The Day I Left the Church . . . Journal Entry

mormon to atheist journal

02/10/2008

Well, Sarah* and I have officially broken up.  Wow, this is going to be tough.  I continued to be way depressed on Thursday and Friday, way doubtful, and decided (once again), that I HAD to break it off with Sarah because I could not go on feeling this and I couldn’t just repress my questions or find satisfying answers so I had to just end the relationship.  We went to the photographer on Friday, then went back to her parent’s house and did some stuff.  I finally got myself to tell her I’m still doubting, or actually, that the doubts had come back and I wasn’t through this.  She was really confused, angry, sad, and everything else.  We talked more and she gave me the ring back and went upstairs crying.  She talked to her parents, Nate (on phone), we texted a bit and she came back down and we talked for a long, long time.  We decided I’d try some depression medication — because, like I wrote earlier, I’m POSITIVE I’ve been depressed a lot.  I told her, though, that what I wondered is whether that depression CAUSED or AMPLIFIED my doubts, or whether my doubts caused the depression.  We both hoped it was the former and that being more emotionally stable would help me be more stable in my testimony as well.  Then Saturday was great.  We got depression meds – but they don’t kick in for 3 or 4 weeks sometimes** — we had a really fun day together, and went to a Valentine’s party at night.  I love and respect her so much.  She is truly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

Also, I went and talked to Nate.  He’s a great brother.  He also talked with me and sought for some of my strength with an issue he’s struggling with — that was nice.  I gave him a blessing this morning.

So — today, after I gave Nate the blessing, Sarah and I drove down and went to her ward.  Sunday School and Sacrament meeting were both on temples —- and I realized I COULD NOT … it WOULD NOT be possible for me to believe that again.  So — I set myself firm in my mind, and when we got in her car after church I told her I couldn’t do it, and explained a little bit of why.  Wow, that was tough.  It was so hard to see her SO DEVASTATED.  She was so frustrated, mad, sad, and everything again.  She stated “I’m losing you right now and there’s nothing I can do about it!”  It was extremely tough, I drove her back to her apartment, she gave me the ring back, we cried a little more and she left.

I am SO SORRY that I did that to her.

This is going to be really hard on both of us, but it’ll probably be even harder on her — because she doesn’t understand why I’ve oscillated SO MUCH and given her so much hope, and in a lot of ways I’ve already suffered through a lot of it because I’ve thought about it so much before.

I called Nate — he’s very understanding and supportive.  He made me promise, though, that I’d never give up the search for truth — that if I didn’t find anything through all my efforts that I’d retrace my steps and try this church again.

I called Mom – WOW, there is not a more amazing woman on this planet.  She just listened, trusted me, said she knows I’m a truthseeker, that if we believed in Joseph Smith’s story we had to give other people the freedom as well to follow God as they felt he was guiding them, and she understood I HAVE to be honest with myself.***  She did warn me, however, that if I begin to live unworthily she’ll begin to question whether I was being inspired of God or of Satan.  She asked to write down WHY for the purpose of UNDERSTANDING — not so I could convince her or she could try to convince me.  I agreed.  I owe it to  her and Nate and Sarah and others.  I’m not sure what I’m going to write though — I don’t want to appear bitter or hardened … but I don’t want to appear foolish or deceived or weak either.  Maybe the 2nd part is because of pride.

I think I did the right thing, no matter how hard it was and will be.

—————–

*Different name . . . I’m hoping that will keep her from killing me when she finds this, lol.

**I never took the depression meds, because I believed my doubts were causing the depression, not the other way around.  I was right.

***I didn’t mention the feeling I had when I finally made that tough decision.  Simply put, a huge burden was lifted off of me.  I felt free, no longer having to put new information through the strain of LDS doctrine to see if I could believe it or not.  I could look at politics, evolution, homosexuality, everything in a new light.  I was also afraid, because I didn’t want to be deceived.

Welcome!

My name is Jefferson.  I grew up in the LDS (mormon) church, fulfilled a faithful 2 year mission to convert others, and decided to leave the religion 3 months after returning; giving up an engagement to the girl who “waited” and the future I had been planning my whole life.  My father is gay, my mother still believes in god but not religion, my girlfriend is agnostic, most of my family is still Mormon . . .

And I have a story to tell.

This blog will be my attempt at remembering the things I felt as a believer, recalling the reasons I doubted, the people who influenced my process, and the philosophy behind the life I lead now.  I’m an open, loving, trusting person and don’t pass judgement on anyone for their beliefs – yet I left Mormonism because of some very real issues in doctrine.  I ask everyone to do what I ask myself to do each day: suspend judgement.  Read my story, see what you experience, and understand me.  Understand why I made the extremely difficult choice I made.

I will follow one rule not often adhered to in argument: I will show my weakness.  I will open up some of my journal entries*, show you the emotional and logical strain I went through, and give you a glimpse into what it was like to be me.  I promise integrity: When I don’t feel I can explain something away I won’t try to do so; I still have many open ended questions left unresolved today, and that’s ok.

I ask you to read, enjoy, understand, and if you choose: respond.

If its true that “by their fruits you shall know them” (that you can tell if something is good or bad by the effect it has on your life), I promise you the fruits of this blog will be understanding and love, if you choose it to receive it that way.  If you’d like to argue points of doctrine and debate the conclusions I came to – I welcome it; I don’t think love and debate are mutually exclusive: we can talk about our disagreements without disrespecting each other or assuming bad intentions.  Disagree with my conclusions, but respect my ability and reasons for arriving at those conclusions.

My only goal is to bridge the gaps often created between believers and those who have left.**

I’m starting off with the journal entry I wrote the day I left the church, a short piece about the effect of the Church’s doctrine on my relationship with my father, and the reasons I loved growing up as a Mormon.

Enjoy 🙂

p.s.

*Why include personal details like journals?  Because religious conviction can’t be understood if detached from all of the human experience.  We can have a heady conversation about doctrines, philosophies, people, and events; but those are shallow and meaningless when disconnected from emotion.

**This isn’t an attempt to convince anyone to hold my same beliefs, but an invitation to understand.  This isn’t just a catalog of what’s happened in the past: it will also be a forum for my responses to contemporary religious debate on an ongoing basis.