Christian, mormonism

Just be Held…

I had a whole blog written and almost ready to post but it just didn’t feel right.  I knew in my heart what God wanted me to write but I’ve been fighting it for 2 weeks.

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The past month has been difficult for me.  I fell at work and have some injuries that I am trying to work through and receive treatment for.  The MRI I had a few weeks ago was for my hand.  I found out that I am going to have surgery and will most likely not gain full use back.  I have some other injuries that I am still working with the doctors to treat and I’m unsure of what will happen with those.

Just like when I had my MRI, I was alone with only God by my side holding my hand as the doctor gave me the news about surgery and possible partial disability.  That combined with a few other things I have been working through with all of this, I have been swarmed with emotions.  I have felt fearful, scared, unsure, betrayed, anxious, and depressed.  So much of what I have been feeling is very similar to how I lived my life before accepting Christ as my Savior.

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I have been struggling with depression and anxiety.  I have never been so anxious in my life and every day I struggle. I am living in a world of uncertainty.  I have no idea where this path leads or what God has planned for me but I know he has a plan for all of this.

Last weekend we went on a very quick and short vacation for spring break.  Just before I left there were some things that came up with this whole situation that were very frustrating and defeating for me.  My hope for our vacation was to be able to put all the struggles on the shelf and not think about them for a few days so I could enjoy time with my family.  On our drive, I started thinking about all that is going on and I said in my head God what am I going to do.  The song Just Be Held immediately started on the radio and I burst into tears.  I think I have blogged about this song before.  But it again just spoke to me.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
(Stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held
Just be held, just be held

I have felt like life has hit me out of nowhere and I’m barely holding on.  This has become my life song for this season of my life.  Through the weekend, I was able to let go.  I spend very little time thinking about the stressors that waited me when I went back to my job.  I just surrendered it all to God.  And when it would start to creep back into my thoughts, God would whisper in my mind “Just be held”.

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One of the hardest parts of all of this is the feelings of depression, not being good enough, and hopelessness that are constantly invading my thoughts.  I lived with those emotions most of my life.  I hate feeling like I am not enough.  I hate the constant feelings of depression and not even wanting to get out of bed.  The biggest difference between the depression I have experienced in the past and depression I have now is that my past depression was created by my religion.  My feelings of depression and worthlessness were increased by a belief in a god that I had to work for his affection and love.

As a Christian, God is the only thing that is holding me together.  My BIG God, who can do anything, is who gives me the strength to get out of bed every morning.  He is my motivation.  And the most comforting feeling in the world is hearing God say “Just stop, I’ve got this”.

I don’t know what is going to happen.  I don’t know how my blog will be affected.  But I know God has a plan and a purpose for me and for this blog.  I know that my life isn’t falling apart but God is working things together so they will be better than I can imagine.

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So often I look back at my life and see how far God has brought me. This experience has shown me more than I realized.  I had forgotten how debilitating depression and anxiety can be.  I am so grateful for my God who is bigger than all of it!!

I’m just a small-town girl…just being held by my God who is bigger than the world.

exmormon, LDS, mormonism

Black & White

This week I observed a discussion online where somebody posted a quote from Joseph Smith that state:

“Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.”

To me this is saying that Joseph Smith feels he is better than Jesus at creating followers. Many of the comments to this person were negative and not because of the quote but because they felt this person was bashing the Mormon religion or Joseph Smith. One person commented with another quote  from Joseph Smith that stated  “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” They then stated the original post could have been something uplifting instead of pushing a hateful agenda. The thing is, is that both of these quotes were said by Joseph Smith, and regardless of whether you agree with them both or not they are his words.

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So the question is if these two quotes were both said by Joseph Smith, can you choose one over the other?  Can you choose to believe that Joseph Smith was a good man who believed in blessing his family and the whole world and choose not to believe that he had more to boast of than even Jesus?  Can I pick and choose what I rely on as truth and leave the rest? And what about the Bible and the Book of Mormon for that matter? Can I pick and choose what parts of the Book of Mormon are true and what aren’t?  Can I pick and choose what I want to believe in the Bible and what I want to follow, what I  want to be truth and inspired by God and ignore the rest?

