confessions

Can I be your apostate friend?

I’ve danced around it in posts published, and addressed it directly in posts I was entirely too afraid to publish.  I’ve wanted desperately to talk about the other thing going on, but was too afraid to for a lot of reasons.  Reasons that might probably still be realized when I publish this post, but I hope not.

I no longer believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I can’t say I’ve ‘left’ the church completely as my husband still believes and we still take our children.  It’s been a full year now since I came to this decision, and it wasn’t one I took lightly at all. When I was a member, I believed that people left for three reasons: 1. They never had a testimony to begin with. 2. They were offended by someone or 3. They wanted to sin.  This was just not true for me, along with most people who leave.

I’ve written no less than a dozen posts that go over why I no longer believe. They defend the amount of time I’ve spent studying and the sources I’ve used. They went over in detail the reasons I have; both historical and current doctrines and practices, and went into detail into how much pain this has caused me. At the end of the posts though, I could never hit publish. They might have made me feel better, but they would have been hurtful to those I love. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in “coming out” to friends and family. I’ve caused pain that was not necessary in an effort to defend myself. I reacted in anger to misunderstanding.  There is no manual for having your entire world view shift from beneath you. There is no guide for having the very thing you have built your life around not be what you thought it was. If I’ve hurt you in this process, please know that I did not mean to, and that I am very sorry. I was working from a place of deep pain and anger.

When I saw people leave, I misguidedly thought that they didn’t go through a great deal of pain. I thought that they excitedly embraced a life without church commitments, tithing and guilt.  I was wrong. This transition for me is up there with some of the hardest things I’ve ever been through.  I carried an ache of grief and pain that still lingers today. I worried so much before I told Lance that he’d leave me. When I told him I no longer believed, I also told him that if it meant saving our marriage and keeping our family intact, I would fake it.  He then gave me the greatest gift when he said, “I don’t want you to fake it. I just want you to be happy. I just want you to be yourself.”  We still love each other as much as we ever and are working through being a “mixed-faith” family.

The biggest reason I haven’t said anything here though, is because I was afraid.  I was afraid of what people would say. I was afraid of readers up and leaving- even though religion plays only the tiniest of parts on this blog. I was afraid of the same kind of pain I went through and the horrible things said to me and of me after I posted dissent to ONE thing in the church- gay marriage.  And I’m still afraid, really. But this blog is about me, and what I’ve gone through and am still going through is a huge part of that. Writing is my outlet, and I want to be free to use it for EVERYTHING I’m thinking or feeling. Not just the stuff that everyone can nod their heads in agreement to.

So, for whatever LDS members are left here I have a question for you. Can I be your apostate friend? Can we still be friends even though we no longer believe in the same things? I will never try to convert you to my way of thinking. I would never knowingly put someone through what I’ve been through in the last year or so. I’m willing to talk, and I think it’s important that members understand apostates better. It’s why I’ve addressed this directly: I want people to understand me- and people who are going through the same things I am- better. I want you to see that though I’ve changed in a lot of ways, I’m still me. I don’t hate the church and still fully believe that the members of the LDS church are some of the very best people in the world. I’m Mormon by heritage-my ancestors go back to Nauvoo. I can’t and don’t want to escape that legacy. The church is why I have my husband, and for that I will be forever grateful. If he can live with me as his apostate wife, surely I can be your apostate friend…

 

67 thoughts on “Can I be your apostate friend?

  1. You are always brave, honest and open. I love your blog, and I love you. While not LDS, my husband is a recovering Catholic. I am a lapsed Protestant. And we still love you. Lots.
    -Kelly

  2. Lexi,I’m your friend not because of what you believe or don’t, but because of the unending kindness, fun loving personality and over all beautiful selfless attitude. You care about others and their needs before your own. You are my hero mom. You fight for what you believe in, beyond what anyone else would do. I’m your friend and will continue to be as long as I live.

