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Dear Bishop,

I wrote earlier about the shame and guilt I felt growing up in Mormonism.  But there was a plus side to it too:  Repentance!  I don’t mean the actual process of repentance but the feeling that came afterward;  I’m talking about that light, clean and pure feeling that anything wrong I had done was forgotten and fixed.

I miss that.

Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer not feeling the horrible weight of guilt and shame in the first place. I believe it’s much healthier to feel a constant higher level of self worth than to be left jonesing for that repentance fix occasionally after you are adequately beaten down spiritually.

I now see repentance as a fix to a “problem” that religion itself causes.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle (confess, ask forgiveness, feel awesome, don’t do it again, yearn for a repentance fix, and then slip up and do it, etc…).  That’s the genius of the whole idea…that only if you are fortunate to get yourself out of the loop do you ever have any idea that it’s a cycle that feeds off itself. Quick fixes like that never solve the problem. And if it’s not really a problem in the first place, somehow the inner animal in us knows it and that keeps the cycle spinning.

But like a recovered heroine addict, I often pine for that post-confessional high.  So, I’m going to confess my evil sins right here and now to you, Bishop.  I’m going to leave out the petty Mormon sins I no longer recognize as evil such as drinking coffee, having a class of wine occasionally, wearing colorful underwear and stealing a lustful glance at a handsome man.  Those are all things I now enjoy although they would have  caused me great heartache as a Mormon.  No, these are my honest to goodness sins, the fruits of my evil and salacious lifestyle:

  1. I sometimes allow my children to drink more soda and candy than I normally would in the hours before they go back to their mother.
  2. I lie and deceive when I take business trips to Utah.  While attending business meetings and hosting trade-show booths there, I wear a wedding ring because it makes me appear more authoritative and trustworthy in that culture.
  3. I often drive over the speed limit
  4. I have more than once caught myself cussing with 4 letter words.  It’s usually done pretty unconvincingly, but still the intent is there.
  5. I have occasionally lied as to why I couldn’t answer the phone.
  6. When I’m riding my bike down a hill and don’t want to lose my momentum I run stop signs if I can see both ways well enough.
  7. When I had a boyfriend and I was shopping in a pretty redneck part of the state for my new car I told the salesperson we were cousins.
  8. I don’t miss my ex in-laws.  Not even in the slightest. And on the whole they’re not horrible people. I got along with them.  I’m glad they are good to my kids, but when it dawned on me years ago that they were nasty rednecks deep, deep down I stopped liking them – long before my divorce.
  9. I don’t recycle or bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store.  I could.  I don’t.
  10. Something about old ladies irritates the hell out of me sometimes.  I hate this about myself.

I’m sorry, Bishop, I don’t believe there’s anyone else I can tell this to.

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