7/2/14

Worthy (Guest Submission)

            This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and possible excommunication of several LDS church members.  

Worthy   

by Kati Price


                “Your husband does not believe in the Gospel. He had no business taking you to the temple in the first place”…The bishop spoke just inches from my face and placed his hands on my shoulders while shaking me like a young child being scorned, trying to get me to see something I wasn’t ready to face. I was two weeks postpartum with our last child and the bishop had decided my husband was not worthy to bless his only baby girl. He was essentially correct about my husband not fully believing, although his actions were completely wrong. No man should ever speak or touch a woman like that. My husband had always struggled with his own belief, but tried hard to make it work for him. I fought like Hell to continue to belong to my religion. I fought like Hell, pleading with my father in heaven to fix our family. Please, make us worthy. I needed a priesthood leader to be worthy. By association, I was unworthy. We were now labeled “part member family”. My husband was no longer worthy to hold callings. No longer worthy to be a part of the ward member club. This all came about because he expressed doubt in Joseph Smith as a prophet. But no one would listen to his questions. He was only punished for asking.  He did everything he was supposed to do. He just had questions. Questions no one could answer for him without ending in “have faith”.

                I spent the next 5 years in denial. I silenced my husband and forbid him from telling our children he didn’t believe in our religion. I begged him to lie so he could perform ordinations on our children and just try harder. Pray harder. Read more and plead with the Lord to give him a testimony. I was ready to leave my marriage. I was encouraged to leave. I was depressed. I was broken. With other family problems going on at this same time, I lost my own family and felt like my life was in a spiral downward. This was only the beginning of our problems.

                I began to realize I also had a son that was struggling with his own belief. Not because he wanted to be like his dad. He had no clue his dad was also struggling. They were his issues, he was discovering on his own. As a new 4 year old sunbeam, he proudly expressed his disdain for the missionary program in primary one Sunday. “That sounds stupid, why would I go 2 years without talking to my mom?” Everyone laughed. I cried. I knew he meant it. I knew he would never go. I knew I would be disappointed in him when he turned 19 and didn’t go like all of his friends. He wouldn’t be fulfilling the list that was required for him to be worthy. When he turned 8, he begged me to give him the option of not getting baptized. I ignored his pleas. I forced him to become a member of the LDS church. I told him he had no choice, even though we pride ourselves on free agency. I figured it would pass. It didn’t. With each new Sunday school teacher came the questions and comments from the teacher. “Your son asks a lot of questions.” “Your son doesn’t understand the Gospel”. “Your son doesn’t believe.” “You need to teach your son more at home about Gospel principles.” I was mortified. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I began to silence my son the same way I did my husband. I begged him to “keep his mouth shut” in class. “Do not ask questions. Just go and listen and you will believe!” 

                He was about two weeks from turning 12. The age a boy receives the priesthood. One late night he came into my room in tears. He expressed his desire to die rather than receive the priesthood. He could no longer be a part of this church. It was killing him and forcing him to believe in things he just couldn’t believe. He expressed his love of evolution and the big bang theory. He passionately expressed his love of science and how the science of the earth did not match up with the teachings of the church. He was studying a lot of Egyptian theology at the time so he told me about how the Book of Abraham had pictures of Egyptian hieroglyphics that were not correct and that bothered him. He used words that were so mature and so well thought out that there was no way I could ignore him this time. I was changing who my son was meant to be. I was forcing him to be something he could never authentically be and he wanted to die because of it. At 12 years old. My son wanted to die. At that very moment I saw my husband in his sweet eyes. I finally had empathy for my husband and his entire life of being forced to believe something he never could make any sense of.

                I went in full mama bear mode. I requested the immediate termination of all church contact. No home teachers, no visiting teachers and I also requested to be released from my calling in the Young Women. A calling I truly loved. I kept everything private. No meetings. No explanation. I feared disciplinary actions. I fiercely needed to protect my son until he was ready to tell his own story. Until, he truly understood his own story. I no longer cared about our family being worthy. I no longer wanted to be a part of the club. The club was tearing apart my family. The desire for worthiness was forcing us to have disappointment and anger with each other. It was causing contention in our home and breaking us apart. I had to heal our family. I had to leave all expectations of who I wanted them to be and let them be who they were MEANT to be.

