. She lost her belief in God in her mid 20s after marrying a returned missionary. She kept that bottled up until she was 55 .. finally she’s going through a painful transition.
Mine transition came very early. I tested the truth claims as a 12 year old, and came to the conclusion the BoM was fiction and JS was a snake oil salesman. My family gave me a hard time. I wasn’t kicked out of the house, but I wasn’t welcome in the homes of any relatives other than my parents. Mormon kids in school gave me a hard time.
I threw myself into math and science and found refuge in nature and the empirical world. By 18 I realized I was an atheist and, other than by rejection from most of my extended family and a never ending stream of repent and return letters and emails, never think about religion. I certainly don’t miss it.
While I’m very happy now, married to a Swedish Buddhist who doesn’t believe in God, those five years at home after coming out as a non-Mormon were awful to the point of being abusive. If I didn’t have a few friends outside the church it could have been unbearable. I imagine kids like me probably find resources online to let them know they’re ok, but it is still going to be seriously difficult.
John there is two questions you’re asking here—
1. At first I was emotionally devastated to find out the truth was based on lies… But after a while I felt a great sense of relief letting go of guilt and shame and worry
But what was most emotionally heartbreaking was the judgment rejection or distance created with loved ones when I tried to share my discoveries of truth — this is out of my control and will probably last a lifetime ????
2. What I need now…⁉️.. Continuing evidence that the church is not true more historical information as well as current church activities that confirm to me my decision is correct???? ❗️ Please???? please don’t stop doing that ❗️❗️
Also I appreciate a website or a a local support group
1 to discuss The past and continuing evidence of historical and current truth about the church
2 support In the difficulty of adjusting — .This process is like mourning the death of a loved one (The church doctrine and beliefs ) and the loss of relationships
— I think it would be very difficult for me to find A religious community of people that believe like I do now because we all have such varied ideas–
I do like living in a small Oregon town where people are friendly but don’t care about your religious beliefs–
I can understand why living in Utah you would need other opportunities for community because of the smothering Mormon community that surrounds you
Thanks John for continuing to put so much effort into helping us all
Thanks again John for caring enough to try to help us all
Please ❗️❗️continue to give me information about the history and origins of the church.❗️❗️ There is so much yet to know‼️ every day I need to be reminded about why I made the decision that this church is not true– it is the origins of the doctrine that are undeniably false
In the last year I have had to do my own research and found that it is never ending —
Yes it was devastating to find the truth and know that my religion was based on lies -????- and continually heartbreaking to be rejected and judged by friends and family ???? i’m glad I live in a friendly small Oregon community where people don’t care what I believe
I also appreciate communicating with post Mormons about this information and my experience – but I don’t believe I could find a community of people who have the same religious beliefs as I do because post mormons all think differently– for example I still believe in a loving God
I may not exactly be the expected audience of this website, since I have never been an orthodox Mormon to begin with. I’m a convert to the church and felt at home in sites like StayLDS and Mormon Stories before I ever got baptized. There was a lot I loved about the church, and in fact, these types of online communities helped me join the church by showing me that I could find a place in it despite still being agnostic at heart, being a childless woman with a career and unusual family circumstances. I especially still crave hearing stories of other members who are outsiders in the church for any reason and don’t quite seem to fit, but make it work for them. I love podcasts, since I can listen to them while I’m driving. I love hearing perspectives that stimulate me intellectually, and I’m interested in learning about Mormon communities outside the church, and liberal/unorthodox Mormons who remain active in the church.
Most difficult thing for me is navigating parenting with kids still at home. YM/YW is a big social hub for the kids and it’s hard to replace that.
I finally accepted the fact that I no longer believe about 5 months ago, and determined to act (or not act, if you will) accordingly. I’m still going through the process of figuring out what I believe or don’t believe and how I’m going to live my life now.
I think something that would be very helpful is a discussion group held once or twice a month to meet people who are going through the same thing you are so you can hear their stories and get ideas about how to work through different aspects and scenarios that come with transitioning out of Mormonism. It can be a lonely process.
I am excited about a Mormon Transitions podcast, I think it will be great to learn from the experiences of those who are further along in the process of entering Babylon.
I’m talking about a face to face discussion group where you can actually meet people, not an online discussion group.
