Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Overwhelming, Never-ending…

“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” ~CH Spurgeon

Growing up in my Mormon world I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect.  I believed that I would never be good enough to go to Heaven.  As a Christian I know I will never be good enough to go to Heaven, I will never do enough to get to Heaven.  I take comfort in knowing that because of Christ I will go to Heaven.

do not fear

Every day I am so amazed by the love God has for me.  It blows my mind to think of His suffering and pain on the cross and although Christ knew of the anguish he would go through when He was put on the cross and yet He willingly went through it all for me.  I am so undeserving of His love and grace, and yet, He is so willing to give it to me.

Living everyday life is hard.  I try to be the person I want to be.  But that is also fueled by the expectations of those around me.  I fail every day.  The most amazing thing is when I fail God’s love and grace are still there for me.  Every day, I try to keep God at the center of my life, and every day I fail.  I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think back to my life before Christ and I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t answered the phone, or if I hadn’t believed that God loves me. If I still lived in my Mormon world I don’t know how I would survive.

reckless love

There is a song called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, the chorus states:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

Think about that for a minute…God loves you so much, He would leave his flock to find you, to fight for you.  I fail every day.  I fall short every day.  I can’t earn God’s love or grace.  I will never be deserving of Gods love or grace.

I know I am a sinner, a failure, a hypocrite, a disappointment, and yet my God still loves me.  He’d leave the 99 to come find Me! In my hardest darkest days, that is what keeps me going.  Knowing that I can’t do anything to make God not love me. Knowing that no matter what, He has forgiven a horrible, hypocritical, sinner like me.

you are enough

Knowing all my failures and shortcomings, “I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.”

It feels amazing to know…

I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in the Reckless Love of God.

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Rock or Sand?

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

 

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

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

perfectionism

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

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

 The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

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

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

And the rain came tumbling down

 

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

And the wise man’s house stood firm.

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

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

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

personal relationship

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

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

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

hypocrite

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

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

Christian

Heart Problems…

I’ve struggled with writing my blog lately.  Recently, I even thought maybe, I would just stop writing.  I feel God has made it very clear to me that isn’t an option.  So, as I was pondering the last few weeks, I thought about the world and all the turmoil going on right now.  I thought about a friend who is going through a really rough time, I thought about the church shooting that just happened and that mass shootings seem to be an almost regular event anymore.  I thought about my job and the hurt and pain that people struggle with on a daily basis to the point they want to take their own lives.  I remembered, my purpose in writing this blog is because people need Jesus!!

life hurts

There is so much hurt and heartache in the world today.  I sit and think about all of the yuck in this world and I remember when I was there.  Hurt, broken, feeling worthless and hopeless.  When I opened myself up to the love of Christ, when I heard that it didn’t matter to Him all of the horrible things I felt I had done, He still loved me, it changed my entire world.   In the past I would have told you I knew who Jesus was, and I believed in Him, and I tried to live a good life.  But having a relationship and opening yourself up to God’s love is different, it changes you, it changes your world.

I try not to be political in my blog.  I try to just focus on my religious experiences.  But as I think about the state of the world today, I can’t help but take more of a political stance.  I’ve seen a quote many times that says you don’t need religion to have morals, and while I don’t disagree with that, I feel as a society as we work to remove God from our culture, our morals are going by the way side.  I have worked in a school and worked in a prison and it blows my mind that we discourage kids from freely pursuing and practicing their faith in school.  We put many barriers in their way and yet if you are in prison, religion is encouraged.  I remember sitting in parole hearings and listening to inmates talk about going to church and Bible studies and how God was changing their lives.  One of my many hats at the prison was the religious coordinator, I oversaw all religious activities and made sure all religious volunteers were in compliance with facility policies.  Just imagine if we put that much energy into assisting the development of spirituality and religion for our children.  Maybe we wouldn’t have the struggles we have now.

universe

I’ll be honest, there were many different religions in prison, and several weren’t Christian based, and I could tell those who were genuine in their pursuit of a relationship with Christ and those who weren’t.  The difference was, their lives, even in prison, just seemed to go better.  They didn’t get in trouble with the jail staff, they followed the rules, and they didn’t argue.  They were accepting of their situation and if something didn’t go their way or if they felt they had been wronged, they had a conversation with the staff and tried to work it out.  They were different.  Their hearts were different.

