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Former Baptist Church Member

 

"I Finally Set My House In Order"

Name Withheld

My first experiences with religion were given to me by my grandmother when I was 4. She was a non-denominational Christian, and the only thing I still remember was singing "Jesus Loves Me," and thinking that was all I was every going to need.

My parents didn't really make the effort to teach my sisters and I about religion, I assume, because they could not reach an agreement on what to teach us. My mother is a Catholic, and my father wasn't, and neither of them were all that devout anyway.

We were the typical American family that celebrated Christmas, never went to church, and yet my sister and I were smacked if we took the Lords name in vain for any reason.

As I got older, I made what attempts I could to approach religion. I remember being 8 and trying to read the childrenís Bible my grandmother had given me for Christmas one year. I didn't understand what I was reading, and I knew it.

When I made an effort, I usually just stuck to prayer. I remember relying on that more and more as my parentís separation became more and more imminent.

I never really felt like I got much from my prayers; no feelings of peace, no comfort, and I certainly wasn't getting what I prayed for. But I was simply doing what I had been taught to do since childhood because I figured I wasn't supposed to feel anything back. It never occurred to me that there might be something wrong with that.

My dad started making my sister and I go to Church with him and my grandmother on the Sundays we were with him. It was an Episcopalian Church where most of the people there were family members I had never met before.

I didn't like. I didn't feel like I got anything out of it because it was MISSING something; something critical that I didn't know how to name. I only knew that I was going for the wrong reason, and there was no sense in that.

Eventually, we all stopped going, and I didn't think about it much. My home life continued to deteriorate, and I found it hard to believe in the "Benevolent Lord" that was supposed to be protecting me when I watched what I was forced to see on a regular basis.

Church to me became a private disappointment, and my prayers were desperate pleas for something more from my life. But I always felt as if I was doing nothing more than talking to the ceiling, so I finally just stopped.

I didn't think about religion again until high school. A friend of mine was a Southern Baptist, and she asked me to come to the Church where her father was the pastor. I declined, saying that I was as Christian as I was going to get. And then she said there would be free donuts, so I accepted.

I enjoyed the donuts very much, and being around my Baptists friends was better than being at home, so I decided to give it my best shot. The same emptiness, the same inadvertent lip service was all that came from me. I saw all of the people around me with eyes closed and hands raised towards the ceiling.

I saw the tears of joy, gratitude, FAITH bejeweling their cheeks, and I just didn't feel it. I believed in God. I believed in Jesus. They kept telling me that faith in Christ was all I needed to be saved, but I knew in my heart that there was more. I just couldn't find it.

I had no idea how to ask for what I needed, or where to find it. I was dissatisfied, and trapped. I often cried about it, and begged with God for the answer to my problem. I could almost feel Him telling me to hold on, but I had no idea what I was even supposed to grab, so I kept silent and hoped something would come my way.

After breaking up with my then-boyfriend, who was also a very disappointing example of a Christian, I was at my wits end. Either my answer was going to come soon, or there was nothing left in me to even fight for anymore.

I was so tired of fighting everything all the time, and having nothing to show for it. I wasn't even happy. Why should I continue? And then the answer came. Only I didn't recognize itt all.

I became close friends with a few of the students at the karate school I had been teaching at for 4 or 5 years.

They were LDS, but that didn't mean a thing to me at the time. I had never heard of the Mormons, not even the polygamy misconception, so I was pretty much a blank slate. My boyfriends brother, Jake, was in a similar crisis of questions as me, so he and I never really talked about religion.

Ben was a year younger than me, and two years younger than Jacob, and yet there was something about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. He was The Good Kid. Gentle Ben. A blast to hang out with, and yet he was different somehow.

As I became better friends with him, I realized that he probably had what I was looking for. I just assumed I would never have it for myself, and didn't pry into the issue much.

Ben and I eventually started dating. I was up front and honest with him about my life, and he couldn't believe it at first, I was so good at hiding everything.

He took it all in with a kind and understanding acceptance that I envied, and I couldn't understand how he could be so forgiving. I learned more about his church, his family, and how the two were inseparable. I was jealous at my worst, and curious at my best.

We continued seeing each other, and after a falling out of about a month that happened in February, I was at an all time low. I had hurt the one person who ever genuinely cared enough about me to take in every part of me, and not judge me for any of it.

He was willing to still be my friend. He was MORE than willing, and I felt like a schmuck. So when our mutual friend asked me to come to a Wednesday night stake activity, I couldn't say "No".

I didn't like it. It scared me. It was on the 3 Kingdoms of Glory, and I had never heard anything so bizarre. I swore to myself that I would never do another activity with these people again; it was all just TOO weird.

And yet, I felt as if I couldn't say that, like I needed to keep listening to what they had to say. Even though what they had to say made me uncomfortable, their religion made so much sense to me. I felt myself accepting it against my will.

So I did what any pseudo-Baptist would have done. I told my preacher everything, and asked him to tell me what to think.

He and I had a long discussion about religion that upset me very much. I didn't agree with a thing he said. These people weren't members of a cult! I could feel it! For once, I was FEELING something.

I knew I couldn't trust what he was telling me. As much as I had always respected him, something was wrong. My search wasn't over.

There was one more thing to try to do that would allow for me to remain a conventional Christian. I had to be Saved. I needed to find some way to assure myself that their way was right, despite everything that was going on inside of me.

I assured myself that I was confused, that conventional Christianity HAD to be right, because being a Mormon, I had learned, was not an easy thing to be.

I knew I had a choice to make. And it came in the form of an invitation to an LDS church. I was pretty skeptical about the entire ordeal, and didn't expect it to be any different than anything else I had ever seen.

And I was never so glad to be wrong in my entire life!

As soon as I stepped into the congregation I was invited to attend, I could feel the difference. These people weren't just happy. They were whole! The meeting hadn't even started, and I felt a mighty change taking place within me.

I knew that I had found what I had been searching for. My years of questioning, and silence, and faking it was over now! I was home! And then the meeting started, and things got even more exciting! My love of genealogy and my morbid fascination with mummies and Ancient Egyptian culture had never made so much sense!

Sunday school was wonderful too! Questions I had had for months, they were able to answer in 5 seconds. And Young Womenís was a more than welcome change. I was with other girls my age, talking about how faith fit into my life as a daughter of Heavenly Father. I fell in love with the entire LDS church service, and didn't want it to be over.

I finally was able to set my house in order, to put my life together the way I knew it was supposed to be. I started going to church with the Mormons, which raised many eyebrows in my family. And their jaws dropped when they heard I wanted to be baptized, which I knew was coming that very first day.

I knew I wanted to be baptized before even took the Discussions. But Jake was away for the summer, and I refused to be baptized without him. Even after I found my faith, he still questioned his, and I knew it would mean something to him for me to insist that he be there.

On August 26th, 2006, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I made a covenant with God that I treasure more than anything in this world. More than money. More than family. More than life itself. Because of the Atonement of my Savior and Brother, Jesus Christ, my sins were washed from me, and I was finally whole.

Finally saved!
 

 

 

 

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