Monday, 4 May 2015

The Road to Inactivity

It's been a long time coming but I'm finally ready to say that I am full fledged inactive.

I realised I haven't posted in a while and that maybe in part due to my busy schedule lately but also due to the fact that the Gospel actually doesn't cross my mind as much as it used to.

I went to Church last week for the first time in... about 2 months because my Home Teachers texted me and asked if they could share a message with me after Church on Sunday. I actually stayed for the whole 3 hours... I felt nothing. While my HT started sharing their message, they began asking me questions about how to have courage in defending my standards and beliefs and I thought it would be very hypocritical of me to lie about it so I told my HT that I didn't believe in the Gospel anymore. They really didn't know how to respond, I don't think they saw it coming but it felt good to be honest. There is so much power if verbalising thoughts that your mind has pondered for so long.

I think about my path to inactivity a lot and look at where I am now... how the hell did I get to where I am now?? Not in a bad way... I just can't comprehend how I managed to successfully breakaway from the Church while still feeling satisfied in my life and not harbouring any harsh feelings towards the Church.

I've written this post mostly due to reading some other posts by fellow MoHos and reading about the all too familiar struggles that they're going through. I remember being in the exact same position and remember feeling how I could ever be at peace with a decision and be happy. I thought I had found it when I decided to live the Gospel with all my heart and stay faithful the rest of my life... I think I gave it a good shot. Although I can't and won't try to convince others of what to do, I can only share what my experience has been hoping it could give some insight into what 'could' be on the other side.

Growing Up:

I was such a good kid growing up. Always wanted to serve a mission, always did the right thing. Served as Deacon and Teacher's Quorum President and also the Assistant in the Priest Quorum. I gained my first 'testimony' at 14 - I use quotation marks because my interpretation of a testimony and the experiences I had may not be defined in the same way the Church defines testimony. It was still a special experience for me but I won't go into details here.

I dated girls growing up and I really thought I would live a happy fulfilling life in the Gospel and get married. Minus a few hiccups along the way during my rebellious teenage years, I was quite grounded in the Gospel. I promised the Lord that if I were to stay in the Gospel, it wouldn't be a half-assed attempt and that I would do it with all my heart and do everything He would want me to do. I served the most fulfilling 2 year mission I could've ever asked. I didn't have to think about girls, relationships or marriage. It was all about serving the Lord and that was probably why I loved it so much.

Post Mission:

After my mission I still tried really hard to live the Gospel. I was called to be the Ward Mission Leader when I got home, I was also teaching Elder's Quorum and became an EFY counsellor soon after I returned home. I dated but could never commit to any girl because I just didn't feel anything. I just kept serving in the Church. I remember I would go out teaching with the missionaries at least 3 times a week and amongst studying and working, I wouldn't have time to 'have a girlfriend'.

I continued like this for a few years. I was feeling somewhat fulfilled because I had great friends. I knew something was missing though. I couldn't put my finger on it but something was missing...

Self Exploration:

After graduating from university, I moved interstate which was probably a pivotal moment in my life because I didn't have my family and friends around and expectations to live up to. I wanted to explore a new life, a new me. Funnily enough... I started going to Church when I moved interstate and started making friends in Church because I had no idea where else to make friends or what else to do. I was like a fish out of water, I had no idea how people made friends outside of Church.

Right around this time I also met my first boyfriend. We had a 'discreet' relationship as I was still in the closet and while it probably wasn't the best looking back it helped me realise that maybe this could work. I wasn't totally convinced though and I was too scared to let go of the Church.. something so familiar and safe to me. But this was the first time I had a taste of what the other side could be like... I liked it... but I couldn't see myself at this point leaving the Church and living a 'gay lifestyle'. Nevertheless, my Church activity began to waiver, I still went but I began missing weeks here and there.

Coming Out:

Coming out to my friends and family (again) was a huge step for me in discovering myself and what I wanted. It wasn't an easy process and certainly it wasn't easy for my family either. It has been quite an adjustment for them as well (and I think an ongoing adjustment). If anything, I felt like I can now be honest with myself, I can go and discover what it is a really want and whether it was worth it. I started meeting with Bishop who was nothing but supportive. We tried many different things such as reading my scriptures and praying, nothing seemed to give me the peace I was looking for.

At this time, the Gospel probably moved more to the back burner for me. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted to be loved. I want to love someone. This was when I met my second boyfriend who in my opinion played quite a bit role in my life even though we were only together for a short 3 months (it felt like a lot longer). He pushed me out of my comfort zone, we kissed in public, we held hands in public and we lived a 'normal' life. It showed me that a partnership wasn't just the promiscuity or the secret relationships, I could live happily with my partner and live a normal life. The relationship as mentioned before was short lived but what surprisingly remained with me was the will power to not go crawling back to Church. I needed to discover who I was and what I believed.

Cross Roads: 

My meetings with Bishop became less frequent but because I didn't want to talk to him because I really enjoy our meetings, just that I didn't feel the need to anymore. I started questioning why I believed the way I did. I began to ask questions, questions that I couldn't find the answer to in the Gospel. I started to have doubts, (and if anyone says to be again 'doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith' I'm going to punch them). We should be encouraged to question BOTH our doubts and our faith - neglecting to question one or the other just means it's blind and we're only scared of what the answer might bring which in my case I was scared for so long... scared to see what my life would be like without the warm, fuzzy comforting blanket of the Gospel I'd believed all my life.

It all began with a seed of question and it begins to grow just as the same principle the Church uses about faith. I slowly began to question the reason WHY I believed what I did growing up. i wanted answers; I couldn't find any. I tried testing this faith principle oppositely - what if the Gospel wasn't true? What if God doesn't condemn me being with another man? To be completely honest, I feel more at peace with the thought that God would love me regardless. The Gospel taught me who God was... but I really had to find what that means for me.

Inactive Mormon:

Step my step, little by little, I began re-framing my life. I don't have all the answers and I don't know everything but I am at peace. I began going to Church less... (2 day weekend is actually amazing!!) I actually don't even have a second thought when I buy something on Sunday.

I recounted an experience with my HT on Sunday which I'd pondered about a lot. It was an experience from my mission when I visited a less active family. Lovely family, long history in the Church infact their ancestors were pioneers. A few years prior to me getting to the area they had dabbled in 'anti-mormon' material and had gone less active. I remember distinctly sitting with this family asking them what they believe now. They answered they didn't know. I thought to myself, 'man, how stupid is that? Why would you give up something you know for the unknown?' I remember talking to my companion afterwards about how stupid we thought that was and swore we would never leave the Church. I retold this story to my HT because I was wrong those years ago. Just because you're afraid of the unknown, doesn't mean you have to hold onto something you're not even sure is true.

So there you have it. I never knew this day would come. I can't even comprehend it sometimes... it's a bit surreal thinking about it really. The best thing is... this is solely my decision, it hasn't been influenced by a partner or a friend. I am choosing this other path even though I don't know what it means... and guess what? I'm exciting to see what it brings and the adventures that will come along with it. Everyone's journey is different and I'm all for everyone taking a different journey so long as it brings them peace.