So, I don’t want to get too wrapped up in trying to figure out my faith. A few years ago when I was blogging about it all the time, it was good in most ways, but it also kind of consumed me and stressed me. On top of that, I want to focus my life on the very most important things–things like making memories with the people that matter most to me and feeling joy seeing beautiful sights, helping people, listening to and participating in good music, and just loving people.
Having said that, there is some amount of importance in me continuing to sort out my thoughts regarding religion and my faith.
I hardly miss a Sunday at church. I’m often late. Occasionally I leave early. Sometimes we go as a family elsewhere. But, for the most part, I’m there each Sunday at the LDS church.
I like it. Sometimes I even love it. And at times I even want some more of it. In a lot of ways I have tried, so hard, but I can’t rise above it (hat tip to Mr. Time McGraw for anyone who caught on to that).
I like it. I read this blog post by Josh Weed (his wife Lolly also has written some posts) the other day–Josh Weed is a gay, active, believing Mormon, who writes many posts that I like a lot because they get really personal and are very interesting–and in this post he talks about how after his mother died he wondered if that was it, if everything he had believed was all fake and that was the end, and then he mentions that he felt her presence, and that was enough for him to keep believing. The way he talked about it, I felt some amount of confidence that he has read the vast majority of what I have read as far as the things that have caused me to doubt, and yet, there he is, a married, active, gay, Mormon man.
People exist that read it all, and still believe.
It’s a path some people choose because they really still believe it despite all the contradictions and convolutions.
And that is still a possible path for me.
I just needed a minute to meditate on that. I’m back now. Okay, so here’s what goes on in my brain (feel free to stop at any point if you don’t want to hear about the varied points of view that host almighty War-Chapters-of-the-Book-of-Mormon-style-bloody battles on the stage of my mind regularly.
There are no less than 200 serious doubts that I have about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you want a brief (and slightly-irreverent but also entertaining) introduction, see Brother Jake’s take in the musical clip below). This video only covers some, maybe even most, of the things that have given me doubts about Joseph Smith, which is only the tip of the iceberg.
By the time I had deconstructed Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, temple rituals and clothing, the Books of Mormon and Abraham, the Bible, about 40 other things of key importance, and finally the whole idea of God himself…like, the damage was pretty comprehensive.
But then, that’s not what I feel. That’s not what I’ve experienced. I can honestly say 5 years post apocalypse of my faith, I still go to church every week because it moves me, it sometimes inspires me to be better and do better, and quite honestly, I still sometimes believe, or at least want to believe it.
Sounds kinda like a hot mess, yeah?
Yeah, I’m still a bit confused.
I’m stuck struggling between perspectives. If you read what I’ve read, the foundation of the church sounds like a joke–and probably not even a very well crafted joke at that. And yet, if you’ve experienced what I experienced–in the temple, reading the BoM, reading the BoA, praying, going to girl’s camp every summer, sitting through testimony meetings–you’d want it too. And even a third “yet”–if you had lived through the last few years of my life, you’d also realize that life lived away from church teachings is not the black abyss. There’s a lot of good in a lot of ways of living. And I have to confess that there are parts of me, parts of me that I sometimes really like, that like things the church says are evil, sinful, or not worth my time. At a very minimum I have come to truly value the ideas of thinking and choosing for yourself–not in some pretended way, where the correct answer is predisposed to you and your only real choice is to accept the correct answer–to choose for oneself and take all the time, experiencing of life, and living that one needs to really know what you choose. To choose on every issue and decide your thinking on every thought, rather than having to accept the whole of it, or none of it at all. That is something I value. The church does not.
So, I don’t know. Maybe I wish it was easier to be a do-it-on-your-own-terms Mormon. I certainly have considered just putting aside the long list of hang ups with the church, my own contradicting thoughts, tastes, and desires, and just diving head first again so that I can again experience the sweet light of the gospel radiating in my life again. I have thought about that so many times. But I’ve also wondered whether staying is damaging–damaging to me, to Andrew–but then, I want him to feel what I felt growing up. I want him to experience the good, light, beauty. But I also want him to see the legitimate love of two married men, to experience life’s sweetest, most powerful moments that will come into his own life at times I can’t predict for him and not be hung up on whether his church will punish him for living those moments.
I still live in No Man’s Land.
I’m still seeking my answer.