If you're able to walk away from the LDS Church with the support of family and friends, count yourself among the lucky ones. Most individuals leaving the Church get pushback of some kind from Mormon relatives and acquaintances. While you can expect resistance, negative reactions, heated arguments, awkward conversations, and strained relationships, what should you do if things turn toxic? How do you set boundaries to protect yourself and your family?
Leaving Mormonism doesn't have to mean losing faith. It isn't necessary to throw Baby Jesus out with the Mormon bathwater. Coming to grips with whether or not God is real and relevant is a challenge facing ex-Mormons. They exit a false paradigm and consequently are fearful of being deceived again. It seems less painful to choose unbelief rather than take the chance of being hurt by religion again. But what if God (not the god of Mormonism; but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) really exists and you could have a joyful, authentic relationship with him? And what if the evidence isn't based on subjective feelings?
In the concluding chapter to "Mormonism, the Matrix, and Me," Tracy explains what it's like for Mormons who find out the foundation they've built their lives upon is shifting sand, and offers a heart-felt apology to LDS friends and loved ones who were hurt by her insensitive words and actions when she left the Church. She dispels rumors about why she left Mormonism, and details what happened to her marriage, family, and spiritual walk.
Mormonism, the Matrix, and Me by Tracy Tennant is available in paperback and eBook formats online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.
Tracy and four of her sons take a five-week long cross-country trip, staying at the homes of ex-Mormons along the way. Scott and the rest of the kids rendezvous with them in Utah for the Crookston family reunion. By the end of their extraordinary adventure, three of Tracy's teenagers reject Mormonism. Of her remaining LDS adult sons, one leaves on a mission for the Church and the other comes to faith in the Biblical Jesus while in rehab. Yet, with all the miracles taking place, Tracy and Scott take a surprising step.
LDS relatives and friends argue that Tracy left the Church for attention, or because the standards were too hard to keep, or because she never had a testimony to begin with. Her visiting teachers bombard her with pro-Mormon material and Tracy shares her written Exit Story (reasons for leaving the Church) with them in response. After being "prompted by the Spirit," Bishop Lytle decides to convene a disciplinary court on Tracy for charges of apostasy. After being threatened with a lawsuit, the Bishop is prompted by the Spirit to cancel the proceedings.
Tracy and Scott begin a weekly study with their home-teacher, an attorney, to investigate the problems of Mormonism and, if possible, substantiate its truth claims. They are sadly disappointed at Brother Ellis' lackluster efforts to research and find the truth. The home-teacher acts more like a defense attorney for the Church than a bulldog detective determined to get to the bottom of things. Scott asks to be released from all his church callings.
Weekly Family Home Evenings and daily family devotions become a battleground over theology. Every attempt Tracy makes at teaching Biblical truth is undermined by Scott as he continues to defend Mormonism, even though he doesn't believe it. Tracy and the kids look for a new church to attend. Some of their misconceptions about Christianity are cleared up.
Tracy teaches her last Relief Society lesson on the topic Beware of False Prophets. The Relief Society sisters and 1st counselor in the Bishopric love the lesson, although the implication of its message wouldn't be seen until the following week when Tracy stops attending the ward. With confidence and determination, she hands the Bishop her church resignation letter. He asks her to hold off a little while longer for the sake of their friendship.
"Your mom will never let you get baptized, cuz she's an apostate now!" Tracy overheard her 10-year-old nephew warn her soon-to-be eight-year-old son. She was quickly becoming "the black sheep of the family." LDS relatives refused to even entertain the possibility that the Church might not be true. Tracy and Scott had been hoping that the trip to Utah would be instrumental in supporting the claims of Mormonism; instead, it only confirmed their doubts. To know one way or the other, for once and for all was a relief, although it was coupled with sorrow.
Determined to know the truth, Tracy and Scott embark on an intense fact-finding mission. Desperate to find evidence to support Mormonism, their travels take them to Utah, where they meet with an LDS Institute Director, active LDS relatives, and the notorious Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and Dennis and Rauni Higley. What they discover shakes them up even more.
