LOVELY LITTLE RANTS

a VERY late Christmas + NYE post







CHRISTMAS

Ok I know this post is inching its way into March but I STILL want to remember Brighton's second Christmas :) The presents had been wrapped for nearly all of December and after the first few days of touching them and me telling her not to, she got over them. On Christmas, I think she was confused why we were opening them but she liked all of her new toys! I wanted to get her cute wooden toys because #millennial but also because I've read a little about monsouri and how apparently wood toys are good for growth and development!

The thing I was MOST excited about was making her kitchen! I had found a goldmine of ideas on pinterest to redo the ikea kid's kitchen so I couldn't wait to make Brighton's! Jason tried to surprise me by getting it all put together and painted but I seem to have a 6th sense where whenever he is trying to surprise me with something sweet I always seem to walk in and see what he's doing. He helped a ton and I am SO happy with how it turned out! It's taken her a little bit of time to start really understanding it and wanting to play with it but I think it will be so fun for her to have as she grows up and likes to play pretend more.

My dad and 2/3 of my brothers came over Christmas day and we did more present opening and just hung out for a while. Later that afternoon, we went to Jason's parents house to see all of his family and that involved more present opening and FOOD. aka the best part of the holidays. Jason's parents got me a kitchen aid that I have LOVED so much!! I find reasons to blend things in it because I'm basically a child and that stuff is so fun for me haha. Jason got me TAYLOR SWIFT tickets (!!!!!!!) and a necklace I've been wanting. I can't WAIT to go to the concert together in a few months! I think Jason secretly loves Taylor as much as I do ;)





New years eve was really chill but still so fun! We went and saw family, ate food, the works! I tried to get a cute confetti picture and this is the best I could do haha forever grateful that Jason will take pictures with me even though it may be his least favorite thing to do. He'll be grateful when we're old and wrinkly and we can look back at our life together, right?!

NYE night, my twin brother came over and one of Jason's friends came over and we just played ticket to ride until midnight and then set off some fireworks! Our neighbor came outside right we we were almost done and got mad that we were doing fireworks, like sorry for setting them off on New year...?

It was fine though and since I barely make it to midnight these days, I was happy to go to bed and get some sleep! Jason does a bow hunt every New Years day that he looks forward to all year so he woke up super early to leave and get us a pig. A javelina... not my favorite animal to eat but Jason is basically Katnis and got one!



So far this year has been really good! I always love making goals and new beginnings and I am so excited to see what else happens in 2018!

xo
Candace

An update.

Since my last post I have received so much love and positivity. That is all I could ask for and all I want. The only mean comments I have gotten have unfortunately been from strangers who are unhappy with my decision. The mean comments were like less than .0001% of the comments I got but luckily, those people are all strangers who don't know me or my story but their comments sting like salt in a fresh wound. I've cried. I've debated putting my post back into my drafts so it never sees the light of day. Just deleting it off of this public space altogether. And then I remember the dozens, maybe hundreds of kind comments. So many of you have expressed that you have felt so alone in your own journey. That you weren't sure how to help loved ones understand your story so you shared my post with them. Many people who are LDS have reached out and expressed their love, kindness, and support. They don't care what I believe and they know my heart. To those people- thank you SO much. Your words mean so much more than you will ever know.

I have used this piece of internet to share my life story in all aspects. I've made so many wonderful friends and connections because of my blog. I don't shy away from being vulnerable or to be just a goofy mom who is doing the best I can for my family.

My post was seen by WAY more people than I ever meant to see it. It was literally a post I wrote to help my friends and family understand my decision a little better. My post wasn't meant to be a history lesson. I shared very small tidbits of things that led me to where I am today. I left a few sources for anyone who didn't want to take my word for it (please don't, please do your own study because I'm just some girl on the internet ;) ) I didn't want to dive deep because that wasn't what my post was about. I am not a historian and I will never claim to be one. I have spent countless hours and months researching every valuable source I could and came to my own conclusions. I am so very aware that my conclusion doesn't have to be your conclusion. I don't think people who believe in the Mormon church are wrong. I don't think anyone on earth is 100% right, either. I know I'm not 100% right and I am happy to admit it. We all have our own ideas that lead us to our own happiness and that is pretty freaking amazing.

