From my earliest memories I have always desired to be a servant for God on this earth and to be obedient to His voice and His commands and that living a life of obedience, sacrifice and service would garner me a place in the Celestial Kingdom. When I sinned I was devastated, I did not want to be one who had added to Christ's suffering. I met and married an amazing man from the midwest who loved Christ with all his heart, more than he loved me! We married in the Salt Lake Temple. We strove to be faithful to every word that proceeded forth from the Brethren as well as those we heard from God himself, but I am sure we fell short more often than not. We faithfully attended church, served in many leadership positions and tried to bring the best tasting food to ward potlucks. We raised our children to be faithful to Christ and in our naivete we thought this was manifested by being faithful to the LDS Church as an institution. We spoke often about the gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen, especially our children, we wanted them to grow up with the gospel of Christ as a living, vibrant thing.
I was especially cautious of being deceived and doing anything against the handbook of instruction as I believed that the men occupying the chief seats in Salt Lake City were called of God. However, as I studied the gospel and discussed it with others (mainly my spouse and children) there were issues that I could not resolve, discrepancies between the scriptures and the Church as an institution. Assuming that the Brethren were much more spiritual than myself, and assuming that they had all been in the presence of Jesus Christ (on a daily basis) and could speak to him face to face, I put all of my concerns on a "shelf" and pacified myself with the idea that all would be answered in the next life. I saw things that were wrong in the LDS Church but attributed it to the members being in sin and error, basically "Israel gets what Israel wants"; never did I once entertain the idea that the Brethren were in error.
Several years ago I was studying Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 which states, "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am" This scripture moved me, it gave me a hope that if I truly believed this scripture that I too could come back into the presence of the Savior, in this life! From that moment on I began studying and praying to know what the commandments were that I was not obeying. After all, I reasoned, there must be some commandment that I was not obeying because I had not yet come back into His presence and I wanted to!
About 4 years ago my husband was released from the calling of Bishop. From the first day I had conflict with our new bishop. I had been told something in confidence in regards to how he received the call to be Bishop that was disturbing and very upsetting to me. I felt that he had "stolen" the calling and conflict ensued. I was not kind to him. I am ashamed now at how I reacted to this man, I was not gracious nor forgiving.
Because of this conflict I prayed daily, sometimes throughout the day in regards to this matter of our new Bishop. Each time the answer would come, "the truth will set you free". It took me over a year to figure out that the Lord was trying to teach me that He is the Way the Truth and the Life and that by coming unto Him I would be set free. Once I understood this I began searching the scriptures and praying more earnestly to know Christ. During this same time a group of men in our ward were accused of some "apostate" behavior by a woman in the ward who had recently moved in. My husband was one of those accused. We were devastated. We had never done anything in opposition to the Church's teachings and were worthy of our temple recommends.
We began to be interrogated every couple of months by our bishop. Rumors began going around the ward, however, we were still completely innocent of the charges brought against us. We prayed often about moving but felt it wasn't the right time. We went to church every Sunday despite the abuse and being shunned by those we had served with, loved and called our friends for years. Eventually our bishop began to call in our teen aged children and interrogated them, wanting to know who we talked to, what we taught our children, etc. A counselor in the bishopric who felt that we were being honest about our beliefs and treated poorly by the bishop confided in us that the bishop had other ward members spying on our home and spying on us at church to see what we were reading, who we were talking to and who was coming to our home. Whenever a ward member was brave enough to come visit they were called in to meet with the bishop the following Sunday and interrogated as to everything we talked about. We were released from our callings. Eventually we'd had enough and went to our Stake President for help. There we learned that our Stake President believed the bishop and had gone to one of the Area Seventy for advice on how to deal with us; the Elder's response , "Bring in their wives, they'll rat out their husbands!" After crying in his office for 2 hours he never checked up on us again and continues to support the bishop in regards to dealing with us.
Throughout this entire ordeal we had prayed mightily to the Savior for deliverance and had some very sweet experiences with Him. Little did we know that He was going to truly deliver us in a way that we could not fathom nor comprehend. I began to ask the question, "what is so wrong with doing the things that we have been accused?", maybe a loss of temple recommend, but surely it's nothing so terrible that it requires excommunication. I began studying the scriptures in regards to the things we had been accused of doing some of which included questioning the Brethren and making and using wine for the sacrament. I chose to believe that the scriptures actually mean what they say. I no longer read them as a Mormon apologist, but as someone who wanted to learn truth from God.
I began having my eyes opened to commandments in the scriptures which I was not obeying because the Church taught opposite of the scriptures, mainly partaking of the sacrament with wine (3 Nephi chapters 18 and 20) and baptism for the remission of sins in accordance with the Doctrine of Christ (all throughout the Book of Mormon but especially 3 Nephi 11). If I truly believed in the promise contained in D&C 93:1 then I needed to obey all of God's commandments. Now I was in a quandary, if I wanted to see Christ and in order to see Him I needed to obey all of His commandments then I needed to partake of the sacrament with wine and be baptized according to the Doctrine of Christ by one having authority and using the correct words (given in 3 Nephi 11: 25), however, these things are strictly prohibited by the LDS Church and doing such can result in a loss of a temple recommend and your very membership in the Church.
I also decided to believe that the Brethren actually mean what they say and not one of them has stated clearly that they have been in the presence of the Savior. I began to realize that I was an idolater, I had been doing the exact thing that Nephi warned us not to do in 2 Nephi 4:34 "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." I decided to no longer trust in the arm of flesh, but to trust in the Lord.
I want to see Christ. I want to know Him. I want to enter back into His rest. I want to be redeemed from the Fall and come back into the presence of the Father. I want to serve Him and to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. I want to be welcomed into Zion. I want to be His sheep, for His sheep hear His voice (John 10). I want to preserve what is left of the Restoration. Once I chose to follow Christ there was no more vacillating, I began to partake of the sacrament with wine and I was baptized according to the Doctrine of Christ.
My husband joined me and we began to teach our children the gospel according to the scriptures and not as Mormon apologists. One of our daughters lost a fiancee over our new beliefs and we've lost our temple recommends and are in danger of being excommunicated. One of our son-in-laws has been threatened with excommunication. One of our children is getting married soon in the temple and she will have only one sibling with her. I have cried often over this, but through the loss of my temple recommend the Lord taught me that I had been an idolater of the temple. I am striving to not allow anyone or anything between me and the Lord. I have a hope and a belief in Him and am praying that my faith will increase enough that He can no longer be withheld from my presence (see story of Brother of Jared in Ether 3).
I believe in Joseph Smith, jr. I believe that lies have been told about him to further the desires of evil and conspiring men; I have spent considerable time researching the topic of Polygamy and I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr was NOT a polygamist and that polygamy is an abomination (Jacob 2). I believe in the Book of Mormon. I believe that this book is precious and that the promise from Joseph that a man (or woman) can get closer to God by obeying all of it's precepts is true. I have been under condemnation for taking lightly the truths contained in that book, I am striving to overcome the blind and false traditions that have kept me from entering into the Rest of the Lord. The Book of Mormon is a guidebook to help each and everyone of us to practice pure religion, to obey the Doctrine of Christ and to have a very personal relationship with the Savior. The Truth, indeed, will set us all Free, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Him!.
My friend wishes to remain anonymous. I appreciate her willingness to share her experiences publicly on this blog.