This article was originally posted on Whatsoever Is Good.
As someone who made the decision to leave the LDS church just a few months ago, I’ve become very aware of the divide between Mormons and exMormons. It’s understandable—Mormons feel that exMormons are abandoning truth in the name of something worse, and exMormons can be bitter because they feel deceived by the church, and are even sometimes met with unkindness from well-intentioned members.
I don’t think there needs to be such an unpleasant divide. Think about it—exMormons understand Mormonism better than any other group of people in the world. They’ve lived it, they understand why Mormons are a peculiar people, and in my case, I understand why Mormons are often so dang wonderful.
So don’t fear, you card-carrying jello lovers. I’m not about to bust out any unpleasant church history or tell you why I decided to leave the church. I want to tell you why I will never regret the six years I spent as a true believing, married-in-the-temple, scriptures-every-day Mormon.
As all of us who have been in various wards in our life know, not every Mormon is the same. Some are great, some are not. But typically, Mormons want to serve others. And, if they’re a REALLY Christ-like member, they want to serve others even when it doesn’t involve so much as a hint of a missionary opportunity. This focus on helping lift up the hands that hang down has made me a better person for life.
I remember the day I realized I didn’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet anymore. I ran into a homeless man outside Walmart. For a split second, I wondered if I’d bother stopping now that there might not be any “heavenly reward” for doing so. That thought was quickly crushed by my overwhelming desire to help this man. I rolled down my window as I stopped, and asked him if he wanted me to get him something to eat. He responded that he didn’t. I asked if there was anything at all I could do for him, and he told me his shoes had holes in them, and they were letting water in. His feet were wet, he said. It wasn’t very hard for me to forgo a crate of Diet Coke and a pack of bacon to buy him some shoes, so I did that. He was so delighted that someone cared enough about him to buy him new shoes that we ended up chatting for about 15 minutes—WAY longer than my average ability to talk to strangers! I knew I wouldn’t have reached out to that man six years ago. I drove away realizing that while I may not be Mormon anymore, I’d been changed for the better by my experiences as one.