Millar served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to stepping away from the church. After he share this post on his Facebook, he was contacted by the LDS Church and asked to share his story in a video.
“I’ve learned over the first 32 years of my life that everyone experiences setbacks and makes mistakes,” Millar wrote in his post. “And it can be destructive to go through life pretending that’s not the case. I’ve also learned that a lot of heartache can be avoided if we will learn from others’ mistakes. With that in mind, I’d like to offer up some of my mistakes and what I’ve learned from them in hopes that it will help someone else avoid the pitfalls and pain I experienced.”
In his blog post, Millar shares 18 lessons he learned from his experience of leaving and then coming back to his Mormon faith.
“I’m not suggesting that I have all the answers or that I have experienced everything someone else has,” Millar wrote. “I’m a firm believer that everyone’s life/spiritual journey is unique and personal, and I’m in no place to tell you what you have or have not experienced. However, I CAN tell you what I have experienced and learned, and I hope it is of use to someone out there.”
Here are the first few:
Lesson #1: “Cynicism creates a numbness toward life.” I found this to be true. Just read the definition for cynicism, “An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. ”I mean, who wants to live a life like that?? I’ve noticed a pattern with those who have walked the same path I did in leaving my faith. Not all, but many seem to fit this description. I was there; I’ve felt this way. I know. “Cynicism begins with a wry assurance that everyone has an angle. Behind every silver lining is a cloud. The cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving, and hoping.”
Instead of assuming the worst in people or faiths, assume the best. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Honest skepticism is very different from cynicism. Finding out the truth and assuming the best are not mutually exclusive. Both can be done and sincere, honest questions can be asked and answered. Look for the good in all things in life and something magical will happen: you’re likely to find just that…good, happiness, joy and light.
Lesson #2: We are not alone. Once my spiritual foundation was gone, I no longer knew if God existed. I was starting back at square one. Were we simply fortunate enough to be here on this earth without any assistance from a higher power or Heavenly Father? I wasn’t sure. So I began evaluating my life and experiences I’d had. It reminds me of an experience a man, let’s call him Serge, shared with me during my church mission in Russia. He had grown up in the Soviet Union during a time when atheism was promoted and taught to everyone. Atheism was what he believed. At the time he was living in a small village in the countryside and worked as a blacksmith.
One day a man came to him and asked him to make a number of weapons, swords and knives. This man had very detailed specifications as to what metals he wanted used and how he wanted the weapons made. As Serge made these weapons, this man would sit in the corner of Serge’s shop and watch him. Serge recalled that there was this darkness or evil that seemed to emanate from the man and Serge could feel that this man was going to use these weapons to do evil. As he pondered on this thought, it dawned on him that there was a definite evil spirit or aura about this man that he could not deny. After more thought on the subject he resolved that if there was an evil spirit in the world, there must be a good or light spirit as well. This was the beginning of his faith in God.
I’d had similar experiences in my life. I could not deny that I had felt light and dark, good and evil in different people and in different circumstances. Evil did and does exist. I have felt and witnessed it. But so does light and good, I have witnessed and felt this first hand too! I also felt in my own life an inherent desire to do good and to be good. And more importantly I’d had experiences in my life I could not explain or deny, moments when I had felt God’s love for me. After some time I resolved that God did in fact exist, that we are not here by accident, but that we all have a Heavenly father who loves us and that we were created in His image. You are not alone. We are not alone. “…God created man in his own image…” –Genesis 1:27
Lesson #3: Instant gratification is counterfeit happiness. Whether from food, money, drugs, alcohol, sex or something else, it doesn’t last. There’s a time, purpose and place for all of these things. And used in the right context or time, each one of these things has its merit. But each one is also easily abused and often used out of the right context. In today’s world the temptation to do so is strong. Instant gratification feels good for the moment, but doesn’t stick around, only leaving you needing your next fix. True happiness comes from following the “Plan of Happiness” (go figure right?!) as laid out in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ which includes, among other things, loving and serving those around you, building relationships and aligning yourself with eternal life principles and laws that help you use the above mentioned things in the right time and place. “…Wickedness never was happiness.” –Alma 41:10
Read full post on Rich Millar’s blog.