Shel Silverstein wrote a poem titled The Voice. It says:
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
The church taught me to follow that voice, but only to a point. I was taught that if the voice contradicted the church, I should follow the church instead. This meant that for decades, I let men who purported to speak for god override my innate sense of right and wrong.
When I prayed about my decision to leave the church, I felt the most amazing peace and joy. It was as if I had been trying to make a puzzle fit together for 38 years, and the harder I tried, the more of a complicated mess it became. That day, during that prayer, it was like flipping the pieces over and finding that the solution was actually simple, and the pieces slid together easily. Nothing before or since that moment has ever felt more right or settled into my soul with as much peace as I felt during that prayer.
As I stepped away from the church and started listening more to the voice inside, I experienced greater peace and joy. Things that used to make me feel guilty no longer had the same effect. It was an experiment as I discovered what truly felt right and wrong, and what I had merely accepted as right and wrong because someone else said so.
Over the past year, I have grown so much more loving and accepting of others. I no longer see my views as the “truth” and others’ as lesser. I see all of humanity on the same level now – living and experiencing and trying to make sense of it all while doing good along the way, just like I am. I have also grown much more loving and accepting of myself. Rather than seeing myself as an enemy to god – sinful, mortal, and weak – I now see myself as simply a human being, being human.
Beyond greater peace and joy, where have I gone? I’ve gone to coffee and lunch and karaoke with the Utah Valley PostMormons and made a whole posse of new friends. I’ve gone to help some of them when they were moving or when they were sick and needed a meal. I’ve played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for a roomful of people at Oasis on a Sunday morning before listening to a friend speak about existentialism. I’ve found a rich and diverse community of good people who are not at all the caricature of the exMormon I was taught about at church. There is a whole, beautiful world outside Mormonism. And I feel extremely blessed to have the chance to discover it.
Jenn in UT
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