  3. I just found you recently and I love this blog! I’ve enjoyed your humour and your wisdom and the glimpses of your family. Two of my 4 kids have special needs – Down Syndrome and a mixed bag of syndromes/disabilities. Not many people can speak to that level of chaos.

    So, imagine my surprise to read a post on something so different, that I can so relate to. I’m not Mormon, but Evangelical Protestant. I spent 12 years as a missionary. The complete reshaping of my theology over the past few years has been one of the most upsetting and difficult transitions I’ve ever gone through. And I’ve written about it time and time again. And I’ve never posted. And I haven’t “come out” to many friends or family, because I don’t want to alarm them. And I’ve found a new church, but find it too heartbreaking to leave the old one. So I sit there and feel like such a fraud, only because I’m keeping it to myself (which is not like me at all). I still believe a lot, but not the same and they would definitely consider me a “Backslider” or an apostate.

    I’m new. And you don’t know me. But you’ve given me courage today. So, thank you.

  4. Lexi,

    When I left the church, I was pleasantly surprised by the people who loved me anyway, even acknowledged the integrity it took to make such a difficult, but conscientious change. Not everyone reacted this way. But many did. Here’s hoping your friends and family can do the same.

    1. Most of the people I know in real life have been fantastic about it. My favorite thing anyone has said about it came from my friend Erin. She said, “I love you. And you know I love the church a lot and that it makes me happy. And if I believe that it’s something that makes me so happy, I’m not going to let you get away from it without me saying something. Because I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t. That being said, I don’t care what you do. I just love you.”

      I’m not afraid for people to want me to come back to something that brings them joy. If they were okay with me just leaving the church they believe to be the only true church on the face of the planet THEN I’d worry about our friendship.

      These are the same people who are still there through everything no matter way. It’s not just lipservice. And I guess the people who haven’t been have their reasons, too. Mostly misunderstanding, I’m sure.

    1. Yes. It’s okay. I’m sad, too. I totally understand why this makes people sad. I felt those feelings when people I loved left, too. It means you care, but I am sorry that you hurt.

      All I want is understanding. And I want people to understand that apostates aren’t scary or mean or anything besides people who no longer believe.

  5. Lexi, you are amazing. I appreciate your openness. How you spend your Sunday’s in no way determines or changes the person you are. I imagine you are just as kind, thoughtful, loving, and compassionate. I admire your courage to speak up and advocate for the things that are important to you. Honor your path.

  6. You know I will always love you. So, so, so much. I admire you more than I can ever express to you. You have helped me so much in my faith transition (or whatever the heck you want to call it). You showed me that standing up for what I believe in is what makes me a better Christian than judging other people and clinging to bigoted teachings. You gave me courage to be true to myself and my conscience. And you always listened when I was freaking out. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    You will always be my favorite apostate friend!

  7. I was about to write a comment, but Kelli said it all. You are a great example of living honestly– you give your all to those you love. In my book, that’s way more important than where you sit on Sunday mornings or what drink you order at a restaurant.

  8. I’m not sure if you know or not Lexi, but my husband broke the same news to me a year ago. I’m not going to lie, it’s been REALLY hard…mainly because as you know, the church isn’t just a sunday thing…it’s a huge part of our lives. I think as long as you two can still have a mutual respect for one another’s beliefs and not push it on each other, it can work. Still not easy but definitely doable. I’m glad he was so great about it. Scott was scared to tell me too. We mainly just try to avoid the subject. I go alone to church now although he was willing to go with me for almost a year. When we moved I could tell he didn’t want to meet new members and really wasn’t being himself. I wanted help with the kids but I didn’t want to force him to do something he didn’t want to. It made me more sad to see him there than to just go alone. I’m sad that you’ve had such a hard time with it because I can’t tell what Scott feels and have often wondered if it’s been hard on him at all. Thanks for your honesty! You are a trooper and you do a lot of good for so many people…I can’t imagine anyone dumping a friend because they believe differently (unless they’re hostile of course). 🙂

