life changing chaos

So I’ve failed miserably at keeping up this blog. Life got so chaotic that by the end of the day I simply had no energy or will to write. You understand right? Anyway, now that things are settled, I figured I would let you all in on what we have been up to the past 8 months or so.

To start, Teddy has a new job! He’s now a welder and loves it. It allows him to work with his hands and every day is different, so he doesn’t get bored as easily.

Next thing, because he got this new job we had to move two hours south to be closer to Salt Lake City. We bought our first home and have finally gotten settled. May I say, although the responsibility of owning a home is super scary, it’s SO worth it.

Oh ya, and IM PREGNANT! Again! I’m 33 weeks and due December 4th,2017 with a little GIRL!  I’ll post later on all the baby details and the pregnancy and all that fun stuff, but definitely had to add that to the list of chaos we’ve been dealing with.

All this in addition to taking care of two toddlers and a dog… life is insane. Thankfully we feel like it’s finally under control *knock on wood* so I’m hoping to start posting more regularly.

 

Parenting By Example

IMG_9529.JPGEvery parent I’ve ever met hopes their child turns out to be a great person. They hope they will be polite, kind, smart and considerate. Yet, you can look around restaurants and see kids fighting for their parents attention because their parents are on their phones. You can hear adults gossiping and judging others in front of (or with) their kids. We have to ask ourselves, is THAT what we want to teach our kids?

Heres the thing about kids (especially older kids and teens)– they are very observant, but aren’t great at listening. So what is a parent to do? It’s simple: BE WHO YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO BE!

You can’t tell your kid not to drink while you yourself are drunk, and you can’t tell them to not use their phone at the table while you are looking at yours. So strive to change the things you don’t want your kids to learn. Lead by being a great example, rather than harsh words.

My Experience with the Mormon Church- Part 2 of 2

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So I hope you read Part 1 of this post because otherwise you’ll be a little lost. Unless, of course you have experience with the church yourself. Anyway, this post is not going to be bashing on Mormons, or trying to disprove anything. I believe everyone has the right to practice whatever religion they believe in. My husband is still an active member of the church, as his family, and they are all fantastically great people.

That all being said, I personally choose not to be a member of the LDS religion anymore, and this post is about my journey from entering the church to leaving it. I’ll start at the very beginning. WARNING: LONG POST. It’s more of a diary entry, instead of a help blog, but if you are a struggling member of the church, I hope this will help you!

Why I joined the church

4 years ago, I was working in Hanksville, UT. At that point I had been depressed for many years and was self-medicating using alcohol. I knew something was not right, and that I needed help of some kind, I just didn’t know where to look or what to look for. That’s when I met the man who is now my husband (Teddy). He was amazing and we had an instant connection. He took me to a church service and called the Mormon missionaries over. It was the kick in the butt I needed. It helped me focus on something GOOD for a change, and gave me a reason to stop drinking altogether. I had always wanted more faith in my life, but never had immediate access to anyone willing to take me to church with them.  Over a course of 6 weeks, I had been taking twice-weekly lessons with the missionaries, and they told me they wanted to baptize me. I had developed a friendship with them and didn’t want to let them down, so I hesitantly agreed. From the moment I agreed it just didn’t feel right, but I got praise from Teddy, as well as his family, so I thought it was just my nerves. They were great people, so I figured there might be something to it.  I was reassured that the more I prayed and the more I learned, the better I would feel about it, and to just keep on trying.

On the day of my baptism I was very nervous, but I went through with it. The only thing I felt was relief that it was over and behind me. Honestly, I didn’t even realize how big of a deal it really was.  But what was done, was done, and I told myself I would try to live the Mormon lifestyle. Part of this was because I didn’t want to lose Teddy because in my gut I knew he was the one who I wanted to spend my life with.

Beginning of The End

I kept on trying my best to be a ‘good Mormon’ for YEARS,  but I ended up loosing myself in it. Because of the depression and alcoholism I never really knew who I was to begin with, but the more time I spent in the Mormon church, the more trapped and lost I felt. By then I was married with a child, so I felt like I had no way out. I kept thinking that if I just tried harder that I would fall in love with it.

