Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sharing My Life: Adventures with Syd

By Kristi Sanderson

Single again after an 18 year marriage, dancing became a part of my social life. One summer evening as I entered a dance, I caught sight of a tall, good looking man out on the dance floor and was excited when he came over to ask me for a dance. His name was Syd. He told me later that he instantly knew he was going to marry me, the moment he saw me. He said it was a revelation from God.

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13

We hit it off that evening, and soon we were dating. He was wonderful in nearly every way, but there was one thing that I saw as a deal breaker. There were twelve years between us and we were in different stages in our lives. He was already a grandpa, while my youngest was still in grade school. Gently, I told Syd that I didn’t see a future for us, but didn’t want to lose him as a friend. Though he was hurt at first, we stayed in touch and became good friends. I didn’t know it, but because of his revelation, Syd was sure I would change my mind. When that hadn’t happened after several months, he became discouraged.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

During a slumber party with some ladies from my singles group, we each wrote up a list of attributes we wanted in a husband. When I read over my list, I realized how perfectly it described Syd. It was then that I decided to put my doubts aside and before long, our friendship had turned to courtship.

One evening, Syd told me something a friend said that had encouraged him through those months when our friendship had seemed to plateau. He suggested that Syd think of me as a carefree bird that would come and go as it pleased. Though at first, it might only stop by for brief visits; with time, it might grow comfortable enough to perch on his hand and find itself exactly where it wanted to be, never to fly away again. He suggested that I might also grow comfortable with Syd in time and find that I wanted to spend my life with him. Syd was sure God had inspired those words to encourage him.

One Saturday morning, Syd came by bright and early to pick me up for a day of cross country skiing. But instead of hurrying me out the door, he sat me down on the sofa and stunned me with a marriage proposal. I stammered uncomfortably as I tried to gently explain that I thought we were headed for marriage but I wasn’t ready to commit to it just yet. I needed more time and most importantly, a confirmation from God before I could give him my answer. Syd and I set the subject aside and off we went skiing for the day.

It was a beautiful, clear day in the mountains. As we skied down the sun-glistened trail, an adorable little bird caught my attention skipping along the branches beside me. I’m sure I looked like a fool, but I couldn’t resist talking to it. I was so delighted with my new friend that I pointed it out to Syd. The next thing I knew, that bird boldly flew ahead and landed smack dab on the back of Syd’s hand! We watched in astonishment as it perched there fearlessly, as if it was the most natural thing in the world! Neither of us had ever seen a wild bird do such a thing before, but we shrugged it off as nothing more than a friendly bird hoping for some food. It took me a whole two days to realize how closely our bird experience mirrored the bird analogy from Syd’s friend. God’s confirmation about marriage had come in a miraculous way, and it came on the very same day as Syd’s proposal. We married later that same year.

After we married, I once again became a homemaker. But after a while, I grew restless. One morning I woke up with my mind already made up that I would find myself a part time job. The challenge would be to find one that would allow me to be home with my disabled son when he wasn’t in school, and that included summers and all non-school days. I decided to work just one day per week and chose Wednesday because that was the day that Nate’s dad always cared for him after school. I don’t think it was coincidental that on that very same morning while out shopping, I heard a rumor that a nearby store was hiring. I went right over to check into it and was amazed to find that not only were they hiring - they were looking for a Wednesday-only employee. It was just what I wanted and I was hired. Since my boss had always given all non-school days to the students he employed, I never even had to request those days off. I was very blessed to have found the perfect job IN A MATTER OF HOURS! I loved my new job and enjoyed working alongside a woman who had been widowed at a relatively young age. That job would be a wonderful blessing to me not only then, but especially during a very difficult time in the not so distant future.

Syd knew how to live life to the fullest. Every moment with him was an action packed adventure. Syd had a reputation for getting into frequent predicaments. His best friend once said that his idea of a boat outing with Syd was to have a helicopter, fully equipped with supplies circling overhead waiting to rescue them. In my adventures with Syd, he and our boat both caught fire, we ran our boat into the ground in shallow waters, had our propeller break on us twice, our shifting went out, we lost control of our boat and nearly collided with another boat and dock, lost our dinghy, had equipment failure at sea, were nearly lost at sea, got stuck paddling for hours on what was supposed to be a river rafting trip, about missed the last bus for the day, ran out of gas, had the brakes go out on our car, and more.