As a mental health clinician I spend a lot of time working with people on thinking errors. One of those thinking errors is called black and white thinking. Black and white thinking is dangerous because it’s an all-or-nothing statement.  It means that there’s no gray or flexibility in thinking.  It means that it is or it isn’t and there’s really no in between. I am not a black and white person in most areas in my life. I live in a world of gray. However, when it comes to the Bible and God’s word there is no gray it is black and white and there is no in between.  To me God’s word is solid and concrete.

If you believe that the Bible is God’s word then you should believe every word in the Bible is inspired by God.  You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to believe.  You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to follow. And you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to be truth.  God’s word is inspired for us, to guide us through life.  Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. The Bible is full of Prophecy that has already come true; 25% of the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow”.  His word is still meant for us today.  It is alive and powerful.

As a Christian I totally and completely believe in God’s word and I use it to guide me to make many of the decisions that I choose in life. And yet, so many people, pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to believe are true and want to follow.  I feel like this is especially true with my Mormon friends and family.  So often, things are brought up about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and LDS church history, and they often sweep it under the rug.  Their comments are, “God will work it all out in the end” or  “But it’s such a good belief system.  Mormons are good people”.  I don’t disagree, I think Mormons are are good people, I think that what they believe on the surface looks good. But in all reality, if you really dig and look at what Mormons truly believe, if you look at Joseph Smith and his intent behind what he was doing, none of that has to do with God, none of it has to do with the Bible. It was all for self-gain it’s all man-made and none of it is based on truth.

I think one of the biggest problems for Mormons is they only read the book of Mormon and they don’t take the time or don’t have an understanding of the Bible.  They don’t know what God’s word says.  I am no expert on the Bible I don’t know completely what God’s word says and I’m still working on reading the Bible completely. But I do enjoy spending time in God’s word and learning new things. And I do know that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and anyone who claims that they were better than Jesus or did things better than Jesus, who was God on Earth himself, is not of God and is not here to further God’s Kingdom.

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We can’t pick and choose God’s word. God’s word is true and truth is truth. If you believe that Joseph Smith loved his wife Emma, I don’t know that you’re necessarily wrong. However, he still had at least 40 other wives and practiced polygamy.  Many of these wives his first wife Emma, didn’t know about. So you can’t say he was honest and faithful to his wife because he wasn’t upfront with her about his many marriages.  That’s a fact that’s provable and it’s documented by the LDS Church.  If you believe that he was a good man, I’m sure that he had his good days, we all do right. But that doesn’t change the fact that he stated more than once that he believed that he was just as good or better than Jesus. He created a religion where he could exalt himself to godhood. Isn’t that why Satan got kicked out of heaven in the first place, because he wanted to be  God?

One of the best things that the devil can do, is keep us away from God’s word and make us think that we know truth.  Satan makes us feel comfortable in what we believe and we believe we know more than God. That’s what got Eve into trouble in the Garden.

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I remember a few years ago when I was commuting to work, about an hour away, and I was in a hurry to get home to my son’s football game. There was a wreck on the highway and I had a brilliant idea that I would take a side road that I didn’t know instead of waiting on the highway. I didn’t know where the road would lead me but I thought it would be a good choice. So I got off the highway and I went down this unknown path. I got lost and I turned down a side road that led me to a dead end.  I had to turn around and I was completely lost.  My phone had died so I had no maps on my phone I had no compass and I was completely 100% on my own.  I had nothing to guide me nothing to give me direction I was driving blind. This is what happens when we walk through this world without God’s word and relying on our own truth.

If  we don’t have the Bible in our lives and we don’t have God’s word.  If we pick and choose the parts we want to believe we’re choosing not to follow God’s word. I had to stop and pray (thank goodness for that lifeline) and ask God to give me direction. I finally found a road that led me back to the highway; but had I stayed on the path that I knew to be true and correct, I wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place.  I ended up being late because I tried to do things on my own.

