I always liked apples.From a very ear­ly time, every­one in our ward knew I was going to hell.

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 …

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Wes Trexler

I am a bit jeal­ous of your abil­i­ty at such a young age to fig­ure it all out, @choppedliver.

It is real­ly quite sad how your vis­i­ble, vocal jests were treat­ed as greater sins than all the rest, includ­ing the “sin next to mur­der.”

I sup­pose it all ties back to the sin worse than mur­der, apos­ta­sy. There is such a strong aver­sion to any­thing not toe­ing the “com­pa­ny” line, that pri­or­i­ties end up out of whack.

Thanks for shar­ing!