I have been through a lot of hard things in my life. Here are just a few of the hardest:
- I buried my first baby when she was only 7 weeks old.
- I left my first marriage, driving two states away with eight children ranging from the ages of 5-16, not knowing what was going to happen to us, with no job, no education, virtually no job experience, and only a temporary place to stay (for a month or so).
- I started my own business in an effort to support my family with no experience and struggled through managing things while the market crashed.
- I managed to pay off ALL of my business debts, incurred due to the market crashing, after being counseled by many people to file bankruptcy because of the magnitude of them and was able to keep my credit intact and my integrity in place.
- I’ve been divorced twice, having to start my life all over again.
These are just a few of the experiences that I’ve had in my life. I’m not saying these things to bemoan my existence nor am I saying them to aggrandize myself. I’m just saying that my life has not been easy, just like everyone else’s. We all struggle. We all have our challenges.
With all of that said, I have to say that the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done happened in August of 2014, when I read some books that completely changed my perspective and perception of life and I left the religion that I’d been brought up in all of my life and that I had dearly loved and believed with all of my heart that it was true.
This was the hardest thing for me because at that time I lost EVERYTHING that was important to me, on top of realizing that everything that I had believed up to that point (for 49 years) was not true. That is a very humbling situation to be in.
I wrote a blog post at that time sharing my experience with anyone who was interested in reading it. I have included it below.
My life now is no longer anything like the life I once had. I have completely different friends and very little to no association with my family. This is not because I no longer love them or that I don’t want them to be in my life. This is because my perception and perspective of life has changed so drastically that we virtually have very little in common anymore.
The amazing thing to me has been that no one, not one member of my family nor any one of my numerous friends that I once had, cares enough about me to want to understand what happened to me or why I changed so much. Sure, a few asked me to try to explain to them very briefly what had happened but nobody is willing to seriously look into anything that I have read to find out what would make such an enormous change in my life, and so quickly.
For any who care, I want to say that every difficult experience that I’ve had has turned out to be a positive thing in my life – something that has changed my experience and my character for the better, something that has made me who I am today. The hardest thing I experienced was the most rewarding, the most beneficial, and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I would do it again and again and again, despite the difficulty and the loss of relationships that I experienced. Here are some of the amazing things that have happened to me since discovering what I did: The Marvelous Work and a Wonder and The Humanity Party.
- For the first time in my life that I can remember, I truly love myself.
- I am more confident and can more easily make decisions and handle the challenges that I face in life.
- My love for others has multiplied to a level that I didn’t know was possible.
- I no longer judge others and I know that we are all equal human beings, no one better than the next, no matter what anyone believes, looks like, even acts like.
- I never have to forgive anyone anymore because I know that if I take offense at something, it is my problem. I rarely take offense at anything anymore and if I do it is very, very brief before it’s gone.
- I have found that it is impossible for me to be depressed for any length of time. Of course, I have times of sadness or discouragement, but they leave me very, very quickly with little to no effort on my part because I better understand what this life is about.
- I no longer worry about things at all.
- The majority of my life is spent in peace.
These are just a few of the things that I have experienced. To sum it all up, I am happier than I have ever been in all of my life and I give 100% credit to the amazing things I have learned from the Marvelous Work and a Wonder (https://marvelousworkandawonder.com/) and The Humanity Party (http://humanityparty.com/).
If anyone is interested and wants to read what I wrote originally about my experience 4 ½ years ago and why I did what I did, here it is:
Sunday, August 31, 2014
On course corrections and integrity…
In the last month my life has taken a complete turnaround. I have chosen to have my name removed from the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This has been the hardest thing that I have ever done or experienced in my life, bar none. I am not attempting to persuade anyone to follow me and do what I have done. I am not trying to convince anyone to change their ways. I’m not going to criticize the church in any way, nor the people in it. I have been hesitant to write anything in my blog ever again as I realize how little I really know about this life, but I have decided to write this in an attempt to answer some of the many questions that I have received regarding my decision and perhaps to dispel any rumors that may be spreading and finally to ask for input from anyone who thinks they can help me to see where I “messed up” and how I got “deceived”. So here goes:
All of my life I have tried to do what is right. I was raised up in a strong LDS family and as I obeyed my parents and lived the principles of that church, I saw blessings come into my life which strengthened my conviction of the truthfulness of it. It became my rock. It steadied me through my life as I went through various challenges. I loved the church with all of my heart.
