Not everyone’s story looks the same as mine, but from hearing other stories I find there are similarities.
1. (First shock) At age 12 I heard from my neighbor that in church history old Mormon men took several very young virgins as wives. (What??? That couldn’t be true! I must dismiss that as a lie. )
2. As a true believing adult I knew about polygamy, but I had dismissed it as the same thing that occurred in Biblical times. I was called to teach Gospel Doctrine class (Doctrine and Covenants) and discovered that a lot of Joseph Smith’s “prophesies” never came true. This was also about the time I learned about the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Still I carried on.
3. I picked up a book about Mormon history on a whim from a book store – I can’t remember the title now – it might have been Mormon America. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t written by a Mormon author until I got home with it. I felt it was time to finally learn the reality about polygamy which I had put on my back burner since I was 12. I discovered several shocking things and went to the Internet to try to find any evidence that the things I had read were not true. Instead, I found they were true, but the church had dismissed/minimized or ignored them or given excuses for them. However, due to my strong emotional experiences with prayer and in church I concluded that even if the church wasn’t true, it was still acceptable/pleasing to God as one of many paths.
3. Just in case; however, I visited several other Christian churches in my area and joined MOPS (a christian group for moms) and a non-denominational Bible study. I decided that I didn’t like any of the other Christian church Sunday services, so I went back to the LDS church, but stayed with MOPS and the Bible study. I also purchased a lot of Christian music (such as Newsboys, WOW Christian hits, etc.)
4. Unlike before when I was beyond stalwart in the LDS church, I began slacking in my LDS church assignments and attendance (I would talk to friends in the hall throughout class, etc.). Outside of church, I would bring up controversial subjects at times just to see people’s responses. I loved bringing up polygamy during visiting teaching visits.
5. Church became increasingly less tolerable. This partly coincided with my husband being called to the Bishopric. He became more and more self-righteous as he took a break from his p*rnography habit to serve as 2nd counselor. I started reading more books about Church history by reputable historians (Mormon and non-Mormon) and became increasingly convinced that the Mormon church was not true.
6. As I read/watched the news I found myself becoming more and more liberal in my views which separated me more from church ideals. I couldn’t relate to my church friends anymore and I started drifting away from those friendships.
7. Surprisingly it was the anti-Mormon bigotry that started to repel me from the Christian groups I had been attending. This grew to its highest state of disgusting during the primary election between Romney and Huckabee. The bigotry that the Christian churches demonstrated against Mormons led me away from the Christian church groups permanently. For me it was OK for Mormons to criticize Mormonism, but not for those who had never been Mormon – never read the Book of Mormon or attended any of their meetings. There is a lot of goodness and good people in the LDS church. It certainly has its tainted history and its current problems, but most people in the church are simply trying to be good people. I started attending church at the Universalist Unitarian church and found I could attend without feeling any of the angst I felt at the LDS church or among the Christian groups. I still attend LDS sacrament meeting with my family, but not the other meetings.
8. I found it difficult to make good friends with people who were not or never were Mormon and those who were orthodox Mormon. I discovered that the people I needed to meet were former Mormons or Mormons who were questioning their beliefs. John Dehlin and Mormon Stories has helped me with that. I also have some good friends in my Unitarian meditation group.
9. I still pray in the mostly Mormon way – although I use God instead of Father (God in Heaven). I have educated myself more about the Historical Jesus vs. the one I was taught in LDS Sunday school. Today I believe in symbols and metaphors in regards to religion and I believe in the goodness of humankind. That is where I stand today.