I love my dad. He loves me. He is a wonderful father. He is a great husband to my sweet mom. He is always on my side. He is emotional; the kind of emotional that produces tears as a result of hearty laughter, pure joy, or bitter despair. He is intelligent. He is highly esteemed in his professional life and he currently serves our community courageously and passionately. I would not want to be anyone else’s daughter.
No one believed the gospel more than my dad did 30-plus years ago when he served a mission for the LDS church. He was a faithful member through and through and did all he could to ensure a good standing with the Big Guy Upstairs. He married my mom (they were high school sweethearts) in the temple and went to school, a lot of school. Over the course of his education, he started having small traces of doubt and began questioning many aspects of the church, its history, and some of its leaders. As he and my mom brought children into the world, he thought it best to put those doubts and questions aside, continue to serve faithfully in the church, and take his family to worship together every Sunday. Being a child who grew up with loving, devoted parents who smoked, drank responsibly, and did not attend church, he knew what it was like to be an outsider here in Deseret and wanted to make sure his children did not experience some of the painful instances he did as a child. As the years went on, however, his problems with multiple aspects of the church continued to weigh heavily on his heart.
I was a freshman in college when I learned over lunch with my mom one day that “Dad doesn’t really believe in all this anymore.” It shocked me. I thought everyone believed this stuff. All I hear Sunday after Sunday is “The church is true! The church is true!” Small children who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about say it, moms with 9 kids say it, teenagers say it, missionaries say it, the bishop says it, the prophet says it, my hell….if everyone is saying “The church is true!” than how can my dad, who is so brilliant, say it is not?
Well to make a LOOOOOONNNG story short, many events have taken place since I first learned my dad didn’t “buy it all” (stay tuned for those stories) that led him to permanently “retire” from the church. While he is still considered a member in good standing, he has decided that in order for him to be happy, he cannot pretend anymore. My dad has nothing to do with the church these days. I think he enjoys the new freedom of worshipping how he pleases and I know for certain that he is in a better place than he was all those years ago.
While I know without a doubt that my dad has had an effect on me regarding the church, I refuse to place blame on him or avoid taking responsibility for the feelings I feel and the thoughts I think. While it can be frustrating being a black sheep among thousands of white ones, I am actually proud of the perspective I have and I am most definitely proud of my dad.