- To talk of fewer things.
- Not of consent or where our friends went.
- No voice…nor choice.
- Just cabbages and kings.
After a 2 1/2 year faith journey, I’m stepping away from the church. This morning, with tears in her eyes, my wife said, “Honey, there are other ways to serve Jesus than advocating for his laws and a safe place to discuss them.” In her wise and kind way, she was giving me permission and support to follow a different path.
It’s time. It’s consumed me.
I have blogged…as an active, believing church member. I’ll continue to blog…as a believing member who has stepped away.
Do I support my wife in the church? Of course. But, she has not been there much lately.
Do I support my kids and grand kids in the church? Of course and absolutely.
Do I support my bishop and stake president? Fine, fine men. They are doing the best they can within the system they have been dealt.
Do I support my friends who remain active? If it blesses their lives, that is exactly where they should be. Good for them. They have my full encouragement.
Do I support my friends and family who have left the church? That’s pretty rhetorical at this point. Whether atheist or Christian..believer of not…we understand and empathize with each other completely.
Acknowledge That People are Leaving
This has been a sticking point over the past 26 months. It was that long ago, when I first reached out to the local leaders. I was encouraging them to create a safe space for those with questions. In that first meeting, I was told that I was the only person who was questioning.
Over the intervening 2 years, many members of our ward have left. The leaders may be clueless as to who several of them are. Except for one couple, I have had lengthy and deep communication with all those on the list below.
Family #1: Two years ago, this bedrock couple was open to outreach. Today, they are simply gone.
Family #2: Super active and involved for decades. Now, gone. The one family I have not personal spoken to, yet.
Family #3: Have since moved from the ward. Few know of their disaffection. They want it that way.
Family #4: Struggled in gut wrenching pain and loneliness for months. Finally, left the church without discussing anything with leadership.
Family #5: Another family who moved on from the ward and on from the church. Again, few know and they want to keep it that way.
Family #6: They contacted me a few weeks ago. Long discussion. Not coming back. Don’t want to discuss with anyone else.
Family #7: If the ward doesn’t know they are gone, they are not paying attention.
Family #8: That’s me….my wife would have to speak for herself.
Our ward and stake leadership is not aware of all the names behind these family #’s. They seem to be in denial. Never-the-less, they are real. If this is happening in my own ward, imagine what is happening all around the world.
Recently, I had the following conversation in a social channel.
Here are the feeling that I presented.
- Nobody cares that people are leaving.
- Nobody will discuss reasons why people are leaving. Our heads are deep in the sand.
- Nobody knows what the temple covenants mean. We are forbidden from discussing them in the open or in classes.
- It’s forbidden to discuss church history and doctrine at church… The essays are not to be brought up.
- Local leadership is going to follow whatever the church says… No suggestions from the congregation.
Perhaps this is the case in your ward or stake, but it’s important to realize that not everyone’s experience in the Church is the same. Where I live, our ward and stake is very concerned about those who are leaving, and is taking steps to try to better understand them, their needs, and how to better serve them.
No one is forbidden from speaking about temple covenants. In fact, it’s part of the temple preparation course. It’s in the manual. Some may feel uncomfortable speaking about it, but there’s no prohibition. Those who think there is one simply need to be better educated.
I’ve had several discussions on difficult gospel topics at Church. In fact, the new Teaching in the Savior’s Way training is much more open about student questions and discussion.
Input from ward members is certainly a desire. A couple years ago, a seventy visited our stake conference and said that ward councils should be including as many people as we want to include. It isn’t just for leaders, it’s for the ward. If you want to hear anyone’s input on what needs to happen in the ward, invite them.
This man’s ward and stake is going to be OK. Their approach is badly needed everywhere.
What Would Bring Me Back?
A voice. To be treated like a valued adult. Not as a child.
Now, off to the great adventure of attempting to follow the teachings and example of the babe in the manger.
26 thoughts on ““The Time Has Come,” the Walrus Said”
oh Sam. I know how hard this must be. You have fought a valiant battle. My heart is with you. And i will continue to follow and ponder your many words of wisdom. You have a valuable perspective that has helped me in my life.
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Thanks Carroll. You have been a big support as I’ve traveled this totally unexpected path. You little likes have not gone unnoticed.
Sam, I left last July. My family is still attending. Maybe that is why no one has noticed me gone yet. But still it hurts. 10 years we have been in this ward and not a whisper to me about why I’m gone. It’s sad. I wouldn’t go back really. No matter what. The church is too damaging. The bad outweighs the good right now. I wish you luck on your journey. And I hope you keep blogging. You are a good man. Thank you.
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“No one has noticed me gone yet.” I have heard that over and over and over from those who have left. How do we forget our friends so quickly? I do plan to continue to blogging. I still find it amazing that there is any interest in someone actually reading what I write.
Let me wish luck back to you, my friend!
I totally understand where you’re coming from. There are several possible reasons why you’re being ignored, but I wonder if one of the biggest ones is fear.
