Thank You

Feeling free

Thank you for the love and support that so many of you took the time to offer on my post about my faith journey. I knew there would be people who spoke up to support this, but I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of the response. That Husband has been teasing me, asking how it’s going to feel to go back to real life when people aren’t leaving virtual applause in my inbox all day long. Seeking validation and understanding is part of my character, for better or for worse, and so the time so many of you took to reach out is really appreciated. I’m working my way through the emails and comments as my children allow me to do so.

As I stated in my post, I have decided to prioritize authenticity over acceptance. Some of your comments reminded me of the way I feel about the blogger CJane. She wrote a post detailing why she was not a feminist, and then two years later she wrote a post reversing her position. I really respect her for that, for analyzing her life experiences, learning from them, and being honest with the world about changes she was making even when doing so was painful. I don’t bring her up in an attempt to compare myself to her, as I think our journey into feminism and progressive Mormonism (even if she doesn’t embrace that title I think that’s what she is, a Progressive Feminist Mormon) has brought us to different places, but because so many of you expressed a desire to hear more about my experience and that is exactly the way I have felt about CJane over the past year. Her blog didn’t interest me for a long time, then she moved from Point A to Point B and I wanted to hear more about what she thought on a variety of topics, even though I was at Point CZKR. I do have one more post related to my faith transition that I have been drafting for a long time, but I’m not sure where things will go from there. If I write critically about Mormonism (even if it is constructive) I am labeled as one who is fighting to take down the Church and can’t leave it alone. I want to see changes occur within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no matter my relationship with it because many people I love are still participating in it, but I think being public about my unbelief has stripped me of the opportunity to do so.

I’m certainly not alone in my departure from Mormonism. The LDS Church is experiencing a mass departure, described by Elder Marlin Jensen in November 2011: “…since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues.” The issues he is referencing are the same ones I am unable to rectify. I admit I am stunned by the number of people who have spoke up about transitioning out of the faith of their parents as well. I didn’t realize it was such a common experience across belief systems. I feel honored by people like my friend Kat (as well as a few others) who have linked to the post and said that it gave voice to their own experience. That means a lot to me.

Many of you have also mentioned that you saw this coming, and that in a way it doesn’t surprise you. Before I got married I was working as a waitress at a winery near my hometown. I was very orthodox in my Mormonism, and wouldn’t even taste the wine and spit it out in order to understand its properties so I could be more effective at my job. One of the chefs, Shauna, was very familiar with Mormonism as she had grandmother who was a devout member, and Shauna used to make predictions about my eventual departure from Mormonism. Back then, I found this to be very insulting. What part of myself was manifesting as weak and would cause such a terrible thing to happen? Now I look back and view that as a strength she pinpointed. She viewed me as a person who was intelligent and open-minded enough to ask questions and arrive at my own conclusions. And that is the kind of person I want to be.

I knew there would be a lot of questions about That Husband and where he is at. I have a compulsive desire to tell everyone everything, and so before I went public with all of this we sat down and talked about how he would like to be represented. He loves me, but he doesn’t want to be represented by me. I get that, because I don’t want anyone or anything speaking for me either. Until he expresses a desire for another approach, for now I will keep repeating that our marriage is strong (this is important to note because for a lot of couples the faith transition experience of one or both members can cause great harm to the relationship and we are so grateful that hasn’t been the case for us) but I’m telling my story, not his. If and when he is ever ready to be public about his experience he knows my blog is open for him as a platform to do so.

I haven’t felt any desire to be “religious”, in the traditional sense, for a long time. I’m still too frustrated with many things related to religion, and it’s going to take me some time to work through that. Last weekend though, I went to a festival in Cupertino and they had a group of men and women playing drums in a traditional Japanese style. The way they played and the sounds they produced were so beautiful. It touched me in a way that I haven’t felt since before my faith crisis and I realized that I want to make time to seek out beauty. Dancing, music, writing, nature, art. These things are good for the soul and I want more.



19 thoughts on “Thank You

  1. Tell TH I support him in his journey as well; I should have included that before. My apologies to him. I knew him long before I knew you.

