An Open Letter

Dear readers, friends, family, etc.,

From a young age, I was a faithful, believing Mormon (hereafter called “the church”).  I attended church more than regularly, went to all activities, and read my scriptures almost every night from aged 11 on.  I would have regular communion with God and tried my hardest to listen for His direction in my life.

Every Sunday school and Young Women’s lesson, sacrament meeting talk, stake conference talk, and general conference address impacted my decisions.  If a general authority said something, I would instantly believe it and try to incorporate it into my life.  My teachers, bishops, and parents counseled me in all things–and I listened.

Unfortunately, this constant barrage of advice and counsel led to incessant angst as to whether I really was being the best I could be.  I would not look forward to General Conference because it meant more emotional beatings as I realized just how awful I was.  I didn’t pray enough, fully engage in the scriptures, treat people like Jesus did, or respect my parents like the bible taught.  Any bad thought basically nailed the lid to my coffin of sin and endless torment.

Yes the gospel purports to teach hope, but I didn’t feel much hope throughout my life.

I realize my anxiety and depression were clinical.  What I was feeling probably wasn’t the intention of those around me.  However, in a Church that implicitly teaches leader infallibility (but denies papal infallibility), I felt that what was taught over the pulpit (or in a sunday school class) was meant to be lived exactly.  And I tried.  Oh I tried.

Another side effect to my experience, was losing myself to everyone else.  I no longer had an opinion.  Instead, I was a parrot to what Prophets and apostles had taught.  I truly did not think for myself.

Occasionally, I would indulge in private meanderings through philosophies and church teachings.  But this would often lead to doubt, and ultimately more angst as I didn’t have all the answers, so I wouldn’t allow these sessions to continue for very long.

When I went to BYU, my professors encouraged me to critically analyze everything.  So I did.  What this led to was the beginnings of finding out who I really was and what I really thought.  I found that I was an intelligent being–woman–who could make decisions.  This was difficult.  I had always relied on the wisdom of those around me, because I could NOT differentiate between my personal feelings and “the Spirit.”   When other people talked about their Spiritual experiences, and their moments when they knew the church was true, I envied their connection to God.  I thought I was not worthy, because I had never had one of those moments. I consoled myself into thinking that I had the spiritual gift of “exceedingly great faith” (Moroni 10:11).

Over time, little doubts crept in as I truly dissected church teachings: polygamy, Masonry and the temple, a woman’s place in the church, and even the word of wisdom.  Gradually, I started wondering if there really was a God in the universe.  This past May, I began researching teachings of the church to allay my fears.  I prayed to feel something, but never heard back.  The one person who I wanted to connect to–Heavenly Mother (or mothers? who knows)–I could not contact.  And if I did, I was disobeying the prophet.  (See President Hinckley’s talk.)  Eventually I realized that the sum total of my experiences with God amounted to zero.  I examined my experiences, read my journal, and tried my best to find Him.  He wasn’t there.  This led to deep despair and a return of severe depression and anxiety.  Life without believing in a God isn’t simple.

After a while, I noticed inconsistencies with church doctrines. One such example came while critically examining D&C 132.  I have had numerous lessons on this section, but none dwelled on what the verses actually stated.  And I, for one, only glossed over this section because it made me uncomfortable.  Anyway, after reading the first verse, I realized the falsehood of what I had been taught.  The “new and everlasting covenant,” referred to in the second verse is polygamy, not eternal marriage.  Eternal marriage is actually a “condition” of the law, as referenced in verse 7.  But the real “law” is adhering to polygamy.  According to the section, if a person does not adhere to “new and everlasting covenant…he shall be damned” (v. 6).

That’s not the best part. That comes when talking about a woman’s place in this law.  Starting with verse 34, “God commanded Abraham [to multiply and replenish the Earth], and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife.  Why did she do it? Because this was the law [the new and everlasting covenant, or polygamy].”

Also, a woman is committing adultery if she is given to marriage to another man while still married, and she will be damned (v. 41).  Whereas, if a man does this same thing–marry another woman while he is still married–outside of the “vow,” he also has committed adultery, but will not be damned.   Additionally, if the woman is proven to be “innocent” and has not committed adultery (but is she married still?),  and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery but hath been faithful; for he shall be made ruler over many” (v. 44).

