This forum was a lifeline to me when my world was unraveling. I thought for a while that my experience was unique and my story important. Something close to 20 years have past and my life is happily, largely drama free. My wife and I reunited and have rebuilt lives including education, new careers, new purpose and friends. Some of our family have unsurprisingly taken the hardline, others have been more open to relationships. Why did I leave? Not long ago I would have immediately cited my research in history and science as the reason for leaving. It took me years to finally understand that while the research was the path that showed me the way out, the willingness to consider that information had to come first. Just where that 'willingness' came from was likely a complicated blend of psychology and timing. I had an extensive history with the church including many years as pioneer, missionary, PO and Bethelite and there were many, many moments when my intellect or my conscience troubled me, also, to be honest, times when my flesh tempted me, but life outside the church never occurred to me. Then it did. Was it the shear weight of all the cumulative awareness of inaccuracy, the nagging doubts and the all-too-human exchanges with those regarded as leaders that, like pieces of a puzzle, together made a clear picture? Was it simply exhaustion?
My point is simple, people leave when they are ready to, not before. The church has to stop working for them. No silver bullet, no single proof, no one bad experience. What is critical is for those inside to know there is a life outside and people who will love them. They need a place, a safe haven. Ideally, we personally can be there for them, but forums like this can suffice when need be. If you are considering a new life, congratulations! Be insightful and kind with everyone affected by this change, don't burn bridges unnecessarily, give everyone time to let everything sink in. Maybe there will be room for a respectful relationship with a few on the inside, maybe not. But at least you will not have given them reason to fear you or want you to be far away.