Before we go any further, I will be discussing religion and I will say things that will upset most of my family and friends.
If you do not want to keep reading, I understand.
You don’t need to pray for me. I’m not worried about my soul. You might be. That’s something we’ll have to live with. This is the story of how I left the LDS faith and God.
A little more than three years ago, my younger brother, Ben and his best friend, Alex were seniors in high school. Until I graduated high school and moved away from home, Ben and I had never spent more than two weeks away. He was my best friend, my little/big brother and my biggest supporter.
Our whole lives we shared pretty much everything–rooms, friends, toys and family. Seriously, people thought we were twins until they saw me bossing Ben around.
It was a Saturday morning, much like any other my freshman year, I woke up at Amber’s house. I played with the kids and got ready to go to work later that afternoon. Ava called me around 10 a.m. I could hear instantly that something that was wrong. She told me Alex had died.
My reaction was so strong the world felt physically different. I sat on the bed wondering how the world could move forward without Alex in it. I called my mom.
“Mom,” I whispered. My throat was hoarse, my eyes watering. “Alex died.”
“Does Ben know?,” Mom asked. “You should call Ben.”
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully forgive my mother for asking me to make this call. I was shaking. I was crying. I could barely speak.
“Ben,” I said. “Alex died.”
I cried for hours. I cried so hard my niece and nephew tried to comfort me. I could barley explain to Amber what had happened. I cried so hard, my body hurt. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think.
Then I did what I had always been taught to do. I prayed. I kneeled down on the floor and I talked to God. I asked why Alex died, I asked why death existed, I asked why it hurt so much, I asked out loud all the questions I had been asking silently.
And I heard nothing.
There was no voice from above, there was no feeling of comfort. There was me, alone, in a bare bedroom.
I went to Alex’s funeral. I comforted Ben as best as I could. I tried to comfort Alex’s parents. And I continued to question God, religion and my beliefs. I asked everyone who would talk to me about their beliefs. I researched online and I read everything I could find about God, religion and belief systems.
I found exmormon.org and Atheists of Utah. I want to be clear: I spent a year calling myself agnostic and spiritual. After realizing I didn’t believe the LDS religion to be “the one true church,” I changed my mind about God. I now believe God, Jesus and Joseph Smith are myths. Ben, as an LDS missionary, strongly disagrees with me.
I think it’s fair to say, I’m atheist. I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m frustrated. I want to know why religion matters so much. Many of my family members have wondered how I can still be happy without religion.
Ignoring how much that question bothers me, let me tell you. The purpose of my life is to live. I want to live my life everyday in a way that makes me proud to say, “I’m Krista Mae Smith and I’m amazing.” This means I have morals. I believe in truth, honesty, openness, kindness and empathy. And believing in truth is a big part of being a skeptical atheist humanist. This means I doubt claims until they are proven true. This means that science is pretty awesome. This means the natural world is beautiful. And the humanist bit means I believe in the goodness of the people around me.
I’m happy because I try everyday to focus on the here and now and loving every moment in my life. Less in big ideas and more in the day-to-day. This means I love clothes, cocktails and books. This means I avoid angry people, shopping and long lines.
I’ve thought about religion. I don’t want to convert you to atheism. I wouldn’t wish the process of losing faith on anyone. I’m telling you this story because I want you to understand who I am now and in some small way how I got here. I won’t try to convert you, please don’t try to convert me.
Jesus is dead, tell him to leave me alone.