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.

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

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.