LOVELY LITTLE RANTS

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 would read my patriarchal blessing often and cry at the thought of how "blessed" I was, and the blessings I had in store because I was a member of God's only true church. 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 close family members 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. 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)

Brighton and a pumpkin patch











This is one of her newer faces "surprise!!!"




This year the pumpkin patch was a lot more exciting for Brighton! Last year when we took her she was only about 2.5 months so she probably had no clue what was going on. This year, she loved the patch! We went to a farm in Gilbert called "Mother Nature's Farm" and apparently it was the hot spot this year for people who go to pumpkin patches. I had literally never even heard of it and then this year I went to it like 3 times in the span of a week. I saw people post about it at least 2 million times. Like I don't get what the deal was this year but I totally get the hype. It was super adorable!!

 It was so cute and fulfilled all my basic white girl fall goals. We went with our friends Ashlie, Cater, and their baby boy Colt. Ashlie and I were basically there for the pictures haha. As you can see, I did not hold back in that department. Especially when it came to pictures of Brighton with pumpkins. "omg put her next to this pumpkin!" *snap* "K this one now!!" *snap snap* "Alright, make her laugh!!" *snap snap snap snap snap* etc etc.

The pictures above were from the "free" part of the farm and the ones below is from the part where you have to pay to go in. Did I pay 100% to see that pumpkin forrest thing? YES.




HER TEETH!!!!





People shouldn't only say "Holidays are more fun when you have kids!" they should say "EVERYTHING is more fun when you have kids!" minus going to the bathroom. That isn't as fun because you lost all privacy rights. ANYWAYS the top pic was taken with self timer. God bless self timer hahah I found a random table, set self timer, and got this one after a few tries. The first try or 2, some girl stood right in front of the camera yelling to her mother who was across the patch that she had found the PERFECT PUMPKIN!!!!!!! I debated getting her email so I could send her the pic where she found the perfect pumpkin (obviously a moment to treasure forever) but I decided against that. Spoiler alert: all the pumpkins were basically the exact same.

Brighton got to pick her own little pumpkin from this patch and it out lived the one Jason and I carved by like 3 weeks. Our pumpkin molded into a disgusting mess within 3 days. Brighton knows how to pick em, hers lasted forever! Her picking a pumpkin was pretty much me handing her a pumpkin and saying "should we pick this one?!!?" so basically please give all credit to me ;) ;) ;)

anyways, it's midnight and B's new wake time is 7am for some strange reason. Praying she is just teething and decides to go back to her normal wake time of 8am (PLEASE)

xo
Candace



Our first family pictures


















Wow, I am obsessed with my family :) We finally got some family pictures done (a few months ago) and I have been meaning to share these! I love every single one SO MUCH so it was hard to not share them all. If anyone needs pictures done, please use Reagan Blake Photography. She was amazing and set up this whole shoot for us! She found this sweet couple who have vintage VW busses and made our family session so fun! Brighton started out pretty cranky haha Isn't that how it's supposed to go, though? You can't take family pictures without a kid being cranky/ tired/ hungry/ etc. Luckily I had her favorite food (puffs) so those made for the perfect bribe!

The kissing picture up there was made possible by puffs hahah. I just held it in between my lips and she wanted it so she went for it! It makes for a cute picture that LOOKS like she wants to kiss me ;) But really, she just wanted the puff I was holding hostage.

I cannot believe it is already *basically* Thanksgiving!!! The best time of the year because you can ditch your diet (or at least stop pretending to be healthy aka me) and eat as much as you want and no one is aloud to judge you for it! Hails yes this is the happiest time of year!! And then is it CHRISTMAS! I have been planning Brighton's Christmas gift for a while now. She LOVES toy kitchens so I am buying her the Ikea toy kitchen and redoing it to make it super cute for her. I honestly am way more excited than an adult should be about toys, but it's fine. I play with these toys with her so I figure I might as well like what we are playing with, right?! I spent WAY too long trying to figure out how I wanted to redo it and I FINALLY decided on what I want to do! I will post a tutorial on here of how I did it because all the pinterest tutorials helped and gave me some awesome inspiration so I want to pay it forward (and I like making tutorials soooo)

I asked for my blog to be made into a book for Christmas so I will be posting a lot this next little bit so that they make it into the book.

A few random things before I go that for some reason I feel like when I read my blog book in 50 years I will care about:
-Jason graduates in DECEMBER! He accepted a full time offer that starts next September at a big firm in Phoenix so we are so excited (and I am sooooo proud of him!!!)
- Taylor Swifts new album is so gucci. I am literally and figuratively obsessed. (future Candace, it's the Reputation album)
-I heard a 15 year old say Gucci this week and he's like a "cool" kid so I'm testing the waters on that one. Gotta stay relevant, am I rite???!
-Also the 15 year old also said my "hipster" outfit was really cool. It was gym clothes and dirty hair so I guess I'll keep up that as my daily wardrobe
-I got a job working in a pilates studio in the daycare a few hours a week so I can workout there. It's been AWESOME! I can take Brighton to "work" with me and she gets to play with kids! Then when I workout, she gets to play more. Win win!


xoxoxo
Candace


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