                3 years later we are still trying to make sense of all of our differing beliefs. We are a home with atheist views and agnostic views. Some of us are still very spiritual and cling to the belief of God. Some of us are still too young to know. But, we all respect and love each other. We allow each other to be who we know we were meant to be. No judgment, but most importantly no disappointment. None of us practice Mormonism in the organized sense. We spend our Sundays hiking or going to the movie. We use our extra time to be together as a family.  We still teach our children the same morals and guidelines we did when we were Mormon, but now we explain why instead of using the fear of sin or God to teach our children right from wrong. Worthiness is no longer based on a list of things you have to accomplish. Or a list of ordinations that have to be completed.

                Leaving was the only option for our family because as a “part member” family we were never completely accepted. There were always things wrong with our family unit. We were always missing a primary ingredient to make us worthy. I truly wish we could have stayed a part of the church I loved so much. To be able to be welcomed and loved as we were. For the people we were individually. For the people we were together. In our experience and our area, that just didn’t happen. Yes, there were those that loved us “anyway”.  But, I was tired of being loved “anyway”. I was tired of being pitied or talked about as “the part member family”. We are a whole family. A wonderful family with nothing wrong with us. We deserved to be seen that way.

                Living in Utah County is certainly not easy being the odd ones out. Especially still living in the ward we “left”. There have been rumors and awful things said. There are people who will not speak to us. There are people that wish we would leave for good. There have been ruined relationships with friends and family that don’t understand what we believe and the choices we have made. At the end of the day, our little family is all that matters. My children are thriving beyond all my expectations. I am so proud of my son that stood up for his own beliefs my heart could burst at any moment. He is about to enter high school and let me tell you, his future is bright. He is living life to the fullest and is happy and complete.  I love being a mother to children that are open and honest. They talk to me about everything. They are not afraid to believe what they choose and be who they want to be. It makes motherhood so glorious and rewarding. I know that when my son turns 18, I will be proud of him and not disappointed. My expectations are no longer tied to worthiness for him.


                When members say “They should just leave”…don’t worry. Eventually they will. You leave them no other choice. Just remember, we are real people. With real feelings and reasons for making the choices we make. It’s so easy to judge. Just remember one day it might be your child. Your own spouse, maybe even you might have doubts one day. When that happens, our family is here. With open arms and hearts. We know your pain. We’ve been through it and came out better for it. Truly love your neighbor. You never know the burdens they carry or the choices they are forced to make. Never force someone out. What a beautiful religion this could be if we were more welcoming to all. More accepting of those we don’t understand. Loved without the hope of one day changing them to believe the way you do. There only being ONE right way. That is a religion I could be a part of. I hope one day my religion and heritage will get there. I believe it can. When it does, I will embrace it fully. 

12 comments:

Holly said...

The whole post is beautiful, but this really sums up so many things:

Yes, there were those that loved us “anyway”. But, I was tired of being loved “anyway”.

Yeah.

Thanks.

Bryan and Sarah said...

Thank you so much for this. It was perfect, just what I needed to read, and I really relate to it. I especially loved this part, "I love being a mother to children that are open and honest. They talk to me about everything. They are not afraid to believe what they choose and be who they want to be. It makes motherhood so glorious and rewarding. I know that when my son turns 18, I will be proud of him and not disappointed. My expectations are no longer tied to worthiness for him."

McGee said...

" I was tired of being pitied or talked about as “the part member family”. We are a whole family. A wonderful family with nothing wrong with us. We deserved to be seen that way."

From one whole family to another-Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes. Thank you for sharing this and making my feelings make more sense.

Laurel said...

I love, love, love this and relate so completely. Thank you for sharing your story, and expressing so beautifully what many others are also experiencing. Love you, sweet Kati :)

CMS said...

WOW. SOOOOO my story, but I am a woman. It was my daughter who was tormented, and who I let leave first, followed by the rest of my little family 2 years later. You are right when you say, " When members say “They should just leave”…don’t worry. Eventually they will. You leave them no other choice. Just remember, we are real people. With real feelings and reasons for making the choices we make. It’s so easy to judge. Just remember one day it might be your child." So true.

cowgirl angel said...

