Posted in 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.

 

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Rock or Sand?

I hate religion!  I absolutely hate it!  Religion is judgmental and hurtful.  Religion creates a set of rules you are required to follow to measure your righteousness in life and so you can measure your salvation.  Religion is about Christianese and culture, legalism and following the rules.  And I hate it.

 

Every day, I work with people from many different backgrounds and experiences.  A few weeks ago I had a very rough week, and one thing every difficult situation I experienced had in common was religion.  Religion is a place of rules, requirements, and unrealistic expectations.

I feel like religion is a breeding ground for perfectionism, and perfectionism leads to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and shame.  I think religion takes the uncertainty out of our faith.  We no longer have to have a blind faith with religion.  We don’t have to believe in something that isn’t tangible.  Religion makes our faith tangible and measurable so we know what we need to do to win the race, to get the crown.  I think people cling to religion because we don’t like the uncertainty of faith.

perfectionism

I also think religion is a place where personal accountability to our faith is lost.  If I put on the face, go out and serve in my church, do and say the right things, then 2 thumbs up, I’m on the right track.  But where is God in what I’m doing?  Where is my accountability to God and my personal relationship? It’s lost…

It makes me think of the song “The Wise Man Built His House”

 The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

And the foolish man’s house went “splat!”

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

And the rain came tumbling down

 

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

And the wise man’s house stood firm.

I feel like those who blindly trust in religion are the foolish men and people who have a personal relationship with Christ are the wise men.

Growing up in Mormonism the focus was so often on being a Mormon and not on God or Jesus.  It’s funny because when you ask Mormon’s if they believe in Jesus or if they teach about Jesus the typical response is, “Of course we do, it’s in our name”.  The thing is, growing up the focus was rarely on Jesus or God, it was on the religion itself.  The focus was Joseph Smith and Mormonism.  But in all reality, it wasn’t very often there was a lesson about Christ or having a personal relationship with Him.

In my experience as a Mormon, the focus was all about the current prophet of the church and following the prophet.  And don’t forget “Praise to the Man” referring to Joseph Smith.  When I left Mormonism, there were so many things I found out about God, Christ, Christianity, and religion that I never knew before.  I don’t think I had even heard of grace or salvation before becoming a Christian.  They were definitely not terms we talked about in Mormonism.

personal relationship

As a Christian, I believe the most important thing is to have a personal relationship with Christ.  That means you talk to Him, and spend time reading His word, you spend time with people who are also in a relationship with Him.  I think it means the intention behind what you do is to please God.  When you have a relationship with God and that is the focus of your faith instead of religion being the focus of your faith, the shame, guilt, and self-doubt that comes with religion, don’t have room to grow, it’s easier to embrace the uncertainty.

There are many times I struggle with my relationship with Christ, when He is not first in my life.  I know when I’m struggling in life, I need to stop and refocus.  When I struggle the most it’s because I am focusing too much on what I can do and how I can control things on my own. In these moments I know my relationship with Christ is struggling.

I do think worship is important, and I think having a church and people you can connect and fellowship with is important.  When people ask my religion, I tell them Christian without hesitation.  So, maybe it isn’t really religion that I hate.  Maybe it’s the judgmental, hypocriticalness that comes from religion.  Maybe it’s the focus on rules and works versus faith and grace.

hypocrite

What I do know is, it doesn’t matter where you go to church, what you wear, the color of your hair, if you wear jewelry or not, the size of your house, bank account, or the type of car you drive, God wants you.  He wants your heart.  He wants to interact and have a relationship with you.  Religion doesn’t matter, what matters is do you know God?  Do you have a relationship with Christ?  And are you being accountable in that relationship?

I’m just a Small Town Girl…building my house upon the rock.

