When You Wake Up in the Wrong Life: The Gift of a Faith Crisis
In the fall of 2014, I found myself on a sunlit hillside looking out over my town at the sinking sun. I could see my rooftop, where my husband and three children were waiting for me to come home and make dinner. It was a crisp, beautiful evening and on the outside, my life seemed just peachy.
But I was a mess.
I had just told my friends and family that I was leaving the LDS church—my religion, my family, my everything. The faith no longer matched my authentic self, and I was finally brave enough to admit it. I was forced to choose between myself and my family heritage. It seemed I had woken up to a life I hadn’t truly chosen to begin with. In the fallout, I experienced anxiety, depression, and a whole lot of fear until I hit rock bottom.
That meant everything was getting ugly.
First, it was my relationships. I lost the respect of close family members and friends. Where I was once consulted on important matters, or invited to gatherings, I wasn’t anymore. I had “fallen away from the truth.” Next, it was my marriage. We both realized we had married each other under our previous belief system. There was love, but there was also a lot of baggage and resentment for a life we built together out of obedience. With a baby in diapers, two toddlers, and an emotionally absent husband, I sank into a pit of loneliness.
The only way out was to sludge through it.
One night, I dusted off my guitar case and pulled it out of the closet. I was in a new city. No friends, no family—just me and my despair. I began to write songs. Not for anyone to hear, just something to do besides cry or clean up from snack time.
In a past life (before kids), I had loved playing and writing music. I wanted to be a songwriter, but I gave up that dream when I had children, because I believed motherhood was my duty and joy in this life (and in heaven).
The songs seemed to just billow up out of me like a flowing fountain of tears, ready to fill the whole house. I didn’t edit them or try to make them pretty—I just wrote. Song after song came and morphed into piano pieces, violin solos, and even poems.
I went to the library and devoured books with ridiculous titles, like How to Be Happy and Happiness Is a Habit.
What a silly notion! I had once thought. Obedience to God’s laws makes people happy, not mindfulness and gratitude journals. Pff!
I began to run. (I hated running.) I began to run outside. (I hated the cold.) I signed up for a race. (Insane.) I wrote more songs. I shopped on Sundays. (Against the rules.) I drank wine. (Also against the rules.) I made myself do uncomfortable things. (Comfort was queen!)
I formed a band. (What?!) We played our first show in the basement of a winery. I felt like I was going crazy and barely recognized myself. Who was this person drinking craft beer, performing at clubs, and running races?
My husband and I decided to stay together, because we do, in fact, like each other. I stopped having an agenda for how my kids turn out…and enjoyed them a hundred times more. And most of all, I began to know and love myself.
Despair turned to hope, and loneliness melted into love. The beautiful fruits of my faith crisis gave me a fresh start at everything in life. I never could have foreseen the freedom and joy that would come from such a dark time. Health, relationships, career, marriage, parenting—all of it blossomed and matured.
Four years after that day on the hillside, I released my faith crisis music. Produced and released in 2018, it’s called Second Wind. The song-poems of my grief are no longer my anthem, but they exist to help others on the same path.
Now I’m a songwriter. I make music, tour with my band, and talk about healthy habits for women. I’m not angry or resentful (most of the time), because that’s pointless. Now, I’m focusing on how I can enjoy my existence each day. Dark times will come again, I’m sure. When they do, I will remember that I am the keeper of my happiness.
Best of all? My life is now hand-picked by no one other than…me! I get to choose what goes inside the bouquet—and that, my friends, is the greatest gift of all.
Wishing you all the love and hope on your own journey through the dark and into the light.