During my own faith transition, only one person in my ward who talked with me about it was a bishopric counselor who told me in so many words that he didn’t believe either and he was just riding things out until he was released. Everyone else has basically ignored me.
I even have a close family friend living in this ward. I’ve known he and his family for 15+ years. I’ve babysat his kids. He was my youth leader when I was a teen. We’ve played countless games of pickup basketball over the years. When I told him I didn’t believe anymore, he looked like a deer in headlights. He cut the conversation short and we never talked about it again. I still see him every so often, but our conversations are extremely short and shallow.
It’s very apparent to me that he’s ignoring me out of fear. Fear at what I might say. Fear of what he might learn. Fear that he won’t learn why every single one of the young men he taught as a youth leader have since left the church (I was the last active one).
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Fear? I think that plays a huge part. In fact I wrote a blog about this very thing. Here’s the link.
I 100% agree. I see fear all over the place as motivation for many actions (or lack of interactions). I also remember being taught that if I even opened up an anti-Mormon book that I was essentially giving the devil access to my soul and I would be under his power without any recourse. I look at that teaching now and say, “That teaching sounds like it is coming from someone that does not believe God is more powerful than the devil.” It makes no sense to me and seems more of a fear tactic to keep people from reading any non-correlated material. That may have worked during the 70’s and earlier, but it isn’t working anymore.
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I feel for you Sam and I know you have given it a good fight. We all have the limit of how hard we can push before our hearts are broken. I don’t have to tell you to keep caring – I know you will always do that. Do take some steps to make sure that YOU and your marriage can stay healthy (and getting physically healthy is a good step). I shed a tear that this has come to this point and I have thought much about “what would make me want to come back” (even though I am still a non-believing attendee at this point for my marriage). Your a good man with an over-sized heart!
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One of the happiest outcomes of my journey has been getting to know you. Your support has been amazing. Your words filled with wisdom. The ever present smile when you speak.
Over-sized heart? Well I do have one of those. It resides in a silver frame that I treasure and will not forget. Thanks for being such a good friend.
This has come as no surprise, but still hurts my heart. You have a beautiful spirit and your presence will be missed. Your discussion with the person about what was different about his Ward reminded me of something that happened in SL1 about 15-20 years ago. We were sitting in SS waiting for class to start, when Pres. Crane came in and told us he would be teaching us that day. He proceeded to chastise us for what he referred to as affluent apathy. He told us that if we didn’t start living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and start being more aware of others, that somethings were going to happen to wake us up. Those weren’t his exact words but pretty close. During the next 2 years, 5 stalwart families were torn apart. There were 4 divorces and 1 excommunication that I am aware of. I tell this because Satan is alive and well destroying the families of those who made eternal covenants. Sam, you have done all you can do to open the eyes of those who are apathetic to the needs of the Ward. I pray that Patty remains active, but I also know it will be difficult. You see, people don’t want to be reminded of those who are in pain they don’t understand. There are a few and I hope she gets the support she needs. I am there if she ever needs someone. I do hope you see happen what you have put so much time into making others aware. I will not add my name to your list because I support the Prophet and Apostles as the leadership called of God to lead the church. I love you, Sam. May our Father bless you in your continued journey.
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I love president Crane. Have many cherished memories of serving with him.
You may have hit a nail on it’s head: “People don’t want to be reminded of those who are in pain they don’t understand.” Perhaps that’s why it seems that people are hiding their heads in the sand. Perhaps that’s why my two years of appeals have ended in nothing.
We have another thing in common. Supporting the prophet and apostles. We’re just approaching it from different directions. Yours results in acceptance. Mine in reproach. I simply view value my covenants in a different light.
Now, my God bless you, your husband and your precious family.
So sorry you are going through this. I’m in the gut wrenching place of feeling like I’ve outgrown Mormonism – not necessarily as a non-believer but feeling like the thinking is too small, too confined to accept any sort of diversity. On Sunday in my new ward that I’ve struggled attending since our recent move, I had a Stake Counselor shush me like a naughty child on the stand while the choir director explained the music we would be singing for Ward Conference. This was 20 minutes before the meeting started where no one was on the congregation. Is this where Christ is found? On a stand with grown men shushing women like we are forbidden to speak? This isn’t an isolated experience. 30 years in the church are replete with continually being treated like a child.
I had a similar experience to you regarding the history of the church being forbidden when our SS teacher brought up the fact that J. Fielding Smith said no man would ever fly in space or to the moon and how to deal when prophets are wrong. Class member after class member kept repeating, “The prophet will never lead us astray.” It made my skin crawl. Am I the only one uncomfortable with this?
We’ve attended our new ward twice, after moving out of state and were immediately called into nursery. My heart sank and for the first time accepting the calling, I told my husband I felt like going inactive. I feel for you.
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Being treated like a child? Obviously we have much in common.
