This semester, I teach on Tuesday and Thursday evening.  I often drive past the Mormon Institute building on my way home after I'm done teaching.  Typically, the Mormon Institute evening class (and activity, usually) is held on Wednesdays, kind of similar to how other Christian denominations hold services on Wednesday evening.  However, the Knoxville Institute meets on Tuesday instead.  So, when I drive past, I see the parking lot full.  This elicits a flood of memories that seem to wash over me.

Playing pool, ping pong, and all sorts of fun games.  Brother Rambo teaching in his energetic style. So many friends that I made, so many happy times.  I'm tempted to stop by and hang out with people there.    Should I?  Should I not?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I had a lot of fun attending Institute, and hanging out with my Mormon friends.  There was a lot of positive energy in that group.  And when I think back on those times, they are fond memories and I miss them dearly.

What should I do in this particular instance?  I cannot say, for I do not know what is the wisest course to take.  But, as a rule of thumb, generally speaking, there are times when memories are best left as memories. If someone personally invited me, I would probably go.  Last month, my old ward (church unit) was putting on a live nativity.  I was curious, since this was unprecedented.  One of my Mormon friends that I'm still connected with on Facebook invited me to the event, so I decided to go.  It was not unpleasant, but it was different.

When I was attending church, I was on the inside.  I was a Mormon.  I felt part of the group, even though I didn't really know everyone.  I knew enough people, and I felt like I was good friends with them.  But, going back last month was odd.  I didn't feel connected.  I was not on the inside anymore.  I was on the outside, looking in.  I am no longer a Mormon.  I received my confirmation letter from Church HQ well over a year ago stating that my records have been removed.  And it feels that way.

Standing there, outside the church that night, I felt so strange.  Like a stranger.  The church building was completely unchanged--just exactly the way I remember it.  Many of the people there were those that I knew well, and we chatted and it was pleasant.  But it was different.  And as I left the church and started driving home, I thought that perhaps it might be best if I let all of my fond memories of my time as a Mormon remain as memories.  That perhaps if I tried going to church activities or going out of my way to spend time with certain Mormons those memories might fade or even sour.  This page of my life is closed.  As nice as it was, and as fond as I am of the memories, there is no going back.

But I think this is one of the nice things about memories.  We can remember things that made us happy in the past, and we can feel that happiness again.  We can think fondly of those who for whatever reason are no longer a part of our daily lives.  Take a little time every day to reminisce.