I remember a key turning point in the way I viewed church attendance was when I was in high school, and my sister’s boyfriend asked me why I go to church. My reply was, “Because my parents make us go.” My sister later questioned that, asking if I would stay home if given the choice, and at that time my attitude toward it changed.
I decided that it was my choice and that I wanted to go to church. And that attitude carried on with me in college, where I would walk to church or get a ride when I moved three miles from campus, and then in basic training, where I was the only Mormon and I had to find a battle buddy willing to sit through a 2-hour religious service (it’s normally 3, but they didn’t have a Gospel Doctrine class).
When I got to my duty station, church attendance was difficult for the first few months, because I had to get a ride when I didn’t know anyone on base or at church, and as it was only six months after 9-11, getting on base without military affiliation was difficult. When I finally got a car of my own, I didn’t have that problem any longer and I was a regular church goer.
That lasted a couple years, and then I began my cycle of off and on church attendance. Sometimes because I slept through my alarm, others I was working. And then the times that I felt like I was sinning and they would somehow know, so I didn’t feel comfortable going. All the while my parents are asking about if I’m going to church, and they get the answer they’re hoping for less and less. The past few years I’ve only gone when visiting them.
Last year before I got married, they came out to visit to meet the man who I was marrying, and they asked me to go with them. For the first time, I declined. I could tell they weren’t happy about it, but they didn’t push the point, and for that I’m grateful, for I feel so much better without my church membership as I’ve quit lying to myself.
Without that, I feel I can finally start living, start experiencing what this life really has to offer rather than spend it in constant denial and feelings of inadequacy. Now is the best time to live, because it’s the only time you’ll get.