Written By Kerry Fuller
My identity while in the church was whatever the church, the brethren, or the holy ghost told me it should be. I tried my best to follow the rules. I was told that would lead me to happiness.
While I was serving a mission my father passed away. I was told, "The brethren expect you to stay." I stayed. I was told the sacrifice would bring me blessings.
I was a full tithe payer as an adult despite seeing the trauma it caused my low income family as a child. I paid because it was a way to ensure the happiness of my family.
I wanted my children to find true happiness in the gospel. I taught them to obey and sent them to bishops interviews to ensure they were on the right path.
Many things burdened my "shelf". The final straw to break it was reading the gospel topic essay of polygamy and looking at in critically. I realized I did not like what Joseph was. That little individual thought led me to not agreeing with mandated tithing, bishops asking children about sexuality,and wondering if what happened to me on my mission might not have been ok.
Once I started thinking for myself, my shelf broke and dissolved into something I don't even recognize anymore.
I was talking with my sister about my change of faith. She had left the church as a young adult two decades earlier. She wondered why she had felt the guidance of the Holy Ghost all these years while she was navigating life. I had an epiphany, it wasn't the Holy Ghost, it was her Holy Self. She was good enough and smart enough to make her own decisions.
My identity now is one of power and ownership and sense of self. I guide my decisions and make my values. I am good because I am a good person. I think most human beings are good and they can find their way without strict rules and guilt. Since finding my holy self, I have experienced more authentic happiness and love than I ever did in religion.