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From A Maze, To Amazed!
I was born and raised in the Mormon Church. Baptized at 8, became a deacon at 12. I remember having to memorize the 13 Articles of Faith, memorize all of the Prophet's of the church, and the many other things that were expected of me in order to make it past my bishops interview to hold the lesser Priesthood. (Aaronic) I was excited, finally I am somebody! I have achieved!
I remember my CTR Ring, I remember Father and Son Outings. I remember Scouts, I remember Pinewood Derby's. I remember the 'Father's blessings', 'Family Home Evening', 'Home Teaching'. All these things and more were meaningful to me in my life. I remember the powerful feeling that I felt when I prayed of whether or not the Book of Mormon were true. Yet, does a feeling substantiate proof? This is one of the many perplexing things that went through my confused head after reading some of the stuff that Jerald and Sandra put out. It took me some time to come to terms within myself, as I would be making a bold move being the only one in my family to step out of Mormonism.
I had an experience in Salt Lake where the bishop asked me not to come back to that ward again as their were too many hard feelings towards me in this ward because of a misunderstanding with another member. Even though I told the bishop it was a misunderstanding. He stated that he understood, yet the fact remained that their were just too many hard feelings held towards me by a majority of the ward. I left angrily, and stayed clean away from the church. I also moved out of the apartment that I was in (since I roomed with my Elders Quorum President and his counselor) and found a nice studio apartment in the Avenues. This decision really hurt as I felt that I had given alot of myself to this ward.
As I was walking in confusion one of my co-worker's at work began talking openly to other employee's about reasons why he wasn't a Mormon. An interesting conversation, being that this office had at least a hundred people in it, and every one of them but him and a gay man were not Mormon. I listened to the things he said, and laughed and teased him. Finally, he challenged me to read one of the Tanner's books and prove them wrong. During my lunch break I anxiously picked up the phone book keeping an eye out to see if anyone was watching. I really didn't think that I would find a phone number for Jerald and Sandra Tanner, yet their it was. It seemed to jump out at me.
I picked up the phone and their office assistant Marleen answered. Skeptically I asked if this was the number for the authors Jerald and Sandra Tanner, she said that it was. She and I talked maybe 20 minutes, as I told her that I was a Mormon, and I was a little skeptical about the Tanner's work. She challenged me as well, to read through one of their books, and try to prove them wrong.
The challenge sounded intriguing. I had to prove them wrong. I just had too! So, I got a hold of one of their books from my co-worker. I can't remember which one it was, yet I was glued to it. I felt a variety of emotions as I read the Tanner's material. I was perplexed by what I read, I was angry at the Tanner's. Most of all I felt that my whole world had crumbled around me. I knew that if my father saw what I was reading he would be absolutely disappointed. I also knew that their was noone that I cared about that I could talk to about the things I read, as most bishops only tell you to remember your testimony whenever you have complex questions.
One of the big bosses came up and asked me what I was reading one day, when he noticed that the authors were Jerald and Sandra Tanner, he got a stern look on his face and walked away. The next day I didn't have a job, I was told that I was laid off. I knew what the reason was. I became very depressed and confused, and angry. I Had enough cash left in my account to take me through another month, and I hid out in my apartment, for two months. I was too depressed, too confused. I didn't want to think about Mormonism, as it was the center of my life before all this, yet now it was a confusing mess that seemed to affect where I lived and where I worked.
I went to different churches after that, not really looking for a place to call home, yet just looking for something that would hold meaning to me. Well, I ended up back in the Mormon Church once again about a year later, after a guy that I grew up with became bishop, he began to reach out to me. He convinced me when he said, "we have the prettiest women in this church that are your age then any other in town." I was sold, stalk and barrel. I begin to once again pursue a testimony of the church. I read the Book of Mormon, I read other church books. I dug into knowledge wanting that testimony again.
I read the Book of Mormon in three days, that was how bad I wanted a testimony. I felt that powerful burning in the bosom, I had a powerful experience. After I had finished reading the entire Book of Mormon I looked up at the clock and realized it was time for 'Fast and Testimony Meeting.' I gave a powerful testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Everyone was so amazed and happy for me. Yet do you think that the tremendous research the Tanner's have done can be overlooked so easily?
I couldn't let it go, the Book of Abraham turned out to be an ancient Egyptian document called, "The Book of Breathings"? The Smithsonian doesn't accept the Book of Mormon as an archaeological record, yet they do the bible? William Clayton's Journals? Temple endowment like Masonry? God is an exalted man? Jesus and Satan are brothers? Grace vs. works? Marriages in heaven? I would rule my own planet someday? As man is, God once was. As God is man shall become? This was only a few of the questions that just tormented my head.
I have learned that his grace is sufficient for me. I have learned that the bible is the infallible word of God, even with the challenges that the scribes had to endure in writing it. I have learned what it means to love! That is a new one on me, I love and admire Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and give them many thanks, as well as those at Concerned Christians, who were there in my questioning. They were there even at a time when I didn't think that I believe in Christ any more. They were patient and accepting. Yet, Sandra Tanner was the most influential to me during this period.
I would like to say for any LDS folks that are reading my testimony, my love and my prayers as well as understanding goes out to you, wherever you are in your life. I hope that you have an open mind, and heart open enough to search out the works of Jerald and Sandra Tanner, as well as those at Concerned Christians and others on the web. I only ask you to study it out for yourself. I pray that this testimony that Christ is a very real part of our lives, and that the Mormon Church does not stand up to it's claims as the only true church would be strong enough of a word for others to search these things out for themselves.
In closing let me share with you a powerful experience that happened to me at a time of great depression. I was in a homeless shelter, I felt very heart-broken, and alone. A powerful and well liked Baptist Preacher was coming in about twice a week. I was very rude to him. I began to tell others that Jesus doesn't love us, if he did then why would we be here? One night I went and laid down in my bed, and went to sleep. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned around to see a little kid run playfully to the foot of my bed where a man was waiting for him with his arms outstretched. I sat up in bed, as the man began to look familiar. Suddenly I realized that this man was Jesus! The feeling that I got when I looked upon Jesus was so tremendous that no words could describe, just the flood of tears that filled my eyes. I looked over at the kid again as I realized that he looked familiar. I begin to understand that this kid was me when I was younger. Then uncontrollably I wept. When I noticed that Jesus was no longer their, it became apparent that I was sitting up in my bed, and wide awake. Which convinced me that it wasn't a dream. I couldn't get back to sleep for the rest of that night. It brings a tear to my eye just to write it. Jesus is good!!!
Jesus is knocking at the door to your heart. Will you let him in?