While I was prepping this post, I was surprised that more people weren’t willing to discuss religion. I heard from a few of you and I understand where you come from. I see both sides of it, but like I’ve told a friend, for reasons I won’t discuss here once you have seen what the LDS people/Mormons are warned against viewing (and I’m not talking about pornography), you can never go back to the Faith. This is where I find myself these days.
I’m just here to share with you my experience. I have no ill will for the church or its members and have the utmost respect for many of my friends who count themselves as firm believers. I am what you call a Post-Mormon. I was not ex-communicated, I wrote the the church headquarters and had my records officially removed. I have no regrets of leaving and my husband and I have even discussed moving back to Utah.
Honestly, I miss the structure. Being LDS encouraged me to do what I needed to do everyday (read my scriptures, have individual and family prayers, and to teach my children to live the Gospel). My religion dictated where I needed to be on certain days and who I was to spend that time with. I’m sure some of the names have changed, but the activities remain the same. I am glad to hear that for the my devout friends that church is now only two hours long instead of the three hour block, I was accustomed to.
My days were filled with Family Home Evenings, Ministering (Visiting Teaching), Temple Nights, Enrichment Activities (Relief Society) and/or attending Young Women’s (Youth activities) as a leader. If I had a calling, I was busy fulfilling that calling. Preparing to give a well researched lesson filled references from past general auhorities or prophets, hoping my lesson would touch the hearts and minds of those participating in that class.
Living in an underpopulated LDS metropolis like Citrus County (tongue in cheek) members of the ward carry more than one calling. On the West Coast, I had one. Here I had three. If I wasn’t willing to accept the calling, I was told, “But don’t you want to follow the will of the Lord? And you know Sister Sant, the Lord never gives you more than you can handle.”
I accepted the callings, this was in 2012. Little did I know 2013 would bring more trials, literally and figuratively. I thought I was strong, but like all things our mental strengths are tested. We climb our metaphorical Mt. Everest time and time again.
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Summer of 1996
I was leaving the only thing I thought I believed in since I bore my testimony on the beach at the “Res” (reservoir) in Delta, Utah during a youth activity for Hinckley 1st Ward. The sun was setting against the water. Brother Larson was leading the testimony meeting. I was 16 at the time. The feelings were there. I choked back my tears. I remember that evening clearly. We had all gone to middle school together and were in high school all attending Seminary. I felt a closeness to the teenagers I had grown up with like I had never experienced.
I bore my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. So this was what it was like to really feel the Holy Spirit. I felt an all encompassing love that evening, from the seen and the unseen.
I’m not going to say I was the perfect LDS girl, but I came pretty damn close when I was married to my first husband. I didn’t swear, drink coffee, alcohol or black tea or smoke.
I was very much into nutrition and wouldn’t dare give my children fast food. Heaven forbid they allow that garbage to enter their delicate systems. Lauryn and Lexi were 11 and 12 years old before I decided that we would no longer attend church.
Coincidentally, since my soon to be ex husband was no longer around and spending his days in a
Federal Prison Camp, I had to get a job and my children had to attend public school. Up until that point, I had homeschooled them from Kindergarten to Fifth grade. My girls had lived a sheltered life for sure. They attended gymnastics twice a week and went to all church functions, but they didn’t know what it was like to attend public school.
I didn’t allow them to watch Sponge Bob because I felt it was like bubble gum for the brain. They played educational games on the computer and watched shows that were church appropriate and not anything morally degrading.
When I ran ,I listened to ungodly music. Mainstream pop music (edited) was my act of rebellion. My husband hated it, but music and running was non-negotiable. I did my best to pick races held on Saturdays and only listened to my music through my headphones or in the car when my kids were not in it.
Life After the Church
When I left the church aka The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a couple people told me that it was a brave thing I was doing. Brave? I was scared shitless. Terrified. It felt like I was slipping out into the great unknown. I asked my former sister-in-law how she had felt after leaving the church, she said it took a couple of years to not feel guilty for leaving.
I suppose what I expected was hellfire and brimstone to cloud my life path. Or maybe God believed I deserved nothing but misery because of the choices I made in choosing to take my children from the only religion they ever knew.