The prophet will never lead us astray? This is the most dangerous concept that our church culture has embraced. It’s not in the scriptures. Christ never taught it. In fact, Jesus and the scriptural canon often warn us not to put our faith in men. Yet, that is exactly what we have done. After the publishing of the Race and the Priesthood essay, it’s shocking that any member could hold to the notion that a prophet can’t lead us astray. We now condemn all our past racist policies, practices, doctrine, and teachings. All the racism came from and was sustained by prophets for over 125 years. So, we condemn what they led us into. But, maintain that they can’t lead us astray. That position is demonstrably wrong and will continue to get the church into more and more trouble.
Best wishes in your nursery calling. My heart really goes out to you.
Sam, remember I love you and care about you and your family. I’m sorry you feel this is the only step you can take. (Personally, even though I’ve basically been inactive for several reasons, none are the same as yours. I felt like I found something that was missing in my life when I joined the church. Mine is because of personal losses that I can’t get through. You know to what I am referring) I hope you find what will fill that void that is haunting you. And that is was it is, a haunting. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown (Sam Young).
Call if you would like to talk. Still want to go to dinner with you and Patti.
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I do remember that you love me. You know, my dear friend, that you have been by my side during a good bit of my faith journey. I hope you remember, too, that I love you.
One delightful part of my transition has been the several meals we’ve shared this past year. I agree that we need to include Patty.
I am in the same boat myself. I had a bad family situation and went to two bishops who each tried “counseling” my unfaithful spouse but took his word over mine. Then the November 2015 antigay policy was the last straw and I spiritually left the correlated aspect of the church. I love the gospel and believe in the temple ordinances. I am now divorcing because of infidelity on his part. The leaders didn’t seem to care at all. It hurt me so much. I still go to my ward occasionally but feel so out of place.
Embrace the term “Investigator!” This is the safest term to describe a disaffected or semi disaffected state of faith. Demand to be treated with respect and expect and demand to have questions answered. Seek an adult testimony and honestly bare, down to the bone, the truth, That if you had an absolute knowledge that everything “was true.” you wouldn’t be having this crisis. Express your status as one having faith instead as one having knowledge. Find or coin a catch phrase. I like, “I don’t even know if I believe there is a god, but I am comforted believing that God believes in me.” Ask those answering your questions if they have an absolute testimony of knowledge or if they are also living by faith.
Love you Sam! You have a tremendous love of the Savior and exemplify his teachings.
It looks as if the church had no place for differing opinions or growth. October 2015 crumbled me to the core. I don’t see our Savior there anymore. ❤
Sam, I feel and know your pain. It is a paradox. It hurts my heart to see you step away, and at the same time it warms my heart to share the step in common with you. You are a great and positive support to so many, and that will continue I am sure.
Hold you head up high. You did the good fight. I might be right behind you.
Sam, My New Friend . . .
I read your post twice to let it sink in . . .
Then I looked up the meaning of the term “kick against the pricks”, which is to argue and fight against people in authority.
In this case, Sam, it is The Brethren (not you) who are kicking against the pricks. The authority in this case is Jesus Christ and His teachings, against which The Brethren are in clear and open discord and defiance.
I want you to rethink the words you chose to express this monumental inflection point in your personal journey, Sam. Try this on for size and see how it resonates:
“After a 2 1/2 year faith journey, I have accepted the reality that the executive leadership of the Church that raised me from my childhood has stepped away from the core values and teachings I personally share with my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. The Brethren are unwilling to discuss or address the widening chasm that they, not I, have created between the walk of the Church and the talk of its namesake, Jesus Christ. I regret that I have been compelled by Deafening Silence to sadly declare, at long last, that our differences are now accurately determined by me to be irreconcilable. Reconciliation requires the engagement of BOTH parties at the conference table. I have grown too tired and too weary sitting there alone, by myself, waiting for some kind of intelligent response to my legitimately expressed, heartfelt concerns. The silence has finally stunned me awake. I am done.”
Forgive me for pretending to imagine how it might feel inside your skin right about now, Sam. It’s my best shot at empathizing with that wonderful heart that beats within your soul.
The Church and The Brethren are alienating and repelling the Best and the Brightest among the membership. That now includes you, Sam. Your light is simply too bright to be wasted shining on the depth of darkness that has correlated the souls of those in charge, who “draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” And so far from your good, kind and truly loving heart, my dear friend.
Have your plans changed to vote opposed in person at GenCon in two weeks?
Gary, You have put into words my thoughts exactly. Thank you.
You’ve touched so many hearts for good and for eternity. Well done thou good and faithful servant.
“What would bring me back? A voice.”
Thanks for what you’ve done. The path is always hardest for pioneers blazing the trail.
And they will believe you left because you got your feelings hurt. No matter what you say or what your past actions show, they will believe you left because you got your feelings hurt. They will trivialize it so they don’t have to think about it. There are those of us, though, that know the truth, and we honor you.