Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm still here. Also, the hardest part of agnostic Mormonism...

So, maybe some people have noticed that I've sort of been MIA for, oh, two months (then again, maybe nobody noticed and I'm just flattering myself). I wouldn't be telling the whole truth about my absence without mentioning a little thing called morning sickness. That's right, I'm pregnant. With my fifth baby. Hey, I may be agnostic, but I'm still Mormon!

I swear, this has been the worst of them all. Luckily, it's starting to wear off a little, so I might be blogging a bit more. I might also be regularly cooking dinner again. And maybe napping less, which means my kids will be feeding themselves peanut butter and crackers a little less often. Maybe.

Anyway, I also wouldn't be telling the whole truth about my absence without confessing the thing about agnostic Mormonism that is extra hard for me. See the tag line on my blog? "Coping as an active Mormon, when technically, I'm agnostic." Active Mormon. The hardest part of all of this is the active part. I haven't been very good at that since we moved in July, and it makes me feel a little bit hypocritical to be preaching about how to be an agnostic but active Mormon when I'm really not living up to it.

The thing is, getting to church every Sunday is HARD when you aren't motivated by real, hardcore belief. I used to wonder at people who came back from inactivity. They would talk about how hard it was every single week, and I really just didn't get that. I mean, it's just showing up, right? You really just don't realize how hard it is until you've had a good long time away from it. Adding a few kids during your absence doesn't make it any easier.

On top of that, my husband works long hours and has a beast of a commute--the kids really only get to see him on the weekend. The last thing I want to do on Sunday is put them in the van and go spend three hours away from their dad.

On top of that, did I mention that we moved in July? And have I also mentioned that our previous ward was just so perfect for me? The people were just the best. They not only made me feel super duper welcome when I showed up after being a name on the rolls for two years, but they also accepted me and my crazy ideas. In fact, they were terribly supportive of it all. AND I just really liked them. I had a lot of great friends there. I really believe that ward was a huge factor in my decision to make Mormonism work for me. The ward culture was highly motivational. Who wouldn't want to be part of a group of people like that?

I knew when we moved that navigating the social waters of a new ward was going to be tricky for me. I thought about maybe trying to come off like a normal, believing Mormon. That thought lasted for about three seconds, because it's just not my style to fake it. Plus, what if they put the spiritual education of children into my hands? Heaven help them. But I also wasn't sure how to break it to everyone that I'm kind of complicated. I mean, do I just stand up in the first testimony meeting, introduce myself, and direct everyone to my blog?

Luckily, it all kind of worked itself out. When my mother-in-law came to visit, I went to church with her--my first time in this ward, a month after we moved in. Then I didn't show up again for two months. When the missionaries came to visit, I told them everything (I think I kinda scared them). When I ran into a girl from the ward when I was at Petsmart the other day, and she mentioned not seeing me (don't you love Mormon concern for absence?), I just told her, "Yeah, that's because I'm kind of a rebel and I'm not great at getting to church every week." And you know what? She was super cool. Today when I finally went to church and people asked me if I was new, I said, "Kind of. But mostly I'm just kind of sporadic."

So anyway, the hardest part is out there. I'm NOT a conventional Mormon. It feels good to be transparent.

So about that church activity thing...I didn't watch all of General Conference last weekend, but I did watch several talks. It only took one or two of them for me to really start missing church and really start wanting to do this again. That's how very close to the surface my feelings about all of this are. It's so easy for me to be away from it for a little while and get confused about what I want. During my two-month absence, I actually started to wonder if I really wanted to do this agnostic Mormon thing at all. I mean, it's a tricky (and time-consuming) dance. But when I so easily felt those strong urges to really try to be a good Mormon, I realized that I just need to keep plugging along.

So I went to church today. And I'm glad I did.