19 November 2015

Thoughts on Religion

I’m LDS (Mormon) which I think has been pretty obvious on my blog.  Over the years I’ve tried to write in a way that most WoPAs could relate to, but my religion has been a big part of my recovery.  Sadly, there have been occasional (for me) and frequent (for others) situations and moments where I have felt let down by my religion.  I’ve felt like the organization that was meant to support and lift me failed to live up to those roles.  This has been painful.  I’ve felt a frustration about how exactly God works, and why he wasn’t/isn’t intervening in a way that could be more helpful to individuals like myself, Pete, and other WOPA women and addicts.  I still don’t understand this.  I have also felt personally hurt by church leaders and by other church members and the ideas and methods by which they preach and live. 

On Sunday Pete did something that felt like a step away from the church.  He denies that it was, and he likely knows his own intentions better than I do, but it felt like that to me.  It shook me up more than I expected, especially in light of my own struggles with some church dogma.  It scared me. 

I have friends who are leaving, who have left, who no longer relate to the LDS church and I’ll be completely honest here and say that this has shaken me too. 

I know that I’m upset by these things because of my own fears and insecurities about my worth and my faith.  My inability to accept myself makes it difficult for me to accept others.  But the truth is, I still love Pete, and I love and respect my friends so much. 

The past two months have brought a heavy depression for me, most likely related to pregnancy.  I’m trying different things to cope with these burdensome feelings of loneliness and despair, and in desperation I went to the temple on Saturday.  I wish I could say that it was a profoundly spiritual experience for me, and that I found clarity and courage.  I didn’t.  But I did have a realization. 

One of the women I went with, I’ll call her Kate, is from the West Indies.  She sometimes wears a traditional head scarf, a cultural nod to her heritage.  It’s a tight wrap around her hair, and she looks lovely in it.   She told me once that leaders of the church have asked her not to wear it in church, but she kindly refused to acquiesce and she was wearing it Saturday at the temple. 

Kate had explained to me before that her belief in the gospel isn’t related to the people who administer the church.  She had no problem recognizing when they were asking her to do something that had no doctrinal basis.   Her deep longing to be a part of the church is related to her belief in its teachings; a Savior, an atonement, grace, a direct link to God via personal revelation, concepts like forgiveness and mercy.  To this list I would add my own personal connections to gospel teachings; a moral obligation to my fellow-man, sisterhood and service, unpaid clergy, the divinity of the human body, the sanctity of sexual intimacy, relationships and existence beyond death, personal sacrifice, integrity, honesty, humility and the power of motherhood. 

I understand that a belief in gospel teachings might not be enough to maintain the commitments the church seems to require, and to overcome the personal hurt and offense that church leaders and members inevitably cause.  When I’m seeing clearly I can see how for many people it hasn’t been enough, and I get it.  I can also see that if I don’t find something else to hold on to as my personal faith relates to my religion, I probably won’t have the strength to keep going on within it. 

I can’t reconcile many things about my religion, and I wish that it offered me more clear answers.  I wish I had more faith in God, and that I could have more trust that He would answer my questions if I ask. I wish I could more easily believe that He is involved in my life.  But that kind of faith eludes me, for whatever reason.

This is where I am.  This is who I am.  This is my effort at personal acceptance and also acceptance of others.  This is where I nurture love for both the people who criticize my faith and those who self-righteously defend it.  This blog has always been my safe place for writing, and I came here to share these thoughts because my depression has made me completely terrified of sharing my thoughts anywhere else.  Thank you for being the most loving and non-judgmental community I’ve ever encountered.