Hi. I would just like to ask for some advice. I hope you could spare some time to read this lengthy narrative.
My older sister and I were brought up in the church by our single mother. Unfortunately she became terminally ill and passed away in 2003. The church and its leaders were very supportive of us. We had always been active in the church, and my sister and I remained so even after my mother's passing.
A few years after though, my sister sort of 'drifted away' and I was left to go to church alone. Then in 2006 or 2007, I believe she started hanging out again with her group of friends from church (including an ex-boyfriend). Eventually she started going back to church; but only this time, I was the one not going. In September 2007, she got married in the temple to that ex-boyfriend. I started going to church with them (since we shared the same apartment). For a few months, I was active again. I have had callings in the past and this time around, I was called as the ward employment specialist. I magnified my calling as best I could. But then out of nowhere, I just felt like dropping everything. I started making excuses not to go to church
was sick, I had work, somewhere to go to, etc). I thought I was just being lazy and I was going through a phase; but weeks, even months passed and I still did not feel like going back to church. Even my sister was running out of excuses whenever the members asked why I kept missing church. She and her husband (who eventually was called as the bishop) kept persuading me to go back to church. I just brushed them off by saying I will go back when I am ready, when the time is right (whatever that meant).
For years, I have managed to withstand efforts from my sister, her husband the bishop, and the visiting teachers (who almost always showed up unannounced) to 'reactivate me.' I kept thinking of the real reasons why I did not want to go back to church. Then I had come to the realization that what I was feeling was not just pure laziness, but the manifestation of doubt. Though examining my thoughts and feelings further, I found out that it was not even doubt but disbelief! It was a gradual realization, and thinking back that disbelief started even from my primary days! I then remembered that whenever I shared my testimony or prepared Sunday talks, I intently refrained from saying anything about the truthfulness of the BOM, the real living prophet blah blah, and that TSCC is 'the only true church upon the face of the earth'. I would get put off whenever we had devotionals about temple/celestial marriage (where one man gets plenty of wives) and the YW/YSAs would get giddy. I felt sick when female SAs, those 30 and above (in spite of their successful careers/financial independence), still got made fun of (especially by priesthood leaders) due to their inability to find a man to marry. There were a lot of things I was curious (and doubtful) about which did not sit well with me, so I spent a considerable amount of time researching and reading all the stuff I could find. These were thoughts and emotions I had refused to acknowledge for years, and they are all coming out only now. This realization caused me so much anguish, hurt, and anger; both mentally and emotionally. I felt like I had been cheated and lied to, that I had wasted my time and energy being devoted to a lie when I could have lived my life differently instead.
I could not keep it in any longer so I decided to 'come clean' to my sister in May 2014. She was the only real close family I have. I decided to process my thoughts and 'plan' the right approach on how to break it down to her. I even composed a lengthy message for her, stating the reasons why I felt and thought the way I did; but the gist of it was that I no longer believed the church is true. I think that was the only thing she read out of everything. She went on to say that she could not believe how I could say those words after all the church has done for us. Understandably she did not take it very well, but her words still surprised me. Immediately after that, she refused to talk to me or even look at me. She avoided me like the plague. I did not know how much she has told her husband (the bishop), but it felt like he was avoiding me, too. So basically for four months neither of them talked to me even though we were living in the same house. They still let my niece talk to me though.
During that four months, I felt really depressed and alone that I wanted to die. I wanted to leave and live on my own, but I just could not afford it then. It got so bad that there were even psychosomatic effects. My arm and leg muscles would get weak and it was hard for me to move around. At first I thought it was the start of a flu but I had no joint pain or fever. It was just overall muscle weakness for five straight days. Then a couple of days I would get better, then it would come back for another week. This happened for over a month. I felt like my sister was emotionally blackmailing me. I knew she would not give in (unless I took back everything I said and got back to church). I resigned myself to the fact that she might never even talk to me again. I thought so be it; I was never going back to the church ever again.
In late August 2014, my sister gave birth to a son (their 2nd). My brother in law (bishop) informed me. I sent my congratulations but that I did not think my sister would like to see me in the hospital. He told me otherwise so I decided to go (nervously). I even got her favorite cake (bribe??). So I got to the hospital and entered the room. My sister was up and when she saw me, she looked at me like nothing happened between us. I approached her, kissed her on the forehead and gave her the cake. She was appreciative and all. It was weird, in a good way though. I asked how she was, about the baby; and she was chatty, really like nothing ever happened. It was overall a pleasant visit.
Since then, things have been better between us. We are no longer living together, but I do visit them frequently. From time to time, she would try to 'joke' about me going to church with them, or my niece would ask why I do not go to church with them. I have been coming in contact with other church members more recently during my nephew's 1st birthday celebration. Previously I was 'tricked' to stay for dinner when I thought they just had an old friend coming over and it ended up like a ward family dinner. I am happy that my sister and I have a better relationship now; but it feels like even after everything that had happened, she is still hoping I would come back to church. I have been thinking and reading a lot about resigning from the church for a while now, and I feel doing this would make my decision final. I would like to ask for some advice though because as I have said, the ward bishop is my brother in law. What would be the best way to do this? If I send my resignation through email, would the bishop get automatically notified that a name in his ward is being removed? My relationship with my sister may still seem a bit fragile at this point and I do not want to mess things up, but I still want her to know that I am serious about my decision and I stick by my choice. Whether I do it now or later, I think her reaction will be the same. Would it make a difference if I just wait until my brother in law gets released as the bishop? If a member resigns, will all ward leaders be notified as well?
I am really hoping someone could spare their time and share their thoughts on this. Thanks very much.
P.S. By the way, I am from the Philippines. I have no idea if anyone from my country has even tried resigning from the church before. All I remember is members get categorized as either active or LESS active, not INACTIVE even if MIA already for years like myself.