There is truly something amazing that happens when you give your life over to God.  When you are willing to accept that He has a plan and a purpose for you it changes your perspective and changes your heart.  I know when I came to that realization, I wanted to know God more, I wanted to know everything I could, I read devotionals, Bible studies, I listened to sermons on the Radio. I began to develop a relationship with this God, who before seemed so scary and condemning, but as I learned more about Him, was loving and kind.  It blew my mind as I read the Bible and learned about the people he chose to spread his message.  The people he chose to be the ones that would represent Him.  They were not perfect people who always did right.  They were very much sinners.  But…They all had one thing in common.  They all loved God.  They had a relationship with God and they pursued Him.  They wanted to please their God.  And although they made mistakes and struggled with their sin, they still pursued Him. It wasn’t just because they believed in Him, it’s because they had a relationship with Him.

jesus heals broken hearts

In today’s world, God is a foreign concept.  Society teaches trusting in God is a weakness.  In today’s world, we want to be our own gods.  It’s heart breaking to me.  As I watch people struggle, I think, “You need Jesus!!”  And I struggle to say anything for fear that they will condemn me or make fun of me.  I can say, “You need Jesus!!” on my blog because it’s not face to face.  That’s easy.  And yet, I know that’s what I need to do.

The thing that needs to change most in this world is we need to get back to the basics.  The 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  The problems in this world are not about race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, gun control, or any other social issue the media wants to glorify or criticize at the moment.  It’s about the heart.  It is what is important to us as a society and where our priorities lie.  Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.  In today’s world our hearts are anywhere but with Jesus.

giraffe

I’m just a Small Town Girl… living in a world in need of Jesus!

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Broken into Freedom…

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

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

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

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

cor

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

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

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

beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

dance

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

 

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Religiosity…

Another week of me thinking I was going to write one thing and God changing my mind last minute.  This week I read an article about religion in America and how “Mormons register a high level of religiosity.”  There are so many things I could say about the article and the reasoning behind the “religiosity” that Mormons have. There were so many things that I felt were wrong or misleading about the information in the article. But each point is its own blog.   But what I do want to address is the term religiosity.

Some of what the article stated is as follows:

A new and important study of religion in America has, among other things, a good deal to say about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recently published under the title American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, the sociological study was conducted by scholars Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell and yields valuable insight to the nature and social effects of American religion.

Among the study’s findings related to Latter-day Saints are the following:

  • Mormons are among the most devout religious groups in the country.
    The American Grace study assessed a composite measure of “religiosity” that measured individuals’ levels of religious observance, the strength of their religious convictions about God and their faith, and the degree to which they feel their religion is personally important. As a group, Mormons registered a high level of “religiosity” (American Grace, 23-24).

Dictionary.com defines religiosity as 1. the quality of being religious; piety; devoutness.2. affected or excessive devotion to religion.

Wikipedia stated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity

Religiosity, in its broadest sense, is a comprehensive term used to refer to the numerous aspects of religious activity, dedication, and belief (religious doctrine). Another term less often used is “religiousness”.

romans-10-3-stg

When you look at those definitions it’s all about rituals and practicing of religion.  No where does it mention a connection to God or worshiping God.  It’s all about showing how tied to your religion you are.

I think the reason that “Mormons are among the most devout religious groups in America” is because, in the Mormon world, religiosity = status.  The more religious you are, the more connected to God you seem to be.

report-card-stg

I think this is the biggest difference between my Christian life and my Mormon life.  As a Mormon my worth, my relationship to God, and how good of a Mormon I was, was all based on “religiosity”.  Everything was determined by how many church activities and functions I was attending, if I completed my visiting teaching assignments, if I was completing my church calling(s), was I a full tithe payer, a regular temple attendee, and any other things I was asked to do by my bishop or stake president, or authorities in the church.

The Mormon church is filled with ritualistic activities that, on the surface, look like you are connecting to God. But when the relationship with God is reliant on on rituals and prophets, and there is no real connection with God then do you have religion or a relationship?

someone-to-know-stg

All of the “religiosity” adds to the requirement of earning your way to heaven and having to be enough.  If you do enough religious acts then hopefully you’ll be good enough to earn your place in heaven.

knowing God stg.jpg

Since leaving the Mormon church I have always said I hate religion.  When people ask what religion I am I say Christian in the broadest sense of the word.  I don’t want to be tied to any one denomination. I am just that, a follower of Christ.  I am not tied to a church or a religion.  I follow the Bible. Several years ago I was getting some blood work done and the lady drawing my blood and I got on the topic of religion.  When I told her I was a Christian she asked where I worshiped.  I loved that because, although I am a Christian, I do have a church I choose to worship at on Sunday’s.  I have a church home that I love and I serve in a position at my church.  Not because I was called by the Pastor.  Not out of obligation to anyone.  I worship and serve because of my relationship with my God.  It helps bring connection to my Savior.  It helps me worship.  It has nothing to do with religiosity.

I feel like religion or religiosity is all about check boxes and rituals.  Things you do to prove to the world how religious you are.  The problem is that this takes away from your relationship with God. With religion you get so caught up trying to show the people around you how religious you are, and, Jesus gets lost.

religion-says-stg

I don’t need the world to know anything about my religious beliefs.  I don’t need the world to be accepting of me.  All I need is a relationship with my Lord and Savior.  One of the comments on the study was I love the word religiosity.  My thought was, you can have your religion, I’ll take Jesus.

authentic-christian-relationship-stg

I’m just a small town girl…Living in my Jesus world.