April 22, 2009
Just over a week ago, it looked as if Spring had finally come. The bush in front of my living room window burst into bloom with large, creamy flowers with pink-red streaks that reminded me of fairies’ wings. Next the flowering plum turned from a spindly rust-colored frame to bouquets of pink blossoms.
And then it snowed. Not just a little snow, but a heavy, wet blanket about six inches deep. The flowering plum was the first casualty, its frame bent over and roots ripped out under the weight of the snow. The landlord came by and tried to prop the tree up and put some soil over the exposed roots, but to no avail. The once-vibrant blossoms are brown and shriveled. Likewise, the bush by my window has only one bloom left on the very highest branch, the petals opened to the heavens as if longing to escape the decay around it.
It made me think of the wreckage of my once-living faith. My faith in God and in His prophets kept me going through so much and helped me find meaning and contentment in my life. And then, suddenly, like after a late snow, it was all gone. For a long time I thought it was all gone, like that uprooted tree with its dying blossoms.
Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe like that lingering bloom, I still believe in something. No, my faith isn’t wrapped in the trappings of Mormonism anymore. I don’t put much faith in corporations or dark-suited prophets anymore. But somewhere, there is still inside me a faith in God, a belief that there is something larger than this life. And above all, I want to know what I am supposed to do with my life. I suppose I could be content to believe that my life has purpose only as far as I give it purpose. But I want something more.
No, I’m not going back to my former belief, but I’m determined to find what else is out there, what kind of life I am to have.
April 15, 2009
Since a few people have asked, here’s the latest on my book (which is an account of my mission in Bolivia).
A few weeks ago, I decided to send out queries to literary agents. I probably sent out 60 or so, just to people who said they would consider memoirs. To date I’ve had 5 positive responses (among a ton of rejections). 4 of those are still thinking about it, and one has already rejected it.
I figured that I needed to at least make one concerted attempt to get it published, and if nothing happens, I can at least say that I tried.
So, wish me luck. I have my fingers crossed.
April 14, 2009
Not long ago, someone told me that I needed to really try hard to overcome my “issues” with the LDS church because “the stakes are so high.”
Back in my believing days, I would have agreed that the stakes were high: my eternal salvation depended on having faith in the gospel I had been taught all my life. Losing my faith was akin to spiritual death in that I would forever be cut off from God’s presence.
When I first left the church, I felt a sort of desperation to find a “true” church I could live with, but when I determined that my situation didn’t allow for such a search, I decided I would just keep going to LDS meetings, though participating minimally and believing even less.
That’s been about all I could do and still feel comfortable with myself. But a couple of weeks ago, I went to a “Bible church” here in Utah County, and I found that I didn’t really feel any more at home with this group, but I did realize that for once I let my guard down and tried to absorb something from the meetings.
It occurred to me that my guard is always up at LDS meetings. I don’t let anything in because I don’t really want to revisit the pain and disappointment of discovering it’s not true. But I’ve thought that, although I won’t ever be a believer in the LDS sense of the word, I can still worship in my own way with the Saints.
I know some people think that doing so would just make me lukewarm, though I suspect that God reserves that term for people who are undecided about their commitments. I am not. I know that I will never believe in Mormonism again. It simply isn’t true. But I wonder if the stakes are really that high.
Can I make a life for myself within the Mormon sphere without embracing it as true? I have no idea. What do you think?