I am leaving and it is reminding me of a previous time when I left. In light of that, I feel inspired to post an excerpt from my upcoming book, Above the Clouds…
I tried, really, I did! I tried to be good. I tried to be everything “they” thought I was supposed to be. I made sure I sat in church every Sunday – even after moving to Salt Lake, away from the pressure of the religious standards set by my father. I was there, with my beautiful baby, every Sunday, sitting alone with just her. No one talked to me. And why would they? In a church [the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] that preaches Families are Forever, where did a recently divorced mother of one daughter fit in….
I no longer fit within the confines of that religion. When I was younger, I had been able to fake it well enough so that I did fit in, but I couldn’t fake it anymore. I felt as though I stood out like a glowing neon beer sign mistakenly hung over the sacrament table.
I kept at it, though… I was bound and determined to get back in to God’s good graces. I straddled the fence for a long time. One foot in the safety zone – The Church. One foot on The Other Side. I was afraid to let go of all that I had known because it was all that I had known. But, no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t feel right anymore. It wasn’t me.
I began to stretch and question and that was frowned upon in The Church. I had once been told that whatever I was seeking, I would find the documentation to back it up. Whether I was looking to support or refute The Church, I would find what I was looking for. Therefore, it was an unwritten – and spoken only under everyone’s breath and from behind their hands – that, if I did have any questions I wasn’t supposed to go looking.
One of the most often quoted scriptures within the Church states, “Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it…. And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a knowledge of things; therefore, if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32: 18, 21)
So, you see, I was simply supposed to have faith. Blind faith. There was to be no questioning. No knowing. Only faith. Plain, simple faith. And any question that could not be clearly or logically answered through the scriptures, those were the questions I really needed to have faith about….
Then I had a memory. I had once heard in a childhood Sunday School class that, in the end, those who were straddling the fence would be judged the most harshly. That memory was the deciding factor. It was time that I made a decision for myself. It was time that I took a stand for who I am, what I believe and why I am here. It was time that I put my faith in God, instead of religion, and find Him. It was time that I find the answers for myself, on my own. So, I took my foot out of the safety zone and set it firmly on The Other Side….
I shared that excerpt because I am, yet again, in another place of “leaving.” For several years, I have been involved with a community wherein I have discovered a lot about myself, who I am and who I want to be. This community has given me many forward-thinking philosophies and tools for interrelating and communication. I feel blessed to have been a part of this group.
Now, however, I am standing on that same precipice… straddling the fence of what was and what will be. I no longer fit in this community and find that I must, again, strike out on my own. I am scared that my life may be a continual string of “striking out on my own.” I fear that I will be alone for the rest of my journey… that there is no community in which I fit… that there is no partner brave enough, strong enough, compassionate enough to stand beside me… that I will be an outcast forever…
Looking back, I realize that I survived when I took both of my feet out of religion. More than surviving, I have lived. I am proud of who I have become. And I remind myself that I am only who I am because I made that decision. This decision too will have it’s consequences and rewards.
Have faith, Angie… because you do know.