So the time came when my husband wanted to take me to the temple. We had been getting pressure from his family and our friends, and I felt like I owed it to him. Going to the temple for the first time is a HUGE deal in Mormon culture which didn’t help my nerves. I couldn’t just play it off like it was no big deal, and I certainly couldn’t ignore it afterward because I would have to wear temple garments. Again, I felt I had no way out. I was trying to put on this front as the perfect Mormon girl for my husband’s family because I was so scared of being the black sheep in the family.

We went to the endowment session first, and the sealing session on another day. From the moment I walked into the endowment session I just wanted out. I kept looking at the closed door wondering if I could just get up and leave. I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable. They show a church-produced movie in that session so I simply focused on that, and did my best to understand and feel good about it.

The sealing session is when I could not keep it together anymore. We had to take glen with us to be sealed with us since we weren’t sealed prior to his birth, and I could hear him screaming from down the hall. I wasn’t allowed to see him though, so I KNEW this wasn’t right. Everyone was telling me to relax and enjoy the experience but I couldn’t. I was having anxiety attacks, but nobody noticed but Teddy who tried his best to comfort me.

When it was all over, I was done. I was mad, and I never wore temple garments past that day, and started skipping church.

The End of My Mormonism

After my second son was born, I ended up with pretty severe postpartum depression and anxiety.  I started taking Zoloft for it when he was 3 months old and by 4 months, my whole world changed. I felt better than I had since I was 15. It was like I was living in a blurry haze then finally got glasses. Everything became clear, and I felt like a real person again.

I started reflecting on the parts of Mormonism that I believed, those I didn’t, what made me happy, and what I hated. I realized the list of things I didn’t believe was double the size of what I did believe, and the things that made me happy about it, I wouldn’t lose if I stopped being a member.

Finding Myself

Suddenly, it became clear that being Mormon was one of the major sources of my stress and anxiety. I gave it up, and I have not looked back. I feel vibrant and happier than I ever have. I am finally learning who I really am, and have gained the ability to FINALLY speak up for myself and truly not care what others think of me (something that I never had before).

So that’s my story. Are you an ex-member? I want to hear your story too! Leave me a message in the comment box!

 

 

My Experience With The Mormon Church- Part 1 of 2

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I was going to wait for several more posts until I started to write this one, but it has weighed heavily on me for over a year, and I just could not put it off any longer. It is a long, complicated topic, so I broke it up into two parts. To fully understand my feelings on the topic, you must first understand some of basic elements of the LDS Church.  If you are not a member of the church, it will have information that is probably new to you and clarify what you already have heard. This post will be only telling you about the church as I know it, and I will be as objective as possible.   If this doesn’t completely cover all your burning questions about the Mormon church, leave a comment and I can answer any questions you have!

The Rules

The Mormon church is notorious for having strict rules that members must abide by to remain “in good standing” (able to enter the temples). Members take the following rules just as seriously as the Ten Commandments, and breaking these rules are seen as very serious offences:

  • Must listen to and obey the Prophet (aka the president of the church), no questions asked. Members believe he is the messenger of God, and whenever he speaks, it is direct revelation from God.
  • Pay 10% of your total income to the church (tithing). Members are told to pay this before paying any of their bills, rent, or other financial obligations.
  • No alcohol, coffee, or tea
  • No mind-altering drugs, including any tobacco products
  • Must eat healthy and take care of one’s body
  • Must practice the law of c
  • chastity. No sex or masturbation before marriage, and no pornography at all. Ever.
  • Dress modestly and, if the member has been endowed (get to that in a bit), must wear their garments at all times
  • Cannot engage, support, or encourage the LGBT community
  • No working on Sundays, and don’t engage in activities that make others work on Sunday (shopping, eating out, etc..) The only exception to this rule is if you work helping people, like a doctor, nurse, or similar.
  • No talking about what happens inside the temple

The following aren’t rules per-say BUT are strongly recommended. Social pressures within the church require you to abide by these rules as well or else you will be looked down upon by all members of the church.