It’s so important to know what God’s word says. I think that it’s important to take God’s word as it is. It is 100% true 100% whole and 100% inspired by God to teach us and guide us in this world. If you’re going to pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to believe then I think you have to question, do you really even believe in God?

The problem is is that in this world of Grey that we live in the only place where we find truth and guidance, the compass that guides our life is often forgotten and laid aside.  We try to captain our own ships and to do things ourselves. I know when I try to do things on my own I tend to get myself in more trouble.

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If you’re going to believe God, have to believe in Him 100% you can’t pick and choose what parts you want to believe in. You have to be invested wholly or else you’re not really invested you’re just going through the motions.

I’m just a small town girl… Living in a world where God is my Captain and the Bible is my compass.

 

 

 

 

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Alone in the world…

After my last blog, I spent a lot of time thinking about Brian and I and how much I rely on him.  It was a very rough week for me and God reminded me that although Brian is my rock in this world, God is the one true constant who is always with me.

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Brian and I got married when we were both 18.  I can’t remember much of my life without him.  He was always supposed to be my knight in shining armor and take me away from a life I struggled in.  I had him on a very high pedestal for the first few years of our marriage.  I sometimes think I rely on Brian more than I rely on God.  And although, I believe God brought Brian and I together, God needs to be #1 in my life always.

A couple of weeks ago, I fell at work; this week, I had to go through some unexpected medical procedures that were very difficult for me.  I don’t remember going through a medical procedure without Brian by my side.  We have been married for almost 23 years.  He has always been there to hold my hand.  I unexpectedly had to have an MRI, which most people would think is no big deal, but I first had to have some dye injected into my wrist so they could see things better.  I have a very hard time with needles.  I struggle because all I wanted was for Brian to be able to be with me.  To sit next to me and hold my hand.  But he works in a city about an hour from where I work, so there I lay in a cold hospital room with the stinging of the needle in my hand and the only one I could call out to was God.  In that moment, I was alone.  Brian couldn’t be there.  I couldn’t call him on the phone, I couldn’t text him, there was no one but God to support me in that moment. The next part was almost as difficult.  I have a very hard time being enclosed in tight spaces.  I am very claustrophobic.  I had to go head first into the MRI machine, not all the way but enough, that I couldn’t see out either end of the machine.  Brian wouldn’t have been able to be there for any of the MRI.  He wouldn’t have been able to hold my hand.  The MRI guy asked if I had any music I wanted to listen to.  I asked him if I could listen to Christian music.  He said “Sure? Any specific band or group?”  I said “Casting Crowns.”  So, he turned on the music and I laid on a cold hard table and went head first into the machine.  The whole time all I could think was God please help me, God please keep me calm.  The first song that came on and played all the way through was In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson.  I truly was in the eye of a storm.  I struggled and held tight to my God knowing that He is my anchor and my rock.

I made it through but it was hard.  It was interesting the whole time I wanted Brian by my side but I knew God was telling me that He is who I need to rely on.  I think I struggle with that a lot.  I have such a hard time sometimes trusting that God is always there.  Brian is my knight in shining armor too often and I need to focus on God and that He is always here.

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So, you may ask, what does this have to do with Mormonism?  In Mormonism, no one trusts in God and what God can do for them.  It is all about what they can do for themselves and when you strip away all aspects of religiosity from Mormonism, nothing is left.  When you take away Joseph Smith and all the things that Mormonism is founded on, nothing is left but feelings of emptiness and loneliness.  There is no God at the center. There is no God to trust in.  The faith in Mormonism is put in empty promises and ritualistic ordinances that have nothing to do with God.  It is all about doing and being enough instead of accepting that God has already done it all.

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Also in Mormonism, a woman’s salvation is dependent on her husband.  She has to trust that her husband is going to be good enough to make it in to heaven so that he can “pull her through the veil to the celestial kingdom”.  In the Mormon belief system, a woman doesn’t need to put her trust in God and believe in God for her salvation, her trust is put in her husband. Not only that, if things work out right, she can be a god alongside her husband.  If one doesn’t have to trust in God for salvation, and can become a god themselves, what is the point of God?

