Many people, Christians and Mormons alike, have asked how I came to leave the LDS faith that I’d clung to with such tenacity. Of course, when my Mormon friends ask, their shock and grief is evident in the question, while the Christians ask with voices ringing with joy and excitement. Same question, same answer, different perspective and response.
The day I was plucked from Mormonism began like any other Saturday: chores, errands, visit with friends. I wasn’t questioning church doctrine nor did I have any doubts about its truthfulness. In fact, my only question was the one I addressed to God repeatedly. “What would You have me do with my life?” I’d prayed that prayer numerous times throughout my life, but was fervently asking for specific direction now that I no longer had a husband or children in the home to care for.
The prayer went something like this. “Heavenly Father, for years I’ve been doing everything I know to do and still feel empty. What am I missing? I listen to talks from General Conference every morning as I get ready for work, and read the Book of Mormon (almost) every night. I attend church and take the Sacrament regularly. I attend the temple a few times a month, magnify my church callings, do my visiting teaching, fast at least once a month, pay a full tithing and a generous fast offering, and serve others.” After reciting this list of my “good works,” I gave Him a list of possible options lest He needed help coming up with ideas: temple worker, service missionary, genealogical research. Then I uttered these fateful words with all the fervency I could muster: “Do with me as You will, Father! I don’t care what it is! Just tell me and I’ll do it! My life is of no value to me. Take it! Use it or end it. It makes no difference to me. Tell me!”
The soft impression came, “Follow me.”
What?! Isn’t that what I’ve been doing my entire life? I’d been baptized, temple endowed, married in the temple to a returned missionary, raised my children in the church, held multiple church callings, and followed the prophet every step of the way. Didn’t all of those actions and covenants prove I was following Him? Again the impression came, “Follow ME.” I hung my head in frustration and cried. I didn’t understand what He was saying.
Then on that significant Saturday, I went to a friend’s house for a haircut. After we chatted for a time and had caught up on the family news, she quietly shared with me that her belief in the truthfulness of the LDS religion had changed. I was flabbergasted! How could this be? She was every bit the stalwart lifetime member with unwavering faith as I was! Stunned speechless, I listened to her story. She showed me the Mormon Essays on the church’s official website. A firehouse of information assaulted my heart and mind. We talked for hours. And everything I “knew” to be true, came crashing down.
An analogy I’ve heard over and over by members who’ve left the Mormon church is that of having “the shelf” break. A metaphoric shelf that holds the unresolvable conflicts or unanswerable questions over the course of several years finally collapses under the weight.
But the metaphor that comes to my mind is that of a house built on solid ground. I had a foundation of Jesus Christ, and a sturdy home built of the finest Mormon lumber available. It was solid, well-crafted, and had weathered the storms of abuse, illness, divorce, and other adversities of life. I had dwelled safely within those walls of Mormon doctrine for over 50 years and had no intention of remodeling or moving. But as I sat talking with my friend, it was as if my eyes were opened to the termite infestation that had been silently taking place over the years. Hidden away from view, they were devouring the very core of those walls. In one afternoon, the walls came tumbling down. And I would never be the same.
Then the impression came. “Now will you follow ME?”
Mark 10:20-21 (ESV)
And he said to him, “Teacher, all these [commandments] I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”