I was born and raised in Utah. I am now in the mid-thirties. We went to church as a family but I became a rebellious teenager. I started smoking pot in ninth grade and dropped out of school the following year. I drank and used other drugs. As my life went downhill, I determined I would die before I age 20. I frequently thought of myself lying in a deep pit of manure and I could not climb out on my own.
I had a “bad trip” on LSD when I was 16. I believed I was going permanently insane and I had a terrifying revelation – death would not be an escape as I had previously supposed. I also realized that what I had learned in Primary and all that my parents had taught me about the Gospel is true.
I was entrenched in the lifestyle and didn’t change for a few months despite the experience I had. Eventually, I visited with the bishop and became active in church. My Savior had reached down and pulled me out of the pit.
Church Activity and Mission
I grew closer to Christ and had some great experiences in church and on scout activities. Before then, I knew very little about the Book of Mormon. It seemed to come to life as I read through it and it was an amazing experience.
Despite struggling with depression, I graduated from high school and prepared for the temple and a mission. Going to the temple for the first time was a bit disappointing. It just didn’t make sense to me. The MTC was difficult because I felt unworthy even though I had been told repeatedly by leaders that I was. A therapist there diagnosed me with OCD, but I didn't get treated for it until several months later when I started taking medication.
I attended the temple twice in the mission field and did not enjoy it. Though I experienced depression and anxiety, I had some good times and completed my mission. I had a very solid testimony.
I got married a few months after getting home. Within a few months after that, I was severely depressed. I have visited doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists and tried many medications since then. I was told that I don't really have OCD, and that the issues are depression and anxiety.
Eventually, I lost some faith because I had tried for so long to live the Gospel and I was not happy. Very seldom did I visit the temple. I read some anti-Mormon stuff and some things gave me pause, but I was mostly amused by it and was not deeply concerned.
On February 29, 2012, the “Church Statement Regarding 'Washington Post' Article on Race and the Church” was released. The statement includes:
I had understood we didn't really know why the restriction existed, but I assumed we knew how and when it came about. The idea that we don't even know if it should have existed came to my mind, and that hit me hard. Had the leaders of the church been “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”? What other supposed doctrines might not be of God?For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.
I studied the history of the restriction and discovered other issues that concerned me. Things that didn't seriously bother me before became more significant, such as Brigham Young’s “Adam-God” theory and his remarks regarding the conception of Jesus, the history of temple worship, and the accounts of the “First Vision.”
Last summer, I discovered StayLDS and decided to check it out. I read things on this site that bothered me and I was trying to cling to what was left of my Stage 3 faith. Because of this, I lashed out at this community and made some regretful comments. After apologizing, I became more involved here.
Riding a roller coaster describes the time since last summer. At the peaks, I would feel good about God and the church, but then I would go downhill again. I feel I need to study all the issues to avoid being haunted by something in the future, so I don’t get off the roller coaster.
Where I am Now
Life is not going so well right now. The more I learn about the church, the more I lose confidence in its teachings, practices, and leaders. I've done quite of bit of research (on polygamy, the “Word of Wisdom,” tithing, etc.) and I admit I probably have a distorted view of the church due to focusing on negative aspects and disqualifying the positive.
I still struggle with depression and anxiety and those things may be with me for the rest of my life. I still believe in Christ and I am still active in church, but I go to the temple very rarely and I wonder if there is a point at which “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” becomes prominent enough for the church to be an abomination in the sight of God. Lately, the following from D&C 112 has given me hope:
It may seem odd to derive hope from that, but here is how I see it: since God will begin the cleansing with his own house, it was known in 1837 that the church will need to be cleansed. This means the church and its people - at any level - can make mistakes. Despite being imperfect and needing cleansing, the church can generally be headed in the right direction and be sanctioned by the Lord.Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
Perhaps the Lord is far more patient with His children than I comprehend. Maybe D&C section 13 is still correct in stating the Priesthood “shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” despite the many mistakes of people in the church at all levels.
There was a reason for including information regarding my drug use and struggles with mental illness. Just last year, I was diagnosed with ADD (I don't include the H because I'm not hyperactive). A lot of things suddenly made more sense. It partially explains why I dropped out of high school, loved smoking pot (it relaxed my brain), completed only one year of college during a period of five years despite getting awesome grades and test scores, and was sub-par in job performance despite high knowledge and ability.
