One Person's Story
I was a member of the LDS church for over 30 years - an adult convert. I served in a branch and multiple other presidencies, as well as serving in High Priest Group leadership, scouting, teaching, and more. I was a temple recommend holding, true believing Mormon. And I was content with that. I had heard things along the way about some "issues" with the church's history and doctrines, but never really paid it any mind. After all, we are told that we shouldn't look outside of Mormon publications and resources. We were to avoid what was classified as "anti-mormon" websites and literature.
At one point, and for no particular reason that I'm aware of, I began to be curious about those things. I asked a couple of questions of some trusted friends. One friend in particular - a returned missionary who was still LDS at the time, but on his way out - was clear that he would only point me to the answers to my questions, and never directly share with me anything that might challenge my faith.
It came as a big surprise to me that most of what he pointed me to was not anti-Mormon at all. It was all official church writings, publications, and other resources. I was shocked at all the things that the church was keeping from its members. They never talked about all those things in Sacrament Meeting or in Conference. And I don't mean just the historical issues - I mean the actual doctrinal issues. It didn't take long at all to realize that I really didn't know much about the religion I had been participating in, and the leaders I had followed for my entire adult life.
I wished at that point, that I had lived up to the label I was given when first talking with the missionaries - investigator. I listened, prayed, believed, and joined. And I really felt good about it. But, I didn't really investigate.
I still remember those first few months after having come to the realization that Mormonism was a false religion. I went through so many emotions. I went through some very difficult times in my marriage. I saw people I thought were good friends stop saying hello to me as they passed by. I had someone come to my home and tell me that I should not share any of the things I had learned with anyone else. But the thing I learned next was the biggest surprise of all.
I thought that what was I was going through was uncommon - after all, I didn't personally know many people that left the church other than a few that "lost their testimony through sin or spiritual weakness." I found that there was a significant exodus of people that had been leaving the church for years now. And the list included church employees, bishops, stake presidents, and even seventies. And as I started learning their stories, it was all so similar to mine. We were all finding out the same things, from the same resources, and those same things were helping us all see that Mormonism is not true. That the historical events being taught are not accurate. That the Book of Mormon - advertised as the most correct book of all - doesn't even teach any of the saving doctrines unique to the church. That the Book of Abraham was not translated from ancient Egyptian papyrus. That there we at least 10 versions of the "first vision" story, and none but the last one included a vision of the Father and the Son. That the doctrine of plurality of gods, and God being an exalted man had only been taught two months before Joseph Smith's death, and was based on his incorrect translation of hebrew. And so on...
The next question for me then was - what now? What do I do after being LDS for so long?
I thought I would start to communicate with people that had been through what I was experiencing. I looked into some of the groups focused on the "ex" or "post" Mormon. I don't mean to sound critical, but as I started to reach out to them, I found a significant portion of those people to either be focused on all the "evidence" that proves Mormonism wrong, or proclaiming their freedom from religion, and from God altogether. It saddened me. I hadn't stopped believing in God, I just didn't know were to look for Him.
I had a friend that had left the church a few years prior to my departure, and had a few conversations with him. We had moved away from each other around 8 years earlier, and we had only communicated occasionally, so I didn't really know his story. We spoke a few times, and was glad to hear that he had become a Christian, but he was still very focused on the issues around Mormonism. I didn't understand why - I just wanted to move on. He came to Salt Lake for one of the Ex Mormon conventions and asked if we could get together while he was here. I agreed. During our visit I just came right out and asked him - why do you feel the need to participate in this type of thing? Why not just go on about your life as a Christian. He explained to me that it was a personal mission of his: to reach out to these people and try to share the gospel with them - try to lead them to Jesus. It took a while to fully realize what that meant.
If you were to ask me if I would like to convince all people that Mormonism is untrue, I would answer with a resounding NO! Not unless at the same time, I could help them transition to Christianity. Otherwise, I would be destroying whatever spiritual life they had, and replacing it with what the world has to offer - which is spiritual death. My goal is not to prove Mormonism false, but to help teach people the true Word of God as contained in the Holy Bible, and help teach them of Jesus. After all, had I found out what I know now just a few years earlier, I might never have stepped foot in any church again.
The Bible teaches that all things work towards good with God. There was a reason that I spent 35 years as a Mormon, and there was a reason He finally lead me to truth. And to desire anything different would be to doubt God's sovereignty and wisdom.
My desire now is to serve Him by using the gifts and the experience I have to help others.
So, what's next for you?
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