Compassion for those who leave

I presented this talk to the ward members in sacrament meeting as an attempt at helping to prepare them for my upcoming resignation as their Bishop.

Knowing that compassion eases one’s own pain I hoped it would ease the members suffering at the shock & stress of my resignation.

The talk was really well received by the members.

Sacrament talk Helston Ward, Sunday 9th January 2011 – “Compassion for those who leave” .

If I had my rathers I would prefer not to have to give this talk today.

It’s about a topic which makes me feel uncomfortable and will probably shock you, as it did me.

Even as we discussed this issue as a bishopric this week my counsellors and I were very emotional.

The General Authorities have told us for years to prepare for trying times ahead. I have been asked as your bishop to prepare you for these trials.

How strong is your testimony?

On what is it based?

“And now as I said concerning faith- faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true.” Alma 32:21

“Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Would your testimony stand up to indisputable evidence to the contrary?

We have been warned that in the last days many of the elect will leave the church.

The General Authorities have warned the Bishops, through the Stake Presidents, to “Prepare for a mass exodus from the church, even from the leadership.”

Many faithful, devoted, and dedicated members are leaving the church they once loved due to “unintentional consequences of their search for truth”.

These were people who were fully committed temple going, tithe-paying members.

In 2009 it is estimated that over 83,000 members left the church.

Many members, including leaders, are resigning their membership, NOT DUE TO SIN OR WEAKNESS, but due to reading or listening to something which changes their PERCEPTION OF TRUTH.

Can our relationship with those who leave the church withstand these changes in THEIR BELIEF?

It’s only natural to feel awkward about the situation. To not know what to say.

The relationship with my own brother and sister-in-law, David and Louise, has suffered as a consequence of their decision to leave the church.

I have found it very difficult, as have my parents and the rest of the family.

We believe that, because of their actions and disbelief, they we will no longer be a part of our eternal family. THAT REALLY HURTS!!

Its a very emotionally charged subject.

But it’s becoming a common problem. Most of you here have loved ones, including friends and family, who have trodden this path. Or we know of someone.

It’s far too easy to be judgemental, or even to fear those who leave.

I have certainly found this to be the case for me. I rarely associated with my brother, his wife and children, or spoke with them. I found it too difficult to discuss things openly and be candid for fear of getting into an argument.

Sometimes we fear they will adversely affect the testimonies of our children.

My relationship with them has been made even more difficult because I am also their bishop and have a role to play to protect the church.

But it’s often even harder for them. Have you ever thought how it might feel to be THEM?

I have recently talked with some who have left the fold, and have read accounts from others. The common feeling is one of “loneliness” and “of not being understood” by people whom they once called brothers and sisters.

Imagine for a moment what it must be like. “The best way to understand someone is to try to put yourself in their position”.

Imagine that “Everything that you had thought about yourself, others, and the world was built on a lie! All the time you were growing up you felt different and did not know why. The way you looked at life was based on who you thought you were and on what you believed to be true.” Your world would just crumble around you! You would not know what to trust, let alone who to trust! You would have to re-learn almost everything; the way you interacted with others, your values and more.

What if every major decision you made was based on what you thought was truth? There would be so much fallout your head would be spinning! You would most likely experience ‘rage’, ‘despair’, ‘grief’, ‘sorrow’, ‘anguish’, ‘more anger, mistrust, confusion’, and run through a ‘whole gamut of emotions’. The longer you were members of the Church and the more you genuinely believed it to be true, the more severe the trauma coming out. Someone who had been LDS all his or her life will experience greater hardship than someone who had been a convert of only a year or two. But even those who leave after just a couple years experience a great sense of loss when they leave. Leaving Mormonism is not as simple as waking up one morning and deciding to rip up one’s temple recommend. It doesn’t come after hearing or reading a couple negative things about the Church; if it were just a few contradictions you could easily readjust your thinking or put them on a “back burner” to deal with later. For an active, believing Mormon to conclude that Mormonism is not true takes a long and painful time of intensive study, prayer, deliberation and soul searching. Many risk losing family, including their spouse, children, and extended family, as well as their best, maybe only, friends.