Posted in LDS, mormonism

Family…

One thing the Mormon church is good at is teaching that family is important.  Since I was a small child one of the most important things in my world was my family.  I would do anything for my parents and my siblings.  It didn’t matter if I had gotten in a fight with them or if my siblings were mean to me, they were my family, my world.  They were who I would be with for eternity.

family

As a Christian, one of the hardest things I have struggled with is not being able to share my faith with my family.  When Brian and I first started pulling away from the Mormon church, I struggled to explain to my family why.  I had no concrete evidence or new belief system that would help me explain to my family why we had taken off our garments, why we weren’t going to church anymore, or why we didn’t believe in the Mormon church.  The only thing I knew was Mormonism is wrong, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.

There were many times my family tried to have a conversation with me and ask me why.  I would get very defensive and walk away.  It wasn’t because they were right, it was because I was uneducated and I didn’t know how to answer their questions.  As I’ve grown in my knowledge of the Bible and in my relationship with God, I have longed for those conversations.  Not for a debate or a fight, but to share with my family the love and joy that I now have in my life from knowing Christ.  I sometimes get really frustrated and think, “Can’t they see, don’t they know how broken I was?” I want them to acknowledge how far I have come and see the change that has taken place in my life.

If I could sit down and have a conversation with my family I would share God’s love and grace with them.  The words that changed my life forever were something like, “God loves you no matter what, and there is nothing you can do to change that.”  I would love to share that message with them.  I know they would say they know that, but it’s such a different message from what the LDS church teaches.

I know I’ve had my struggles in the past.  I know I wasn’t the best daughter or sister that I could have been and I still struggle to be there for my family because of the religious barrier that stands between us.  I still love my family more than anything, and although I don’t spend a lot of time with them, I would do anything for them.  It’s just so hard when I feel like I can’t be myself or share my faith with them.  I can’t talk with them or have conversations with them like I can my Christian family and it’s heartbreaking to me.  I am not a part of their world and they aren’t a part of mine.

nemeiah

 

I miss they days when we could celebrate birthdays and holidays without religion being a hurdle in our communication and connection.  I miss being around my family and just having a good time without having to be careful with my words or watching what I say so I don’t offend them.  And yet, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I can’t give up the grace and salvation that God has given me.

Someday, I pray that God will open that door.  Maybe someday we will be able to sit down and have that conversation.  Maybe we will be able to talk about God and my family will open their eyes to the true message of grace.  I want to be with my family forever.  My dream is to be in church worshiping God with my family next to me.  I am so grateful that God has given me kids who love God and are willing to worship with me.

Mercy Me sings a song called Even If.  The second verse and chorus state:

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

My hope and prayer is that God will move the unmovable and My family will open their eyes to the saving grace of Christ alone.  But if He doesn’t, I pray that He will give me the strength to trust in Him alone.

I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in a world of unmovable mountains.

matt 17 20

 

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Broken into Freedom…

This weekend is the 187th semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Growing up, this weekend was always filled with family and great food.  Often, we would spend Saturday playing with cousins while the adults watched the Saturday Conference sessions.  On Sunday, we were able to sleep in a little and were up just before 10 to watch the Sunday morning session instead of going to church.  In the afternoon, we would again spend time playing with cousins while the adults watched the final session of conference.

As a kid, conference Sunday was my favorite; mostly because it was like a typical Sunday.  We didn’t go to church and we spent time playing with cousins.  As I got older, especially as an adult in the Mormon world, I was expected to watch and pay closer attention to all the sessions of conference.

Conference was hours and hours of the LDS Church leaders telling you how you are supposed to act and how you will get through your trials if you pray harder and read the scriptures more.  They pushed the importance of listening to and following the church leaders.  The leaders would talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the church.  They would bear their testimonies and vow that they were witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the truth of the Mormon gospel.

For someone who always struggled with the person I was “supposed” to be and feeling like I was someone different on the inside, these messages were hard.  I would listen to those in leadership positions and feel shame and guilt for the thoughts and feelings I had that were different from what was being taught to me. I wanted to be a good Mormon and a good person but I felt lost.

cor

I had heard about “Freedom in Christ” but never really understood what that meant until I became a Christian.  Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery”.   In my Mormon life, I was very burdened by the “yoke of slavery”.  I was bound by rules and laws that had nothing to do with God and everything to do with religion.  The yoke of slavery was trying to be the person I was “supposed” to be and fit into a mold that wasn’t made for me.  Trying to follow the LDS leadership and strive to do everything right.  I struggled with depression and low self-esteem.  I hated myself so much because I could be that person I was supposed to be.

