[I recently came across some journal entries from 2006, shortly after the lightning struck and I had acknowledged to myself that I didn't believe in God. They open a window on my efforts to pick up the pieces and survey the new landscape. I'll post some of these entries as they are germane to this blog and may be of interest. More to come another day.]
April 1, 2006
I find that my new honesty to self has engendered a few consequences. My time here in life has become more dear. My heart has become more open. My passions more intense.
April 5, 2006
I have recently been experiencing a calm but profound change in perspective. The virtue of self-honesty has become increasingly apparent to me. I am now admitting to myself that I have never had a firm belief in God, the divinity of Jesus, the prophetic call of Joseph Smith, and so on. I have never experienced the power of the Holy Ghost as others seem to have done. I have always doubted.
Something held me back. Admitting that I was wrong or [deceived] threatened my tender ego. I was afraid of what it might mean if there were no God watching over us protectively. I held out the hope that I might someday feel that rebirth of spirit held out for the faithful.
That day of renewal never came. I remained the same person with all of the fears, shames, and troubles as I ever was. That changed sometime around when I took a yoga class at [the university]. I donâ€™t remember now which came first, the class or the change, but a radical change began at about that time. I became more self-aware. My mind quieted. I shed some of my fears and began to see light for the first time in my life. That process has proceeded in fits and starts since that day.
Shame has begun to fall away, too. I allowed other men to dictate the workings of my conscience for too long. I have no other testimony for divine displeasure aside from the deranged, fearful state of my own mind. I see no evidence for a Fiendish tempter who delights in the destruction of men. The most I can say with any certainty is that evil arises in the hearts of men. Perhaps there is an evil influence out there, but it pales in my view when compared to the strength of the will of man. My worries about Satan [have] kept me in constant crisis since my childhood. Giving up belief in what appears to be a late creation of the Christian community has freed me from unnecessary guilt which weighs me down. I can go no further while looking back to Sodom.
I no longer take for granted that God exists. Some part of me still hopes that I am wrong, that this change is merely my divestiture of unworthy beliefs in order to be reborn, naked and infantile before God. I begin to feel some of my childlike newness return to me. I see with new eyes. I decide for myself what I hold to be true.
Some things other than hope are holding me back. The first nobler cause is that I have made vows and promises to my beloved Lacey. I fear that her heart would be broken if I revealed these innermost thoughts to her. Relatedly, I believe the Mormon faith to be excellent in teaching a man to find happiness and think critically. I want my children to be guided well, and donâ€™t think they would find good guidance in the aimless secular world.
The other fear holding me back from a public avowal of my change of heart is my fear of how others would judge me. I politically hope to change my public positions slowly.
May God, if He exists and is favorably disposed toward me, guide me in this uncertain territory. If He doesnâ€™t exist, may I find the faith and strength to follow the truth wherever it leads.
[It's interesting that I still felt like Mormonism encouraged critical thinking and happiness. If I'm fair, I believe that some aspects (e.g. clean living, frugality) may help some of us lead a happier life. I no longer believe that everyone will be happier on that path.]