Some who leave say it feels like a death in the family, or a divorce.

Jim Whitefield, A sixty year old member from Norfolk, who had served in many leadership positions in the church, left the church just a few years ago says this:

“If ever members could comprehend that in reality for someone of my age (sixty in February 2006) -retired and with no one to talk to except my wife, you actually end up with nothing. It is an excruciating decision to make and not one of choice. I would far rather try to believe, it is so much less painful. To keep your family and friends, you just sit on the back row for once and say you have had a nervous breakdown or something and can’t cope with callings; you would get away with it and still have a life. But for me, it would have been a lie. It takes courage to admit the truth to yourself and then to others and to be willing to accept the consequences of that decision and your subsequent action upon it. In reality, you lose most of your family and all of your friends as they have no time for you because you no longer move in Church circles, which means that as you are not there with them, they don’t bother with you; even the ones who say they mean to, as subsequently they are kept so busy in the Church that they never have or make any time for you. There is also fear, as you are of course considered apostate. I have moved from being known on first name terms by well over a thousand members who personally knew and respected me, to a number of true friends that I can barely count on one hand. Staying close to the Church, making no real friends outside since I was fourteen years old didn’t even leave old school friends available to me, having lost contact decades ago. My decision leaves me with “no life, few family and friends who care about me and a very difficult future. Members have said that it is my own fault. I actually had some very critical and somewhat unkind phone calls and abusive letters from local leaders and so called friends in the Church who should have known better. I was almost suicidal after my first wife’s death and this was another equally distressing moment in my life, leaving me feeling that way again. I destroyed those letters in a flood of tears.”

As I said before, their perception of truth has changed!

He goes on to say:
“When someone joins the Church, if they are ostracised by family and friends due to their new found ‘faith’, they at least have a new ‘family’ to welcome them, within the Church. When you leave, there is no one there for you. You are alone.”

I found that shocking. But he actually vocalises the feelings of many who leave the church.

It also made me feel guilty for the way I have treated others including my own family. My own brother who I love!

David said to me recently. “You know what is hardest, it is that even family will not listen”. He says “I don’t want you to believe me, what I want is for you to listen and try to understand me.”

“If I say that sheet of paper is black, and you say it’s white, at least you’ve listened. You may not agree with me, but at least you now understand my beliefs.”

How can we cope with this dilemma? We believe in UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, but find it hard to accept those who choose to follow a new path.

Jesus said “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13: 34

Luke 6: 27-34 The Saviour said in the beatitudes, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”

What is compassion for others?

The origins of the word ‘compassion’ come from the Greek patheia, meaning to “bear/suffer” and cum meaning “with”. It means to suffer with, or to empathise. To feel the sorrow or pity for the pain of another.

You can feel compassion, and show compassion.

There is a true story of how Russians showed compassion to the German soldiers after they had captured them during the 2nd World War.

“Stalin ordered 20,000 German soldiers to be paraded through the streets. The onlookers gazed with hatred at their enemies; they were clenching their fists. But then all at once something happened to them. They saw German soldiers – thin, unshaven, wearing dirty blood-stained bandages, hobbling on crutches or leaning on the shoulders of their comrades, and walking with their heads down. Suddenly an elderly woman in broken down boots pushed herself forward. She went up to the column, took from inside her coat something wrapped in a coloured handkerchief and unfolded it. It was a crust of black bread. She pushed it awkwardly into the pocket of a soldier. Then from every side, women came running towards the soldiers pushing into their hands bread, cigarettes, whatever they had. The soldiers were no longer enemies. They were people.”

