In an effort to show just how similar Mormon Fundamentalists are to, well, Mormons- I will be starting a series on this blog, which I will update now and again. Each time, I will take a different word or theme and ask individuals from different faith traditions within the Restoration to discuss how they experienced or would interpret the concept.
I will likely try to let them speak for themselves and in their own words. The rules are- I give them the theme or word and let them write whatever they feel inspired to share. Names are used with permission and next to their name, you will see what Mormon group they most closely identify with.
Today’s topic? Fear. How do individuals from different Mormon groups experience fear? Read below and feel free to add your own stories in the comments, along with your Mormon group affiliation:
Brenda Nicholson, FLDS (former):
“’I’m not good enough. I’m not ready.”
Those two short sentences define my self-worth. Perfection was drilled into me by those I trusted most. I was “weighed in the balance and found wanting.” I heard it a million times in various ways. I have come to the sobering realization that fear has been the underlying theme of my life. Whether it was the fear that gripped my little girl heart as I stood in the dark kitchen, watching lightning bolts streak across the sky – wide-eyed with awe of the power of nature, yet terrified that this was “the beginning of the end.” Or my fear of being told to marry someone who wouldn’t love me, which quickly changed to fearing what my life would look like when my husband was given more wives. Hoping and praying he would still love me. But those weren’t the things that caused my worst fear. My worst fear came the day I was told that I wasn’t considered worthy to raise my own children. My worst fear was that I wouldn’t get free with them all, or that someone would track us down and drag us back if we left. Fear that transformed itself into previously unthinkable action. It was life-altering fear, the kind that refuses to be shoved down inside and ignored. My other fears were only for myself, but this fear was for the health and safety of my children. Before this my fear of losing my family, friends, community – my reputation – had kept me silent and complicit.”
Kalani Tonga, LDS:
I was scared for about 5 years straight.
Every day I feared that, when I died, I would be eternally damned for choosing to marry a man I knew was guilty of a “nearly unpardonable” sin. I feared that his agency determined my fate. I feared that in the eternities our family unit would be void, that we and our children would be set adrift like leaves falling into a swiftly moving river, having no anchor and belonging nowhere. I feared that I had to choose between my marriage and my salvation, and that because I chose to honor my earthly marriage covenants, I would never reach the highest degree of celestial glory. At the time, I was a perfectionist and an extremely devout Mormon, and this soul-crushing weight wore me down day after day after day. I was terrified that because of someone else’s actions, I would be forever doomed to inherit a kingdom lower than that which I had been striving for my entire life. Being a Mormon in an imperfect marriage is a hopeless, helpless, incredibly scary thing. I lived in fear of dying before I could convince my husband to repent.
Emily Tucker, Latter Day Church of Christ, Kingston group (former):
When I was 19 I met who I thought was the love of my life.
We were together for a few years and had my son. When I met him I had been out of The Order for about 8 years. I still had the mindset that I needed to stay with the man I gave my virginity to and had children with. At first, things were great and I thought I had a great future. We got pregnant and my ex got back into drugs and became abusive. He would come home the next morning, if he came home at all. I had drug dealers come to my house, and complete strangers came to sleep over to keep my ex company. I tried so hard to keep this relationship together because I thought from the way I grew up, that’s what I had to do. I didn’t want to end up with two “baby daddies” or seem promiscuous because I left him. My upbringing completely skewed my logic, even after being out for almost a decade. I finally left him when my son was about 6 months old. He had been abusive to me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There were nights I wasn’t sure how far he was going to go. He tried to kick me out of the house when it was snowing and I didn’t have shoes on. Leaving him made me so much stronger and made me realize how much I can do.