  9. Who you are, in your entirety–that’s a gift, and to choose to share that, in spite of the chance that it might cost you friends, that’s grace. Be you–and people who love you, really love you, will keep on doing so. 🙂

  10. I’m in the same place. In fact, our timelines pretty much are the same too. It’s been slightly over a year for me as well. And I had the same, super deep fear that my husband wouldn’t want me either. Thank goodness he’s for our marriage first, and then the church. Unlike so many other families who I see the mixed marriage thing pull them apart.
    25 years of marriage this month for us. Still getting better and better.

    You are a brave woman Lexi, and I enjoy your blog and hearing about your exciting life. Best of everything for you in your future.

    (By the way, ALL of your kids are absolutely adorable!!)

  11. Thank you so, so, so much for having the courage to post something that so controversial and difficult. I am in this EXACT same boat and it’s likely one of the most painful things I have ever gone through. I feel like I have lost my life, my identity, my ground….and I have no one to talk to. You are very brave for “coming out” like this 🙂

  12. I’m going to think you’re awesome no matter what faith you are, as long as you don’t try to convert me. Also, I had to look twice at “apostate” because my overcaffeinated heathen brain wanted to read that as “prostate.” Love ya, Lexi.

  13. Lexi,

    I have only been following you a short time, but, as a mother of a boy with Autism, I find your writing inspiring.

    I am not LDS myself, but my husband grew up in the church–he is now an atheist. His mother is still active, his father is not. I know how life-altering this decision is. My husband is now 41 and left when he was 17. The decision is still an issue after all these years (not so much with his immediate family, but with church still visiting and including our children in the rolls, and the decision whether to be excommunicated and break his mom’s heart or just ignore them, etc.). I know how hard it is to leave the life, because it is all-encompassing. He embraces his heritage while disagreeing with much of what the church stood for historically and politically. We teach our children about their “culture” without teaching them to believe–and respect the church as we do all people. Big picture, it is hard to be in a mixed belief family, but it is doable with mutual respect and integrity.

    I applaud your honesty. I applaud your strength. You gained even more of a fan today.

  14. Props to you for your courage and honesty! Regardless if everyone else will still be your friend, your fellow apostates have your back!

  15. Lexi, I think you’re great. And because I’m not LDS, I can’t totally relate to the pain you have gone through in this decision, but I love your honesty, and I believe that even if your friends are sad, walking away from friendship isn’t the answer.

    Lots of hugs and prayers for you…. if you’re cool with Anglican prayers.

  16. Hi, a friend of mine posted this on FB. I couldn’t post a comment on her share of this blog entry because I’m not “out” either. I am a recovering Catholic; I refused confirmation at 17 much to my family’s dismay. All of my peers got cars, money, and presents when they were confirmed and I suppose I could have played along but I couldn’t. I was too honest to fake it.

    When I met my husband I went to his Baptist church for a while and I fell in love- openly gay couples served as ushers and the congregation was ethnically diverse. Most of all I loved the Reverend. Dr. Shoemaker was my hero- he showed so much kindness, warmth, and humor and I felt like I was finally on the same page as everyone else. My beliefs were validated by this man and his parish- I found Christians who walked the walk and talked the talk. He ended up marrying us.

    Recently he admitted to having depression and ended up taking a mental health break. He resigned as senior Pastor. This has caused a crisis of faith for me. He did everything right but he still couldn’t find hope in religion. I don’t say this to condemn him but to commiserate with him. Because I can’t find hope or blind faith either. It doesn’t make sense to me, the whole “God” thing. And I know I just wrote a book on your page but I don’t think I can ever come out, not to my husband, not to my parents. My brother and I are both Atheists but we keep it a secret. I hate being a fake but I’d rather keep the peace.

    I admire your courage. Sorry for the crazy, rambling post.

