Christian

Tag Backs

Hey everyone!  I have some great news!  My mom will be returning to her blog next week, so unfortunately this is my last blog.  However, I am thinking about starting my own blog.  I haven’t decided yet, but I will make sure my mom keeps you all updated.  If I do start one it won’t be until school starts back up again.

This week I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about.  I was thinking about just writing about some of the awesome things God has done in my life.  Then yesterday I was listening to Klove on the way home from work and “Prodigal” by Sidewalk Prophets came on.  Instantly I knew that’s what God wanted me to write about.

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This song comes from the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  The son of a wealthy man takes his inheritance and squanders it all on partying and worldly things.  Then he comes back, hoping he can at least work in his father’s fields.  But his father welcomes him home with open arms and throws him a huge feast.  That’s how God sees us.  He wants nothing more than for all His prodigal sons and daughters to come home and He will welcome us all home with open arms.  No matter what you’ve done, all He wants is for you to come home.  “Where ever you are, whatever you did, it’s a page in your book but it isn’t the end.  Your Father will meet you with arms open wide.  This is where your heart belongs.  So come running like a prodigal.”

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This song seems to be more targeted at an audience that thinks there is too much bad in their past for God to love them, but I think it also has a meaning for believers.  There are no lost causes.  In 1 Timothy 2:3-4 it says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everyone to come to know Him, no matter what they’ve done.  I see this song as not only a message saying God loves me and wants me no matter what, but also a reminder that there are no lost causes.  You never know how much a single prayer or word can change someone.  The simplest things can move mountains.  So don’t think that the extreme atheist or the most devout of other religions can’t be saved.  God wants ALL of His children to come home.  Everyone can be saved.  So go out and help them get there! Show them the love of God!

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No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from, God wants you to come running into His arms.  It’s our job as believer to help others find their way home too!  So, I leave you with this; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19.

I’m Just the daughter of a small town girl…living in a prodigal world.

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

Not a symbol of death…

Finally had a minute to finish this up and get it published.  I hope you all had a great Easter!

I’ve thought a lot about what I would write about this week.  There is no better subject than the Cross!

Growing up in Mormonism, Easter was a holiday that was more about the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and candy than anything about Jesus.  I never knew anything about Palm Sunday or Good Friday.  And I was taught that Christ bled and atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and not on the Cross.  The focus for me as a Mormon was that Jesus rose from the dead.  The events leading up to that really didn’t seem to matter much especially His death on the Cross.

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I remember thinking as a teenager about the anguish that Christ went through in the Garden; the weight of sin that he had to bear for me, let alone the whole world.  I knew I was a sinner and I knew that just for the weight of my sins, a lot of blood was shed. I always felt guilty for the pain I caused Jesus. I had no clue about the things that happened to my Savior before he was hung on the cross. I don’t think I even had a clue about the suffering he endured while hanging on the cross.  I think in my Mormon world, that was skimmed over, because it’s brutal and violent, and because Mormons struggle with understanding the concept of death.  It’s difficult to imagine, the beating that Christ took.  The lashes and whipping that he received.  Not because of any crime but because of who He was. That he carried his own cross up to Calvary.  He was then nailed to that cross and left there to die.  He was made fun of and the guards gambled for his belongings.  He was tortured and he suffered and died.  Christ chose to go through all of this, because He loves me…

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It’s overwhelming to think, of the pain and agony that he must have felt.  The humiliation and embarrassment.  And yet, even though He had the power to remove Himself from all of it, He still took it all on so that I, an undeserving sinner, can be forgiven of all I have done wrong, and everything I will ever do wrong.   Wow!  Amazing!  Just the thought of what Christ went through, so the world’s sin would be paid for, leaves me in tears.

In Mormonism, the Cross is a symbol they choose not to focus on.  The official statement on the matter from LDS.org is:

“The cross is used in many Christian churches as a symbol of the Savior’s death and Resurrection and as a sincere expression of faith. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we also remember with reverence the suffering of the Savior. But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.”

The purpose of the Cross is so much more than a symbol of Christ’s death.  It is a symbol of sacrifice, forgiveness, and grace.  It is important to understand the purpose of why Christ had to die.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites, had to perform animal sacrifices to receive forgiveness of their sins.  They had 613 laws they had to follow.  When they would go to the temple to perform the rituals and sacrifices, they would pick the best animal they had.  The one that was closest to perfection that they could get.  Yet, the animal sacrifices weren’t enough.  We as Humans needed sacrifice to forgive us of our sins.  It couldn’t be just anyone.  It had to be a perfect living sacrifice, who’s blood would be spilled for the redemption of the world.  1 Pet. 1:18-19, ” knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”  Christ came down to earth as that perfect living sacrifice.  He faced sin, temptation, ridicule, and willingly spilled His blood so the Old Law would be fulfilled and the animal sacrifices would no longer be needed.  This started a New Covenant with Christ where our sins are already forgiven and we are covered by grace.

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I don’t understand how the Cross can so easily be swept away.  It’s like recognizing the beauty of a butterfly and saying the caterpillar doesn’t matter.  The butterfly wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the caterpillar.  Christ wouldn’t have risen from the dead if he hadn’t first died on the Cross.  They are one in the same.  You can’t separate his death from his resurrection just as you can’t separate a caterpillar and a butterfly. To me, Palm Sunday, the day that symbolizes Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through Easter Sunday when Christ is no longer in the tomb and has risen from the dead, are all one event.  Intertwined and connected.  And his death on the Cross is where my sins were forgiven.  The reason I know, I am forgiven is because Christ conquered death. Christ’s resurrection is proof that He overcame and conquered death.  If he conquered death, I am forgiven.  But you can’t celebrate His resurrection without first accepting his death.

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What a greater symbol of Christ being alive, conquering death, and being forgiven of our sins than the Cross!! To me, the Cross encompasses Holy Week all into one symbol.  When I see a cross, I am reminded of what my Savior did for me, for the world, and that because He lives, I am forgiven and will live with Him again.

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I’m just a small-town girl…forgiven, loved, redeemed, by His death on the Cross.

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.

 

 

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

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”.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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