And for the record, Jason is probably the best person in the entire world. His love and support is something I can never be grateful enough for. If anything, I know I'm right about that!

Thank you.
xo
Candace

Why I left the Mormon church.


To address some comments (on and mostly off of my blog)- If you are LDS, that's great! If you looked into some history and still remain active, I am happy for your happiness. Our stories are different, our experiences are different, our hearts are good, our intentions are pure. I wish everyone the best of luck in their own search to truth. I want to keep this post and my blog a positive space. This post got way more traction than I ever expected and I appreciate everyone so much for reading it! I've gotten mostly positive feedback and a few "we don't want you in our church anyway" comments from strangers. (on other social media sites) If anything, I hope this post opens up more love to past members who have chosen a different path to happiness. I hope it can help people feel less alone and I hope it encourages members to take a quick step into someone else's shoes and generate a perspective they hadn't thought of.

Well... there goes that bomb. I'm sure most of my friends and family who are reading this will be surprised, but let me start by saying this: I am OK. I am so happy. My family is my rock. Please read my story and please try to put yourself in my shoes. If you are struggling in your faith, please know you are not alone. That is honestly one of the hardest things about my decision - feeling like I was so alone.

Over the past few years, I have had questions that run oh SO deep about the LDS church. Questions to things I never imagined I would have. Questions that I was so scared to admit for so, so long. Mormonism isn’t just a church, it’s an entire lifestyle. It is your culture, it is your people.

Leaving what was my everything behind was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. But it has also become a decision that has made me a much better and happier version of myself.

I have debated writing this for soooooo long! I am so scared of whispers from people who haven’t walked in my shoes. I’m scared of the judgements from people who are able to believe a religion that I cannot, and people who don't understand my story. I decided that I don't want to "hide" myself anymore. I don't want to live in that fear of losing friends or being judged for a decision that I can't unmake. I want to be my truest self and stop fearing things I can't change.


Let me start at the beginning. I was born into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, blessed as a baby, baptized at 8 years old, 100000% couldn't be moved in my faith. I believed so deeply and was so dedicated to the doctrine of the church. I would judge people for wearing bikinis for crying out loud because it wasn't "modest" enough for my "high standards". I loved my friends in the church and had 99.9% LDS friends.

It was a natural progression to get my Young Woman's Award, attend BYU-I, take out my temple endowments, marry in the temple, etc etc. I even strongly considered a mission for a while because I loved and believed in the church SO strongly. I remember my list for things I wanted in my future husband had "MUST be a return missionary" written across the top. I was so proud to proclaim my beliefs on social media and my blog, I even worked closely with the church on a few social media campaigns.  I wanted people to share the happiness I thought the church was bringing me in my life. I knew the greatest gift I had was being a part of the LDS faith, and was so grateful to be blessed with the knowledge I had.

I read my scriptures regularly, kept a scripture journal, took notes in conference, and listened to conference talks every day. Church music filled my car speakers as I would drive from place to place. I made sure to attend church every Sunday and never spent a penny on the Sabbath. I magnified each calling and took pride in the lessons I gave as a gospel doctrine teacher.

I remember times throughout my schooling where I would ask people not to curse and stuck up so strongly for my beliefs when someone questioned them. When I attended Mesa Community College I had an entire PowerPoint presentation that I gave to my class called "Why the book of Mormon is true" and I even passed out copies of the Book of Mormon to classmates after my speech. I would leave pass-along cards with my tips at restaurants and would only date Mormon boys who were strong in their faith. I sometimes overpaid tithing because I wanted to make sure I gave enough money to the church I loved. I tell you all of this not to "brag" about how strong my testimony was but to express how dedicated and true I was to the LDS church.

