The Beginning of the End
Gluby and I had been married for 16 months when I finally pulled it out of him that he was having doubts. I knew something was up because he was always upset, angry, or aloof after church or “fulfilling” his calling as the ward mission leader. One day after church I sat down at the table and basically said, “hey, I know something is bothering you and I want to know what it is. You are always upset on Sundays. Why?” He said nothing was bothering him, he was ok, he was fine. I said, “No, you are not fine. I can tell something is upsetting you. Please tell me. Please talk to me.” He was silent for awhile and then he said, “I have been having some doubts about the church.”
My stomach dropped to my feet and my heart started pounding. In my head I minimized it by saying that these must be just regular doubts that everyone has and everything will be ok. It’s just a bigger deal to him because he’s only been a member for 2 1/2 years and this must be the first real trial of his testimony. I asked him what his doubts were about. He said that he didn’t want to tell me in case they caused me to doubt. I, of course, was above doubting enough to cause real problems, so I urged him to tell me. He again stated his worry about causing me to doubt. At the end of the discussion we both felt like this was something he could overcome by reading, praying, fasting, and continuing to go to church. I also felt he should go talk to the bishop about it to maybe get a blessing or answers to his questions. He didn’t get along too well with the bishop so he felt uncomfortable doing so. I, of course, “knew” that whatever differences they had would melt away as the bishop followed the promptings of the Spirit to help him. But, I didn’t push the issue because I also knew Gluby needed to want to go.
The next 18 months were a roller coaster ride. We felt hope, Gluby even had what I considered to be a spiritual experience where he “definitely” felt the Holy Ghost and I thanked Heavenly Father for giving him that to help him overcome his doubts. I knew that we were back on track. But he still struggled with so many things, very few of which he felt comfortable telling me. He didn’t want anyone to know, and we both felt things would straighten out soon, so we didn’t tell anyone.
This period of time was very difficult because it seemed every time we took a step forward we took 5 steps backward. I started to fear he would become “inactive” someday. I subconsciously felt the need to become a super Mormon to make up for his doubts and to be an example to him to help him overcome his doubts and to get blessings in heaven so God would bless him with a testimony and to bring an extra special spirit into our home and and and and and……
I did everything extra mile because I knew we would be blessed and that if I just lived worthily that he would be ok. Or, if he did become inactive, that he would eventually come back. Then he read a quote by Brigham Young condoning the slavery of blacks. Then President Hinckley basically stated his support for war after September 11. Then he went in and talked with the bishop. I vacillated between believing that God was giving us these trials because we could overcome them and believing that Satan was putting these things in front of him and that all was lost. That Satan was out to get him and he was winning.
I remember when Gluby left for the appointment with the bishop that I felt lighthearted and hopeful and I just knew things would improve. I was happier and more hopeful than I had felt since he told me over a year earlier. When he came home I was dumbfounded. Gluby was angrier than I had ever seen him before because of the way the bishop had treated him. I will let Gluby write more about this if he wants to, but the parts that stick out in my mind are that the bishop kept asking him if he was living the law of chastity and then asked him if he ever left would he be able to leave the church alone. He was livid that the bishop would accuse him of having an affair or looking at porn and have that be the reason he had these doubts; that he must be sinning otherwise he wouldn’t be having these problems. And then not believe him when he told him he was living the law of chastity as to ask him this question three times.
My hopes were crushed. I was angry that the bishop had treated him that way and I was angry that he had acted in a way that had pushed Gluby further away. Why hadn’t the Spirit prompted him to say things that would help Gluby? We were both doing everything we could and yet nothing was changing or improving. Was I not righteous enough to be a good influence on my husband to help bring him back? What was I doing wrong? I was so confused, hurt, angry, helpless and hopeless. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about any of it.
Cross posted here.
That must have been hard, Lemon Blossom.
I hate the example thing in Mormonism. One of my friends felt that he had to obtain his mother’s salvation by being a good example to his non-member dad. So much for a happy childhood.
My friend is an RM and produces bondage photography, movies, and provides services to the S&M community. He says that it is his way of working through the feeling of having been trapped.
He is living a responsible life and is a kind person.
My heart goes out to you and Gluby for the way that Bishop treated you. I’ve always found it incredibly insulting when people attribute problems you may be having to a sin that hasn’t happened. Especially in Gluby’s case, he had committed no sin, unless doubt could be considered one. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.
Thank you for sharing that Lemon. It’s nice to remember the vulnerability of our human experience. At any moment it can change and flip everything upside down. Then later we get use to it and think that it has ‘always been this way.’ In tough times it is nice to remember that we have made it through tough times before. In good times it’s good to remember we got their through our own blood sweat and tears so to speak. Your piece captured that moment in time very well.
The last line says it all. The way the church culture so effectively silences people who do not toe the party line is one of its most salient, and disturbing, characteristics. Were it not so, there would be no need for the DAMU or, for that matter, the Bloggernacle.
Lilly makes an important point.
Mormonism always has to blame the members because its leaders are claiming to represent God. Therefore it is impossible to admit error, especially not when it comes to the Mormon origin myth.
Unfortunately, that also creates a situtation where it is difficult for Mormon bishops to minister to the members. In light of the historical evidence, LDS officials have to choose between their organization or the members. Attacking the members is the only option if one is determined to respond to doubt.
Fortunately, I have also seen leaders that refrained from defending the LDS Church rather than attacking those who trusted them.
Sounds difficult, but I’m glad you came out the other side.
I hate that Mormon guilt . . . the assumption of sin everywhere, in everyone, the cause of all misfortune. (Wealth in Mormons is a sign of virtue and abiding by commandments, poverty is a sign of sin.) To question any part of the church is not a sign that the church or gospel has faults, but that you do. AARRGGGHHH!!!
Let me at them.
I need to calm down a bit.
Thank you for your responses, everyone. Sorry, we have been having computer problems so I haven’t had time to reply to your comments until now.
Hellmut â€“ The past 5 years have been harder than I ever expected life could be. I’m hoping that means it’ll get easier now. 🙂
I used to think the example thing was helpful and good for everyone, but now I do see the guilt and responsibility we take on when we shouldn’t.
I’m glad that your friend has found a healthy avenue for himself to work through his feelings. I have a friend who worked in an S&M community as well and am so glad that she has changed my image and opinion of it.
I also love the points you make later on about the leaders needing to lash out at the members because of the leaders representing an infallible God. I had never thought of it that way.
Lilly of the Field â€“ Thank you. Unfortunately I was one of those people who assumed that an apostate must have sinned (ugh, I really hate that part of myself now) and understand how he could have thought that way. I didn’t see it then, but I do see it now, just how insulting it really is. I am so glad that my eyes have been opened.
Glasstangerine â€“ I love the way you put that, â€œremember the vulnerability of our human experience.â€ So true and beautifully put. Thank you.
Equality â€“ My counselor was enthralled and astounded when I was talking to her about how isolated we can be. It was only when I found the bloggernacle and then the DAMU that I stopped feeling so alone. I really look up to those people who did it without this support because I know it must have made it so much harder.
KingM â€“ Thank you. Me too!
CV Rick â€“ I still feel like a baby when it comes to these things, so much to learn and understand. I am only now beginning to understand the Mormon guilt, but I do see clearly how damaging it is for someone to always feel it is their fault and never the organization’s fault. I am still trying to overcome this way of thinking.
Great post, LB. I’m always fascinated to read the thoughts and feelings that women describe that are similar to the feelings I had as I struggled to remain faithful, good, and be an example to my non-member husband in a vain attempt to cause the impossible to happen. Ugh. I’m so glad you two are where you are now.