Sunday, April 24, 2016

Who I Am


Being raised not only in an LDS family but in a predominately LDS community, I grew up knowing who created me and who I was---a child of God.

I grew up singing the song, "I am a child of God".

I am the daughter of a King, of a God who loves me unconditionally. No. Matter. What.

I don't think this concept sunk in very well until I became a mother. I can remember back to when I first stared into those bright blue eyes of my daughter and felt this surge of love for her, far different than any love I had experienced up until that point.

Did God really love me more than I loved this baby girl? Was that even possible?

It was. It is. 
He does. 

I've been thinking about what my beliefs mean to me and how I came to the conclusions that I did. I've stumbled to try and explain the past few years to my closest friends and family members but it never comes out quite right.

It's hard to leave something you've been so connected to for your whole life. 
Like achingly, confusingly hard. It isn't easy on your people.

*In my second to last post, where I stated, "Would I change...the religious beliefs I was raised with versus my religious beliefs now or any of the other things that have brought immense pain and confusion into my life?", I wasn't trying to state that I regretted the way I was raised or that religion alone had caused immense pain and confusion into my life. I meant to state that my religious changes have been confusing and they've caused pain for myself and also for some of my people who love me so deeply.* 

I wouldn't have done it if I didn't wholeheartedly feel like it was the right decision for my family.
I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't prayed about it. 

I often tip toe around talking too deeply about my religious beliefs and changes because I love my LDS people so very much and I know how sacred the temple and the priesthood and The Book of Mormon are to them. It's often hard for me to feel like I can speak up about my beliefs because I hate thinking that doing so could make another person feel bad.

I've tried so hard to transition smoothly, without anger or resentment following me through my journey. Because the thing is, I'm not angry or resentful. I don't hate the religion I was raised it. It isn't painful that I was raised in the church.

*And I almost typed out "It isn't painful that I was married in the temple." but then I realized that would be a lie. But not because I hate the temple or resent the fact that I was married there---quite the opposite. I have had many peaceful feelings inside those walls and try so hard not to take those memories for granted. It's painful because I tried so hard to keep my marriage together and continue going to church and doing everything right and it didn't help. It still fell apart.*

And you guys, that's ok. Life is messy sometimes. Things fall apart.

My failed marriage is not the reason I no longer attend the LDS church anymore.
In fact, none of my trials have been my reasons for leaving.

Sure, I have questioned my faith numerous times in the past few years. Sure, I've felt like I was a foreign object at church before. I have felt pain there---but not necessarily doctrinal pain. Although I've had messy experiences at church and haven't always felt like I belonged there, I didn't leave as a result of those experiences.

My pain isn't the reason I left. It was real and valid at the time but I tried so hard and fought through it.

I left because it was right, because I had some pretty spiritual experiences elsewhere that shook me to my core and had me questioning my whole life of faith up until that point.

And I am so thankful for those experiences. They have shaped me and brought me to a place that I didn't know existed.

I don't advocate for others to leave the LDS church. I advocate for people to follow their hearts. And for the majority of my people, that means staying true to their LDS beliefs.

I've found such beauty in knowing that my people love me regardless of my religion. That is how it should be and for me, that is how it has been.

I have found that if you're willing to be vulnerable and open, the right people will listen and love you. They might not understand but they'll be there for you.

That has been my experience this past year. 

The truth is that Christianity in general can be hard sometimes. I don't attend Mission or Redemption or any of the other churches I've attended this past year and feel like life is just going to be easy from here on out. {But if there's a church that can make me feel this way, sign me up...just kidding.} I still have to question and ponder on the things I learn, just as I'd be doing at ANY church I attend.

I didn't make the easy choice for us. 
I made the choice that I believe is right for us. 

Right now, today, this very minute, I have an enormous amount of faith that we are right where we are supposed to be.

And that conviction alone is the reason I continue to try and help my people understand me as best they can.
Because I love them and they love me and however messy my past has been, they continue to support me.

And really, is there anything more beautiful than that?