I’d like to bear my testimony.
It has been over 5 years since I spoke those words from a pulpit in a Mormon chapel. Today, I speak them to you, the reader of this blog. The words today are more honest, more sincere, more authentic and more raw than anything you will hear in church. If you are confused or wondering why I would like to bear my testimony to you now, let me explain.
I get told sometimes that I seem very angry about religion. Yes, I am angry. Damn angry. I’m angry that I was lied to. I’m angry that I was brainwashed. I am angry that I was betrayed by the only thing in my life that I believed to be infallible. I’m angry that I was taught to be religious before I could even read. I’m angry because religion infects your brain, and it’s very hard to get away from the constant fear and guilt that is instilled in you before the age of reason. Do I blame my parents for this? Absolutely not. They taught me the only thing they knew and believe, just as I taught my three young kids the same things. The guilt I feel for baptizing them at an age so young they had no way of actually knowing what they are getting into, and forcing the beliefs that I now know to be lies, fictional policies and rules, is crippling sometimes. Thank God for real world therapists that don’t work for LDS Social Services. One of the many things I have learned: We cannot blame ourselves for something that was all we knew at the time. The important thing is that you realized your wrong doing before it was too late for you and your family. Also thank God for children who see things for how they really are, who see people’s true intent and heart and are oblivious to any form of racism, homophobia or “believing things, just because someone tells them to”.
Part of the intensive therapy that has been necessary for me since coming out and leaving the church has taught me that I need to tell my story. The last 5 years have been rough, not gonna lie. I have been approached in a grocery store by a woman who I considered to be a friend in my ward who walked right up to me and said, “ I can’t believe you served in the primary for as long as you did, around all those kids”, as If being gay automatically somehow made me a pedophile. I’ve been told things by close family members and friends that I would not wish upon anyone to hear from someone they love. But, I have also received numerous, heartfelt messages of hope, healing and support from friends and strangers alike. For many who know me, what they read here will be the first time they have heard some parts of my story, as I have never shared some of these things with anyone. It is time to tell the whole story, as hard as it might be for me to write and for some to read, you have my commitment that this blog will be authentic, true and completely, brutally honest.
So today, I’d like to bear my testimony. In many ways, my first testimony. Bearing it to you in a whole new way, in this whole new world that I have discovered. No longer over a pulpit in a chapel with someone whispering in my ear telling me what to say that I “know”, but over the world wide web saying things that have taken me nearly 50 years to understand and accept.
First, I’d like to tell you that LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE. I know that we were created exactly how our creator intended us to be. I know that he does not make mistakes. I testify to you that despite what I have been told and taught, I now know that I am not a mistake. I am not broken. I am a beautiful, talented, loving son of God. I feel and love deeper and stronger than I ever have. This is me, imperfectly perfect me.
Many feel that when you lose your faith in the Mormon church, you lose your faith completely. Not true, in fact quite the opposite. My faith in God and my spiritual side are stronger than they have ever been. The difference now is that it is no longer hinged upon the traditions, religion and faith of my ancestors. I now know a different God, a God that loves EVERYONE without condition, including me and he DOES approve of my marriage and my lifestyle as much as anyone else’s. I now fully understand what unconditional love is and how it is achieved. Organized religion is flawed and does more harm than it does good. I also now realize that the Mormon church is not His church. I know that the men who profess to speak to and for God, in fact do not. I know that the damaging rhetoric that is being spread by the men who run this church is doing so much harm that it has become a “religious epidemic”.
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.