My Story

I am deeply interested in religion, politics, current events, history, musical theater and books! I left the LDS church a couple years ago and have spent a lot of time since then thinking and considering various religious influences in my life and in the lives of those around me. For more information on why I left the LDS church, look here. I also love to sing, act, dance (tap preferably) and perform on stage whenever possible.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Devil's in the Water

So, today, in a ultimate act of LDS defiance, I went swimming on Sunday. I know, WOW! But, I am happy to report, I have lived to tell the tale.

In all seriousness though, this is one of the things that as I was growing up was always taboo. Before I was born, my Mom had a scary experience involving my oldest brother and Sunday swimming. As I understand it, they were boating on a Sunday and my brother wanted to try water skiing (or something to that effect). My Mom had a bad feeling about it (call it mother's intuition, the Spirit or whichever label you would like) but finally relented and let him do it anyway. Something bad happened and my brother nearly drowned, saved only by my Mom's watchful eye. My Mom felt that her feeling that day was a testament to the fact that we, as a family, should not swim on Sundays. She would always tell us "The Devil's in the water on Sundays" and I never questioned it. Being prone to worry as a kid, I accepted this statement as absolute truth and was always afraid that if I even stepped foot into a swimming pool on Sunday, the Devil would certainly drag me under and it would be all over for me. If we ever did end up in the water on Sunday, I can assure you that her words were never far from my mind and I was always extra cautious. Looking at the situation now, I'm sure the entire experience with my brother could have just as easily occurred on a Tuesday or a Friday or any other day. I do not question the validity of my Mom's experience. I hear of mothers having this same kind of intuition regarding their children's safety all the time, both LDS and otherwise. But at this point in my life, I am forced to question her conclusion.

As a member of the LDS church there were so many things I did out of fear of what would happen if I didn't. I went to church, paid my tithing, attended the temple, wore the temple garment (even though I never felt comfortable in them and always felt unattractive wearing them) and didn't swim (or do much of anything else) on Sundays.

Going swimming today was proof once again that the consequences I feared by not doing those things were and are completely unfounded. By swimming today I was able to get exercise and feel better about myself. By not paying my tithing I have been able to support other causes that I truly feel passionate about and be happy that I can make a difference in someone else's life. By taking off the temple garment I am able to feel attractive and sexy again and actually be comfortable in the summer! By taking back my Sundays I have been able to read more, write more and get a few more things done so that I can be more relaxed going into the week.

As each fear slowly disappears, I find myself enjoying life more as I do the things that are important to me. I am continually surprised, though, at how often one of these kinds of thoughts will come to mind. The, "If I do this, then what bad thing will happen to me?" thought. I suppose it will take awhile to deprogram 30 years of LDS upbringing. In the meantime, I am enjoying the process of discovering who I really am and what I truly value.


Oliver family said...

I don't know of any actual doctorine that says "no swimming on Sundays". I know they have advised against doing any boating, etc. in an effort on encourage people to attend church and keep the Sabbath day holy. I personally think "no swimming on Sundays" is some slightly misguided members' interpretation of some guidance or suggestions given by the church. However, I do distinctly remember a stake president reading a letter from the first presidency when I was in high school that stated something like "members should do what they deem appropriate to keep the spirit of the Lord with them on the Sabbath Day." And then listing a few suggested activities - and a few that should be avoided if at all possible. I, myself, came from a somewhat liberal family as far as that goes. We had family members and friends who were not members of the LDS faith. I remember going on vacations, going out to dinner, going boating, etc. with our extended family members or friends on many Sundays. I personally believe that if you are doing things that make you happy, bringing yourself closer to God and to your family - any activities are appropriate on the Sabbath.

Jay said...

Wow, when we taught a Sunday school class of 11 yr olds there was a lesson on "keeping the Sabbath Day Holy," it was really hard because the kids were looking for black and white answers and we refused to give them any. One boy was saying how his dad took him to a shooting range with a friend on Sundays and he asked us if it was bad. We wanted to avoid having to dictate right and wrong, and left it at being a personal choice. Is it ethical to specifically dictate what is right and wrong for other people? Maybe for 11 year olds who need guidance, but should you send them to a doctrine class to have somebody else besides a parent dictate it to them knowing that there is a full range of doctrinal interpretation within the church about what is right and wrong?