One Monday morning in October, I was hit with an overwhelming urge to gather reading materials for Syd’s daughter Sherry, who had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I bought several books that day and went right to work marking sections I thought Sherry should read, on what I regarded as a link between yeast, food intolerances and disease in general, and M.S. in particular. I felt sure that Sherry could learn to manage her disease through diet and supplements. By the end of that day, the books were ready to go.

As I was getting ready to leave for my Women’s bible study the next morning, I felt a strong impression that someone would need my help when I arrived. As soon as I pulled in, Leslie, who had parked right beside me, came dashing over to ask for my advice. She was worried about her son. He’d had many recent health problems and she was concerned about his frequent and persistent vomiting. She’d been taking him to the doctor, but it wasn’t getting them anywhere. She suspected that yeast in his diet was the trigger and wondered if I had any advice on managing food intolerances to yeast. I told her I’d felt something nudging me just the day before, to prepare reading materials to give to Sherry. But since nearly everything I had prepared was directly applicable to her son's problem, I was sure the materials were meant for her. She gasped and told me that she had been praying about what to do when my name came forcefully to mind. We stared at each other in amazement as we realized what God had just done. God knew that I would be encouraged by that experience in the days that followed. I would draw strength from it, knowing that He was actively at work in my life.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” Romans 8:16

It was also around that time that I attended a Women’s Retreat. The theme of the retreat was about listening and responding to the Holy Spirit. Our main speaker cleverly compared the consequences of failing to follow boating guidelines with spiritual consequences from failing to listen and respond to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Because Syd and I were such boating enthusiasts, and had more than our share of mishaps, I could completely relate to the topic. I felt a tremendous closeness to God the entire weekend. Also attending the retreat was a lady by the name of Kay, who I’m sure, was put in my path for a special reason. During our testimony meeting, Kay shared with us her experience with her daughter taking ill and passing away soon after her return from the women’s retreat the previous year. I was inspired as she shared how she had felt God comforting her in the year since her loss. Before the weekend was over, Kay and I had become friends.

Shortly after my return home from the retreat, I ran across a poem I hadn’t seen in years (*). It was written by my Grandfather to my Grandmother on the night he passed away. My grandmother found him the next morning in his favorite chair with that sweet poem laying on the table right beside him. I was so touched by the poem that I typed it up and emailed it off to my brothers and sisters. Around that same time, Kay sent me an email. It was the one year anniversary of her daughter’s passing, and she and her family were celebrating a day of remembrance. I was inspired by her example of trusting God for strength and amazed at how gracefully she was handling her loss. It was the very next day that I would need God’s comfort and strength as I began a grieving process of my own.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

That next day, I woke up feeling God’s presence as strongly as I ever have in my entire life. I was just bursting with happiness and overflowing with God’s love. God spoke to my heart that morning, assuring me that he had a plan for my life. I was filled with excitement when He revealed to me that part of His plan was for me to write a book about my adventures with Syd. Off I went to work, carefree as could be. Little did I know that later that same day; I would return home to find that Syd, my husband of only three years, had been killed in a tragic accident. Suddenly at the age of 45, I was a widow. I soon recognized that God had been preparing me in the weeks leading up to Syd’s death.

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, "even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18

Syd and I had always been on the go, but now that he was gone, I found myself at home alone way too much of the time. The house seemed very empty and it was unbearable! God provided exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. The manager at the store resigned and I was given her hours until a new manager could be found. I don’t think it coincidental that my new hours were precisely the same as Nate’s school hours. The owner temporarily took over the manager’s duties and I was able to continue that schedule for several months until a new manager was hired. By the time summer rolled along, I was able to resume my previous schedule so I could be home with Nate. God always provides!

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:14-20

Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), but we never have to worry about facing our troubles alone. God has given us a companion who will never leave us. He lives in us and knows us intimately. He continually teaches us, gives us strength, helps us with our problems and guides us in our decisions. He is our helper, comforter and the spirit of truth. He is the Holy Spirit. How very grateful I am for Him!

~Kristi Sanderson (alias)
(Stay tuned for more. I have much more to share)

*This is the poem my grandpa wrote, that I stumbled upon just days before Syd passed away. I think it was God’s way of reminding me that Syd was with God and we would one day see each other again.

