Wishing They Could See

The majority of the time, I can keep my feelings at bay when I think about the Church, but every once in a while, like today, I sometimes feel unsettling feelings. I am not upset I was raised Mormon. I had a wonderful childhood.

One thing that really gets to me sometimes is the fact that every single person at my home ward thinks I am lost. They think I’ve “gone astray”. They are sad for me. They send me letters. I wish so bad I could make them understand how lost THEY are. They have NO CLUE about certain things.

I wish my brother and mother wouldn’t have heart ache for me. I wish I could tell them and help them see, but they are so brainwashed. To them, I am just “going through something” and I’ll be back. They think my salvation is at risk.

It kills me to know that most Mormons that I know and love don’t know about some of the lies they’ve been told. I mean I had NO IDEA how the “translation” of the book of Mormon really went down until after I actually researched it. I had never heard the actual truth about it. It was shocking, and obviously a huge hoax.

They have no idea that Brigham Young (the 2nd prophet of the Church) said you cannot achieve salvation unless you participate in polygamy. “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned. ” -Brigham Young; Journal of Discourses 3:39

These are things that didn’t take me long to find on my own, but they will never see anything like this because they are terrified to look at anything not issued by the Church about the Church because they were told not to.

The Church is not a bad Church. They are just very very brainwashed and very very confused. They follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young who were not good people at all. They have no idea of some of the horrible things that were done. Mormons are wonderful people, but the Church they belong to is not the true Church of God like they believe. It was started based on manipulation, fear, desire for power, desire for women, and desire for status. If they could just spend ONE hour researching ACTUAL history not produced by the Church, it would be so clear to them.

My heart aches for them. I wish so bad they could open their minds up enough to listen to what I have to say. I could show them they are wasting their time thinking that the Mormon Church is the ONLY way to achieve salvation. Life has so many options. There are so many paths and so many journeys for everyone. Being forced to think there is only one way is such a limitation in life. I hope one day they will branch out just enough to see how much beauty there is in experience.

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Moment.

I have a hard time organizing how I want to approach this blog. There are emotional aspects for why I left, and there are factual reasons, and spiritual reasons.. I could go on. It’s hard to decide what I should post about. I think I’ll start with the more spiritual and emotional posts at the beginning, then move into the actual research I’ve done that started my journey out of the church.

This post I want to talk about a moment that sticks out in my mind while I was still a member of the Church that really took me by surprise.

The one that sticks out the most in my mind is when I was getting my “interviews” before I got married. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this process, when you are going to be married in the temple, you have to be completely worthy. Which in Mormon terms means a lot of things. I will post those questions momentarily. I got engaged to my boyfriend exactly 3 years ago from this coming Thursday. After we get engaged, we have to go through a series of interviews to determine whether we are worthy to be married in temple. We both are interviewed separately and then together. In my personal interview, the Bishop asks me if there is any major sin in my life that I haven’t repented from.

Now, before I finish the story, especially if you don’t know anything about the church, when you are a full on brainwashed Mormon, you feel like you have to do everything perfect. The pressure is so intense. The rules, the principles, the tight hold Mormonism has on your mind is so powerful and engaging, you feel like if you lie just the slightest bit, the Bishop will somehow know you are lying and there will be major consequences. Back to the interview. As soon as I’m asked about any major sins I haven’t repented of, I immediately think about my encounters with women. I had committed one of the most terrible sins ever. I participated in homosexual activity. In my mind I know I have to tell him because he will know I’m lying and God will make me feel that guilt for lying to get to the temple forever. I have to make a split decision to lie and just deal with the insane amount of guilt I will feel for disappointing God, or tell the truth, and go through the grueling and embarrassing repentance process.

I told the truth. I told him that I had had experiences with women before, and I repented years ago with a different Bishop, but since then, it had happened a few times after, and I never repented of that. So I’m dying inside, waiting to find out my fate. Waiting for him to tell me what I can’t participate in anymore, waiting for him to tell me I can’t be a children’s leader anymore, and most of all knowing we will probably have to postpone my marriage until he decides I’m “fully repented”. Despite all of that, the questions that followed my admittance of that “HORRID” behavior took me by complete surprise. First I was asked how many females. I responded truthfully. Then I was asked how many times. I responded truthfully with an estimate. And here’s the kicker, he proceeded to ask me if I had an orgasm during any of those times. I said no. I didn’t answer the question truthfully, I just said no. I didn’t want to answer the first few questions, but the third question made me realize the more I told, the more questions I was going to get. The more details he was going to want to know. I was so embarrassed he asked that. It was such a terribly awful moment of shame. I had lied to the Bishop. If I had told him the truth, how far was the conversation going to go? I felt awful for lying.. I felt like I probably jeopardized my relationship with God. It was subconsciously a turning point for me because WHY IN THE WORLD DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER? ESPECAILLY IF I HAD AN ORGASM. Why do you need to know the details? Why do you have to know every little experience of my life? I look back now and think about how SICK that entire conversation was. Why couldn’t it have stopped when I admitted the sin initially?

