While I’m busy dispelling myths about why I left the LDS church this is one that comes up often. ”Living and LDS life is just too difficult for a lot of people, it’s just easier to not try so they quit.”
Are you actively LDS? Take two minutes and think what would happen in your life if you were to declare yourself no longer a believer. Remember that I was in the heart of mormon-dom and as such fully surrounded by active believing members. I had also devoted my life to this church and at the time had a husband who was fully active and believing along with my entire immediate family.
Then I just stopped. (Well- after extensive research and study).
So pretend right now that you are going to change your Facebook status to: “I no longer believe the LDS church to be true and will not be attending any longer.”
I’ll wait why you think about it.
Still waiting. Are you imagining?
Have you imagined your still believing spouse’s reaction? The anguish that it would cause them to feel like you have disregarded your marriage ceremony because it was done under the authority of the church? That you were choosing to not spend eternity with them any longer?
What about the reaction of your teenage children?
Your mom? Your dad? (Although my dad died when I was still a believer- but that causes it’s own issues when you deconstruct the belief in an afterlife and for me resulted in a complete re-grieving of his death.)
Your neighbors, friends, ward….
Does it still sound easier?
Imagine friends who no longer feel comfortable associating with you. Friends who won’t let their kids come to your house any more because they can’t trust your “moral judgement”. For some people leaving the LDS church means losing their job. For some it means divorce. For some it means their family disowns them.
Sure, you’ve now got three more hours on Sunday and fewer “restrictions” and 10% more money (well, unless you’re spouse is still a tithing believer) but you’ve just turned your entire life upside down. Every relationship has fundamentally changed. You now have to rethink every decision you make (before the church said… but now I get to think about it myself and make my own decision). You are suddenly being treated with suspicion and people are actively “warned” about you. The rumormill goes into overtime- especially when you are a 100% believer and one of the ”rocks” of the ward and then 2 months later leave and never come back. If there’s one thing Mormons do super well it’s the “concerned discussion that’s ‘not gossip’ because it comes from a place of love.”
The funny thing is that in the last two years I’ve read more scriptures, more books by more apostles, more conference talks, had more discussions about, and certainly spent more brain power on the LDS church then I would think most LDS people do. More than I ever did before (and I actually did what was “encouraged.”)
Living like and LDS woman (especially in Utah) wasn’t hard for me for lifestyle reasons because I’d always done it, my family was also doing it, my friends and neighbors were also doing it. It wasn’t hard in the ways one might think. It wasn’t hard to go to church for three hours every Sunday when I’d always done it, even easier now that my kids were old enough not to be super obnoxious at church. It wasn’t hard to follow the Word of Wisdom (no coffee, tea or alcohol) because I always had. It wasn’t hard to pay 10% tithing because I always had and we were financially pretty comfortable. It wasn’t hard to dress according to the LDS version of ‘modesty’ because I had never dressed otherwise. NONE of that was hard for me. I’d lived as a Mormon for 32 years. The status quo is not generally hard to maintain, you adjust to it. Change is what’s hard. Regardless of how you’re changing.
It DID become hard for mental and emotional reasons once the cognitive dissonance became too hard to handle. I couldn’t reconcile the words of Jesus, “love one another” with the actions of the church that weren’t loving. Direct words from “Apostles of God” that were obviously ignorant of the pain they were inflicting. Words that I knew in my heart were wrong the moment they were spoken, but apparently these “men of God” didn’t know until the church PR team made them change their words for publication. That’s when living like a Mormon became too hard. But my first move was to reconcile my heart with what I wanted to be “true” by reading more, learning more and trying to “strengthen my testimony.” I dug into church manuals, books that could be found at Deseret Book (church owned bookstore) and conference talks. That’s when it all fell apart very, very quickly.