Guest Author, Hope Orr
Updated: Jan 13
My response to a Mother who was disappointed that her children are “leaving the church and making bad decisions.”
Hi, I’m one of those kids who left.
I didn’t leave because I wanted to make “bad” choices. I didn’t leave because I had sinned, was offended, wasn’t ready for light, truth, understanding, or even because of doctrine. My leaving the church was a sacred experience, where I was taught and guided by Heavenly Mother and Father to the path that was best for my faith expansion and growth. Nothing says “I don’t understand you” and “your experience is invalid” more than someone coming and bearing their testimony to me.
Nothing says “I don’t understand you” and “your experience is invalid” more than someone coming and bearing their testimony to me.To anyone who thinks that’s a good and effective way of “helping” your friends who have left the church, know that it isn’t and it will only distance you from them.
My advice for active members in the church who are seeing people leave is to not assume you know why someone is leaving.
I have been shamed and chastised by people for choosing things that I KNOW God has guided me to. Leaving the church was the hardest decision I have ever made, and trust me, if I could have just stayed in and been quiet, that would have been an easier option than doing what God had asked me to do. As a parent or friend of someone who leaves, the greatest most loving thing you can do (in my opinion) is seek to understand your child/friend with an open heart. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but help them feel understood and seen and heard. Help them be able to trust you and feel your love by listening to and understanding their pain.
The most healing thing my mom ever said to me after I left the church was “Hope, I like you just the way you are.” That’s all anyone ever wants to hear from their parent.
I’m far more willing to be open about my experience and life when others choose to approach my life decisions with love and non-judgement, rather than deciding whether or not my choices are good or bad or approved by the church/God. Leaving the church is not the easy choice. You are stepping away from your tribe and the things you hold most dear. You are opening yourself to criticism and shaming from people in the church who think it’s their job to tell you what good and bad choices you should or should not make.
You are vulnerable to degrading people who think they know better; that you just haven’t seen the light. You are no longer part of the perfect fairytale story you always wanted and worked toward… trust me, it would be much easier to stay in that fairytale story. But my parents taught me to seek revelation for myself. They taught me to seek after truth. They taught me to be a woman of integrity and to live in alignment with what I feel is good and true and right. And because they have taught me those beautiful principles, this is the path I have been guided to. And I will continue to teach my children those same guiding principles and trust that they will choose what is best for them and their life. Even though most people will probably look from the outside and think that my little family and I are making “bad” decisions, we will continue to follow the path that we feel is good and true and right for our family.