My darling…
The days they move so swiftly, and I have things on my mind
Have told the sweetheart of my youth you’re still my valentine.
Remembering how oft we kissed as I held your hand in mine
Thrilled to be with you my love – it has been sublime.
Our time of departure nears and brings tears into my eyes
Won’t it glorious be my dearest love when we meet beyond the skies?
There we’ll meet dear friends who’ve gone on before to mansions in the sky
To love and cherish them throughout eternals days.
And thank you for the burdens shared with me until this very hour.
Wake up my love my fair one and come away…

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sharing my Life Inside and Out of Mormonism ~ Kristi Sanderson

February 14, 2010

My life has been so unbelievable that I usually hold back sharing my stories with people until they’ve gotten to know me really well. I wouldn’t blame folks for wondering if I’m just making up a pack of lies. I’m a living testimony that truth is stranger than fiction. I figure since God gave me such an amazing story (a soap opera couldn’t hardly compare); He must want to use it in some way. God has blessed me with all kinds of struggles and losses during my life. I say blessed because I think my greatest growth has been during my greatest trials. I figure that must be what is meant in the Bible by "the refiner’s fire". In order to protect our privacy, I have used alias names in the telling of my story:

Life, Part One: My Childhood

I was born to a school teacher and a homemaker/actress in Southern California. Dad is a very intelligent, charming and funny man. We always knew he loved us, but there was a side of him that we feared. He had a volatile temper. Mom was beautiful, loving, smart, artistic, and a flirt. Unfortunately, she was also an alcoholic.

We lived in an upper scale community on my dad’s teacher’s salary – not easy for a family of our size. We may not have had much, but God always provided us with what we needed. Being part of a large family was a lot of fun. We never had a shortage of playmates. In some ways it was a curse too. Because we were a mischievous and energetic bunch of kids, our home was always noisy and chaotic. We were notorious in our neighborhood for our antics. I have many fond memories of childhood.

The spiritual condition of our home is hard to explain. We attended Christian Churches from time to time over the years, but we were also exposed to a lot of occult influences. My sisters and I played around with the OUIJA board. My mom studied numerology, read palms, did astrological readings, and encouraged us to experiment with Extra Sensory Perception. Paradoxically, Mom loved studying the Bible and had a pretty impressive knowledge of it. Once she was asked to give a sermon at her minister friend’s church. That same friend was so impressed that she decided to ordain Mom as a minister.

My parents’ marriage fell apart during my high school years and everything went downhill from there. Mom sort of “checked out” as a parent and started pursuing her own interests. She wasn’t around much so the older children were often left with the responsibility of looking after the younger ones. I was drawn to the Mormon Church because it gave me what was missing at home. I had the emotional support of a whole church family who truly cared about me. I became a Mormon during the latter part of high school, not because of any testimony I had, but because I felt it was expected of me after attending church there for so long.

Life, Part Two

After graduating, I attended college where I met my first husband, Tom. We married in the temple, had our children blessed and baptized, attended church regularly, and kept busy with all the typical Mormon activities. Our marriage probably appeared to the outsider as solid, but it was all a façade. Tom was very withdrawn emotionally, controlling and emotionally abusive towards me. It seemed the nicer I was towards him, the nastier he became towards me. My only self-defense was to shut down emotionally. We both put a lot of energy into our parenting, but we were not a team. In fact, it seemed as if we were on opposing teams.

Our family faced many trials. I suffered years and years of persistent health problems, but doctors could not find a diagnosis. I was eventually healed, but that is a story for another day. Of my six pregnancies during those years, one ended in a miscarriage, two children were born prematurely and died shortly after birth, and all three of our surviving children suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Nate, the youngest, was also diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I was naïve during most of my marriage. Though Tom’s public image was squeaky clean, there had been clues all along that should have tipped me off that he had been cheating on me during our entire marriage. When I discovered pretty solid evidence of this, we separated and eventually divorced. Several months after separating, I was horrified to learn from my son Nate that Tom had been sexually abusing him. I went through the usual channels to address the abuse, but got nowhere. It was a nightmare. To make matters worse, our bishop and stake presidency treated me with suspicion and doubt while Tom was treated as if he were an unjustly accused victim. I fought long and hard to protect Nate, but because of his young age and disability, the abuse couldn’t be proven and Tom got away with it. I was forced to send Nate on regular visits with the very person who had abused him. It was agonizing! Since I had run out of all other options, all that was left for me to do was to teach Nate how to stand up for himself, pray and trust God to protect him. After an ugly two-year long battle, the divorce was finalized.

