As part of the 2016 Mormon Transitions New York Retreat we interview journalists Abby Huntsman and Carrie Sheffield. In this interview they discuss their transitions out of Mormonism.
Carrie’s interview with Mormon Stories episode on Stoicism can be found here.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the idea of feeling like you’re living in limbo. You feel good or comfortable in the Church and you don’t have the social skills that help you outside in the Church. That’s part of why the LDS Church does so poorly with their missionary work. Members can’t relate to non-members and non-members can’t relate to the Church members. The relationships in the Church are pretty paper thin and inauthentic because you don’t usually talk about anything meaningful or personal.
It’s very difficult without a community to share the journey with and assuring you that you’re ok The experience of growing up in the Church is a very skewed view of reality and is it any wonder why leaving is such a challenge. That’s part of why those who leave struggle with “leaving it alone” because they’ve been so immersed in it. Great interview and exchange.
So So good and so helpful! Thank you all so very much! incredible and so inspiring. Yes….. you are doing right and wonderful work. It helps me to realize that 99% of all people are not indoctrinated Mormons. You all are GREAT PEOPLE….. stay humble.
I sure appreciate you two ladies talking of your experiences and how an ex-Mormon community helps you so much. How I wish that my wife and I could participate in such a thing. We have been non-attenders for over four years now and it is still hard. We live in a rural area in western Idaho, some 25 miles from three wards. We have 4 active families, including the bishop within a half mile of us, but past friends have a tendency to avoid us.
We have attended three Christian churches in the last 3 months, but after a while I think it likely that they will ask if we are Christian. We just want fellowship and understand that they would never understand our anxiety as LDS dropouts. After all the study for us to leave Mormonism, I kept studying and now do not in any way believe in Jesus being a divine being.
If there any communities like you have found, they would be around a 4-5 hour drive from us. We have had three families drop out in the past 5 years, from our ward, one became a Baptist, one some sort of believer of some deity, and us. But I want to at least study stoicism. I have been looking some at Buddhism but can’t seem to get much interest.
At first I was very angry at the Church and wanted to tell all my member friends what I had found, but I have discontinued that. I would love to get them to watch Mormon Stories, but I get no interest. I may be isolated but without Mormon Stories I would be in trouble. Thanks again, Abbie, Carrie, and John.
I’m sorry that you are feeling so isolated. I think that you are right about the Christian churches. Many are accepting at first in the hope that you will become a “born-again” believer, but not very welcoming later if you don’t conform. On the other hand, I do think that many Christian churches also have closeted agnostics and atheists in their midst. I’m guessing that this would be more common in liberal-leaning denominations.
The Congregational United Church of Christ in my city has a great slogan “A Safe Place to Explore Faith”.
Maybe, as more and more people are looking for a sense of community outside of religion, we will create additional safe gathering spaces in our towns and cities. Like you and your wife, I find great comfort and community within Mormon Stories.
Thank-you, Debbie, for those comments.
Since we are both seventy and not having much to sell, we are pretty well stuck in this areas until we die and this area is a bit unusual. Mormons at least used to be in the prepper-food storage mode. Well, this place is that way with both Mormons and non-Mormons. It is a place where many live off the grid and could be termed survivalists. And since there are no building permits required around here, the housing, like ours (without a well for example), makes selling pretty hard.
There are many churches here but fundamentalism is very strong, so I will probably look to Mormon Stories for my socialization.
Having been there some, I can occasionally talk to polygamists and past ones, or those who believe the earth is flat and part of some conspiracy, or those who hope a revolution is coming, or those who may be members of the several militias in the area, or even the gun crowd (There are probably more firearms per capita in this county than any other in this country), but as time go on I have even less in common with them.
That does sound isolating. I’m so glad that you can find at least some community and support here.
Please take full advantage of the internet and possibly find someone to Skype with. Religion is so private …..the internet is a fantastic medium to connect. Many understand and feel the same thought and emotions.
I can certainly appreciate what you are going through. My sweetheart and I left the church in the late 90’s and I am happy to report that there is indeed, life outside the cult!
Since that time we have studied many different ideas and faiths, but the Spirit never moved us to join anything. It is really important to understand the difference between the Spirit and simply emotions–which is what almost all testimonies in the church are based upon.
After years of searching, I lost my sweetheart to multiple brain anyurisms and so for the last almost six years I have been on my own. Most of our nine children have abandoned their father and that is the worst part about all this. They all left the church and have not replaced it with anything else. Because of my zeal while in the church and my beliefs about what is possible with faith, my children have grown tired of listening to me, and no longer pay any attention to what I have to offer in the way of a belief system.
Long story short, I would suggest that you get very familiar with a man by the name of Neville Goddard. You will really enjoy his take on Jesus Christ and what that patern is really all about. Jesus is the patern man of scripture. The bible is NOT a history lesson, instead it is salvation history. May I humbly suggest that you go to the following link and listen to some. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_jRUKfVn38&list=PLxQDthgW68QUebGSjLJSW0bLs3T9B7R_5
After listening to and reading a ton of Nevilles stuff, I can honestly say that the scriptures are all of a sudden coming alive and making sense, for the first time in my life.
Good luck, and God be with you
Thank you. This is a beautifully honest and thought provoking interview. I love the stoic tie-ins.
Does anyone know where I can find a link to Abby’s New York Times article that is discussed in the interview? I’d love to hear more of her story. Thanks.
Because I’m still transitioning out of Mormonism, I appreciate these interviews, so thank you John.
Abby and Carrie’s stories were touching and helpful. I felt inspired as a woman at their successes as well.
Thank you for sharing ladies!
I so enjoyed this quick interview with Abby and Carrie. As a working single mom of 4 kids who lived as an active Mormon for most of my life, it’s healimg to hear how other women, especially professional women, have moved forward with their lives. I’m envious they both left activity before kids. I was especially touched with Carrie’s story of having to let go of her parents’ judgements, and was delighted to hear the Huntsman family has transitioned together. Thank you for being public about your journeys. It inspires me to be more open about mine.
John, Why only 45 min? Don’t you know some of us wake up hoping there is something new on Mormon stories. I could have listened to Abby and Carrie for much longer. They are smart and wonderful. Listening to you guys is like brain candy! Please feed our addiction
That’s all the time she had! I was grateful for the 45!!! Hoping to have her on again after the election.
I was so looking forward to your comments or questions about Fox News to Abby as you had indicated at the beginning of the interview, but that didn’t happen. I hope there’ll be another opportunity in the future to interview her again.
Thanks for this great conversation with them and for all your efforts, John!
Me too, Sara! We simply ran out of time. I am hoping to get Abby back on after the election. Crossing my fingers.
Yes, I should be grateful for the 45 min also. You are my people, I’m sure many can relate. I get impatient and want more. But thank you, thank you !!!!!
John, you seemed particularly moved by Abby and Carrie – you seemed to get emotional at the end. Care to share what triggered that response to their stories?
Yes, it is okay to be you! Carrie and Abby, thank you for sharing your personal stories; you are an inspiration to me. I wish you both the very best!
This was wonderful. Thank you so much, John, for these Mormon Stories podcasts. Abby is very fortunate to have a family that supports her, and Carrie, I’m sorry your father has rejected you; that must really have been painful. Both of you were amazing to me, and thank you so much.