This article pulled at my heart strings. I was thinking the other day how hard it is to relate to people who have fundamental differences in belief about life and its purpose. It is difficult, but not impossible to maintain relationships with people you disagree with, and relationships that mean something to you are worth the work. Not only that, but I think it’s incredibly beneficial to expose yourself to viewpoints that are different than your own on a regular basis, if not only to re-evaluate your own assumptions. At the same time, it can be incredibly painful to watch our loved ones in the church tip-toe around conversations with us, nod and smile when we mention an outing with another apostate, or talk to us about the wonderful lessons they learned in church as if we were missing out or never stopped believing.
“Every time you look at Buddy now does your unshakable faith automatically remind you that he’s doomed, that this theological rift is so important that mostly you just feel sorry for him and sorrier for yourself?”
One of the main goals I have for this site is to help people navigate their relationships with people in the church after leaving. It’s something I struggle with, and something I know many Ex-Mormons struggle with as well. The pain is real. The only person anyone can really work on in a relationship is themselves, though, as Robert Kirby from the Salt Lake Tribune adds as a reminder:
“Another note: This also applies to nonbelievers who so firmly suppose they’re smarter than believers that they can’t relate to their loved ones anymore either.”
Sometimes what hurts the most are the words that go unsaid, the passive remarks from someone in your life about “people who leave the church”, the quiet looks of disapproval for something that you did or said. I’ve heard several remarks from people who no longer have traditional testimonies in the church but who choose to stay because Mormons are “their people”. But how much of that is the fear of finding out how much strain will be put on your relationships with those in the church once you’re labeled an outsider? My integrity has to conquer that fear every single day.
“Religion (faith, gospel, church or whatever you choose to call it) isn’t just divisive because we exclude and sometimes even kill one another over it. It’s also great at silently torturing loving relationships to death.”