Life, Part Three

Being head of a household was a big stretch for me because I had always been a stay at home mom. Now I found myself needing a job, and fast. I had never finished college and was not trained for any kind of gainful employment. I was emotionally exhausted from fighting the battle of trying to protect my son from his abuser and dealing with all the ugliness of divorce. I didn’t know what I was going to do. What I needed was a part time job so that I would have the time and energy to devote to my children, the youngest of whom had special needs. The trouble was, I wanted part time but I needed full benefits. I couldn’t imagine where in the world I would find such a job as that. As it turns out, God provided exactly that in the most amazing way! The offer came unexpectedly, effortlessly, and almost immediately, and it came to me in my own living room. Day care for my special needs son was found just around the corner. The caregiver just happened to have a degree in special education. God was looking after us!

Coming Out Of Mormonism

I loved many things about the Mormon Church – the family focus, the wholesome lifestyle, the way people looked after one another, the great programs and the social connectedness. Most of all, I loved the Mormon people. Mormonism was my life, but I had a little secret. Since the day I joined the Mormon Church, doubts plagued me. For years and years I hoped that God would give me what I never had to begin with - confirmation that it was His true church. I prayed countless times for that confirmation, but the answer never came. I just kept pushing those doubts aside.

One day, a friend shared that she had left the Mormon Church for the simple reason that she didn't recognize the God of the Mormon Church as the God of the Bible. That hit me hard when I realized that I couldn't argue with her. When I compared the Mormon Church's teachings with the Bible, I saw that they couldn't both be right. I knew I had to choose the Bible and that meant leaving the very church that my life had revolved around for over two decades. It would mean practically starting my life over.

Life, Part Four

After leaving the Mormon Church, I was drawn into Christian circles, but it was at a community dance where I met my second husband, Syd. For the most part our lives were happy, aside from some tensions between Syd and his children. I could write a book about all the interesting adventures we shared. It was during those years with Syd that I came to know Jesus as my personal savior. I had always considered myself to be a religious person, but it wasn’t until I did a study on the life of Moses that I realized that no amount of good works could bring me salvation. Jesus was the only way.

A couple years into our marriage, Syd and I were hit with a big surprise. I was pregnant. Though we were pretty old to be having a baby, and our youngest was nearing his teen years, we were thrilled and ready to welcome a new baby into our home. Then I miscarried. Out of a total of seven pregnancies, not one of them went smoothly.

Our time together was short, but sweet. Suddenly, after only three years of marriage, Syd was killed in a tragic accident. Yet again, I had to start my life over. In the days following his death, I realized that God had been preparing me, but that is a story for another day.

Life, Part Five: Continuing On

I hadn’t even had time to finish grieving the loss of Syd when Rick came into my life. We progressed quickly from acquaintances, to friends, to romance, to marriage in a matter of months. We knew God had orchestrated the timing and the details of our wedding, but that is a story for another day. We have been married for less than a decade now and share a wonderful life together. Typical of life, we have been hit with difficulties too, but all in all, we have been very blessed. Between us we have five wonderful living children and two in heaven, plus a handful of grand kids.

Trials and Lessons

Life has been an adventure filled with a series of losses and lessons. During one 6 year span, I miscarried, suffered from severe health problems and lost two of my children. During a subsequent three year span, my marriage fell apart, I fought unsuccessfully to protect my son from his abuser, I went through a nasty divorce, and struggled through a very difficult stage with one of my children. During a 9 year span, I suffered a miscarriage and lost eight family members: my husband, a sister (alcoholism), two step parents, a parent, a brother (suicide), a father-in-law, and a brother-in-law. It seems there is always some sort of storm just around the bend.

And what lessons have I learned from this life I’ve been living? God loves me. Jesus is my Savior. God has a plan for my life. He wants me to relinquish control of my life to him, and to trust him. He knows what is best for me. He hears my prayers and answers them in miraculous ways. The worst possible trials can be used for good in serving God and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to share and defend our faith at whatever the cost. I have lost friendships by sharing my faith, and nearly lost my relationship with my son Luke because of our differences in faith. It hasn't been easy, but I count myself very blessed!

~Kristi Sanderson (alias)

© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. —Permission is granted to reproduce, provided content is not changed and this copyright notice

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Mormon Story

Testimony of [Name Withheld on Request]

My Mormon Story

At this point, it is hard for me to remember the past without comparing it to the present. But, I think, maybe a series of anecdotes will help pull together a story of how I came to leave Mormonism, and why.

When I was 5 years old, I remember getting into a fight with my best little friend. We had both come out of church, and there, in the parking lot, we quarreled over which one of us belonged to the ‘only true church’. We had learned that, obviously, that day, both of us, but we were in separate wards. Since we didn’t realize that both wards were in the same “church”, we were angry that the other was trying to steal what was rightfully our own.

