Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Honest Liars…

I’ve had many different thoughts go through my mind this week. Different subject’s, different experiences, and how different my life has been since leaving Mormonism.  I kept coming back to same thing.  It’s so easy to stay in a situation, or in a life you don’t like, or that doesn’t make us happy, because we’re scared of the unknown or because it takes too much effort to get out of it.

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Growing up, I lived with the mentality that one of the most important things is what other people thought.  I had to live with the ongoing belief of, “what will people think”.  In a town, predominantly LDS, it still can be a struggle.  I always felt that people were judging me, pointing out the things that I did wrong, and in many ways waiting for me to fail.  I feel like this is still the mentality of the town I live in, but my mentality has changed.

I remember when Brian and I had taken out our temple endowments, and after we left the temple that afternoon, we talked about the things we experienced.  I think we both knew then we would never go back, and yet, for several years after that we pretended to be a part of that world.  Yet, in the back of our minds, at least, in the back of mine I knew something just wasn’t right about it and that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.  But how do you walk away from everything you’ve ever known?  It’s so easy to justify things that are wrong when you want to stay where you’re at or when you’re too fearful of the unknown and don’t know where to go.  There is a Ted Talk I once watched and have used with my clients called the Honest Liars.  It talks about the lies we tell ourselves every day to justify the things we do.  I encourage you to watch it.  I learn something every time.

I think Brian and I lived in and participated in that world for so long that we didn’t really question it because we didn’t know anything else and we were scared of the alternative.  Comfort zones are kind of a catch-22.  It’s not a bad thing to be in a spot where you’re content, happy, and everything’s going okay.  The problem is that you can’t grow there, you aren’t challenged.  You become stagnant and just go with the flow because it’s easier.  It makes me think of the quote, “even a dead fish can swim downstream”.  It was easy to justify some of the things we experienced because that was easier than facing the truth.

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But even after we quit the Mormon Church, I still identified as Mormon on a regular basis.  Every time I went into the hospital to have one of my kids and I was asked to identify my religious affiliation on paperwork or anything, I would put LDS.  I didn’t necessarily live by their standards or attend regularly, but that was my identity, my culture, it’s who I was, or so I thought.  I was still in a place where being a Mormon was part of my identity because that’s how I was raised and I didn’t know anything else was out there.

I often say that Brian and I went through the difficult time in our life because it was the only way that God could get our attention.  I think we were so caught up in just living life, a life of self-deception because it was easy.  We were going through the motions and just living our life, we were stagnant.  We didn’t know that we needed something different.  It was easy to lie to ourselves.  Easy to justify and conform to what everyone else around us was doing.  I didn’t want to stand out, to be different, after all, what would people think?  We didn’t know that God was missing from our lives.

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But when God revealed Himself to us, He did it in a BIG way.  God came into our lives and immediately began healing years of damage.  He took away the negative self-talk that I struggled with my whole life.  For the first time ever, I began to believe that I was good enough.  I didn’t need to please anyone.  And one of the biggest things He did was begin to heal our very broken and damaged marriage.  For the first time in my life, I began to be honest with myself.  I didn’t like the belief system I grew up in.  I didn’t like trying to fit into someone else’s view of how I was supposed to live my life.  I did like this new God I had been introduced to.  A God who created me to be exactly who I was.  He created me with the good, bad, and ugly of who I was.  He wanted me to be me.  And as I grew in my knowledge of Him, the bad and ugly started to become good too.  The things I hated most about myself, I began to love.  The things that I was taught to hide from others I began to embrace.  I was learning to love God and love myself.

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Self-deception is easy. Going with the flow is simple.  Floating downstream is effortless.  Lying to yourself and justifying things you don’t like or agree with is easier than change.  Questioning, discovering, letting go and finding yourself, that, is hard.  Being honest with yourself, that’s one of the most difficult things to do in your life.

I know the closer I am to God, the more I focus on His Word, the more honest I am with myself.  I’m still an honest liar.  I think it is a part of life.  But I think the more you start to reconcile the big questions and struggles in your life, the easier it is to be honest with yourself.  If you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, that is when you grow the most.  A comfort zone is where dreams are just dreams and everything seems impossible.  When you look outside your comfort zone, dreams become reality and the impossible becomes possible.

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I guess my point this week is, don’t stay in your comfort zone.  There is a reason you are having doubts and questions.  There is a reason for you feeling uncomfortable.  God wants your attention!! Don’t wait until God has to do something big to get your attention.

God is my comfort zone.  When I follow him, when I’m in his word, I don’t have opportunity to become stagnant.  When I start to get too comfortable, God challenges me and makes me grow.  These opportunities make me become a better person.  They make me trust more in God and rely on him more than myself.

I’m just a small town girl…living in a world where God is my comfort zone.

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.

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, mormonism

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.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

My heart is Yours…

When I was a Mormon, life was life. I went through every day with out much of a thought about God or what impact He had on my every day life. When I was in high school, I would get up and go to school, practice for whatever sport I was doing at the time, and then come home.  When I had a bad day or things went wrong any thoughts toward God were never positive.  If I had a really bad day then I felt God was punishing me for not being good enough and I needed to try harder.

