April 13, 1986
I love flowers. I'm trying to be grateful to the Lord for flowers and kitty-cats, etc., but it's harder than it seeems. I'm hoping that my love of nature will become a love for its creator, but I just don't know or understand him. I get nervous when I really pray. I don't know why. I think I feel unworthy. I feel like the Lord should be mad at me.
April 12, 1986
I'm getting closer to the Lord although I've been having occasional relapses to being my usual annoying, argumentative self. I talked to my sister all through Stake Conference. I know that the fact that it was boring isn't a good enough excuse. Recently I remembered a few more things to repent of.
July 10, 1986
What the Lord made is beautiful. Each tree is different and each branch has a different shape. The tips of the branches are different colors. Some leaves are arranged like starfish, some are tears, some are hands, some are footballs. When I look at the leaves I feel I'm in the jungle.
We have stopped here in this tower for a spiritual meeting from a spiritual Joseph Smith hike. Everyone is sharing feelings even though most of us don't know one another. This is the perfect place for such a hike -- you have never known such spiritual and physical beauty until you experience this.
Soon we will go back to our cabin here at girls' camp. As for my spiritual progress? I'm coming along one step at a time now. I'm going to try to listen during church and take the messages to heart and use them. And more than that, I'm reading the Book of Mormon each night and I've set a goal to try to use the scriptures in my life.
When I first left the church, it annoyed me that my journals gave a misimpression of how "spiritual" I was. Since journal-writing is a commandment, every time I would be sufficiently guilted into trying to be more righteous and manufacturing a spiritual experience, I wrote the whole thing down in gory detail in my journal.
Now I'm actually glad I recorded this stuff in a sense because it is so alien to my normal personality that I would hardly believe I ever felt this way if I hadn't written it down.
Looking at passages like the above, I feel revulsion, shame, and humiliation. I know that religious people reading this will say that it is because I am ashamed to no longer feel "the spirit" after having felt it once, but really it is quite the opposite.
I feel ashamed that I allowed them to pressure me into manufacturing this sickly emotion of "the spirit" in my mind and that I allowed others to convince me that it was some sort of communication with an imaginary being. When I read things I've written about feelings towards "the Lord", it's as if I were reading a passage I'd written about having a nasty infection and describing in graphic detail the look and smell of the pus that oozed out of it.
It disgusts me that I was pressured into feeling this intimate emotion that I had to contort my mind into a pretzel to feel. Reading about it in my own journal, I feel violated.
I was wondering the other day why as soon as I found my journal from when I was sixteen years old, I gleefully posted to the Internet a series of passages explicitly describing my first sexual experiences in all their glory and how I felt about them. Yet I recoiled in shame and horror at the thought of sharing any of the many passages of my earlier journals such as the above that describe praying.
I'm going to be blunt about it, and I don't give a sh-t about the fact that the righteous of the world will look down on me for this:
The truth is that I'm proud of the sexual feelings and experiences I had when I was sixteen. They were perhaps intimate, but they were authentic and joyful. Unlike the prayer stuff, my sexual feelings were never contrived, forced, or laced with guilt and obligation.
God is imaginary. Sexuality is real. It is a red-blooded emotion that flows naturally through my veins and reminds me that life is beautiful and that I'm happy to be alive.