The Mormon faith has always been a strong influence in my life and upbringing. However at a young age, I chose to become inactive. I was a very confused young adult with a lot of questions. The answer I was given: to pray… which I did but I still felt very unsure about the teachings. I knew with what I felt in my heart, I needed to distance myself to figure out my place in the church.
I struggled a lot with this throughout my early and mid-20s. The judgment from my peers hurt and not feeling accepted damaged my confidence. I had no self-love. It took a lot of years and lot of self-discovery to really find that I didn’t need religion to tell me what kind of person to be and how I should live my life. I was a beautiful person inside and out. I’ve enjoyed becoming who I am and the continued growth that has yet to come.
My family, even though being inactive for some years, have all returned. My mom serves as a family history missionary and my brother and his wife are working towards becoming temple worthy and raise their kids faithfully in the church. I have chosen not to return. But I That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. I’ll always have it. And when I’m hiking that mountain or riding my bike, it’s in nature, that I feel closest to God.
Unfortunately my self discovery and acceptance doesn’t stop the feeling, although definitely not as often as before, of being the black sheep of the family and feeling judged by my appearance and life choices but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is my own and I accept that I can’t change what other people think of me.
I’m grateful for the incredible and accepting people in my life, my parents included and that means the world to me….their acceptance of my life. I’m me and I love me. Religion could not and will not change that. So you ask “where will you go?” … well whatever this beautiful unknown adventure called life has in store for me, I am ready. I embrace it wholeheartedly.

 

– Brandie in UT