I tried to live up to the teachings of the church, but people could just look at me and see I was a born apostate. It must have been my sense of humor. For years I thought “sacrilegious” meant “hilarious.” When someone said I was being sacrilegious I’d say, “Thank you!”
But aside from my outbursts of sacrilegious hilarity, I toed the line. My sins were miniscule. I would never dream of partaking in strong drink, or smoking, or even kissing a boy. None of that mattered. My big, flapping, hilarious mouth was paving my path toward hell.
I actually understood all this. Kids told me their parents didn’t want them talking to me because I was a bad influence, and I knew that had to be true because they’d made clear how evil they thought I was. I figured they were probably right.
Then, right around my 16th birthday, I learned that I was the ONLY Mormon kid in town who was not running amok. Unlike my pious peers, I was not drinking, or thieving, or smoking pot, or having sex. I was just making Joseph Smith jokes — and I was the one who was a bad influence.
The church’s teachings always sounded a little overly magical to me, but I assumed that what they were telling me was the pretty story they tell kids — like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. I always figured that I’d find out what they really believed when I was older. By the time I was 16 and discovering I was the only virgin in my seminary class, I was done waiting to hear the real gospel-for-adults. I was pretty shocked to consider that they were telling us what they really believed all along. It was a little too hocus-pocus for my rational mind, even when I was ten. By the age of 16 I was beginning to wake up and smell the horse crap.
Around the same time, the Mormon kids began giving me grief because they knew I was friends with a black girl named Brenda, whom I had met in choir class. (This was before God said blacks were OK after all, so it was right for them to tease me about having a black friend.) It served as a final breaking point for me because I just couldn’t handle their knee-jerk racism; I made a point of cultivating Brenda’s friendship, which became a high point of my high school years. Now that I think about it, I should send them all a thank-you note.
Years later, a couple missionaries came by my house to personally invite me to a singles’ night at the local ward. I wasn’t home, so my husband greeted them and spontaneously blurted out that they had to stop mailing those Mormonic invitations because I was dead, DEAD, do you hear me? Your invites are pushing me over the edge because SHE’S DEAD! YOU HAVE TO STOP!
At that point, I stopped receiving invitations to Mormon singles’ nights, and I assume I became dead to the Mormon church. Unfortunately, somebody has probably baptized me posthumously.
You can take the church out of the girl …