It gets better.  Pertaining to Emma, and her disgust of polygamy, apparently God told Joseph in verse 52, “And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph [i.e. other wives], and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.”

All these scriptures indicate that a woman must accept and practice polygamy, or she will be damned.  She also must marry or she will become a “fallen angel.”  Since I do not agree with polygamy–and believe the revelation was borne out of Joseph’s lust–I could not believe that it was a real revelation.  If that wasn’t a real revelation, then Joseph probably wasn’t a prophet of God.  If he wasn’t a prophet, then the church isn’t “the only true church.”  I have applied this logic to many other doctrines of the church.  This is only one example.

You might be wondering why this is relevant, considering the Church hasn’t practiced polygamy since 1890, but it should be known that in the temple a man can marry multiple women–and be sealed to them if their previous spouse dies–but a woman does not have the same privileges.  Additionally, the brethren (or the Quorum of the 12 and the First Presidency), have never retracted section 132, but only stated that we will no longer practice polygamy (except for in the temple) as stated in  Official Declaration 1.

Ultimately, I made the decision to stop attending church.  I wanted to take a break to fully understand what my beliefs were, not what the church and its leaders told me I should believe.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel horrible every Sunday.  I stopped feeling guilty for everything I wasn’t doing.  Instead, I learned to rely on my natural inclination to love everyone.

I am still figuring out whether I want to keep my records intact, or to have my name removed.  I realize that many of you will wonder what happened.  I think my case is clearly stated, but you are welcome to–and probably will–draw your own conclusions.

Over time, I hope you can realize that I am the same person.  Heck, I’m still coming to this conclusion myself.  This decision wasn’t easy, it has essentially rocked my world.  I feel that my heart is pure and good.  If you can’t accept this, I am sorry that our friendship is based solely on my church attendance.

I love and appreciate you all.

Love,

Amber

Advertisements

60 Comments

Filed under Spiritually Speaking

60 responses to “An Open Letter

  1. Kate

    I've long since thought you brave. You are. Find what you know to be true and be a light of love, compassion and thoughtfulness.

  2. I bet this is one of the hardest posts you've ever had to write, and I appreciate your honesty. I hope you can find what you are looking for one day, and wish you strength and peace in that journey.

    And of course we can still be friends! 🙂 HUGS to you, Amber.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Kristen. This was one of the hardest posts I wrote, but it was also a very freeing post. So many elements involved are much more complicated than what I have shared. There are multifarious reason behind my angst that include where my place, as a woman, is in the heavens. But I am really happy. Happy with my decision and happy that I am finding value in things I have always loved: my children, social issues, and people.

      That said, I want you to know that I do not disrespect your belief. I would rather people find their own spirituality rather than have it fed to them and I think you have done just that. Of course it will shift over the years, but that is maturity.

      Thank you for your friendship. I have always valued that.

  3. Amber – What a journey you’ve been on. And those of us who have followed even a small portion of it certainly appreciate what you’ve been through, and to some measure, the conflict and struggle that would inevitably follow.

    To me, as I am not Christian, much of what you describe here is material I am only vaguely familiar with – if at all. But as a woman who was raised in a faith, lost it early when I encountered my first experience of death, found it again in some measure – but in a hybrid fashion, and without need to label it – I can see in your intelligence and desire to “do the right thing” that you are experiencing a great deal of turmoil.

    As anyone would, when raised into familial and community beliefs.

    As anyone of your intelligence and questioning mind would – when looking to apply consistency to those teachings, much less find answers in them.

    As anyone would, who has suffered, and asked “what did I do?” – or “how do I refashion my world to accept this?” – as most women would who have lived through multiple miscarriages.

    All I truly have to offer you is my admiration for your willingness to share with us, and my perspective as a woman who is likely your mother’s age. None of us is perfect; no teachings are perfect; our questioning minds simply ARE – whatever we believe their source or purpose.

    Life is full of unanticipated changes, crises of identity, moments of despair, and joyful moments that may arrive as tiny miracles to remind us that whatever it is we’re living – our gods may reside in the faces of our children, in the hand offered to the elderly neighbor, in the sharing of words that inspire others to take a chance, in the pleasure of nature outside our windows.

