S2 E5: Strengthening Mixed-Faith Relationships

One of my favorite things about this episode is honestly how these women talked about their partners. They shared about some really tough, uncomfortable, or scary conversations they had with their partners, and how those led them to strengthening their relationships, and better understanding one another.

All three women also have different experiences, which I think is so valuable in this conversation: One is an active member of the LDS church whose husband is no longer practicing; One woman navigated her husband leaving the LDS church, then she herself made that same decision a couple years later; and another married a non-LDS Christian, and is currently on her own faith journey. Three very different experiences, and one very meaningful conversation. I loved chatting with these women so much!


I clearly have not been doing show notes for this season of the Looks Like Wandering Podcast… whoops! But I had to cut down this episode quite a bit, and wanted to make sure I mentioned some resources these women had to offer, if you’re navigating a mixed-faith relationship as well!

First off, therapy was mentioned multiple times in this episode, and I just want to give a quick amen to all of that. I believe therapy is so important for individuals and couples—and even if you don’t think you need therapy, it’s so great to even learn how to communicate better, sort through small concerns, or just have someone to talk to, and help guide you through thought processes, or other life things.

It may take a couple/few tries to find the right therapist for you. Don’t be afraid to walk away and try another therapist if you don’t feel like you’re benefitting. In my own life, I can only remember one therapist who I felt wasn’t hearing what I was saying—and I can remember a couple therapists who I LOVED and who truly helped me navigate tricky situations in my life. If you don’t feel like you’re clicking with your first therapist, try another. It’s worth finding the right therapist for you.

OKAY! On to the other resources that these women mentioned, that I wasn’t able to include in the episode itself:

Marriage on a Tightrope Podcast -A podcast specifically about navigating a mixed-faith relationship.

Spiritual.Sojourn on Instagram

Jody Moore (Life Coach), and the Better Than Happy Podcast

Dr. Julie Hanks, Psychotherapist – Instagram / Courses


If you haven’t already listened to the episode, you can do so through the player at the top of this blog post, or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify! Thank you again to Nikki, LeAndra, and Kathryn for sharing. I’m so glad we had this conversation!

LLW Podcast S2: Navigating Faith Journeys!

I didn’t have any plans to bring back to the Looks Like Wondering Podcast—I didn’t rule it out, but I just didn’t have any plans to.

…But here we are! Welcome to Season 2!

This season, instead of career paths or life paths, we are specifically talking about navigating faith journeys and transitions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In other words, we are talking about navigating a faith crisis honestly and openly, and how to lovingly support those who choose to leave the church. While we are specifically talking about this in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am almost positive that most of what we talk about will be applicable to anyone of any faith. All are welcome. 

I want to start by sharing about my own faith journey, and why I ultimately decided to stay in the church. In upcoming interviews, this will NOT be our focus, but I want to help normalize faith journeys, doubts, and questioning—and show that you CAN experience these things and remain active in the church. Then I’m going to share my views on how to show Christlike support to friends and family members who decide to leave. This WILL be our focus moving forward.


I, Allie Barnes, have DOUBTS, GUILT, and SHAME. I touched on this lightly in my book, Not According to Plan, and I talk about navigating a culture crisis as a guest on an upcoming podcast episode (of a yet-to-be-released podcast!! But I’m sure excited for it!), but I want to dive more into the nitty gritty here.

I began experiencing doubts even before the pandemic hit. Even before I lived alone and had a LOT of time to think. And even before I left Northern Utah, where I had been solid in LDS culture for over a decade. 

For years, I have felt guilty for wanting to ditch church after sacrament meeting. I struggle with social anxiety, so even before church began—even SATURDAY NIGHT—I often felt stressed about being surrounded by people for hours. In this way, I admit, having a break from in-person church over the last year has been a huge relief to me.

I would also feel guilt and even shame for my sins—and the sometimes lack of guilt I felt over them. I had slipped into an “if-then” mindset—If I kept this commandment, then I will get this reward—but more often it would turn into, If I don’t do this, I will disappoint God. This was a huge struggle specifically with dating and intimacy through my 20’s. I talk a bit about this in chapter 4 of my book. 

