This month’s First Presidency Message in the Ensign is an instructional essay by Eyring on remaining faithful and spiritually strong.

They are:

I struggle with this narrative because it… isn’t true. At least, not for me.

I did all of these things.  I was the Molliest of Mormons.  I had some unorthodox beliefs, for sure.  I have for a long time.  But those beliefs were shelved most of the time, and to combat them I dug into the Mormon life with gusto. I didn’t watch TV on Sundays, and I only read church books. I journaled and focused on magnifying my callings while listening to Kenneth Cope and Janice Kapp Perry.  I never missed church, ever.  Even when I was ill. Taking the sacrament was too important. I was obsessed with knowing the Lord’s will for me and whether I was doing it.  I took constant inventory of the ways I messed up and prayed about them all.  I wanted to be better. Before I was endowed, I did weekly baptisms in the temple, and after I was endowed, I did weekly sessions and went through initiatory at least once a month.  I took constant inventory of the ways I messed up and prayed about them all.  I wanted to be better. I bore my testimony every Fast Sunday. If not in sacrament meeting, then in Relief Society.  I read my scriptures *at least* half an hour a day, and I read every book about the scriptures and the gospel that I could get my hands on.

Eyring says all this should have armed me with righteousness.  And maybe it did. But, it was while I was doing all of this that my faith in the church fell apart.  None of those behaviors protected me from that.

The thing that changed was that I took my unorthodox beliefs off of the shelf. The shelf was heavy with inauthenticity, and I couldn’t hold it up anymore.  I started to think about these unorthodox beliefs and talk about them and share them with others.  And it was in doing this that I realized that church is not a welcome place for people with unorthodox beliefs.  Even though I was doing all of the other things right, it didn’t matter if I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my authenticity by leaving those things on that shelf any longer.

After this realization, even if I had wanted to put those things back on the shelf, I could not have.  It was too late, and they didn’t fit anymore. Because the truth is that *my* problem was never those unorthodox beliefs.  My problem was that I was trying to squeeze into a mold that wasn’t made for me.

Maybe doing these things did keep me spiritually strong. But my outcome is not what Eyring predicts.

Leah Marie earned a BA in Political Science, and a Masters in Public Administration. She is currently working towards her PhD in Public Policy. She is wife to an English professor, and mother to 3 beautiful boys.

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