My Story

Okay, so how did I get here? How did a nice Mormon girl like me turn to the dark side of agnosticism? Conversely, how did a nice agnostic girl like me get so hopelessly tangled up in Mormonism?

I was born into the church. Mine wasn't exactly a "typical" Mormon family--my parents were divorced and I was raised by a mostly single mom. But I went to church every Sunday of my entire childhood. That was no question. My mom was, and is, super duper devout. I mean, you should see that woman's food storage.

I was baptized at eight, earned my Gospel In Action award, earned my Young Womanhood award, voluntarily went to the temple by myself as a teen to do baptisms for the dead.

I graduated from seminary. Oh boy, did I ever graduate from seminary! You guys, seminary made me into a bit of a religious zealout. I was obsessed with the gospel as a teenager. I was so righteous. You wouldn't believe my teenage righteousness. I didn't watch PG-13 movies. I read Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS, if you ever get your hands on my high school scriptures and see the references all over the place), cover to cover. Twice! For real. Super righteous straight arrow over here.

Luckily for everyone who ever did or ever would know me, I then went to BYU and that toned it down a little. Go figure.

I served a mission. Then I came home from my mission and promptly married the stake president's hot son...IN the temple.

So, do you believe me? I was as Mormon as they come.

So was my husband. Did I mention he was the stake president's son? His family was a "typical" Mormon family--eight kids, perfect mom (she really is fantastic), do I really need to keep going?

We were pretty righteous newly weds. We went to church every Sunday, we read our scriptures, we prayed together.

Okay, now I have to get kind of serious, because this is when things changed. Long story short, my father-in-law (to whom I had been very close all my life) died suddenly and unexpectedly while serving as a mission president. Three months later, we had a little preemie. His name was Simon. He lived for five days before we made the choice to release him from this life.

This rocked my world.

I know a lot of people experience similar things--even worse things--and it strengthens their faith. And you know what? At first I thought it strenthened mine, too. We made our decision very prayerfully. I actually felt peace as I held my baby and his heart slowly stopped beating.

But after the first few weeks, things started to change. I had a lot of questions. I knew the Mormon answers to those questions--I had been giving them all my life. It was like one side of my brain would ask a question and the other side immediately, before side one even finished, spit an answer back at it.

Contrary to the most popular assumptions, I wasn't angry at God. I really wasn't. I never believed in a God who would intentionally rip his child's heart out. I was taught to believe in a loving Father, and in my world, loving parents just don't do that. They may allow their children to suffer through hard things in order to learn or grow, but they don't inflict suffering on their children. And certainly not as some sort of sick test of their faithfulness. Ick. That's not the God I believed in. I believed that if anything, God was sad for me, the way a loving parent aches when their child is hurt.

So it wasn't about bitterness. It wasn't that God didn't heal my father-in-law or my baby (despite a priesthood blessing from an Apostle commanding my father-in-law's body to be healed.) But those things made me wonder about prayer and about ordinances and about the priesthood. And let's face it, in Mormonism, once you start questioning the legitimacy of the priesthood, it's pretty much downhill from there.

My brain began to ask questions at an alarming rate, and gradually, the Mormon answers just weren't cutting it for me anymore. When thoughts of my eternal happiness became more real to me and rested on the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the things I had always said that I "knew", I realized that I didn't know anything at all.

I continued to read my scriptures daily and pray morning and night, assuming that I was just going through a "spiritual low" and that I would eventually come out of it. But instead, it got worse and worse, to the point that nothing at church felt real to me anymore. I felt like I was faking it. I felt like a liar. Eventually, I realized that I was only wearing my garments because I didn't own any other underwear. Out of respect for the people who view them as sacred, I stopped wearing them. Not long after that, I stopped attending church. (My husband was relieved. Turns out he never really believed any of this stuff and was just waiting for someone to give him "permission" to stop pretending. Poor guy.)

I was initially really traumatized by my decision, but only because it was so surprising to me. Me? Not going to church? What??? I literally lost my religion, R.E.M.! But once I recovered from that shock, I was actually quite comfortable with my choices. I felt like I was the same person with the same values, the same lifestyle. I was comfortable with my agnostic acceptance that I didn't know the answers to life's big questions, and I didn't believe anyone else knew either. I actually found a lot of peace in some of those things.

But after awhile, I began to miss the community. It got especially bad when we left Utah and moved to the East Coast. Oh, was I lonely! I tried several times to go back to church, but it never felt like it was working. For one thing, I don't know if you guys realize this, but Mormon church is LONG! Three hours?!? And frankly, it's kind of boring. But the worst part was that I just didn't believe it. I couldn't sing the hymns (and I used to love singing the hymns.) Everything that was said just rubbed me the wrong way. I even tried attending some other churches for the community, but they just didn't compare for me. They weren't what I was used to and comfortable with.

At one point, I decided I was just going to fake it until it all came back to me. That didn't work. I'm not a good faker. Then I decided I was just going to attend for social reasons and ignore all the rest of it. That didn't work either. It's kind of a big investment of time for the social return. And then there's the problem of my kids being indoctrinated while I'm socializing. Uh uh. Didn't work.

Then, after six years of this madness, I discovered my hope testimony. And here I am, coping with a new kind of madness.


  1. I stumbled across your blog today as I searched for answers, and I felt like an enormous dark storm I've been wandering around in for the last few months (and really, years) has finally started to clear. I'm not alone!!