I need stories of people who have really truly moved beyond being a church-going LDS person and really truly are happy. Right now, I cannot look ahead into my future and see happiness and peace.
I need community, but not sure that I it should be with other transitioning mormons. I think perhaps it would be better to surround myself with people who barely know anything about the church so that I can see people living good full lives outside of that realm.
I need help figuring out how to replace the church for my kids. Secular FHE? Secular boy scouts/girl scouts? Volunteering?
I need help building up the courage to even leave the church and not just fall into isolation and be depressed (already depressed enough right now). I need to create a new me, and sometimes I think I need to just move and get a fresh start.
I need to find a replacement for prayer. I feel holes, like I miss giving thanks over meals, I miss being able to express sentiments in prayers for listening family members that you just don’t find easy opportunities to say typically. I worry that my kids will not be grateful for things when they are not asked to pray each day and made to stop and consider what is important in life. I feel that I myself am losing out on this reflective process, but as an adult I can maybe turn to meditation, how do I deal with this for kids? How do we start big family/friends meals?
I need to hear about how people teach their kids about masturbation and modesty and porn in a secular way, I still don’t know yet if I think masturbation is okay and something to just not mention. I want to hear secular opinions for and against some of these things, not just from mormons/exmormons, what do experts say on the topic, can we have interviews with secular experts who have no religious background and are willing to even consider both sides of the arguments? My brothers (still TBM) swear that they are so grateful the church has pounded it into them to not masturbate or go near porn. What do I teach my son?
I kind of need stories of secular families, because I fear that even if I pull off raising my kids well, maybe they will not have the same success because they weren’t raised with the same religious beliefs/culture/community I did, that perhaps I have been given a parenting/life advantage because of the church that will slowly disappear for my kids and their kids etc? What kind of lives with my grandchildren and great grandchildren have it I leave the church now?
I need help to get beyond grieving, I need to get beyond wondering if the narrative I was taught is right and wondering if I am just being deceived by Satan and am making a huge mistake. I no longer have confidence, have lost my identity, have fallen off of the pedestal, feel like my life story might be told as a tragedy – I fell and never recovered myself, never found happiness. Wow depressing. Some days I feel so good (if I can just not think about religion at all), but most of the time I am in a bad place that I can’t escape despite therapy and a husband who is generally on the same page about religion.
Hardest Part? Cannot get over the anger of feeling foolish, gullible, bilked, conned, and lied to. My immediate family knows I left over 12 years ago, but it was so painful because of their total non-interest in why I left that I am still in the closet with my extended family and friends. Their lack of respect for my decision is probably the hardest part and watching them continue in their unwavering belief of a false and fraudulent church is also very hard on me. P.S. I left because of DNA, Book of Abraham, Kinderhood Plates, Seer Stone, Polyandry, Black issue, etc.
The hardest part is right at now at the beginning, where I don’t know where to turn, who to talk to, who I can trust, and how to start rebuilding my own foundational relationship with God without the cultural conditioning of the mormon church. I’m a 34 year old convert of 19 years. Was raised by agnostic parents. My husband’s side of the family is small and are all very active. I don’t feel like I can express myself to them without having an all out dramatic family fall out. How is this ok? I can speak to my family openly about anything and they are totally respectful. It should be like that all around. I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere, and I don’t know where to go. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s maddening and depressing and I wish there was an easier way to navigate a faith crisis.
Excited about the transitions project! Would love to see some practical, specific ideas for helping transitioning with kids in areas such as the way we pray. Also ideas for developing new social lives. And how to help our kids at times when they miss church.
I’m also interested in starting a transitions group in Calgary…
I’m super excited for this project!
About 6.5 months ago, my ex-husband left me just after I’d decided I wanted to leave the church.
After he left, I didn’t really have any support or any coping mechanisms in place.
I had to kind of just flounder my way through the divorce.
I wound up living with my TBM parents (still am X_x).
Now I’m trying to get my life back together and I’m quickly realizing that without the church, IDK how to make new friends, how to date (or even who to date since I don’t think I necessarily want to be with a TBM but I also feel like people who weren’t raised in the church wouldn’t be able to relate to me as well as someone who’d been raised in a Mormon environment).
