It was an odd situation, moving to the heart of Utah valley at the age of twelve so that my Mom could be with her new girlfriend. We’d already moved around six times, but this was different. We were suddenly surrounded by Mormons who apparently didn’t agree with the idea of women being together. So it surprised me everyday that when I came home from school with an invitation to go somewhere, my stepmother even let me. She grew up Mormon, already having experienced the grief and backlash for natural human desires such as her own. I imagine she encouraged my baptism to get me out of the house, already having expressed her displeasure for taking on a second child.
I was thankful to have concluded that the church wasn’t for me before I became an adult. When I left my abusive home, it became my personal mission to live a bright, creative life. Full of hope and happiness; free from negative influences. All based on my personal values, but these values were more difficult to interpret than expected.
When I first started smoking cannabis, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong. Legalities aside, it was an odd feeling to have. At that point, I’d already left the repressive Mormon lifestyle and religion for a more personal, more open-minded one. The fact of the matter was that I loved the feeling weed brought me. The creative energy it gave me seemed invaluable to my aspiring career as a writer. As much as the nagging voice in my head told me to quit, I never believed it enough to stop. In fact, I came up with ways to completely eliminate the negative discourse that came along with the culture around it.
The first things I had to do was structure my own values.
So I left the Mormon lifestyle and wanted to smoke? This didn’t mean I wanted to give up my faith in God. To me, nothing less than that could create a world so beautiful or a feeling as strong as love. I understand why others disagree, but it was my belief. One I carried long before joining the church.
The new post-Mormon culture of Utah I was now in heavily disagreed. Just as the church worked hard to influence me their way, the new people I hung out with laughed at the idea of a God. I was reasonable enough to understand their point of view, but unfortunately that wasn’t two-sided. They did their best to influence me, and for a while their arguments made a ton of sense.
It tested my faith for a couple of years. Sending me back and forth on whether I was delusional for talking to a man in the sky; completely torn over points under both value systems. I just wanted to be the best, smartest version of myself. How could I smoke weed and still have a good relationship with God? Everything told me that I could not do both. God would see my faith as invalid if I refused to give up a plant that helps me feel lighter.
It took time to learn that you could create your own value system by studying ethics and philosophy. My conclusions showed that I didn’t have to change for my friends or my faith. I also didn’t have to keep my values within the scope of some rule or debate book. Changing your mind about a few of them doesn’t have to steer you towards an unhealthy counterculture. Once I began to trust that notion, I was hit with the reality that it was time to get the hell out of dodge. Utah was never my place and I was finally in a position to leave.
The next thing I had to do was be somewhere that I loved. For me, that was escaping to Florida. Conditioning out of a heavily influenced, controlled way of living wasn’t easy. I combated this mindset by building a nice home within my new apartment space. I adopted two cats and built habits around my goals, vision for the future, and soon enough, my love for weed.
I attribute my new and intricate ways of thinking to how I focused on healing during this time. With room to work on mindsets and tinker with the directions I wanted to grow, weed helped me grind through those thought processes and also carefully consider many hard decisions and lessons. My quick turnarounds are a byproduct of the ways it helped me to think. .
Which is why I felt stumped when 15% of my brain still flooded my heart with guilt when I smoked. It was an irrational paranoia of the past, touting disconfidence in my downtime. What was ridiculous is that I now smoked with a new crowd of kind and conservative Christian people. They kept faith and felt comfortable with weed, so what could I do to cultivate that?
I first tested myself by removing the main variable: I took a break. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. After about a month without weed, I accomplished just as much creatively as I did before. What I noticed when I picked it back up was the bottom line: it just made everything better. It offered a door to connecting more, with food, nature, partners, even spirituality. I just had to align it with healthy habits.
I knew three things:
1. I was unwilling to give up the assured positive effects that the plant brought into my life, especially not for a repressed devotion to God.
2. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice something this simple to be faithful and thankful.
3. Past misgivings were a lot to do with the residual negative thought processes that brought these bad thoughts up. So it wasn’t God who conditioned my mind to feel guilty all the time. There was factual evidence to show the unfortunate figureheads who caused it.
So the answer was simple: I considered weed to be a blessing, and just like every other blessing I had to be thankful and actively recognize that. Everybody in today’s world has heard that gratitude is a path to happiness
The first time I took a moment to pause and say thank you to God for keeping weed around, all of my guilt depleted.
For those who have faith, you know what this reassurance feels like. Warm energy covers your shoulders, vanquishing distress from your mind. A feeling of calm, assurance and relaxation overcame me and for the first time in forever, I enjoyed my smoke session with no reservations.
For anyone who struggles but wishes to keep faith, weed, and gratitude in one balanced idea, being thankful, trusting your values, and creating a life you’re proud of is one of the strongest paths to happiness.
I’ve solved my wish for keeping my values by thanking God every time I smoke. It’s erased the preconditioned guilt that clouded my head for years. The fear mongering of oppressive churches and parents visibly dissolved. Nobody deserves to walk on eggshells others dropped in front of them. My faith in weed never needed to fall, and my faith in God didn’t have to either.
Say thank you. Take a hit. I promise, you’re allowed to relax.