I didn’t expect things to turn out the way they did. After taking the missionary discussions and with the support and prompting of my friends and a few family members I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the age of 14. It was a time of great happiness but also of heartache. I radically changed my life in order to join and conform to the church. This was not an easy decision to make. Being the only member in my family had its share of challenges and I had to put the church before my family in many instances. I have always been the “black sheep” of the family due to my conversion but I felt this was all justified because I was part of the one and only true church, as I was taught.
After being baptized I did everything I was supposed to do to be considered a worthy and faithful member. I followed the word of wisdom (no smoking, drugs or alcohol), didn’t date early, attended all my meetings and accepted all callings given to me. I enjoyed the close bonds I quickly developed with friends in the church. I loved seminary and served in the seminary presidency during my senior year. I did whatever was asked of me and I had no problem with it.
Shortly after high school I met my soul mate and best friend and we were married in the temple. It was a beautiful day and I was grateful for the love of close friends and ward members that attended our wedding. The only family that we had attending was my mom. She is not a member of the church so she had to wait outside for us until the ceremony was complete. Again, at the time I felt that it was worth it and that she would eventually join the church if I continued to be a good example of its true teachings. Then we would all be in the temple together one day with the rest of our family.
Fast forward seven years and we now have a child who is our little miracle. We are part of an LDS congregation with good friends and a lot of support. Until just recently I was serving in the Relief Society presidency and my husband was the Gospel Doctrine teacher. We did our best to make sure our lessons were well thought out and insightful. It was during preparation for a lesson regarding church history, doing some research online, that we gradually came across some startling information that had been left out of our church manuals entirely. It appeared as though great measures were taken to cover up the authentic history of the church. We were not expecting what we found.
Upon uncovering these facts it became impossible to believe the claims of the church. The things that I was taught were not correct. I was devastated. How could this be? How could I be misled this way, and for so long? How could I give so much of my time, talents and 10% of my income without knowing the truth? Why couldn’t it all be consistent with what the church leaders said? That would make everything so much easier. Unfortunately for us, there were too many wrongs to possibly make a right out of this situation.
I won’t go into specific details of our findings unless it is requested as I am aware that many would rather not know information that may be upsetting. If you are happy with your faith as it stands as a member of the LDS Church I would highly recommend not looking too deeply into church history or doctrine. I only say this because I was so caught off guard. You will very likely have a trial of your faith if you choose to pursue any more than what is in the manuals. Personally I am happier knowing the whole truth rather than the half truths and fabrications I was told, but that is not the case for everybody.
Throughout this discovery I have felt hurt, betrayed, used, abused, extorted and sick to my stomach. Leaving the church is not going to be a simple journey for us. It is definitely not the easy way out. We have so much to sort through and to try to understand. We still have a basic belief in God but all of the things that we claimed to “know” before are up for question. It is not a comfortable place to be, but there is no going back.
I am writing this in full disclosure so that I no longer feel the need to avoid the questions when others from church ask where we have been or wonder what we are up to. This is also an attempt to support the fact that we have done nothing wrong but have merely stumbled on some truths that we could not reconcile. As one president of the church said, “Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley. “Loyalty,” April Conference, 2003.
In my view it is not right to baptize someone into a church without giving them an accurate history of that church and what it teaches. For some it may be possible to discover all of the skeletons in the closet of the LDS church and still remain a faithful member. If my husband and I were the only ones involved we might be able to play along and pretend we didn’t know what we know. But the fact is we cannot consciously lie to our child and cause him the hurt and confusion that we now feel.
I am aware of where the church stands on apostasy. I also understand that many of our friendships will be lost or severely damaged as a result of us resigning as members of the LDS church. That is not something I am looking forward to but I have to do what is right for myself and my family. If you too have these concerns, have any questions or need a friend, I am here and understand what you are going through.