It’s been almost six months since I last wrote on this blog. So much has happened. I could write about our trip to Europe or our summer in Utah and Texas. I could write about Trent’s internship and job offer. I could write about how we’re moving to Dallas next year when he graduates or how sharply I’ll miss Virginia or how, smack dab in the middle of the coming winter, I’ll give birth to a baby boy. I could go on for days about how much Scout has grown and changed. I could pontificate about what happened psychologically that caused my oh-so-dramatic absence from blogging, but I’ll spare you that much. It’s overwhelming to even try to tackle everything, so I’ll write about something else entirely. I came home tonight feeling an itch to write, so I’ll scratch it and see what happens.
I’m really happy these days. Things are going well for me and mine, but honestly, I don’t think that accounts for most of why I’m happy. I think I’m happy because I’ve been building back what I lost.
I didn’t do it consciously, but a few years ago, when I started to really acknowledge doubts about my faith and questions about my paradigms, I also stopped letting guilt motivate me. I realized that many of the things I did in my personal worship I did because I felt guilty if I didn’t. So I stopped doing those things. Plain and simple. I removed the guilt from my life and with it went the behaviors it motivated. And for the first time, I just let them go. It wasn’t dramatic or even outwardly noticeable, but it happened. I stopped reading the scriptures consistently. I stopped praying every single morning and every single night. I stopped being so stalwart with my church attendance and so rigid in my worship in a thousand other ways. I stopped telling myself I knew things I only hoped for and stopped being afraid to know my own limits. And for a while, I truly felt freer. I felt less burdened, more spiritual. I felt the fruits of the spirit in new ways, different ways. But after time enough to detox my guilt had passed, I also felt a longing to start over.
So I began to do that. I’m still doing that. I’ve been picking up the tenants of the faith I still call mine and “experimenting on the words.” It hasn’t been systematic, just fluid, and it started with the smallest of things, things like who is really up there listening when I pray. I’ve stopped being scared of asking my real questions of God, started trusting the times when the answers that come are unexpected or unpopular among my peers at church. I’ve stopped the cycle of self-loathing I spun inside when I felt different from them. And piece by piece I’ve gathered up the many things that make up Mormonism and weaved them back into my life, with many old conclusions and some new conclusions and mostly no conclusions, just progressions. Progressions without guilt. Progressions with integrity. My “testimony,” as we Mormons call it, is smaller and stronger than ever before. And that’s not coincidental. It is stronger, because it is smaller. It is stronger, because I’m not wasting my energy pretending. I’m spending it learning.
I’m happy these days, so very happy these days, partially because I’ve been building back what I lost, but mostly because I’m building something I never really had in the first place—a faith that is truly my own.
Listening to: William Fitzsimmons, “Well Enough”