    I was more or less your average, active, and enthusiastic mormon girl growing up and as a young adult (Baptism at 8, Gospel in Action, Young Women Recognition (the youngest to ever get it in my ward!), Seminary Honors, Institute, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Relief Society presidency, Primary presidency, dated many returned missionaries... the whole nine yards). But now, in my mid-twenties, I'm also pulling an R.E.M (haha) and it's devastating me. I have many friends who have left the church (even my mom has been inactive my entire life) who would welcome me with open arms and bottle of wine, but I don't find I share a similar experience with them. I don't think they would understand what I'm going through and to be around them makes me a little sad. I'm not angry with the church, and I don't think it's evil, I don't want it to go away, I just don't believe it's ALL true anymore (after years of study/praying/everything). I'm happy for the good things it has taught me, and for the rich heritage of it in my family history, but it's just not the only "truth" there is. Nor do I have any active friends I feel like I can reach out for. I know exactly what they would tell me because it's exactly what I would have told me a few years ago, too. Not to mention the idea of my sweet grandmother or my other active family members finding out and having their hearts broken from the news. I've had no one to turn to... and then I found your blog and I immediately burst into tears as I read your first post (and kept the waterworks going as I devoured everything you've written so far).

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you (!!!!) for sharing your honest beliefs. I don't really know where I'm going to go from here, or how much longer I can "fake" it for the people I love, and I'm a little terrified as to what comes next, but I'm so terribly grateful I have a save haven in your blog. I'm not the only one. I'm not alone. Thank you.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your comment. It sounds like we definitely share the same struggles. It's hard to be a confused Mormon, because we are brought up to believe (and therefore, most people do it) that if you leave the church you have to hate it and be bitter (you "leave neutral ground forever", right? WRONG!).

      Most people who leave the church, I think, do feel bitter. They view their upbringing as brainwashing. I don't. I view it as people teaching their children what they genuinely believe, and that is our job as parents.

      Before I started this blog, I really felt like such a misfit--how many return missionary, married-in-the-temple, BYU graduates leave the church but without bitterness? When missionaries or members would come visit me, I was friendly and welcomed them into my home. Why not? I love Mormons! But I knew that my "situation" drove them crazy because I used to BE those people. I knew a couple on my mission that had been super active--he had been the branch president, she had been in the stake RS and Primary presidencies--but were totally inactive when I knew them (and to my knowledge, they still are). They were super friendly. They were culturally SO Mormon. They still had the Messiah series (along with all the other good Mormon books) on their bookshelves. Their grown children were all still active. We just could not figure them out. And of course we felt so bad for them, that they had lost their light.

      But I think I understand them a little better now--they just didn't believe it. It's a hard concept for Mormons to grasp, that someone might just not believe it. It's not pride, it's not sin, it's not coffee, it's not tithing. They just don't believe it. And because that's the only problem, there is no reason for them to be bitter about it.

      Fortunately, as people comment on this blog, I am realizing that we're not all that rare of a breed after all. We're just a very quiet breed.

      Best of luck to you as you figure out how to deal with your beliefs and your relationships. It's so dang complicated.

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  2. Hello! I just found your blog- through your Rational Faiths article. I am right where you are at except for the part of sharing my beliefs or lack of beliefs depending on how you look at it. My husband has been great about it but holy cow- if his family knew, it would be UGLY! Please keep you blogs posts coming- I'm eating it all up. :)

    I lived in Northern Virginia for many years. I'm in Idaho right now but we own a home there so we'll probably be back soon. It would be so wonderful to have actual people to get together with who believe what I believe- we could start a meet up group for our families and others in the area. I'm with you- we are the quiet breed but I know there are many others.

  3. Thanks for your comment! We should definitely get together when you come back to NoVa. I feel like I have been lagging lately, because we just moved into a new house and my head is constantly spinning. But yes, I need to write more. I have sooooo much more to say. ;)

  4. So, I just read practically your entire blog. I'm only stopping because it's midnight and I have work tomorrow. I feel a lot like "k." who commented above. I'm so glad to have found someone who is talking about these things. I have felt so alone and isolated, not sure how to deal with this strange place of being agnostic but still being an active Mormon. I really identify with your comments on being both a non-believer and not bitter about it. Our situations are a little different (of course). I probably wouldn't be going to church at all if it weren't for my faithful wife, but I am going, we are teaching our kids the church's gospel, and I have to deal with that somehow. Your posts have given me a lot of insight that I don't think I would have come by any other way. So, thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart. And keep writing, please.

  5. Hey, I'm Brazilian (my English is terrible, but i hope you understand). I met the church when i was 15 (now i'm almost 20). The only member of the church in my family. I had a strong faith, graduated from seminary, went to the Temple. When I turned 18, i was called as a counselour in primary, and seminary teacher. I loved it. But, late last year I started to think about many things. First on people with homosexual attractions and how the church deals with them. I felt bad going to church and hearing things with which I disagreed. I felt bad having to share a testimony with my seminary students. Then, i stopped going to the Church. However, I hope there is a god, and we have a spirit, so I still pray. I miss some things in the church because I felt good as a Mormon. I hear the hymns sung by the band "The Lower Lights" every day. I have friends in the church, but still don't feel well to rejoin. Here in Brazil, people of the church are very conservative (perhaps because many weren't born in the church), and I know everyone will look bad to me. Also don't know how to reconcile the life I have today: as a member of a feminist movement and supporter of LGBT causes. But I hope that in the future, and I can get back to attend the meetings.