This is 16 year old Kara on Trek. A Mormon Trek is a sort of rite of passage for Mormon teenagers. It is a week of dressing in pioneer garb, pushing and pulling handcarts and walking on the actual trail that our pioneer ancestors walked on. I want to wrap this teenager up and give her a big huge hug. I love her awkward and funny self. (I also want to give her a glass of ice water, this is also when she almost passed out from being too hot.)
This Kara knew everything about God and heaven and had ALL the answers. At 16 years old! Isn't that amazing? She knew her purpose! (But sometimes cringed at it.) She knew where she came from! (But had so many questions she was afraid to ask.) She knew where she was supposed to end up! (But again, so many questions and multiple heartbreaks about the exclusivity and other problems with what was our heaven.) Which is why it was such a painful shock when my faith-filled world crumbled from under me 20 years later. When I say crumbled, I mean it burned. So many things I thought were true suddenly weren't anymore. It was hard and painful and worst of all, I felt so alone.
But from the ashes of that fire, there were a few things left standing from my years of being a practicing Mormon. When things cooled and I was able to sift through the ashes, here is what was left:
Prayer and communicating with God. I knew I still had that power and privilege. I'm thankful for this one. I don't know if anything else would've survived if this this core belief did not remain in tact.
Faith. But a different kind of faith. My Mormon faith was guised as "certainty." But if you are so certain about something, how is there even room for faith? So a new and different kind of faith rose from the ashes. It was a kind of faith that drew me closer to the Divine and opened my heart to a bigger kind of love.
Personal revelation. This is a big deal for Mormons. You hear a lot about experiencing personal revelation. Except when the personal revelation is different than the standard doctrine, it becomes a problem. This was a big hurdle for me to overcome. There was a lot of fear wrapped up in this core truth. Because the same quiet whispering, warm feeling that I was told my entire life was personal revelation from God, that I had several times as a true and believing Mormon, was also the same whispering and warm feeling I had in my heart that told me it was time to go.
So I walked away, but also will never be able to. Those Mormon ancestors keep calling me from the grave. My roots are deep. Being a Mormon is embedded in my DNA. And I am okay with that. Right now, I am exactly where I need to be. There is no fear in my heart, only peace. I'm grateful for where I've been and my heart is wide open for what is next.
I hope to always be a safe place for doubters, the curious, the lost, the hurt and the broken. Whatever your journey or current status with God, religion and faith. I want to affirm your worth. I want to be witness to your divinity. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of guidance. You are worthy.