  • Get married young. Couples, until they are married, are not to be alone together in private out of the fear that they will break the law of chastity.
  • Read “the scriptures” daily. This can include the Bible, The Book Of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants, or any other materials put out by the church. The Pearl of Great Price was written by Joseph Smith (the founder of the Mormon church), and the Doctrine and Covenants are “revelations” the past prophets of the church have made.
  • Always talk to non-members about the church, and do whatever you can to get them to convert.
  • Don’t be close friends with non-members unless you are trying to get them to convert.
  • Bare testimony that you believe the church is true every chance you get. It is particularly popular on Sundays and major church events. Verbatim, “I just want to bear my testimony that I know the church is true, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet.” This is engrained even in young children. You will also hear members recite this after the death of a loved one, even write it in obituaries.
  • Men are expected to go on 2 year missions. Females can go too, but the pressure isn’t as great. The entire purpose of LDS missions is to get people to convert.
  • Perform your church “calling”. Basically it is a job within the church. The LDS church does not pay staff, it is all volunteer based. It ranges from the bishop (oversees each sector of the church, like a minister) to people who take care of the children (like Sunday school teachers)
  • Attend the temple often
  • Take care of your family physically, emotionally and spiritually

Basically everything you do has to be in an effort to build up the church. You are never are allowed to speak poorly of it.

The Church Meetings

Church meetings on Sunday are 3 (yes, 3!) hours long. One hour is a basic church service, one hour is called Sunday School, where members can continue learning about the church doctrine, and one hour is for “relief society” and “priesthood”. Relief society is for the women to learn more about their role in the church how to better support their men, and about charity work that needs to be done. Priesthood is for the men to learn about how to better care for their families, their role in the church, and charity work that needs to be done.

On the first Sunday of every month, it is Fast Sunday. Members are expected to not eat for two consecutive meals, and donate the money they saved from not eating those meals to church-run food charities. During the fasting period, members are encouraged to “Fast with a purpose”, meaning pray for answers to specific questions or problems you may have.

The Temples

Temples are different than Mormon churches. They are those big buildings with the gold statue on top. Unlike churches, temples are strictly off limits to non-members, and even some members aren’t allowed in. Going to the temple is every member’s goal, and members are told to go as often as possible.

To be able to go, members must meet with the leaders of the church and be the subject of an interview process to obtain what they call a “temple recommend”. They ask questions relating to all the rules I just went over. If you aren’t following the rules, you will not be allowed inside the temple, as the temple is only for the most devout members of the church. It is said that you are only able to be admitted to the “celestial kingdom” (highest level of heaven) if you are able to obtain a temple recommend and attend the temple meetings.

So what do members do INSIDE the temples?

Well, there are 3 sessions members can choose to attend.

First are what they call baptisms for the dead. They obtain names of deceased, and believe that they can convert them to the LDS church by-proxy. The names can be of recently deceased and added to the list by a direct relative, or someone who died 500 years ago, and found via family history (this is also why Mormons place such a heavy emphasis on studying family history).

  • Second, members can go to an endowment session which is where they make further covenants to God, receive a secret church-given name, gain permission to wear temple garments*, and learn more about what Mormons believe. They can also attend this session in the names of the deceased.
  • *Temple garments are plain white underwear worn by devout members of the church. The underwear extend to the knees and a plain white tee shirt is also worn at all times, under regular clothing. This is true for BOTH genders, and facilitates the modesty code. This is why you will sometimes see Mormon women wearing a tee shirt under a sundress. She wears the shirt to hide her required garments.
  • Third, members can be married in the temple through a sealing. It is not like a typical wedding- no extravagant gowns are worn and only a handful of family members and friends attend the actual ceremony. The main difference between getting married in a temple and outside the temple is if you get married outside, you are only bound to your spouse for THIS life, whereas inside the temple, you are bound to them for eternity. Marriages that take place outside the temple are seen as inferior to those that happen inside a temple. Like the baptisms and endowment sessions, couples can also do by-proxy sealings for deceased married couples.
  • That about covers most of the questions I receive most, but if you still have anything you are wondering, feel free to shoot me an e-mail!
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss how I became involved in it, and why I no longer choose to be involved in it.