Monday, April 30, 2012

Coming Out... of Church

Today is April 30th, 2012 and I can honestly say that I am happier now, more than I have in the past with my spirituality. I have reached a point in my life now where I do not fear where my salvation will be in the next life. I am one that is able to see me for who I am today and what I am able to offer to others and to myself. I am a father to two beautiful children of whom I love with all of my heart and a husband to an amazing woman that I can say is my best friend. She is one of my biggest fans and supports me in ways I know are difficult for her. I work a crazy schedule with the hospitals I am affiliated with and she has to deal with that in the most difficult ways. She is a great mother to our children and I am glad she chooses to do what she does. I say this because of what I have recently done in my family.

I have chosen to finally come out to specific family members about my beliefs and how they have changed over the years. Obviously if my other family members have stumbled upon this blog, they too know where I stand spiritually in this life. Needless to say this journey has many obstacles ahead of me still. I sat down with the bishop first to show respect to him and his "flock". To my surprise the visit went rather well and I felt he was genuine in what he had said and shared with me. I also sat down with my parents and told them of my is belief and lost of faith towards the Mormon religion. If they are reading this, they must know that I knew how they'd react and to be quite honest, I was very disappointed that they had acted almost worse towards me in that meeting than what I had thought. I chose not to take offense and therefore worked towards the relationship we already had. I decided to "turn the other cheek" and not debate or leave my post. My ground is my ground and I was not leaving it. Do you understand how difficult it is for someone to go to those of whom they have been looked at as a saint and tell them that you are no longer that "saint" anymore? You may think you know and understand what it is like, but I assure you unless you've been through it, you do not have a sliver of understanding. I felt as if I was a walking tuberculosis and could infect anyone they thought was at risk. If you know how tuberculosis works, it is highly contagious and very deadly. My field is respiratory and this is the easiest way for me to explain my feelings towards this meeting with my parents. To not be able to speak my beliefs with those who supposively love me is difficult because that road is not a two way communication link. I am not able to speak my beliefs, but they are freely able to talk about theirs to me. Although they may not see any wrong in this because theirs is "true", it is damning in a way that prohibits a true relationship to continue with strength. This becomes the link to my wife that I was hinting towards the beginning of this post. She has stood up for me and taken my side on this whole matter, even when her beliefs are still with the church. Her view is more open than others and even though she may not openly admit her stance, she is very loving and understanding in this matter. I can say our relationship has strengthened because of that and I commend her for doing so. We also sat down with her parents and told them where I stand and they were very supportive. They actually said they would be fine if I chose to speak my beliefs in front of the others in their clan. This was what took me off guard for a moment considering what had taken place earlier with my parents. They said they would love and support me no matter what decision I made. Then a few days after all three meetings (bishop, parents, inlaws), the bishop decided to write a 10 page single spaced letter of his thoughts had had over the days post visit. Although I still have some respect for him, he backtracked heavily into the territory I first had thought he would go. This not only made me stand off to him, I don't feel like he will be a support in all ways towards my decision and I am okay with that.

I came out to all three parties as an agnostic leaning atheist. I don't know if there is a God. If there is then I must be the devil... Which reminds me I was thinking what I'd do if I were truly the devil (taking devils advocate stance here) as I have come across a few ideas out there I wanted to share. I found them on reddit. Although I cannot take all credit towards them, it is quite interesting:

If I were the devil, I would convince as many groups of people that God told them they alone are right, they are better than the other groups of people...
If I were the devil, I would convince people that blind patriotism is a virtue - that waving a flag and supporting your country no matter what is an ideal...
If I were the devil, I would convince people that blind faith in easily-disproven assertions is a higher virtue than questioning, that facts are irrelevant.
If I were the devil, I would write a book that endorses genocide, torture, rape, and slavery - I'd call such book the definitive word of God, or at least get certain sects to view it as the "Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly."
If I were the devil, I would convince people that being sexist is okay, that men are better than women, and that women should "submit to the will of her husband."
If i were the devil, I would convince people that being white is a blessing or sign of faithfulness, and that black people either sinned in a previous life, or are the seed of sinners - but it's okay, if you ask God hard enough, your sin can be made "white and delightsome" again.
If I were the devil, I would convince people to judge and look down on gay people, and convince as many gay people as possible that their condition is a curse, and they have to live a miserable life of devoid of a healthy relationship or intimacy...
If I were the devil, I would convince people that God needed their money - and that they should ALWAYS give it first, even if they can't feed their own children - and build shopping malls worth $5 billion dollars.
If I were the devil, I would convince people that monogamy "degenerates the human family", and tell young girls that they MUST join other girls and women in marrying the same creepy man.
If I were the devil, who delighted in misery, I would laugh as God stood idly by and watched as countless children starved to death or were enlisted into brutal armies, and I would laugh as God stood idly by and watched thousands of incidents of rape and torture occur daily....
In short, what's the difference between what the devil would do, and what God is supposedly doing now (besides of course, helping a few people find their lost keys when they ask?)


PS - If you're curious as to any of the quotes, positions, or references found in my response, feel free to ask - I could show mountains for each point... but if it doesn't matter to you because God already told you you're right... well, I know some RLDS that know what God told them is right, lots of Southern Baptists that know what God told them is right, some Scientologists that know what Xenos told them is right...

Kind of interesting eh? I believe that an individual must find out who they are truly. Not what someone else thinks they are or even an organization, but they must take a journey and discover it through choices they make. I am doing that now and I will be the first to say that I am not perfect or even trying to be. I am just trying to be the best person I know how to be right now. This is key to any success. I feel so free and liberated at this point in my life. I see people for who they are instead of placing labels on them. I look towards meeting other people with great life changing stories that are verifiable. I can honestly say that I am a skeptic and that is okay. I may vote for Obama because I believe he'd be the better candidate (oh no, did I strike a sensitive string?). I may decide to not pass up a good alcoholic beverage at that time in the future. I don't know what my choices will lead me to, but I know I will be the one making them and I will discover what I like and don't like, not what an organization tells me. The best part about all of this is that I have a supportive wife and I want her to know and understand that I am also supportive and loving towards her and the choices she decides to make. She is my everything right now and my children also occupy that place in my heart and life. I believe in honesty and integrity and I believe any human being can hold those qualities without religion. Religion hasn't made me who I am, I have made me into who I am. Religion has played a part in my life, for both the good and bad, and now I have my own choices and beliefs to help shape the rest of my life, however long that will be.

In conclusion, I wish to apologize for any offenses anyone I know that is reading this now has taken from me leaving the church. I especially want to sincerely apologize to my parents for offending them and their beliefs because of how I thought that meeting went. I will try to take the higher road and do my best to still love you more. All I can do is be the best Brandon I can be. I know it'll be fun and great at times, and difficult and hard in other times, but I know in the end I will be much happier than I have been in so long. I love you Amanda! I love my children as well. I hope our path together can be full of joy and happiness. I choose true happiness.