As I unpack my life and get woken up to things that have been conditioned in me, I’m starting to unpack all that was living inside of me growing up in the LDS church. The more I unpack, the more it keeps coming up for me to share. It’s become a huge part of my healing journey and sharing this story with the Lovebylynn community is important to me. It’s most definitely hard, but I can no longer just sit and talk about surface things, I have to go so much deeper. This is a huge part of my life now and I believe it’s my duty as someone who shares her life to inspire and uplift one another, to share this huge part of my story with you, and I’m finally ready to do that.
I wanted to start out by saying, I have a lot of LDS family members who I respect and their beliefs. Including my own mom, whom I love dearly.
This story isn’t to share the doctrine of the church, or share any sort of hate. I don’t believe in putting anything, or anyone down. If you want to go do your own research on the church and it’s background, be my guest. It’s wide open on the sea of the internet for you.
Before I tell my story, I just want to also say that this is my perspective. This is my story. Everyone has their own life journey of the way they view and perceive things. What went on growing up in the church for me, could be a completely different story for you. We all have our own story.
What you do with this story is up to you. I’m not trying to convince anyone or push my beliefs on anyone. I’m simply just sharing my story to relate and get connected in some way. I believe it’s important for us as humans to be vulnerable with each other. To have a listening ear and be seen and heard. I think all of us just want to be witnessed without someone trying to change us, or change how we feel and deny our own reality.
I wasn’t ready to share this story until now. Now it feels right. It’s been coming up for me over and over again. I left the church at age 19 and was so resentful and bitter of it up until about 2 years ago.
If you’re happy in the church and it fills you up, then that’s amazing. That’s all that matters here. I think it’s so important for us to question our beliefs that we were raised in, that are so familiar to us. We are each individuals. Everyone’s path is going to be different.
A little background on my childhood and where I was raised.
I was born and raised in the LDS church. Grew up in Payson, UT in a small town with a lot of isolation, meaning we were very sheltered and kept safe in our little box. I think that it was such a great town to be raised in. Safe and secure. I had a typical childhood. We went to church every Sunday, we did all the traditional Holidays. My mom was always around, but my dad worked a lot. We traveled, but only staycations. Never really left the state. We had a good life, but parents were always stressed about money. No one ever in my family, or extended family ever spoke about how they really felt about family. You just swept everything under the rug. You could say it behind their back, but never confront anyone.
Growing up, I was always told I had to go to attend church. I went, because that’s what good people do. You just do what you’re told by your parents and that’s what I did. I thought it was completely normal to be LDS and if you weren’t I labeled you as unhappy.
Even as a little girl, I felt the eye balls of judgment staring. I started to really resent going at about 12 years old. I felt that something was off. But as a young girl, how are you supposed to identify what that is.
When you turn 8 is when your father baptizes you, or if your father isn’t “worthy” of their rule book then he cannot baptize you. My dad baptized me at 8 years old. Heres the thing, I didn’t know what I was really doing. I just knew that everyone did it at 8 years old. This is just what you do. Which brings me to to this age. Baptizing at 8 years old, from my perspective is too young. You shouldn’t be making this decision on your own, because well, you’re 8 years old. You don’t know what you want at 25 years old, let alone 8 years old. If I were to say I didn’t want to, I would’ve been told it wasn’t an option for me and had to.
My parents had the best intentions because thats how they grew up, and they never questioned it like I’m doing now. If they have, they questioned it and went to their bishop for answers. Which the bishop will always tell you not to look things up, or go searching because you have to just have faith thats it’s true.
That was the mantra. Don’t go out searching because that is basically sinning. You just have to have faith that what they’re teaching is true. This stings.
I always gave my mom trouble about going, I would fake sick all the time. I got into young women and had a great experience. I want to point this out because it’s important. I had open minded really fun young women’s leaders at the time. I felt welcome, I felt heard. They weren’t pushy. This is so important because the people matter in the church.
Once I got new leaders, I bailed at 14 or 15. It’s hard to remember exactly what ages, but I remember getting new leaders and just hating it. They were on their high horse. Close minded and snobby.
When I got into junior high is when I started going out and getting into trouble with friends. I ended up having to go repent for my sins at age 15. Repenting to a random 50 year old man in an office, alone. The bishop asked me what I did. I told him. He asked for details. I told him. I was shaking with sweaty palms as I told him. This was extremely uncomfortable. The more I look back at this, the more weird and strange it is to me. I always felt weird about it and I really believe taking care of your problems should be done between you and god, or the universe. Whatever you believe in.
This happened a handful of times from ages 14-20 years old. I went to single wards at 18-20. This was like the last straw for me. This just made me feel even worse. I’ve never ever felt like I was “good” enough. No matter how hard I tried to fit into the perfect little box.
