Hi, I'm Dodie. Children will tell you I'm funny and kind. Behind my back, adults call me weird...which makes me laugh out loud.
I'm a 76-year-old woman, still going on 11. I love our natural world, have numerous flower beds, raise monarchs in the summer and live (and love!) to volunteer in 5th-grade classrooms during the school year, helping kids with math. For 42 years I was a Mormon.
Keokuk, Iowa is my hometown--about 20 miles down river from Nauvoo. A field trip to the Joseph Smith properties the summer before 6th grade (1957) greatly influenced my thinking. Joseph Smith was a prophet and learning of his tragic death broke my heart. How I would have loved to be alive when there was a living prophet on the earth! But, he was dead. As life went on, in the back of my mind lingered the desire to live in the days when prophets spoke for God to His people.
Church attendance was always a major fact of life for me. From the age of 12 days until time to start kindergarten, I was raised by my maternal grandparents. "Momma" was active in the Methodist church where we were regular attendees at Sunday School, Sunday services and special activities. I attended Vacation Bible School each summer, beginning at age three.
In 1952 my mother took me back to live with her and her new husband in Keokuk, Iowa. It was overwhelming--new house (in the city and had no yard to play in), new town (with no town square), new neighbors and, except for my new grandparents, an aunt and two uncles, everyone was a stranger. I was happy when school started a couple of months later. I made friends easily and enjoyed school very much.
One familiar activity was regular church attendance. My new family were members of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. This was the church I went on to grow up in. I attended Sunday School, Sunday Services and was active in the youth group. I attended and graduated from Catechism. Looking back, I wish I could make the claim that we were well-taught in the doctrine of the Bible. Sadly, I don't recall this being the case, as so much was rote Christians really need to do a better job of teaching their children to know God! To know his nature. To know who he is...and what he is not.
Due to a high school sports injury in eleventh grade, I was assigned to study hall and library instead of gym glass. During those six (boring) weeks, I did a lot of reading, particularly on various religions. By that time in my life I had concluded that 120 different people could hear the same sermon with its accompanying scripture verses and still leave with 120 different interpretations. I felt there had to be one church which was "true," or at least came the closest to adhering to biblical teachings. See how I was setting myself up for being deceived by Mormonism? If only I'd spent that time studying the Bible, history and culture of the Old Testament peoples, Christian theology! Or maybe...just maybe, it would have been quite helpful to feel free to discuss spiritual questions with my parents, my pastor, my like-minded friends. Isn't hindsight wonderful? But, at 16 and 17 years of age not many people have a lot of that commodity.
When an opportunity presented itself for me to go to New Zealand, I dropped out of high school after my Junior year and left for the South Pacific. Now...you've heard about "the gate is open and the dog is off the leash." I was gone, on my own, for a year and a half. I was 17, then 18, and...well...stupid. Religion took a back seat to working, paying rent, grocery-shopping...bar-hopping...and adventure.
Shortly after returning to the United States, I enrolled in Catholic Catechism and joined the Roman Catholic Church due to its claim to being the "true" church, considering Peter as it's first Pope. For someone who had read up on various religions, I was quite ignorant. I was ignorant of biblical knowledge. One may study theology and Jewish history and customs, but until one reads, studies and prays over the Bible and its teachings one doesn't really know the doctrines of true Christianity.
In June of 1968 I met a great Catholic boy. We were married in November and this year will be celebrating our 55th wedding anniversary. He's still an awesome guy! If you knew me, you'd know he is a "saint," given all I've put him through.
In 1975 I was deceived into joining the Mormon church. As soon as I discovered the "living prophet" image had continued without interruption until the present day, I was eager to know more. I wanted to belong to a church with a living prophet. I wanted to be a member of God's true church. Yes, I've been gullible all my life, and as every convert to Mormonism knows, the missionary lessons just cover the basics which lie on the surface--all leading up to becoming a full tithe-paying member. I just gobbled up their sales pitch like gumdrops. These people had an answer for absolutely everything, including answering the questions on my Catholic "shelf." I was told I was a "Golden Convert." I felt so special to think my "heart had been prepared for the truth." Did I tell you I've been gullible my whole life?
