Written in June of 2011
Seeing the cover of Newsweek brought a smile to my face. There was Mitt Romney’s head pasted on the now-familiar figure of the exuberant Mormon missionary from the Book of Mormon Broadway musical. Yeah, I thought as I drove the mile home from the mailbox, I’d have to read that article. The Mormon Moment? How the Outsider Faith Creates Winners? Hmmm…wonder how much truth it would tell about the church…and how much it would leave out. I wondered, but didn’t dwell on the question. After all, the Mormon church isn’t my fight anymore.
This is an anniversary of sorts for a Mormon Moment of my own. I’ve been officially outside that faith for one year as of this week. My husband, children and I all wrote our letters of resignation at the same time: short letters of five or six sentences, no list of grievances, no explanation given. We’d lived the explanation—spent so many thoughts and words on it already through years of struggle ever since our son came out at age fourteen—and it was finally just time to leave.
There’s really no explaining it anyway. When someone leaves the church, it’s just a given that A) they’re offended or B) they’re trapped in sin. There’s no fighting what the members will think—I figured it was best to just leave them to their thoughts and to move forward. My life was just that—mine—and I didn’t want to spend it in arguments that couldn’t be won.
I know that the nullification of our church membership has been sad news for some family and friends. I get that. I really do. I used to worry about other people in that way, too—about questions of eternal salvation for them and for me.
I don’t worry anymore. I think my salvation actually lies within me, and it is not a thing that will be decided by another. I think that I have the power to save myself from suffering and ignorance—and that in fact, in breaking from the church I have already saved myself from a good deal of it. I suspect that even the concept of exaltation is within my grasp—except that I won’t call it exaltation. I have no desire to be exalted above others. I think I just want to be among others…a part of the human experience. No glory, no crown—just belonging.
What’s that award given to those who don’t win contests? A “participant” ribbon? Yes, that’s what I want: a participant ribbon. Yay for me! Congratulations to me…I participate enthusiastically, courageously, generously in my own life and in the lives of people around me.
When it’s my time to die, I’ll be content if these are the words that greet me when I get to where I’m going: Good job! You tried hard. Messed up some, but succeeded plenty. Laughed a lot. Loved much.