I was Facebook messaging one of my former mission companions this past week and all of a sudden out of the blue he asks me: 'I have to ask, are you still in the Church?' It took me a bit (or a lot) by surprise because I'm certainly not one for sharing every aspect of my life on Facebook and certainly I haven't publicly announced my challenges with the Church.
I proceeded to say that I have been 'less active' but still go occasionally. To my surprise, he didn't judge nor make a big deal out of it but simply just moved on. I almost felt like I wanted him to ask so I could explain to him my issues however he didn't ask and I just moved on with the conversation.
This made me think about anything that could've given it away on Facebook because that's the only contact we've had except for the occasional Skype chat when we first returned home from our missions roughly 5 years ago. I noticed that over the last few months I've subtly 'unliked' all the Mormon related pages on Facebook such as 'The Book of Mormon', 'General Conference' and 'LDS missionaries' because they would fill up my news feed. I then thought about my lack of active 'Gospel related' posts and 'YSA events' I've attended which could've given it away. It's funny how even the omission of Gospel related posts could give it away from a once very active Mormon.
I certainly have moved away from trying to hide the fact that I've developed some issues with the Church but I've been a bit reluctant to make it public knowledge for a few reasons. I still keep in touch with some converts I taught on my mission and members that I've been really close to and I don't want to affect their testimonies and I didn't want them to see me differently...
It was after that conversation that I realised that I had avoided to make contact with some of the closest families on my mission because I was scared they would see me differently. In one of my areas on my mission I was really close to a family and I would call them 'mum' and 'dad'. When I first returned home I would call them several times a year (her birthday, his birthday, Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day). I realised that I hadn't called them in about 3 years. I decided to change that and I called them this past week. We talked for about an hour on Skype and of course they found out that I was no longer 'completely' active in Church through asking what my calling was. I felt a little piece of my heart break but they didn't judge or hassle me. It reminds me of the loving nature that Mormons are striving so hard to obtain and gives me hope that although there maybe imperfect people in Church, they also possess a lot of perfect qualities.
I now notice that a lot of things that used to bother me no longer do. When I first started not wearing my garments I would be so scared that people would see so I'd often wear a jumper (sweater) or a jacket over my white shirt. I would be so nervous when I'd have to decline the invitation to give a prayer in class or who could see me not partake of the Sacrament.
I walked into Church today and stayed for the whole 3 hours block (how did I manage to go to Church for 3 hours my entire life?! It was SO long!) I no longer look at who's staring at me pass the bread and the water along without taking it or care who can see I'm not wearing my garments. It has taken me a long time to be comfortable to not fit into the Mormon mould anymore and I think that's a win. Once I can remove the social incentives of being a member, I can truly go on a spiritual, soul searching journey to find God in my life. I can still enjoy the wonderful musical items in Sacrament meeting and giggle at the travel log testimonies but I can take a step back and ponder about these things as an outsider looking in as opposed to being indulged in the emotion of it all.
I am an inactive Mormon and I am O.K. with that.
Scripture from Elders Quorum today: Alma 34:26 - 'But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness'.
Seriously Alma?! I think I've been in the closet praying for long enough!