Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Year Forward into Freedom

I don't know the exact date that I pulled an all-nighter and discovered that the LDS Church was full of lies. It's been about a year now. I have been musing on the changes in my life, the miracles, the challenges, the freedom I grow to love more each passing month and the anger I still feel.

I had a lot of good times as a member of the LDS church, mostly due to my friends and the warm fuzzy feelings from being an included part of the group. Or else due to my own strong desires to be good, to seek God. I learned at least one useful skill--how to speak to groups of people without fainting.

I also still feel very betrayed by the historic and current church leadership. In the age of the Internet it is hard to hide information and yet they still do it the best they can. They still rule over their kingdom that continues to grow in wealth.

I did give away a Bible during this past year. It was The Message, a modern language paraphrase translation by Eugene Peterson. I gave it to my dear friend who was the first member outside of my family that I told about leaving the church. I don't know if she has looked at it yet. It seems one of the side effects of leaving the church is the way I am separated from people I called friends because they are constantly busy with their church callings and activities. I am not so busy anymore, which I have found is a relief. But I am not with my friends in all their meetings anymore so I rarely see them now. I have spoken to my friend and seen her a few times, but it has been me that reaches out to her.

Meanwhile I am happy with my new church home. When I see same sex couples I rejoice that everyone is welcome there. When I sing in the small choir I think about how I am doing it to praise God. When I don't agree with the pastor I am free to discuss it with him. If I give money to the collection plate I do it because I want to keep the church going and growing and meet its needs, not because I'm afraid of what might happen if I don't give. One longtime member of the Christian church I attend has always been a Christian and she is sometimes baffled by her Mormon neighbors' beliefs. We had a talk about my change of church and I told her I would never go back. God has led me out of bondage and fear to where I am free to worship Him of my own free will.

I had a nice surprise the other night. I've been reading The Message at night and using the NIV and NRSV as my primary study Bibles. I really like the NIV translation. I hadn't so much as cracked open a King James Version in a few months. But I purchased a Jefferson Bible, used, out of curiosity. I was shocked to see that the archaic language wasn't such an impediment for me anymore. I choose to believe that my time studying and loving the Bible has paid off by God granting me understanding. Topics like grace are so much clearer now.

A friend who is still LDS told me the Bible was distasteful because of the sex and violence and stories about the dark side of human nature.  She's been reading it though, and sharing with me her questions and thoughts. I have probably been a little too enthusiastic in sharing the new knowledge I am gaining, but I revel in the fact that she is Thinking as she reads. I have told her some of the many questions I had as I read too. I have a notebook where I keep track of some of them, and the research I've done on them. I decided in the beginning to be courageous in my asking and I have found answers. Sometimes I talk out loud to God to ask Him why in the world something was done a certain way.

One of the Christian ministries to Mormons wrote something about God becoming so much bigger for people leaving the LDS church. It's true for me. God is Huge, and I am still getting to know Him. Now that I know He's not the limited being of flesh and bone, one of a succession of many gods, as the Mormons think of him, I know He is with me. I invite Him along with me and I found He is a very patient companion. I love the Christian idea about a relationship with Him. I am further along in understanding His real love for us all here. Instead of a god to fear if I let him down by me not doing enough, I am learning that it's all about what He did. And I am so glad for what He has done!