    I believe in you, in your sense and smarts, your parenting and partnering, your strength to find your way – a new way, an old way, some unexpected way – you and Ben and your children, together – and as part of many communities.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Wolf, for your comments.

      To clarify, and not correct, my miscarriages were not the impetus for this drastic change; instead they helped me become more aware of my issues. For instance, the miscarriages were painful but I didn't feel anger toward God. I understand the natural biological process of miscarriage but what I don't understand is why my losses must have a reason. Many people have told me that "there is a reason for your trials." But what if there isn't. And this question led me to where I am today.

      That said, I believe you captured the essence of my spirituality with these words,

      "Life is full of unanticipated changes, crises of identity, moments of despair, and joyful moments that may arrive as tiny miracles to remind us that whatever it is we're living – our gods may reside in the faces of our children, in the hand offered to the elderly neighbor, in the sharing of words that inspire others to take a chance, in the pleasure of nature outside our windows."

      That is what I believe in. Many people have assumed that I am not happy, but I am. I am very happy. It isn't happiness I'm seeking, it's peace. Peace with what I was raised to believe and what I am coming to believe. I know you know what I am referring to and am grateful to have your voice in this discussion.

  4. Steph @ Diapers and Divinity

    I'm so sorry you've been struggling. I have to say that as I've read your blog and seen your beautiful little family, I've seen evidence of God and blessings in your life, and I wish it were easier for you to see too. Even though I fundamentally disagree with a lot of your conclusions, I respect you and know you're trying to discover what's best for you. I hope your heart finds a safe place, I really do.

    • Amber

      Steph, thank you for commenting. I know what I wrote here probably shocked you, hey it's a complete change from the person who I presented. It isn't that I don't see "evidence of God…in [my] life," it's that I wonder what was evidence and what was't. You know? Of course the issue is complicated and I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to demean your beliefs. I admire your testimony and your conviction in the Church. I am so very glad that you have found your place. I am just starting my own journey and am actually looking forward to where it will lead.

  5. I don't come to this as someone who believes in or practices your faith, but I appreciate your honesty and reasoning. I imagine it's freeing to write out what you're feeling and to let go of what has bound your natural spirit. However, I imagine you also feel a loss because your faith is so important to you and your family.

    Hopefully the time you're taking to really sort this all out will lead you to a healthier place, both emotionally and spiritually.

    • Amber

      I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who doesn't condemn my thoughts nor try to change my mind. I also hope this will lead to a healthier place. I know it sounds strange, but I am very happy. I'm still searching for peace, but happiness is not lacking.

      Thank you for your support, Kelly. I really appreciate it.

  6. I too appreciate your honesty. My mom left the church when I was 18. This also coincided with her decision to leave my dad. I respect anyone's decision to do what is right for you and your truth.

    Unfortunately, my mom couldn't just do that. She became very anti-Mormon, wouldn't attend my wedding until the reception, as we got married in the temple, tried to talk me out of it, discouraged my youngest brother to go on a mission, etc. It really created a lot of heartache for my family. I guess she was OK with her truth, but wasn't OK with us following what we believed and ultimately, and really, it was what she taught me for 18 years of my life.

    It sounds like you are really handling this well and have thought long and hard about your decision. Good luck!

    • Amber

      Thank you for sharing your story, Kristina. I had no idea your mother left the church, nor that she is vigorously anti-mormon. I was afraid that this post would lead to venomous anti-Mormon thoughts, but am grateful that all of you are sharing your own experiences while not demeaning mine. I do not believe in engaging in anti-Mormon or anti-any religion discourse. I find that to be against my greater desire for people to really consider Jesus Christ's message of love and inclusion–even if they don't believe in Jesus Christ.

  7. People who love you, love you for you, and not which church you attend (or how often, if at all)… You have suffered way too much in the past year, and I am thrilled you are happy, and I hope the peace you are searching for is not far behind. 🙂

  8. "Life without believing in God isn't simple…" This is true. I'm an agnostic, and at times I envy those with unbending faith, because when things really hit the fan, belief gives you peace. I don't have that.

    I am so proud of you. You are doing the hard work of searching your soul, and navigating the world on your own terms.

    • Amber

      Yes! Hard work indeed. Of course, when I said simple I didn't mean easy. I feel very comfortable in my agnostic beliefs, but it really was simple to attribute certain events to God and hope for the best.

