Wednesday, April 26, 2006

MY PATH TO CHRIST


Micah - An ex Mormon lady from Utah shares her testimony.

Dear Chris, here is my story to add to your hundreds of stories. I never knew so many ex-mormons there were across the planet. It makes me feel less like an outcast to read other's stories.

St. Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

How do I make this brief?

How do you condense a transformation and all that led to it?

Let me try.

Born near Salt Lake City, Utah in the western United States, I inherited mormonism. Although my parents were divorced, I shared a relationship with both parents, both considered to be "jack mormons." That's a mormon that is not "active" in the church, doesn't attend, doesn't pay tithing, lives their life as they see fit. But can't find the courage to deny that mormons are the true church.

My grandparents probably had more to do with my religious education than anyone, although we didn't see a lot of them. But their strong faith in Joseph Smith was evident when we were there.

We are hardy mormon pioneer stock. My great-grandparents immigrated from England and Prussia to be with the "saints in Zion" and traveled over many years and miles from New York to Utah, by wagon. It was accepted by my families and my parents that the LDS church was Christ's restored gospel on the earth. That we follow a prophet. That Joseph Smith was the first modern day prophet.

Although inactive, my mother occasionally took us to church, or sent us to sunday school. We were involved in the youth groups as children. Mormons like to involve the inactive to activities so they don't stray too far from the church. I just never really questioned the only thing I knew, living in mormon country - "Utah" - the headquarters of the church. We were constantly hearing, the prophet this and the prophet that and "prophecy tells us..." I grew up in fear of the second coming of Christ. I grew up in terror, I knew I could never be perfect enough to be saved. I watched my father die, afraid of the unknown, fearful for him myself. And I will never forget his willingness to just accept, especially on his death bed. I understand it, too. He knew nothing else, either. And I did not have the fortitude to give him another opinion at the time. I wish I had found a way to do that while a few people were dying. Mormons take that pretty serious, talking to them on the deathbed, and disrespecting their religion. Jack mormons just don't want to be converted while they are dying. Especially in Utah, where people constantly try to convert you.

I met my husband and soul mate through the work of the Lord, and I believe it to be destiny. No other thing explains why we married, and more importantly, how we stayed married for over 20 years. He was raised strict LDS, meaning a lot of control and abuse issues over the years, and was also a jack mormon. He too believed the church to be the one true church, although "[He] don't believe everything they teach, [he] feels most comfortable in the mormon church and I know that the foundation is the one true church."
I guess that was my viewpoint, also.

We added a son to our ready made family, making three children, 11 months after we married. When a child is born into a jack mormon family, they still go to the church to have them blessed at birth, baptized at 8, and a desire to be sealed to that child and spouse forever. Many mormons come back to the church at this time, like my parents, and my grandparents before them. And we followed suit.

We took the temple marriage classes. If you go through the temple after a civil ceremony, you must take the temple preparedness classes and not be married for less than a year when you go to the temple. We were sealed with our son and I began studying. My husband is the doer in our partnership, I am the studier. We still have a great respect for one another's intelligence, however. His relationship with Christ is his alone. My relationship with Christ is mine alone. We do talk about religion, spirituality, and our thoughts on the subjects. With me he attends a baptist church I like. We are supportive of one another's convictions in that we all need to find our own relationship with God that makes us better for it.

I felt that the Doctrine and Covenants would be the most important thing to study on my own. Joseph Smith's divine revelation. I hadn't really heard a lot of the D&C, except in scripture quotations. For that matter I hadn't really heard a lot about the Bible, either, and even less about the new testament. It wasn't that it wasn't taught, it was, but in bits and pieces. Not how I know to study the Word of God today. Things contradicted themselves. Legend was mixed with reality. Rules were inconsistent. The Holy Spirit made you feel guilty, and Christ was our spirit brother. I never wanted to be a god, just be with my family. And the temple was the only place to do that.

As I began studying, I began questioning. "Not ready for the meat, unless you can handle the potatoes. God will let you discern the truth when you are ready."

Ready? Wasn't I a full-fledged, temple proving mormon already? Well, at least people, my family, my husband's family, would respect us more, we went through the temple. And this way I covered my bases, if temple marriage was true, we did it, if not, it wouldn't hurt anything in the end because I did it out of faith.

That was my thinking.

That was also my problem. I was a thinker. I couldn't just look the part if I couldn't live the part.

I didn't want to find answers by turning to "anti-mormon" literature. I have since read some pretty biased pieces. I didn't want the church, or another church, or someone with a grudge against the mormons to cloud Christ's truth. I kept away from all religion, period. I tuned into the spirit.

