Monday, February 8, 2016

What Leaving Taught Me About People

When I first started voicing my opinions after my "crisis of faith", it seemed that things changed very quickly. I understand social media may not be the ideal place to share thoughts, but it is the most convenient when you aren't close to the people you want to reach. You can't always hop on a plane or in your car to share what you are thinking in person, so again, I understand it isn't ideal, but it is what is available.

But when I became more confident in what I felt, and less scared about what people would think, I began voicing my thoughts.

It was amazing just how many people suddenly became concerned for my eternal soul, and grammatical health (in the case of one bitter past teacher, who decided to derail one of my posts with an english lesson while simultaneously and repeatedly misspelling my name). I received private messages expressing concern for my wellbeing from people I had not spoken to in years. Who had never bothered to contact me for any other reason.  I had friends and friends of friends come together and dominate my posts with religious rhetoric, condescending judgement, and sorrow for my failed faith. I feel sorry for you they would say. I'm sad because you have lost your testimony they told me. I know you are wrong, they asserted.

It all started with something like, I love your pictures! Or, your boys are so cute! And then got ugly real quick. It was as though they felt they had to say something sweet before damning me. Which made it even worse, considering they never would have complimented my pictures unless I had offended their faith.

"I would urge you to not post anything else"

"Here is a video that might help you understand"

"What you fail to recognize is"

"Why are you trying to hurt me"

"Read the Bible"

"This Paradox has just made me realize that you have just been #Unfriended due to #Unfriendlyness"

That last one was a random comment after I was arguing with someone else about the new policy on gays and their children. She decided to take it all the way to masturbation and abortion. And I ended up being the bad person for disagreeing with the Mormon Leaders for excluding gays and their children from God's *one true church*. Go figure.

In each case, every single one of these people had not communicated with me since at least 2005 or before. Ten years. Ten whole years of opportunities to contact me, compliment my pictures, express concern for my dark path. So forgive me if their sentiment seems less than genuine. Its not concern for me. Its concern for themselves.

Mormons seem to have an inherent intolerance to anyone who thinks differently. And a morbid fear of anyone who had previously been Mormon. As though their very existence is a threat to their faith. Even though I do not direct my comments at anyone in particular, someone always crawls out of their LDS cave to express personal offense at something I have said.

The nature of Mormon doctrine often leads its members to self identify as their religion. Not as something without themselves, but something that IS themselves. Anything said against the doctrine becomes a personal attack, and they react with fear and anger. They must defend their faith (their identity) even if it means laying down their lives. Doesn't that sound a little insane?

I used to feel that way. I'm no stranger to taking personal offense to random so called *anti-Mormon*  Facebook posts and articles. In fact, I did the same thing to someone else. She posted on her wall about being disappointed in a talk about homosexuals in conference. I hadn't spoken to her in years, but I immediately felt the *spirit* tell me to show her the error of her ways. When it was my own insecurity, intolerance, and superiority complex that led to my hateful dialog.

What any Mormon who engages with me fails to realize is that I have been in their shoes. They cannot fathom anyone who leaves ever actually believing. Thereby placing blame on the person who has left, degrading their spiritual experience, and casting aside their knowledge. It hurts me to think I was ever a believer, but it also hurts when people tell me I never actually believed. I may not have gotten up willingly to bear my testimony, but I believed. And I lived the Mormon life. I read my scriptures, I prayed. I was sealed in the temple. I fasted for strength during my crisis of faith. I pleaded with god to reveal to me the truth. But the more I searched, the more I tried to educate myself about the questions I had, the more I learned about the church's true nature. 

It was a heart wrenching time. It was hard. I felt my foundation completely yanked out from beneath me and what made it even better was the judgement I received from active members. As I expressed m y thoughts, I received nothing but condescension and anger. I couldn't say anything without offense being taken and hostility ensuing, and because what I think is so against what Mormons think, each conversation ended with me being an arrogant know-it-all not letting religious people believe in their god. It was exhausting. It was depressing.

It was even more depressing when I discovered my sister had blocked me. That some of my nieces and nephews had unfriended me. That some of my friends had very vocally announced they were blocking me. I guess I shouldn't be so upset, I felt the need to unfriend some family members too. But it was due to them engaging me in nearly everything I said in a very confrontational manner. But in the case of being unfriended, I know it's because I've  fallen away and am now a bad influence and they must surround themselves with the virtuous and praiseworthy. Stand in holy places, I did the same thing. And alienated people who cared about me too.

In my transition out of mormonism, I have discovered who my true friends are. What my family actually thinks about me. And just how cruel religious people can actually be.

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