This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several other members of the LDS Church, including John Dehlin
Kelli Anderson is a return missionary who blogs about her life and faith journey at Chronicles of She
An Open Letter To My Orthodox Mormon Friends, Family, and Loved Ones:
There is too much shame and guilt in our relationship and just not enough trust. I know how much activity in the church means to you. I know that you really want me to be an active, believing Mormon. I know the idea of me stepping back from the church is scary to you, and I know that's only because you love me.
I just want to let you know that I have deliberately kept you in the loop during this transition of my faith because I appreciate your input and because I respect your opinion and I just plain think you have contributed enough to my faith in God to have earned a bit of openness from me, even though it has been terrifying to open up.
I am inviting you to trust my totally fallible but also divine ability to know what's right for me more than you trust the dogma that says if I'm not an active Mormon I am obviously living my life incorrectly. I am inviting you trust my judgment to know what lifestyle works best for me. I want you to know that I afford you the same trust of which I am asking because I do believe there is divinity in the human intellect--and that includes yours, even if your reasoning and conclusions are far different from mine.
I hope you can trust me because you know I am a smart person. Not a day or hour goes by that I don't ponder church teachings. I am thoughtful and intentional about what I believe and how I live. I hope you can trust me because you know I am a strong person. I am not giving in to temptation or betraying my convictions. I hope you can feel positive about whatever I believe or however I live simply because you trust ME and respect ME and my ability to decide for myself how to live and what works for me.
I am happy where I am. I trust God and I trust the relationship I have with heaven. I trust my idea of right and wrong and how to live my life. It's working okay for me. I am honestly happier now than I've been in my life. I don't think I am lost, but if I am, I trust God to steer me in the right direction.
And maybe, you're right. Maybe I am on the wrong path and I am making a bunch of huge mistakes, but do you know what? It's my path. It's my mistakes to make--or not make.
Sometimes going to church is about faith and sometimes it is about fear. Honestly, if I were going to church right now, I think it would be more about fear than faith. I have faith in God and I trust God. I don't for a second expect you to fully understand my choices or thoughts and feelings, but I do hope you can trust me. I hope you grasp the trust that I have in myself and in God and that you believe me when I say I trust your decisions for your life, too.
I have no plans to turn you away or shut you out any time soon. I really love you. I can't express how much your unwavering faith in God has blessed every part of my life and will continue to. I can't imagine not having you in my life. I hope our relationship can evolve to be less about matching beliefs and more about friendship and trust. I love you.
All my best,