September 24, 2006

Another Explanation Letter

Well, we were eating at Olive Garden on Friday night as a family, when the bishop called me on my husband's cell phone. I told him to tell him we were out to eat, and I'd call him back. I never called back.

Really, what more can I say?

Today was the primary program, and of course they discovered I didn't show up. 5 minutes after church got out, the primary president showed up at the door. I was in the shower, so she asked my husband if she had offended me in some way. He told her no. She left some chocolate truffles she'd made, and left.

An hour later I got a phone call from the first counselor in primary. She said, "We missed you today at the program. Is everything OK? I'm worried about you."

I told her "I'm just drafting an e-mail to the president, and I'll send it to you as well."

Here's what I wrote:

Dear T. and W.,

I'm writing to explain what's been happening with me, and I hope you understand. D. said T. stopped by and asked if she had offended me. No, not at all, never. (Thanks for the chocolates!) You are both very kind friends and I really love you. Maybe once you read my explanation you'll understand better why I've quit coming to church.

I'm not sure if the bishop announced my release from my calling today, but I expect he may have since I requested last week to be released immediately.

About two months ago I found some very disturbing things out about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the church that caused me to be very disillusioned, and I came to the conclusion that the church is not true, and was in fact made up by Joseph Smith. This is not an easy thing to discover, and I have been trying to figure out what to do about it ever since.

I would have much rather talked about it with my friends and discussed it, but the very first time I tried to do so, I was burned, and am averse to discussing it any more with anyone from church. The only thing I discussed with her was the fact that Brigham Young taught that Adam was in fact God the Father. This bothered me immensely. He taught it as revelation, and it can be found in the Journal of Discourses many times. I told my friend this, and she told me it was true, Adam was our Father, as he founded the human race, being the first man on earth. But I told her Brigham Young taught that Adam was the father of Jesus, or GOD THE FATHER. I then asked her why Spencer W. Kimball discounted any Adam-God theories as "false doctrine" if it came from a prophet. Then she told me "Enough, Lisa" and wouldn't talk to me any more.

Two days later I got this note in the mail from our High Priest Group Leader, whom I barely even know:

I copied the letter I got (see previous post here.)

I was shocked that 1. he'd say he "sensed somehow" that I was questioning my membership, when obviously my friend had told someone, and 2. that my friend told B. M., who, rather than treat me like a friend, which I thought she was, didn't ask me but rather went to either the bishop or HPGL and discussed me, prompting this great letter which screams out that he thinks I'm in Satan's grasp right now. This incident has made me very wary to discuss anything with anyone at church about my concerns.

This has also prompted me to feel afraid to talk to you two, because I really don't want you to feel the same awful things about me that HPGL feels. I don't even know him, or care what he thinks of me, but I know YOU, and I do care what you think of me.

The letter came to me a few days before the BBQ we had at T's, and I was frankly surprised that with D. (the only non-member) there with me, the bishop didn't even make an effort to come over and talk to or greet either of us the whole night. That seemed strange to me, and it doesn't exactly prompt me to feel a strong urge to discuss my concerns with him either. So I'm doing the best I know how.

If I didn't have a calling like I have, I'd have just gone inactive and left everyone clueless as to my belief that the church isn't true. I hardly wish this feeling of betrayal and disillusionment on anyone. But that seems impossible to do, and now I have to tell you my shocking news this way. I'm so much better at written communication than verbal! I don't want to look in your eyes and find that you think I'm deluded by Satan as well. I prayed and prayed and studied and prayed some more, and in the end got no answer that the church was true. I have many reasons for believing this. I don't like that the church keeps hidden many truths from the early days of the church, and when asked about them, makes no effort to discount them as false, or to explain them either.

I'm also certain that you will probably believe, as the church teaches, that if I pray about it and get the answer that the church is not true, then I must either be in the wrong place spiritually, or I didn't ask sincerely enough, with not enough faith, or I'm hearing answers that are in fact coming from Satan, not the Holy Ghost. This is not true, but I know that it will feel better to some people to assume this is what happened to me.

I'm so sorry I wasn't up front about the program with you. I didn't know how to let you know that I couldn't and wouldn't be there, and I didn't like letting you assume I'd be there. I regret this deeply. I love the children at church, and the people I've worked with whom I consider friends.

This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through, yet through it all, I've found an inner peace and have felt more love from God than I ever felt before. I have a sense of happiness and I feel for a surety that God loves me, more than I can even comprehend. You will no doubt believe that this is a grave sin, to deny that what I was taught was true. But when I scrutinized the church for the first time ever, it came up seriously lacking, and the only option I have is to discount it as false.

I will take the good things I've gained from my life in the church, and I will continue to be a good person inside.

I really don't want me or my kids to be named on the list of inactives to visit, as I know there is such a list in each organization. If someone is truly interested in maintaining a friendship with me, outside of church doctrines, I am totally open to this. Just as I'm sure people at church don't want me to push on them what I've learned about the church, neither do I want people to consider me their "project" or the person they can "save." I find it rude and intrusive to get surprise visits from people who never came over before, and it's transparent that they are visiting because they were given an assignment.

