When I was a kid, my mom used to make assorted cookies to give to friends and neighbors for Christmas. One year my teenage brother was in charge of the no-bake cookies. When no one was looking, he substituted onion flakes for some or all of the coconut.

The no-bake cookies had always been my favorite. But that particular year, I remember biting into one and tasting I told my mom. I still remember the conversation pretty clearly, although I think I was fairly young at the time. She told me I was wrong. There was no off flavor. They were fine.

I was confused. But, well, I had to admit they were still pretty damn good...what with the fudgy chocolate and all. And mom said they were fine, so...I kept eating them. Lots of them. :)

It wasn't until a few days later when one of my neighbors made a comment to Mom that she realized they were a bit onion-y!! She was mortified. My brother was punished (he had to go door to door to apologize to everyone who'd received some). And I was vindicated. But I'm pretty sure I kept eating them. By then I was used to the onion...and chocolate is chocolate.


It's always been funny to me, remembering back, and realizing that I knew something was "wrong" - I can still remember the taste! - but I trusted my mom's as the final word, and anyway...I was crazy for sugar.

As I've said way too many times before, when I left the church, it was because the "fruit" had been tasting off to me for a while and I just couldn't stomach any more. As far as I knew, it was not the fruit's problem. It was just a matter of taste.

It was months before I could acknowledge to myself that no wonder the fruit tasted wrong - the tree was diseased!

I know that sounds harsh. Admittedly, I know some Mormons who recognize the off-flavor and skillfully find a way to avoid consuming the bad parts or know how to spit them out. That's cool with me.

But I feel sad for all the people who believe it when they're told there IS no off-flavor, and who eat a fruit they don't love until they're so accustomed that they can't imagine anything better.


Urban Koda said...

I was just thinking about that yesterday... I did a presentation at my kids school with another dad who served a mission in my home land. He assumed I was still active (which I kind of am, but not) and kept harping on all the usual missionary stuff. It was harder thinking that I might have been the same way at one point, and then wondering if I ever was, since I think my doubts may always have been there...

On a totally unrelated story... When I was a kid, my Mom did a relief society lesson on raising kids, and to illustrate her point, she made a cake which ended up being green with purple frosting and contained salt, rice and a lot of other wacky ingredients. The whole idea was that is you put bad stuff into kids, they'll turn out badly.

After Church, my friends and I attacked the cake. I recall it tasting different, but actually quite good at the same time.

Madame Curie said...

I have to admit that I have an intense, gut-reaction whenever I express an opinion or experience that I have had, and someone replies, "You're wrong." My dad did this to me constantly when I was growing up - he would promise something and forget and tell me he never promised it. Or he would verbally attack me one day and then stridently claim it never happened. Experiences like that can really screw with your mental psyche. They make you feel like you must be going crazy.

I've had this problem with answers to prayers and my PH leaders' feeling I couldn't possibly had gotten the prayer I had. By that point, though, I trusted myself better than them, and although it might cause me a few sleepless nights, it certainly wasn't because I was questioning my sanity or the answer I had received.

I think whenever one is in an authoritarian religion that also claims that individuals have the right to personal revelation that you are going to come across this problem. Which is the trump card, personal prayer or the prophet? And I think that this is where a lot of the lines in the sand get drawn in the Church as well. Its a pity that it has to be that way; my answer to prayer is a personal one, and it doesn't threaten yours.

simplysarah said...

UK - the metaphor to your mom's "wrong" cake being, of course, that - however unexpected - with a little investigation we might find certain ideas different from our own to be worthwhile and/or even appealing! What a shocker! :)

Meanwhile, I have to admit that rice in cake sounds kinda good to me. But I love rice, and cake.

MC - I think you've hit on [yet another] problem of authoritarian institutions. People are taught to discount their own intuition...which, if they do, results in them becoming miserable, or crazy, or both. As in my case. ;)

C. L. Hanson said...

Great story and metaphor!!

Actually, my husband hates coconut. Maybe I should try substituting onion flakes. ;^)

Crystal :) said...

I just found your blog today, I am so happy to see that others feel the same as I do! About one year ago my "married in the temple" daughter and I had a discussion that eventually led to our leaving the church. Her husband was more than happy to follow (shocker!) My husband is still on the fence. My 19yr old daughter is beside herself over the whole thing and I have a son returning from his mission in April who knows nothing about what has happened.( any advise??!) The last year or so has been stressful to say the least! I'm SO glad I'm out,yet I struggle with what it has done to my family. I'm seriously thinking about getting a Therapist! I dont know why I just shared all that but I sure do feel better!


Crystal :) said...

So weird how I have this overwhelming urge to make sure you know how "active" my whole family was/is like it really matters!! But we were/are!! :)

simplysarah said...

Hi Crystal! Welcome!! :)

I definitely know about the stress of transitioning out, particuarly from a very active family background, though I've probably had less to deal with since I'm single. You're not alone! Good luck as everyone in your family sorts things out!

Fwiw, I TOTALLY recommend seeing a therapist if you can. A non-mormon one. ;) I started counseling last june and it was THE BEST THING for me! Now my life feels like a dream in contrast to a year ago.

If that's not an option, participating in the bloggernacle and reading good books has been helpful for me and others. :)

Hypatia said...

Sarah- I really enjoyed this post. It's interesting how people forget that there ARE better ways of looking at the world and that a person DOESN'T have to be depressed and "endure to the end" because there is something "wrong with the person" and "not the church." Happiness can be right now, not some pretend place we go to when we die.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

wow, Crystal, what a great analogy! My latest entry at Pure Mormonism deals with how the fruit has become a bit off. Wish I had read your metaphor and borrowed from it myself.

Well done.