    I’m not surprised that you seek beauty and joy to feed your soul. Your face in pictures lost its brightness, or what we refer to as the light of Christ in the LDS Church. It’s OK to realize that the physical world is understood analytically and through reasoning but that the spiritual world (including what feeds your soul) is understood through faith. Two kinds of knowledge obtained two kinds of ways.

    All the best to you both!

    Hannah Reply:

    She’s lost her ‘light’? Really? I believe in God but I know that the existence of some kind of higher power has zero impact on how the brightness I portray in photographs. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever, ever read.

    Jenna, I think you look just as bright as you ever have in photos. If you go back to the LDS Church one day, I am sure you will look look equally as bright as you do now, as someone who does what she likes on a Sunday morning.

  2. I’m so incredibly happy for you! And yes! Feed. Your. Soul. I am happier and more spiritual now than I ever was as an Episcopalian. I do all of the things you mention and it fills me up to bursting. To live is a very big adventure.

    And she danced; she danced with the music and with the rhythm of earth’s circles; she turned with the earth turning, like a disk, turning all faces to light and to darkness evenly, dancing toward daylight.
    ~ Anaïs Nin

  3. And that you recognize your own need for affirmation, well, even better. When we give up faith, we rely more on knowledge, and there’s nothing more important to know than ourselves. Clear self sight is the only way we can make sure we aren’t standing in the way of our understanding of the world and of other people.

    Much affection to you.

  4. I have been following your blog for years and it is just now that I am SO excited to read your posts. You are a wonderful writer and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you!

  5. Hi, I too have been reading your blog for years, and am so impressed by your journey. I just read your previous post, and I wanted to commend you for really being sure of what you are. It is very clear to me that you did not leave the church on a whim, but really did your research and searched within yourself to do what you felt was right. I also wanted to comment that I remember your posts from the past about Mormonism, and I will be honest.. I always thought you seemed like such a smart woman, but those posts made you sound like a puppet.. But at the same time I was impressed at how convicted you were in your beliefs, and that is something many people struggle with.

    Anyways, just another longtime reader here who is proud of you and excited to read about what is to come in your journey.

  6. Shocked and totally impressed with all of this.

    I wanted to share a great bay area place of soul and celebration that gives me the same feeling the Japanese drummers gave you. Glide church in SF is amazing. The gospel choir is fantastic, they accept everyone and their purpose is giving and love. Get there early b/c seats fill up.

  7. I’ve read your posts for about a year now, and I respect your decision, but my heart aches inside me because I just feel like you are giving up so so much in exchange for so so little. Japanese Drums in exchange for the peace, fulfillment, and contentment that the Atonement can bring? It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that.

    Obviously our experiences in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been vastly different though, and they’ve led us to different places in life. That’s okay. I wish you all the best, all happiness, all joy, and I hope that you will find a path that will bring you all that you hope for and need, whatever path that might be.

    Jenna Reply:

    To say I traded in my Mormon faith for some drums is a gross oversimplification.

    Charlotte Reply:

    Yes, it is. But the fact is I don’t know you well enough to know what it is for which you *have* traded your faith when it comes down to it.

    You end this post stating, “[some drums] touched me in a way that I haven’t felt since before my faith crisis”, which leads me to believe that before your faith crisis you had been touched deeply, presumably by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, if I’m reading you right, you no longer believe in Jesus Christ as a Savior, and by extension, you no longer believe in or accept the Atonement. Say what you will, I see undertones of a trade there.

    Charlotte Reply:

    But on second thought, this is your business, not mine. If you feel I’ve been unfair in my characterization, I probably have. I apologize. It was not my intention to attack you, and I truly do wish you all the best.

  8. your story sounds much like mine, not LDS but another religious system that didn’t provide any of the answers i was looking for. i was shaken to the core, questioning everything i had ever held to be true. 2 books that helped me on my journey – love wins by rob bell and love without agenda by jimmy spencer jr. these 2 books brought me back to God – separate from any religion and shifted my focus to where it belonged – on loving others just because. not to convert them, not to bring them to Jesus, but because that was the good and right thing to do. your beliefs sound very much like they align with the emerging church. have you ever heard of it?

