Before I get started this week I need to give a shout out to my amazing husband who has become my editor. I have a tendency to just write and not pay attention to punctuation or wording. He does a great job at reading through my blogs before I publish them and making sure they sound good. Also I want to give a shout out to my amazing daughter Kassidy. All of the pictures I post either she or I took. This week’s picture is one she took. Thank you Kass for being such a great photographer and letting me use your pics in my blog. I love you both!
We didn’t have grow group this week because Pastor Roger, our grow group leader, is out of town. Our grow group got together for dinner but I was a bit under the weather. I thought and prayed a lot about what to write about this week and this is what God put on my heart. Have you ever heard of a book called You Are Special by Max Lucado? It is a great story about the Wemmicks and Punchiello Here’s a link to the story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15QuHygLwFU
When I was in 4th grade I wrote a poem about being someone else. About wanting to be someone or something different. Ever since I can remember, I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of who I was supposed to be.
Growing up in a Mormon world, I was supposed to be a good girl. Get baptized at 8 years old, know without a doubt Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints was the only true church. I was supposed to know the Book of Mormon was true. I was supposed to have a goal to marry a returned missionary and get married for time and all eternity in the temple. I remember the 13th article of faith is what we were to strive for. “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and doing good to all men; indeed, we may say we follow the admonition of Paul. We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
I remember being 8 years old, and my mom asking me if I was going to get baptized. I thought,”I have a choice?” Then she asked me who was going to baptize me. I thought, “I have a choice?” I obediently got baptized, at 8 years old, by my dad. I don’t think even if I really had a choice I would have done anything differently. I love my dad; he is an amazing man. I got baptized because that’s what you do when you’re 8 years old in the Mormon church. All the kids my age were doing it. I would say, all of my friends but, I’m not sure I really had any friends. It was an expectation; not a choice.
Part of the problem with getting baptized at 8 years old is, that is when you become accountable and you are now responsible for all of your own sins. I don’t think I understood what that meant. At 8 years old my slate was clean, and all of my sins were washed away. From then on I had to repent of everything I did wrong. My understanding of repenting meant I had to go to the bishop and tell him the things I had done wrong. I was supposed to be striving to be like Paul. I was supposed to be honest, true, virtuous, praise worthy. The problem was, I was a sinner. I was a liar and a thief. I lied about a lot of things. I stole money from my parents, clothes from my sisters. I often took things that weren’t mine because I liked them and I would lie about it. I wasn’t always a nice person. I didn’t ever feel praiseworthy, or lovely, or virtuous. I struggled because it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I was a “bad” person. I couldn’t do anything right. And when I would have my annual interview with the bishop, I would lie. Because I didn’t want anyone to know how bad of a person I was.
I knew how to say the right things, but I didn’t know Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I only knew what I was told ever since I can remember. I didn’t know if the LDS church was true. I read the Book of Mormon once but didn’t get any “burning in my bosom”. The thing is, how are you supposed to know if any of that is true if you don’t have anything to compare it to?
I remember when I was in high school and one of the ladies in my ward gave me a lecture about how awful of a person I was because I didn’t make my non-Mormon friends go to church with me. Oh the guilt I felt, for first of all, having non-Mormon friends, and then, not being a better example to them. And then I had a boyfriend that was non-Mormon. What a terrible person I was.
When Brian and I were first married and we had our first born, I was ready to go back to work after 4 weeks. The guilt I felt about not wanting to be a stay at home mom, was I worthy enough to be a mom at all? I liked having a job, I didn’t mind putting my son in daycare and being away from him during the day. I felt so guilty and depressed all the time. I was never good enough. I couldn’t didn’t fit the cookie cutter, no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t work.
In high school and as an adult I would often sit in my room and think about every drop of blood Jesus shed, just for me. Because I was such a horrible person, I could have killed Jesus by myself with all the things I had done wrong. I hated myself, and at times I would cut myself because I deserved to be punished for all that I did wrong.
I spent most my life struggling with depression because I tried to fit in to a mold that wasn’t created for me. When I became a Christian, one of the most powerful things I was told was, God loves me just the way I am. That was truly amazing to me. I had never heard that before. I always believed I had to work harder or do more for God to love me. As I have grown in my Christian walk, I have learned that not only does God love me the way I am, He is my Creator. He picked every piece of me and put me together. The aspects of myself that I struggled with most as a Mormon growing up, have become some of my greatest strengths. Things that I like least about myself, I am learning to accept and even love.
When I became a Christian I had to peel back all my layers back to the very basic me. I had to figure out who I was, what I believed, what was important to me. I had to find the person God created and meant for me to be, and strip away everything that I was told I had to be by the world and religion I grew up in. I had to start with the base model, from the very beginning. I had to unlearn a lot of things. I’m still unlearning things. I still will be in Grow Group or at Church on a Sunday and Pastor Roger will say something and I will look at my husband and ask, “That’s not in the Bible? That’s not true?” I’m learning I can do a lot more than I ever thought I could. But most of all, I have learned that God created me. He chose every single piece of my DNA. From my blue eyes, brown hair, and freckles, to my love for the underdog, my predisposition for high blood pressure and diabetes, my temper, and passion for things that are important to me. God chose me. And not only did He create and choose everything about me, He created me for a purpose. I used to struggle with my self-esteem and liking myself. I struggled because I didn’t fit the cookie cutter of those around me and everything I thought I was supposed to be. Now I’m just a small town girl… trying to be who God created, made, and chose, me to be. I don’t care anymore if any of the stickers stick!
Here’s a link to one of my favorite Christian Songs. Enjoy!! https://youtu.be/EKSQjSdU8VA