  9. Amber

    Thank you, D. Thank you so very much. You have confirmed what Ben told me: friends will be your friend regardless of how your beliefs change.

  10. Jamie

    Oh Amber. I'm so sorry that you have struggled for so long with this. I want you to have peace and be happy. Have you discussed with anyone else about those scriptures? This is really personal…so you don't have to answer. But do you want your kids and Ben to go to church? I know this must be so hard for you because it has been so ingrained from such a young age. I bet you feel like your world has been flipped upside down. I hope you like your new home and I know that you are a FANTASTIC mother.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Jamie! Believe me, that is not a personal question. I didn't mention Ben in this post because his story is not mine to tell, you know? He is going through his own struggles right now and church isn't really an issue.

      I do feel as if my world has been "flipped upside down," but not necessarily in the manner you suppose. In my quest for truth, I have found many disturbing aspects of the LDS church written in the Journal of Discourses. I feel betrayed that I didn't know these things before. I don't want to get into all the details, but that's a quick synopsis.

  11. Mrs V

    Amber, I came to your blog through another friend's blog. Your open letter is a testimony of a great journey you are on right now. I have many friends who are deeply religious and members of various churches. I always have been agnostic, not caring if there is a God or not. But I still believe in love, trust, and humanity. It's harder without a certain God you can pray to, but for me it's more 'real'. I still respect the beliefs of my friends; it's just another way to understand life a bit more. All the best for you and your family!

    • Amber

      Hi Mrs. V,

      First, thank you for commenting.

      Second, what you have said here, "I still believe in love, trust, and humanity," is something I readily agree with. Even though I disagree with doctrines in the Mormon church, I think the organization has many wonderful aspects: service and community building being two examples. Growing up in the church gave me a solid moral foundation from which I can draw from. Even if I didn't have that, I believe I would have developed these ideas myself because of "love, trust, and humanity," that exist in everyone.

      Third, respect for the beliefs of others is not only commendable, but should be mirrored by everyone–in my opinion. It is something I am developing as part of my new spiritual identity. Maybe you could share some tips?

      I believe that is all. Again, thank you for commenting.

      Third,

  12. jrwahlund

    I went on a similar journey, searching for objective Truth, over eight years ago (I began and ended within Christianity, although I converted from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to the Catholic Church).

    I have never been Mormon — although I have tremendous respect for the many wonderful Mormons I know — but ultimately I agree with your conclusions; after looking into the history and doctrines of the LDS Church, I had to conclude that it did not possess the fullness of Truth.

    I hope you can find spiritual fulfillment. For what it's worth, you're in my prayers.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Joanna. I have been reading your blog since the first time you (thankfully) commented. I have admired your faith and appreciated your explanations of Catholicism. I told my husband a few months ago that I envy Catholics with their beautiful cathedrals and the symbolism surrounding their masses and other ceremonies.

      I found your story quite remarkable. I especially liked this question you posited: "Once I concluded that sola scriptura was false, that begged the question: do Christians have an authority on Earth, one that inteprets God's Word in light of our modern times and shepherds Christ's flock?" Coming from a church that claimed to be "the only true church," I've grown averse to this idea. However, there is room for change. : )

      As I said in this post, I am not sure how I feel about God–hence my agnosticism. I also won't relegate my spirituality to one slot because I know it could change in an instant. But reading your thoughts reminds me of comfort that religion used to bring me. Maybe it will again? I don't know but I am willing to find out.

      • jrwahlund

        Well, we're all at different places on the journey. 🙂

        If you're interested in reading some perspectives of ex-Mormons who later became Catholic, the site Why I'm Catholic has some good ones. Also, I've heard the book "Inside Mormonism" by Isaiah Bennett (a man who became a Catholic priest, left Catholicism to become Mormon, and then reverted back to the Catholic Church) is a good read for ex-Mormons looking into Catholicism.

        Anyway, not trying to convert you 🙂 but if you're seeking I wanted to give you some resources I thought might be helpful to you. On a general note, I REALLY recommend "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis as a foundation for beginning to explore Christianity.

      • Amber

        Haha! No worries, I won’t be converted to any religion in the near future. At the same time, I have always been curious about other religions. Each church has a rich heritage that is fascinating to explore–even the bad parts.

