A year into my marriage when my husband left the church, I was faced with a new reality of Mormonism: I didn’t fit the mold anymore, and therefore didn’t belong. Even though I was still participating in church as I always had, I was no longer a member of the close knit community of Mormonism. That loss was even more devastating than my husband’s loss of faith. For the first year, I wandered aimlessly inside the church alone with few friends trying desperately to hold onto my fading hope in the gospel. All the while, my marriage was in transition while my husband and I tried to navigate our mixed-faith marriage.
It was around this time that Matt found Mormon Stories. I was curious at first, and then dived in head first to the podcasts. Finally, Matt & I had found common ground within Mormonism. We now had a safe space where both of us felt comfortable talking about my beliefs and his issues with the church, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Mormon Stories saved our marriage, I can’t deny the extremely positive influence it had on our relationship.
As I started interacting with others in the Mormon Stories community on Facebook and by participating in conferences, my need and longing for a community was quickly fulfilled. These are my people, and we all belong. The bonds of friendship I have formed have been powerful and inspire me to remain in the church because I know that I am not alone in Mormonism. I can remain as a member in a healthy and productive way as I explore my beliefs. I also have learned to see people with a new and loving light lacking in judgement. We are all different, and yet we can all belong within Mormonism, whether or not we believe fully. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that because of Mormon Stories, I know what it means to fully love.
Now am I comfortable and not ashamed to claim and explore my Mormonism, and whether or not I ultimately decide to stay in the church, I know that I will always have a community that will claim me. Without Mormon Stories, navigating both my marriage and faith journey would have been a long, lonely road to take without a knowable happy ending.
When I first discovered the disturbing history of the Church, I immediately turned to my wife to discuss the things I was learning. We progressed through the journey together, but we discovered that certain things affected us differently. The wealth of information and topics available on Mormon Stories allowed us to both follow our own research paths, and compare notes. She was able to spend time listening to podcasts on the issues that interested her, and likewise for me. While we were both looking for the truth, the journeys we individually took were very different.
Like so many lifelong faithful members, our first feelings were of betrayal and dismay. We felt duped, and a little paranoid about the members of the Church. Did everyone but us know? Mormon Stories helped us discover people with the same questions as us, the same interests as us, and the same concerns as us. We were able to come to terms with our relationship with the Church in a positive manner. I personally ended up leaving the Church over the issues with civil rights, but my wife has remained an active member with our two daughters. We are both happy with the decisions we have made, and our marriage was never in any danger.
We shared Mormon Stories podcasts with my adult siblings and even my parents. They had their own journeys, their own concerns, and their own struggles. Everybody has been able to find podcasts that helped them understand the Church and their place in it. It has truly been an invaluable resource to our entire extended family as we struggle with new perspective on the Church that has defined us for more than a generation.
Mormon Stories helped me to find a place where I could feel at peace and open myself to loving everyone. While I was raised in a very laid back inactive family, my husband was raised in a strict LDS family. He did all the right things: go on a mission, marry me in the temple and treat me wonderfully, but his testimony has always struggled. Our marriage began to suffer and I was desperate for help. Two different bishops counseled me to either divorce my husband due to his disobeying the word of wisdom or they told me I could no longer attend the temple because it would cause even more damage to my marriage. I felt alone and without any way to connect with my Heavenly Father.
When I started listening to Mormon Stories, I realized that I was not alone, but had an entire community of like minded individuals who were also struggling with correlated Mormonism. They were supportive, loving and all embracing. They had varied lifestyles, backgrounds and activity within the church. My attendance in church or the status of my worthiness no longer mattered and they gave me suggestions with how to be more patient with my ward members. Ultimately, this allowed me to stay in the LDS faith. But also, it taught me the value of my wonderful husband outside of his one flaw. His testimony in me and in our family has never wavered. His faith journey may be different than mine, but now that we have accepted each other’s faith journeys we have grown closer. We still attend church and we love being Mormon, but now we can accept the differences we have while keeping integrity to ourselves and each other our first priority. We have so many different friends now that have helped me understand the entire landscape of human experience and Mormon Stories by and large has been responsible for that. I am forever grateful for Mormon Stories.