While I wasn’t officially off church records, I was on my way to living a life of a non-Mormon.
I took off my temple garments, I had worn since I was 19. I imagined only bad things happening from here on out. When I had my first cup of coffee, that I drank black. Since then I have come to appreciate my French press, a good flavored creamer with a little bit of sugar. Lightening did not strike me.
After the Ragnar Relay in 2014 that took place from Key Biscayne to Key West, I got drunk with my boyfriend sharing a couple of fishbowls. I didn’t know my tolerance level, but quickly found out that evening. It didn’t and still doesn’t take much to feel tipsy.
That same night, I had the Ragnar logo affixed to my arm permanently. I realized now that there are far worse things I could have tattooed to my arm that night, I’m glad it was what it was. When I arrived home, my kids were shocked. Lexi said, “Mom?! You got a tattoo?!”
“Yes, I did. One day I’ll explain what happened.”
Mind you, this was coming from a mother who once wouldn’t let her children put on fake tattoos, because the mere appearance of it would make them want to get one later. I did not tell them about the fishbowls, they would have thought I was drinking water from fishbowls with fish still in them. I was in my mid-thirties experiencing what 20 year olds were doing.
While I struggled with leaving the church behind, I would look into the mirror staring into my eyes, searching into the deep recesses of my soul. Saying to myself, “Des, what are you doing? You can’t leave the church. What will happen to your eternal family? How will you be able to see your children again once you pass through the veil of death?”
Honestly, the one question that looped through my head had come from another runner. “Excommunication? Why would your church abandon your husband during this time? Isn’t this the time when he needs God the most?
That was a good question. Why would Heavenly Father do that during a time of need? All blessings revoked? These thoughts made my head spin. None of it made sense, until I reconciled it within myself. It wasn’t finding justification for my “rebellion” it was a realization.
Like I said in a previous post, the last time I would set foot in the church besides one other time, I was asked by one of the counselors in the bishophric, requesting that I meet with the bishop. He wished to talk to me.
I went to this impromptu meeting. The bishop was all smiles, until he looked down at his legal pad and adjusted his pen just right before looking up at me.
“Sister Sant, you might want to consider running less and taking the time to be with your children.”
My world had flipped upside down. A couple months prior, at the insistence of my future ex husband and father of my three daughters, he strongly suggested I remain at a dead end receptionist job making $8.50 an hour working eight hours a day, five days a week, while the church took care of the remainder of mine and the needs of my children. I refused because our ward members were suffering more than my own family. We would get through it. Somehow.
I quit the receptionist job and decided to sell skirts through a brand new company called LulaRoe. I would later substitute teach for Citrus County Schools and eventually found a soul sucking job working full time with a title search company. We made it. I survived. Somehow. And it had nothing to do with God.
My best friend since high school recently said, “You cannot deny those feelings you had as a member of the church.
“You’re right. I can’t.”
She wished me the best on my faith journey and we talked about other things. I am incredibly grateful for friends like her. Thankfully, I have been blessed to have many friends that still love me as I am.
The best way I can explain those feelings of the Spirit match those I have heard on a podcast I listen to off and on. It has been a great help during this time. If you’re interested, let me know. I am more than happy to share with you what I have learned.
It’s a Vibe
There is no doubt that there is higher power, but I no longer believe that it belongs to one Supreme Being. I believe that we are all interconnected in this vast universe, so much so that I can feel those vibrations through my entirety. The vibrations you give off are as real as the air you breathe, be it positive or negative that is exactly what you’ll attract.
I have seen it in my own life without attending a church or paying a tithe. I belonged to a non-denominational where I met wonderful people, but I couldn’t reconcile some things. I hope this resonates with you in some way as you grow and flourish in this life. I’m sorry if you think less of me because I no longer share your faith, but just know I am still the same Desiree at my core. In fact, I feel more like Desiree 2.0. I am more comfortable with myself than I have ever been. I suppose that comes with age and life experience.
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As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post, and I hope to “see” you again. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to “Buy Me Coffee.” Your donations help this mama out more than you know.