A beautiful quote from Sogyal Rinpoche about the power of compassion:

“Evoking the power of compassion in us is not always easy. I find myself that the simplest ways are the best and most direct. Every day, life gives us innumerable chances to open our hearts, if we can only take them. An old woman passes you with a sad and lonely face and two heavy plastic bags full of shopping she can hardly carry. Switch on a television, and there on the news is a mother in Beirut kneeling above the body of her murdered son, or an old grandmother in Moscow pointing to the thin soup that is her only food……Any one of these sights could open the eyes of your heart to the fact of vast suffering in the world. Let it. Don’t waste the love and grief it arouses. In the moment you feel compassion welling up in you, don’t brush it aside, don’t shrug it off and try quickly to return to “normal”, don’t be afraid of your feeling or be embarrassed by it, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted from it. Be vulnerable: Use that quick, bright uprush of compassion – focus on it, go deeper into your heart and meditate on it, develop it, enhance it, and deepen it. By doing this you will realise how blind you have been to suffering. All beings, everywhere, suffer; let your heart go out to them all in spontaneous and immeasurable compassion.”

Life sometimes can be difficult. That doesn’t mean we can’t find peace and joy.

Jesus Christ said. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Paul reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”

Isaiah 55:12 “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy”.

Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

If you look around this room and see who’s here, then imagine some of us may not be here in a week, or a month, a year or two. I want you to know that whatever happens I will love you. I will have compassion for you.

I thank you for all your support and love for me over the years.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

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28 Responses to Compassion for those who leave

  1. Stephen Munzer says:

    Hi Steve,

    Have read your blog. Sorry you have been having a challenging time recently. There is probably little I can say, other than that I do care and remember the great spirit you always radiated when you were up here in Harrogate, and when we came to visit the Ward in Helston.

    I know others who are going through a similar time at the moment and so I fully empathise, although for me, I see the Church as a wonderful arena to make a difference in people’s lives, rather than a landscape of potholes and pitfalls.

    If there is any way I can help, I would be more than eager to do so, even if it is just to be a listening ear.

    All the best,

    Stephen Munzer

  2. Catherine P. says:

    Did you actually GIVE this talk? Or is this a talk you wished you had given? …because if you actually gave it… well, wow! Awesome. I am overwhelmed right now. Your words are so well-thought out, so sensitive and compassionate. I keep re-reading it. I wish I could step back in time and have the opportunity to give this very talk in my old ward. Thank you.

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for your comments.

      I nearly didn’t give the talk. I really worried about it and on the Saturday night prior to the Sacrament meeting I almost phoned the Stake President to resign and put myself out of the misery.

      But my main focus was to help the members I love, cope with my pending resignation. So, though I was in tears prior, during and after giving it, I did manage to impart the message I wanted them to hear and feel.

      Almost everyone cried with me and there were hugs aplenty. Members did feel compassion.

      My sincere belief is that having compassion in one’s own heart for another helps you deal with emotional pain in your own life.

      My main focus as the bishop for the previous seven years was in fact “Compassion”.

      I believe compassion will unite a divided world. That is my continuing focus!

      I just wished the Church would deal with more compassion.

      Love and best wishes
      Steve

      • Catherine P. says:

        That is an incredible thing. Wow.

        “When someone joins the Church, if they are ostracised by family and friends due to their new found ‘faith’, they at least have a new ‘family’ to welcome them, within the Church. When you leave, there is no one there for you. You are alone.”

        I was fortunate (seems such a strange word to use) when I resigned because, as a convert, my parents and siblings and all my extended family were non-members. For them, I had finally “come home” after 20 years, and they rejoiced to have me back. However my husband (he was once the bishop of our ward) and 5 children were still actively attending. As confusing as it was for my children, I knew that if I were to have their respect even *someday* in the future when they might hopefully understand my decision, I needed to be able to stand in my own truth.

        I certainly also experienced VERY painful shunning from old friends and even the leaders in my ward/stake, but at least amongst my family I had a soft place to land.

