It's difficult for me to pinpoint one exactly reason for leaving the LDS Church, but I know one major reason has a lot to do with fear. I remember looking at non-members and marveling at how unafraid they were. They drank tea, they had sex, they went shopping on Sunday! Weren't they afraid of God punishing them for it?
Meanwhile, I was afraid of...
-Anything flavored like Coke, iced tea or coffee
-Clothing that showed shoulders
-Swearing, or even hearing people swear
-Watching moves with sex and/or swearing
-Thinking about sex
-Showing an interest in sex
-Kissing with tongue, or kissing too much without tongue
-Do I even need to explain how unholy terrified I was at the thought of having sex?
-My own body (it wanted things I wasn't supposed to want)
-People who blatantly lived gospel-incompatible lives
-My friends going to hell because they weren't Mormon
-My depression really being the devil in my head
-Disappointing my family on a spiritual level
-Not living up to "the image"
I'm sure that's only a partial list. I was astounded to see people acting on their desires and impulses with no fear at all of God's anger. I felt like it was me against the world, trying to be the person the LDS Church wanted me to be, and terrified of anything else. I was my own worst enemy, now that I look back at it all. I kept myself caged because I was afraid of the evil in the world, and even more afraid of the evil in my head.
I remember being nine years old and thinking that my soul was already blackened beyond redemption; I'd passed the age of eight and therefore, God was making a list of all my wrongdoings. Since turning eight, I had fought with my brothers, snitched cookies from the cookie jar without permission, talked back to my parents. Clearly these were sins, and I had not repented, and no unclean thing can be with God. Looking back, I'm angry. No child should believe themselves to be evil.
Now... it's not that I'm never afraid. Of course there are things I fear. But my life isn't built around fear anymore. It's built around hope and around achieving the things that I desire for myself. It's not about "What bad things will happen if I do this?" so much as "What good could come of this?" In fact, there are days when I relish being able to stand up to an old Mormon fear. I don't drink Coke or coffee (I think I'll blog about that later) but I wear tank tops, I have sex with my fiance and, wild woman that I am, I drink tea!
I don't know if I'll ever have kids, but if I do, they will not be raised to fear everything that doesn't have a Mormon stamp of approval on it. They will not be raised in the swamp of fear that I grew up in. It shouldn't take courage to drink soda, for heaven's sake.
I wonder... the next generation of Exmo's... will flip-flops be on the list of things they feared? And how stupid is that?