Christian, exmormon

Do It Afraid…

I’m currently listening to a book called, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, by Sheila Walsh.  As I was listening today, she talked about having faith of a mustard seed and how much power that little bit of faith in God can have in your life. As she was talking, I thought about why I haven’t written or been consistent in writing a blog over the last year, and I think the biggest reason is because I am afraid. God has given me everything that I’ve wanted in a job in more. I have more than I ever thought I could want in a career and he’s opening up doors for me that I never even thought would be a possibility for me.  I am setting goals for and pursuing things that never even crossed my mind in the past and I am excited about my career and my future.  I know God put me where I am in my job and my career.  He has opened every door, cleared every path for me to be where I am at today, and yet I can’t trust him. I fear that if I share my faith with my new co-workers and friends, that I might offend someone. Maybe someone will find out something about me they don’t like, or maybe, somehow my faith, blog, or past will come back to haunt me or come back to me in a negative way.  Funny thing is, God loves me, and God put me there.  I know that.

I’ve sat down many times over the last few months and started to write a blog. Or I have written a blog, but it is still sitting on my computer. I haven’t posted it or haven’t finished it because I’m afraid of what people are going to think what people are going to say.  I’m afraid of offending someone or afraid that someone will find something out about my past. Which is really funny because, that’s why I started the blog in the first place, to share my past and to reach out to people. I keep going back to a previous conversation I had with a friend and that I wrote about where I said God’s got my back and if he takes my job from me, he’s got something better. I think it was easier to have that attitude at my last job because that was a negative environment for me, and I didn’t care if I lost my job anyway. I love my job now.  I love where things are going, and I am scared to lose what I have.  I don’t want to lose what I have, and I don’t even have faith of even a mustard seed to keep going, to follow through. I don’t trust God enough that if he provided this for me, he going to see it through. I know that it I don’t have to have “enough” faith or that I don’t have to be perfect.  I know God loves me and an even through my lack of faithfulness and my struggle that is He there for me every step of the way.

I’m so so grateful for His grace. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t stop and thank God for saving me!  Every day I look back and I wonder where would I be if I was still Mormon? I can’t even I can’t even fathom or imagine where my life would be. I’m so grateful to him every day for taking me out of a belief system where I was taught, I had to do enough, be strong enough, or have faith enough.  I will never reach that.

You would think when life is going right, you are at peace, and content, it would be easier to trust God.  But I am learning that it’s not.  God is definitely telling me to trust him, and I am more afraid than when I am in the midst of a storm. I don’t have faith enough, but I do have the faith of a mustard seed even though I am scared.  I can believe that God is going to take care of me I can do it while I’m afraid.

So, I guess, this is a kind of renewal of my commitment to God and what He has called me to do.  I think it is ok for me to be afraid.  I need to share my faith, my story, and keep being me because the only one who really matters put me where I am now.  I don’t know the future, I don’t know where things will go in my life and my career.  What I do know that God keeps telling me “You need to keep doing your blog and you need to keep sharing”. I need to be proud of who I am and where I came from. I need to have just the faith of a mustard seed and trust in what God has already done in my life.  I need to stand strong in God’s love and share my faith.

I’m Just a Small-Town Girl…trying to have faith of a mustard seed, even when I’m afraid.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Scars…

“So I’m thankful for the scars

‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart

And I know they’ll always tell of who You are

So forever I am thankful for the scars”

~Scars~ I AM THEY

This has recently become one of my favorite songs.  The words “I am thankful for the scars ‘cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart” go through my mind several times throughout the day. In my line of work, I am often reminded of my past and there are so many times I want to tell people, “You need Jesus!” But I don’t…

Over the past several months, I have had some family ruckus, and it has brought up a lot of past emotions and memories.  I have had days where I am tearful, frustrated, and angry. But then I remind myself of where I am at.

Merriam-Webster defines a scar as “a mark remaining (as on the skin) after injured tissue has healed”.  The best part of that statement is after injured tissue has healed.

never be ashamed

The difficult things with scars, is that even though they have healed on the outside, doesn’t mean they are healed on the inside.  And even when they have healed, they can be tender to touch or bump. There can be a buildup of scare tissue and if you bump that scar just right, the pain can be excruciating.

Our brain is much the same as those physical scars we see.  When the scars on our brain are “bumped”, it can activate painful memories and emotions that put you right back into the moment you were hurt.

I already had many scars from the bumps and bruises of childhood.  And many others from my adolescence where I struggled with low self-worth, depression, and anxiety.  If you look closely, I have a few scars on my wrist from cutting or passive suicide attempts.  I have one big scar on my shoulder from cutting where I had to get stitches.

When I am in certain situations or around certain people, those scars the physical and emotional can make me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. This most often happens when I am around my family and especially my extended Mormon family.