The night the Oprah Show airs, Tracy gets a surprise phone call from Becky, "The Other Woman" in the love triangle of 20 years before. She's told the startling news that Becky left the LDS Church just a few months before and had become a Born-Again Christian. Tracy is sure this is her chance to bring Becky back into Mormonism.
With tattered tee-shirt, threadbare jeans, and a crumb-laden bosom resembling a snack tray, Tracy (now the ward's new Relief Society president) is escorted to Harpo Studios in Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show for a Frumpy Clothes Makeover. Does Heavenly Father hear and answer prayers over pet fish? Maybe the answers are different than we expect.
Have you ever taught a lesson that went so badly it caused a class member to run screaming from the room? Some Relief Society lessons are like that. At least this one was. The way Tracy handled it propelled her to a new level of fame and respect within the ward.
It seemed like some people had a direct connection on the Holy Ghost Hotline and were on a first-name basis with the Godhead. Many of her LDS friends claimed having visions, dreams, and daily promptings of the Spirit. Wondering what was wrong with her, never seeing "dead people" in the temple (sleeping people perhaps, but not dead ones), Tracy begins to practice hearing the "still, small voice" with some unintended consequences.
Historic interviews with LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes and Time Magazine have members of the Church excited, anticipating what the prophet will tell the world! Tracy is troubled by some statements that seem less than forthright. Her brother-in-law tells her not to worry; that the Church is true even if some of its leaders aren't real "prophets, seers, and revelators." He explains that one day soon the Lord would come to "clean house" and set His church in order.
Did the people across the street have something against large families or something against Mormons? Tracy couldn't wait to move out of the neighborhood, away from those "born-again Christians." Her neighbors weren't the only ones who didn't like Mormons. When Walter Martin discussd Mormonism on his radio program, "The Bible Answer Man," he got the facts right, but always put them in the worst possible light. One day Mormons would be vindicated and the whole world would see that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth! The immediate problem was that Scott wasn't so sure about that anymore after reading the book, "By His Own Hands Upon Papyrus."
Close Encounters of the Teenage Kind. Tracy faces challenges as she takes three of her kids to have their wisdom teeth removed. Each one of them manifests a variety of side effects from the anesthesia; everything from pole dancing to macho-man calisthenics to incessant talking. Do moms really sign up for this?
Tracy and her two sons are chased by hillbillies across a parking lot and down a back-street. After that harrowing event, life seems to settle back down when a disturbing and heartbreaking situation develops. Tracy learns about being judgmental; what goes around, comes around.
Ahhh, the joys of motherhood! Nothing like children who put things up their noses (keys, beads, fingers) or roll along the church pew at breakneck speeds. Join Tracy in her pursuit of parenting perfection.
Tracy is introduced to popular Christian music and begins incorporating it when asked to sing special musical numbers in Sacrament Meeting and other Church events. She and Scott become well-known for their talents, despite being so bad at one time that they were given a 5-dollar tip to stop singing.
Is the United States Constitution divinely inspired and to be considered Scripture? Joseph Smith and other LDS leaders have prophesied that the Constitution would "hang by a thread" and the Mormon people would rescue it from destruction. Who will survive the coming calamities? Will the only safety to be found be in Jackson County, Missouri with the LDS Church?
Three hitch-hikers disappear from the back seat of your car after warning you that the End of the World is near! Are you ready to walk to Jackson County, Missouri to escape the coming calamities? Never fear when food-storage is here! Chapter 7.
Having rambunctious children doesn't exactly endear a family to neighbors! Tracy learns that actions lead our emotions, and if you "do right" you'll "feel right" in relationships.
With no working car, Tracy goes to the hospital on a motorcyle to deliver her third baby. She meets two special women in the ward who later become her best friends. A high-profile ward member loudly chastises Tracy in front of the whole congregation during the passing of the Sacrament. Tracy leaves in tears, vowing never to return. Will she become an inactive member or come back?
Tracy's LDS Institute teacher tells her that polygamy will be a common practice among church members during the Millennium; an idea she is not crazy about but will deal with when the time comes. She prepares for her temple endowment and sealing to her husband.