It is no coincidence that I exited Mormonism as many other huge changes were occurring in my life. I wish I had been more aware and present during that time of tumult, because I was being bombarded with clues, signals and truths—not being fully cognizant until I had moved through them. A couple of years later I stumbled upon a wonderful book by Gordon MacKenzie called Orbiting the Giant Hairball, which clobbered me as a most appropriate metaphor to becoming aware of how we buy in, or remove ourselves from any organization that is based upon control and conformity, scarcity versus abundance, power and fear. We all need an exit strategy, a self-chosen map.
“Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.
Think how it is to have conversation with an embryo.
You might say, “The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheat fields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.
At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Listen to the answer
There is no “other world.”
I only know what I’ve experienced.
You must be hallucinating.”
In Part I of this Queer Shift column, I introduced folks to the simple but not so easy change model of SEE-DO-GET. Seeing is about your mindsets, perspectives, beliefs and outlook on anything. Doing is your actions to strengthen or alter the way you act upon your perceptions. Getting is the desired result or sustainable personal solution you achieve after having worked hard and gone through the challenging process of change.
Exiting any organized religion, particularly Mormonism is as complex a job as any a person might face in life. Mormonism (along with certain other religions) operates from a birth-to-death and beyond, phase-by-phase process, and when you are born into the religion your mind is never fully your own; you belong to a huge master plan. It takes tremendous personal courage and truthfullness in yourself to challenge the what-and-why of which you believe. Beyond what and why it takes dedicated time and self-respect to unravel the how you came to believe. If you choose to leave Mormonism, I strongly recommend carving out, creating and dedicating a period of time to do this important change work.
Before you can explore changing and examining the how through the SEE-DO-GET model, there comes three huge questions regarding the examination; Would you? Could you? When? If you’re queer it’s comparable to a second coming out. A second coming out that is about growing into a mindful mature person whose powerful intentions guide your life course to success as you define it.
I recently talked with a queer friend who shared an excerpt of something he had written, and I found it at the very core of this second coming out that ultimately ends in cherished authenticity. He shared something that struck me as both profoundly sad and strangely hopeful: “I can only wonder how my life would have been different if there’d been a church around that had loved me for who God created me to be, instead of trying to change me from what it feared I represent.”
Embracing the desire to release a religion and change your life toward one of self-acceptance with less guilt, shame, judgment, and fear begins truly with how you SEE life.
Consider the following mindsets, as you begin to change. Take them one or two at a time, live with them, ponder them, show up and be present with them in your regular every day thinking.
Can I perceive and possibly believe that religion and spirituality are very different things?
Can I separate the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Mormonism?
Am I capable of accepting the fact that there are many truths, ways and paths, in life – all respectful?
Am I capable of releasing the idea that there is only one absolute true religion?
Can I see myself as containing my own self-power, internalized energy, that I can use for good, healing, taking care of myself and sending it to others for their well being?
Am I ready to begin separating my heritage from my religion, as well as my beliefs, and where and when I learned them?
Am I willing to stop abdicating my knowledge or understanding of anything to anyone, regardless of their position, title, or age?
Do I believe that I get to choose my life path and its phases rather than having them all outlined and planned for me?
After you’ve considered these perceptions as well as others you may have self discovered – or found in shared conversation with other trusted individuals, move toward what you will DO next, all the while constantly reinforcing your newly embraced seeing mindsets. Your perspective and approach to what you are up to in your life is just as (if not more) important to the outcome as the actions themselves. You tend to be happier and more satisfied when your actions are grounded in a sense of self-awareness, choice and desired personal growth.
Conduct crucial conversations only with those you choose to share your change of religion, mindsets, beliefs and life direction. Request they listen as openly as possible and attempt to understand your decisions. You are in charge of your new direction.
Ask yourself am I fully aware of my heritage and all that it represents to me; how I can still value it without having to be involved in the religion associated with my heritage? They are uniquely different.
Immerse and rediscover yourself in all things that you find spiritual: reading, music, nature, yoga, meditation, personal reflection writing, etc. Surround yourself with those you trust most, whether they be blood family, or chosen family, friends, people who can be the first ring of your support system. Keep this group small and remain in contact.
If you desire attending other spiritual groups or religions that are completely open and affirming of queer people, then do explore. These could also be spiritual support groups, queer exploration and expansion groups. Read a lot of books of various types: philosophy, history, poetry, plays, gay fiction and gay stories, modern bestsellers that expand your mind, and open yourself up to continuous new ways of seeing the world, the people, the systems and structures, the ways things have evolved and changed, or have not changed. Continue to release, let go, and keep only those heritage elements of your previous religion that are truly a part of who you are down to your DNA.
And now to GET. Hopefully you are happy with the results, you got something new, different, better. Something without shame, fear, guilt or judgment mixed in. You are in a position to evaluate your outcomes and recommit to your new life path. Remember to always evaluate, and when you do it’s important to cycle back through SEE to confirm whether your self-assessment in the change was accurate. Seriously examine your newly embraced perception, identify what your actions got you, and always be open to new ideas. Hopefully when leaving Mormonism behind, in this change process your biggest outcomes will be self-power, love and greater happiness. Greater happiness and satisfaction in life come from being conscious of who you are and what’s important to you as a foundation for what you choose to do and create.
Your “second coming out” is about growing into a mindfully mature gay person whose powerful intentions guide your course to success as you define it.
Venus is rising – farewell confusing Jupiter, and back to Rumi.
“You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”