“My name is Eva and I finally, completely, love myself.”
In April of 2005 I married a wonderful returned missionary in the Temple. We had a good Mormon marriage and did all the things we were supposed to. We were faithful and obedient.
In January of 2007 he told me about how he had started looking into the origins of the church. He had started reading the history and because of many accounts and facts which were never taught to us, was starting to have doubts. I was horrified because anyone that really truly understands LDS doctrine knows that if your spouse doesn’t live the standards, you can’t be with them forever. There is some clause about possibly keeping them regardless but it is a gamble for the eternities; you can’t drag someone to “heaven.”
By April of that year it became abundantly clear to me that my husband had lost his belief in the LDS faith. I started talking to my bishop about what to do with the situation. I started asking questions myself and got his parents involved and also made the situation known to my family.
Everyone hoped for the best; we all wanted to keep hoping that my husband would see the error of his questioning ways and pray “for real,” after which he would of course get his testimony back. He did pray for real, he did give it a real shot, and nothing. He was sincere, and I couldn’t understand why he was not getting the answer he was supposed to. I was shocked and by then was having panic attacks regularly because this man was in essence, immediately or at some point in time before the eternities, going to destroy my marriage and my eternity with him.
It was horrible and I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what I did — a true nightmare.
My stake president told me that likely my husband was hooked on porn which made my situation undesirable and inhospitable for future babies. But he didn’t say the words “leave him”.
My bishop also had concerns about possible porn addiction (not at all the issue) and that there was possibly likely any number of issues as well as porn addiction. Heaven forbid that Joe was actually reading the history of the church and was actually having doubts for legitimate reasons. I told him that I had decided to leave, and in a blessing he told me that I had made the right decision. But he didn’t say the words “leave him”.
My parent’s bishop told them to bring their daughter home, to get her out of there. Their stake president also didn’t say to have her “leave him” but you get the idea.
Not a single leader asked Joe why he was having doubts, or even if he really was having doubts for justifiable reasons. They weren’t interested. They’re trained not to expose themselves to facts that might rattle their convictions.
In the temple one day, I made my final decision when in a blessing finally I was told to “leave him” by God apparently.
So I left. December 2007.
This was a decision that was indeed often made and encouraged during the formation and exodus eras of the early church. Strangely, staying with good but apostate spouses was unacceptable, but Joseph Smith marrying and sharing his bed with girls as young as 14 and women who had living husbands was.
I thought of going back after the divorce was final but my bishop at the time told me to not get back together with him. Essentially, his reason was that happiness and the opportunity for a good family life take a back seat to whether or not the marriage will be sanctioned by God. I have seen plenty of God-fearing LDS marriages that lack happiness and are not an ideal place for children for a number of reasons. This is an issue and a tragedy.
Anyone who does have faith in this church might look at the paragraphs above and wonder how I can discount apparent blessings and prayers and counsel from the highest sources and instead be with this man.
Well, he is a good man; a man I shouldn’t have left. The counsel I received was from good people, but I refuse to believe any loving higher power would have wanted me to suffer the pain of a divorce and leave what was going to be a good family and would have been so out of the loop of who this guy really was as to tell me to leave.
More than that, I’ve never been happier in my entire life. I never felt the kind of love before that I now feel for Joe, for myself, and for other people in general. There is no ulterior motive in any of my relationships; Joe is not going to be my partner in Godhood someday and so I’m quite happy with the kind of human being that he is. I’m extremely surprised about my level of openness to people now that I don’t feel I have to convert them or suffer the torment of knowing I could have given them the pass-along card but didn’t.
It’s been a year and a half since I left the church and I feel that I have learned more about life and about the world I live in during that time than during the 20-something years before leaving. I have gained a respect for nature that was impossible when I believed that humans had dominion over animals and plants and that everything was created for human use and consumption; I have found humility in knowing that I am connected not only to the food I eat and the animals I interact with through DNA and common ancestry, but I am a part of the universe, “stuff of the stars” as Carl Sagan puts it, living on “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Knowing that this time on this rock is all I get is at once a relief and a challenge to use it for what it’s worth not waiting for the end of this life to fully appreciate my existence.
And I finally, completely, love myself. That alone might be worth everything.
I’m not perfect, but I’m a damned good great ape that loves life, sees it for what it is and is busy enjoying it to the fullest! I’m Eva and I’m an ex-Mormon.
Resources that Eva found helpful in her journey:
National Geographic Channel