He Told Me He Was Afraid

I’m reeling. I thought I was done sharing my story of growing up Mormon. Now, I’m not so sure. Today, as a human library book at the Downtown Vancouver Public Library, one of my readers was—a Mormon. My “title” for this year was Polygamy and Me: Growing Up Mormon.

In three years of participating in this yearly three-weekend event, I’ve chatted individually with over one hundred people. When each reader sits down to talk to me I usually ask what they know about the religion. As the clean-cut, 25-year-old guy across from me announced that he was a member, I gulped. This was a first. Would our conversation be combative?

He told me he was afraid. Too afraid to talk to his family. I relaxed. He’d started to doubt what he had been taught by the church about it’s history and doctrine and wasn’t able to keep to their admonition not to question or read any information from non-Mormon sources. He told me above all, he wanted to learn to think for himself. I nodded encouragingly. He’d been taught Joseph Smith, the founder of the church only had one wife, and he now knew that wasn’t true. He’d heard vague, confusing references to the possibility of polygamy being practiced in the Mormon After Life and he now knew that wasn’t a rumor, but part of doctrine. I confirmed that everything he was discovering was knowledge that I’d grown up with as a given.

I suggested he read Jeremy Runnell’s letter and he said he’d found it on-line two weeks ago and was still in shock. I suggested he check out protectldschildren.org and he said he had just started. My last suggestion was that he check out Mormon Stories on Youtube with John Dehlin as a respectful source for interviews with members who’d left the church, and also members who’d chosen to stay.

I realize now I’ll never be done telling my story to anyone who would like to hear it.