I was at Nordstrom’s a couple of months ago (back when you could, you know, go shopping at the mall) and saw the CUTEST Brandy Melville shirt that was "one-size-fits-all.” I do not know if anyone has noticed, but I am definitely not lacking in the chest department. I tried the shirt on anyway, somehow hoping that it would magically expand in size when I put it on. Unfortunately, it was still the same size and looked like I was trying to wear a shirt made for a small child. When it did not fit, I simply accepted that the term “one-size-fits-all” is not actually true and that it should be changed to “one-size-fits-some.” Anyone that would have seen me in the shirt would have also agreed that it does not fit and would not blame me in any way for the fact that I do not fit into a shirt that is supposedly supposed to work for “all.”
Isn’t it kind of beautiful that one size does not fit all? Think of how boring the world would be if we all liked the same restaurants, the same color, the same political party, the same style of clothing, the same hair color, the same type of person, the same deodorant, etc. Some people will go to the grave saying that Chacos are better while others will fight a war for Tevas. At the end of the day, I think that each side could accept that different shoes work for different people.
I can go on for days about all the different molds I tried to force myself into, but I figured I might as well start with the one that seems to be the source of trying to force myself to be someone I was not. Christianity, or more specifically, the LDS church.
Now, this article is not to bash on any form of religions although it may be perceived that way. I am just trying to share the experiences I have had while trying to force myself into a religion that was supposed to work for everyone, the one true church, but most definitely did not work for me.
The church consistently talks about “the world”, and paints this picture that there is no way to truly be happy outside of the church. They talk about the “great and spacious building” and how it may seem fun and exciting at first but always eventually leads to long term misery. I was really shook when I went to Taiwan as a missionary and saw an entire country that was less than 3.9% Christian but also had some of the most beautiful souls that I had ever met. It did not make sense to me, how could they all be so happy? How could they all be so kind? How could they all be so healthy? I tried to come up with reasons in my mind, but it did not make sense. It terrified me to think of the possibility that maybe, just maybe, religion is specific to each person. That just like so many other things, each person experiences spirituality differently.
I remember the first time I tried alcohol. I went all in and tried a shot of Vodka, not realizing that it would be comparable to the taste of fingernail polish remover. I remember thinking that I would melt away with shame and guilt for breaking the Word of Wisdom, but guess what? I was not different at all. I felt no different. I was still McKayla and I was still a good, compassionate, sensitive, loving person with good intuition. At this point, I was not open with my standing in the church as I was still at BYU and trying to figure out what I should do as far as schooling. I had an interview with my bishop the next day and was terrified that sitting in the presence of my priesthood holder would cause me to have a remembrance of my sins of the night before. Guess what? I was completely fine. I had a good interview with him and he praised me for the good and faithful member that I was and offered me a calling that would require me to go to Ward Council every week. Here I was, sitting in front of this man who was supposed to be able to receive revelation for me and he had absolutely no clue that I had done things, literally less than 24 hours before, that should have caused me to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost. But he had no clue. He still saw the light of Christ in my eyes and was completely fooled. It was at this point that I realized, the light that people have been drawn to in me has never been in relation to the church but more in relation to the type of person I have been since I was a little girl. I realized that the guilt and shame I have felt my whole life were not from breaking commandments but the black and white mindset the idea of commandments puts me into.
Quickly after this meeting, I turned down the calling and stopped pretending to still be a strong active member as I realized that I still value honesty and authenticity, even without having the church to remind me of those concepts constantly. I know a lot of people love the constant reminder of church, scriptures, etc. and are able to see those more as guidelines rather than strict rules that should not be broken under any circumstance. I understand that there are plenty of people that find peace and solace in the idea of an atonement and knowing that they can repent of sins. There are certain general ideas of the church and Christianity that I like and continue to work towards in my life. I like the focus on family, helping others, bettering yourself, honesty, hard work, financial stability, etc. but have realized that using religion to get there causes me more anxiety than it does peace.
I now use the intuitive eating model to live my life. I trust that I innately have the ability to know what works for me and what does not. I am able to see that one size does not fit all, that not only should I not shame myself for not being able to fit in a shirt that says it works for everyone but that I also should not shame myself for not being able to fit in a church that says it works for everyone.
I have respect for those that feel the church has genuinely worked for them. I am so happy for those that find true hope and joy in the church and its teachings. I also am so happy for those that love the idea of a Savior that has atoned for them. I also ask to receive the same respect from those who do feel the peace and comfort that Christianity/LDS brings to people. Why do you think there are so many different religions, even within the Christianity category, that people cling to and find so much solace in? It is because, like everything else, each person is different and has different religions that work for them. I now consider myself agnostic, I do not quite know what divine power there is or even if there is one, but that does not matter to me. I live the best life I can and am happy with not knowing exactly what is going to happen after I die or where I came from.
I am genuinely happier than I have ever been. I am now excited to be alive and am optimistic about the rest of my life. I no longer wish that someone will hit me with their car so that I do not have to live with the pressure that this life brings. By letting go of what I have always been told the purpose of life is I have found my purpose. I love being able to write my own rules and guidelines for myself and to live a life that works specifically for McKayla.
This is my experience. It is not right or wrong, it is just how I feel. I hope this can be accepted by those who read this, but if not, that is fine. I do not need acceptance from everyone.