Emotional honesty

I've been looking around the Internet for forums and support groups for people who leave the LDS church.  There was one site I mentioned before, postmormon.org, that I really like.  They seem to be focused on maintaining a safe and pleasant atmosphere.  I think I'll be spending more of my time there.

Unfortunately, there are other forums where the focus is on anger toward the church itself.  I can understand why people have anger toward the church and toward its members.  I can understand that people have been through a lot of negative experiences during their time as members of the church.  And I do understand the importance for some people to have a place where they can vent their anger and their frustrations.  But, I've found that participation in these forums where the energy is spent attacking the church only serves to make me more angry and bitter inside and I don't like that.

I have seen people shut out all logical thought due to their religious beliefs, and I see no value in that.  But, when people shut out all logical thought due to their hatred of religion, I don't believe that is any more productive nor reasonable.  In fact, if anything, it's only more damaging because it's not only illogical, it's hateful.  I understand that people get emotional--that emotion is a large part of the human experience--but I think that mixed in with all that emotion there should be logic as well.  In my opinion, blind faith is bad but blind hatred of faith is worse.

I have come across people that have been so jaded that they refuse to admit that they had even one positive experience with their time as a Mormon.  I see no reason to deny all of the feelings I had while I was a believing Mormon simply because I no longer have those same feelings.  I see no reason to pretend that I gained nothing positive from my Mormon experience.  Mormonism taught me many wonderful things, and I am grateful for that.  While I was a Mormon, I was happy being such.  I don't have to pretend that I was miserable the whole time I was Mormon simply to prove that I'm happy now, having left the church.

This is one reason why I like the mentality of postmormon.org.  I view my departure from the church more like graduation.  While I was a Mormon, I was in high school and I enjoyed my high school experience very much, with all of my high school friends.  Now, I've graduated from high school and I've moved on to college.  I still enjoy associating with my high school friends--all of my friends and family who are Mormon--and I'm not going to de-friend anyone simply because I don't go to high school with them anymore.  But, I look back on my time as a Mormon with fond memories.

Mormons who have served full-time missions commonly call them "the best two years of my life".  I would agree.  I would say at the very least that my mission was the best two years of my Mormon experience.  I love Japan and the Japanese people, and that is something that I developed on my mission.  I went back to visit Japan last year, and it was such a happy experience for me.  There is a special place in my heart for Japanese people, and I think there always will be.

Certainly, I feel resentment at the fact that I've been lied to my whole life.  And I feel stupid for having believed in it as fiercely as I did while I was a member.  But, I wouldn't say that any resentment or anger is directed at any person or persons in particular.  Can I be mad at my parents for teaching me LDS doctrine simply because I've found out that it's false?  I don't think that's reasonable.  My parents raised me with love, and I have nothing negative to say about their parenting technique nor how they've treated me.  Perhaps I can be mad at Joseph Smith for making it all up, but why?  He's dead.  Maybe I could be mad at the current leadership of the church for maintaining the charade.  But, again, I ask why?  They're cute old men.  I've often heard that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  I could be mad at Thomas Monson, but it won't affect him in the slightest--it would only serve to ruin my own life.

I'm not afraid to admit that over the last couple months I've felt very embarrassed about the fact that I ever believed in Mormonism.  But, during that time I've learned quite a bit about the brain and why religion is such an attractive thing to the human psyche.  I've learned lots of the brain's mechanisms that religion exploits, and also about mechanisms that make it easy to believe in a religion and hard to leave it.  It's been wonderfully educational to me, and quite liberating.  I don't have to feel bad about believing in things that, when viewed as an objective outsider rather than as a subjective insider, seem altogether ridiculous.  It's just the way my brain is wired.  Knowing more about myself empowers me to take more control of my own life.  The more I learn about this subject, the better I can prevent future exploitation of my brain's natural functions.  I found a video series discussing the psychology of belief and have found them to be rather enlightening.  It certainly has motivated me to try to learn more, and I would recommend the videos to anyone--believer or non-believer.

I'm still not quite as emotionally mature as I'd like to be, but at least I can admit that I have fond memories of Mormonism, I had many happy experiences there, and I do miss many things about being a Mormon.