As a Christian I know everything can be taken from me but I will still have my relationship with God.  I can be sitting alone and scared in a hospital room and feel God’s presence around me and comforting me.

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I love Brian to death, but I don’t trust him to be good enough for his own salvation let alone mine.  And what if we got in a fight just before he passed away and he decides he doesn’t want me to be in the celestial kingdom with him?  I just can’t put my trust and belief in man.  That’s what God was showing me this week when I went through some hard things by myself.  I wasn’t really by myself.  God is the only one I can count on to always be there 100% of the time.  God is my rock and my salvation.  He alone deserves the pedestal that I so often try to put Brian on.

I’m just a small-town girl… trusting in God when I’m alone in the world.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Ask no questions…

As I was sitting her thinking about the many different things I have struggled with about Mormonism, I thought about when Brian and I went through the temple for the first time.

I remember being taught about what a “sacred” experience the temple was and what a great blessing it would be to finally be able to go through.  Being “worthy” of going through the temple is a rite of passage in Mormonism and when we were given an opportunity to go through, how could we say no?

Going through the temple wasn’t the experience I thought it would be.  I honestly felt let down after that experience because I felt I had been promised so much more.  When Brian and I drove back to our apartment after that experience and we talked about it, we both agreed we didn’t ever want to go through that experience again.  I told Brian the experience we had in the temple made me feel that the Mormon church could be a cult.

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I know many of my LDS friends and family will just say we weren’t ready or didn’t understand.  And that may be true.  But, in Mormonism, you aren’t supposed to question things and if you do, you are encouraged to only use Mormon doctrine to find answers.  Going through the temple left me feeling uneasy and uncertain.  I didn’t know who I could talk to about it.  So, we continued to go to church but didn’t go back to the temple.

As a Mormon, there were so many things I didn’t understand, and that I questioned, and I never really got an answer for.  I remember growing up and thinking it was unfair that my non-LDS grandparents wouldn’t be able to go to heaven because they drank coffee.  They were good people and I just didn’t understand how coffee made them bad people.  As I got into high school I struggled even more with the coffee dilemma.  How can it be bad to drink coffee or tea but it’s ok to drink Dr. Pepper, one of my favorites, or hot chocolate?  There were no answers within the Mormon doctrine that made sense to me and so I just shoved it under the rug and went on with my life.

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I never understood when the guys messed up on the sacrament prayer, why they had to say it again or if the slightest piece of skin was out of the water when someone was baptized, why they had to redo it.  I always struggled to understand why 8 years old was the “age of accountability” and when you got baptized in Mormonism.  I never understood and still struggle to understand why kids can’t date until they’re 16.  Because turning 16 in June doesn’t make you any more mature than you would have been in May but you have to miss prom because you were a month away from 16.  So many little rules and regulations that never made sense to me.

I remember when I was in grad school, I commuted with some amazing ladies, and we would have some great conversations.  Two of us were Christians and one was a Mormon.  I remember discussing forever families.  We discussed many different scenarios and all my Mormon friend could say was, “God will work it all out in the end”.  If that’s the case, then why does religion matter?

As I came out of Mormonism, I found that all the little things didn’t seem to matter as a Christian.  The most important thing was my relationship with God.   The best thing about being a Christian was I was told to question everything.  I was no longer bound by the belief that questioning or not understanding something was a lack of faith.

When Brian and I found our home church, that we currently attend, we went through a Biblical Foundations Class.  It was the most eye opening experience ever.  I came to understand so much about God and the Bible.  I loved every bit of it.  We went through it a second time with our 2 older kids and now my 2 youngest daughters are going through the class.  The best part of it was our pastor who taught the class never said, “take my word for it” or “believe everything I say because I’m pastor”.  No, he told me to question.  He gave me references and list of arguments on both sides.  And in a world where you have access to unlimited information at your fingertips I was able to look for myself and find out why I believe what I believe.