I started with the new testament, that would be the teachings of Jesus. And from there I started the path to my Saviour. I moved on to the D&C. I never really got around to reading the whole Book of Mormon, didn't need to. The old testament was just too different than what I was looking for. I didn't need proof of God or of Christ. I just wanted to know what He really taught.

I think the final straw was when my oldest daughter turned eight. The bishop wouldn't allow my preisthood holding husband to baptize my daughter because he smoked. He smoked. What about other sins? What about stealing from your neighbor, lying about why you weren't at church sunday, looking down on people, greed, sneaking a beer or cigarette? But openly smoking? To me it seemed the lesser of offences. Why would this stop him from baptizing his own daughter?

I remember one day, driving in my car, and pondering on the meaning of the things I had been reading. From a mormon's point of view, even, because I knew nothing else, I had experienced nothing else. I called the local Presbyterian church, and asked if they sent someone out to talk to people. The receptionist said she might know a lady who would be willing to do that.

Dottie Bird. I don't know where she is now, but I love her in Christ with all my heart. Our little talks were the only outlet I had, and I was shy. But she kind to let me come to my own conclusions and said she knew them to be of the Spirit.

The interim pastor at the time, Lord I wish I could remember his name as well, was an ex-biker, an ex-con and a loving member of Christ's body. Our bigger talks and his sermons taught me so much more. I began seeing Christ in a totally different way. He deserved my worship so much more than I was taught He should be given. People who loved from their relationship with Christ seemed nice, but I was and probably will always be, mistrustful of people and their purpose in sharing Christ with me. But these two people the Lord sent to me that I could trust and open my heart.

So I was driving and I was praying, God if I am wrong, please forgive me, but I feel this is your true gospel, and that I must remove myself from the church of my childhood. I turned and saw a perfectly formed rainbow, with that pretty beam of light eminating from the one cloud in the sky. At least I remember it being one cloud, I could be exaggerating.

From that day forward, I knew I would be baptized for Christ. I knew I wasn't wrong. But doubts followed me for years. I was taught from birth to leave the church is damnation, especially if you had been in the temple and taken the sacred oaths. Each time I would pray for forgiveness if I was in error, for forgiveness if I was doubting, forgiveness for all my sins, for there were many. Even today, the thought creeps into my head from time to time, what if I'm wrong? Even today I pray that God's will be done, and ask forgiveness for being a foolish human being. For we all are of sin. And that comforts me to know that I can be who I am.

The terror that strikes a mormon when they begin to see is overwhelming. Anything against the church is satan trying to dissuade us from the LDS church. Was I having a bad morning getting to church because of that? Oh, no, I failed to plan. Was God trying to lead me back to the LDS church if I couldn't find the scripture I needed? Oh, no, that's my short term memory. There were no shadows lurking, and the lynch mob wasn't coming. As a matter of fact, I think I've been treated better since becoming a Christian; by mormons, than I have before. They don't want to "offend" me, and they keep conversation light. To them I am not an "ex-mormon" because the church still loves you. But I love IT when the missionaries knock on the door. Poor young lads.

Now, see, I've rambled. So, for ten or twelve years, I have been studying the Word of God, and I need to have scriptual reference for myself. That Christ is the only true church, that His church is not a church of brick and stone, but of the heart and Spirit. If I don't want to attend a religious ceremony I don't have to, and I most often don't. At times, I enjoy worshiping through music and I have found a congregation where I feel comfortable for now. But I will wait and see what the church is like after the newness wears off. Mormonism has made me much more cautious about my faith. My love of Christ is so sacred to me, and I won't be blinded by another false prophet or the word of man, so I wait. Wait until I know how a person feels about the church, wait until I know what a church teaches about Christ. Wait until I know the Spirit is with me even in these places and with others. I know it sounds like my faith is small , and maybe it is. But it is not small in the love I feel from Jesus Christ. That is the realest thing in my life, and I have a very joyful life, with all its problems and goodness. I know that Christ suffered for my sins, I know he took them upon the cross with him. I know He washes me spotless before the Lord with the blood He shed upon that cross. I know He was raised from the dead, as proof to His followers, and that He will descend from heaven to rule the earth in His time. And I know you and I are the same, regardless of where we stand in life, or we are, or what we do. For while I am a part of Christ, and He a part of me, that makes us all connected in Christ for we are all a piece of a big puzzle.

And I love freer. And I live happier. And I live in peace. And I know I will be with Him in all His glory someday. And I know He works his will through me, if I am not jambing up the message with all this thinking. And I worship His name, because He is faithful when my faith lags.

Other than that, I really don't know a thing.

Micah

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
(I Corinthians 13:4-8)

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