So here are my suggestions:
** Dealing with divorce from a faithful spouse (How to cope with that kind of an event when you no longer have faith to fall back on; How to find or build a support system; etc).
** For those who are living with TBM family members (How to communicate; How to avoid arguments; How to be a non-member in an LDS household, How to accept the faith of loved ones even when you fear any possible damage that the church could be inflicting on them, etc.)
** Friendship & Dating (How to make friends; How to date outside of Mormonism; etc.)
I’ll also throw in that I’ve heard a lot of post-mormons describe their transition away from the church as moving through the stages of grief. I know that a lot of people (including myself) can get really stuck in that angry phase and it’s difficult to get past that.
I have learned my value in the eyes of most of the people to whom I have devoted my life is directly proportional to the value I see in the life and example of Joseph Smith. This is both astonishing and dehumanizing. I am not sure how this site or the transitions project can be expected to fix this, as my opinions are well-considered and based on facts. My wife of nearly 30 years believes I am in Satan’s grasp and a covenant breaker. At her insistent behest, I continue to remain in full activity; although since 2009 I have perfectly understood what the church is and what it isn’t. I have attend LDSFS marriage counseling for most of these years in perennially fruitless efforts to redact my thinking, rebuild my testimony and save my marriage. My wife does not attend this counseling, as she remains fully correlated and remains guiltless in the eyes of her Priesthood Leaders. She also refuses to attend secular counseling, as she finds these persons universally unsympathetic. Virtually all my friends and immediate family remain orthodox TBMs. I have been hoping to create a middle way, but when any move toward compromise is viewed as sin, there can be none. This is the hardest part. To know there is no place for me, but to know of nothing else.
Feeling i don’t fit in with the lds folks or the anti- angry ex lds. I can’t commit either way out of fear of making the wrong choice.
Having a son who is interested in and excited about serving a mission in the next 2 years. I had a great experience on my mission. I also see this as a great growth experience for him in many ways. I do want him to be fully aware of some of the issues in the church before going on a mission. We have had some talks and I have presented information in a way that is fairly matter-of-fact so that he can make his own decision. We will talk about both sides of these issues. I think that there are likely a lot of people with children and teenagers who would be interested in knowing how to best approach faith transitions in their parents while not being concerned about the course that the family or family member might be taking. Changing religion as a child or teenager is likely fairly difficult.
Stopping the bitterness and hate I feel toward our “ward” who encircled my older children after their dad and I left the church just over a year ago. Of 4 teenaged boys at the time, only one remains and we just said goodbye to him for 2 years as he is serving a mission in Montevideo Uruguay. Of our 8 children only 2 remain. A married daughter and my missionary son. I don’t feel so bitter about my daughter staying. But I feel like I have lost my son.
Our oldest boy left several years ago. The temple-married daughter is very active. The 4 teenaged boys were allowed to choose. We chose for our youngest 2 daughters who are primary age.
When 12 couples show up at the temple to go through with our son for his endowments then one of those couples takes him out to eat (and that couple is my daughter’s in-laws) without inviting us, I feel like they have stolen him out from under me. When 10 of these same couples show up at his setting apart, I couldn’t take it any longer. All I could feel was intense hatred for them all. I sat on the front row weeping as my husband physically and emotionally supported me. I refused to speak to any of them and had my husband quickly usher me to the car where I continued my weeping. Now he is gone and I feel like they won. I hate them all.
My joining and leaving the church runs very deep emotionally beginning with the missionaries knocking on my door almost 23 years ago. I won’t go into it here. Let’s just say it involves a very traumatized new mother trying to find her way in the world after years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse as well as unknown mental illness that was medicated with alcohol and drugs.
I want help. I’m tired of feeling so much anger.
Being LDS was the most defining part of my identity as I saw myself. Now that I no longer believe, I feel like I’m defined by my active disbelief in Mormonism. I don’t feel like I have a community, though, because I don’t feel comfortable with the negativity that so many ex-Mormons have, I don’t drink and don’t know how to act when I’m around people who are drinking, etc. My wife is still fully-believing and I enjoy a lot of the associations we still have in our ward, but feel like an outsider now since most people know I don’t believe and I won’t hold a calling.
My kids are also very young and I’d like to avoid having them indoctrinated too much, but I’m also trying to respect my wife, who wants them to be fully active and believing just like she and I grew up.
