PAT FERGUSON'S PERSONAL STORY
One of the problems of searching for something for a long time is that to those in close proximity the searcher can be viewed as one who will try anything or look to anything. Sometimes the searcher is viewed by others as unstable.
I suppose I could be viewed that way by my family and friends. I WAS looking, and in that looking I discarded many things that I tried and then found weren’t the truth. There was a piece missing. I knew it and could not deny it. I wanted to find that missing piece to the puzzle I had come to know as life and religion. I studied hard, I prayed, contemplated, played “sacred” music, did relaxation techniques, and tried more strictly to live what I thought was the gospel of Christ. The more I tried, the more different modalities I looked at, the more unhappy I seemed to become.
This search was done trying to balance a semblance of order within the confines that the LDS Church would allow. I spent hours counseling with bishops, stake presidents, institute teachers and friends. My happiness seemed to hinge on someone else. My family needed to follow me into this perfect family scenario that I had somehow envisioned in the LDS philosophy. I studied the Book of Mormon and couldn’t find that part about “Families are Forever”, but I dismissed the holes as problems with leaders/church and not as problems with the gospel. My children dismissed my yearning for them to come to church and get happy as an, “Oh, Mom.” They could see that church didn’t really bring me happiness, but they teased me and let me wallow in the church driven searching-forperfection that never comes. It is like constantly going one more mile and then just two more and never reaching any destination, but feeling a constant gut wrenching known to many as the Mormon psyche. Of my four grown children, only one was a “returned missionary.” I felt that I was a failure as a mother in Zion. I wept many times at my perceived failures and tried to reconcile what I had been given when compared with the mothers who had seen every one of their children “sealed” in the temple. I love my children and I couldn’t see things any differently for them, but the constant images in my head of how things should be were like a voice in my head screaming “failure”.
Then in October of 2005, I was led by two different friends who were also “searching” to the http://www.thesealedportion.com/ site. Actually, one sent me to Sealed Portion site which made no sense to me at all and when the second led me to http://www.thesealedportion.com/, I was immediately drawn in. Happily when I went to that site and began reading, things just fell into place. Questions I had about why the church leadership wasn’t acting as representatives of Christ is because they weren’t. They were acting on their own vain imaginations. I had already figured out that Gordon B. Hinckley wasn’t truly a prophet, and knew that my time before I needed to get a new temple recommend was getting short. You see, I was still trying to fit what I wanted with what I knew and still tried to fit into that mold of a “faithful” LDS woman. I needed to find some answers before I had to renew my recommend the following May. I knew I couldn’t answer the question about President Hinckley being a prophet in good conscience and I didn’t know how to reconcile not carrying a temple recommend either. I was really in a pickle. I had met several women during this time that had just walked away from the church and I wondered silently if I ever could. While my husband was bishop, I found myself teasing him with, “Can’t we just move away and become inactive.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could walk away right there among all those that had come to know him as “Bishop.”
I started reading TSP and couldn’t wait to return to more reading, I read and read until I had finished that book. I didn’t want to sound like someone talking in fast and testimony meeting, but definitely something within me had started to change. My husband, Ron started reading the TSP also. (You can read his story in a separate post.) I was so relieved when he decided to stop going to church and spend the time on Sundays reading TSP. I was prepared to go to Church with him if that’s what he wanted, but was so relieved when he didn’t want to go either. I can’t even describe the freedom I felt if we would ever drive by the church when it was in session. I always did a loud “Wahoo” that I wasn’t confined inside and could be outside enjoying the sunshine. We quit going to the temple, to church and soon we both asked to have our memberships removed from the rolls of the church. The freedom that just doing that was like shackles falling away from my heart, my lungs, and my ankles. I sold or gave away more than three bookcases of church doctrine books and felt even freer. I began to really listen to my own voice, I began experimenting with living the gospel. You know that part about doing unto others—the real heart of the gospel.
I’ve found that happiness doesn’t depend on what others do, but what I do unto others. It hasn’t been a perfect transition if one wants a prescription, but it has been an enjoyable one. I’ve laughed more, felt more at peace than I can ever remember, and just enjoyed more days than not. The heaviness I used to feel somewhere inside me—that gnawing that never seems to go away, just left and a sweet peace took its place. If ever I feel that gnawing come back, I know I’m off track and make the corrections I need to and again feel that comfort and peace I’d been looking for for so many years. An interesting side note is that both those who showed me the way to The Sealed Portion, have not yet embraced it and are still “searching”.
The following sums up what I’ve learned. It still rings true to me, I know there are stumbling blocks in TSP for those who are looking for them, but I haven’t felt the desire to go there to prove or disprove anything. I found what I was looking for and I feel the peace that I was wanting.
I needn’t add any more.