I want to let my readers know something (particularly the Mormon and otherwise religious ones). It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to me about the events outlined in recent posts or if you don’t want to read what I write about my new beliefs or if the whole thing makes you uncomfortable. I understand.
I’m going to share with you a little insecurity of mine. As people continue to find out about my divorce and change in religious beliefs, the thing that I am most afraid of is how my Mormon friends and acquaintances will react to it. You know, time passes, people move away from each other, people have less contact with each other, close friendships become less close, perhaps, but, regardless, I still care about the people who have made a difference in my life and I care what they think of me and my choices. I am constantly trying to imagine myself in their shoes, finding out for the first time that someone they knew to be a devout Mormon is now a non-believer and lost his marriage because of it. I remember how I felt as an active Mormon about people who left the church and I remember the Sunday school lessons, both explicit and implicit, about those who leave the church. To be honest, none of those things make me very optimistic that many active Mormons will continue to think very highly of me in light of recent events.
The reason I wanted to write this out is to let my religious friends know that I get it. I understand the suspicions and misgivings you might have toward me now. You are all too polite to say it to me but if you’re anything like I was as an active Mormon you probably have your theories about why I ended up going down this road, very few, if any, of which reflect favorably on me. You might even think I’m a less moral person as a result of all this. I understand what I represent to Mormons now. In a way, I’m a threat. I am someone who has spurned something that Mormons consider extremely sacred and special. I am someone who has knowingly rejected the core doctrinal precepts that give Mormons and other believers their sense of purpose and meaning in life. From a believer’s perspective, and in a very simplistic sense, someone wouldn’t do this unless they were stupid or wicked or, at best, misguided. And I get this kind of thinking. I’ve been there myself.
I realize that I’m painting with a broad brush here and greatly simplifying complex issues. And I’m speaking from my insecurities, too, so the negatives may be exaggerated in my mind. I understand that not all Mormons are the same, just as not all atheists are the same, or Muslims or Hindus, etc. And not all Mormons have the same interpretations of gospel teachings as I did when I was an active member. Luckily, I do have many friends and family members who, while they may not agree with my spiritual decisions, have reached out to me during this difficult time, proving that the reasons for my insecurity are not as generalized as I feared.
I also understand how difficult it is to think of something to say to someone who has just gotten divorced. I haven’t had many such opportunities myself but when I have, I sure don’t know what to say and if the divorcee isn’t a very close friend, I usually just opt not to say anything. So, I get that as well.
Maybe this all seems like I’m just playing the victim here to drum up sympathy for my situation and guilt people into reaching out to me. If it seems like that’s what I’m doing, then please ignore me and don’t reward my behavior. It’s not my intent to make anyone feel bad. Rather, I want people to feel understood, just as I want to be understood. I don’t want to be a threat to anyone. The people that have been important to me in my life, I want to keep in my life. I really hope that my beliefs don’t get in the way of that. But if they do, I get it.