Again, I'm deeply sorry I wasn't more open or honest with you before. I have no frame of reference for protocol in situations like mine, and I'm doing the best I know how. I don't want to offend anyone or have anyone think less of me, although I know this is probably an unrealistic wish.

I love you both, and I find you amazing women whom I greatly admire. I will miss working with you, truly. I just can't keep faking like I believe it's true, and I know I can't keep teaching the children in sharing time either. That would be wrong. I don't want anyone to think that I've left the church because I've been offended, or because I'm being tempted to do evil or sin.

I'm leaving the church because it's not true. I hate having to shock you like this. E-mail me back if you wish to discuss it further, and if not, I completely understand. I'm going to clean out my binder and leave it and my keys in the primary closet sometime this week.

Sincerely,

L

So far, no reply. I'm guessing I won't get one soon. I worried all day that I'd get a surprise visit from the bishop or high priest group leader. D. is starting to think I'm paranoid. The phone rang once and it was a number we didn't recognize, so we didn't pick up. I'm not going to do that anymore.

I think the best thing for me to do is to go on as usual and quit acting so skittish and just be myself, without apology.

13 comments:

Cele said...

Lisa it was not an easy road you chose. But it is a road that will in the long run bring you peace, both inner and in your life. I wish you luck and God's love always.

Really they think Adam was God? And Jesus father? Just when I think I can't be boggled.

Stand strong girl.

Kita Kazoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kita Kazoo said...

What an act of bravery - bravo! It's going to take a while for them to give up on you. They rarely let you get away easy... Unless you tell them you want to join the polygamists in Utah. (just a lame joke)

Peace,
Kita
Love, Luck & Laughter
Nut Job Jen

Sideon said...

You've got guts. You're also more kind and gentle than I'd have been, in your shoes.

I hope that your friends will be able to read and hear YOU and your message. My fear is that they'll take things personally and shut down. I admire you for putting it out there and giving them the opportunity to respond.

Be well, SML.

SocietyVs said...

I like the fact you lay it all on the line and tell them (in total honesty) why you left the Mormon church. I think this has to be done so as for them to realize you are not coming back...they will still consider you a project and even in the 'grips of Satan' but they need that re-assurance to keep their religion functioning, it's total BS but it gets them through the night I guess. I enjoy reading your blog and your story, it's very prophetic like in that you challenge the system...very Elijah-ish.

Arizona Expositor said...

Good letter SML but one thing that struck me is your tendancy to apologize. I don't think you owe any of them an apology, for you are dealing with this the best you can. Stay strong and stay true to yourself (I don't know what the hell that means).

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Thanks, AZ. I only apologized twice for the same thing: letting them believe all along that my daughter and I would be participating in the sac mtg program and then being a no-show. That's all I am apologizing for. It felt wrong to not just let them know I wasn't going to be there, don't count on me...

But I agree. My days of apologizing are over. Now I can be (mostly) free.

:)

lawmich said...

Lisa,

My heart goes out to you (and now the big "however") HOWEVER, I am not going to congratulate you for your supposed "bravery." Faith has always meant confronting the kind of realizations that have turned you away from the church.

I am a member, but I am not in your ward --- nor am I an acquaintance. (I just followed links to your blog --- it is heartrending.)

You are relying on your own logic/learning/and understanding to disassociate yourself from the truth. Dallin H. Oaks? Sherry Dew? Neal A. Maxwell? Sister Hinckley? Have you read their testimonies? Can you account for their searching intelligence, and their firm belief? Do you know something about the church that they don't?

I don't know why I am even writing this. I am sure you feel like you have already dismissed this, and anything else I could ever say.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Lawmich, I wonder if you'd like to expound what your faith tells you about the Book of Abraham, and why it is that the Egyptian papyri which were used by Joseph Smith are actually funerary texts and not actual words written in Abraham's own hand, as Joseph Smith proclaimed. This is one detail that faith has not been able to explain away for me. I'd be interested to know how faith works miracles in this instance.

I don't think I've ever had the ability to rend someone's heart before. Wow! Hang in there!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Lawmich,

You wrote "I am a member, but I am not in your ward --- nor am I an acquaintance. (I just followed links to your blog --- it is heartrending.)"

This is strange ~ it stands out. It leads me to think that maybe you ARE actually an acquaintance. Why else would you feel the need to write in your comment that you are not in my ward, nor my acquaintance? Why would you create a blog JUST TO COMMENT to me, and then terminate it right away, unless you are actually someone who knows me??

If you do actually know me, and are worried about me, then feel free to say so and we can discuss your feelings in more depth, or privately if you wish.

lawmich said...

SML,

Notice the "law" in the lawmich ---
I am full of disclaimers, as are most lawyers, so that is why I feel the need to put that in there. Also, I have active blogs under different names. (I didn't delete my blog, I just haven't posted on it.)

