What did the Mormon religion bring to your life?
Although I left, I'm thankful for my time as a member. Some of the other members where very kind and insightful. I loved learning about personal revelation.
Mormonism was good for me for the first portion of my life, it was a comfortable structure that taught me many good things. I came to a point where I realized that what the LDS church had taught me about church history, was an exercise in apologetics, that the truths of things were more nuanced.
I see Mormonism now with gratitude for what I learned, including that organized churches can really mess with a person's head and can hinder someone's growth (it can keep you from asking questions and exploring, making you believe there is only one path, and discouraging you from looking into history or from asking uncomfortable questions).
The truth is, truth stands up to light, and God loves us all (not one church, more). Our religious traditions are simply the product of where we are born, and there is something to learn from everyone.
I view organized religion as a lesson module I had for this lifetime. It's like having a past job where you learned a lot and dang it was hard, but you're grateful you had that learning. It was good, and it was bad -- and I'm grateful for the lessons I learned.
Religions are products of men's writing and speaking (good things get tinged), of myths that become sacred stories, of rites and rituals.
Religions embrace mythical stories, and that's fine to just embrace the meaning of the story.
Did 1 man, Noah, go all around the world to collect a male/female of every insect and animal, bring them back to his ship, and have the feed and sustainment and respective environments (tropical, sub-tropical, desert, mountain) to have all those critters survive for all those days? And, can a worldwide flood be shown to be geologically a thing (no, it wasn't). Or, do many ancient cultures, including the ancient Hebrew, have a passed-down lore of a deluge (likely b/c there was widespread flooding).
Did Moses part the Red Sea and did freed Hebrews walk 120 miles through that, then only 40 miles the next 40 years? Is there any historical record (Egyptians kept great records and monuments) of enslaved Hebrews? Or, were there some enslaved Hebrews (there is evidence around Alexandria) from the then 2 millenia prior, and did that narrative of finding their way to their homeland and building a temple, fit perfectly for the Babylonian captivity timeframe when the Books of Moses (scrolls) were written and the Jewish religion really came about?
The point on Noah and Moses is, these are stories of myth and legend, and the value is just the meaning in the story (turn to God). When we look at spiritual practices, it's only been 1800s forward that we've focused on literality (the evangelical movement really kicked it in) and historicity, thinking it has to be correlated to be true. To a Scandanavian living in middle ages, to a Polynesian, etc. all stories and legends are mythical and valuable for learning -- that's what stories teach us. We don't need to be so literal, so is or is not.
And so it is with the LDS church. If it works for you, fantastic! If you have questions, hopefully some of the questions I've posed here will help you think about things differently. If going from one church to another (I have a friend who went from LDS to Evangelical) works for you, great! If you choose to simply embrace spiritual practices, great! If you want to learn eastern ways of thinking (ground-up approach, vs top-down western approach), I can tell you it's really valuable, and I've actually come to see Jesus' teachings in harmony. If you have temple rites that work for you (Mormon, Hindu, Masonic, Buddhits, Shinto), great! If you have pagan rituals that remind you to be grounded and connected, that's great! The Universe is vast, and we are all a unique expression! Namaste: I celebrate and respect the Godly space in you, as you do in me (I don't see my beliefs and practices as better than yours).
God is Pure and Simple and we can commune Directly (no church, no 15 men, no prophet required :). The best prophets and sages teach the internal journey, and one'ness with God.
Do you think God cares how you call upon the many names? Or is it the intention of our heart? Is there one, right way to pray? Is there one, right way to hold our hands in prayer or meditation? I don't believe there is one, right way -- it's whatever works for you; and if there is "an iron rod" (BTW JS Senior had this dream and told his children about it, read Lucy Mack's autobigraphy where she recounts this, and note that the "tree of life" is a very common metaphor in many traditions). If there is one, right way (an iron rod), then the large and spacious building of people mocking/gaslighting is probably filled with religiously pious, dogmatic, and narrowly-elitist people (thinking they have the one, true church, just as the Zoramites did).
My life, brain and stress in my body -- are so much better off now. It takes time to process, but the key is not the mind -- it's just about observing energy and being one with it (I don't even need to release it, I just enjoy it). Life is contrast, each moment is beautiful, we all are beautiful. we become what we focus on and how we feel. Everything (thoughts, emotions, matter) is energy. Letting go of dogmatic narrowness, has helped me to see things for what they are, energies of expression (and the narrow ones based in fear).
God is the Infinite Teacher and Giver. We can learn from the sources we ask to learn from (religions, spiritual practices).
This long post is a kind of opus for me, a final chapter, a thanking and saying goodbye to an old friend, the LDS church. We move on from relationships when they no longer serve our good, and we thank them in respect for the joy we had while with them, and for what we learned from them.
Shame. Toxic perfectionism. Depression. Self-hatred. Intolerance. Highly conditional love. A very narrow worldview. Emotional immaturity. A tiny box to try and fit in, and pain from all the parts that didn't fit.
A mostly great experience as a missionary in Japan. Increased levels of self-discipline and work ethic.
In spite of my decision to leave Mormonism, I am still able to acknowledge and appreciate the beautiful things it brought into my life. There are many aspects of Mormonism that I continue to hold on to, and find commendable in my friends and family. For example, the selfless culture of service is something I feel strengthened me growing up, and I find it incredibly beautiful to this day. I also admire the growing emphasis on family roots and genealogy--I feel that it was largely due to this emphasis that I chose to embark on my career journey to be a historian and educator. Another beautiful aspect I feel Mormonism brought to my life is the emphasis on family. Though I no longer place boundaries on what a family should look like, I still find that emphasis beautiful and valuable. We continue to hold on to this emphasis, though now more inclusive and open.
Though I no longer hold to the Mormon belief system, I still consider the Mormon people as family and continue to love and respect them as individuals.
Though I had a painful exit, I did gain a lot from my "Mormon Period." I was taught leadership, another language, living in a foreign country, public speaking, friends (though most dropped away once they married), and the need to care for others. In that last one, I took Home Teaching very, very seriously, and needed to make sure my families (or individuals) were okay.
The church did bring me a tight-knit community. I moved wards several times growing up, and I never had to worry about finding friends. It also brought extreme expectations of conformity and severe social consequences when the expectations were not met. Leaders "care" about you and are "interested" in your well-being, but they only care about keeping you in the church. This was very damaging to me, and I am trying to unlearn this fact; I am trying to learn that people can be nice just because they are nice people. Growing up in the church gave me a frame through which to see the world. Now, I'm having to dismantle that frame and see it from a more objective point of view. The church has brought challenges into my life, and I wish I had never been involved in it.
I will never deny that in the 10 years I was a Mormon, I experienced many positive, happy, and uplifting times. I met so many wonderful and kind people; I found a strong and selfless community. I learned many ways and means to be a good person, to develop and maintain strong and healthy family relationships. Much of what the Mormon church teaches and preaches is positive, wholesome, and good.
But there is much about it that troubles me, and even scares me. There are insidious problems in the church, in its gospel, and in its doctrine. The church can bring a lot of happiness to people's lives; it can also bring sadness and the complete opposite of the Christlike love they preach.
There are so many well-intentioned people in the church, but I had even become so blind to how my words and actions could hurt others. There's an inherent pride in believing you belong to the "one and only true church on the earth;" the belief that what you have is right and what everyone else has is wrong or inferior; that you have a duty and obligation to educate and save anyone who thinks differently than you. I'm sorry for anything I said or did to anyone that hurt them, or made them feel judged or less than.