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Going from a belief system where I wasn’t allowed to question anything, it was refreshing to be encouraged to question everything.  As I have grown in my Christian walk I have come to the conclusion the reason the Mormon church doesn’t like people to question or look outside of the LDS faith for answers is because they will find truth.  As I was writing this blog I asked my pastor for a definition of truth, this is what he said:

“Truth corresponds to reality and is internally coherent.  Truth is based on reality and “facts on the ground”.  It also needs to be logical and not changed from the beginning of the book to the end like the trinity in the Book of Mormon.”

Referring to the original writing of the Book of Mormon which references the trinity of God but now it has changed to refer to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as 3 separate beings.

So basically, truth needs to be based on something that really exists and can be backed up by facts and real evidence.  It can’t be changed.  It has to be consistent over time.  When you look at Mormonism, truth isn’t there and that is why they don’t want you to question.  That is why you are asked to believe the Mormon prophets and other leadership and not question.  If you don’t question, they don’t have to worry about a cover story.  If you do happen to question, and they label it as a crisis of faith, and the only information that is allowable is church approved doctrine, then how are you finding truth?

Have you ever questioned anything?  I think questioning is so important in everything, because if you stop questioning, you stop growing.  If you aren’t willing to question things, then how do you know if you have truth?

 

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I think those nuggets of doubt that you feel in your heart are God’s way of saying you need to look deeper into this.  Brian and I were talking about this and he said if you investigate truth, it always leads you back to truth.  If you investigate lies, it leads you to more lies or you find the truth.  So, the bottom line of all of this is never stop questioning.

I’m just a small town girl… living in a world of questions.

 

 

exmormon, mormonism

Perspective isn’t truth…

In this weeks blog, names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Any connection to real situations is completely coincidental.

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A few weeks ago, at our grow group there was only a few of us and we ended up having fun discussion about a conflict I’m having with someone in my personal life, I will call them Bob.  This is a situation I have been struggling with for a while.  Bob and I have had several interactions which always end up in a big conflict these happen on a regular basis.  As the grow group talked it the group leader Carol suggested we read Romans 2:1-5.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

As we read this, I was feeling the guilt and shame about how I have handled the situation.  Although, I feel like I have done everything I can to be kind and look the other way.  Carol didn’t shame me at all.  She didn’t tell me I needed to be kinder and do more.  She told me they know I am a good and kind person and they know I am trying to do God’s will in this situation.  As we read, I thought this was going to be turned on me when in all reality, the whole point the Carol was making was that God is in control and he will take care of things.  The group members all validated me and told me to just keep doing what God wants me to do.  And in the end God would take care of everything.

It was in this brief moment I realized the clutch the Mormon belief system still has on me at times.  I realized it’s all about perspective and how you look at things.  It made me stop and think about how much my thinking has changed and wonder about what I am still looking at from my Mormon lenses and not from my Christian view.

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In Mormonism, people often struggle with, have I done enough.  That is because it is a works based faith where your eternal salvation is based solely on what you have done in this life.  So, it is no wonder when I read the above passage, I took on the perspective that I wasn’t doing enough, I needed to do better and make the situation better.  This was very frustrating for me because, although, there are things I could probably improve on or do better, the conflicts between Bob and I, isn’t going to change because, I am not the problem.  As we discussed the passage, Carol and the grow group members confirmed to me what I felt like God had been telling me all along.  It also confirmed what many other people who know of, and are involved in, the situation between Bob and I have told me.  Bob is the problem.  Bob isn’t going to change.  And yet I struggle with, am I doing enough?

It is so hard to change things that have been ingrained since childhood.  But just because it is something you have been told or taught doesn’t mean that it is truth. It’s all about perspective and how you look at things.

As I have grown in my new life, from the time I became a Christian until now, I have learned so much about myself.  I have learned a lot about how I look at things and look at the world.  As a social worker, I have learned a lot about people and perspective and that we are all products of our environment.  The hardest part of all of this is realizing that just because we believe something doesn’t mean that it is true.  And often, even if you can prove to someone something is true based on fact and credible evidence, most often, people will stick to their belief system because it is comfortable and what they know.  Truth, becomes unimportant.  Truth becomes what they believe.

