Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Finale

After the most recent unanswered prayer experience I told my wife that I was done with the church. This wasn't the answer I wanted and it surely wasn't the answer she wanted. This was hard on the both of us, but we knew we loved each other and that we could overcome religious differences.
Later that week I contacted my Bishop and informed him that I can't honestly be a sustainer of the church and that I wished to be released from my calling. I also informed him that if he wished to discuss this further I would be more than willing, but I didn't feel that it was necessary on my side. He requested that we meet together and the following Sunday we did. I was very impressed with our discussion, he seemed to believe that I was sincere and honest, which is not what I experienced form other LDS members. He reassured me that I could get an answer that was more than a belief that I could actually 'know' that it is true. But I had tried, and I told him that. It didn't make sense to me to knock at a door that I had just knocked at dozens of times and no one ever answered, I used to have faith but that had gone, all I was left with was a hope. He challenged me not to give up and to give it another shot. Wanting an answer so badly I accepted his challenge. That following week was General Conference, a meeting held in Salt Lake City by leaders of the LDS church which is broadcast to members all over the world. I watched every session, which I did with every General Conference, this was 6 hours on Saturday and 4 on Sunday. During the Saturday afternoon session Elder Uchtdorf gave the talk I previously referenced. In that talk he said that it is every member's responsibility to have a doubt free conviction. I dvr'd that talk and watched it probably 4 or 5 times, taking exact notes of the steps he said were needed to get an answer. I even went so far as to create a spreadsheet mapping out the process. If I was going to give this one more chance, I wanted to do it right. Two more weeks went by, I read my scriptures everyday, I prayed regularly, I obeyed all the commandments I could think of. Saturday came and I decided that I was ready for an answer, I began a fast on Saturday about noon to get myself spiritually ready for the answer. After church the next day I tried again, with hope and sincerity, but there was no difference. Again I had received nothing. We went to my parents house that evening for dinner, the whole time I was still waiting for my answer, thinking that I didn't wait long enough. Eventually, by the next morning, I gave up, I was depressed and abandoned, but also frustrated. Frustrated like I had just been made a fool of. I think it was Ben Franklin who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I was done, that was it. The following Sunday I stayed home with one of our children who was sick. The Bishop asked my wife if he could speak with her and she informed him that I was done. He handed her some books about prayer that he wanted me to read. I read them, but they did nothing for me, I didn't have the strength to try again, plus even my hope was waning. I met with the Bishop later that week and told him my results. Our meeting was a little different this time, he didn't seem as understanding. Although he was still legitimately concerned with my situation he began telling me that most people who leave the church do so because they are sinning, somewhat insinuating that I had big sins that I hadn't repented of. I told him this was not the case. He continued to ask and even went so far as to directly ask me if I had always remained faithful to my wife. A bit take aback, I said that I had and that I kind of prided myself of still being temple worthy even though I no longer believed. We parted ways, neither satisfied with our experience.
It has been two weeks since that meeting. I still go to church with the family, but mainly to support my wife and kids with what they practice. I still have interest in religion and the church, I am currently reading Rough Stone Rolling (a biography about Joseph Smith), but I can no longer say that I believe. That lack of a belief extends beyond Mormonism, how far beyond I am not sure. The idea of a God is nice, I would like to believe in it, and some days I think that it is likely that there is a god, but I am not sure. I don't know a lot, but I do know that I don't know, and that now I don't even believe.


At 10:03 PM, Blogger Zoe said...

Rob, I can see your agony. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I am so happy that you and Dasha can work through this together. She is awesome . . . just like you. I think that reading this post helped me to understand your struggle a little bit more.

I don't know if Sterling has ever told you about my little sister but she is a lesbian. She struggles greatly with depression, thoughts of suicide, drug abuse, etc. I have been to a therapy session with her and see says that a lot of her sorrow comes from being raised in an LDS family. I didn't quite understand what she was saying, I mean, I knew that she must have struggled with the fact that her preferences were not okay in our gospel but, I think that she would have also struggled with society in general. I guess that I always realized that she felt this pain in wanting to belong and just go with the flow of the gospel but I have never read it so elloquently as you have written it. I am truly sorry for your struggle. I think that you have tried harder to get an answer then I have ever tried. I really respect that.

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not information I would have likely passed along, but I guess it is sympathetic.

BTW, what kind of answer or feeling are you thinking would be a confirmation for you anyways?



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