    1. I admire your honesty. It was really really hard to come out. My husband has always let me be super open with him and has never ever judged me. If he weren’t so, I might have kept it secret. But I had to talk about it. I had to talk, and now write, to get through.

      Whatever works for you is enough. If it’s better this way, then keep it. If it’s not, you can change it. That’s the beauty in life. We can always change things up. Mostly.

  17. Lexi,
    I am mostly in the same boat as you except I haven’t told anybody of my disbelief. Although it is highly excruciating to live an unauthentic life, I would lose too much if I ‘came out’ as you have. Having overheard my dear wife say to a sister in the ward that she would struggle to stay married to her husband if he were to leave the church I suffer in silence. I completely understand the rigors our culture has put on you and I truly admire your courage. Wishing you the best.

  18. Dear Lexi,

    I havent known why I’ve been drawn to you…it could be that we are one year in to a PDD diagnosis for my beloved nephew and your blog makes me laugh and cry; often simultaneously. Perhaps it’s that as a young adult I could no longer believe in a religion that didn’t accept all of its members for who they were born to be, and when I realized you were a liberal Mormon marching for gay rights (human rights) I was full of admiration. But now I realize that it’s just because you are honest and true and brave. I thank you for sharing your life and all of its ups and downs and occasional very sharp turns with the world, and I wish you and your beautiful, challenging and delightfully funny family much love.

  19. I am not LDS. I imagine it must be hard for you. Being the curious person I am, would like to know your reasons for leaving. I don’t expect you put them here but, if you would like to email me, I would appreciate it.

    I don’t always agree with you, Mrs. Sweatpants, but you are a voice in the ASD and DS communities. I appreciate you, girl!

    1. I’m glad you don’t always agree with me, Gail. It keeps this place from being an echo chamber and it helps me to see the other side. In fact, I hope people challenge what I say because it makes me think.

      I’ll email you.

  20. Oh Lexi I feel for you. I’m a Christian my husband is not. It isn’t easy. I’m not LDS, so I’m not as sure of what you are going through as what we have went through. My husband believes in a generic ‘higher power’ instead of the ONE TRUE KING. Despite this he never blamed God when S had his stroke- I DID! I was the one who was SO mad that this horrible thing could happen to my precious son. My husband the NON BELIEVER was a rock. I know what I believe and I found my way back, but my husband is still the best person I know and he doesn’t share my beliefs. It seems you have that in Lance as well. Love ya.

  21. I’ve debated on whether or not I should comment. I admire you so much. My husband and I feel very much this same way but I’m terrified to tell anyone in real life. I’m scared of losing friends and family. I stay up at night wondering if they’re right and it’s because I’ve slowed my attendance on Sundays, stopped reading scriptures, stopped attending the temple. Did I hang out with too many apostates? Which came first the chicken or the egg? I feel so lost all the time.
    I admire you. More than you know.

    1. Hey- just a note of support for you Anon. It was the hardest, scariest, most confusing part of my life when I was in the thick of it. I can tell you that real clarity came and now life is wonderful. I wouldn’t wish the process on anyone- but I wish everyone could have the beauty of the “other side” of a faith crisis.

  22. I’m a new follower (my toddler son was recently diagnosed as autistic, which is how I found you) and I just wanted to say that I appreciate your honesty, even when it’s painful. I’m not LDS, but I married into an LDS family (my husband is pretty much the only non-member in his entire family) and live in Utah county, so I’m immersed in the culture.

    I know it’s rough, but I have faith that life is better lived honestly — even when it’s harder.

  23. Announcing I’m atheist always seems to go down a lot easier here in Australia as opposed to amongst American circles. I don’t apologise for my beliefs, lack of beliefs and if so done doesn’t accept that then my friendship was never important to them to start with.

  24. I’m reading through the post and some of the comments… and I feel like I’ve found my people. Sometimes it feels like we’re the only family that goes through this.

