An Obedient Life
Shelly Johnson fully encompasses the definition of resilience and authenticity. Additionally, her decision to abandon beliefs that no longer serve the life she wants to live exemplifies true bravery.
Growing up in the Mormon religion, she internalized the importance of unfaltering obedience. Likewise, she grew up believing in the importance of ensuring the patriarchy’s happiness. Based on Shelly's lived experiences, this is the highest priority in traditional Mormonism. Without a doubt, the strict and controlling fundamental beliefs of her religion shaped Shelly’s life in ways that took years to unravel.
Following a customary Mormon upbringing, Shelly married in the temple. Her now ex-husband looked ideal on paper. He pleased her father; he pleased God. Subsequently, the two had seven children and lived a seemingly wonderful and devout life. However, Shelly felt anything but perfect. On the inside, she was depressed, detached, and exhausted. Raising seven children is no easy task! Eventually, Shelly reached her breaking point.
Leaving the Church
As an adult, Shelly realized her personal beliefs were not aligned with those imposed by her religion. Things like drinking coffee and beer are a sin, and one who partakes is no longer “worthy to be saved” in the eyes of the church. Pleading for help, Shelly tried desperately to find comfort. However, the church turned her away, during her most vulnerable time of need.
With the support of her husband, Shelly made the life-altering decision to leave the Mormon church. Consequently, nearly all of Shelly's relationships immediately fell flat. She sacrificed everything in order to live life on her own terms. That is the definition of living courageously.
Coming Out and Becoming Whole
After leaving the Church, Shelly felt free – – for the first time in her life! Eventually, she realized her marriage wasn’t working well either. Finally, she acknowledged that she'd spent so long following other people’s rules that she didn’t even know there were other options.
However, it didn't take long for Shelly to recognize something in herself that, not that long ago, she was actively opposed to. Shelly discovered she was a lesbian.
Suddenly, everything made sense.
Living a Life of Love
Soon after embracing her truest self, Shelly found love. But it was more than just love with her new partner, Mary. What Shelly discovered was an overall love of other people. Previously encircled by the judgmental views of the Mormon Church, she'd never before felt an openness to love others on a basic, human level. This sense of community undoubtedly took Shelly’s life to new heights.
Learning to love people as they are and for who they are, Shelly says, is a gift she rejoices in every day.
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