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