Gratefully, I have had a lot of time to let go of this mindset—but that’s a topic for another time. The point is, I regularly felt the heaviness of guilt—even if I knew the atonement was there, even if I would tell anyone else that they are worthy of everything in the world. I felt like I was hiding. Even now, I feel like I don’t fit the mold of what I imagine the “ideal-Latter-Day Saint” would look like—but I’m gratefully more okay with that, and with my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

There are also some things I struggle with on a doctrinal level. For example, I don’t quite believe that God would prevent other passionately devoted Christians from living with Him someday, in the highest levels of heaven, just because they hadn’t gone through a specific building—the LDS temple. I just don’t know. There is so much goodness in the world, and in so many other faiths—and I think God knows that.

As I said previously, I have decided to remain an active member of the church. There is still so much that I don’t know, but I’m more okay with that now. I’m practicing being uncomfortable with unknowns, and savoring the grey areas. And I’m remembering the things I DO know: that we have a loving Father in Heaven, and a Mother in Heaven who I want to learn more about. I know the Bible and Book of Mormon are testaments of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith saw a vision—I feel a confirmation of that every time I recite the words out loud from Joseph Smith’s record of this vision: “I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun…” You can read Joseph Smith’s full account in the Pearl of Great Price, another record in the back of the Book of Mormon.

However, there are still some things about the culture that worry me—and a big part of that is how we view and treat people who have left the church. I grew up hearing that we are the ONE true church, that we have the FULLNESS of the gospel, and that we are called to “rescue” those who have left the church. I now cringe every time I hear the word “rescue” in this context.

I don’t think that most people who leave the church are being “deceived,” or following Satan. I believe that most people—both in and out of the church— are simply trying to find a way to connect with their Higher Power in a way that feels right to them. If we do want to create a welcoming environment, it will not be by guilting, shaming, belittling, excluding, manipulating, or coercing. If we want to create a welcoming environment, it will be by becoming truly Christ-like.

During His earthly ministry, I don’t think Christ made anyone His project. I think He genuinely loved people, with no ulterior motive. If they chose to follow Him, great. But if they didn’t want to follow Him, I don’t think He ever stopped loving them. I don’t believe that Christ’s love is dependent on membership status, worthiness, if they stayed for all 2 hours of church, attended every Relief Society activity, or whatever else we may expect of the people around us.

I think He just really liked people. I want to be more like Him.

I want people to have left the church to feel like they can share their feelings with the people they love. I want them to feel welcome at church potlucks. I want them to know that they are accepted and loved just as they are—that this acceptance and love isn’t dependent on them being a certain way or following a certain path. I believe that that’s the kind of love that Christ offers, so why shouldn’t we?

In the next few episodes, I will be interviewing people who have left the church. The conversations won’t be about WHY they left, but about how we can better show up and love them. How we, as members, can create a more Christ-like culture around this circumstance. And the conversations will be initiated by me, an active member of the Church.

I hope these healthy, respectful, and kind conversations will help heal some of the hurtful culture surrounding people leaving the LDS church. I hope that active members of the church will feel open to listening and learning.

Again, my highest priority is to keep these episodes and conversations respectful and kind. I intend to create a safe space both for the individuals sharing, and also for those listening.

I want to share some resources that I found while I was going through my own faith journey—or as I like to call it, culture crisis—last year. These resources helped me expand my vision of discipleship and of the love of God.


Resources

Episode 238 of the Jody Moore Podcast: God’s Thoughts about You with Kurt Francom. This episode taught me that God is NEVER disappointed in me—and how Kurt shared this belief is just incredible. I highly recommend this episode if you want to better understand the infinite depths of God’s compassion.

Camille Osborn spoke about navigating a faith crisis at SALT Summit in fall 2020. She shared that there are actually MULTIPLE aspects to the church—such as culture, doctrine, organization, etc.—and identifying what areas we struggle with can actually help us remember the areas that we DON’T struggle with—or something to that effect. I wish Camille would share more about her insights, because they are SO insightful and helped me so much.

