Personal Narrative Essay: Why I Stopped Attending Church
My parents are very devout members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was raised with church on Sunday and gospel-related activities throughout the entire week. I didn’t drink coffee, wear tank tops, support same-sex marriage, or do anything else that could be seen as losing my connection to God. The gospel was my family’s truth, and I thought that would never change.
That was until a few years ago, when my brother, Tyler, told to us all that he would not be going to church anymore. We were all surprised and hurt that he didn’t seem to have a strong connection to our faith like we did. I loved him unconditionally, but I still thought he should’ve tried harder to be an active member and that the fault was all on him.
Once I entered high school, however, my viewpoint changed dramatically. There, I met people from all different walks of life. Atheists, people with only one parent, individuals who were transgender, and so many other unique backgrounds. And all of these humans I had been told to never associate myself with became my friends, showing me love and kindness that I thought could only exist in religion. And I began to think that maybe the church didn’t have all the answers, and that maybe not being a member wasn’t so bad.
I began to ignore the problems I began to have with the church, convincing myself that I could disagree with my church on things like LGBT+ rights without having to leave the faith. That all came crashing down in my sophomore year when I came to realize that I was gay. Discovering that did bring me some clarity to the way I thought and felt, but it also further complicated my feelings towards the LDS church. The way it viewed gay people made me wonder if I could never truly be happy in the “lifestyle” of homosexuality. The confusion I had felt during that time was almost unbearable.
I think deep down I always knew I would have to eventually leave the church, but everyone around me told me that through faith, God would fix me. So I went to church every Sunday and bible study everyday before school. Still, nothing was working out the way I had wanted- I was still filled with a deep sense of loss and shame towards myself that I didn’t know how to let go of.
I eventually talked to my brother about what I was going through, and he explained that leaving the church wasn’t as easy for him as people thought it was- there were times when he felt shame too, and he also had been told to never give up on our religion. But he couldn’t let other people choose his life path for him, and neither could I. That day I discovered that my brother had never been weak in leaving the church- he had shown an unbelievable amount of strength.
I showed that same amount of strength this past fall, when I made the decision to stop attending church. I still have a long road ahead of me- I still have shame, and my parents are still dealing with their children not believing in the gospel. I’m willing to keep fighting though, and I don’t regret my decision one bit. At the end of the day, I can only do what’s best for me, and leaving the church has made me a better person, filled with compassion and a desire to learn about the experiences of others. That is something I’ll never be sorry for.