Now, before I share this letter with you all, I should note a couple important things.
The first thing you should know is that I was born into a very Mormon family. I also left the Mormon Church almost six years ago. I didn’t just quit going. I didn’t just become an inactive member. I left it.
Because of the incredible pressure that exists in dominant subcultures such as what exists with Mormonism here in Utah, and due to circumstances greater than you could imagine factoring into the 30 or so years leading up to the decision to leave, I fully expected things to happen a certain way when I left. At worst, I expected to be completely ostracized and possibly even hated by nearly everyone in my social, family, and even work circles, leading to a near-complete loss of the relationships I held most dear. At best, I expected to end up on the receiving end of unending guilt trips and pressure after announcing my decision to leave. I had no positive expectations except to feel more authentic.
The second thing you should know is that none of my negative expectations ever materialized. With anyone. In fact, many of my relationships were strengthened when the pressure within the subculture was suddenly gone. Most of my relationships became more involved and sincere. And the pressure surrounding just about everything in that department more or less evaporated, including from my family, and most notably, from my parents.
In fact, in the nearly six years since I left, neither my Mom, nor my Dad, and not even a single sibling have so much as brought it up with me in regards to… me. There has been mutual respect. I have respected them and their right to live and believe what they will, and they have respected me and my same right.
I truly respect my family and friends for that. I have always appreciated it.
Fast forward to a few years ago, and especially recently. Great numbers of people have been leaving the Mormon church (and all major religions). Some of my 9 siblings and/or their spouses have even left. Still, I never heard a negative or judging word from my devout parents about it. Until, that is, my Dad sent a very short, very kind email to the entire family a week or so ago.
I have to tread lightly here because I don’t like potential conflict in my personal relationships surrounding what I share on this blog. His email isn’t mine to share. Just know that the gist of it was: Dear family, I love you all; I know many of you are struggling with your faith; if you’re down for it, please read the following letter from a former church leader, written in 1946, just recently discovered. (You can read it here if you so desire.)
That was it. Very simple. His email was not threatening or manipulative at all. Just a letter from a Dad, wanting to somehow reach out to his struggling kids.
Except… I’m not struggling with it. And I know others who have left aren’t struggling with it. And it was the words “struggle with faith” which really made me cock my head sideways and say…
Wait a minute. What?
Before I knew it, my fingers had taken over, and I had replied with the following letter in response.
I really debated whether I should share it or not.
In the end, I am sharing it with you because when I really study what I ended up writing, I didn’t actually write it to my Dad at all, but as a response to the father who wrote the letter to his son 68 years ago. I also am sharing it because I think it is important for some people to realize that faith actually has many definitions. In fact, faith could very well have as many definitions as there are people on this planet. I don’t believe that the discussion of faith is pigeonholed into any specific faith. I left Mormonism, sure, but my letter could have come after leaving any belief-set and the premise would have essentially been the same.
Anyways, my thoughts… On faith. Take ’em or leave ’em.
Hey Dad, that was an interesting and thought-actuating letter for me to read this morning. Most definitely. It is amazing that the letter went unknown for so long.
Thank you for sharing. It obviously was forwarded to all of us from a place of real love from our Dad/Bapa. I have really appreciated the space you’ve given me over the years and the respect you’ve given my choice to believe what I will. Any caring dad would want to share his own wisdom, passion, and faith with his grown kids, and you’re always welcome to do so with me. I hope it’s okay that I acknowledge it and respond to the letter as well, which I did read in its entirety, twice.
As for me, I view life and faith a little differently, I suppose…