        My heart aches for your loss (is IS a loss, it is the end of an era) but I must also say my heart is excited for the big adventure ahead for you. I hope I have worded that in a respectful way… it truly is a great adventure when you dare to step out of the “LDS box” and start experiencing the joy of life out there.

        Well done, again, on your talk. I have read it over several times. I would dare say it is near perfect. I wish I could have had that opportunity… I’m so glad you did.

      • Matt says:

        Steve, good for you!

        That was a talk of love. It was, in my experience, something lacking in the Mormon Church. It was an example of something truly Christian.

        I left Mormonism many years ago, after praying long and hard and being told it was not God’s Church. That shocked me, as I had convinced myself that it was I who was in the wrong and just lacking faith. Well, what could I do? I had asked God and he had given me an answer. Not an answer I had expected, true! But as he had answered me, I had to accept his answer. I realised he did not want me to be a Mormon, so I stopped being one. It was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders!

        Best wishes to you and your family.

  3. OzPoof says:

    G’day Steve,

    This really sounds like you were preparing your own way. It must have been very difficult to give this talk, and difficult for others to hear it. I wish someone in my parent’s ward would say something like this one day.

    Mormonism teaches fear and hatred of those who leave. They can never understand because to do so would force them to realize they have been duped. Most members would rather wish the church to be true than to know the truth if the truth contradicts what they understand to be Mormonism. I’m afraid it’s a terrible battle when people love lies and hate truth. You can see how deeply they are trapped when they embrace deceit and shun facts.

    Take care. Don’t expect them to be any better than they are indoctrinated to be. They are scared and confused.

    Ozpoof

  4. Dan says:

    Have you read Plato’s allegory and the cave? Interesting that you would use the metaphor of members leaving the cave. Perhaps they have seen the light?

  5. Zack Tacorin says:

    Thank you my brother for this compassionate talk. I flatter myself by calling myself your brother. If in no other way, we are at least brothers in your new found journey without belief in the LDS Church.May the compassion with which you have served be returned to you many times over as you travel this new path through life.

    Best wishes,

    Zack

  6. discovereuse says:

    Thank you for this talk. I left 20 years ago, not knowing the cost having integrity, living according to the dictates of my conscience, would be. Since I had been taught always to act with integrity, it was shocking to me that the community I had been raised in shut me out as they did. It means so much to me 20 years later, to know that I have not been alone, even when I have felt the most alone. Thank you. May compassion only grow among members of the Mormon faith.

  7. Harrison Ames says:

    I was just curious about your resignation post. It was an amazing letter, and I think it is a very well written piece that would be of great benefit to many people still in and out of the church.

    Nevertheless, it is your intellectual property, so you can do with it what you will.

    I am just glad I had a chance to read it before it became password protected.

  8. Cornfused says:

    Steve,

    Please, please, please unlock your Resignation Letter. There are many of us who are either out, or on the way out, that need the support that letters such as yours can provide.

    I still have a foot on either side of the door because of what leaving completely will do to my immediate family.

    I need to hear your words, and so do many, many others.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration,

    Cornfused

  9. Steven Seither says:

    Hi Steve,

    Your words really resonated with me. Like you, I grew up in the church and served a mission. I married in the temple and filled many, many positions, including, (like you) bishop for 6.5 years.

    Discovering the same things you did I also experienced very similar emotions and pain. Friends and PH peers I had known and associated with for years now looked on me with real fear, as if they worried I might try and lead them, down to hell. My SP with whom I had served for so many years when we were both EQP’s, Bishop’s counselors, High Councilmen, and finally Bishops, labeled me an enemy of the church that had to be dealt with, because, as he said, “We cannot let it get out that a loved and respected bishop has doubts about the church. You know what I have to do.” It was terrible. Following that conversation I submitted my resignation. That was five years ago.

    Out of the hundreds of LDS members I counted as my dear friends only three have remained. When I see old friends walking towards me on the street they turn their heads away and pretend to not see me. The first year is the worst, but have hope!… it does get easier. And as you’ve already discovered, the inner peace one feels by living true to what one believes is strengthening and nurturing in its own right.