It wasn’t until after I left the Church that I realized how disgusting those questions are. After doing later research I found out this is regular protocol. The Bishop must know every single detail about your sin. They must ask about every aspect. I think it’s a really messed up way for them to be in your business. I don’t doubt for a single second that some of that information is written down in your ‘membership record’ for any administrator in the church to see.

Anyway, I will discuss more moments in later posts. This one end up taking longer to elaborate that I thought. To end this post I want to post the questions / rules you have to abide by before going to the temple :

1 Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost? (To me, that’s a pretty normal and acceptable question to be worthy.)

2 Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer? (I feel like this is also appropriate)

3 Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days? (Basically, do you believe Mormonism is God’s true church? If you answer no, you’re not worthy, and you can’t go to the temple.)

4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church? (Do you believe all the old men you’ve never met are ordained of God and have the authority of God to act for him on this earth? No? You’re not worthy! Sorry!)

5 Do you live the law of chastity? (Refrain from sex.)

6 Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church? (I never really understood this question honestly.)

7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? (If you support anything that is against any of the rules, you’re not worthy. Even if you don’t do it, if you’re in the group that supports it, you’re not worthy)

8 Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel? (Do you go to church, and obey all the rules of the Church?)

9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

10 Are you a full-tithe payer? (You are required to pay 10% of your income to the church. It’s not a suggestion. You must do it, or you are not worthy. Oh yeah, and that’s BEFORE Taxes. Let me also mention this is not a typical offering bucket. You have a “tithing settlement” at the end of the year to make sure you paid all your tithing for all your income)

11 Do your keep the Word of Wisdom? (Do you drink coffee or tea? Do you smoke or drink? Yes to any of those? You’re not worthy to go to the temple)

12 Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations? (You owe child support? You’re not worthy.)

Then after you go to the temple for the first time, you tack on an additional question in all your interviews for going to the temple which is

13 Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple? (I plan to discuss what goes on the temple in a later post. If you want to know more now, here’s a link to a video. A guy snuck into a temple with a small camera on his watch and recorded what happens. You probably won’t get a Mormon to tell you what actually happens in the temple, so youtube will be your best resource. The video is completely accurate. I experienced all of this on my wedding day.)

Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6udew9axmdM

14 Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple? (I discussed this in my previous post)

15 Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been? (The question about sin you haven’t repented of yet)

16 Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?

Sleeveless Shirts

One of my most favorite things about leaving Mormonism is wearing sleeveless shirts. That may sound completely ridiculous to some people, but sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. I decided to title my blog  ‘Sleeveless Shirts’ because it means so much more to me than that.

I have always been pretty fit looking. My entire life I’ve always seemed to have some type of cut to my muscles. I have always struggled with image problems, but I’ve also always known that my body looks pretty good. I’ve gained some weight over time, but for the most part, I still look pretty athletic.

If you know anything about the Mormon church, you know we’re taught pretty early to be modest. A common phrase as a young teen you hear is ‘Modest girls are the hottest girls’. Which promotes a positive connotation about modesty. The quote in the For Strength of Youth Pamphlet that is distributed to all youth of the church states the following : “Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back”. Of course, all parents want their children to look presentable and don’t want the girls looking like they came straight from the street corner. This is completely understandable. That being said, one thing I have always wished didn’t apply, was having to wear shirts with sleeves. All of this can be disputed by the Church by saying you don’t HAVE to. You have a choice. It’s not AS big of a deal when you wear sleeveless shirt when you’re young in the church, but.. you’ll probably get talked to by a youth leader or even the bishop about appropriate attire. But, there is a point when you HAVE to wear sleeves.

Later when you go through the endowment ceremony after going through the temple the first time, you are given a pair of garments. They have to be worn AT ALL TIMES. They are essential to you going to the highest degree of Heaven. These garments also have sleeves, and are to be completely covered by your regular clothing. Also, the leg part to the garments is pretty close to your knee, and finding a pair of shorts that covered them, and also trying to look half way cute, is a hard task. So by this point, you pretty much make a promise to God that you will have this much clothing on at all times because you HAVE to wear your garments at all times. I will discuss more about the temple and the garments in a later post.

So, what does that matter? Why is it a big deal if you can’t wear sleeveless shirts? Well, because I want to wear sleeveless shirts! I like my arms! I want to wear shorts that don’t go to my knee caps. I want to show off that I am fit. I want to show that I am confident about the way my body looks. I don’t want to cover up in the hot Louisiana Summer. I want to wear short shorts and a tank top and go out and enjoy the fresh air. I could not stand wearing garments. I hated wearing them, I hated being asked about them, I hated if a non Mormon friend accidently saw them. Yes, I was embarrassed of them.