I remember being so excited to marry the love of my life inside of God's temple and prepare for my endowments. Something I had literally prepared my entire life to do! I sang songs in primary about the temple and enjoyed participating the baptisms for the dead ceremonies as a youth in the church.

I remember one of the worst experiences of my life was attending the temple to take out endowments for the very first time and feeling darkness. I did not find peace inside the walls. I thought there must be something wrong with me because I was supposed to love the temple and feel God's love for me! I was supposed to feel the spirit and attend often to grow my testimony. But no matter how hard I wanted to feel the spirit and love the temple, the few times I attended were very uncomfortable and left me with a dark feeling, a feeling that didn't feel right. I know the temple can be positive for many people, but for me, it was a place I dreaded attending.

I feel like a very BIG misconception people have is that when people leave the church, it's because they didn't have a testimony to begin with. Because they were lazy and wanted to sin, or because Satan ate their soul and dragged them into his depths. At church, I was taught that people who fell away did so because they didn't understand the teachings and blessings they would miss out on, that they were selfish.

I could go on, but you get the point. I feel like when someone leaves the church, members are so "sad" for them. How could someone leave the TRUTH? How could someone willingly give up eternity? Here is a secret for you, people who leave the church are usually not these things. They are usually a lot happier people than they were before. I think it's hard to understand that the LDS church is not a one-size-fits-all. It can be amazing for some people. It can help some people. But is not good for all people. It cannot make all people happy.


Why I left. 
It was 2013 when I watched a video called "Top 5 Myths and Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church" (video can be found here, the presenter was an active LDS member when he made this video). The title alone was interesting and the video was sent to me by a family member who at the time had watched it and found the information surprising.

That video started the beginning of my "shelf". A shelf is something that all members have (whether they know it or not) where they keep unresolved, faith-challenging topics. When someone in the church hears about something that they may *not* fully agree with, but would rather not to think about it - or just figure it will all be solved in the afterlife – they put that information on their shelf. (Example shelf items people might have are polygamy; the policy where children of gay parents cannot be baptized until the age of 18 – and only if they disavow their gay family; women having almost no authority in high positions of the church, etc.).

This video taught me some very tough LDS history but I decided to suppress those shelf items and ignore them. I loved my religion and was not about to let some video break my strength. Even though the information was proven true (aka it wasn't an anti-mormon video by any means) it hurt too much to let it affect my testimony.

 I remember when I first heard about the church releasing their essays on difficult topics These essays were written in an attempt to address the confusing or hurtful aspects of  LDS policy, theology and history. Things like polygamy (both during the time of Joseph Smith and after his death), the multiple first vision accounts of Joseph Smith, racial discrimination and the priesthood, and many more.

These topics were things I either a) hadn't thought much about or b) was never taught to begin with. You can see these essays directly on the official church website here, scroll to the bottom to see them. I remember reading the multiple first vision accounts. I had seen things I thought were "anti-Mormon" stating there were multiple first vision accounts so to see that it was actually TRUE was a shock. I had only been taught one first vision account my entire life (as read in Joseph Smith History) and here I was learning at age 22 that there were actually SEVERAL accounts given.

I decided to read them, because it didn’t feel right to just make a life changing decision without reading them for myself. One really BIG thing for me was Joseph Smith's claims of seeing God the father and his son, Jesus Christ and them telling him to restore their gospel. It was something that had anchored me and something I fully believed. So, I read them. One is written by Joseph Smith in his own personal journal.

Now, when I write in my journal, especially as a teen, I never expected anyone to read it. I wrote my deepest secrets, hopes, dreams, crushes, etc. I was not one to shy away from anything in my journal, because I knew that it would never be seen by anyone but myself. Joseph only mentioned seeing the Lord in his account. JUST the Lord. The Lord forgave him of his sins and that was pretty much the bulk of the experience (official church given journal entry found here) That shook me. My shelf had started to crack. It was the slightest hairline crack, but a crack was forming.

