Mormon Stories has been a resource for comfort, understanding, and learning. It has allowed me to better understand my children that have questioned the faith or left the church. I have been a member of the LDS Church for over 40 years. My husband and I have raised seven children in the church. We as a family have been very devoted and followed the teachings of the LDS Church. We paid our tithe, gathered every Monday night for Family Home Evening, read our scriptures and prayed daily as a family, attended the temple, and served diligently in our callings.
After 20 years I found that I was not enjoying my church experience. I never seemed to be spiritually uplifted. At the time I didn’t think it was anything doctrinal but I was always deeply bothered by polygamy and that the women were not on the same level as the men. I always tried to push these thoughts away in the back of my mind, but each year it seemed these thoughts and feelings would just grow. I never told anyone what I was feeling and made sure I put on a happy face when around my church family. I never felt that I was able to confide in other members, because I felt the pressure to be the perfect Mormon.
During this time my daughter came out that she was gay. I had this desire to jump on the gay bandwagon and fight for equality for the LGBT community. The mother in me felt this desire, but the Mormon in me felt that was never an option I could pursue. I struggled with trying to be a good mom and felt I had little help from my church. Not a single person ever made comments such as, maybe this is okay. Instead everyone kept focusing on repentance rather than acceptance. I even had one church friend take it so far as to ask me if I wished my daughter were dead. Where is the true unconditional love of Christ?
Not sure what to do, I muddled quietly along serving in the church, because that is what I was taught I needed to do to have an eternal family. Over the next twenty years I learned that two of my other children are also gay. As Carol Lynn Pearson said, “I have a fabulous trinity of lesbians.” I also have four fabulous straight children. I finally felt I needed to open up to my husband about what I was feeling, but I feared it would damage our marriage. Fortunately it actually brought us closer together. He was amazing, listened, and made no judgments.
I knew one of my sons had experienced his own faith crisis for years, but it wasn’t until I confided with my husband that I felt able to speak with my son. He was very familiar with Mormon Stories. It has helped him with his faith issues, which were more doctrinal, and to stay active in the church. Through his recommendation, I began listening to the Mormon Stories podcasts. It was like feasting on heaven. The podcasts has helped our family have a greater love for those that struggle or those that do not fit in the standard box of Mormonism.
We are so happy as a family. We have always had a great love for one another, but as we opened up without fear of judgment, true unconditional love was abound. Our family bond grew stronger, we communicated more openly, we became closer as a family, and we are happier now.
Thank you ever so much Mormon Stories!
Please don’t stop. So many need you!
I’m a quiet person. I don’t like bringing attention to myself, but I thought my story might help parents of children who have left the church or for parents of LGBTQ children.
Our family was pretty standard Mormon family, but about 4 years ago our family started changing. Here is my story.
One night my husband and I got a call from our daughter who lives in California. She was totally distraught. She said, “What do you do when the prophet you love contradicts what you feel God has taught you?!” “How can I support what is happening with the Proposition 8 movement?” She had other questions concerning the Church’s history and doctrine as well. We talked for some time. My husband and I both thought that this would pass, but it didn’t. A few months later we got a letter from her and her husband stating that they were “taking a break” from the church. They stated that they were not interested in debating or influencing others with their decisions. They were not anti-Church. If we had questions, they would like to answer them, but they did not want “intervention.” They did not want further interpretation of Church doctrine and history.
During the same time, struggles with our youngest son were also happening. He always struggled with the Church and his testimony. He chose to serve a mission hoping that it would help him find answers. He still to this day says that he enjoyed his mission. But the answers didn’t come. We were okay with his decision to not be active in the church a few months after returning from his mission. We always had hope that he would someday find that testimony he had so hoped to have. He married a few years later to a wonderful girl (non-Mormon). I could see within months that something was terribly wrong. I won’t go into the details…too long. The short version is that through hundreds of conversations, fights, confusion, frustration, anger, silence (you name it, we went through it). I finally ask my son if he was gay. He laughed and then denied. I told him that nothing made sense. I said that if he was gay, then everything seemed to fall in place. I told him that he needed to be honest with himself and he had to be honest with his wife. Until that happens, there wasn’t much more I could do to help him. In the end, he is gay. The marriage did end and he is at peace with himself and is happy.
So with those two events unraveling at the same time, I was beside myself. It was the worst months of my life. I lived too far away from both of my children to help them when they both so needed a mother’s love. What to do? Where to go? No answer for a distraught mother.
One day I noticed on my daughter’s Facebook page a link to Mormon Stories. My curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on the link. Who is this John Dehlin and how is he influencing my daughter? I read through some of the posts and started listening to some of John’s podcasts. I surprisingly found some answers to questions that I had about my daughters decision to “taking a break” from the church. I found he was answering questions I had that I felt I couldn’t ask her without feeling I was debating her decisions. I found this site to be good and thoughtful on the issues that concerned my family.
