Before we get to the letter:
Without these blogs, one could feel very alone in their Mormon struggle and desire for acceptance.
I suppose the “fish out of water” analogy would apply here. Blogs like Rational Faiths provide a fishbowl for the despondent fish in which he or she can safely and intimately express their struggles to like-minded individuals, or at minimum, open-minded individuals. And it beats the toilet bowl no doubt.
However, the blog platform cannot stand as a complete substitute for real person interaction, especially as it relates to a “crisis of faith”, Mormon or otherwise.
My life in Mormondom is not terribly unique. I grew up in the church and have served diligently in numerous leadership positions from the time I was a newly ordained deacon and up to the relative present day. During my church career and studies, I’ve taken note of difficult and sometimes troubling historical accounts centering on the origins of our wondrous church. The passage of church service and time has not served up any real sustaining resolution. Consequently, I’ve turned to numerous books, some faith promoting historical anecdotes published by Deseret Book and some less than faith promoting literature not published by Deseret Book, but still vetted and reputable. While the purpose of this blog post is not intended to be about me and my cathartic needs, I should like to indulge as I believe there are a growing number of ME’s out there.
Yes, I suppose I am experiencing my own unique faith transition, if that is to be defined as one who questions the exactitude of some LDS historical accounts, as taught me from childhood and perpetuated in thousands of Sunday School classes. With the introduction of new factoids comes the added difficulty in finding the happy place between Rationalism and Dogmatism. Speaking of these concerns freely and openly may cause too much pain and anguish among certain family and friends as well as some irrational judgments about me. My desire for catharsis does not outweigh my desire to broach my doubts with them. Virtually “outing” myself online has been a boon, but not nearly as helpful as speaking to prayerfully selected friends and confidants, as I have done. (And will continue to do.)
The selection process is quite delicate as I would also feel a tremendous amount of guilt if I unwittingly persuaded a close friend to follow me down the rabbit hole resulting in lost testimony. Conversely, I fear talking to the wrong people who may have desires to “sift me as wheat” in an attempt to grow the numbers of LDS dissenters.
Now, the Letter:
I wish to discuss a very heavy matter with you regarding my faith. For years, I have been unable to find adequate answers to vital gospel related questions. It seems the more I search for answers, the more questions arise. Now doubts have crept in and I need someone to confide in and even lean on.
I have deliberated over the course of many months discussing these issues with you as it is not easy. However, I trust you to listen without judgment. Please resist the urge to preach to me, condemn me, call me to repentance, treat my words lightly, or dare I say testify of the truthfulness of the gospel in the initial discussion as it would feel almost condescending. At this point I’ve literally listened to thousands of testimonies in my lifetime and I value many of them but this is not the time. Remember, I am not overly worried about my salvation so much as I just want some clarity on (insert doubt here). I understand I am asking you to walk a tight rope here which isn’t fair of me.
For whatever reason, I feel a sense of guilt. I can’t help but contemplate questions like, “‘Why are so many members not bothered with these issues like I?” or “I do appreciate the necessity of faith but am I not worthy of an extra portion?” Please help lift this guilt by responding with unconditional love during the crisis, not with concern for my eternal welfare.
Do you have doubts? Current or resolved? Do we share any? How have you dealt with and made peace with them? I would love to hear that you are okay with my questioning mind and as such, will aid in my search for answers and peace. I would also love to hear you affirm that our relationship will only change for the better in light of this new and possibly troubling information, regardless of the outcome.
Please know how hurt I would be if I found my admission of doubts were shared with others, even if you later confessed you felt sharing them with the Bishop or my parents or spouse was in my best interest.
Lastly, please understand the crisis is not averted after one discussion or within days. Be patient as it may take months, years, or may never be remedied to my level of satisfaction. While it doesn’t seem equitable, please don’t beleaguer me for weekly updates, I will share when ready. Just know that your quiet and discreet support is an immense help and I love you for it.