This post is a part of “my story” which begins with “Finding Purpose”
The worst part of Michigan was the loneliness. We were too far away from family for frequent visits. My depression and anger caused me to retreat into myself, and my husband’s faith crisis kept me from talking to him about any of it.
Before Michigan, when my husband first told me about his doubts about the church, I was completely blindsided. It didn’t make any sense. He has always been a very righteous man doing everything he ought to do. I kept thinking there was just some misunderstanding, but questioning and probing him was frustrating for both of us. He became depressed and anxious and started going to counseling while still coming to church. Afraid to tell family and friends, he struggled to maintain a Mormon cultural identity.
In Michigan, his anger and bitterness towards the church became more pronounced. We fought more, about church things, and also about other stuff. Ironically, on Sundays he would usually get mad at me for dragging my feet because I wasn’t in the mood to go most of the time. I was not forcing him to go. One day he told me that he realized he fought with me more as Sunday grew closer because he didn’t want to go to church and I thought, hallelujah, then just stop going to church!
But getting rid of church didn’t help us connect more, it just became a taboo subject. His anger meant that when I tried to discuss my feelings of guilt or my bitterness towards God, he blamed it on the Church and its leaders. I felt my personal feelings were completely dismissed. In my opinion, my feelings, my faith have very little to do with the leadership of the Church. They’re wonderful men, and their lessons are helpful. But my faith is my own. My husband was not understanding me, and I could not understand him.
His faith crisis was also the end of a dream for me. Having grown up without easy access to Priesthood blessings, it was my greatest wish to have a husband that could give me a Priesthood blessing whenever I wanted one. I wanted my children to understand Priesthood by seeing it in their own home. I wanted a husband who would help me have family scripture study, prayer, and Family Home Evening. I wanted to have the kind of family others seemed to have in the Church but that I never did.
Similar to my failure to get a Ph.D., and my mother’s healing going to my step-father, I felt like everything I wanted was lost. My desires didn’t matter. No one was looking out for me. I was completely alone. I started to envision leaving everything behind. It seemed that since all of my former dreams were dead, and I had to start over, that I might as well start over completely, by myself.
Would anyone actually even care if I left? Perhaps because my biological father had left me, I knew the answer was “yes.” My kids would always need to know that I loved them. My husband also needed to know that I loved him—a faith crisis didn’t make him a bad person.
We often assume that differences hinder unity, but in fact, unity requires differences. A common goal and respect for the contributions of others are all that is really necessary. From there we can continue to carve away at the things that come between us. It may require difficult conversations to find that common goal, but we need one another to feel heard and understood. We need to understand.
These divisions—within ourselves, between us and god, and with each other—represent all the ways we struggle to find unity. Part of why I can never leave Michigan behind is that I still get mad at myself, I’m still infuriated by unfairness in the world, and I get frustrated when other people don’t see things my way. I’ve since noticed that lots of problems and trials, regardless of the circumstances, can be boiled down to a sense of division in at least one of these areas. That also means that seeking unity in these areas will bring healing and the power to solve problems and overcome challenges.