Before I actually stopped going to church, I finally stopped wearing garments. I didn’t feel any different. The garments meant nothing to me. As I was finally giving up on the church last year, I met a group of girls at work, and we went to a lot of social events. These girls became my best friends. We did all sorts of things together. As time passed, they started helping me dress for different outings we went on. Some of the dresses were sleeveless, lower cut, tighter, shorter in length. I was hesitant at first and would sometimes find a less revealing dress. Eventually I started just going with what they told me to put on. When we would go out, I would actually get some type of attention from men. I didn’t need the attention because I was married at the time, but it made me feel good that I was being looked at. Some people could argue because men could see my body, but I didn’t care about any of that. I felt pretty, hot, and even sexy! I liked the way I looked, and I liked that other people responded.

Now, I’m not big on dressing up. I am your typical jeans and a t-shirt kind of girl. But in the Summer time, I would wear a t-shirt and basketball shorts. I love the way long basketball shorts felt, but sometimes I wanted to wear shorts that made me look feminine. Last Summer I started wearing those shorts, and they look good on me! It means nothing to other girls I associate with because they don’t realize how I grew up, but it is so liberating to wear those short shorts!! My absolute favorite though, is wearing sleeveless shirts or tank tops. My arms are nice, and I have slightly cut shoulders. I feel my most comfortable in an athletic type tank top. I feel confident like that. I love the way it feels and I love my arms being free!

I know this all sounds so superficial. I know it sounds like, what does this have to do with the Mormon church being true? It’s so much deeper to me though. When I wear a sleeveless shirt, I feel like myself. I feel like I made the decision to wear this clothing, and no one else is telling me what to wear anymore. There’s not a set principle that applies to me anymore set by a bunch of old men I don’t even know telling me what I can and cannot wear. I wear what I want, and I’m showing my arms because I can. Because It’s okay. I’m not going to “hell” for being confident in the fact my body is fit and I want to show it off! Mostly, because there is not this heavy cloud hanging over me anymore based on the fear of what the Church will do if I disobey one of the rules. It’s my outward stance for getting myself back. I own my body, I own myself again. It’s such a wonderful feeling, and every time I put on that tank top.. It’s a reminder of overcoming the pull and the fear of not living a Mormon life. My life is not dictated by what a bunch of men write down on a piece of paper and set for me. I make all my decisions now, and I like sleeveless shirts.

The beginning.

I have started this blog for many reasons. Before I explain why, I will introduce myself. I’m a 25 year old, divorced, ex-Mormon. I call myself ex-Mormon, but I have not been excommunicated, nor have I went through the “official” steps of taking my name out of the records. Why? Well first, I hear it’s A LOT of trouble. Two, I still view the Mormon community as my family and don’t want to purposely put myself in a place that creates even MORE contention than I have already created. After all, these people watched me grow up. They are my family. I don’t really care to disassociate myself from the people of the Church.

I grew up Mormon. Participated in primary until I was 12. I was in the achievement day program from 8-12. I believe they call it Activity Day now. Went to Young Women’s from ages 12-18. Got married in the temple at age 22. Left the church when I was 24. It’s been about a year now. (If you’re not Mormon, a lot of that probably won’t make sense). Well anyway.. I think my real questions about the church started pretty early in my teen years. There were things I didn’t like and didn’t understand. Pieces stopped fitting together pretty early for me, but I was much more concerned about appearing to be a devout, rule following, leader respecting, and well loved Mormon girl. I grew up / live in a town where the Mormon community is pretty small. I felt like I somehow became an “example” in our ward pretty early. People seemed to really like me, and all the adults always told me how important and special I was. I felt a sense of pressure to be that star Mormon girl pretty early on. I felt accepted by everyone, and liked the role I was put in. I felt important.

This was all fine until I REALLY started questioning things later in high school. I felt my logic pulling me away from the church without any factual evidence the Church wasn’t true. For years I played this tug of war with myself. Was the Church really THE true church? Did Joseph Smith actually restore God’s church to the Earth in the last days? Was this the real deal? These questions were in my mind on a DAILY basis. A daily basis, for YEARS. It was a constant battle. From ages 17-21 I lived a double life. I was Mormon for my family and for the Church when it was time to be, and I was myself around my friends, which was two very different girls. This caused the greatest depression of my life that built up to a very strong bottoming out about 6 months after I got married. My world completely flipped upside down. (Disclaimer : Trying to summarize my life for 24 years is kind of challenging. I can’t remember exact ages for certain things, but these ages are approximate from what I can remember)

I’m writing this blog for two reasons. The first, as an outlet. I’ve never really let out all my feelings and thoughts about where I came from, where I’m going, and why I’m headed the direction I am. The other reason, is to reach out to at least one person. To help at least one person that is struggling and feeling trapped. And to let that person know, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel confused. It’s okay to not know what to do. It’s okay to doubt and question. It’s NOT okay to ignore your given logic. If you think something isn’t right, don’t let someone else’s logic created for you overpower your own brain. I encourage you to think for yourself. Not for someone else.