Why were two beings not mentioned? Why didn't they tell him to restore the gospel? Mostly, I was very confused. Trust me, I have read allllllll the arguments as to why these VERY important details were not mentioned but the arguments aren't fact, they are simply speculation of MAYBE.

I don't do well with "maybe." It would be like me moving and not having any of my belongings anymore but *forgetting* to mention that this all happened because my house burned down in a fire. That would be a pretty significant detail to not mention, right? Or if I went to the hospital and then came home with a big scar but didn't tell anyone it's because I had a C-section. There are pretty key things missing that didn't sit well with me. But still, I choose to believe and stay strong.

"Our whole strength rests on the validity of that [First] vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens" Gordon B Hinkley conference talk found here.

I still questioned of course, but just stuck any questions I had up on my shelf. I talked to multiple bishops, saw an LDS counselor to talk about my issues, and had many, many conversations with close LDS family members regarding my questions. I was not about to let my beliefs go and just give up so easily. I was determined to find an answer that made sense and helped keep my testimony afloat. I was conflicted as I realized that people of many other religions felt similar strong testimonies of God telling them their church was the most correct. How could God be telling them that their church was the right one when other people felt God was leading them to mormonism?

But after years of searching, the answers didn't come. The excuses and justifications  flowed strong in each conversation. People trying to prove this and that with things that weren't fact. I was told that my heart was too hard, it was my own fault that I couldn't believe. I was told I had too much pride and I wasn't letting Christ in.  I was told to just pray harder, just read the scriptures more. Attend the temple as often as you can. Pray to God that he will tell you the church is true. But still, I was confused. I was conflicted, but I tried. When I prayed about it with a sincere heart, the only answer I felt was to keep going on the current path I was choosing. 

One family member constantly told me I needed to decide. I couldn't sit in limbo forever. I couldn't stand still. At this point in my faith journey, I was content. I questioned and was confused, but I was very content to still go with the flow and remain a believer in the LDS church.

Eventually, being told I HAD to decide got frustrating. I wasn't sure exactly what would be the best way to move forward. I decided that I needed to dig in deep, so I jumped headfirst into LDS history and read all that I could to help me solidify a decision - be it I stay a believing member of the LDS church or that I leave the religion.

One thing I was very strict on (and still am if I search any history) was only reading sourced material. I was not interested in anything that did not have a traceable source or anything that was heavily biased to make me believe one way. I read sections of the official church history books, Fair Mormon, MormonThink, and so forth. My favorite sourced podcast is the "Year of Polygamy Podcast" which dives very deep into the history of polygamy and Joseph Smith’s involvement in plural marraiges, as well as tidbits of his life history. I would very highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about some of the history of the LDS church and more specifically polygamy.

Polygamy wasn't something that bothered me much before because I was told "it would all work out when we died" and I was ok with that. Since it didn't bother me, that was the second topic I decided would be "safe" to explore on my search for truth. I was quickly educated on things I had not learned about in Sunday school. Things that started to get to me.

I wasn't aware that Joseph had married women that were already married to other men, or that he was sealed to women as young as 14.  I didn't know that Joseph hid his plural marriages from Emma until he got caught. I was always taught that he only married multiple women because there were so many widows who needed someone to take care of them. I never knew that the real reason Joseph Smith was put in Carthage jail was because he ordered the burning down of a printing press that exposed his polygamy (which was illegal). Through my honest studying, I found that that was about 2% of the polygamy story. I slowly dove into studying topic after topic, taking it in bits and pieces because it was all hard to learn and handle.

