So I heard somewhere that we should celebrate our own Jubilee, the day when we learned that there is a way for all our debts to be forgiven and that Jesus makes everything new, through nothing we personally do. The day we, personally, spiritually, returned to our ancestral home on earth, as one of God’s chosen. For me, that day was August 26th, 2012. Three years ago today! I'm 39 years 4 months and 26 days old. God truly does make us new with a renewing of our minds and heart as I don't remember much “living” being done the first 36 years of my life like these last 3 years of “living” have been. My previous life was more a jumble of memories, surviving and working my way to heaven. Checking off things as I did them and then “enduring to the end”, trying not to screw things up too much. Knowing, deep down in my heart I couldn't do it. Always striving to be perfect and failing with every step.
3 year ago, today, I sat in a Church building, feeling totally out of my element and listening to a man speak of Jesus in a way I had never heard before. Speaking of these things called “Grace”, “Unmerited favor” and “Salvation” like I had never been taught.. all from the pages of a book I could never understand before when I opened it up to read.
A week to the day, my entire religious foundation had been ripped out from under me like someone yanking a rug out from under you. I was still stumbling around trying to find my footing. Within my mind, I had a shelf where I would place things that didn't make sense or that I was searching for an answer that made sense. It was heavy and weighted down with so much over 36 years for unanswered questions. One bible verse caused that shelf to fall from the wall and all my questions to scatter all over the floor. (Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) That shelf represented a desire to know the truth but a fear of looking too deep in certain areas because I was warned by a former Stake President, after 4 years of asking certain questions, saying “If you don't stop asking these questions you be filled with the spirit of the Devil and fall away from the restoration.” I did go through a short period of considering Atheism. Having been taught you are part of the “One and only true Church on the face of the Earth”, if that wasn't true then none of it was. I was preparing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Toss everything out and walk away.
Wednesday, we packed up our 5,100 square foot home we sold recently and moved 45 min away into a new home and a new city. I didn't want to unpack. All I really wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position and cry. I was lost and felt so alone. No God, no religious system to fall back on, too afraid to talk to anyone from this organization about my loss of faith in the organization I had given 14 years of my life to. I was so angry.
We were given some material to watch but were so busy moving we didn't get around to any of it. Brian (You'll have to ask him his story.) and I talked about telling our kids, but we weren't sure where we stood, other then the organization we had raised them in, we now knew, was a lie. How could we talk to them about such things? We considered just letting them attend church and continue on as they chose. We decided it wouldn't be fare to do to them and couldn't do that. We had to be up front with each one and allow them to choose, for themselves, what they wanted to do after giving them the facts. So we unpacked one room, and said “Let's have a movie night!” and popped in one of the DVD's we were given to watch, as a family.
“Jesus Christ Verses Joseph Smith” It was lovingly done and compared the two. Gave the facts and bible truths. By the time the video ended there wasn't one dry eye in the room. The kids then proceeded to ask us questions and we answered them as best as we could.
The following Sunday, we were invited to attend a Non-Denominational Christian Church. Calvary Mountain View Church in American Fork. There were drums....and guitars.... and colored lighting... we all experienced a culture shock of sorts. This DEFINITELY wasn't an LDS Church meeting. As I read the words to the songs that were sung, some of the words were familiar, but the way they spoke about God and Jesus was very foreign to me. Then the Pastor started his sermon. I listened intently. Not wanting to miss anything he said. I loved how he taught directly from the bible. Didn't add in his own personal opinions. Bible and only the words in the bible. I was drawn to this Jesus they spoke of. I could never figure out the Jesus I was taught as a child. Figure out exactly where he fit in. Why he was chosen above all the other "spirit children". Why was he highly favored above the others? This Jesus I was learning about was a mystery. A good mystery. How, could God the Father, also come down and become Jesus.. but I was starting to understand he is GOD! Not one of the God head, as in an office position of sorts, but the one and the only GOD, who took on flesh, to save all those who choose to place their full trust in HIM and only HIM for salvation.
That night, there was another event at the Church called "Harvest America" with Greg Laurie. It was streaming live into the sanctuary. The pastor in our building would speak when they had a brake. They began speaking about accepting Grace and placing your trust in Jesus alone for salvation and I wanted to, but wasn't sure how. Then at the end, the pastor got up and asked if there was anyone that would like to accept Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior and enter into a relationship Him, to come forward. I couldn't stay seated. Without thought of my 7 children (except for the one on my hip) and husband, I left them all behind to go forward, only wanting Jesus in my life. Then I saw my oldest son, Corey, standing by my side. I looked over and saw Cerena and Andrew and My husband with the 3 younger ones trailing behind him. Tears flowed freely as we repeated the sinners prayer, admitting we were sinners and needed saving. Asking Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. We weren't the only ones. There were so many that came forward to do the same. I didn't fully understand what it was I was doing exactly. All I knew was I wanted THIS Jesus in my life.
It's been an awesome 3 God filled years and I look forward to so many more with Jesus walking with me. Knowing I can't mess things up so bad that it would cause Him to leave me. Knowing he's is ALWAYS with me, no matter what. Do I still struggle with things? Of course! I still have to walk around in this sinful flesh, but I can say that the desire to willingly sin is so much less.
Thank you, Lord, for the freedom you've blessed me with. Freedom in Christ is something I never want to live without ever again!