Thursday, March 01, 2007

wherein they find out I'm questioning

Right about the time I was pretty sure it wasn't true, but still very torn about it, still wishing I was wrong and just wanted go back to my normal life and pretend my whole world hadn't just come crashing down, my mom called. I had just taken my garments off two days before, not entirely sure if I was actually ready to make that move. But, you know, those new underwear just seemed so much better. And if Joseph Smith made them up anyway, who cares? But years of indoctrination will get to you.

Anyway, my mom called with remarkably bad timing. She found out (I won't get into details for privacy's sake) that we liked to read "anti-Mormon literature." You know, [mom voice] those books that are just a pack of lies and want nothing more than to ruin the church[/mom voice], like Compton's In Sacred Loneliness. I insisted that those books are not, in fact, "anti-Mormon," but rather are scholarship. I explained that I've seen some issues in the church my whole life, and wanted to resolve them; these books would help. (I skipped the part about how there were a whole new slew of issues that had come up in my reading of the previous 18 months.)

"What issues?"

"The ones I've seen for a long time? Polygamy, women's issues, priesthood ban against blacks..."

"I've had those issues, too, fta," she said. "But I didn't turn to some books to look for answers. What do those people know? I went to the Lord. He's the only one with the whole picture. You don't think I've struggled with these things? I struggled with polygamy for 15 years! But through prayer, I finally resolved it. And you can too. But not with those books!"

I explained that if I don't read these books, I'll never be satisfied. I must read them.

Shortly after the conversation, I wrote this:

So my mom called and confronted me about my/our testimonies, and I told her we're exploring, still going to church, but exploring. 'Do you think the church isn't true?' she asked. 'I'm allowing that to be a possibility,' I responded. Which is basically where I'm at right now.

All in all, the conversation was very negative and preachy 'You're deceived by the devil...Satan is trying to get to you...Satan deceived these authors of this anti-Mormon literature to try to hurt people and keep them from going to heaven...There are certain covenants you have to make in order to get to heaven and you have to go to the temple to make and keep those covenants...I KNOW the Church is true with every fiber of my being...Don't you want to go to heaven?...etc, etc.' She wants to me "to go to the Lord and pray about this and ask HIM for the answers, not some books of 'learned' people who are deceived and want to deceive you. Promise me you'll go to the Lord and truly ask for answers." ... Well, I have issues with talking to my mom about anything meaningful in the first place, and I had a pretty much passive role in the conversation, but I refused to give her what she wanted to hear. (Don't worry mom, I see the error of my ways and will burn all those books now and drive to the nearest temple asap.)

I wasn't ready for this. I wanted it to be on my terms. But now at least it's sort of out there. She does not know the extent of the 'damage to my testimony.' Imagine the torrent if I had told her I didn't wear my garments consistently the past week. The thing is, it affected me greatly. The first thing I did after getting off the phone was open the laptop to post a message to the foyer, but both my conscience (read: my mom's guilt-tripping) got to me and my son called me from the other room at the same time. I joined my son in my room and, of this I feel ashamed, put my garments back on. (I had put them back on for church yesterday too, only to take them off in the afternoon when the weather was warm.) Her guilt-tripping from 3000 miles away caused me to change my freaking clothes!

But I can't help thinking 'what if, what if, what if?' "

When she said, "I know," I blurted out, "How do you know?" It was an honest question. I was struggling and lost. I wanted to regain something I had lost, all the while knowing that, really, I couldn't.

Her answer, though, was unsatisfactory. "Because I know." It was empty to me. That meant nothing. That's it? That's all she had? I asked her not to tell anyone. I allowed her to tell my dad, but not my siblings.

The conversation shook me. Shook me bad. I needed some comfort, and found it by putting my garments back on. It felt safer. Maybe I was wrong, maybe she had a point, I thought. I had to talk to someone about it, so I went outside to where my husband was playing with our kid. Another friend was out there, one in whom I could confide. "I just had a conversation with my mom," I told them. She knew exactly what I meant. Disturbed and unsure, I switched between talking about it and sitting there, numb, staring at nothing. My kid and hers destroyed another neighbor's toy right in front of me, and I watched, not noticing, not seeing it. Fear and despair overtook me.

Shortly after that, my parents wrote me a letter to attempt to open dialogue. I wrote back, pretending I was still in my "serious questioning" phase, when really, I was a non-believer. I never sent the letter. I kept silent about all of it for five months.


Hellmut said...

That must have been hard. Personally, I think that you were very courageoous to communicate so openly with your parents. I should have done that with my wife when I just could not bear to go to church any longer.

It is unfortunate when people reject reason. They don't realize that they are also rejecting communication.

When we are humble enough to subject our opinions to logic and evidence rather than feelings, it's a lot easier to talk to someone else.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Love this post, FtA. It's so hard to shake the thoughts that plague you, like, What if they don't understand? What will they do? Will they think I've sold my soul to the devil??

:) This is interesting to read.

Meg said...

Someone on another blog suggested someone write a post entitled "Faith Promoting Rumors vs. Faith Destroying Truth." Isn't it interesting that it turns out that way. The community passes around rumors and half truths to promote people's faith, and run as fast as they can from actual facts and reality. That should give us some kind of clue about the faith.

It's a deluded thought process to think that praying and having a good feeling about anything tells us whether or not it is objectively true.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your coming out story. I think the initial shock is probably the worst part in many cases, at least that's what I anticipate for my own situation. Once the reality has set in that we're leading happy, good lives outside of the church, things will hopefully smooth out and over time perhaps become a nonissue.

emerging from the ashes said...

hellmut- I did communicate to some degree during that one phone call, but didn't communicate again. And I was bullied more than I explained, unfortunately. It was exactly the _wrong_ time for her to call; that very week was the week my world had collapsed, so I couldn't stand on my own two feet.

SML- I think they are nice enough to figure I haven't sold my soul, but certainly that I was deceived by the devil. Now they've adjusted some more and just think God leads me down an alternative path in order to teach me something. Not great, but at least not the Devil.

meg- Too true. If people actively avoid information because they know it will damage their testimony, shouldn't that tell you something?

Simeon's . . . Turning the Corner said...

The last sentence of your previous comment just hit me to the core -

If people actively avoid information because they know it will damage their testimony, shouldn't that tell you something?

You just nailed what I've been thinking lately.

Astarte Moonsilver said...

T. K. Kennett said it well when he wrote: "Those of us who refuse to read material that we think we might NOT agree with are no better off than those that cannot read at all."

Please stop by my blog sometime---I've been out of the church for about 4 years now, and I've had PLENTY to write about. :>)

Stay strong...I've been through the same thing, and still go through it with my TBM mom and sister.