***Update***: Please read this follow-up post that explains how and why the story was published on LDS Living.
Last year, the day before Kaydin Alabbas was set to begin his traditional two-year mission for the Mormon Church, he was on vacation with his family in Utah’s Bryce Canyon when he told his family something that had been weighing heavily on his mind: He didn’t want to go.
[Alabbas] informed his family that after a lifetime of planning for a mission, he wouldn’t be serving one. “I told my dad first,” Alabbas said during a telephone interview… “We went for a walk and I said I definitely was not going to serve. He was disappointed, of course, and told me I would have to tell my mom myself.”
So he told his mom. And how did she react?
When the tense moments blew away, his mother walked to the family van, opened the door, removed her son’s suitcases, set them on the ground, and invited her husband and two younger children to load up. In a matter of seconds, they were gone.
Dumbstruck, Alabbas stood alone at the campsite.
I asked Alabbas what was going through his mind that night. “I’ve just been left at Bryce Canyon… By my own family!”
Seriously. They just left him there. Because he was having doubts about his faith and he wasn’t sure he wanted to dedicate the next two years of his life to something he wasn’t fully committed to.
Alabbas walked to a gas station and called his grandparents. Since they couldn’t pick him up until the next morning, the people who ran the gas station were kind enough to give him a place to stay.
Here’s the messed up part of all this.
This isn’t a story about the trauma some people have to deal with because they tell their religious parents they no longer believe in the faith.
It’s supposed to be an inspirational story about Mormonism. Really. In fact, when reporter Jason F. Wright published it yesterday, here’s how he portrayed Alabbas’ reaction to his family deserting him:
I asked Alabbas what was going through his mind that night. “I’ve just been left at Bryce Canyon,” he laughed. “By my own family!”
He laughed! It’s so funny!
It turns out when his grandparents picked him up and he confessed his doubts to them, his grandfather pleaded with him to just go to the Mission Training Center. Just the part before the mission actually begins. And if, after training, his heart still wasn’t in it, the grandfather would pick him up and they’d all “just move on.”
Wouldn’t you know it, Alabbas rediscovered his faith and he’s now serving as a missionary and everyone’s happy! That’s why he can retell the story with a laugh.
But seriously, what the hell were his parents thinking?!
If this story didn’t have anything to do with religion, it’d be about parents who left their child at a national park campsite because he was being disobedient. The parents forced their child to fend for himself. What if his grandparents didn’t live nearby? No one would call any of that a feel-good story.
Wright also spoke with Sarah Hyatt, who thought abandoning her son was the right way to deal with his temporary apostasy.
More than a year after leaving her son standing at a campsite with his mouth hanging open, Sarah Hyatt has no regrets. “Leaving Kaydin in Bryce Canyon wasn’t out of anger. Our hearts were broken. His future suddenly became unclear. We felt like failures as parents.”
Still, Hyatt believes their only choice was to put their son in the hands of the Lord in their creative way. “We felt inspired to step away when we no longer had any control. And we witnessed the biggest miracle of our lives, letting the Lord work through his grandparents, as they issued him a challenge to try.”
Her argument is seriously We didn’t know what to do, so we abandoned our child and put his life in Heavenly Father’s hands. Mysterious ways, AMIRITE?!.
They didn’t even leave him a freakin’ flare gun.
As one commenter noted, though, this is hardly inspirational and the parents should know that:
I guess you’re lucky this didn’t lead to suicide, homelessness, heavy drugs, and a permanently damaged relationships. If there is anything that you did that should cause you feel like you “failed as parents”, it should be that your love for you child was conditional.
Alabbas, for his part, offers some disturbing advice for other parents who may one day be in the same position as his own.
“Be patient. Tell them it’s all right to be afraid. Invite them to try and to trust the Lord and to just take one more step. Make one more commitment. And if you leave them somewhere,” he finished with a laugh, “make sure they get picked up.”
Hahahahahahahahahaha. Just hilarious.
For what it’s worth, I’m not criticizing him. If that’s his experience, so be it. If he genuinely wants to be a Mormon, that’s fine. If he finds humor in this story, okay. But what an awful idea to retell it as if other parents could learn a lesson from his own.
I’ve reached out to Alabbas, too, to see if there’s more to this story or if he gets why it’s more horrific than inspirational. I’ll post an update if and when I hear back.
***Update***: LDSLiving has since published another version of this story, focusing on the grandfather instead of the mother, but doesn’t go into any detail about how and why Alabbas was abandoned.
(Screenshot via Facebook. Thanks to Ryan for the link. Portions of this article have been modified since the initial posting.)