Up until 2 months ago, I thought I could stay in the church. I was born in the covenant, was baptized, married in the Temple at age 20, attended BYU and stayed home to raise my 2 children. Over the years, I slowly lost my identity and my voice. I forced myself into gender roles that conflicted with my personality and became someone I was not. I didn’t feel the same joy I felt in the church as a youth. After a traumatic experience that happened after my daughter was born, something inside me shifted. I gave myself permission to start looking into church history. I became aware of historical discrepancies that led to major angst with contemporary issues, especially the treatment of women and LGBTQ members. I operated daily under a heavy cloud of cognitive dissonance, hope, fear, doubt, shame, and love. All that aside, I thought I could stay and be a voice for change. It soon became evident that no one in the church wanted to hear, let alone discuss what I had to say. When I told my husband where I stood, he completely rejected me and asked me for a divorce a few months later.

As the dust from my divorce settled, I again tried to attend church. It felt less and less like home. I took my time, thinking, praying,and reading as I went. I began to feel a pull that was leading me out of the church. I feared what friends and family would think of me. I fought and overthought. I decided to leave, only to second guess my decision, time after time. Then I reached a point where I realized that I had the power to own my spirituality outside of any authority or institution. I would choose the direction of my life. I decided to trust in my own intuition, and I left.

I had been in the church for 29 years. I have only been out for 2 months. Much of where my path goes from here remains to be seen. Regardless of where I go, I am happier and more hopeful than I have ever been.

I do go into the mountains to gain perspective and a sense of calm. I go to people who respect my strong opinions and don’t ask me to be a little quieter or smaller. I go out for coffee. I go to my children, and am available to them in ways I haven’t been able to be until now. I go to comedy clubs. I go out among my fellow men and women and try to get to know them, no religious strings attached. I go to places where I can be loud, raucous, and goofy. I go to find ways to help people in my community, as well as across the globe. I go inward and find peace.

Britt and AZ

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