As some of you may know I live in Utah. Everyone knows that Utah is known for having tons of “Mormons” living here. Well it is true, but not everyone here is. I grew up going to church in the Mormon faith. From the time I was 12 I knew that I didn’t want to go to church and that religion wasn’t for me. But literally everyone goes to church, so I kept going and didn’t say anything. I thought that if I submerged myself into the Mormon faith that I would get a testimony, I mean, that is what everyone says. If you know anything about the Mormon faith, while you are a teenager there are different classes for the age groups. I was also the “leader” in my age group. That meant that I had to be the example. It was really difficult to try to lead girls when I was having my own doubts but again I said nothing.
I never understood why the church was so against dating before you were 16. I never dated before I was 16 but yet I still did things that they said would happen if you dated before 16. I really tried hard to follow all the doctrine but at the end of the day I felt like I was letting myself down because I wasn’t being myself.
When thing that the church does is youth conference. Basically youth conference is where teens ages 14-18, both boys and girls, go camping for a few days and are overloaded with attempts at spiritually experiences. One of these youth conferences is usually trek, where your leaders attempt to give you experiences that people crossing the plains had. I was lucky enough to be able to have trek at Martin’s Cove up in Wyoming. Regardless of whether or not you are religious, that is a sacred area because of how many people died there. Anyways, it was on trek that I met the guy that really opened the door for the life I have now. I had been talking to J (a friend of mine that I am secretly in love with) about my doubts and how I didn’t want to go to church. But at the end of the day I still was doing what I was supposed to do. Then while I was on trek I met N. He seemed like a really nice guy and he went to church. We started dating a little bit. I asked him to homecoming dance. And that was it. The night of homecoming I took that leap to the “dark” side. I don’t regret the decision I made that night because it really made me see who I was. I wasn’t the girl that always read her scriptures, had a strong testimony, who loved going to church. I was the girl that wanted to live her own life.
I can honestly say my senior year was my best year of high school. It started the night of homecoming. Throughout that year, I got kicked out of seminary, because I would A) not show up or B) sleep through class. I also dated more than I had the other 2 years of high school. I had some of the best grades I had ever had. I became friends with a lot of really great people. I kissed J (it was the best night ever). I got my first tattoo. I got my cartilage pierced. I just enjoyed life. Why??? Because I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.
The following year my parents got divorced and it gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for. I no longer had to go to church. Of course because being any form of religion is so crucial here, I did try out other churches. But at the end of the day I know organized religion isn’t for me. I am not saying God doesn’t exist but I don’t thing that you have to got to church every Sunday to be close to God.
I get asked an the daily about why I don’t go to church, or if I would consider going back to church? I tell people the truth. I have no shame. I do get judged a lot because of my choice to not go to church but it doesn’t bother me because I am happy with who I am. I don’t feel the pressure to get married and have kids that other people my age feel. I tell people that they should stop going to church because it is really a personal choice. Some people need religion. I just don’t. I get an extra day in the week to do what I want. But mostly I get to enjoy my life and have experiences that I wouldn’t be able to have if I was going to church. And that is what matters to me.