I also began following some Instagram accounts of incredible women looking to promote vulnerability and openness in the LDS culture. @RosieCard opens the door to difficult conversations about topics such as politics, racism, and more. It’s refreshing to see someone talk about these issues respectfully and openly—especially when I didn’t feel like I could talk openly about them with many people in my life.

The Instagram account @certain.women also regularly cultivates conversations specifically about LDS culture. According to their bio, they’re “A safe place for all active, post, and somewhere-in-the-middle Mormons seeking to positively change Church culture.” I LOVE THIS PAGE.

I recently found Chelsea Homer (@chels_homer), who has shared about her faith journey at the hashtag #sundaychatswithchels. Again, it is just so refreshing to hear someone talk openly about this topic.

A couple months ago I wrote about creating more authenticity in the LDS church through vulnerability. That article is in many ways tied to the purpose of this podcast.

Lastly, the thing that finally, after months of questions, helped me feel like I still belonged in this space: Monica Packer sharing about her faith journey on her podcast, About Progress. She shared in 2018, then again in 2020 (I listened to 2020 first, but technically it’s good to go in chronological order).


Thank you SO MUCH for listening. I don’t have set days or times when new episodes will be released, but you can find all updates by subscribing to this podcast, following me on Instagram @lookslikewandering, or subscribing to my email newsletter at allieabarnes.com or lookslikewandering.com. 

<3

LLW Ep. #19: When things don’t go as planned, with Jayne Preciado

We’re talking to Jayne Preciado of @habitual.joy on Instagram. She shares her story of moving abroad to China to teach earlier this year, then having to leave suddenly upon rumors of the borders closing because of COVID-19. We talk about how to cope when things don’t go according to plan, about finding joy in the season we’re in, and more! Thank you so much for joining us, Jayne!

Ep. 15: Making the Most of Unexpected Changes (Featuring MY MOM!)

I had no idea the changes that would happen between the time I recorded this episode with my mom in early March to when it was released two weeks later. COVID-19 was barely on my mind—I was just surprised when I couldn’t buy toilet paper that week at Walmart. And here we are now, practicing social distancing, and some of us in isolation.

Life has changed and most of us have a lot of adapting to do. This interview is more applicable than ever.

In this interview, my mom, Julie Barnes, shares her journeys with fibromyalgia, several months of almost continuous vertigo due to a hormone issue, and most recently, Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or “Painful Bladder Syndrome.” While she has struggled with fibromyalgia for several years, the vertigo and later IC kept her mostly at home, and sometimes bedridden. She had to leave the job she loved, and later the church assignment she loved, and find new ways to find joy and fulfillment in her new circumstances.

Me and my Mom <3

During the interview, my mom mentions a charity she sews for, Teeny Tears. It’s a great resource if anyone who is looking for a service opportunity or if anyone works at a hospital or funeral home and would like to request items. (From their website: “Teeny Tears is a service organization that provides tiny flannel diapers, mini blankets, and no-sew stockinette hats at no charge to hospitals, funeral homes, and bereavement support organizations for families that have suffered the loss of a preemie or micropreemie child through stillbirth or NICU loss. Serving the bereavement community since November of 2011, we currently provide clothing to more than 2,500 hospitals worldwide.”)

My family with my mom’s parents, Christmas 2019

My mom is also very spiritual, and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of her favorite religious books is Making It Through the Middle by Emily Freeman. (I agree, it’s very uplifting!)

My family, December 2019

I love my mom so much, and I’m so glad I get to share her with you today! Feel free to connect with me and her on the Looks Like Wandering Instagram page.

Thanks so much, mama! And thank you to everyone for listening!

Ep. 14: From Stay-at-Home Mom to Podcaster

Today we’re talking to Jenny Furse who, along with her husband Joe, hosts the Of Progress and Purpose Podcast! Jenny shares her journey from student to working mom to stay-at-home mom to podcaster. She also shares some of the values that she and Joe share on their podcast. Jenny is a light, and I’m so grateful for the chance to share her with you!

Hear more from Jenny on the Of Progress and Purpose podcast:

Listen on Anchor.FM
Instagram
Website

Thanks so much, Jenny!