I went off the deep end from 19-21. If that’s what you want to call it. I hit my rock bottom. The way I grew up it felt so extreme. So black and white. You were either a really “good” mormon, or you were a really “bad” human. There was no room for messing up. Alongside that, attending church if you had “sinned” you couldn’t take the sacrament. They pass around bread and water for each person to take and if you weren’t worthy you had to pass on it. This was so humiliating. Not only do you feel like complete shit, but now the whole entire ward knows you sinned. This is where the talking and judgement starts to happen.
So literally, they give you the little tray to take bread or water and you have to wave and say “no, thank you”.
Growing up, I was told drinking coffee, having tattoos, getting more than one piercing, drinking alcohol, smoking, not attending church every Sunday, liking the same gender, sex. These were all signs of someone being miserable and unhappy. If you did any of these things, I thought you were the most unhappy person in the world. You were labeled as the bad one. The sinner, and how in the world can you be happy because those who do any of those things are miserable.
This is my perspective and I want to be very respectful of it, but sharing this is important to me and my story.
Growing up in Utah there is this culture of judgement hovering around everyone. Little whispers of judgement of so and so wearing this without garments on, and so and so doing this out and about. Everyone is “looking out” for you, but really keeping tabs on you.
This is completely my perception and my reality growing up in the LDS church.
So literally, every time I was out as a young kid I would label and judge. Oh, they’re having wine, not happy.
Drinking coffee, oh not happy.
Oh, they have a tattoo, they must be so depressed.
I understand why these things can be bad, because they most certainly can, but so can drinking 20 cans of diet coke, with extra sugary syrup in it from sodalicious. (Utah thing) Yes we have soda joints all around, it’s like the LDS coffee joints.
This is called the word of wisdom. Keep it and you will be blessed. Pay 10% of your tithing and you will be blessed.
I believe in helping others when they’re in need. Being there for friends and family and helping your community. But this takes it to another extreme. This part about the church is where it gets me.
I believe what you do with your life, your body, your money, and your family is your own business. Having your own set of boundaries in place is so important.
The biggest thing I have a hard time with is how they tell you if you disobey any of the things listed in the word of wisdom, you won’t go to the celestial kingdom with your family and be with them forever.
This is Weaponizing one’s family against them. Which from my perspective, is not okay. But yet the LDS church members will tell you that If you don’t believe what they believe, well then, you won’t make it and you won’t be with your family forever. If you don’t follow their promptings and live how they want you to live, then you won’t go to the celestial kingdom and be with your family forever.
The close minded mentality of Feeling like they are in the right and you’re in the wrong. That their church is the only right way and if you aren’t a member then you aren’t a happy person and won’t see your family. I believe each individual has their right way of living that works for them. I don’t believe there is only one right way to live in my opinion.
I always felt like everyone was keeping score of each other. Watching what others are doing, then gossiping, judging and following up with what they should be doing, like their life is so perfect. Perfectionism is what drives people crazy, perfectionism will keep those skeletons in the closet because of the shame you’ll feel if you let them out.
SO much shame, so much fear. Living the perfect life is not attainable.
To this day, I really believe that is why I have issues with perfectionism and the fear and anxiety of trying to be. I’ve been really doing the work and digging deep into my past to figure out my ways of living and conditioning, and what was told me that I unconsciously took on. Becoming more conscious of my thought patterns, and behaviors and what drives those thoughts and behaviors and there is a lot of unpacking to do from being a member the first 20 years of my life.
Being a woman in the church is a much different experience than being a man, but I cannot speak for a man, so I’m not going to go there, but I will speak for myself as a woman and my perspective.
From my perspective, Women are sexualized in this church. And here’s why. Women are told to cover up. Can’t show above the knee, your chest, or your shoulders. When you get married in the temple, they give you what are called garments to wear underneath your clothes to make sure that you’re covered up modestly.
I understand where they are getting at this. Being modest is important, but it’s where they tell us to cover up because it’s too sexual, that gets me. Men can fully take off their shirts and they’re fine. And women cannot show their shoulders or thighs.
This is sexualizing women.
Don’t show your shoulders, too sexual.
Don’t show above your knee, too sexual.
Don’t show your stomach, too sexual.
Don’t show any cleavage whatsoever, too sexual.
Why are women responsible for men controlling themselves. From my perspective men are just sexual beings and it doesn’t matter what women wear. Men should be responsible for themselves and keep it under control.
Modesty is what they’re trying to get at here, and I completely understand that. But again, I believe one should be able to explore the way they look and dress. And not be shamed for doing so.
Men don’t have the same shame in the church as women. Men aren’t responsible for their urges and needs, we as women are responsible to keep ourselves modest, so that we don’t make men come onto us.
Let me tell you what I subconsciously brought with me into my life as an adult. Sex is bad. Don’t be sexual, don’t explore your sexuality. If you do it, you’ll go to hell. Be sneaky about it. For many many years as a married woman, I felt wrong having sex. It took me years to figure out that this is an amazing part of life.
