- The power of the priesthood. When I was getting ready to start a new semester at university, I’d ask my husband for a blessing. When I was getting ready to have surgery, I would get a priesthood blessing. When my life was in chaos, I’d ask for a priesthood blessing. Funny (true) story: We had a border collie, Molly, who died this past April. Whenever we would have family prayer, she would come and sit quietly with us, and after the amens were done, she’d go back to whatever she was doing. And one night I woke up from a ghastly nightmare (I think it was sleep paralysis with its accompanying sensations of deep, dark evil), and my husband gave me a blessing. Just as he started, Molly barrelled into the room, jumped up on the bed, plopped down in my lap, and waited for the blessing to be over. We treasured that trait in her. Now I believe that any alleged priesthood power is more about believing the blessing so you make it happen. I used to believe that if a blessing did not come to pass the way that I thought it would, it meant I was not worthy. Speaking of which….
- The reason I couldn’t have children, whether through giving birth or through adopting, was because of worthiness. One bishop even told my husband flat out that we didn’t have children because of his problems. If I’d known that at the time, I’d have gone in and ripped that bishop a new one. If children are given as rewards for virtue, and withheld as punishment, there would be no such thing as crack babies, babies born or adopted into abusive families, etc.
- Fake it ’til you make it. I practiced this with all my heart. Isn’t that what they taught us, after all? If you don’t have a testimony, act like you do, and then you will. WTF? My sister told me once that a bishop had said that to her after she confessed that she didn’t have a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet. Fake it ’til you make it. Plant that seed! Water it! Because if you plant it and water it, unless you planted it in stony ground, it will grow. And if it didn’t grow, it’s because you weren’t really taking care of it enough. See how it always comes back to you as a failure?
- Testimonies. I used to have a testimony. I did. Now I think I just had heartburn. Okay, exaggerating a bit. But my best friend CC asked me, during one conversation, about that. She knew I had a testimony. She’d heard me share it multiple times. And now I don’t have one anymore. What’s that all about? Well, I think I bought into the circular logic, for one thing. And for another thing, I wanted a group to belong to. My family was, well, a mess, to put it very mildly and incredibly politely. The church gave me “friends” and responsibilities. I loved the kids I taught, on the rare occasions I actually got a teaching calling. I loved playing piano. But then I found out the hard way that except for a very few notable exceptions, my assigned friends weren’t my real friends, and some people I thought were my real friends really weren’t. I do have a testimony of friendship, but it has nothing to do with the church. It has to everything to do with the love and cameraderie between us. My friends are my soul sisters, my heart’s treasures, and I love them with all my heart. And my love for them hasn’t changed because I left the church. It will never change. I will always love them.
- Joseph Smith was a prophet. Wow. I remember talking to my uncle LG once, when I was 20 or so. He’s not a mormon, and never will be. And he asked me, rather incredulously, if I really believed that story about Joseph Smith and the golden plates. And I did, and told him so very seriously. Now I’d like to go back to him and say, “You know what, Uncle LG? You asked me this once, and that was my answer. But I want you to know that now I know I was wrong.” Only I can’t, because I’m not ready to come out to my TBM mother who’s in less than stellar health.
- The book of mormon is the word of God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it, and how many passages I have, without really trying, committed to memory. And I get a little frustrated when I’m having a conversation and I hear a bom quotation coming out of my mouth. [keanue reeves]It’s like, whoa![/keanu reeves] How’s this little gem from the book of ether (so appropriately named): wherefore dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. Nice, eh? I think it kind of goes back to the whole fake it ’til you make it thing.
- If I believed something contrary to the teachings of the prophets and apostles, I was the one in error. I cannot tell you how hard I tried to agree with the whole prop 8 crap despite the fact that I knew the church was wrong. Come back to circular logic: The church is true; those old white men are prophets, seers, and revelators, and they say this, and since the church is true, they are correct.
- Being homosexual was wrong. I knew it wasn’t a choice. I know too many people who are homosexual. But why should that even matter? If I’m going to say something idiotic, like I have x number of friends, and they’re gay, doesn’t that mean I should say something else idiotic, like I have x number of friends, and they’re straight? Anyway, I’m glad to be rid of that cog dis. You are what you are. I am what I am. And that’s the way that it’s supposed to be! (whoops–another primary song earworm–I’ve had them for two weeks and am going up the damned wall!)
There are plenty of things I used to believe, with every fibre of my being. I’m glad to say that now I have a whole lot more questions than answers, and I’m so willing to let things unfold and see what happens. I’m not feeling second or third-rate because I’m in a tough marriage and don’t have any children. Even through the difficulties I’m experiencing, and there are plenty, I’m much happier now. It comes back to integrity. I believe what I say what I do. I didn’t have a whole lot of integrity as a TBM because there was too much cog dis. And integrity is everything, in my book.