Navigating A Mormon Faith Crisis
Parting with the church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) can be equal parts transformative and disorienting. How do you find the path forward when you are in the middle of a faith crisis? How can you cope when you leave a culture that provides you with certainty, community and a direction for your life? Do you leave every part of your LDS identity and LDS culture behind or keep what fits? And what does this mean for your relationships that were once grounded in shared beliefs, lifestyle and faith?
Unique Challenges During An LDS Faith Crisis
Following a change in belief, faith or practice many find it can be difficult to have relationships with friends and family that now fear for your soul and salvation. Talking about your new lifestyle can feel impossible or come at great cost. Bonding and socializing may suddenly feel challenging and shallow. Some may have the experience that their worth was once measured by activities, committees, tithing, marriage or a growing family feelings. Without these measures, feelings of shame, guilt and deep personal doubt can set in.
Additionally, your LDS faith crisis might come with additional changes in your life. For example, you may fear that questioning or leaving the faith will end in a divorce or having to move out of your home. How will you explain your changing faith and participation to your children? Perhaps your faith crisis was coupled with a different understanding of your sexuality or gender expression. Know that while you are not alone in this, you are having an experience that is unique to you. This transition can be accompanied by feelings of depression or anxiety. Take the time to be honest with yourself and fearless in an assessment of your hopes, fears, doubts and certainties.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked.
Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
“I’ve Been Struggling For So Long With My Mormon Faith Crisis.”
A change of faith and identity can take more than weeks, months… even years as the layers of your upbringing unfold. Although there are certainly exceptions, it’s likely that your faith did not change overnight. For many of our clients, they can look back and realize that it was years ago that they had their first doubt. They can see how their “shelf” slowly accumulated unanswered questions over time. Just because you are clear that you no longer want to participate fully in your faith does not meet you’ll suddenly have all the answers and 100% clarity about what is next. This is especially true if you experienced spiritual abuse or religious trauma during your lifetime.
Whether you have left the church publicly or if you have only admitted this in intimate moments with your own heart, know that your journey matters. There is no one path forward. And you deserve unconditional support. You can have a safe place to plant your feet as you ground deeply into your unquestionable worth. You have a right to set boundaries that protect your heart, mind and body in this unique journey of belief.
Relying on a neutral friend or family member that you can trust is also a great outlet. According to a Forbes.com article “7 Ways To Support A Depressed Friend” someone who won’t minimize your feelings can help.
Navigating A Mormon Faith Crisis With Therapy
Counseling during an LDS personal faith crisis (and many other lifestyle transitions) can help. Quality mental health counseling is based on the belief that all individuals are worthy and valuable regardless of their identity or faith. The Guided Wellness team of therapists understands that faith is a personal, intimate experience which varies from person to person regardless of their religion (or lack thereof). We are located in St. George, Utah and provide in-person and telemedicine sessions.
Let us be totally clear about this: Counseling is not meant to lead you away from nor towards any faith or religion but to support you where you are and where you hope to go with respect and honor for your individual path.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy,
care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
Jean Shinoda Bolen
Having a safe, confidential environment to explore your questions can help immensely. Why? Well, many of us do not allow ourselves to explore certain questions (and their answers) out of guilt or shame. To admit we are having doubt about major life issues can inspire feelings of vulnerability and isolation. Some of us grew up in environments where doubt, questions or “challenging authority” were met with criticism and punishment. Counseling at Guided Wellness is the opposite of this – we intentionally create an experience to lighten the shame and fear you may have picked up along the way.
This is not a straightforward matter. Along the way you’ll feel a variety of things: certainty, confusion, doubt, clarity, strength, weakness, shame and confidence. Allow yourself the care and compassion you deserve. Investing in your inherent value is critically important during this time. You may need to put additional effort into setting boundaries and having relationships that honor your unique pace as you come to terms with where you stand with your faith (or no faith). We see you. We honor you. We welcome you wherever and however you are.