Because I felt it was the greatest gift my parents ever gave me, it was my greatest desire to give that gift to my children so every effort I made was to that end, to teach them the principles I had learned through the church so that it would strengthen and bless them throughout their lives, as it had done to me in mine.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to know the truth of all things. As I would read in the scriptures of Lehi’s dream and how Nephi prayed and he received the dream also, I believed that I could receive those things too, if only I was righteous enough and had enough faith. There are other stories too. The brother of Jared saw all things, as did Abraham, Moses, and Joseph Smith. Through the years, I would pray for more knowledge of all things.
As I have grown, I have learned the value of studying the scriptures. I was taught as a child that that was important. I went to seminary when I was a teenager and institute in college. The church teaches us to study. When I was younger, I didn’t study as diligently as I wish now I had, but I started the habit and established the desire. As a young mother, I struggled to find the time to give the scriptures the attention that they needed. I remember keeping my scriptures on the back of the toilet so that I could read every time I sat down. When I got divorced, I struggled with finding time for personal study as well, but I continued to strive to have that time. It has always been a priority for me in my adult life, as the scriptures have always brought me great peace and given me many insights into how I should live my life.
I have never been what people would call a great scriptorian. I do not remember everyone’s names or the details of all the stories. I don’t remember where I read what. I have never gotten hung up on the details of words and what each one meant. I have always used the scriptures kind of as my personal urim and thummin. They have given me practical guidance through my life. They have been how I have felt the Lord has spoken to me. As I read them, the stories come alive with eternal truths and practical guidelines that have helped me to maneuver through this life. The more I study, the more the words become a part of me and as I go through the struggles of the day, I remember words, feelings, and impressions that I experienced in my scripture studies.
I began reading the scriptures to my children when they were babies. I remember reading to my oldest as an infant in my arms and I tried hard to make it a daily occurrence in our family, no matter what the challenges. It was important to me to be able to share this gift with my children. I felt that as we studied the scriptures together as a family that it would strengthen us as a family.
After getting married the second time, to a wonderful man who loves the scriptures as much as I do, I found that I had much more time to study the scriptures that I have always loved so much. Not only has that been our favorite thing to do as a married couple, but I also am able to be home now without the constant demands of little ones keeping me on my toes and without having to go out and make a living supporting a family, so, although I have plenty of things to keep me busy every day, I also have a little more time that I can set aside for my personal scripture study. This has been a great blessing to me and a time I have cherished. I have been able to study the Sunday School lessons like I never have before. I have been able to pour over them, reading all the additional readings, as well as the basic outline. I have been able to compare and cross reference. Also, having my husband alongside me, I have been encouraged to tackle some of the more difficult scriptures, like Isaiah, and really search for more understanding and meaning.
I have not had a lot of interest in reading the words of other men or women, outside of the scriptures, although I have been open to it and have occasionally found a book that felt quite inspiring to me. I have also never been afraid to look at other ideas and religions as I have always felt that the truth should stand up for itself and be able to withstand whatever scrutinies and comparisons are available. I have never found anything that has seriously challenged my belief in the LDS church.
I have had a couple of minor roadblocks in my understanding, such as polygamy and some of the earlier doctrines in the church that I’ve run across, but I always have trusted that someday I would understand and that I just needed to have faith. I also was completely convinced that the prophet would never lead us astray because that is what I had been taught and heard all my life so I felt great safety in just following everything he taught, no matter who the prophet was.
As I study the scriptures, I find time and again the counsel to seek for the truth of all things and that if I humble myself and pray with sincere intent, these things can be made known unto me. Not once, in the scriptures does it say not to seek too much or look too deeply. I have heard, though, in the church, that counsel on occasion. I have never understood that as it seems a great contradiction to me. I have never been dissatisfied with the church or looking for something more than it has to offer, I just have been looking for personal revelation that has been promised to me, through the church, through reading the scriptures, which I had always been encouraged to read.
In my more recent studies, I began to notice that there was a lot of talk of corruption in the church in the latter-days and there was talk of a man bringing forth these scriptures and many not accepting it. (A few references to these things include Mormon 8, D&C 85:7, and 3 Nephi 21.) I began to be open to the possibility that things might come to us through another way than I had always expected. I still did not see corruption in the church as a whole, although I knew that on an individual basis I had seen much.