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I have been a Christian for 16 years.  I have done a lot of studying of the Bible and a lot of research to come to my belief system.  To me there is no doubt that God is real!  I can see it in everything.  Just last weekend one of my daughters talked to me about laminin an important protein in our cells that are shaped like a cross. Coincidence or perspective? You can go on Google earth and see places in the Bible where Jesus walked and taught.  You can go to Israel and physically walk where Jesus walked.  Many of the places talked about in the Bible are still in existence today.  Lakes, rivers, towns, cities, they are all tangible, real places that you can see and visit. There are historical records that refer to Jesus.  Historical records outside of the Bible.  Verifiable, historical figures that have referred to Jesus. There is a higher chance that we are created beings over being people that have evolved. To me, that is all enough to be credible evidence to truth.  And yet, still, it all comes down to perspective.

As I have walked away from Mormonism and learned more and more things, I have realized there is no evidence of truth.  There is no historical evidence.  There is no document-able proof to show that what Joseph Smith said and what is written in the Book of Mormon is true.  Nothing!  In my view this is reason enough to believe that it isn’t true but for many they aren’t willing to consider a different perspective or walk away from their belief system.  Their perspective is, that it’s true, and there is no reason to take a step back and look at it from a different angle.

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The hard thing is, if you are willing to look at something from a different perspective, how can you know truth?  In the video, I post a few weeks ago, called Unveiling Grace about the formation for the Adam’s Road Band.  Micah talked about being challenged to read the Bible with the eyes of a child.  It’s a different perspective.  If you can’t challenge your perspective how can you know what you really believe and how can you grow.

I’m so grateful that God allowed that interaction with the few of us that were able to be at grow group.  It was one of those moments where I just stopped and said in my head “Thank you God!  I know this whole night was planned by You!”  It was one of those moments where my perspective was challenged, my truth was confirmed, and growth happened!  Those moments are the best moments.

I’m just a small town girl… living in a world filled with perspective not truth.

Christian, exmormon, LDS, mormonism

My Chains Are Gone…

I was thinking about writing about the forbidden drink of Mormonism this week which has become one of my most favorite drinks in the world.  But that isn’t what God had planned for this week so I will address my thoughts on that in a future blog.

This week as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post that discussed the Mormon Church and grace + works. At first the writer seemed to express an understanding of grace.  That it’s free, and gives us hope.  But then they stated “The works that I perform are to keep his commandments, to feed his sheep and to partake of the saving ordinances that He showed us we need”.  This is the part I want to address. cheapen-sacrifice-stg

Anyone who is in the Mormon faith and believes they aren’t in a works based faith is lying to themselves.  The key statement from above is “saving ordinances”.  That is the biggest difference between my Mormon beliefs and my beliefs as a Christian.  In Mormonism there are requirements for salvation; “Saving ordinances”.  In Christianity, Christ did all the work.  There are no requirements for salvation.  When Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30) He meant all requirements were fulfilled. There is nothing left do except to accept Him- Christ, as your Savior.

In Mormonism, they believe in order to reach exaltation or the Celestial Kingdom the desired degree of Heaven, you have to follow or meet certain criteria.  You have to be a member of the LDS church which most people in the Mormon faith do at the age of 8 by getting baptized.  I blogged about that last week (the age of account ability). Being a member adds all sorts of requirements and those increase as your age increases.  You are not allowed to say no to any callings, you are required to pay 10% of your income to the church.  You are expected to follow all the rules and requirements which include family prayer and scripture study, tithing, fast offerings, monthly fasting, following the word of wisdom, temple marriage, and  regular temple visits if you are close enough.  Every year you are required to have worthiness interview to make sure you qualify for your pass to go to the temple.  Adults aren’t the only ones who are expected to go to the temple.  Youth, starting at age 12, begin attending the temple for the ritual practice of baptisms for the dead (this will be a future blog).  There are also all sorts of unspoken expectations and requirements that if you’re not meeting you are at risk of not getting your temple recommend, which is basically the pass that your bishop gives you verifying you are worthy.   All of these are exceptions you must follow in order to meet the Mormon requirement of worthiness, determined by a man in your ward who is deemed more worthy than you and now you have a piece of paper showing how “worthy” you are.  I’m not sure how any of this has to do with being saved and or worthy.

