Some people feel so wounded or angered that retreating from LDS church
activity is healthier for them than staying. However, withdrawing from
the institutional church does not have to mean abandoning Mormon spirituality.
Preserving a Mormon spiritual identity "in exile" is challenging.
On the other hand, living outside the church offers greater freedom to
experiment with different ways to live the tradition. These
suggestions may help:
Mark your Mormon identity. Retain or adapt Mormon spiritual
practices that are meaningful to you—that nourish you and embody
your ongoing commitment to serve God and your fellow beings. You might,
for instance, continue to
- pray in the morning, at night, and over meals.
- study the LDS scriptures.
- keep a journal.
- observe the Word of Wisdom.
- wear the temple garment.
- regularly attend a "house of prayer," even if it is not
an LDS one (D&C 59:9-10).
- bless and partake of the sacrament in your home.
- keep the monthly fast and make an offering to an organization that
- donate ten percent of your income to charitable causes.
Innovate: Make the tradition your own. Asking the Spirit
for guidance, experiment with new ways to live out those features of Mormon
tradition that lend themselves to liberal spirituality. Listen for new
meanings in familiar stories. Think of new variations on LDS rituals.
Try out new ways to apply gospel principles.
Avoid drastic decisions about your membership. Your
membership might be taken from you through church discipline, of course.
But if you have the option of resigning your membership of your own free
will, take time to make the decision with patient discernment—perhaps
as much as a year. Resigning abruptly from the church, at a time of high
emotion, could create negative feelings that will make it harder for you
to maintain a continuing relationship to Mormon tradition. As in all things,
though, do what you feel the Spirit directs.
Build a supportive network. Pray to be led to people
who can support you, and whom you can support, in the practice of liberal
Mormon spirituality. You may have to look beyond your family for support,
and you will probably have to look beyond your ward—perhaps at organizations
or online. Your network might even be a textual community, composed of
authors, living or dead, whose approach to spirituality resonates with
you but whom you know only through their writings.
Stay close to the Spirit. When all else fails,
the Spirit is your constant companion. The Spirit will comfort and sustain
you when you feel lonely, angry, or disillusioned. Make your "spiritual
fitness" a top priority: make time for the practices that will keep
you close to God and help you grow spiritually. Doing this will be especially
important if you lack a strong support network or if you are subjected
to church discipline.