Due to those and other things, life has been incredibly frustrating, disappointing, and depressing. A simple pill has essentially doubled my productivity and improved my life immensely. I am trying to live with gratitude for the treatment, but I am also ticked off about missing so much opportunity! Here I am in my mid-thirties, married with children, and I still have only one year of college done, and I have really wanted to graduate. Right now, it would be too much of a sacrifice for my family for me attend school. Maybe someday...
The drug use as a teenager has severely affected my life in a bad way.
I actually had an experience somewhat like Alma the Younger's. "I was struck with such great fear and amazement..I was tormented with the pains of hell..even with the pains of a damned soul." After becoming active in church, I experienced horrific panic attacks, sometimes believing I had actually become a son of perdition and would be miserable forever.
How much suffering was experienced due to an undiagnosed condition? It all seems so useless. The only good thing about it is having empathy for others. But others can have empathy without going through so much crap.
All of this just affects my relationship with God.
March 2015 Update
It's time for an update.
A couple months ago I was mourning the loss of my religion. I really laid down and cried several times. I am doing a bit better now, though, and I continue to be active in church except for going to the temple.
It helps me to stay away from controversial topics, which is partly why I haven't been on this site lately. I'm not saying this site is bad - it just hasn't been good for me for a while.
I believe I was recently inspired when I thought "Mormonism has the truth." That doesn't mean it has all truth or teaches only truth, but we do have some significant teachings, such as a premortal life and eternal families.
I kinda think the church is to some degree in a state of apostacy. Simply put, it's not perfect. However, I don't know of a religion that has more truth or better programs.
I am so tired of the "follow the prophet" mantra. It seems to detract from the Lord's words "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." People say, "But the prophet directs us to Christ." True, but the prophet is NOT our intermediary and we need to talk more of Christ and less of men! We spend precious little time in church studying the words of Jesus recorded in the New Testament compared to the time we spend with those "Teachings of Presidents" manuals.
Okay, I got into a rant there. Anyway, I'm hanging in there.
August 28, 2016 Update
So I finally came out to my wife, who is TBM. It didn't come out of the blue. It was over four years ago when I told her “With all the stuff Brigham Young said, there is no way he could have been a prophet." But I got through that and I was still a TBM, but a questioning one. I've told her about some other things here and there.
A week ago, I emailed her a document I had prepared that details my concerns. It was 25 pages long and now it's over 35 pages. She read it and then we talked. I told her "It's all bullcrap." Of course, my wife isn't happy about the situation, but we are getting along okay. Here are some issues I need to address:
The Temple and Garments
My recommend actually expired over a year ago, so this isn't a new issue. I've told her a few times that I have trouble believing in temples. Has anyone considered how Moroni 8:22-23 might relate to baptisms for the dead? I was floored by this last week.
Just last night I told her I don't want to wear garments anymore. I said they just have Masonic symbols that are not of God. However, I understand how others might believe they are of God and I can respect that. I'm still wearing them now and maybe I will continue to do so. If I don't really believe in God, then it doesn't matter as long I don't do anything to disrespect the garments. Or is it disrespectful for a non-believer to wear them? If there is a God, I think he might find garments to be offensive. I don't know what to do at this point.
A few days ago, I told her again that I don't want to pay tithing on my income. I've mentioned this a couple times before but then backed down and let her continue paying on my income. I got a bit disgusted with the opulence of the new Provo temple when I went through for the open house and I don't want any more of my money going toward temples. I am being quite adamant about this.
Church and Neighbors
I want to get along with my neighbors and I don't want to cause trouble for my wife and kids. I don't want my neighbors to know about what I think of the church. Many of them are awesome and I want to continue being their friend. I don't want any them to be afraid that I will influence their kids. I am going to keep going to church to be with my family, but I will probably resign from my calling as a youth Sunday school teacher very soon.
I want my kids to know that I don't believe. I think they should not be misled by my church attendance. I believe at least one of them will want to leave the church some day and I don't want them to say "Seriously, Dad? You knew this stuff and didn't tell me?" I will not actively seek to destroy their faith, but I think I need to be honest if they ask me questions. I need to find some kind of balance.
My wife has known about many of the issues for several years and I am baffled by how she views them. We talked about Fanny Alger, the Partridge sisters, Zina DH Young, and others in detail. She didn't say something like, "Yeah, that's disturbing but I still have a testimony." She actually said, "That really doesn't bother me. I'm okay with it."
I am still withholding some things from her. I haven't told her that I want our kids to know my position. I haven't told her that I want to leave the church and I want her to follow me. I will wait and hope for her to see it the way I do so we can leave together. For now, I need to figure out a way to StayLDS as an unbeliever.
I might be done with the anger and depression stages of grief and I am going through the acceptance stage now.