        I have actually read “Mere Christianity” and found it okay. I preferred “The Great Divorce” yet appreciated C.S. Lewis’ ideas in “Mere Christianity.” Ha! Thank you for the resources, I have already checked out the website and will soon be looking into the book.

  13. Elizabeth P.

    Amber, I know your heart is pure and good. I admire your strength and will always be a friend. I am glad that you are happily adjusting to your new life in the east. We miss your family tons though! Good luck on your journey and may you quickly find the peace that you are looking for! Much Love!

    • Amber

      Thank you, Elizabeth. I told Ben the other day just how much I miss you. And your kids. Having a good–best–friend down the street was a tremendous blessing. I use that word cautiously, but I do believe it applies here. If only you could move next to me again…

  14. Tay

    Isn't it interesting that answers for some are not the answers for others? I hope (and pray) that you find peace in your life and am glad that I get to read your beautiful thoughts. And really, polygamy and a woman's role now and in the eternities is quite a strange concept. I quite understand where you're coming from. It's also too bad that the church culture has overwhelmed what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about and perhaps if people weren't so embarrassed about their own history this would all be better explained. Church is just a tool for people to use to draw closer to Christ and better enable them to act on His teachings, IMHO.

    I have a lot of love for you, even though i haven't been reading here long. I just know that if you were right here by me I'd just hug you and share a pan of brownies with you (or whatever you'd prefer). Good luck! I hope your road leads to better places than where you've been. 🙂

    • Amber

      Tay, this "answers for some are not the answers for others" is pertinent to spirituality. Within the church, many people seem to believe certain things apply to everyone. For instance, working on Sundays. If you receive an answer to prayer to accept a position that requires Sabbath work, who can tell you that you're wrong? That is how I'm feeling at the moment. The joy I feel as I discover different parts of my spirituality exceeds anything a person could understand.

      As for church history, I agree with you. If only transparency were allowed! Every church has weird/bad things in their history. Does that mean people should stop attending? I don't think so. The biggest obstacle is when you learn unsettling things about your church after living and believing in it for so long. It wouldn't bother me nearly as much if the Church's history weren't glazed over and if people were allowed to ask questions.

      Sharing a pan of brownies would be wonderful, as would a hug. For now, I'll accept visual representations of these. : )

  15. Janae

    HUGS sweet friend!

  16. Amber,
    I'm happy for you. It's both hard and easy at the same time to go your own way. In some respect it feels natural because it's who you really are, and in some respect it is hard, because it goes against what you have been taught. I am glad you have found a greater measure of peace and joy and will be following your journey. Hugs from Montana!

    • Amber

      Thank you, Juliane! As you know, this journey is hard, bumpy, and unpleasant. I suppose the saying "the best things come to those who wait," works well in my situation. As I patiently evaluated my options and feelings, my decision became clearer. When I reached my conclusion, it felt right. Exactly where I needed to go. And I haven't looked back!

  17. Amber, I'm not Mormon, but I imagine wrestling with this was incredibly difficult.

    I really respect your searching for truth and your decision-making process. Thank you for sharing that with us. I hope you're finding peace as you walk this new path. Much love.

    • Amber

      Melissa: Thank you so very much. I am finding peace as I learn to stretch and reach new things. It's intense but very enjoyable. If you don't mind me asking, are you religious? If so, what church would you or have you attended?

  18. Paula

    Dear Amber, please send me your email address. Cristie Maria Sheldon is giving a webcast. She is great. I want to send you the link. She teaches a program called Love or Above. Out all the stuff lately I have bought hers is the most practical. I am working on some of the things with my granddaughters. I wish I had know this information when I was a teenager and young mother.
    I don't believe in double standards for men verses women. I don't believe God does either.
    I love you much!!! Wishing you the best.
    Hugs,
    Paula

  19. Melanie

    My Dearest Amber,

    I love you so much. I consider you one of my best friends from BYU. I know you and I know you would never do anything that would affect your family without thoughtful and prayerful consideration. I will always be your friend and I am totally here for you. I miss hanging out with you and our wonderful chats. I wish I could be there with you to chat some more. I wish you the best with this decision. You are such a wonderful person. Good luck. Give Emily and Andrew a big kiss for me.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Melanie. I, too, consider you one of my best friends from BYU. I am glad that we have a strong foundation, through friendship, so that you can honestly state how cautious and deliberate I am with decisions. At the same time, I understand that this must be difficult to hear. I get it, I do! Thank you for supporting me. It means the world.