  25. You are my hero! I am so glad I followed the link to this post and found you. Can we be apostate friends together forever? And you too, Anon 🙂 It hurts me so much when people have to suffer alone…myself included. Thank you for being so brave; so many people will benefit from this. ❤

  26. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time. I found your blog soon after my son with T21 was born in 2011. I am a member of the Church. This is a hard time for you. I’m glad your marriage is strong, but you already know this isn’t a Sunday decision – it’s an eternal decision. Even if you are upset about what the Church stands for politically, is it worth it to potentially lose your your eternal family over it? I can’t think of any other way of asking this, but so bluntly. This is written in a really kind and quiet tone of voice. I’m not being rude – you already know the import of the question. I’m sure I”ll still immensely enjoy your blogging, but whenever you mentioned how you were drifting away from staying the course in the Church, my heart hurt for you and the blessings you may pass by because of your choices. If I knew you in real life – I’d still be your friend – just sad for your pain and your choice and I’m sure there would be lots of things to talk, laugh and listen about.

    1. It is hurtful to me that you would believe that I would throw away an eternity of blessings over politics. It insinuates that I haven’t thoroughly researched this and come to this conclusion after much study, thought and prayer even.

      It’s not just the politics. That started the ball rolling, sure, but that alone wouldn’t have stopped me from believing what I had once thought was the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored in these latter days. I wanted to believe. I wanted to so much. If there were one issue, it would be fine, but there’s a thousand. I could list them for you, but that is not the intent of this blog.

      I no longer feel like the blessings of eternity are based upon me checking off a list of things the church prescribes as being holy. I believe that being a good person comes first and that even if I’m completely wrong in all of this, I will still be found to have been GOOD. Christlike. Charitable. If you want to talk to me about my reasons, the real reasons, feel free to email me. I’d love to defend myself to your accusations of me losing my eternal family over this. Because I absolutely am not losing them, and you need to know how incredibly hurtful it is to imply that. I know you’re coming from a place of belief, but holding that sort of thing over the heads of the members doesn’t allow for a lot of free agency. It doesn’t allow for free thought. Believe, go to heaven and be with your family forever. Don’t believe, and be separated from them forever. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. Hear hear Lexi! being a good person and living in integrity is much more important than where your butt is on Sunday. Especially more important than checking off a to-do list. Be happy and keep being a kick ass Mom to your kiddos. xoxo

      2. I also agree that no matter what your choice concerning the truthfulness of the Church, you will have been found to be a good, Christlike, and charitable person. That is precisely why I read and enjoy your blog. Asking the question about what happens in the eternities with families based upon choices on the earth is a natural question to someone who has described herself as an apostate. It’s not intended to be hurtful, but if enduring to the end in the Church (the ordinances) AND the Gospel (being good and charitable) is required for exaltation and all the blessings God has intended for us then the question needs an answer. I may take you up on your email invitation for the answer. By the way, I don’t believe your choice would consign you to some lonely singles ward state in the eternities and that you’d never see your lovely family again. I just think that one might miss out on all the wonderful things that could have been given to us for enduring to the end in the Gospel (goodness and Christlike) and the Church (ordinances). I’m looking forward to reading your blog and wish you clarity and comfort in your journey.

      3. I have found clarity and much comfort in my decisions. I understand where you are coming from as you are a believer. But understand, I no longer believe, so the things you are saying here don’t carry any weight for me any longer. I’m not going to say it’s not hurtful that you THINK I am willingly giving up blessings of eternity for something temporary, but I assure you that’s not the case.

  27. Everyone travels their own path. I’m on mine, your on yours, none of us step in the same places. I have family who left the church, it makes for interesting conversations, and never changed how I feel about them. I enjoy your writing, and your wit and think you are amazing no matter what.

