Recently leaked video in which U.S. Senator Gordon Smith admits voting for the Iraq war because he "Saw God's hand in it," and felt like it would lead to opening up the country to LDS missionary work.   


Offerings

My priorities in life continue to evolve, subtly shuffling now as I progress along my path. My views on the pursuit of personal happiness remain unchanged, but have taken on greater clarity wherein they fit into the larger whole of family, community and society in general. Finding the courage to question everything arose from my emerging ability to detach my personal identity from my beliefs, instilled by religion, family and my own limited social group from within Mormonism. Realizing that I exist outside the beliefs and culture of Mormonism freed me to explore who I really was. Loving myself as I am honors myself beyond the benefit of following any doctrine, or the hollow promises of “what is to come”. Loving myself now, gives me the freedom to be myself, to question, grow, and evolve. I put no external hope or meaning on being authentically me. I simply have learned to value the moment. I no longer live under the pall of regret or with the forward gaze of what is to come. I simply live in the moment, and have discovered this is the secret of happiness, true freedom.

Understanding myself, accepting and loving myself, and allowing myself to continue being me, has laid the groundwork for my evolving ideas of how my philosophy and myself, for that matter, fit into the larger scale of family and society. As a child, my family traveled quite a bit by plane. I remember watching the stewardess go through the familiar routine of emergency procedure instruction. Her spiel included the harsh instruction to parents to secure their own oxygen mask before seeking to aid their children with securing their oxygen masks. I found the instruction curious as an 8 year old child, and felt somewhat betrayed by the glossy stewardess. It wasn’t until I was a few years older, that I fully understood the wisdom behind the instruction. In order to benefit anyone else, we first need to make sure that we are ok. Before we can be a strength, or any true value to another person, we need to proactively take responsibility for our own well-being. In other words, our greatest benevolence is to ourselves. Only then, are we any value to another.

A popular belief, and one that has been loudly expressed to me, is that “when one loses religion, one loses the ability or desire to do good in the world”. I have found the opposite to be true. As I have exited the culture of Mormonism, I have done a lot of introspection as well as objective observation of the world around me. I came to know myself outside the definitions provided by a strict Mormon upbringing. I have learned to honor myself. Once afraid of never knowing community or family again, I’ve found myself surrounded by the best friends of my life. I’ve found a community of like-minded, loving, thinking, questioning, adventurous, and authentic friends. My family has reformed. My children are individual thinkers, each unique and colorful! They bow to no one. They conform to no one. They are finding their own paths in understanding, accepting, and allowing themselves to be: to be whomever they are, right now. I could not be more proud. I offer my children the greatest gift I have to offer: unconditional love and acceptance of who they are. I have found peace in letting go of my parent’s and sibling’s reactive emotion and behavior to my choices. I have learned to let go of things that do not work for me and hold onto all that honors me, such as authentic, loving and open friends. Honoring myself has attracted a wealth of healthy relationships into my life. The only thing that changed was me, and I’ve never been happier.
One lesson from my days as a Mormon that continues to ring true: Do what is right, and everything WILL work out. Not in some imaginary far off place in the future, though, right here. Right now.

So, I offer the world my authenticity and personal responsibility for happiness. I do not seek it in religion or in the store. I do not seek it in family, work, or any substance. I have found it within myself. I have found it in the moment. Imagine a world where everyone did this. Imagine how that would look and feel. No entitlement. No blaming. No judgement. It would be a very good foundation to build a new society. I offer my enlightenment, and the light that is carried forward as I connect with other enlightened people. I offer letting go. I offer healing. I offer love.


Life's journey continues to unfold before me, and I continue to be amazed at the wisdom that flows my way as I open my mind and heart. My latest endeavor involves coming to know myself better and come to terms with lingering trauma and pain from my past.

For the past 6 months, I've gained much from studying Buddhist philosophy and meditation. I've learned to quiet my mind and be more present in the moment. I've gained deeper understanding of compassion, especially compassion for myself.

I am beginning to see that leaving the LDS church was just the beginning of an incredible journey. 3 years ago, I was so caught up in the ecstasy of leaving the confines of the church, that I scarcely glimpsed what potential lay ahead for me.

I no longer live with a destination in mind. My view of life has changed. I live to evolve, to change, to grow. As my mind and heart continue to open, teachers, lessons, and wisdom pour in. Although difficulty and pain are a natural part of life, I celebrate each day as my understanding increases. Life is good.