Ep. 12: From Copywriter to Dream Pop Vocalist

Kendall Sallay-Milotz and I have known each other since MIDDLE SCHOOL, so you know this episode is going to be great! There’s too much love and history there to not be great!

Kendall plays in the dream pop band Starover Blue (website / Bandcamp / Instagram). In this interview, she shares about her path as a musician, from choir member to lead vocalist of a band. She shares how she balances a full time job that she loves, as well as pursuing her passion for music. She shares the value of sacrifice and hard work.

Here are some photos of the band, but also of me singing with Kendall/Starover Blue, because those are some of my most favorite memories ever.

Photo by Gary Barnes, Holocene Portland, January 2020
Photo by Gary Barnes, Holocene Portland, January 2020
Photo by Gary Barnes, Doug Fir, Portland
Album Release, September 2019 (I’m on the right!)

And some throwbacks… 😉

2007, San Diego
2007, San Diego (Photo by my cousin Morgan Miller, I believe!)
2006, Les Miserables in High School. Kendall and I sang in the Pirates of Penzance, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Mis together.

I have always been SO proud of Kendall. I think we both cry when we listen to each other’s recordings. When we sing together, it’s hard to tell my voice from her’s because we’ve literally been singing together for half our lives. My friendship with Kendall has been one of the greatest of my life. I’m just so happy to share her with you today.

P.S. Some of my favorite songs on their latest album Ordinary Magic are A B Y, Anemone, and The Howl Makes No Sound!

P.P.S. Every year, Kendall, Dirk and I record a cover of a song. Here’s one of those:

Thanks so much, Kendall! <3

Ep. 11: I’m organizing an event!

As I’ve met with business owners in Beaver County over the last few weeks, I started to see a need: women business owners—many of whom run their businesses out of their homes—want to connect with other women business owners, and they want opportunities to learn. I kept having this thought that I can create a space for this for them, and I try to never ignore a reoccurring though, so here we are! If you are a woman business owner in Beaver County (or the surrounding areas), OR a potential/hopeful/future business owner, you are invited to this free event on March 18 in Beaver.

Most of the evening will be just chatting and getting to know each other. We’ll also have a speaker or two sharing about different selling platforms and doing a brief Q&A (if this event is successful, I’m lightly planning to do more of them, with different topics covered each time). We will share tools and resources to help you fill any gaps you notice in your business. And, if that wasn’t enough already, I’m planning on having refreshments!

RSVP on the Facebook event, and be sure to tell your friends! See ya soon!

Ep. 10: From Design Student to Comedian

I had such a hard time naming this episode and what I landed on didn’t even contain the amazing middle of his career path!! SO MANY TWISTS! (Two actually. Two twists). Luckily, we reveal those pretty quickly in the episode, so at least give it 5 minutes then you’ll be HOOKED!

Tanner Rahlf and I lived in the same apartment complex years ago and have kept in touch since then (Facebook!). Tanner is currently working for a local company while simultaneously building his career as a stand up comedian in the Provo, Utah area. In this episode, he shares his path and also gives a lot of great insights into how to try out comedy, and pursue it further.

Tanner mentioned the late comedian Mitch Hedberg during our interview. You can watch some of Mitch’s stand up on YouTube.

Find Tan Tan Comedy on Facebook. You can find some of his stand up on YouTube. And if you’re in Utah, definitely check out one of his live shows!

Thanks so much, Tanner!

Ep. 9: From Art Student to Mom & Artist

When Megan Geilman was growing up, she hoped to someday be a mom and an artist—both! She can now confidently say she’s both. After taking years off to begin a family, Megan has made her mark in the Provo, Utah art scene, having her award winning pieces displayed in both solo and group shows. In this interview she shares about studying art education in college, coming back into the art scene years later, finding her style, and making the leap from art as a hobby to a career.

Here is the Christmas card she created for her family that she mentions in the episode:

And here are more of the pieces she mentioned:

In the interview, she mentions that she is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (so am I!). Click here to go to the Church website to learn more.

For the latest updates and to see more of her recent pieces, find Megan on Instagram at @megan.knobloch.geilman.