    I’m happy to say that the pain is pretty much gone now and I’ve made new friends. The same will happen with you.

    Best of luck in your journey.

    Steve Seither

  10. Catherine P. says:

    @both “Steve’s”… isn’t it incredible? I experienced the same thing, except I was the bishop’s wife. I had hundreds of “dear friends” who suddenly would look the other way, cross to the other side in the mall, etc.

    I honestly think that members of the church have an easier time dealing with people who are simply “inactive” as opposed to those of us who have sincerely and painfully ‘searched, pondered and prayed’ about the church and resigned. It has been my experience that they are actually OVERLY friendly with inactives, but for those of us who purposefully choose to leave, they treat us as though we are Satan himself.

  11. Mercyngrace says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for posting your talk. As compassion is the primary emotion attributed to Jesus Christ in the four gospels, I imagine His followers would all do well to better emulate His example.

    I am wondering about one statement from your talk and would like to know the origin of the quote you used as follows:

    The General Authorities have warned the Bishops, through the Stake Presidents, to “Prepare for a mass exodus from the church, even from the leadership.”

    Was there a meeting, letter, or other communication from the church’s general leadership containing this admonition to prepare?

    Thanks in advance!
    MnG

    • stevebloor says:

      I know nothing more about the original source other than we received the instruction as Bishops in a training meeting by the Stake President.

      At the time, we were told it was privileged information.

      I now know that members were already leaving the Church in huge numbers, so it wasn’t as much a prophecy or prediction, but a statement of fact. An observation of a current trend or event occuring as a consequence of members gaining access to more information via the internet as well as books.

      I now feel this was a cynical form of mind control.

      • Matt says:

        It’s also very easy prophesying!

        You take a known result: say, Plymouth 2, Bristol Rover 0 ad say: “Hey! Plymouth are in with a chance to win against Rovers!”

        And bingo!!! Instant prophet! Remarkable!

  12. Earl says:

    Steve,
    I am trying to follow the sequence of events.
    The Sacrament talk on “Compassion for those who leave” occured on Jan. 9, 2011 of this year.
    1. Am I correct that you gave this talk personnally, or was it given by another?

    It’s post date by your blog is April 6, 2011.
    The Post date for the “Resgination letter as Bishop” was on 4-10-2011. So it appears that the writer resigned shortly after the April 6th date.

    Is this correct?

    IF correct, this suggest to me that the talk was a request for the people, that the speaker loved, to respond to the speaker in a Biblical mannor. Knowing he was facing being ostracized in the future. Potentially the speaker was preparing the hearts of people to follow Christ’s example rather than the norm of LDS teaching by Authorities.
    Thank you for helping me understand the sequences.

    Finally, I am wondering if you have discovered a different Jesus than what you have know in Mormonism, or have you just left the LDS Church because of your research?

    Thanks for being honest as there are many who are searching the truth’s of the Church and are looking for direction and belonging.

  13. Earl says:

    Hey Steve,
    Sorry, I didn’t search your site enough and I found the answer to my final question.
    Thanks for understanding and you have my permission not to post my previous reply.
    FYI I left the LDS church over 28 years ago but my research lead me to a different Jesus. I discovered according to Matt 24:4-5 that there is a real Jesus who warned of those who would come in His name to mislead many. I believe the LDS version of Jesus does exactly that.
    I was blessed by the honesty of the blog and lack of hostility. It seemed as though the speaker was very near the heart of the Jesus I know from the Bible.
    Praying for you.

  14. Adam says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for sharing. I wanted to share with you, as someone who has also left the church, that there is a vast world of knowledge and deep understanding that I have experienced since leaving the church. My perception of things has grown so deep I feel I understand Mormonism better than I ever have, and couldn’t have done it from inside. I hope you will grow and grow and grow.

