Hi, I'm Heidi.
I'm a mother of six kids and a direct descendant of Emma Smith. I love Crossfit, dancing, and all things outdoors. I was a mormon.
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 was excited when the new church history came out. Early 2019, I began listening to it on my long daily drives with my kids. I was surprised to hear a different version of church history than what I was raised with. As I listened, 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. I stopped listening to The Saints, thinking I'd turn it back on later when my testimony adjusted to this new information. (Spoiler: it never recovered).
Around that time I was also struggling with the Word of Wisdom. My situation at the time required long hours driving on little sleep. I began sipping on 5-hour energy drinks to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel. Not liking how those made me feel, I began researching healthier caffeine alternatives, which to my surprise were the very drinks that would deem me "unworthy" to enter the temple. It didn't seem to me that the God I knew, who loved me, and knew my heart and my desire to be safe and healthy, would condemn natural sources of caffeine, but approve chemical sources. I wondered if the Word of Wisdom was even of God. So many previous doctrines were apparently just policies that had changed over time, as I was learning in the new church history.
During this time my active, faithful, but doubting spouse left the church….
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Why I left More answers about 'Why I left' the mormon church
My spouse had just 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, hungry for more guidance from my leaders on how to navigate being a part-member family. All I heard was “safety is only found in the church, Korihor doubted because of pride and look what happened to him, being worthy of the priesthood is what protects our families, only worthy members are together forever, people that leave have just stopped trying.”
After conference 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.
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Do you consider yourself a Christian? See more answers about 'Do you consider yourself a Christian?'
I am not still Christian. I still have spiritual experiences; whether they come from a Greater Source, or from within, I'm not sure, but I continue to have powerful experiences that fill me with love and peace. I no longer feel the need to define what this is, though I have no problem continuing to refer to this experience as "God." I find God easier to access now, as it no longer requires a special building like the temple, or certain actions like what clothes I wear or what I drink. I feel closer to God now than I ever did as a Mormon. And while I wanted to continue to believe in Jesus Christ, the Bible, and worship with a congregation, it was too clear to me that Christianity was built on a similar shaky foundation like Mormonism. My religious trauma also prevented me from being comfortable in similar situations, such as hearing a sermon or singing hymns. I have found my own way of finding peace and connecting with God that works well for me.
What do you feel or know about Joseph Smith's Polygamy? See more answers about 'What do you feel or know about Joseph Smith's Polygamy?'
Joseph Smith is my great, great, great grandfather, though these days I prefer to claim Emma because she's a badass.
As a member, I struggled being directly related to Joseph Smith because of my own father through whom I was related. I learned at church that Joseph Smith was the second most righteous person to live on the face of the earth, next to Jesus Christ. His blood was watched through generations of time to create "The Man, the Prophet of the Restoration." And that sacred blood ran through my veins.
Yet, my dad was not a good man. He was abusive. He used his charismatic "righteousness" as a fake guise at church, and his "priesthood authority" to control and dominate at home. He was dishonest and illegal in his entrepreneurial enterprises, always looking for big, easy money, while my mom worked full-time to support the family financially. He eventually left my mom for another woman, and went on to marry and divorce about 7 times that I'm aware of. Women were property to own, according to him. It didn't make sense to me how I was related to both my dad and the “perfect” Joseph Smith.
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 read the D&C 138, the section on polygamy, again, with new eyes, and saw how HE threatened Emma, not God, with destruction if she didn't go along with his polygamy. How he spoke easily for God and used scriptural language, just like my dad.
Yep, that's the real Joseph Smith. We're definitely related.
How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.? See more answers about 'How has your leaving Mormonism affected your family relationships, friendships, job, neighbor relationships, social life, etc.?'
For me, the most difficult part of losing my belief in Mormonism was experiencing the trauma of finding out all of the dark lies of the church, and discovering the tools of manipulation that had been used to control me, and not be able to share my experience with my family without being seen as a lazy, prideful person like the church teaches. I could not share my pain, my thoughts, or my experience with them. I have learned that as long as I keep my thoughts and experiences to myself, I can at least keep my relationships on a shallow level. There is no longer any shared understanding or authenticity between any of my active Mormon friends and family.
It's like the trauma of suddenly finding out your spouse has been lying and manipulating you for all the years you were married, and not being able to talk about it, or warn, the closest people in your life because everyone loves your spouse, doesn't believe you at all, and they don't want to hear another word about it. How do you have a relationship with people like that? You keep your mouth shut, and you keep your sadness and pain to yourself. That is what this so-called religion does to family relationships.
However, 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.
Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
Yes, 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.