The most recent episode, was recently at my uncle’s funeral.  I was speaking with an uncle and a cousin came up and interrupted our conversation.  She didn’t even acknowledge that I was having a conversation, she didn’t say excuse me or apologize for interrupting, she didn’t say anything to me. She just butted into our conversation, didn’t even look my way, and spoke with my uncle as if I didn’t even exist.   She finished her conversation and walked away without even conceding that I was there, that I am human, and I have feelings. At the same funeral, another cousin who I grew up spending a lot of time with and I was close to, didn’t come up and talk to me.  I attempted to talk to her but she was busy and didn’t even look my way.  I walked out with my head held high, but inside I felt like that teenage girl who would never be enough.

amazing grace

There was another situation a few months ago were I had another cousin post something about immigration he quoted Matthew 25:40 “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  This cousin has been highly judgmental of me since I left the faith of my childhood and have walked away from many of the toxic relationships that fed into my feelings of not being enough.

These situations come up more often than I like to admit. I think it is easy to feel ashamed by my scars, especially when I am in a place of struggle.  My scars can weigh me down and make feel embarrassed and worthless. It is in these times I am so grateful for my God and the knowledge I have that He loves me and created me to be who I am.

One thing I have realized recently is that Jesus had scars.  He was God in human form.  When He was resurrected and showed himself to the apostles, he had scars.  Thomas didn’t believe it was Jesus until He showed him His scars.  John 20:27 “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here see my hands. Reach out you hand and put it to my side.  Stop doubting and believe’”.

his scars

Jesus had the ability to heal himself of the scars.  To make it so the physical marks of his torture and anguish for our sins were gone, and He kept them.  Christ’s scars are a reminder to me of His humanness.  A reminder that he knows my pain.  He struggled and suffered as a human.  He was tempted but resisted sin in a way I can’t so He would be a Holy sacrifice for me.

As I have grown in my life and healed, from the traumas of my past, I have realized, it is my own negative self-talk that brings me down and holds me hostage the most.  I am grateful for the scars, and the experiences from each one.  I know it sounds sort of cliché. But I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those experiences and with those comes the scars.  It is part of what makes me human and makes me, me.

If I didn’t have the experiences, I wouldn’t know Christ, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t have met all the people along the way who have helped me become me. So, I am thankful for the scars.

I’m Just a Small-Town Girl…Living in a world where I am thankful for the scars.

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exmormon, LDS, mormonism

Good enough for Heaven…

Well, here we are again, it is the weekend of LDS 189th bi-annual General Conference.  May the odds be ever in your favor…

devils net

The current Mormon prophet Russell M. Nelson has made a lot of changes already during his time as the Mormon leader. One of those changes is instead of having a priesthood meeting only for the young men in the church, on the Saturday evening before conference, they now switch off between having a meeting for the young men and young women.  This conference, was the young women’s turn.  They announced new curriculum for the young women to follow.

When I was growing up, the LDS young women followed the personal progress program. There was a theme and motto we would memorize and repeat every Sunday at the beginning of our young women’s meeting.

We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand as witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places as we strive to live the young women values, which are faith, divine, nature, individual worth, knowledge choice and accountability, good works and integrity *(virtue).

We believed as we come to accept and act upon these values we will be prepared to *(strengthen home and family) make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

*added in 2009

 

With the changes of the curriculum, they changed the motto, it now reads:

I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and eternal destiny.  As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become more like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name.

I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.  As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day. With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.

The thing that stood out to me most was the change in strive to live by the young women values and strive to qualify for exaltation.   One thing I have always struggled with in regards to the Mormon belief system is having to be “good enough”.  I have had many people tell me that Mormonism isn’t a works-based faith.  When I have to “qualify” for something that means I really have to work to try to achieve it and I have to be good enough to make it.

No

Dictionary.com defines qualify as:

verb (used with object), qual·i·fied, qual·i·fy·ing.

to provide with proper or necessary skills, knowledge, credentials, etc.; make competent: to qualify oneself for a job.

verb (used without object), qual·i·fied, qual·i·fy·ing.

to be fitted or competent for something.

to get authority, license, power, etc., as by fulfilling required conditions, taking an oath, etc.

Dictionary.com defines live as:

to practice, represent, or exhibit in one’s life: to live one’s philosophy.

Dictionary.com defines strive as:

verb (used without object), strove or strived, striv·en [striv-uh n] or strived, striv·ing.

to exert oneself vigorously; try hard: He strove to make himself understood.

to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.

to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.

In my mind there is a big difference between “to practice, represent or exhibit in one’s life” and “to provide with proper or necessary skills, knowledge, credentials, or be competent for”.

Ephesians

For me this post brings up so many reminders of my past. Thoughts and feelings of not being enough. Shame. Guilt. Self-hate, and doubt.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt as an adolescent hearing those words- “Strive to Qualify for Exaltation”.  Wow, the weight of the world on your shoulders at 12!  And today’s world is so much more difficult for adolescents then I could have ever imagined.

