Benefits of ex-mormonism

I do feel that in almost every way, leaving the church has been a benefit to me.  There are the obvious drawbacks--I lose a great deal of my Mormon friends and all of the fun mormon activities that I used to participate in, there is a possibility of wedges forming between me and my mormon family, etc.  But, I think for the most part, it has been good for me and I want to take this opportunity to describe those benefits.

When I was a Mormon, I was very judgmental.  As much as I heard lessons in Sunday school about not judging people, as much as I told myself that I shouldn't judge and wasn't a judgmental person, I really truly was.  I didn't even realize just how judgmental I was while I was mormon.  The realization didn't come until after I left the church and looked back (I've heard that hindsight is always 20/20).  I would see someone with a tattoo (my trainer on my mission had a tattoo on each arm) and I would think they were dirty for having defiled their body.  I would see a woman with her shoulders or belly button exposed and think that she was a slut.  I would see a gay couple and think how evil they were (and simultaneously be jealous, wishing I was in their shoes).  I often expressed distaste for music with lyrics that I thought immoral.  One time, I was riding in a car with a couple girls and one of them was going through the CDs and said "Oh, I love this song" and put it on, and the other girl expressed concern over letting me know that she owned that CD because she knew that I would disapprove of its lyrics.  I could go on and on about the extremely long list of ways in which I judged other people, all based on my Mormon beliefs.  Suffice it to say there were myriad such examples.

Contrast that with my current attitude.  I hardly ever judge anyone anymore.  I see people with tattoos and I am able to admire them--some of these tattoos are very skilled artwork.  I see gay couples and I am happy for them.  I see women wearing just about anything and don't once question her character--let her wear what she wants.  I see religious people of all sects (yes, including Mormonism) and I think no ill of them for doing so--in fact, I admire them having and sticking to their own code of ethics.

My whole mindset is so different.  I used to feel a compulsion to make everyone understand the truth and know that they had to be Mormon in order to go to heaven and live with God.  Now, I feel no need to make anyone else believe as I do.  Let people believe what they want.  If it makes them happy, then I'm happy for them.  If someone feels that they should be a man instead of a woman, let them transition.  What is it to me?  It doesn't harm me, it doesn't affect me in any way.  If it makes them happy, let them do it and be happy.  So, maybe I subscribe to the belief that "gender is eternal" (which, I don't, obviously), so what?  If by having a sex change in this life, someone ruins their relationship with God, then that's between them and God, and I have nothing to do with it, so why should I try to stop them?  Why try to make such a thing illegal?  Why encourage looking upon such people as second-class citizens?  No, I have decided that each person has their own feelings and what makes them happy may be completely different from what makes me happy.  So, let them pursue happiness in their own way.  I used to believe, as the Mormon church teaches, that there's just one cookie-cutter way to be happy, which is to enter a heterosexual monogamous marriage and bear children.  Not everyone has to fit that mold.  Some people prefer to be single.  Some people prefer not to have children.

As a Mormon, I felt responsible to answer to my bishop for my own morality.  I felt that I had to follow a prescribed list of do's and don'ts.  I was constantly worried about whether I would be able to live up to this standard, always trying to suppress feelings that were natural and harmless.  Now, I set my own morals.  I know the difference between right and wrong and I am confident that my conscience will not lead me astray.  I am capable of controlling my own desires to the point where I do not affect others for ill, and it requires no great mental effort on my part--in fact, it's quite natural.  I spent so long fighting the "natural man" and now that I've stepped away from Mormon dogma, I find that my natural desires are to do what's right, not what's wrong.  I want to help other people, not hurt them.  I want to do what is best for me and for those around me.  I have no more checklist, no more stress over whether I'm doing everything on the "do" list and nothing on the "don't" list.  I merely do what is good and avoid what is bad.

As an ex-mormon, my mind is open to a whole world of possibilities.  I am free to learn science--about evolution (instead of creationism), about homosexuality (instead of insisting that it's a choice), about transgenderism and hermaphrodism (instead of insisting in a strict, eternal gender binary), and a whole slew of other topics that are taboo for a believer who doesn't want to endanger losing his testimony.  I no longer fear a differing opinion simply because I perceive that it might ruin my current beliefs. I'm open to changing my beliefs, as I gain new knowledge and information.  I'm open to questioning what I believe to be true, since my pursuit is of truth and not of proving that I am right.

I still have these undesirable traits pop up.  I still like being right sometimes and get angry when someone proves me wrong.  Sometimes I judge people.  But, I've noticed that the longer I've been out of the church, the more these symptoms fade into nothingness.  I like the person I am becoming.