I quickly learned that what I was taught growing up vs what actually happened was very very, very different. Much of the fairytale information I was fed growing up was quickly proven to have happened in a different way. A way that did not seem very Christlike to me. Many half-truths jumped off the pages as I read, jumping deeper and deeper into the history. As I began my research, it was very hard to hear things that I didn't agree with. Things that made me so sad and things that were so hard to read about. I had to take breaks from reading because it was all SO much information. It was like learning that Santa Clause wasn't real as a child.

After doing a very significant leap down the historical rabbit hole, I was faced with the scariest truth I had ever believed in. The truth that I couldn't believe in the LDS church any longer. My entire world came crashing down around me like a slow motion scene in a movie. Fear creeped into my mind as I wondered where to go from here.


Jason.
One question people like to ask if they find out about my faith transition is what Jason thinks since he has chosen to remain LDS. Jason has known my questions since pretty much day one. I remember before we even started dating I came to him with a few questions I had, questions that caused me such pain because I prayed to God they weren't true. I again decided to just doubt my doubts and continue on the LDS path that I truly wanted and was excited to marry in the LDS temple shortly after we started dating.

 I don't remember how far into our marriage I started to deeply question and I don't remember the exact instance I told him of my growing doubts. All I remember is that he was so supportive and loving. He has honestly been my biggest support. He has never once brought up divorce or leaving, never once told me I was an idiot or didn't know what I was talking about. Of course in the beginning we had some arguments and it wasn't peachy perfect, but we've quickly learned that the thing that matters most to us is each other.

We didn't get married because of a religion, we got married because of the love we share. I've had some of the nastiest things said to me from people close to me because of my choice, but Jason has always been there. He has stuck up for me in certain situations and supports me in my decisions as I support him. My biggest thing is that if it TRULY makes him happy, then I will continue to support him and vice versa.

I want to emphasize: it was never an EASY thing to happen for either of us, however I can confidently say it has made our marriage stronger. 

*please remember I looked at history and that doesn't mean Jason has chosen to read much of it. That is his choice and I respect him 100% to look or not look into history and I love him so much regardless if he does or doesn't. I support him and religion isn't the basis of our marriage so it doesn't matter. My post isn't about his story and I don't want to divulge details that are personal to him. Just to address some comments.

I won't go into details of all the history I read simply because that would be impossible and that isn't the reason for this post. There is SO much information and I also know it doesn't matter what I say, it is all such a personal journey for each individual. It's the same as people who like to reconvert me with their testimony, it doesn't necessary matter what they say, it is all very personal. I am super open about everything and I am always more than happy to talk to people about it IF they ask. It isn't really something I advertise, but if asked, I will share.

I don't hate the church, I don't hate people who are LDS, I just simply have chosen a path that is the best for my life. I have prayed about my decision and have never felt such peace. I still strive to be a good person in my own definition, I still love my daughter and husband more than life itself, I am still literally the exact same person that I always have been.

I feel like my mind is more accepting and loving than it ever has been, I feel like my internal happiness has never peaked so high, I feel like seeing both sides of the fence has been an overall positive experience, and I feel like my life has never been richer. I still believe that I will be with my family forever after we die, I don't believe God would ever separate a family based on their beliefs.

I know this decision is not popular but luckily, that's not why I picked it.

xo
Candace


I want to also recognize that I love all of my friends and family- LDS or not, so much! I know this has been hard on some of you and I am sorry to have caused that hurt. I hope this can help you understand my journey a little bit better.  I am not trying nor will I ever try to convince anyone to believe what I believe because I know how personal that is for each individual. I won't lie, I very much believe in studying anything in depth that heavily influences your entire life and choices, but I would never push anything on another. If you made it this far, thank you. 


For anyone interested in learning more history about the LDS church here are some sources:
Letter for my wife (uses LDS sources)
Dear Mormon Man (not history but gives a new perspective of why some women in the church feel it isn't equal with man)
Mormon stories podcast (not historical but they discuss current topics in the LDS world. He interviews LDS and non LDS people on their experience in the church)
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