When I heard there was a man who claimed to have received and translated the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, I was shocked. How had I not heard about this sooner? What did this all mean? My mind searched through my memory box of scriptures I had read and patterns I had seen as I’d studied the scriptures. True to my nature, though, I was open to all possibilities and willing to take the test to read it myself and see if there was any truth to it.
I began with great skepticism. Although I was curious, I have to admit I was doubtful. I knew there were people claiming all kinds of things and this seemed too amazing to be true, but I thought of how the Jews had watched for Jesus but when He came they didn’t recognize Him because He wasn’t what they had expected and I thought of how many times the Lord had called prophets from obscure, strange circumstances, and how He is no respecter of persons and I prayed for an open heart and mind and the ability to be able to discern truth from err.
I knew that I had done all that I could to be obedient and put on the whole armor of God. I knew that I had striven to have the Holy Ghost with me and that the Lord had promised us that we could not be tempted more than we could handle. I took courage in these things. I do not believe in a Satan who is more powerful than me and certainly not in one who is more powerful than my Father and I was doing ALL I knew to do to be following Him and therefore was worthy to receive His help and protection.
As I read the story of [the author] and his experience, I was amazed at how it paralleled the story of Joseph Smith in so many ways. I knew this could be either an indication of its truthfulness or an indication of deceipt as it would be easy to mimic something that had already occurred. I still read with skepticism, but with sincere desire to know.
I knew that Joseph Smith had translated 116 pages from the gold plates that had been lost. When [the author] received the plates from Joseph Smith he retranslated that and that’s what I read next. It was an eye opener, but still not enough to completely convince me. It wasn’t until I read the Sealed Portion that I began to truly have my eyes opened. As I was reading, I felt something deep within me stir. I began to see many things that I had not realized or understood. I became like unto King Lamoni where as I learned the truth I began to have a total and complete change of heart.
The whole experience has been both terrifying and beautiful. As I read the book I thought of how many people I know and love who would cherish the words that I was reading if only they would read them themselves, and yet I knew I could never ask anyone to read it because I was very aware of the sacrifice that would be required at their hands if they were to take on the challenge.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been a huge part of who I am, of my identity. It has been a blessing I have cherished throughout my life. As I read, I began to see that I had been wrong in many ways and that this church was not what I believed it to have been. The question then became, what is MOST important to me – the church or the truth? If I am to be a true follower of God, if I am to live with integrity, if I believe the scriptures, even the ones I have studied all my life, which truly testify of the coming forth of the Sealed Portion, and concur with its words, am I willing to give up all things, even a part of who I am? Am I willing to sacrifice the respect of my family and friends? Am I willing to leave the safety net of the church I have embraced all of my life? Am I prepared to deal with the confusion and lack of trust that comes from “changing my mind” about the church?
The situation was more complicated than just that. I have made bad mistakes before. I married badly the first time. I began a business that led to much hurt and trials to our family when I was single. I planned to move to Texas, only to change my mind again when my new husband entered my life. My family, especially my children had been disillusioned by me and my decisions time and time again and the church had been the one strong anchor that had helped us through so many trials in this life. Now, I was going to leave it?
I was in deep turmoil. I knew that this could destroy my family. I knew the possibility of even permanently losing people who have been very important to me in my life. I knew the surety of destroying the confidence of my children in me and in the things I have taught them all of their lives.
Still, truth is truth. The only choice I could see was to live with the integrity of my heart or not. The bottom line really is, do I have to courage to stand by my convictions through hell and high water or not?
I have felt like the rich man who asked Christ what he could do to inherit the kingdom of God and was told to obey the commandments. He replied that he had all of his life. Jesus then told him to sell everything he had, give to the poor and come and follow Him. The rich man turned away sorrowing because he had very much. Was I going to be that rich man?
Things were further complicated as I began to learn more about [the author]. There is a lot on the internet to defame him in every way. Even he, himself, was very hard for me to swallow. He is not smooth-talking with words that are flattering and easy to hear. He is strong, determined and tells the truth. He cuts to the core and doesn’t hold back on anything. He is fearless and he, too, is no respecter of persons. Could he indeed be the chosen one to bring us the truth?
The proof for me, lies in the fruits. I have read the Sealed Portion and continue to read his other books and listen to what he has to say. I believe the message that he has brought to us is true. I feel it in the very core of me. No matter how much I have not wanted to believe some of the things he has said or brought forth, I cannot deny the ring of truth that abides in it.