If you know my story, you know I struggled my whole life with depression and feelings of worthlessness.  I knew I would never be good enough. I knew I could never be perfect.  I knew I could never do enough to make it to Heaven. When I was in 5th grade I had a “personal revelation”.  That was the first time it really hit me what Christ had done on the cross for me.  I knew my sins.  I knew the things I had done wrong. My “personal revelation” told me that I could never do enough to make up for the things I had already done wrong in my life.  But in my Mormon belief system, I knew even that thought was a sin.

People begin healing the moment they feel heard.  I cried out to God and a faithful Christian, with a personal connection to God reached out to me in faith.  It was the first time I felt heard, and the first time I heard that God loved me regardless of anything I had done.

My heart goes out to the youth in the LDS church today.  Especially the young women who are struggling to fit into a cookie cutter mold when that isn’t who God created them to be.  I know no matter how much I “strive to qualify for exaltation” or try and be good enough for Heaven, I am only setting myself up for failure.  I decided to rewrite the motto of what I try to live by.

shine

I am a beloved child of a Heavenly Father who created me just as I am and has a purpose for my life.  As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to follow His example. I attempt to pursue a personal relationship with God and will express my love for Him by showing His love to others. I will aim to place my faith in God at all times and in all things, and in all places, as I strive to live a life as a disciple of Christ, knowing I am a sinner and I will fail. I am saved only by grace through His sacrifice and death on the cross for my sins. I cherish the gift of the Cross and seek to improve each day. By faith, I will grow in my trust and relationship with God, following Christ and living by His word.

I’m just a Small-Town-Girl…saved by grace in a works-based world.

Christian

My Size 9’s Are Different Than Yours…

I once had a client tell me “My size 9’s are different than your size 9’s or any one else’s, size 9’s”.  She was talking about her path in life.  Although there are other people who have been through similar experiences, her experience is unique to her and will never be the same as any one else’s.  I don’t even wear a size nine, but that stuck with me.  I use her analogy a lot with clients and discuss their circumstances and their life path.  Their journey is different than anyone else.  They will have times when they are doing well and times when they struggle.  They will have times when they are growing and thriving and times, they feel lost and like they are starting over. But it is all part of their journey.

called wm

I think it is easy to look at that analogy and use it in the context of life as a whole.  However, I think in the Christian walk, there is an expectation that once you accept Christ, life may have its up’s and down’s but your Christian walk has expectations and milestones that need to be met to measure your level of belief or faith in God.

I really struggle when people start putting expectations on my faith. I don’t believe God has a check list or a chart that measures a person’s faith.  I don’t believe that getting baptized, paying tithing, volunteering at church, attending church, or even reading the Bible determines my love for God, where I am in my journey, or how much faith I have.  None of that can determine the level of my relationship with my Savior.  None of that can determine my salvation.

This summer I have been in a small group Bible study that has talked about becoming a disciple for Christ.  I have very much enjoyed the time with the ladies in my group and I have learned a lot.  For a long time, I had a belief that a disciple was a teacher, someone who taught people about Jesus.  But the definition of a disciple is any follower of Christ. Not someone who has done all the right things, not someone who is good enough, not someone who has checked all the Christian boxes on their journey.  I loved this realization.  I am a disciple of Christ.  I follow Him.

 

I think when people become followers of Christ, when they truly surrender their hearts and have a desire to follow Jesus, there is a desire to grow, to change, to become better in your life.  However, with anything, there are stages of growth and change. In the Bible study book, we have been using this summer the last chapter talked about how in Alaska due to the way the seasons are the amount of sunshine during the summer months there is a rapid growth during that time.  The author talked about the “hot house” effect stated how in awe he and his wife were of the flowers, pumpkins, and other vegetables they found in Alaska in early July.  The reason is because of the rapid growth that happens from May to through August.  It is a short season but the growth is fast an amazing, but then Alaska has a long season of cold and dark, where there is little to no sun, and nothing grows.

following wm

I think it is so easy for the religiosity of people to get caught up in the judgments and measuring people by the tangible things they see.  I have mentioned before my struggle with religion.  I think when people start creating expectations, rules, requirements for salvation or faith, that is the most detrimental thing a disciple you can do.  Jesus never had expectations except to follow Him. Your path, your size 9’s are part of your journey, part of your demonstration of your faith.  God will use you where you are at on His terms.