      You also take care and give little Adelynn lots of smooches from me and the kids. I miss her sweet cheeks. : )

  20. Amber,
    I have such similar feelings. I felt understood when I read this. Thanks so much for writing it! You are a wonderful person.

  21. ShannonL

    Hi Amber,
    I am not religious at all… it doesn’t mean I don’t have *some* beliefs or at least spirituality, but I was not christened or baptized and we never went to church. So whether you follow the church or not, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s who you are. And you are sweet, sincere, and certainly brave! You have obviously done a lot of thinking (and researching) and I commend you for putting it all out there. Take care! xo

  22. Amber: I admire your courage to question your faith. It is quite difficult to REALLY synthesize what you are taught and then realize it may not work for you. Life is certainly full of heartbreak and happiness, with the pendulum swinging sometimes with no notice. Belief makes the pauses between the swings more bearable. However, if it is prefaced on what you are taught and not what you really believe in your heart, it certainly leads to more questioning than peace.
    I applaud you for writing this letter. It is no easy task to make the questions in your heart public. But I hope the discussion and support deepens your inquiry and leads to you to answers that you can live with

    • Amber

      Thank you, Rudri. I feel like I can't add to your comment because it was so beautifully written. So thank you.

  23. This must have been a scary one to write. I see so many contradictions in my own faith's history, and I struggle with the same questions.

    • Amber

      It was. But it also felt right. I need a space to think and write and I refuse to hide behind false pretensions–at least when it comes to religious and political things. I do plenty of hiding socially. : )

  24. ambrwaves

    I'm not in the best place spiritually right now, either, so I understand your searching. All I know is that you are a good person and you've been blessed with a very strong heart. I appreciate your posts.

    • Amber

      Thank you, Amber. I wish you well on your journey, I know how rocky it can become. Something I have learned through my process is, whatever your decision is you will be stronger on the other side. Easy to say once you're there but I really do believe in relaxing and letting things flow. You'll get to a good place, wherever that might be. : )

  25. Kendra

    Just wanted to say, I love you Amber! You're a great friend and mother

  26. Joseph Pratt

    What about the Book of Mormon? Inspired text? Bring you closer to God? I know it is and that it will teach you and your family correct principles! Amber and Ben we love you guys and my prayer is that both of you still allow time to ponder what the Book of Mormon has to offer.

    • Amber

      Hey Joe,

      I know the Book of Mormon is true for you, but when I read it, I find myself constantly fighting anger, frustration, sadness, and pain. Too much of the Book of Mormon is unsettling and has, in many ways, contributed to my spiritual angst. For many, it brings peach and joy. For me, it brings questions. I admire your testimony and would never discourage your spirituality. My troubles are my own but they are not simple.

  27. I used to be quite religious when I was younger and then my mother fell ill and I questioned how God could allow something so horrible to happen to such a good person – and I lost my faith. As a history major, I took an Ancient History course where we read the Holy Bible as an historical text. It was interesting to see all the inconsistencies and solidified my disbelief. Being somewhat older now and having experienced the deaths of a few very close people, I find I am jealous of those with faith. It is something that can help heal and navigate such difficult times. I wish you the best in your new journey.

  28. You've always held a special place in my heart, Amber… since the day I met you. I love you and know you will find the answers you are looking for. You have a beautiful family. I miss seeing you and talking with you. It doesn't seem that long ago! All my love ~ Jill

  29. Kristen @ Motherese

    Amber, thank you for sharing this post with us. I have always had great respect for you and nothing you've written here could change that. What really impresses me is the way in which you acknowledge how personal the question of belief is. You're on a journey of figuring out what you believe, but you aren't denying anyone else their right to believe something else. I wish everyone had your open heart and willingness to accept everyone else on the spectrum of faith. xo

  30. The One True Sue

    I'm catching up on my blog reader and was so surprised to see this post. I'm always surprised when people are brave enough to post what they really believe. I've struggled with my faith for years and still don't really know what I believe. There were times when I was adamant that nothing was true, other times when I've felt just as adamantly that there IS truth to be found in the church. My feelings have changed so much that I could never write something as definitive as what you've written. I admire you for that. What a scary thing.