This work is not about the messenger. If God wanted us to turn to Him and not blindly follow another man, this man would be a perfect choice because he’s not easy to blindly follow. He challenges and pushes and sometimes confuses me, which turns me to within, to search my God, to know for myself, which brings me answers in ways that I never could have dreamed of or imagined.
The story that is told and the message that was presented to me through the Sealed Portion is very different in many ways than I have believed in the past but when I finished the book and looked at what my past beliefs were and what this book has presented to me, I cannot deny that I believe the message held therein is closer to what I believe the plan originally was in heaven, the one I thought I had fought for. I think perhaps I was not one of the valiant as I had wanted to believe my whole life, but that I was one that wanted more security and could not understand the plan as my Father had intended and that’s why I’ve had this life experience. This feels my chance to learn the real truth and rethink my previous choices.
I have been accused of being selfish and not caring about my children and the trials this would cause for them. In this accusation I think others have erred. There is nothing that has pained me more than that. I have cried more tears in the past month than I can remember crying in my life over anything because of that very thing. I have considered the hurt that this will cause and I have considered often, and much the possibility of just pretending it never happened and going back to life as I once knew it but I know that I would never be the same because I would have denied the integrity that has always been so precious to me. How could I ever again, with any degree of integrity, share my feelings or beliefs on anything? I would have to become as a silent observer, unwilling and unable to share my feelings on anything again, as I had denied the truth of what I really know. What kind of mother would I be then?
I have been accused of searching for mysteries that I should have left alone. What? Do we believe in the scriptures or not? Do they not tell us over and over again that we should seek for all the mysteries of the Father? Do they not tell us that we can know the truth of all things? Do they not give us examples of people who have learned the truth, even in this lifetime?
I have been told that I’ve been deceived, that Christopher is a wicked man. If that is true, then the “armor of God” must not be a real thing. If that is true, then what I have learned about Satan, that he could bruise my heel, but I could crush his head, must not be true. If that is true, then I would have to believe that Satan is indeed more powerful than God because he would have been able to tempt me more than I was able to endure and no amount of protection that had been promised from God would be real or true, at least not in my case. I had not broken any commandments that I was aware of. I was not searching in forbidden paths. I was following the words of OUR scriptures, the scriptures that the church had sanctioned and encouraged me to read all of my life. I was reading the Sealed Portion that was prophesied would come forth. I was testing its fruits for myself to know what was right and wrong.
I cannot find one example of a true messenger of God, bringing forth truth and calling repentance to His people, coming from the leadership of ANY church, even the most “chosen” church of God. I have not found an example of a true messenger that was not hated and scorned and criticized. If the truth were soft and easy and palatable, why have so many people throughout the history of the world, denied it all?
So, those who are convinced I am deceived or misled or crazy, please tell me where I am wrong. Please tell me what I have done to get on this path that I shouldn’t have done. Please tell me how I could live with myself and still not create all the havoc that has now been created in my life.
My life felt nearly perfect two months ago. I was happy in the church, I was married to a wonderful man, my family had forgiven me and was trusting me again. We were all healing. WHY would I want to go and ruin all of that?
Every morning I wake up to new struggles. Every day I have more hurt and pain. This has NOT been the easy road. This has not been a slow pathway to apostasy that happened through lack of diligence or sloppiness on my part. This has been a COMPLETE change of heart and reformation of who I really am
A few months ago I began really praying for the Lord to help me know what I needed to repent of in my life. I was living every principal of “the gospel” that I knew and understood, and very diligently at that, yet I knew that I was not perfect. I knew that there were many things that I didn’t know or understand that I wanted to and I couldn’t understand why I was not receiving more revelations on those things. I sensed that there was more and that I needed to change something somewhere but did not know what.
The Sealed Portion taught me what I needed to change. Although this has been the most difficult thing I have EVER done in my life, it is my answer to prayer. Should I, after FINALLY receiving my answer, say, “Never mind. I don’t really want to know. That’s not comfortable. That’s not what I want to hear. I’ll just go back to the way everything was. I’ll just go back to my perfect life.”? You tell me. I’m open to your thoughts.
I am not trying to push anyone to accept or believe anything that I now embrace, even my children. I have told them that I will continue to support them in their activity in the church in every way. I am not changing all of my standards of living to be a negative influence on them or anyone else. I will not try to preach my new beliefs or even share them with others. I simply ask, can people still love me for who I am and what I believe, even if it doesn’t agree with you?