Thursday, October 16, 2014

Re-Learning Normal: Post-Mormon Edition

        When I was twelve, my Sunday School teacher was a very sweet woman with short silky hair and a wry sense of humor. One day she mentioned how happy she was in her marriage. At the time, I doubted her words: after all, her husband wasn’t Mormon. How happy could she be, really?
        Now, I cringe when I think back to that moment, with its casual bias against non-Mormons. I had been raised in an environment that taught me to dismiss anyone who wasn’t Mormon as second-rate, even really nice husbands. But this was normal. This was the attitude I heard echoed around me every-day. The first Sunday of every month, members would stand up and talk about their belief in the church and then express how sorry they felt for the nonbelievers who hadn’t seen the truth of Mormonism.
        I’ve been invited to a wedding this weekend. Perhaps the strangest thing about this wedding – at least, to me – is the fact that I am allowed to attend. This is not a close friend, but rather my husband’s coworker. We don’t share a common religion. To be honest, the subject of religion has never come up. And yet, I am invited. I can go and see the wedding. It sounds like a small thing – and in the outside world, it is – but given my post-Mormon background, this is not something I can take for granted.
        When my siblings got married, my non-member status relegated me to sitting outside the temple while everyone else went inside for the wedding. This is what passes for normal in the Mormon world. Worthy Mormons are allowed to attend the weddings of their loved ones. 
        The unworthy or the unbelieving ones? Not so much. We ask for time off work, pay our money for a plane ticket, buy our wedding gifts, and then sit outside, in a weird painful sort of heartbreak, as our loved ones exclude us from an event that is supposed to bring people together. Then, if our loved ones make note of the fact that we can’t come into the temple, we are usually told something along the lines of “But you could come inside if you wanted to!” (Translation: if we wanted to fake full membership in a church we don’t believe and sit through a probing interview about our worthiness, during which we would have to lie about our beliefs, we would be allowed to attend the wedding.) But most of the time, we don't say anything. This is a wedding and for the sake of our loved ones, we will keep quiet about how much this practice hurts. In the Mormon world, this is “normal.”
        Perhaps the hardest part about leaving the cocoon of Mormonism is re-learning the concept of “normal.” It’s normal to respect people of different religions. It’s normal not to talk too much about religion. It’s normal not to try and convert others to your religion. It’s normal to have a wedding where everyone is allowed to attend, regardless of religious belief.

17 comments:

  1. It feels strange being normal at first, but isn't it great when you realise what true happiness and being part of humanity actually feels like :)

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  2. Căn hộ chung cư tuyệt vời nhất hiện nay đang chờ bạn khám phá nè, tiện nghi, hiện đại, click là thích ngay. Xem thêm tại đây nhé Căn hộ chung cư Him Lam Chợ Lớn quận 6 hoặc Can ho chung cu Him Lam Cho Lon quan 6

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  3. Learning "normal" is rough after you leave Mormonism. It is such a clannish culture intent on it's own rightness. One of my happiest memories was our son's wedding where everyone - even our Mormon relatives - was allowed to attend. Of course the Mormon relatives probably thought it was substandard.

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  4. Donna - sounds like a lovely wedding!

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  5. Well expressed. I don't know when it happened for me; but, normal eased it's way into my life over time. Now when Mormon crazy creeps in it feels so wrong and so self righteous. I'm glad to be out of the crazy bubble.

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    1. It's strange sometimes to look back at what used to pass for normal.

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  6. This is another good example of how ideology infringes upon humanity.

    My wife and I were married in the LA temple and her parents were not allowed to participate/attend for the same reason.

    It took many, many years to repair the damage that decision caused and the far more humane alternative was so simple - get married in the traditional manner and later go to the temple. But of course, that was not the "Mormon way" and the only thing that mended the fence was our daughter, whom they loved dearly.

    Good post Mohindu. tell hubby hello

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    1. Hi Bob - I'm so sorry. I'm glad the relationship was repaired but it's terrible that even had to happen.

      Will do! Always nice to hear from you.

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    2. You've been kind of quiet lately - hope all is OK

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    3. Hi Bob, I'm OKish. It's just been a little harder to maintain the right distance when talking about this.

      Thanks for asking - it means a lot. :)

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  7. I cannot even imagine how hurt my (converted) friend's father was when he married in the Temple. My friend's father was a 2nd father to me and I had been part of this family since I was 9 years old. My friend's mother died very young (40's) and he raised his 2 son's alone making sure they received their Catholic religious education. We went to church every week and practiced our faith (although we were definitely not zealots). When his son met his Mormon wife (to-be) he was in his 30's. I know many people have a problem with Catholicism but it does not denounce other Christians as not be Christian. It has it's tenets and there is no argument from me that some things need to be updated but they, like most true religions, do not exclude people, forbidding them from attending a service and/or learning about the religion BEFORE making a decision to convert. So what are they hiding? Why do you have to agree with all of their beliefs before you have an opportunity to really learn what they are and what they mean? Becoming Mormon should not mean you give up your biological family just because they believe differently than the Mormons. It is so exclusionary.

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  8. for you

    http://fragrantbreeze.blogspot.com/

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  9. This post has been nominated for a 2014 Brodie Award in the category of "Best Moving On from Mormonism Piece". Please go here if you would like to vote for it! :D

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  10. I am so sorry for you and so ashamed for your relatives.

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  11. Wow, you mean that to participate in sacred temple ordinances you are asked to be a member of the Church who is trying to keep the commandments? How awful!
    Please explain how this is different than any other organization that has participatory requirements which may exclude those who choose not to meet such requirements.

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  12. This post makes me really thankful that I was pregnant when I married my husband. Everyone in our families was able to attend our "substandard" wedding. :)

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  13. Also: I remember thinking similar things about the part-member families in the wards I grew up in. Judging, pitying, wondering how a wonderful member of the church could stoop to marry a lowly nonmember for such a silly reason as LOVE. It's a mindset I still struggle with (still a member, currently). What a crappy thing to teach kids.

    Also, to the two anonymous commenters above me: I hope by now you've both gained some more mature and compassionate perspective (I was going to say "gotten lives" but that seemed a little harsh). Peace.

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I love hearing comments and I welcome all viewpoints; however, I request that if you do choose to comment, please do so in a manner that is constructive and respectful of others.