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As a Christian, the expectation for salvation is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.  He has already done all the work.  There are no expectations or requirements. Baptism, tithing, marriage, church attendance, service work, none of these things are a requirement of salvation.  Do I do these things. Yes.  I was baptized, I pay a regular tithe (an amount that I feel God has led me to give), I serve in my church, I attend church service weekly.  The difference is I do these because I want to.  I do them because they help me be closer to my God and help me grow in His word.  They help me be a better person and connect with other people who are also trying to grow their relationship with Christ.

Nothing in the Christian Gospel is about repaying God for my salvation or doing things so that I can earn my salvation.  Acts 4:12 states “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name  under Heaven by which we must be saved”.  I feel that Mormon believers put as much, or even sometimes more emphasis, on Joseph Smith  or the current prophet than they do on Jesus Christ. They accept the word of man over God’s word.  Romans 10:9-10 states “If you declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved”.  God’s word doesn’t say you need to get baptized, pay 10% to your church, do everything your pastor tells you, go through an annual worthiness interview, fast once per month, get married in a “sacred” ceremony that only those over 18 and who are deemed worthy can attend, do as many good things as you can, then cross your fingers an hope it was enough to make it to Heaven.

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I’m tired just listing a few of the expectations. It’s no wonder I felt so helpless all the time.  Really, I don’t know who would want to live their life under so many rules and laws.  I have a hard time just following the general rules of society. I have to set my cruise control just so I don’t get a speeding ticket.  It amazes me still to look back on my life.  I was truly bound by the chains of Mormonism.  I was bound by rules, requirements, and restrictions.  One of my first blogs was Cookie Cutters are for Cookies, because I tried so hard to be a Mormon.  I tried so hard to live with the chains and restraints of a religion. I believed, just like my friend on Facebook, that the Mormon Church was true and if I tried hard enough and did enough that maybe I would be worthy of God’s love and I would hopefully do enough to be with my family forever in heaven.  As a Christian, I know I can never do anything to be worthy of God’s love.  I was set free from those restraints when I gave my life to Christ.  I began to truly experience what life is meant to be like. I accepted what Christ did on the cross for me and it humbled me.

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The bottom line is, we don’t need any saving ordinances like my Facebook friend stated.  The only thing we need is Jesus Christ.   The most heartbreaking thing is, I see so many people bound by the chains of Mormonism.  Who are exhausted by the struggle of trying to do enough and be enough.  I don’t know for sure, but I believe the comment I saw was in response to me posting a link to my blog post response to grace, of a friends comment that said, “I never think I am enough or doing enough… I just have to keep trying”.  It breaks my heart to see people share these things because I have lived in that world  and now MY CHAINS ARE GONE!! I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me.  Not by anything I’ve done but by what Christ did for me.

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I’m just a small town girl…free from the chains of a works based world.

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Called by God…

I thought long and hard about not blogging this week. I feel like the past few months I have been struggling in every aspect of my life.  I know when you are doing the things that God wants you to do the enemy will do whatever he can to stop you.  But even when I talked to Brian about my blog this week we both agreed a break from it for a week would be good.  God had a different plan.conversations-stg

I have been feeling that I need to write a blog about my purpose for writing my blog and the process.  Events that happened this week made this more clear and when I woke up this morning God made it clear to me that I would be writing a blog today and I would be defining my purpose.

My original intent and purpose for this blog was to write about my journey out of Mormonism.  I feel like my story of how God showed Himself to me and saved my from my chaotic life is amazing.  The things I have learned about the lies and untruths I learned growing up in the Mormon faith are things I want to expose and I don’t want people to have to go through the same struggles I had.

I also have a handful of friends who are either agnostic or atheist.  Some of them because of walking away from Mormonism and some of them because of other life experiences.  I also want these friends to see what God is doing in my life and that I trust my God completely.