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Growing up we would sometimes have family prayer.  When we were all together we would pray for the food. Sunday is the day I would generally spend time really thinking about God.  I did have seminary every day in high school, so I guess for that hour I would think about God.  Generally, it was a passing thought.  God wasn’t the focus in my life. I though people who listened to Christian music and talked about God all the time were weird.  If you had told me even 10 years ago that I have more Christian music downloaded than any other, or that I spend most of my time outside of work focused on what God wants me to do, I would have never believed you.

I used to think that my religious beliefs were a private matter and people didn’t need to know what I believed. Most of what I did to worship God was done behind closed doors.  It wasn’t part of my everyday conversations and God didn’t cross my thoughts throughout the day.  When things went wrong in my life, I thought it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough and I would try harder in those times to read my scriptures and pray more.  But it was all on the surface.  My heart was never in the right place.  The intention behind my actions was all because I was supposed to be doing those things.  I was doing what the church leaders told me to, believing that some how they were more spiritual than me.  They had a greater connection to My Savior than I did.  This was another one of the misconceptions of Mormonism.

As I have grown in my Christian walk, God is ever present in my day. There are many times in my day when I will stop and think “Thanks, God, I know that was you”.  It could be for the smallest thing or the biggest thing.  It doesn’t really matter.  I see God’s hand in every piece of my life.

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This week was a really difficult week for me.  I’m not sure why but I have been overly emotional all week.  Monday was a holiday and Brian and I took the kids out to a movie and dinner.  It was a fun time I love being with my kids, Monday was a good day.  Tuesday was an average day.  I went to work.  I love my job but there are some things there that are a daily struggle and I know that I am supposed to be learning something from the experience, I’m not enjoying the lesson.  Wednesday the weather was awful, I have a 4o minute commute each way to work and I knew about 10 minutes in I should just stay home.  But I didn’t. I was late for work and when I finally got there, got my car stuck in the parking lot.  I was told many ways to get it out, how to drive my car, and that I need to get new tires.  As I have written many times I don’t like to be told what to do. (I felt a little vindicated later when other people who were telling me how to drive and what to do also got stuck in the parking lot).  I arranged things so I could head for home at noon; and hour and 20 minutes later they closed the building I work in for the day.  It was a very stressful and irritating day for me.  When I got home I took a nap.

I pulled myself together enough to go out in the community and work with the clients I was assigned for the day.  I got back to the office and realized I had lost my ID badge.  I did exactly what I was told and went and told the person I was supposed to.  I was told I needed to go back out in the community an find it.  I was told the information on the badge could be used to steal my identity.  I completely broke down.  I lost it. At this time it was 1:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had lunch.  I wanted to leave but my daughter had my car.  I went into the bathroom and cried.  I was done with everything.  I was so glad it was Friday and was wishing it was 5:00 so I could go home.

In that moment I finally stopped and said a quick prayer.  I started working on turning everything over to God instead of controlling the situation.  I again pulled myself together, ate lunch, retraced a few of my steps and found my badge.  I was able to get through the rest of the day with out tears, and had a long talk with Brian and then God on the way home.

Thursday was a regular day but bitter cold as it has been the last few weeks. It was so cold here Thursday and Friday most of the schools in the area were closed.  Friday was the climax of my horrible week.  My son left to go back to college 9 hours away, I took my daughter back to her college dorm in the city where I work.  I got to work feeling a bit emotional already saying goodbye to my college kids. There were things that happened at work that day that added to my emotional state and I cried all day. I pulled myself together enough to say a quick prayer.

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My conversation with God was please give me strength, courage, be with me as I go through this.  Not once did I ask God to fix it or take it away.  In my Mormon life, I lived my life to please myself and only involved God when it was convenient.  When things went wrong God became the excuse; I would think I wasn’t doing enough to please Him.  When life was going OK God was generally an after thought.

As a Christian, I can see God in my everyday life.  I am a strong believer in the statement, “Everything happens for a reason”.  I know God has a plan for my life.  I know every struggle, every roadblock, every heartache, God will take and use for my benefit and His.  I’m still struggling with the emotional stress at work . But God knows what I need and He will open doors.  He already brought my sister in Christ to work in the same building.  I am so grateful that I can go talk to her and have her say a quick prayer for me.  Or I can eat my lunch with her and we can talk about God.  I love her and I love that God knew I was going to need her, long before I ever did.

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Romans 8:28 says God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  Later in the same chapter in Romans 8:37 (NIV) it says we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I love that because not only will God work all the struggles I had this week out to benefit me but I will do more than conquer.  I will be victorious.  In the NLT version Romans 8:37 says “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us”.  What a great promise “overwhelming victory, more than conquerors”.  If you commit your life to Christ and are living for Him you are going not only win but you’re going to blow away the competition.

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I think my whole point this week is that I became so caught up in my emotions, my struggles, my problems, that I forgot who is looking out for me.  I forgot to stop and focus on God and what it means to be His child.  I forgot who I gave my heart to and that He wants more than anything to protect me and keep me safe. I fell back in to some of my Pre-Chrisitian beliefs and was focused on me and what I could to do fix things not on God and what his goal and purpose is for all of this.  It makes things a little easier knowing at the end I will be “dancing in the end zone”.

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I’m just a small town girl… living in God’s world.

 

One of my most favorite songs click the link and watch the video.

Where I got the title for this weeks blog