God has always used regular everyday people to spread his message. I recently heard a new song by one of my favorite Christian bands Casting Crowns.  The song is called Nobody and the chorus says:

Moses had stage fright
And David brought a rock to a sword fight
You picked twelve outsiders nobody would’ve chosen
And You changed the world
Well, the moral of the story is
Everybody’s got a purpose

So when I hear that devil start talking to me, saying
“Who do you think you are?” I say

I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody
All about Somebody who saved my soul
Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

know wm

I guess the whole point is we all have our own size 9’s and as long as those size 9’s are on a path to Jesus, God will use us as he sees fit.  My size 8’s are way different than your size 9’s and just because you don’t like someone else’s shoes or you don’t like how they are progressing in their walk doesn’t make you the expert in the journey.

I’m just a Small Town Girl…Living life with Jesus in my size 8’s.

Christian

Uncomfortable…

I read a quote today that said, “When God wants you to grow, He makes you uncomfortable.”  Well, let’s just say, I’ve been really uncomfortable lately.  I have been very busy.  I have been challenged in just about every aspect of my life.  I have had to stop and reflect on my values and core beliefs, and at times I have stopped and questioned “Do I really believe in God?”  Thankfully, that question doesn’t linger long in my mind.  God is real, and He makes Himself known to me often.

helplessness

I have had many times when I have thought I was going to write a blog, and for what ever reason, it just wasn’t what God wanted for me.  I’ve been growing.  The nice thing is that even when you’re growing nothing blooms forever, so I know there will be a time when I get to reflect on my growth.  I don’t know if I am there yet, but I know it’s coming.

The last several months, I have been through many hills and valleys.  I have prayed for things and God has come through in ways that I never could have imagined.  He has answered those prayers with more than I could have imagined.   I have also prayed for things and God has said no, or not now, wait.  These prayers have been for things that have been for somethings that are easy to accept but others have been heart wrenching.   In the moments when I have felt broken, I have also been able to feel God’s strength carrying me.  Through it all the message has been “Trust me.”  And with every step even in my brokenness, I can feel myself becoming stronger in my faith and I know God only wants the best for me.

Through all of the struggle, it has been made clear over and over to me that God is real.  I encounter people on a regular basis who don’t believe in God.  They are atheist or agnostic, I had a conversation recently where someone told me, there is no proof that God exists and until there is I have no reason to believe.  A statement like that baffles me because I see God every day.  I see God in the sunsets, the stars, flowers, I see God when I look in the mirror.  And I know without a doubt, even though I go through storms in life, I would rather go through them with God by my side, than with out Him.

science

Over the past few months of not writing, God has confirmed to me that I am His daughter! The daughter of the King of the Universe.  And the day I called His name and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior I became flawless in His eyes.  Even in the darkest, most difficult days, when I am having the hardest time, when I feel the most inadequate, and worthless, God reminds me, I am His, He is in control of my life and I have no reason to fear. God knows my struggle and He will take care of me.

limitations

I know that every hill and valley I am going through, every experience, every person He brings into my life, is preparation for the amazing future he has for me.  Change is hard, being uncomfortable is hard. But God knows what I need, and He has amazing plans for my life. He is continually saying “Trust me.”  And through every hill and valley, that is what I’m trying to do. God is putting the pieces of my life together and even though I am uncomfortable, that means I’m growing, and the most beautiful things take a lot of time and care to reach their fullest potential.

I’m just a Small-Town Girl… Uncomfortable growing in God’s world.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Overwhelming, Never-ending…

“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” ~CH Spurgeon

Growing up in my Mormon world I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect.  I believed that I would never be good enough to go to Heaven.  As a Christian I know I will never be good enough to go to Heaven, I will never do enough to get to Heaven.  I take comfort in knowing that because of Christ I will go to Heaven.

do not fear

Every day I am so amazed by the love God has for me.  It blows my mind to think of His suffering and pain on the cross and although Christ knew of the anguish he would go through when He was put on the cross and yet He willingly went through it all for me.  I am so undeserving of His love and grace, and yet, He is so willing to give it to me.

Living everyday life is hard.  I try to be the person I want to be.  But that is also fueled by the expectations of those around me.  I fail every day.  The most amazing thing is when I fail God’s love and grace are still there for me.  Every day, I try to keep God at the center of my life, and every day I fail.  I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think back to my life before Christ and I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t answered the phone, or if I hadn’t believed that God loves me. If I still lived in my Mormon world I don’t know how I would survive.

reckless love

There is a song called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, the chorus states:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

Think about that for a minute…God loves you so much, He would leave his flock to find you, to fight for you.  I fail every day.  I fall short every day.  I can’t earn God’s love or grace.  I will never be deserving of Gods love or grace.

I know I am a sinner, a failure, a hypocrite, a disappointment, and yet my God still loves me.  He’d leave the 99 to come find Me! In my hardest darkest days, that is what keeps me going.  Knowing that I can’t do anything to make God not love me. Knowing that no matter what, He has forgiven a horrible, hypocritical, sinner like me.

you are enough

Knowing all my failures and shortcomings, “I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.”

It feels amazing to know…

I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in the Reckless Love of God.