Monday, November 06, 2006

Deconversion continued some more

After the birth of our second child, I started a new job. It wasn't long before everybody knew me as the Mormon guy, which was fine, I always made it a point to let people know of my religious "convictions" and often used that to start conversations about religion, even going so far as to invite (albeit unsuccessfully) coworkers to meet with the missionaries and reactivate an inactive member once. Although at this time, I had many doubts about one's ability to know the truthfulness of the church, I still believed it, and was going to be a messenger for it. About 10 months after I started this new job I was transferred to Texas, near my family, to start a new position with the company. We were excited about the opportunity to be around my family, but were also sad about leaving my wife's family, even I became really attached to Minnesota. We joined our new ward (congregation) and I was called to be Financial Clerk for the church. We met a few good friends in the ward, but my doubts about the church were increasing. I had a good friend from BYU, who I had considered attending law school with, who left the church. We would occasionally have conversations about this and he would say that he thought I wouldn't be LDS if I wasn't married. I wasn't sure what brought that on, but I assured him that I had a testimony of the church and that I would be a strong member regardless of whether I was married or not.
One day I received an email from another friend from BYU, we exchanged emails back and forth and then decided that IM'ing would be quicker. While at work (I'm bad, I know) we would IM back and forth about music, movies, kids and other things typical to these type of "catching up" conversations. One day we were talking about politics and I asked him what he thought of gay marriage. I could have predicted his answer before he said it, we have always been very polar in our political stances. He told me that he had no problem with gay marriage and I think I may have shocked him when I told him I felt the same way. This ultimately led to us discussing religion and I was shocked to find out that he had a lot of the same doubts as I did. This was totally different from my first friend leaving the church, both are really smart guys, but I never really felt that the first friend was that much into the church, but this second friend was. He was a strong missionary and always impressed my with his testimony. To discover his doubts as well was shocking and comforting at the same time. The somewhat comical part of these conversations was that when either of us would express doubt about certain doctrine, the other would try to explain why that principle was true. It was as if we were both trying to make sure that neither left the church, I guess you can take the man out of the mission field but you can't take the mission out of the man.
Eventually I became more comfortable with my own doubts and started to research more into church history and doctrine. There are areas of church history that I have always had concerns with, but as I searched it seemed like I discovered more and more, and this is not what I wanted. I was in search of resolutions to my doubts not confirmations of them, and certainly not new doubts. But that is what I found. I tried to approach this with the most neutral of stances, I didn't read anything from organizations who would profit from me leaving the church (i.e. other churches) I would only read things from members or former members. If I found something negative, I would research that topic in F.A.R.M.S. or FAIR LDS, pro-LDS sites. I really, really wanted it to be true but at the same time I did not want to be ignorant of everything that this church is or has been about. Unsatisfied, with any of the pro-LDS literature I was reading I decided to put away all research. I decided that people can debate "facts" back and forth all day and end up getting nowhere. I decided that the only thing that would make me believe would be personal revelation about the truthfulness of the church, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. That weekend I fasted and prayed. I prayed all weekend that the Lord would soften my heart, help me recognize an answer and would give me a confirmation that what I wanted to believe was true. That Sunday we had a lesson about true intentions, doing good for good's sake, and I felt great, this is what I loved about the gospel, it was truly good and I wanted an answer that it wasn't just good but eternally true. I stayed after church to do the finances but all I could think about was getting home and asking the Lord for an answer. After we were finished, I rushed home, ran upstairs and fell to my knees and prayed. I can honestly say I have never felt more humble and more prepared for divine inspiration than at that point. I committed myself to the Lord and said that I will do all He asks if I could receive an answer. I waited and waited, but it never came. All I received was nothingness. I went downstairs and my wife immediately knew something was wrong, we went into the living room away from the kids and I told her about my fast and prayer. I was in tears, simultaneously sad and mad. Although we had talked about it several times before, I think this is the first time that she understood the internal struggle I was having. In my lowest moment, I did not feel the Lord comforting me, I did however feel my wife comforting and understanding me. This would change my life.


At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, the fact that you were full of so much emotion says something of your feelings about the Gospel.

From what I have seen, most people leaving the church drift off quietly and then become aggrevated when the members try to pull them back in.

I'm guessing the church will always have a place in your heart and that in action you will find yourself not straying too far from it's principals.

Perhaps there will come a time that you will find the answer you are looking for and in hind sight will recognize the struggle for it's merits.

If you remain open to this then I think most of the disconcerting questions will quiet down within you and maybe you will simply find yourself feeling your way around instead.

In other words I'm getting the impression still that your head is getting in the way of your heart. I can't pin it down on anything you've mentioned on your blog since the points you make are heartfelt and valid in your perspective.



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