There’s nothing like a guard rail
To wake you up in the middle of the night –Lagwagon “Goin’ South”
Yesterday I got an email instructing me to check to see if my laptop battery was one of those that could potentially explode. Nope, mine was made in Korea, not in China. My colleague was seriously disappointed that hers was not affected by the recall; the model number was one digit off from the exploders. “This is an old computer,” she said, “and it’s going to need a new battery soon. I was hoping I could get a free one.”
Maybe that’s the right attitude to take. Too often, we see traumatic events in our lives in terms of what we have lost, what we can’t get back. Several years ago I was laid off from a really good job, and for a few days, I couldn’t see anything but fear and darkness in the future, and I felt like I had lost my bearings in life. Now I look at that moment as a transition in my career that has been almost entirely positive.
Sometimes it takes those unsettling moments to shake us from our reverie and make us really think about who we are and what we want. Leaving Mormonism is like this (you knew it was coming, didn’t you?). Church members see our “apostasy” as a huge loss: we “lost” our testimony; we’ve strayed from the path and let go of the iron rod; we stopped believing. And too often we go right along with them. We see nothing but the pain in the wreckage of our faith; we’re so focused on what we have lost that we don’t see what we have gained.
It’s almost as if we see leaving as akin to knocking down a historic art gallery to be replaced by a bowling alley or Denny’s. Until the last moment, we fight to preserve our faith as if it were worthy of a historical marker instead of the wrecking ball. And when the last crumbs of the hand-carved facade fall, we grieve at our loss.
But maybe we’re looking at it wrong. Maybe we’re knocking down a Denny’s so that we can build a gallery, and we get to decide what it looks like and what goes in there. And that was a tacky yellow sign we saw collapsing, not some craftsman’s art in polished oak.
Frankly, there are too many Denny’s out there already. If I’m going to grieve over something, it’s going to be something important, like the disappearance of Hershey’s Hot Fudge in a can. Now there’s a loss for you.