A couple of years later, my parents moved us back to where they grew up, to get us out of the city. In the small, rural Utah city that my other 7 brothers and sisters and I now call our home town, we were surrounded by Mormons and family (also Mormons). Nearly everyone I ever knew growing up were also members of “The Church”.

At 8, I was excited to get baptized, believing that I would have a very special clean feeling when I came up out of the water. I don’t remember having that feeling, except as I tried to force it into reality. I do remember feeling so special and important, though, getting all the white clothes on, practicing how to go down into the water without letting any hair come up, and then actually having my dad, all dressed in white too, say that specific prayer and dunk me.

What happened after baptism was less than wonderful. I was terribly sin-conscious for a while. Believing that I was “perfect” as I left the water, and now it was up to me to actually live perfectly, or die repenting, I repented often. At least at first. I remember how guilty and scared I was all of the time, and how often I ran upstairs to kneel by my bed and say “Please forgive me”. But after not very long, it was enough to do a summary “Please forgive me for everything bad I did today” at the end of the day. And then it became once a week. And then, well, it became only when I did anything that really offended my conscience. Trying to keep up with keeping up with it all was much, much, too much, work.

I remember the day that a new family moved into my ward. Immediately they were asked to put on a “program” for us in Primary, and they sang two songs I’d never heard before: “I’d love to see the temple” is the opening line of the one, and maybe the title. The other had the line “I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can…” Instantly I was in love with the idea of getting to go to the temple. I knew, from those songs, and from what else I was taught in the following years, that it would be there, inside the temple, where I would feel the most beautiful feeling I’d ever felt, and I would know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the church was true.

Testimony meeting, I should add here, was something that made me feel ashamed, and yet, I could not get past this fact -- I did not understand what it meant for a church to be “true” -- so I never did get up to bear my testimony. Month after month, I wanted to get up and say what I should say, and be the good kid I was supposed to be. But I never did. I just couldn’t, because I couldn’t get my mind around it.

When I was a teenager, I went to be baptized for the dead. I went once. It was so embarrassing… they had us shed our clothes and walk from one room to the other in just this open-sided sheet thing… it was just in front of other girls, but I was very shy and modest… and mortified! Then, when covered up in a big ole heavy baptism thing (I don’t remember if it was a dress, or jumpsuit, or what), I walked down in the big font and got dunked in the water for several names. I remember hoping I’d see spirits. My older brother had said he’d seen my great-aunt who had passed on already; I wondered if she’d show up to prove to me that the church was true too. But she didn’t. I didn’t see any spirits.

I do remember, though, how often I felt as though evil spirits were around, watching me. In seminary I had learned the proper way to discern if an angel that came to visit you was a good one or a bad one… offer them your hand. If they shake it, they’re from the devil. If they don’t shake, they’re from god. I believe that information is in the Doctrine & Covenants (I do know now that there is a chapter in the Book of Mormon that tells you how to get an angel to come visit you). I’d prayed so many times to get an angel visit, so I’d know like Joseph Smith did, what was the truth. But, again, no angels.

My high school sweetheart went on a mission, and I went to college. I asked my bishop, while he was gone, if I couldn’t please go too. He looked in his bishop’s handbook and told me that I needed to stay home and try to get married. Well, nothing doing! I wasn’t going to marry someone else. So I dated lots of RM’s while I waited for him. I thought I was such a good kid… but looking back, I realize that I was so much like the world in my college days.

When my “future eternal companion” got back from his mission, something was wrong. He didn’t explain it to me then, but having become friends with him later, I now know that he had had an experience on his mission, and had shied away from me because he knew I wanted to get married in the temple.

I met and married a man that I did not want to marry; I married him because he convinced me into giving him my virginity. I felt that if I did not marry him, I was stuck with a sin that could not be covered. He had three sons. In the 6 ½ years of our marriage, I believed I was forgiven for my wrong doings (which included having become an alcoholic) because I was doing such a saintly thing by taking care of three kids that weren’t my own.

It was while I was married, and absolutely miserable (though I didn’t realize it), that the phone rang one day. It was my mom. In my early life, she had always been the beacon of Mormonism to me. She baked her own wheat bread from wheat that she ground herself. She sewed our clothes. She had us write in journals. She had us learn piano and other instruments. She made sure we did our homework and got good grades. She grew a huge garden and bottled the veggies. She was a wonder-Mormon. And always with a prestigious (locally) church job… Primary president, Choir director, Relief Society President, etc.