I was a Mormon for 42 years. That organization robbed my family of so much during all those years--so much of genuine joy and of truth. My husband remained faithful to his Catholic religion but our three children were raised in the Mormon church. My husband was tolerant, but always carried a resentment. I cannot imagine the emotional and spiritual pain he endured out of love for me and our boys.
So, for 42 years I was intensely involved in the Mormon religion. I held callings, most of the time several at once due to belonging to a branch. I've been Primary president, counselor, music leader and teacher many times. The same can be said for Relief Society and Young Women. I was the Gospel Doctrine teacher for 8 years and for 12 years I was the Membership Clerk. For 2 years I served as a District Missionary. There was never a time I held fewer than 2 callings at the same time. With each calling as president to some auxiliary, I purchased, for my own use, all the manuals for that group. I studied them faithfully, keeping track of what each class was being taught. I absolutely wanted to "magnify my calling" because--you know--it's all about works with that organization.
Church leaders frequently admonished members to not listen to enemies of the church, so I didn't. I clearly understand why now, but at the time I was being obedient. You know--because we must "follow the prophet...he knows the way."
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
When I first joined the Mormon church, I wasn't allowed to go to the temple because I was married to a nonmember. Once the rules were changed and I could go, I went as often as I could. The first encounter was bizarre, to say the least. At that time they still had the "blood oaths" as part of the endowment. I had been looking forward to the "new knowledge" I would receive. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Of course, I was instructed by local leaders that I just needed to go more often so I would understand the deeper meanings of the endowment. I went as often as I could but at the same time I was piling unanswered questions on my "shelf." As the years passed, my shelf became quite cluttered. I was building quite a heap.
I started out dividing shelf items between doctrine and policies. Then I wrestled with policies not representing doctrine. Oh, my, what a mess! I had questions about doctrine vs. policy, polygamy, members being embryonic gods, godhead vs. trinity, "heavenly mother," priesthood keys, "keys" in general, blacks and the priesthood, subservience of women, mission of the Holy Ghost, admittance to the church through baptism, why baptism was essential for membership, endless pursuit of "inactives" while at the same time the endless pursuit of reasons to disfellowship/excommunicate active members, why not all questions were "welcome," endless circular reasoning in describing church doctrine and policies, "preexistence," Jesus not God from the beginning....
One day my "baby sister," an evangelical, asked if I had read the "CES letter." Of course I had not. Various church leaders had admonished us not to read it. My sister wisely asked why church leaders would not want us to know what our enemies are saying so we could lovingly correct them? Fair enough.
I read the CES letter. In response to this letter, the church published a series of Gospel Topic Essays. As I started to read those, I thought it peculiar that in defending themselves by way of the Church Essays, they actually further convicted the church. I was discovering the so-called enemies of the church were better at telling the truth than the church had been. Still, in my mind, there lingered that "living prophet" thing, and the Urim and Thummim God had preserved for thousands of years so an ancient book could be translated.
I had just been reading and studying the book of Deuteronomy...so as I read the essay about the translation of the Book of Mormon I began to grow somewhat skeptical. Once I reached the part about the "seer stone," I actually stood up and said out loud, "Ouija board!! Run, Dodie, run!" A magic rock in a hat?? My overloaded shelf came crashing down--so devastating was the crash, it left a massive crater into which I fell. Down the rabbit hole I went, to a place where there was no God. I experienced a true psychotic break. I thought I had died and was living in hell.
I puzzled for days and concluded that if there is no God, then that makes me god and I absolutely DO NOT want that job!! I cannot, I WILL not live in a world where there is no God. I rationalized that if there is a God, he has to be only good. No one would worship a mean God. And if he is good, then he will not lie. So...so I'll ask if he's really there.
Off and on over three days I paced back and forth, hands lifted toward the heavens, pleading with God to reveal himself if he were truly there. On the third day, confessing to be willing to give up everything I knew if I could just know if God was real--if he was really there, I received a most spectacularly miraculous, undeniable answer. God is real; he is ever present...and he is HUGE! Immediately following, my body steadily filled with a magnificent, beautifully comforting warmth which went deep into my bones. I felt assured that this was the love of Jesus Christ being transmitted to me through the Holy Spirit, the whole of this experience witnessing to the majesty of God. God in three persons, blessed Trinity. And I was free!! And for the first time in my life--all 70 years of it--I felt love for myself.