Existential Crisis at a Tea Plantation

Updated: 4 days ago

Is this not the perfect place for a spiritual experience?

I recently found a note on my phone from my trip to China in 2019. This was the trip that my shelf officially broke (aka the straw that broke the camel's back), and it was after having this moment that I decided I would pave my own path and "step back" from the LDS church.

I think I want to start sharing more journal entries from the time I got home from my mission up until I decided to leave. There is a box that people like to put ex-mormons into and I hope that this can shed some light to the complexity and difficulty that comes before/after making such a drastic decision.

Also, I left the first line even though it was just a shampoo I really liked, but it cracks me up that one of the most serious notes I have ever taken on my phone starts with a shampoo brand from one of the hotels we stayed in.

Ben Sherman with Argon oil

As I am sitting here out in this beautiful garden in China I am pondering and discussing with God what I should do with my life. I have been having a lot of turmoil and doubts about the church and it is really hard and conflicting for me. I feel stuck and like I have no option but to just stay and accept everything for how it is.

I prayed to Heavenly Father and asked him what to do and if I really do need to stay in the church forever or if there is some other way to get close to God. I feel frustrated because there are aspects about the church I love and adore with my whole heart, yet there are aspects which I disagree with greatly. The picture that has been painted in my mind is that if you are in you need to accept and believe in everything and I just can’t do that but I also don’t want to leave everything. The thing that gives me the most peace as I am sitting here is that what I need to do is pave my own journey to happiness and to Christ. When I went to the non denominational church service I felt really close to God and the come follow me also helps me feel closer to God. I want to try out switching off between the two every week to see how that goes. I am going to go forward and figure out on my own what is true and what is right for me regardless of what the church or anyone else says. I want to test it out to see for sure if it really is true and really is what I want to be doing with the rest of my life.

What I want out of life/my journey to Jesus:

-a life of service, meaningful service

  • a life where it is okay to think about myself and do what is best for me while doing the service.

This note brings back some very vivid memories. We were at a tea plantation in China with about 10-15 people from the ward I grew up in. It was part of the tour we signed up for, so we did not really have an option not to go. They showed us around the plantation and then brought us into a room where we all sat at this beautiful table and they passed around these traditional little tea cups with green tea. We all looked at each other awkwardly, and no one drank them except for one family (at least that I could tell). The members of our group all talked about how the prophet had explicitly said green tea was against the Word of Wisdom despite what some people may think. You could tell everyone felt conflicted about not drinking the tea.

One of my fave pics was taken on this China trip

I noticed the confusion and hurt on the face of these workers who were so excited to share their prized tea with American tourists, and I was upset. I had served my mission in Taiwan, a country that is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, so I knew how incredibly offensive it was to turn down a gesture like this. I had spent 18 months trying to find the most graceful/least offensive way to consistently turn down tea, and I did not want to do it anymore. It hit me that it made absolutely no sense that we should offend someone's culture because of leaves that had been soaked in warm water, so I drank it. (I think touring the tea plantation and realizing that green tea is literally just leaves grown from the ground made it feel really absurd to me). This was the first time I ever blatantly broke the Word of Wisdom. I panicked and went and had a little mental breakdown in this beautiful garden, which is when I wrote the note from above.

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