As for the papyri, I personally think that the function and the role of the "interpreters" is not black and white as the title "interpreters" suggests.

But, if we were to bicker about the papyri then something tells me that we're missing the point. I mean, suppose you had ironclad proof that the "interpreters" gave Joseph God's word regardless of the text he thought he was interpreting; would you come back to church this next Sunday? (I know this seems strange since, by this logic, he could have interpreted a child's scribbling and have it come out as scripture --- but God is always doing mysterious things; maybe it was necessary for Joseph to believe that they were actual Abrahamic texts --- I honestly don't know.) My point is, that once you get to this stage of conversation, we've already overlooked the big picture, or, lost the real battle: viewing everything in context.

Like many, I love impressionism. For me it is the truest kind of art because when viewed very closely so many of its elements seem to run counter to the artist's overall intent. Then, when you back up and look at the whole picture, even the use of bright yellow in a foggy landscape makes perfect sense (see Turner). In some ways, the gospel and the history of the church is the same way.

Not every single element of the church stands on its own as a testament to the truth of the church. (Many elements do, and I wish they all did!) But when viewed in context, with faith
(unfortunately not always logic), it all comes together.

God has a plan of salvation for his children, and a has a prophet on earth to help us avail ourselves of it --- yet here we are talking about papyri!

I don't mean to sound preachy. Nor do I pretend that all of my arguments can be logically defended. (I know for example, that I could sucessfully argue against myself, and say, for example, that the impressionism analogy is just me brainwashing myself.)

What I am saying is, if there is any part of you that believes that the church is still true, and that this whole thing is so much bigger and grander than our feeble attempts to deal with its occassionally contradicting elements, then PLEASE don't push away! When Richard G. Scott says, "Please come back, we love you, we need you." --- he was talking about YOU (and me). People whose faith (like yours and mine) has been stretched to the absolute limit --- but we both pressed a little beyond the patches of darkness to find that the path is still illuminated, that we are stronger for having walked through the dark part of the valley, and that Jesus still has a church on earth.

(Anyway, if this comment was inappropriate, or if you would rather that I not comment here, just let me know.)

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Lawmich,

You are free to comment on whatever you wish to comment on. If I wanted my thoughts to be completely private, I'd write a journal in the privacy of my own home.

Regarding the church, unfortunately, too many things from the history of the church just don't add up to me, when scrutinized separately OR together. Most of my concerns stem from the early prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. If you want to believe that all the weird things they did and said were actually God being mysterious, then we truly are at an impasse.

Why do you suppose God felt the need to throw the revelation out there through Brigham Young that Adam was God the Father, then why would he retract this through his other prophet Spencer W. Kimball when he taught that any Adam-God theory was "false doctrine?" It makes no sense, faith or no faith.

Why would God prompt Joseph Smith to give the priesthood to Elijah Abel, and prompt JS to make him a Seventy, then later change the priesthood rule to exclude black people? I'm certain that Joseph Smith was open to revelation of this sort at any time, since he certainly came up with enough "revelation" to create an entire religion. If God really was establishing his true church on the earth, wouldn't He have prompted JS to NOT give Elijah Abel the priesthood or make him a Seventy in the first place? Wouldn't that have come out as doctrine right then, as I'm sure JS prayed about whom he should give the priesthood to, and was answered for this prayer. At least he would have prayed if he was exercising HIS priesthood the way he taught us it should be exercised.

Let's theoretically pretend together, for the sake of this discussion, that Joseph Smith really did make it all up. This is not so hard to believe, as LDS people actually believe that every single religion other than ours was created in just this way, by MEN, with Satan actually masterminding the whole thing in an effort to keep people from the "one true church." If I can believe that my whole life about every single other religious belief, why can't I turn my sights on the LDS church in just the same way? If it were true, it'd certainly bear up under my scrutiny, but unfortunately for me it doesn't. That doesn't mean I hold disrespect to those who believe it IS true.

I maintain that there IS a god, because I've felt his hand in my life more than once. I have been touched and can't deny it. I don't think that means that the church is true, because there are people outside the LDS church who have also felt the hand of God in their lives. I think he loves each of his children no matter what.

SocietyVs said...

"What I am saying is, if there is any part of you that believes that the church is still true, and that this whole thing is so much bigger and grander than our feeble attempts to deal with its occassionally contradicting elements, then PLEASE don't push away!" (lawmich)

First off this is an emotional plea, nothing more or less to it. It's not a statement of fact but a 'please come back' speech. Nothing wrong with caring as I always say.

Secondly, suppose Lisa did go back, then what? She has doubts that would get squashed for the sake of revelation and some loophole agenda. She would still have questions and what would be her remedy? Can she change the church? Should she try? Is there an avenue for change that can be accessed? Probably not.

Lisa I support you and all the thoughts you put behind your reasons for leaving. I have been in that same position (not as a Mormon) but I think seeking the truth is a high ethic to stand for. Just know you got people that love and care about you.