I read this tonight over at Mormon Curtain. It’s a “reprint” of a forum post made, I’m assuming, on the exmormon.org forum. Give it a quick read.
Mother’s Day resulted in a minor breakdown for my wife. We got a mini-lecture from my Father-in-law regarding a talk he gave that day in church on “Mothers in Israel.” He spoke about some of the important women in his life, and how each of them taught their children about the importance of sacrificing EVERYTHING for the church (those were his words). And then, looking at my wife, he talked about the importance of his own daughters carrying on that legacy, being mothers in Israel, teaching their own children that same virtue.
Of course, he knows full well that our children are not marrying in the temple, that we hold no callings, and that our sons are not going on missions.
The breakdown occurred later that evening, as my wife, through sobs, expressed the pain of knowing that she is a “disappointment” to her father. No matter what good she accomplishes; no matter how wonderful our children are; no matter how happy and strong our own marriage is, all that matters to her parents is that we couldn’t do it…we couldn’t endure to the end, sacrifice it all for the church, and in that regard, we are a disappointment. Not “bad”, just a failure.
I don’t know anyone who wants to be perceived as a disappointment to their parents.
This is the agony that faithful members of the church simply cannot understand. We have them visit us here periodically on the forum, challenging us on why it hurts to leave the church, and how everyone is free to believe whatever they want, the church doesn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head and make them attend or pay their tithing, blah, blah, blah. They have no idea what the real pain is. It’s not their fault—they have not had this experience, and from their perspective, it makes no sense. They simply cannot wrap their minds around that which is not real to them.
The real pain is in the knowledge that in the eyes of your faithful Mormon friends and family members, you have failed. You don’t measure up. They may continue to love you, but now you are the prodigal child. You have strayed from the fold, soiled the family name, and because they are good and righteous people, they will continue to extend their love to you, but now it is out of pity, not respect.
It no longer matters the quality of your character. It no longer matters the quality of family you raise, the quality of life you live, the love you extend to others, the accomplishments you achieve, the things you learn, the lives you touch…all that matters is that you failed. You are a disappointment to your parents, to the church, and ultimately to God.
A faithful Mormon can never understand that…
…but you can. That’s probably why you’re here.
It’s why I am
Doesn’t that infuriate you? It does me, especially since I know all too well that pain. The mental anguish not of leaving the church, but of the reaction of your loved ones. My own mother sees me as simply “not going to church” because I don’t have it in me to tell her my true beliefs. I completely empathise with that poor wife.
What a sad statement about a religion or belief that the parents of someone who is simply following their own reasoning and beliefs can take such a natural thing and turn it into a source of pain and nescient ridicule? Few things frustrate me more than the fact that making a change in my life can be taken by another as an affront to their success as a family-member/friend/mentor, or as some sign that I no longer love or appreciate them. What kind of organisation leads its members to believe that if their progeny decide not to join/remain a member, that they, as parents, have failed? It defies all logic.
I love my parents, and am largely the man I am now because of them. If my position in a religion is the only marker of their success in rearing me, I’m afraid they’ve closed their eyes to everything else I’ve accomplished in my life, and that is truly saddening.