As a believing member of the church, I also felt like I was contributing to something greater than myself that had eternal worth. I don’t believe in life after death anymore, but would still like to feel like I’m contributing directly to something that’s bettering humanity and the world we live in. Sure, I’m a productive working member of society and I care for my family, but I want to built something that’s more altruistic than my work and affects more of humanity than I can by just being a good husband/father/brother/son.
I had much harder parts of my faith crisis several years ago, but this is where I’m at currently, and those other things have been discussed by others already.
I’ve gone through all the previous posts in an attempt to summarize the things that are most difficult in transition. I’ve found 350 responses and broke them down to the top 13 categories as I interpret them and reported the percentages. Something to note is that there is a wide spectrum in where people are on the transition path. Additionally, reading all these comments it is very evident the magnitude of transitioning from the lds church in that it impacts all areas of life.
13.4% – Loss of personal identity and purpose. Challenge in finding new identity, purpose and meaning. Finding answers to life’s questions. Defining morals, values and direction.
11.1% – Dealing with the loss of lds community and the challenge of building a new community outside the church.
10.3% – Challenges with spouse. Being at a differ place/path than spouse. Dealing with new differences and changed foundations. Finding new connections and shared meaning. Dealing with separation or divorce.
10.0% – Challenges in how LDS family or LDS friends view transitioning person. May includes being judged, viewed as less than, or being called to repentance. May be viewed as fallen or dangerous. May include pressure to still do church related activities.
8.0% – Feeling alone. Feelings of not being understood. Dealing with lack of trust in others.
8.0% – Dealing with feelings of anger, frustration, betrayal toward church/God/church leadership. Making sense of past experiences and beliefs.
7.4% – Knowing what, when and how to share with LDS family and friends. Challenges on how to maintain good relationships.
7.4% – Dealing with children. Figuring out what and how to teach children. Having different child raising views with spouse. This ranges from young children to adult children.
6.9% – Challenges in still dealing with church teachings or the fact that family and church members hold these beliefs – one true church, homosexuality, view of ex-mormons, church discipline, church still influencing family & friends.
6.6% – Self doubt and fears. Not being sure new beliefs and decisions are correct and the impacts they may have on family and eternity. Fear of becoming a worse person. Fear of punishment of displeasing God.
5.1% – Lessening of relationships with lds family & Friends. This may range from strained relationships to disassociation or disowning.
3.4% – Being in transition. Hiding full beliefs and views to keep up appearances. Living to various degrees an unauthentic life.
2.3% – Dealing with feelings of letting lds family and friends down. Feelings of guilt or pain.
How to date in the non-mormon culture. I’m 28 and all the girls I’ve ever dated I’ve met at church.There was so much I could assume about expectations and boundaries and the pacing of the relationship. Those things are totally different now. Plus I have to deal with the fact that I’m not used to the most common social habits like ordering coffee or alcohol. On top of all that, I have no experience beyond a certain level of physical intimacy. So I have to decide whether to be (and how to be) upfront about that which would kind of be preferable to me but seems embarrassing and could be a turn off for her (since just saying I’ve never been drunk seems to make people think I’m weird). Or to try and play it cool like I know what I’m doing, which I will probably not be successful at and be even more embarassing. It’s all just pretty awkward…
The hardest part of my faith crisis was the feeling of being duped.
I am still very orthoprax even though I am generally quite un-orthodox.
What do I need? I live in the US where the church isn’t all that strong. That creates a really strong community and a bit of “taking care of the tribe / fellow believers.” There isn’t much of a community to come out to even to say “I am in, but not believing everything.” There are some exmo communities, but they are small and I am not (yet?) at a place I want to go there – at least not in public.
