All kids grow up. There’s no way to stop that, and sometimes it’s harder than parents may have originally thought.
After I decided to leave the church with my parents there was a deep seated guilt. It followed me for the rest of sixth grade and continued into Junior High. I remember the first time I watched the Simpsons I thought I was going to be struck down with a falling piano. Taking my first sip of Coca Cola was a little nectar of sin, in retrospect it may be that I just didn’t like the taste.
In Junior High I began to get into Egyptian history. I only make note of it because when I went back to the Book of Mormon I was able to pick out everything wrong with its Egyptian history. Joseph Smith definitely just cut off Osiris and Anubis’ heads. I began picking up on inconsistencies myself instead of relying on my parents to pick it out.
And I did want to decide for myself. That was important to me, my parents told me I could be any religion I wanted. There was a phase right after leaving the church that my Mama and I studied Buddhism. I even told people in High School that I was Buddhist. Papa became an atheist fairly quickly in my mind. It was only logical, if the Mormon god wasn’t real, then the things that made him not real made other Christian gods not real. It didn’t take long before all three of us agreed on that.
Junior High was also the first time I told someone I was Ex-Mormon and not just Non-Mormon, it was the difference between someone looking surprised at you, and them looking horrified. I revealed it in a paper I wrote. It was an assignment given in my English class to write about the event that changed us most in life. It was very hard to write, and even harder to turn in. My English teacher was very polite though, and didn’t write any notes that could have been interpreted as horror.
The first church I remember going to after leaving the Church of Latter-day Saints was the Universal Unitarians. I thought it was strange because we didn’t have to dress up for it, I could just wear jeans. In fact that part of it was so strange I didn’t like going.
Soon our family gave up on going to a church altogether. Instead we went to the movies, which make more sense than any of the churches we went to. We also played golf on Sunday. My brother started to tell people that we went to the Church of Golf. It became a running gag in our family.
It was fun; it was amazing what I started to notice after I stopped thinking in the confined terms that the church gave us. But it was difficult. I didn’t just go from refined conservative Mormon to thinking liberal agonistic in a few years. It took a long time for me to even realize that I didn’t want to be Mormon anymore.
The person who helped me figure it out was my best friend in Junior High. She was a depressed sort of person, very shy, like I was. We got along fairly well; we had similar interests for a little while; mainly video games and anime. But she was a very devout Mormon, in fact I think me being non-affiliated religious at the time made her more devout to me. I wasn’t very happy during Junior High (but really who is?). This was of course due to my hormones going haywire. I eventually got on birth control in seventh grade, which helped to start evening out my temper. But that wasn’t the only reason.
My best friend kept inviting me to Mormon activities, first to church, I knew by this time that all Mormon children are taught to convince Non-Mormon friends to accompany them, I remembered being taught that. Then she invited me to a young woman’s camp (or something similar to that). I came home that night after accepting, very distraught. My Mama, the wonderful person she is, commented that I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. I ended up telling my friend that I was sick.
There was one sentence that stuck with me through all these years that my best friend said, “If you just started believing again you would be happier.”
I was deeply hurt. Not offended or angry, but hurt. It was because she thought I wasn’t happy due to my belief… not my lack of belief, but my belief. It was a moment of enlightenment. For the last few years, deep within my subconscious I always thought I’d go back to believing the church. I wasn’t unhappy because of lack of faith, I was unhappy because I wasn’t moving forward, I hadn’t realized that I didn’t believe it anymore. I had to move on to the next step in my life to be happy, I had been held back too long in one spot.
So that’s what I did, I moved forward. This included getting new friends. This sounds awful, but I had been moving onto deeper thought, new interests, and a happier life style. I couldn’t stay friends with someone who was still in the same spot as ever. So I moved on, I don’t regret it except that it probably hurt her deeply.
I became best friends with Amanda (whom I hope doesn’t mind that I used her name or put her in here) who was also leaving the church. We became best friends by the end of ninth grade, and I was happier. I was studying new religions and cultures. I was discovering the world not only outside of Utah, but outside of the United States. There were so many different ways of thinking. I loved every minute of it.
Eventually along the way my pursuit of knowledge replaced spiritualism in my heart. I had that overwhelming wonder at wonder, and the Rosetta Stone instead of wonder at Christ. It was the exact same feeling, but I didn’t need a spiritual connection to have it. This was in high school, when I realized I didn’t need any of the religions of the world to be happy. I didn’t need them to feel content with myself.
I was, I was beautifully happy with myself. I didn’t feel guilty over drinking coffee, or swearing, or watching the Simpsons (I have since started watching South Park). I didn’t feel any hesitation in informing my peers that I was not only Non-Mormon, but Ex-Mormon. I was angry with the church for a long time after I realized they had damaged me, that they had blocked my growth for a long time. But I’ve found an inner sort of peace with them, I still get angry, but the relief and knowledge that I’m not a part of that anymore is magnificent.
The world has become so breathtaking.
Hello, my name is Adara Latour and I’d like to bear my thoughts:
I know the church is not true.