  28. I responded earlier and I don’t know where it went.

    If I only kept friends because of their religious beliefs, I would be lonely and hypocritical. I try to avoid both. I know we have never met, but I still remember the way I felt when I first came across your blog – I wanted to know you. You’ve always inspired me. It’s an honor to call you friend. 🙂

  29. As far as I can see being true to one self and having others who can accommodate differences of one’s self and accommodating other selves..is all that really matters…so as far as I can see that IS a pleasant path you are ‘ownow’..and it appears most of your blog readers aren’t here to personally judge you anyway no matter what they may or not agree with..on the personal level…

  30. This is great news! Usually people leave because they see #YUCryingatChurch and think “Why go to church if I can get it live tweeted to my phone once a month?” but you, Lexi, you decide to be done AND STILL GO. Do you realize what that means? You are a project AND you already come to church. You are saving a lot of church people so much time.
    You just give and give and give.
    God bless you, Lexi.

  31. As one who also left, I feel your pain. My marriage didn’t survive the “I don’t believe and I’m not going to fake it any longer” issue. I’m glad you seem to be navigating those waters better than I did. Best wishes to you.

  32. Lexi, the family that I know only want peace for you. They love you and want you to be happy. So, if this is what brings you peace, then it’s what you need to do. Am I sad, sure, but will I stop loving you? Hell no.

  33. I’m a silent reader, who mostly keeps coming back to figure out what’s still mostly true. I just wanted to give you a shout out. Proceeding as you’ve done, and choosing your new path, is one that requires quite a bit of integrity – not primarily in the sense of honesty, but more so authenticity and wholeness. Perhaps being truly who you are, without the guise of something else, will be more unifying, even in am atmosphere “mixed-religion.”

  34. To K. Wilde: it’s unfortunate that “religion” gets in the way of a relationship with the PERSON of Jesus Christ, the son of God. As long as a person has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, believes that He is the son of God who died and rose again from the dead, your eternal destiny is sealed. If we got to Heaven through “works” we could never do enough and we’d all fall short. I am so thankful for the grace of God. It ‘s wonderful to do good things, but our eternal salvation has NOTHING to do with what WE do, but what Jesus has already done! Life is hard, no doubt about that, but we don’t need to make it harder by overcomplicating things when Jesus has made salvation plain and simple. Love and blessings to you Lexie. May God’s grace abound to you.

  35. My faith crisis began when my husband was denied a temple recommend because he supports LGBT issues and belongs to groups that advocate for their rights. This happened last year, and he is done with the church (for now; maybe forever). I’m navigating through the muddy waters of belief, questioning, and internal anguish. I’m in therapy right now, trying to figure out this whole mess. I know how difficult it is. (Two main reasons I’m not out yet – I am terrified about what people will think of me, and I am currently the Primary president.) Kudos for being so brave, and posting this on your blog. I admire you and your honesty.

    1. I can’t believe your husband was denied a temple reccomend for that. That’s just too bad. When we walked in the Pride parade in DC, we kind of whispered about getting in trouble with the church for it, but no one said anything. In fact, I haven’t been disciplined for what I’ve written here (yet) either.

      I hope that with whatever you find- true or not- you find peace.

      1. Yup, it was meant as a totally neutral statement. The smiley face and rest of my comment never showed up past that one sentence. I don’t remember what I wrote but it was an acknowledgement that the previous poster’s point is the crux of the matter – does one have to follow the religion or just believe? That’s why it is such a centuries old debate. That’s reason the Restoration happened. Warm regards.

  36. What a beautiful post. I always support authenticity. Even if it’s painful at first you emerge a more whole person- which in the long run is better for everyone.

  37. I was your friend before and will still be your friend. I don’t put labels on what kind of friend I have. Simply “friend” works fine for me.

  38. Two of my favorite people in my family are apostates. I’m not even Mormon. I just have random Mormon people in my family. Well I used to. But now they are apostates, for very similar reasons to the ones you’ve discussed. And they are quite happy that way.

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