Even the people who are deemed normal go through the same trials and experience similar emotions- some are just better at wearing social masks. You’re not alone remember that the Lord loves you and the world cannot take that away. I am a two year convert to the lds. I cannot deny the tender mercies or the blessings I have received, yet I can attest to pain and suffering at the hands of my bishop betraying our families trust during an extreme sensitive family situation involving my teenage son trying to commit suicide. The bishop and several other assumed close friends were present at the hospital. My husband and I asked for confidentiality and before I knew it I was receiving text messages from specific people and had relief society lie about where they had obtained the information. I felt betrayed and so hurt, this was my family and people I assumed were like family had broke the foundation of trust to appease their own ego of what they deemed was appropriate for my families tragedy. I have been struggling with my emotions and keeping myself in tune w the lord. My heart loves the church for the church itself did not falter me it was the men and woman in leadership roles. God did not falter me I cannot blame the lds church I hold contention in my heart for the zealous leaders who have failed to see that they have committed a breach of confidentiality. Gossip was justified and those who were taking our tragedy and filling the ears of others of our sorrow. One thing is true the relief society president once told me that the church was true but people would disappoint me little did I know she would be the key player in churning my turmoil.
I am still struggling w Attendamce. Part of me does not want to see those that hurt and judged my family in a time of crisis. The anger is lingering yet that small still voice reminds me that in order to move onward I must face them and see them as faulty hiumans perhaps if they see me stronger sitting w my family that they may self reflect upon their callous decisions and learn from their mistakes. I have missed being at sacrament w my children. The leaders in my ward hindered my Jewish
Husbands ability to see Mormonism as a caring trusting place. He doesn’t trust anything they say and would be happier if me and my children left the church.
Trials on earth at times can be overwhelming and people especially in lds or any organization need to be willing to admit wrong doing and learn from mistakes and not hinder the spiritual growth of their congregation.
I like your atitude,I’m praying for you,your child is lucky tons r you as their mother
Heavenly Father and the Savior are perfect, members are not. They are children of Heavenly Father trying to help and serve too. That’s why we need to pray and follow our Father inHeaven through the Holy Ghost . Be loving and kind to those who try to love and serve you.im sure the bishop did not want people to gossip or hurt you.He was truly trying to help.
1. Feeling I’ve been “Catfished” by God. I had this longterm, committed relationship with a Mormon-version of God. Now that my Mormon belief system has crumbled, I feel like I don’t know the “real” God. And this disconnected feeling is happening at the worst time possible. It feels like my world is crumbling around me, and all I want is the peace that only the Lord can provide in moments of tumult. And I have no peace.
2. Loneliness. I think only people who have gone through a faith transition can comprehend what this journey is like. Online forums (podcasts, blogs, support groups, etc.) are helpful–it’s nice to know other people can relate–but they don’t replace the need for an understanding, real-life friend. I don’t have one I feel like I can trust with these heavy emotions. My friends outside of the church wouldn’t be able to understand. I’m worried that friends inside the church would either look at my differently. I also worry about contributing to/causing someone else’s faith crises because this is not a path I would recommend to anyone who is currently happy in the church.
3. Feeling tainted. A doubting or disbelieving Mormon is looked down on inside the church. And Mormons in general are looked down on by most other Christian faiths. I’ve attended a few churches trying to find one that might be a good fit for our family, but it is really disheartening when I read about how churches approach former Mormons who come into their fold. Mormons are characterized as recovering cult members who have been deceived. They do not consider us Christians, they expect us to be re-baptized and in need of special ministering to shed us of our uniquely Mormon beliefs. It is hard to want to join any church that characterizes us this way. If we had not already begun to separate uniquely Mormon teachings from biblical teachings, we would never be at a point of investigating new churches. And while it is confusing to find out that a lot of the beliefs you were raised to believe are gospel truths were fabrications of a self-proclaimed prophet, I think that Mormonism does emphasize the life of Christ and His role as our Savior and exemplar. There seems to be no place for us inside the church or without. And that is discouraging especially because we have 3 young children that we want to raise with a foundation of faith and as followers of Christ.
I wish that there were opportunities to worship on Sundays with fellow ex-Mormons. If we could apply the comfortable format of LDS worship to biblical teachings in an environment that embraced openness and diverse opinions, I think that would be the most natural transition out of Mormonism for me…. while allowing my family to focus on the positive and not obsess on the negative. We want to move onto something better and not be worse off for this change in our lives.
How are you doing now? I just now saw your comment. Any success finding a like-minded group?
I still believe that God is there, but I’m. It sure how to view him since the Mormon God is different. I do pray, just a little differently. Like I don’t feel there’s an order anymore, I just pray and say what comes to mind. I haven’t found s group yet, but I’m also seeking out therapy for my husband and I. The struggle we have is the hardest part. The way the church is set up, he’s in charge of my faithfulness and all that, so that’s been hard.