    I really do relate to your feelings (expressed in a later post) about contributing to the world. When I lost my faith I suddenly felt a much greater responsibility to DO SOMETHING to improve the world. I was no longer sure that God was going to swoop in and right all of the wrongs and take care of things in the end, and so I felt much more personally responsible for doing what I could. Sometimes those were overwhelming thoughts, sometimes they were invigorating. But really, I believe that having extremely wavering faith has helped to make me a more compassionate and less judgmental person. Good luck to you on this journey Amber.

  31. Celia

    I understand a bunch of what you are saying, Amber. You and Ben are amazing people, and I wish your family nothing but the best. I'll always remember you as one of the only people in Provo I felt i could be open and honest with regarding my hurt and anguish. For that, I will always be grateful. You are loved!

  32. Britt

    I didn't realize any of this about you and I have to say that I could not be more happy for you! I think you and I were in the same boat for a very very long time! My husband and I even got married in the temple, because that was what we were "supposed to do." Never once in my life did I feel like that was where I belonged. I too believed there was something wrong with me because of it. When I embarked on my personal spiritual journey, I realized that I am now closer to God and more tolerant of everyone else than I ever was when I was going to a church that in my opinion only preached division.

  33. aunt sue

    I continue to be moved by your spiritual journey-a journey of life itself–and have utter empathy and affection for you. As you know, my own path led me to Judaism, but not without many turns, trials, disappointment and elation. And there's nothing like parenthood to put your feet to the fire!
    The best comments I wish to share re your Open Letter are these:
    It's true that, to paraphrase Ben, your friends/ loved ones will be there no matter what path you follow. For this I am very grateful to have a family and community that is so very loving and loyal and respectful.
    Second, I would share with you this poem from my siddur (prayerbook) [but only these lines since it's kind of long] called "Doubt" by Robert T. Weston: "…Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false…those who fear not doubt, and know its use, are founded on rock….They shall walk in the light of knowledge…Therefore let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help."

  34. As a woman who has been "elbowed" out of several religions because I asked a few too many questions or said the wrong thing, my heart is with you. I still tear up when I enter a sanctuary. There are things I miss desperately. The singing, especially. I loved communion so much, and I miss it. But there came a point in my life when I had to stand up for the people who were locked on the "out" side of the inner circle.

    Bless your heart. These words touched me deeply. Especially these, 'Yes the gospel purports to teach hope, but I didn’t feel much hope throughout my life." You are speaking my truth. Thank you for opening your mouth.

  35. Amber, I must have missed this when I was in Israel! I can hardly believe this, nor that I pulled up your blog and saw "Former Mormon." Without any intention to criticize your original faith, please know that I think you're amazing and courageous. To go on a journey fearlessly and unblinkingly, knowing that it could lead you away from your community, to do it because you had live with your eyes wide open – you're amazing.

  36. Cami

    Amber, I am very saddened by this post and your decision. Why? Because I know in my soul that Christ is my Savior. I have had too many experiences in my life to doubt that there is a God. I have seen too many miracles in my life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints(mormon church) to have any reason to doubt. I have paid the price to know for myself. I keep a notebook where I write down answers to prayer. I pray, thank my Father in Heaven, ask for what I need and wait for the answers. Sometimes they come in form of a friend who comes to my aid, sometimes I feel peace, sometimes I feel the Holy Ghost give me a specific instruction, which I write down. I know that this too can happen to you if you will be persistent.

  37. Cami

    Mostly I am sad because I feel like life would be very lonely without the help and aid of God and the inspiration of a living prophet of God. Amber, you do not need to follow the living prophet blindly. We have the agency to obey and the agency to pray and ask if what they are saying is true, and we have the agency to be persistent, or get involved in irrevelant material and doubt without seeking earnestly enough.

    Amber, People's standards will never be God's standards. God has given us high standards so that we will be safe and in turn feel an increased amount of his love and recieve his blessings. You have decided to set your own standards. This may aliviate pressure that you have placed on your self by living the Lord's standards, but the joy and peace that comes from following a living prophet are irreplaceable.

    I hope you can support your husband and his desire to remain active and trust in Heavenly Father.