At the same time I was reading all I could find on gays and the Church’s viewpoint on the subject. I needed help but didn’t know what to do or where to go. Marriage wasn’t an answer, tried that! I so wanted my son to love himself. Again, John had links on this subject that helped me cope with my son being gay. “No More Goodbyes” by Carol Lynn Pearson changed the attitude and thoughts of my husband overnight. The podcasts on this subject have been so informative and helpful.
I went to the first Mormon Stories Conference in Salt Lake with my daughter and heard Carol Lynn Pearson speak. My husband and I went to the “Circling the Wagon” conference. I came away from the conferences truly believing that I can still have a good relationship with my daughter and my son. No matter what their decisions are in life, I will support and love them. We might not totally agree on our individual beliefs, but I now know that we can still be that strong family we once were.
I am an active member in the Church. I want to support those that are struggling with these issues. I’m not sure where all this will lead. I have to admit I now have to walk out of a few Sunday School and Relief Society lessons as the church members discuss some of these issues. Someday maybe I will be strong enough to say what is on my mind, but for right now, I am happy that there is somewhere I can go to find some answer to a struggling mother questions.
Thank you John Dehlin and Mormon Stories.
I grew up in the Church, baptized at age 8, the daughter of convert parents. In 1965, at the age of 35, my dad was studying to be an Episcopalian minister in New Jersey when the sister missionaries found and converted my parents to Mormonism. As a result of their conversion and new understanding of the plan of salvation, my parents moved to Vermont and decided to have more children. I was one of those 2 additions to the family! I always felt special growing up knowing that because of the Gospel, I had been born into my family. My father eventually had a career in CES that lasted for many years. He would regularly wake up in the early morning hours (4 a.m.) to study the Gospel and prepare for his day. His knowledge and understanding of the scriptures were like few others. He was a powerful public speaker and motivated many Institute students to improve themselves. I know that as he studied, he saw inconsistencies within the Church and, while he never fully articulated all of his frustrations, he would occasionally mention his dissatisfaction with certain aspects. I did not really ever know all of his concerns with the doctrine and history, and because I was fully engaged in the Church, I didn’t take the time to really try to understand why he felt the way he did.
This past summer, I found the Mormon Stories podcast. My initial reason for listening was that I had known John Dehlin in Houston as a devout Mormon teenager, and I was curious to hear his story and reasons for doing the podcast. I have listened to the Mormon Stories podcasts with interest and have found myself riveted at times by the stories and information. I have learned about the history of my own religion from experts in different fields of study, people who have devoted their lives to researching certain aspects of Mormonism. I have heard stories of faithful members who, like my Dad, had questions that were left unanswered or pushed aside. Some of the stories have brought me to tears as I have listened to the way they were treated by leaders, other members and even family of their own faith, which claims to have Jesus at its head.
I have learned of many of the inconsistencies in the way the Church has presented its own history and of the changes over time in many aspects of Church doctrine, and I am grateful for the intellectual understanding I have gained from the podcast. More importantly, however, the podcast has helped my love, compassion and understanding deepen tremendously for those who question, and even leave, the Church. I now understand that there is a wide spectrum of reasons for leaving, and that those who leave are in many cases not “angry” or “haters”. Many people just walk away quietly, and I also understand that walking away is more difficult than I ever imagined it could be for them. All the stereotypes I had been taught about those who question and leave have been shattered. I can be a kinder person to those around me, not just to check off a box or because I have an assignment or am compelled by guilt, but rather because I am now able to understand at a deeper level that everyone has a different path in life and just because we do not all choose the Mormon way, that does not make someone “bad” or “unrighteous.”
My Dad passed away in March of 2011. I wish I had found Mormon Stories earlier, so I could share this wonderful podcast with him. He managed to find people in his life to connect to and discuss his questions with, but I also know he felt very alone at times with his concerns. I wish he could have known that there were so many others like him who had unanswered questions. I also wish I had found it sooner so I could have been a more compassionate daughter and we could have had these discussions together. I am now able to have conversations with my mom that are open and completely honest. She never judges me, and I feel closer to her through these discussions.
I continue to participate in Church activity and have not made any decision to leave or resign. There are good reasons to stay, and I love many of the values and principles it teaches. The 11th Article of Faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Mormon Stories has helped me truly accept the last part of this statement, to let others worship how they may and not judge. So my own “Mormon Story” continues, as does everyone’s, but mine continues with a more open mind and a more loving heart. Thank you to John and Mormon Stories.