Before I gave my life to Christ depression and suicidal thoughts were a constant in my life.  I believed everyone would be better off without me because I struggled so hard to be that person that I was never meant to be.  My life was full of chaos and frustration.  I was never calm and even when I had a good day, I would find things to be discontent about because that was the only way I knew how to function.

When I gave my life to Christ, I immediately felt the bonds that were holding me loosen.  In that moment, I began to realize what it meant to experience Freedom in Christ.  Over time I learned that being Free in Christ was being the person He created me to be and not trying to fit into another person’s perception of who I should be.

beach

As I grew in my Christian walk and grew closer to God, I became more comfortable with myself, my flaws, my scars, and my insecurities began to melt away.  As I began to learn about God and His love, I began to understand that He created me and loves me just as I am.

The song, “Broken Things” by Matthew West has recently become one of my favorites.  The chorus and 2nd verse say:

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true
You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

The pages of history
They tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect
It’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals
It’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me.

I love this song because it reminds me of although I’m a sinner, broken, a prodigal, and weak, God has a plan and a purpose for me.

This weekend as I watched the quotes of the LDS leadership fill up my FB page, I reveled in the truth.  I am so grateful that I am no longer bound by religion and I am now free.  I have true freedom in Christ.  I am no longer a slave to rules and laws of man.  Many people believe being a Christian is what binds you or holds you back from being free.  But I believe being a Christian is the only thing that truly makes you free.

dance

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in the freedom of Christ.

 

 

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

UNCONDITIONAL…

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  I enjoyed a great vacation and am adjusting to new changes in my life.  But, I’m back and pray that I can continue to post on a more regular basis.

Facebook reminded me today that 1 year ago today is when I started writing my blog.  It’s amazing how fast time seems to go and how many things can change in 1 year.  One year ago, my life was so different than it is now and the changes that have happened in my life weren’t even on my radar a year ago. However, there is one thing I have been praying for, for the last 2-3 years and God finally gave me a yes and a wide-open door to that prayer.

overwhelming

For the past 2-3 years, I have struggled with my place of employment.  I have spent a lot of time pleading with God to open the doors for a new place to work.  I went to interviews and whatever the circumstance, the timing wasn’t right.  No matter how many times the door shut in my face, I knew in God’s time, He would provide what I was praying for. Although, the last several months have been very difficult, I know God is watching over me and only wants the best for me.  My answered prayer is a new place of employment and for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the future of my career.

I still struggle sometimes with that internal dialogue of not feeling good enough when God doesn’t give me the answers I want when I pray. I often think it’s because I’m not good enough for God or I’m not living right.  It’s amazing how quickly those thoughts can over take me when God says, “No” or “Not right now”.  I get so caught up in what I want, I forget that God loves me and has a plan for me.

In my Mormon belief system, the ongoing message was live according to what the church teaches you and Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.  One high up leader, Boyd K. Packer said, “Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Break them and you will not.”   A more recent quote by another high up LDS leader, David A. Bednar said, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently, do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results”.

Romans 3 28

I feel like when I was growing up, I was never really taught about God’s love.  I believed God’s love was contingent on being the faithful, diligent, consistent Mormon; which I was not even close to.  So, how could God love me? I believed God’s love was always connected to how I was living my life and when prayers weren’t answered, it was because I needed to learn something or because I wasn’t reading my scriptures enough. I think back now about being a kid and the things I prayed for.  It’s a good thing God doesn’t answer every prayer.

As a Christian, I have learned God’s love is unconditional.  I don’t have to earn it.  I don’t have to be good enough.  It doesn’t matter what I have done in my life, God loves me.  I am His child.  It still blows me away when I stop and think about God, he created the universe and he created me.  He wants the best for me in my life.

beach

Now when prayers aren’t answered, I know it’s because God has something better for me.  When those thoughts creep into my head and I feel like I have to be better, I stop, and laugh at myself because I know God isn’t going to withhold blessings because I’m not good enough.