When I write my blog I never really know what words God is going to give me.  I don’t ever know what direction my blog is going to take until I sit down and begin typing.  Sometimes things will come up during the week and I will hold on to those thoughts and that is what I write about.  Other times, I will hold on to those thoughts and God gives me a completely different direction.

This week I had a conversation with a friend who expressed concern about some of the things I write in my blog and that it isn’t private.  My blog isn’t anonymous.  My name is listed in my contact information.  I have a Facebook page.  The things I put in my blog are out there for the world to see.  When I began writing I didn’t take this lightly.  I thought about this a lot.  I considered writing anonymously.  I thought about my profession and the clientele I work with and I know that the information I put in my blog is out there for the world to see and can be used to hurt me.  My response to this friend was “I trust my God”.

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What’s interesting is after I left that conversation I thought about the struggles I have been having since I began writing.  I know that I am being attacked on a spiritual level and the devil is fighting hard to get me to stop writing.  I know God is reaching people through my blog.  I am doing what God wants me to do. I had to stop and think… am I really trusting my God?

I realized I have been trying to fight a battle that I was never meant to fight.  I was trying to be strong and hold it all together.  When that isn’t what I was supposed to be doing.  I was trying to fight back against forces I am not equipped to fight back against.  I wasn’t trusting my God.  I was trusting that I could do it.  At the point I was so overwhelmed and frustrated the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns came on.  I’ve heard it before but the lyrics just washed over me.  I shared it on my blog that day.  Some of the lyrics that hit me:

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

I needed to surrender everything to God and really trust that He was going to take care of me.  I really loved the words “Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place.  I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held”.  I’m also listening to a Bible study on my commute to work and the day after I had this little revelation, the devotion talked about really having faith and trusting God.  My God is a God of miracles.  I have experienced those miracles.  I know He will take care of me.  It asks if there are things I have in my life that I don’t think will ever change and if there are mountains in my life that I don’t have for God to move.  There are.  There are things I haven’t turned over to God.  There are things I haven’t been willing to trust Him with.

It was amazing how my perspective changed after I realized how much I was holding on to and trying to control.  I appreciate the conversation I had with my friend because it brought so much perspective into so many things.  I do trust my God.  I have been called to share my story.  I trust that through everything He will take care of me.

There are a few things that are consistent no matter what I write about.  The first one, I never reread what I have written.  I have always been this way.  I am pretty self-critical and when it comes to my blog I want it to be what God has directed me to write.  So I type it up and trust that it is what God wants me to write.  I may reread parts of it, if there is something I need to fix but, for the most part, it is what it is.  The other things I do, I always pray throughout the week and especially as I write that I am putting down what God wants me to put down.   And when Brian proof reads it I always ask if it flows and makes sense and does it glorify God?  And  then, I silently pray again before I publish it.

I don’t write my blog to be malicious. I don’t hate Mormons or any other faiths.  I don’t write because I want to get back at people or I want to hurt my family.  I don’t get paid for my blog.  I don’t know who reads or follows my blog. I want to use my story, my life, my experiences to help others make a difference in theirs.  I want my Mormon friends to see they don’t have to live in a works based system.  God has something more for them.  I want my friends who don’t believe in God to know through my life and experiences that there is a God.  To me, God is so real it baffles me that others don’t know Him. My sole purpose is to do what God has asked me to do.

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I never thought writing a blog would be something I would do or enjoy.  I never thought I would connect with people in the way that I have.  It’s been amazing to me how therapeutic writing a blog has been for me.  One of my favorite quotes is “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy– the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light” Brene Brown.

I am working on owning my story.  It’s a lot easier to “be brave” and “face the darkness” when I have the Creator of the Universe on my side.  Today, I am prepared.  I have turned it all over to God.  I keep thinking of the words form the song Oceans by Hillsong that say:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

Today I can say, God take me deeper, make me stronger, I want to go where my trust has no borders.  Today, I know He is in control.  Today, I know he can move my impossible mountains.

I’m just a small town girl… called by God to write a blog.