    Best wishes,

    Adam

  15. JackUK says:

    That is an amazing and very moving talk Steve, I learned a lot from it. It must have been an incredible experience for you in standing before your ward to deliver it. I love the Sogyal Rinpoche quote. I hope the ward members received it in the spirit that it was intended.
    In my own doubts and questioning in recent years I’ve come to see some of Jesus’ teachings on compassion and kindness in a much clearer light than I did before. I’m not sure whether its the LDS Church in particular that you’ve rejected or all religion in general. For me I still feel a connection to the ‘divine’ and still believe in a Supreme Being. I found reading John Shelby Spong’s book ‘Jesus for the Non Religious’ recently to be very helpful.

  16. Wendy says:

    I left the church about 15 years ago, during my 20’s. I didn’t officially resign until 2 years ago, on my 37th birthday. Somehow, despite the hazy craziness of my exit, I managed to discover a different, and more genuine, relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ.

    As I ventured into connections with other people who have left the church, I’ve found that my decision to be a Christian is often mocked at. For this reason, I often lurk around in forums, but don’t comment very often. Leaving a comment here has taken a bit of courage, but I really wanted to personally applaud your compassionate heart and desire to live authentically.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes on your new journey.

  17. Mike says:

    I admire your concern and compassion for your ward members. In doing that, you have shown them a kindness that religion would do well to emulate.

    Peace to you in your life’s journey.

  18. Linds says:

    Beautiful talk. I have to say I’ve experienced quite a few cold shoulders [at worse] and awkwardness at best from my friends that are still LDS since I left. There’s a few that choose to go through the awkwardness, and know that I am still me, even if I’m not LDS. Thank you for writing so eloquently what I’ve wanted to say for some time. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with some of my friends. Maybe they’ll get it- the compassionate bit if not for me, for others if/ when they leave.

  19. Sionnach says:

    I wish I had the words to describe how desperately this type of view is needed in the church. I left the church nearly 10 years ago and recently received confirmation of my formal name removal (and my husband’s) in September. What a freeing experience!
    I still deal with hatred and non-compassion from church members here in Utah, even from complete strangers. I feel your talk would make a great letter to everyone. A lovely wake-up call to the feelings and much needed christ-like compassion in the ‘latter-day’ peoples.
    I will say practicing compassion for my still mormon family is difficult. You see the eternal hurt in their eyes that we’ve left and being understanding to THEM and not being hateful is a practice in inner peace, to be sure! A work of Gods. Good luck on your journey. Thank you for your beautiful words and honesty.

  20. David says:

    I stumbled across this blog searching for something else, and have read through a lot of entries/comments. A few things come to mind and whether your share them or not, up to you.

    First and foremost, you have to do what you feel is right. I wish you didn’t have the doubts because of things we may or may not fully understand (I’m actually convinced that God commanded Joseph to have multiple wives because it would cause so much challenges to faith in our time, lol)…but it is what it is. That last observation is a belief that we just may never know some things but there’s plenty of evidence–for me–that the gospel has been restored and directed by God above, whether perceived as good or bad.

    Second, I agree with many leaving comments that some of them are out of line. It’s your decision. I think some LDS people are trying to be helpful but it’s coming across as negative and rude.

    OK, third, and I may fall in that category of appearing to be rude, too, but I don’t understand when a person leaves the LDS church why there’s an almost “mission” to attempt to provide reasons why the church isn’t true. Reading your entries over the year and more recently it’s like you can’t let go. You were pretty clear why you left the church in your letter to the stake president…it must have been difficult, but it’s over. Maybe you’re believe it’s helping others or doing a good thing, but I’d say let them figure it out themselves if that’s their ultimate destiny. It makes me think there’s still lingering doubt or something.

    I wish you well and believe more members than you think still love you and consider you a friend.

    • stevebloor says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your kind & compassionate comments.

      It is difficult, if not impossible, for any True Believing Members to understand the difficult process of transition out of Mormonism. The Church doctrines have been such an integral part of my life since birth that they form a part of my neurology. My thought processes are ‘Mormon’ despite a change of belief.

