Making Peace with the Loss of Certainty
One of the more difficult things that came with recognizing that the Mormon Church wasn’t 100%, literally “True” was that this paradigm shift introduced incredible levels of uncertainty into my knowledge of God and the purpose of life. Previously, I knew that if I was in good standing with the LDS Church (i.e., temple-worthy), I was therefore in good standing with God. I knew that there was a God, and what He looked like (i.e., an exalted human being, with us mortals cast in his image). I knew that the afterlife would look much like life now – I would continue to be married to Monsieur Curie, and Le Petit Curie would continue to be our son.
Early on in my disaffection, Mr. C voiced that he was uncomfortable thinking of the Church as not literally True, because of all the certainty it gave him. He rested on a cusp, considering whether giving up that certainty would be worthwhile.
But here’s the rub: Just because you believe something is literally fact doesn’t make it so. Sure, I could have chosen to avoid reading anything that would threaten my testimony of the Mormon Church, content with my blinders. But I knew that there was evidence out there that, as a rational and logical person, I could not ignore. I chose to eat the fruit, and with it brought uncertainty into my world.
I no longer know Who or What God is, or whether my “spiritual” experiences are from a power higher than me, or if they are my subconscious.
I no longer know if my self-aware state will extend beyond my physical death.
I no longer know whether my marriage is an earthly institution, or whether it will last forever.
With knowledge that the Mormon Church was not True, I lost my “knowledge” of eternity.
Certainly, there are worse things in life than uncertainty. Inauthenticity, as Andrew S. has pointed out, is one. I do not feel that I have traded down in my quest for understanding. I would make the same choices again that I made in the past year. But to deny the consequences that loss of faith incurs would be irresponsible and dishonest. I have come to peace with many of these issues. I have chosen to confront particular areas of uncertainty, and to deal with them head-on. For example, the threat of an afterlife-less reality is frightening. But I choose to accept that this may be the case, and to treasure each day that I do have. Suddenly, 30 seems very, very old. I have so much to do, and only about 50 years left to do it!
I would not say that I am “at peace with uncertainty“. The mere fact that I have chosen to confront the uncertainties in my life, and make decisions based on possible outcomes, rules out “peace with uncertainty” by definition – there is nothing “uncertain” about choosing to live as though there is no afterlife. However, I can say that I am “at peace with the loss of certainty” in my life. I am no longer a slave to absolutes.