My post-Mormon experience has been much easier than most. My transition out of the Mormon faith and into orthodox Christianity, unlike many, saw no family conflict and no lost relationships. By God’s immeasurable grace, I left the Mormon church with no external negative consequences to speak of.
My status as a post-Mormon has been a personal struggle of healing and theological recentering. Though less frequent in the last while, I am still hit with moments where I realize my otherness in a Christian context. There are still to this day times where the guilt and worthlessness of my Mormon youth come to the forefront. God, however, is always merciful and continually heals my wounds. In so many ways he has used my past as a benefit to my Christian ministry. My Mormon background has allowed me to see the church and the faith as an outsider. It has helped me better explain and proclaim the gospel because I can see things someone with only a Christian past to draw from cannot.
I am used to dealing with the scars of my Mormon past. This past week, however, I have come across a Mormon scar that I didn’t expect to find. The other day we started sleep training Rosemary. This means, for the first time in her short six months, we have a very defined bedtime ritual. We had always prayed together and read a book before Jennifer nursed her to sleep, but for this new extended bedtime ritual we added singing.
At first this addition of singing was very exciting for me. My parents-in-law had purchased us several CDs of Christian children songs and I really enjoyed getting to learn them all. Most of all, I enjoyed watching Jennifer beam with joy as she got to relive and share a part of her childhood with Rosemary. But then, a Mormon scar I didn’t expect to encounter began to burn.
I have so many childhood memories singing songs and so many songs I remember to this day. Sometimes I catch myself singing them. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to teach them to Rosemary without thinking. However, unlike Jennifer, I cannot sing these songs. I cannot share them with Rosemary. My nostalgic childhood songs are about Nephites, golden plates, obeying modern prophets, and so much more. Within the songs of my childhood lie heresy and a god whose love must be earned.
So, what is there to be done with this? What does one do with happy moments surrounded by pain? How does one claim and share the good memories of the past while excluding the bad? It is possible to share the nostalgia of my childhood apart from the heresies? Do I keep the tunes, but change the words? Can I sing the non-theological songs about snowmen, little streams, and popcorn on apricot trees? Or, do I keep my nostalgia to myself and embrace Jennifer’s nostalgia as my own?
There will come a day when I get to share my Mormon past with Rosemary. I will share the details and try as best I can to explain to her the contrast I experienced. There was my life without God and his Holy Church and my life within the love of the Eternal Triune God of Mercy. I want her to know of the pain and guilt of my Mormon past. I want her to know of the freedom and release that came in trusting God with my salvation.
For now, however, I will hold the pain I experience together with God as we have been doing since we first met. I will, with God, rejoice that my daughter — his daughter — will never know my pain and will never know a moment of childhood outside of the love and assurance of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. For me, rejoicing with and thankfulness before God is how I will deal and — as is so often the case — I think this is really where God wants me to be anyways. May I always find rejoicing as I stand with God amidst the suffering of his creation! Soli Deo Gloria!