I believe it takes a lot of strength to have faith, but there is something that takes even more strength.
I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At the age of 8 years old I was baptized into the church and confirmed as a member. I wasn’t the most obedient, but for the most part I did what was expected of me. But then, at the age of 15 I began to question the doctrines that I had been taught since before I could even speak. I believed, as the church taught, that if I did what I was supposed to it would all be clear to me. I though that this doubt was coming from the devil. I believed that because I was dating when I shouldn’t have been, I let him into my life and allowed him to leave me astray. This doubt continued off and on for two years. After breaking up with my boyfriend, I was sure that I would gain clarity. I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do, he would bless me with the truth. But this never came. I began to google what I had been taught all my life was “anti-mormon” but when I did so, I was plagued with guilt. I would read for five minutes, exit out and delete my browser history. I continued as if I hadn’t read anything at all. I went to seminary, sacrament meeting, mutual, etc.. At this time in my life, guilt and confusion filled me.
It wasn’t until I left for school that I really started to look into what I had been taught my whole life. I visited mormonthink.com and /r/exmormon. I read the CES Letter. I stopped going to institute and Sunday meetings. I started to realize that what I grew up believing, was a con. The guilt and confusion I’d been feeling for the past 3 years floated away. That left room for anger, sadness, and worry. Initially, I was furious. I was partially angry at myself for being fooled, but mostly at the LDS church for fooling me and millions of others. I was devastated, I wanted so much to hold on to the church and its teachings. I wanted my dream of being married in the temple, because what girl doesn’t want to be married inside of a castle? At first, it scared me to realize that everything I thought I knew about life, was now a mystery to me. But most of all I was, and still am, worried. I know have a huge weight on my shoulders that will not be lifted until I tell my family of my disaffection. There is no doubt in my mind that they will not understand. They will believe that I have left because I want to “be of the world” and that I just want to sin. They will view me as weak for not having the kind of strength that is required to look past the things that led me away. I can’t blame them though… Four years ago I would have thought the same thing.
Yes, I believe that having faith does require a lot of faith… But in my mind, greater strength lies in admitting that you may have been wrong. Greater strength comes from leaving everything you were taught and accepting that maybe you don’t know everything about life. My strength has come from figuring out what I don’t believe, despite the disappointment I will cause my family. It isn’t easy to realize that you will never get to attend your siblings weddings, to know that there will always be a gap between you and your family. Yes, these things are hard to accept, but I wouldn’t go back because for the first time in my life I can actually be myself.