Sexuality is a gift, a beautiful gift that should be celebrated.
The constant undoing of this has taken me so many years. I STILL struggle with this at 32. This is part of life.
Again, I understand not having sex young, because you’re more careless, but the way its outlined in the church for woman to keep themselves together or the men are going to get heated…from my perspective, is wrong.
Religion and spirituality are two different things. And I didn’t figure this out until 2 years ago. After I left, I didn’t think I could even pray because I thought that was too religious.
It’s upsetting because I was so resentful for many years. I was in this space of feeling like… who cares. Once I had kids, I started to come around and feel like I wanted to figure out what I believe.
I started meditating around 3 years ago and that’s when my spiritual practice started taking place a little bit in my life. I found Gabby Bernstein at the time and read all of her books. She really got me into surrender to the presence of angels. In leaning into that and finding answers.
I pray daily now, I meditate daily and now I see an energy therapist to help guide me even more. I lean into the universe for answers. I’m just barely starting to touch this new found faith journey of mine.
Being spiritual has NOTHING to do with your weekly church attendance, what calling you have in the church, how many times you go visit your assigned family for visiting teacher (although they removed that, because hello, desperate energy) what you wear, what you drink, what you eat, what you look like in general.
I’ve learned so much about spiritually, and it doesn’t have to do with any of those things. I believe in my higher self, I believe in that strong sense of knowing, the core of who I am, the real me, has all the answers. I pray to the universe to help give me answers. I surrender to the presence of my angels to help guide me through when I’m feeling off. I believe in the divine universe.
I trust in the power of the universe that it will take me to what I need to hear and what I need to do to help guide me towards my higher self.
I’m just scratching the surface on this new found journey of mine. I’m just now awakening to the dark night of the soul. It’s been so draining and so relieving at the same time. I will link to the books that have helped me through this and teaching me.
I’m going to say this a million times, but sharing this is not to force my beliefs onto anyone. I’m just sharing to tell my story and be open with you. My hope is that it will bring us closer as a community and that it will help someone in some shape or form.
I will never force my beliefs or my feelings onto anyone. There is no one right way to think and live. Lean on what feels right to you.
Faith is so personal.
Still on my journey, but I feel more free than ever and connected to the loving divine universe who has guided me to even share this story. This has taken me a lot to do this. It’s very hard to be vulnerable, but vulnerability is so important to connect with those who might feel so alone.
Where I’m sitting now is what I want to teach my children going forward. I most definitely want them to know they don’t have to make decisions alone, I want them to know that they should never ever abandon what they know to be true deep inside their knowing. I want to hold space for them to become who they are, not who I want them to be.
What does it look like? I’m just starting this journey with my young kids. I will lead by example, I will teach them to always be kind, but never abandon themselves. The thing is, is my kids have taught me more about life than anyone ever has. I’m always a learner with them. If you’re humble enough to listen to the teachings your kids are teaching you. Which I wasn’t 5 years ago, but the more I become “awakened” (I don’t like that term, but can’t think of anything else- just sounds woo woo) but that’s what it is. The more I have, the more I’m listening to the lessons they’re teaching me.
I just want you to know, You’re not alone, you’re loved, you’re seen and heard. How you feel matters. What you have to say matters, what you believe matters. Dig deep within yourself my love. The answers are always there. Connect to something much larger than you.
I will always be a learner. I don’t and will never know everything, and neither will any of us.
What I love about the church is community. I think that is very important in life.
Keeping the sabbath holy is something I still do. But I call it Sunday reset. I think that’s important, but in your way. Whatever you want to connect to that will fill you up. Whether that’s doing your own teachings at home because church drains you, if that’s going to church because it fills you up, heading to the mountains, journaling, going to the park with your family, getting off your phone for the whole day, cooking with a loved one.
Whatever that is to you that fills you up and resets your energy in a positive way. That’s your Sunday sabbath, or whatever you’d like to call it.
I think it means Connecting to whatever it is that fills you up for the week ahead. To reset and recharge. That’s what it was designed for, but it’s so subjective and so personal to each of us.
This has been very hard for me to share, but it feels right. I just want to leave it here and will keep sharing my journey as I go. Feel free to connect with me any time. I’m going to leave it with this quote by my favorite Glennon Doyle.
“I will not stay, not ever again- in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself.”
LOVE ALL OF YOU! Thank you for taking the time to read and holding space for me to do so.
Here are some books that I’ve felt helped me through this and still continue to help me. Currently reading “How to do the work“.
Gabby Bernstein: Super Attractor, The Universe Has Your Back,
Ekcart Tolle: The Power Of Now
Glennon Doyle: All of her books, but especially Untamed
I’ve also been getting into The Course In Miracles