Heidi was a faithful member who enjoyed studying church history. Recently, the “new” church history became disturbing and sounded more like a cult. Through her spouse leaving the church she struggled with the fear-based messages of church leaders and digging in to understand when they are speaking as prophets vs as men, realizing that they are always speaking as men. Her shelf broke and her “entire testimony/worldview/identity crumbled” but she’s been able to now see it as a blessing that has helped her deconstruct so many unhealthy things and she’s now much happier with herself and her life.
I was born into the church, married in the temple, and remained active for 37 years. I had six kids that I homeschooled, I attended the temple monthly, faithfully paid tithing and gave generous fast offerings, served in many callings, and loved studying the gospel just for fun. I’m a direct descendant of Emma Smith. I love Crossfit, dancing, and all things outdoors. I was a mormon.
I was excited when the new church history came out. I was surprised to hear a different version of church history than what I was raised with. I put myself in the shoes of the Saints and wondered if I were them, would I have accepted the church? To my own surprise, I admitted to myself that I probably would not have joined because it sounded a lot like a religious cult.
My spouse left the church. I went to the temple to pray about it, and I received a beautiful, loving response from God, assurance that my spouse was on his own path and that was ok, and that our family was loved and safe.
Shortly after that feeling of peace and love from God in the temple, I watched General Conference and I was filled with fear about the spiritual and physical safety of my family, and frustration that my spouse gave up, and now it was all on me to keep my kids safely in the church. I was angry towards him, but then I remembered the feeling of peace and love I received from God, and I paused. I thought it was odd that the message of love/peace is what I received from God, and the message of fear is what I received from my leaders.
This led me to research the question: How can I know when the prophets are speaking for God and when they are speaking as men? All I found were contradictions as I researched examples from church history. For instance, one prophet declares a doctrine, calls it such, and even declares it is from God, and later that doctrine is disavowed and called a policy by later prophets.
I kept researching this question, trying to make it fit together, because I knew God was not a God of confusion, but I only found more and more disturbing facts in church history. And then I realized suddenly: **They are never speaking for God, they are always speaking as men.** And it suddenly ALL made sense. All at once, my entire testimony/worldview/identity crumbled. Thirty-seven years of faithful, believing membership, gone.
Joseph Smith is my great, great, great grandfather, though these days I prefer to claim Emma because she’s a badass… When I deconstructed Mormonism, I remember deconstructing Joseph Smith and all of the things I learned at once: he was dishonest, a con-man, a treasure digger, a polygamist, he coerced women and teens to marry him, and he was a narcissist. The Mormon in me was in disbelief, but the Smith in me recognized my father in Joseph Smith immediately.
I did find people that wanted to hear my story, and could either relate, or were fascinated by, and held space for, my experiences. I found authenticity, love, and acceptance in new, beautiful, meaningful relationships. These relationships are closer and more fulfilling than the relationships I had in Mormonism. Looking back now, I realize Mormonism was never a space one could be authentic. When conformity and obedience is valued above all else; when you cannot question, criticize, research, or think outside of your belief system, there can’t be authenticity.
I’m happier than I have ever been. My kids are happier too. My deconstruction of Mormonism led to the deconstruction of so many other things as well: I deconstructed patriarchy and reconstructed beautiful, badass womanhood. I deconstructed homophobia and reconstructed love and full acceptance for the lgbtq community that my beautiful children are now a part of. I deconstructed abuse from my personal relationships and reconstructed boundaries of safety and respect. Deconstruction has been the most painful and rewarding, beautiful experience of my life.Heidi
Continue reading Heidi’s full exmormon profile at https://wasmormon.org/profile/hmsmith0320/
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