Monday, February 7, 2011

My Standard

A little over a year ago I took a vacation to see my friend in the Pacific Northwest. While there, I took two small sips of wine, trying alcohol for the 1st time. One was cooking wine – and one was some expensive wine that my friend had been given as a gift. Both (to my inexperienced taste buds) were equally terrible, but that's not the point. After drinking those little sips I felt physically ill. I was sure that at any moment God was going to strike me down for the sinner that I was; however, nothing happened. – I was still afraid of alcohol though.

After returning from my vacation, I found this little coffee shop near the hospital I was working at and one day I decided to bring hot chocolate for all of the girls I worked with. While sitting there waiting for my order I glanced at the menu. I avoided looking at the coffee at all because having had hated the smell of coffee my whole life, but the Chai tea on the other hand… that might be something I could handle. I had had herbal tea before, but not black - and I resolved that the next time I picked up hot chocolate for the girls, I was going to get myself some Chai tea. Once I got to work, I very quickly did a Google search about "Why Mormons don't drink coffee," not only did I find out that Mormons drank coffee for quite a while after the WofW was introduced, but up until the mid 1900s there were many Mormon breweries in Utah. That's it, I was justified – and I soon became hooked on my Chai tea.

At this point in my religious journey, I had decided that I wasn't a Mormon and was leaning towards becoming an Evangelical so drinking Chai tea was now acceptable to me. About 2 months after my vacation, I had a short stint where I moved back in with my (now ex) husband and at one point he suggested we buy some beer for the fun of it and to just sit around watching TV, drinking some beer. I was immediately opposed to the idea because he had begun drinking once we separated to escape from the guilt, pain, or whatever it was from what he had done to our marriage. In 3 short weeks it was apparent that things were not going to work out – and in a last ditch effort to try and find some common ground, I bought a 6 pack of Bud Light with Lime, which I ended up drinking 2 bottles of by myself. When I moved out, I threw the beer away despite his insistence that I just leave it there for him if I wasn't going to drink it.

It wasn't until that summer when I went back to the Pacific Northwest that I drank alcohol again – and by this time I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. I went to an Irish Pub, had an Appletini (courtesy of JD from Scrubs…) and a Lemon Drop. I also had a sip of Hefferveisen, tried a rum and coke, and went wine tasting in the Applegate Valley. There was no going back now – and no lightening strikes either.

I don't drink a lot, probably about once a month or so – maybe a glass here or there when going out to dinner. I've probably been "drunk" 3 or 4 times, but only once to the point of throwing up… which is an experience I'll never repeat again. I have only ever had 1 hangover and recently haven't even been letting myself get to the point where I am drunk because I don't like feeling slightly nauseated all day the next day.

I have smoked pot once – and I smoke a cigarette from time to time with my boyfriend (less than a pack every… 4 months?). Neither one of us are "addicted."

So my point… I've noticed that when people leave Mormonism (and maybe other religions too) there are usually 3 assumptions that are made about us. The 1st one is that we've done something horrible and are no longer worthy to be members. The 2nd one would be that we have been deeply offended and must remember that "the people aren't perfect, but the church is." The last assumption is that we can no longer live up to the high standards of the LDS church, wanting to live a life of a drunkard, drug addict, porn addict, and be sexually promiscuous. The most popular and the one I get nailed with most because of my "alternative lifestyle" is the latter.

None of these are true about me. I left the church because it simply is not true.

I realize that I have nothing to prove to anybody but myself, but were someone to challenge this I'm sure that I could stop drinking alcohol and never smoke another cigarette. If I were to find myself out of my relationship with my boyfriend I could go back to not having premarital sex and I've never been promiscuous. I would have no problem living up to their so called standards.

You know my problem? My problem is that the LDS church doesn't meet my standard… and what standard could an awful apostate like me possibly have?

I refuse to keep pushing their lies to the back of my brain and ignoring them there. I refuse to treat people like they are less than me because of what they believe, whether that be another religion or simply another sexual orientation. I refuse to pretend to be something I'm not and to believe something that I could never possibly believe.

My standard is integrity.

… and I'd love for someone to prove that because of my (again with the quotes) "alternative lifestyle" I am now a bad person that lacks integrity.