Let me start this by first stating or clarifying that this particular little tidbit is in no way intended to defend myself or my religion; nor is it intended to force upon anyone a view-point regarding my religion being the one and only true religion. Until my Heavenly Father informs me that it is HIS desire for me to do such, it isn’t my place.
However, as of late, I have found myself in the midst of many conversations regarding the Lord, my life, my beliefs, etc. and so I decided to simply write it all up and post it.
Religion has always been a bizarre subject in my family whereas God has always been a constant. As far back as I can remember I have always known that the Lord was with me through everything; whether I was thanking Him or cursing Him out, I could always feel His presence. When I called out to Him in fear, I felt His comforting arms around me and knew I was safe despite whatever might be happening to me.
However, my exposure to churches and organized religions was not as positive an experience. I had one set of grand-parents who were abusive to each other as well as my brother and I; they used scriptures from the bible to fight and frighten. They were Baptists and they were evil hypocrites among other things.
The church I was raised in was an Assembly of God branch, and at one point I was told they were Pentecostals. After more than 8 years of Sunday school classes, my brother and I felt we would get more out of the church mass than the classes. Their response to this was to kick us out because we were trouble makers and my brother was apparently the ‘ring-leader’. I believe I was in 6th grade at that time.
In Junior High School I tried the church thing again, this time with a Lutheran church. I was confirmed and everything, and I still feel that for the most part, the Lutherans are a decent Christian faith that are not full of a bunch of hypocrites that try to use the bible to push personal beliefs and what not as so many of the others do, nor do they misappropriate donated funds as many others do. They put forth a good effort of actually being about God and not about the Church or some disguised form of idol-ism (such as the Catholics, with whom I have major issues) and I respect that. Most of my family is of the Lutheran faith.
Things happened to me which resulted in my leaving that church, and although I investigated several other religions over the years, I never found another until 2011, at which time God led me to the church I am with now. And so, currently, I am a Mormon.
Now let me start by ridding you of any misconceptions: only one spouse is allowed, we are not a cult but a way of life; The Church of the Latter Day Saints teaches family values, compassion for our fellow-man and neighbor, honesty is always the best policy, humility and humanity. Now please keep in mind that these are my words and interpretations. There are so many things about this church that I have found to be wonderful, and I am proud to be a member; however I am forever a child of God who will never stop asking questions or searching for the absolute Truth of all that my Father wants me to learn, know and DO while I am here in this life. I think I keep the young missionaries on their toes with all my questions and challenges; our Father certainly wants us all to be certain we understand what we read, learn and teach! 🙂
Now, my little sister Shawna has been a member of the church for many years and had been urging me to join for 6-7 years prior to my actually joining. I politely declined as it was not where God wanted me to be at that time. But we would have many discussions regarding our beliefs and the strength of our Faith, both of which is incredibly deep, solid and strong. And sometimes there would also be debates regarding things we simply disagreed about, so we would (and still do) agree to disagree.
Hmm, I seem to be starting a few too many paragraphs with ‘Now’ and that annoys me for some reason… Anyway, one of the beliefs of the Mormons that I always had a hard time grasping is actually the ‘Step 1’ (so-to-speak) part of God’s plan of Salvation for mankind.
Mormons believe that God wants us to be happy and that He will give us as many opportunities as He can for us to be redeemed and find our way to Him and His Kingdom of Heaven. God’s plan is to “bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). God didn’t create us to discard us; He truly wants us to return to Him. “The Plan of Salvation works through the atonement of Jesus Christ and there are many elements which help it function in our daily lives” (quoted from mormonyouth.org).
The point is this: Mormons believe in a pre-mortal existence where God showed us what our life would be like; everything that we would face, good and bad, then gave us a choice as to whether or not we wanted it. As much as I could get behind everything else about the Plan, I couldn’t imagine what would possibly motivate or possess me to see all the abuse, pain and bullshit that has added up to my life and make me say “Yeah, that looks great, Father! Sign me up for THAT one!” /:)
As I took the lessons, learning about Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates of Nephi, I was very intrigued. The mysterious disappearance of my own Bible, an up-coming surgery and concern in the event of my death led me to asking my friend Bridget, a member of Shawna’s old ward (she moved) if her missionaries could possibly bring me a Bible. Later that evening two wide-eyed fellers showed up at my door and my life took a step in a new direction. We visited for about 2 hours mostly discussing my faith which didn’t really having any other title than simply Child of God. I’ve been a member for a little over a year now and I love the family values and community they teach. But I still have a boat load of questions that everyone either tries to answer as best they can or are patiently letting me find the answers on my own in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which I have found to support one another, so I believe them both to be the words of the Lord. And it is in the Bible that I finally found the answer to why I would agree to this hard life I chose.
In the New Testaments Book of Matthew Chapter 5 Verses 3-10 Jesus preached to His disciples the Sermon on the Mount in which He taught them of the 8 Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Upon finding these, a strange feeling, a type of peace just seemed to fill me, it was really cool, but I can’t describe nearly close to what it felt like; it was just amazing and I wanted to know and understand more. So naturally, I hit the internet where I came across this page that gave me even more clarification, and that feeling just poured through me again! So frickin cool! Here’s the link to the page, just in case you’re interested: http://jesuschristsavior.net/Beatitudes.html
What all of this helped me realize is that I like the person I am today, for the most part anyway. Because of the things I have had happen to me throughout my life, I have grown a certain way. Because of the way I have grown, I have helped a number of people who might have otherwise been lost. Because of who I am and the way I am, my teenager knows he can always talk to me no matter what, and he does. If any one thing in my life were to change (time machine theory) I might not be who I am, or have the life I have, so yeah, I would do it all again exactly the same, pain and all, because I know the good out ways the bad. And I think it’s cool that I had an opportunity decide for myself whether or not to take on such a task, although sometimes I fear I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, and sometimes I wonder if He throws in a couple unexpected curve balls. But I always know He is with me because I am a child of God.
♥ ♥ ♥ ~ Kyla ~ ♥ ♥ ♥