Thank you for this! Your son sounds amazing, so and intuitive at 12!

I was raised LDS also. I dont have any good advice except don't give up on your search for truth! I became agnostic for a few years, but then after many years of searching I discovered Eastern Orthodoxy, and now I think "how did I not know this Christianity existed?" It makes me sad to see that people abandon God altogether because of the distrust that comes after leaving the church.

Here's a couple things I love about Orthodoxy. I hope you dont mind if I share since it sounds like you may still be searching yourself :)

1. God is love,(and life) Love is the ultimate truth, the essence of reality, and the very mode of existence of God.

- Salvation (also called deification or theosis)is becoming one with God and participating in His life. Its not a legal exchange where Christ is punished in our place. Salvation is open to all humanity inside or outside the visible church on earth because God is within all of us and calls all people in to communion.

2. Has very little doctrine, yet is deeper than anything imaginable. You can never exhaust it.

3. It's Ancient, goes back to pentecost. Each bishop traces lineage back to the apostles (apostolic sucession)

4.Is not Roman Catholic, the Bishop of Rome was dropped from the diptychs for adding to the faith without concilliarity of the whole. (legalistic ideas of salvation also came from Rome and then were passed to protests)

5. Has no earthly ruler or magistrate, no one person is in charge, everything is only done in conciliarity with the whole.

6. Priesthood

- Christ is the ONLY high priest,his priesthood is untransferable because he is still alive. Everyone who is his body of believers participate in this preisthood. (as if any of us are worthy)

- The ordained priesthood is to keep the unity in the visible earthly church, to perforn its functions and guarantee the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The priest doesnt hold this power in his own right, its a part of the church, not something he carries around with him.


7. Their idea on other Churches? " We know where Christ is, but we can't say where he isn't."

8. Orthodoxy isn't opposed to ideas of evolution, only opposed the idea that it happened without God as the cause. Science is the study of how God did it.

Many modern scientific ideas of the origins of the universe are compatible with orthodoxy ideas - for instance the spontinaity of creation -Orthodox say that God is spontaneous because he is selfless and self forgetting, creation is part of his self emptying - a manifestation of his eternal energies which we all participate in.

Quantum mechanics seems to point to the idea that everything receedes into nothing - the Church has always taught that God created everything from nothing (rather than organized existing matter)

- We believe that the ultimate reality is personal however and not transpersonal ONLY because we have a relationship with him, not through any logical or scientific reasoning.


If any of these ideas spark interest for you, more can be found here, this is where my journey to Orthodoxy started -

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/namesofjesus

Good luck to you in your journey and remember truth isn't found in only one place, it can be found everywhere that love is.

Nurse Heidi said...

Brave words, Kati. Thank you for sharing. Much of it resonates with me.

LaynaMarie said...

That was beautiful!!!

Bergen Schöne said...

Similar to Cowgirl Angel: go to the bible. Ask questions: answers are there. Learn science, study history, compare the deep sea scrolls to the original Hebrew and Greek...and it all matches up. God doesn't give us an exact answer for every little question or wonder (like who is saved and who is not, or what is the exact structure of heaven) but studying nature and history can strengthen your faith. Keep searching!

Drees009 said...

Extremely eloquent and poignant. During my time as Relief Society President I shuddered whenever a person/family was made into a "project". We should respect their decisions, not coddle them back to the "right path". Every family needs to do what they feel is right for them. Period. No unsolicited meddling or guilting necessary. Although most leaders and members of the Church say that they do it out of love, that's like saying "I have the right to ___(fill in the blank)". Just because you say it, doesn't make it true. Love is about supporting me in my decisions, and not directing me to make the same decisions others made.

Wonderful guest submission. Thank you Stephanie for opening up your blog so that we can all see a more real perspective of the world and the incredible people in it.

Elizabeth Clark said...

This is such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kelli Anderson said...

"I love being a mother to children that are open and honest. They talk to me about everything. They are not afraid to believe what they choose and be who they want to be." This says it all. I don't have children but I realized in recent years that I want this for my family in the future. It's a tragedy to me that my husband and I cannot share every part of our lives with our parents because of the shame, and stress, and tension it would cause the relationship. It's too bad.