  9. I love that you respect and love your husband to the point that however tempting it may be to fill our curiosity you let him decided if and when he ever will share his story.
    Faith is always an interesting journey. No matter where it goes.
    I was raised a Roman Catholic. Although loosely, neither of my parents went to Church. They encouraged us to do our communion (my Mom even did the lessons), and we did it as good obedient Children.
    I have a faith that doesn’t fit in the Church. I don’t believe I need the church to believe and I disagree with a lot of things that come from the Vatican. My husband is the same although raised in a different faith.
    We hope to teach our children about the different religions so they respect them and get to choose what fits with their hearts.
    I always found it interesting when you shared things about your faith. I didn’t always agree but it taught me to respect the LDS so I thank you for that. I hope you find balance within your family. I can only imagine how hard it is for you, for TH and your parents to learn who the new Jenna is. Thank you for your honesty.

  10. I think this is the same intuition I had from day one when I started reading your blog: ” She viewed me as a person who was intelligent and open-minded enough to ask questions and arrive at my own conclusions.” Not to say that I judge those who don’t question their faith.. I understand that the human experience is very complex… but I personally do value open-mindedness a lot in a friend or colleague. 🙂

  11. Jenna,

    This quote from above really spoke to me: “The way they played and the sounds they produced were so beautiful. It touched me in a way that I haven’t felt since before my faith crisis and I realized that I want to make time to seek out beauty. Dancing, music, writing, nature, art. These things are good for the soul and I want more.”

    When I started seriously questioning organized religion, I felt as though I was doomed for hell because I stepped away. Back to that in a minute.

    We have talked before about how similar our upbringings were, even though I am a bit older and attended the Baptist church in my town. However, you spent your childhood with farm animals, and I spent mine with wild animals (my dad is an animal behaviorist). I spent a lot of time (and still do) in the mountains hiking, mountain biking, and pretty much whatever I can do to get me out to nature.

    With my departure from organized religion, I felt shame for a very long time until one day I had sort of an epiphany while hiking. I realized that for me, it is not about religion, rather it is about spirituality, honest living, and nurturing the soul. I feel more at peace and “connected” when I am out in nature, enjoying the peace and quiet.

    I am by no means a tree-hugging hippie (please no one take offense), actually I’m quite a girlie-girl most of the time, but I know beyond a doubt that when I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and in need of peace, that if I get out somewhere by myself, I will make that connection and find the answers I need.

    I am so thoroughly proud of you and your openness, and I look forward to reading more about your journey.

  12. I run on Sunday mornings a lot. Church times in my neighborhood are too inconvenient for me to go, and so I go running. It lets me be with nature in a way that fills me with a sense of peace, and a sense of belonging, and even a sense of community. Faith is important, even if it’s just in my feet.

  13. I’ve been mulling over your post all week deciding what to write in response (if anything) and feel like I can clearly state what’s been on my mind. I have to applaud you for really studying, pondering, and figuring out for yourself what you believe (and know), and what’s right for you. That is something everyone should do in their lifetime regardless of the outcome. I do find it interesting though that we seem to have opposite experiences … there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s why you are who you are and why I am who I am. When you talked about coming out of the temple more confused, with more questions, possibly even frustrated I reflected on my own experiences in the temple. While I too sometimes come out with more questions, I am filled with a desire to know more rather than feeling frustrated. As I read through your post (several times this week) and links to other blogs of people who have had similar experiences, instead of filling my mind with questions and doubts, I felt very reassured about what I know what what I believe (and hope to come to *know* as time goes on). Again, I’m not saying you’re right and I’m wrong, or the other way around, it’s really just what’s best for me and what’s best for you. I sincerely wish you the best and hope this journey only continues and leads you to a place of peace, and that you find the knowledge and answers you seek. I, like many others, am interested in where TH stands in all of this but completely respect his desire to keep that between the two of you. Please continue to share your story with us!

  14. I was wondering about TH myself, but felt weirdly intrusive asking. I am glad that, regardless of his personal journey (and I hope we will hear from him someday!), he remains steadfast and loving toward you.

    Still thinking you’re awesome!

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