      The doctrines, beliefs & practices of the LDS Church were so well integrated into my life that my personality, who I am as a person, has been so central to my life that it’s simply not easy to ‘just let it go’!

      Every decision of my life was influenced by the Church.

      I lived my life as if everything depended on my Mormon faith. I ‘knew’ who I was as a person because of the central defining beliefs of Mormonism related to my ‘divine relationship to God’.

      When the ‘personal identity’ beliefs of Mormonism are placed in doubt, it is so disruptive to an individual that it feels like a ‘death’! It feels like one is dying on the inside!

      It truly has been for me, & is likewise for many others, the most painful & difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

      Sometimes, I would just love for it all to go away & not plague my thoughts and feelings any further. But my thought processes are ‘Mormon’.

      Everything I ever believed is related in some way to my Mormon beliefs.

      As a True Believing Mormon the whole world is looked at through the lens of Mormonism. So every single aspect of one’s life has to be re-evaluated. All my references for truth have come through my Mormon faith.

      Once that faith is dead, life seems so frightening, till new reference points are made & new paradigms for life are framed. It is like being ‘Born Again’. Initially painful, but ultimately joyful & full of wondrous new possibilities. But just like a new born child, life should be approached carefully, gently at first, till one finds one’s feet & gains confidence in the new world we have suddenly & unexpectedly find ourselves in.

      If one accepts the findings of experts in cult recovery, then one can understand just how & why it is so difficult for so many people who leave the Church to ‘just get on with life’  and move forwards!

      The other aspect of all this unexpected & initially unwanted change of beliefs is that now I see things more clearly, now I have the benefit of so much more information about the origins of Mormonism, I feel a great sense of compassion for my friends & family still in the Church. I desperately want to share with them what I’ve discovered. Not because I want them to agree with me, but so they are not deceived as I was, but can deal with the truth whichever way they choose. If they want to continue to believe in the doctrines of Mormonism that’s fine, but at least they can have a belief with an awareness of all the facts, not just the sanitised ones which the Church teaches.

      Just like when I was a young missionary for the Church, I yearn for people to know the truth.

      It’s my compassion which drives me onwards to push the Church to be more open about its origins & history.

      All the best in your search for truth,
      Steve

  21. Catherine P. says:

    David said: “I don’t understand when a person leaves the LDS church why there’s an almost “mission” to attempt to provide reasons why the church isn’t true. Reading your entries over the year and more recently it’s like you can’t let go.”

    May I jump in? I GET it. I was raised in a VERY liberal church… the United Church of Canada. This church was amongst the first to ordain women as ministers and also to perform gay marriages. The United Church of Canada is quite well-known for being a very accepting, inclusive, multicultural church. I left that church to join the LDS Church. I had no feelings of bitterness for the United Church of Canada. I did not feel like they ‘put one over’ on me. I felt like they tried their best to be the kind of Christian that Jesus would want them to be. However, upon learning more about the LDS church (after 20+ years in it, wife of a bishop, my own callings as Seminary teacher, Primary Pres and YW Pres) I absolutely feel that the LDS Church is trying very hard to hide a LOT, to do a lot of dancing around historical truth, and to present themselves to the public as something that they are not. Because the LDS Church is SO fervent in their proselytizing, I feel that now I must, too, be ever vigilant to let people know THE OTHER SIDE of the LDS church.

    Seriously… to true blue LDS members: if YOU are allowed to knock on doors worldwide to spread your gospel, are we not allowed the same courtesy? To knock on doors worldwide to tell folks our side of the LDS story? Seems fair to me.

    For me… I honestly feel that I’ve been conned. I feel like the LDS church is literally a snake-oil-salesman in the guise of a christian church. Because of that, I feel very strongly that it is my obligation to let my fellow man know the truth about the LDS Church. I would do the same had I joined Manson’s family or Jim Jones’ church. It’s my duty.

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