You seem very intelligent, Cindy, and I’m assuming you don’t actually believe that he is in charge of your faithfulness or anything else in your life. This is one of the big reasons I lost my faith. I was tired of feeling like property, not from my husband, but from prophets like Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and even modern-day leaders, and especially in the temple/Celestial Kingdom. I was done sacrificing my happiness to support a man’s “more important” life. Now I only seek joy. Right now. I won’t postpone my happiness for some future reward any longer. How? By focusing on it. By living in the present, not always seeking eternal rewards through constant sacrifice. By not turning my agency over to men who claim to speak for God and know what’s best for me more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I still serve, give, and sacrifice, but on MY terms. And that makes all the difference. No man stands between me and my God anymore. I have a direct line to Deity. I hope you find your joy in the now, too. We don’t have to wait until the next life or depend on a man to get it. It’s yours, if you choose to have it, right now.
How do you maintain relationships with parents when they won’t accept your decision to leave the church and try to talk to your children about maintaining their faith because their parents don’t have the strength to make our choices?
I am a 42 year old woman who was raised in the church by a divorced mom. She was treated terribly by some ward members, but remained very active, and still is. This was a struggle for me growing up and I strayed as an early teanager. When I was in my early twenties I had two kids and was married. I felt I needed repentance for some things and all I knew was Mormonism. So I went to the bishop and went through the ugly process. I divorced my husband at the time and I became very active. I ended up marrying again and going through the temple. About 2 years ago I started to question things, starting with Joseph Smith’s polygamy/polyandry, and then all of the rest of the issues. I have gone all the way down the rabbit hole and there is no way out at this point. My husband very much so is a full believer and refutes any and all of my questions/concerns. I go to church every Sunday to keep him happy, but it stresses me out so much to be there. I have no idea how to handle this. I was in tears last Sunday morning at the thought of having to be there. I think counseling with him would be good but I’m not sure where to go. We recently moved from Utah to Twin Falls Idaho. Help!
I relate so much to your story, it just took me a decade longer than you did to start questioning and searching for the real truth. My husband and two of my adult children still believe. I and my two other children have left the Church. It was very difficult in our marriage for the first year (I left two years ago) but my husband loves me enough to agree to disagree now. At first he begged me to at least attend Sac Mtng with him so he wouldn’t be “that guy,” but it made me feel like I had to continue compromising my own mental/emotional well being to accommodate his, (which I’m used to doing as it’s expected of me as a woman). But I finally told him no, please don’t ask me to do that. He wasn’t happy about it, but he accepts it now and attends on his own. We moved to Provo last year, of all places, from WA State. It’s been extremely difficult to experience discrimination everywhere I turn, but I’m determined to push through it. I believe we can all agree to disagree, respect each other’s beliefs, and not force our convictions on anyone else. I just wish LDS believers would give me the same respect and courtesy as I do them.
Cindy, I would love to be a support to you anytime you need to talk. This is such a difficult journey and nobody should have to travel it alone. My email is email@example.com
I’m wanting to leave the church so desperately, but I don’t want to miss my daughter’s temple wedding. It will break hers and my hearts.
I missed my baby girl’s wedding this past May. She’s my youngest and we are very best friends. She and I planned, shopped, and prepared everything together. I bought all the decorations and refreshments for our guests who got to go in while I sat outside and waited with my sister. We were the only ones in the family who were barred from attending. (My husband is still a believer, too.) The hardest part for me was the resentment I felt and still feel toward a power-hungry organization who tries to control, manipulate, and punish “sinners” whom they deem “unworthy” to participate in their elite country club – because their God says so. I reject this divisive, exclusive, punishing Mormon god. But I respected my daughter’s decision, and smiled graciously the entire time.
The hardest part about transitioning away from the Church is the fact that I’m doing it so late in life. My wife and four adult children are still believers so I’m pretty much stuck with a culture that I want nothing to do with. Even with my extended family are all believers so our activities are pretty much Mormon events.
I wish I knew the truth before I married because I wouldn’t have married a Mormon. I would have made my transition into adulthood as an opportunity to make a clean break from my family and settle with one that I identify with.