PSALMS 136 1 4

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of God’s unconditional love.

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Great Expectations…

I had plans to post a blog all week last week but I have been super busy and, much like life, things didn’t go as planned.  So here I am, a week later, finally finding time to write my blog.  So often, this is how life goes.  We have great expectations of how we want things to be or things to turn out.  I never thought my life would be the way it currently is. expext define

I recently read an article that talked about the biggest problem in relationships, and it wasn’t anything most people think.  It listed the biggest problem in relationships as “expectation”.  I completely agree with the article.  And although it was referring to romantic relationships, I feel expectation is the biggest problem in every relationship; including our relationship with God and our relationship with ourselves.

Expectation creates so many problems in life.  I live in Idaho and we “expected” thousands of people in our area for the eclipse.  As of today, those expectations haven’t even come close to reality.  And, that’s the problem with expectations.  So often, we have a prefect picture of how things are “supposed to be”. We know in our heads how everything is going to happen.  We worry and fret over this picture in our heads and when things don’t turn out like the picture, we are angry and frustrated; and often feel like life isn’t fair.  The thing is, life isn’t fair and nothing is certain.

Living in my Mormon world, there were a lot of expectations but the outcome was certain. I knew if I was good enough, I would reach the highest level of heaven with my family.  That was the ultimate goal.  I’ve talked in many blogs about all of the requirements that the Mormon faithful have to accomplish.   The picture that is painted is one of bliss and happiness if you remain faithful to the end.  But I struggled to fit into the picture of what those expectations were. I liked the picture but had a hard time being one of the faithful followers.  It didn’t matter how much I tried, I would always give into my sinful nature at some point.

uncertainty

As I mentioned, the biggest problem in relationships is expectation, that includes our relationship with God and ourselves.  As I progressed through my Mormon life, my expectations for myself began to change and hopelessness filled me.  How could I ever reach the perfect picture if I couldn’t even manage a day without doing what was expected of me.  Hopelessness turned to depression and suicidal thoughts.  I hated life and myself.  At times, I was angry with God.  The expectation was that God would help me through my struggles and God would give me strength.  But time after time I failed and the only thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to make it.  I have never done well with expectations.

peace

As a Mormon, my expectation was that I could complete the requirements necessary to go to Heaven.  My expectation was if I lived according to what the Mormon Prophets taught, I would be happy and be able to be with my family forever.  The requirements were black and white and I could check them off as I completed them.  Baptism ü, Young Women’s awards and recognition ü, Marry a return missionary in the temple ü, and so on.  The criteria are clear and the expectation is that you will complete all criteria to go to heaven.

As a Mormon, I relied a lot on myself and the Mormon leaders for my salvation.   Becoming Christian and understanding what it means to give your life to Christ was a life saver for me.  I learned very quickly that my salvation had little to do with me and everything to do with Christ.  I also learned when you truly rely on God and try to live life for Him, expectation goes out the window.  So often as a Christian I think God should do things the way I have pictured in my head, and a majority of the time, that is not what happens.  The best part of being a Christian, is when I have those expectations and the perfect picture in my head, God’s is always better.

There are many times when I have gone through difficult times as a Christian and I have cried out to God to make things different; or there have been times when I have been angry with God about the struggles in my life.  The biggest problem with both of those scenarios, those are my expectations.  And even in those times when I am struggling and saying to God, “this isn’t fair” the positive results far outweigh the struggle.

I have said many times, I don’t think I could have gone through my current situation if I was still Mormon.  I truly feel that way about most experiences in my life.  This most recent struggle is life changing and sometimes it’s difficult to see there might be something positive that comes out of it.  But if there is anything that I expect as a Christian, God is always faithful, and he wants more for me than I could ever even imagine for myself.  On the hardest days when I get overwhelmed with the struggles in life I focus on that.  I know Who is in control and I know He only wants the best for me.

His promises

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of great expectations.