“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein
Nature is healing. It gives endlessly and all it asks for in return is to be respected. It invites us to rest in its shade, provides us with food and nourishment, and grants us the ability to live.
In October of 2010, I found solace in the shade of a tall Oak Tree. It stood tall and stable in the center of my yard; which was a stark contrast to the experience I was having within. Broken and overwhelmed, I was desperate to find peace. Negative self-talk and self-criticism haunted me. In my mind, I was a failure and I would never be able to keep up with the expectations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. How could I be a good Mormon, if I couldn't live up to its standards?
As I sat under this tall Oak Tree, I realized the peace I felt in that moment was an experience without conditions. The elements of Nature provided me with the support I needed ... WITHOUT a price. Nothing was asked of me. Nothing was expected of me. I just had to show up in my truth, as my imperfect self, and receive the guidance and healing I so desperately needed.
I began to see where my mental and physical exhaustion was coming from. Perfectionism, guilt, loneliness, hopelessness, and inadequacy were just some of the feelings that haunted me daily. So, I took the plunge and asked myself the question, “Am I truly happy?” The answer was a resounding NO. I was entirely miserable ... and all I wanted WAS to be happy. So, I decided it was time to leave the only thing I ever knew. The Mormon Religion.
Many individuals who have left a religion know the consequences of leaving all too well. Religion is not just a personal matter, it becomes a social reality. It’s webbed into every aspect of your life. A religious community becomes your closest friends. It is filled with people you have served with, worked with, and faced real-life experiences with. Leaving religion is stepping outside your current reality and walking into an entirely new world. It’s overwhelming and can be incredibly scary, lonely, and painful.
It is painful when you leave a religion. It is painful when family members don't want to talk to you, solely because of your choice to leave. It is painful when a loved one cries to you, only to express that YOU let them down. It is painful when you are told over and over again that your marriage will end without religion at its core. It is painful when you're told by the highest authorities of the Mormon church that you are losing your eternal blessings and you will no longer have an eternal family. The first few years of leaving were consistently painful, but I realized something for myself.
It was far more painful to not live my truth. I was gaining my personal truth, and it came with wounds... but like all wounds, it was there for me to heal.
It's been 10 years since I left. I was able to power through it. Amidst some of the darkest of times, I was able to observe the beauty of moving through life organically; of not having a set of guidelines or rules to follow ... the feeling of being free. There weren't any more boxes to check towards my eternal salvation. From here on out, my husband and I would be the only ones to decide the fate of our family.
If you can relate and would like me to hear more about my transition out of the church, email me at [email protected].