So when she called and said ‘I don’t believe Joseph Smith is a true prophet”, my world turned upside down.

Turns out that my dad, who had had problems with the church since his mission, had been “activated” by the local bishopric, by being given the job as Sunday School teacher. He started the year that they were studying (from the LDS manual, of course) the Old Testament. Now, my dad is a thinker, and a questioner. And he wanted to do a good job. So, he studied. And he studied. He went way outside the church-approved manual. He found some cigar-smoking historian on the satellite and started recording him, listening and taking notes. And he learned. In fact, he says now that it was the historical facts that he learned that pulled him into the Bible. After believing the Bible was wrong all his life, he was learning that the historical information that the Bible was presenting was actually, verifiably, true.

The next year, he taught the New Testament, again studying and studying and bringing new information to class. The next year, it was the Book of Mormon, and then the next, all the extra stuff... Church History, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine & Covenants. And he kept on studying. What he came to realize in the process were three important things. One, the Bible was believable. Two, the other books were not the same. And three… he learned the gospel message.

He taught what he learned at church, praying all the while that someone in his class would hear what he was saying. And someone finally did. My mother.

Back to the phone call. Aghast, I asked my mother, “Does this mean you don’t believe the Book of Mormon?” No, was her answer. I was in spiritual limbo. If what I had believed all my life was not true, I needed to know what was!

My dad began to send me articles he had written. Some were about the errors he’d found while studying the Book of Mormon. Others were about the Bible. After not very long, I picked up my own Bible and began to read it. Amazingly, I found that it was understandable! All those years before, I’d been so confused, and as a result, bored by the Bible. I had been trying to find Mormonism in its pages, and not being able to do so, had determined that I just wasn’t “spiritual” enough yet to understand what others were seeing there. Like the “two sticks” of Ezekiel, for example. Whoever knew that that was talking about the Bible and the Book of Mormon must have such a close link to God, I’d thought. And now, here I was, reading it in plain English, and hearing it loud and clear. It was as if… as if the scales had fallen off my eyes.

I remember the day I prayed “the prayer”. I said something like: “God, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into here, but please forgive me and let Jesus be my Savior”.

God took the reigns from there. My marriage fell apart (my husband’s adultery), and with it, God shook loose the baggage and garbage I’d collected in my life. He then started to rebuild me. And He has done a much better job than I ever EVER could have thought to. I was hopelessly lost in my own sin and despair when He found me, lost and clueless as to how to get a life worth living.

Though there’s no ending to the blessings that God has brought into my life since then, there are some sum-ups I need to give before I conclude here. First of all, my parents, (who decided to stay in their small hometown and be a sore thumb to those who didn’t want to wonder why they would leave the church) have outlasted the rumors that they were joining a polygamy group and other such speculation. A few people who were told not to talk to them (when and because they asked to be excommunicated) even questioned the church on the order, and eventually read the Bible and are now born-again themselves. My brothers and sisters… all of them are officially “out” of the Mormon church, and all but one are born-again believers in Christ.

My high school sweetheart, by the way, the one that didn’t want to marry in the temple when he got back? I found out eventually that he’d run into a Christian while on his mission, one that showed him the Tanners’ book on all the changes in Mormonism since its beginnings. He was sequestered, to put it lightly, the last 6 months of his mission, as a result of bringing his findings to his mission president. Many years later, he is also, now, a born-again believer.

There are a couple of things that I need to make clear before I finish. First, I never knew what God-worship was when I was a Mormon, because I never knew who God was. I felt like He was a very nice white-haired old man, but I wasn’t that impressed, nor did I need to be. The focus was never on Him, but on me, and what I was doing. And what I was doing was learning to lie to myself, because no one is as perfect as they let on, when they think they have to be. Secondly, I was convinced I was a pretty good person; the bad things in my life were the fault of someone or something outside of myself. I can see clearly how both of those misalignments of thought and attitude are fostered inside the Mormon religion. Thanks be to God He showed me my wretchedness, His perfection, and of course, His Grace and sufficiency. Thanks be to God He reached down to save my life. How could I have ever gotten out of all the messes, being the righteous victim of the huge, evil world? How great it is to know the Conqueror!

My prayer for the Mormons I know, and even those I don’t… that God will bring them to a place where they MUSt consider who He is, what He wants, and why. Please God, show them the kind of mercy that you have shown me!

Rocky and Helen Hulse

Rocky and Helen Hulse
Defending Christianity From Mormon Doctrine