I was born and raised Mormon. My family comes from a long line of Mormons from Utah. I was baptized and received my own set of “scriptures” when I turned eight. I went to “Young Women’s” starting at age 12 where it was drilled into me that I would marry a return missionary in the temple. I got up at the crack of dawn to attend seminary classes before the regular school day started in high school. I would occasionally “bear my testimony” when I felt too much pressure to do it, and even though I said all the words I was taught to say, deep down I had to admit that I didn’t really believe myself. I would hear some of the other youth and adults talking about how strongly they felt the Spirit or how awesome the testimony meeting was, but I just wasn’t getting it. I kept trying to “feel” the Spirit, but honestly I didn’t get what they seemed to be getting.
In my junior year in high school, I met the man who would become my husband five years later. We developed a strong and wonderful friendship. He was the only one who would ever challenge my Mormon beliefs. Of course, I would throw up that defensive wall that every Mormon is equipped with and tell him he just didn’t know what he was talking about, but those were the first seeds planted.
After high school, I applied to two colleges but the scholarship for Rick’s College (now BYU Idaho) arrived in the mail before the one for Texas Tech and because of my mom’s excitement, I immediately accepted and the decision was made before I even had a chance to consider all my options.
I was looking forward to going to a Mormon College where I thought I would be surrounded by wonderful Mormons where I would easily fit in. I would make many friends and date several boys on my quest to find my return missionary to marry in the temple. My delusions were completely shattered. A few of my roommates were nice and we became friends, but others were rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful. The guys there wanted nothing to do with me. I found the people there in general to be hypocritical, competitive, unfriendly and fake. It was some of the most miserable eight months of my life. Before the first semester was over, I had already decided I would not be returning. I became disillusioned with the Mormon people, who were supposed to be so sweet, nice and genuine.
One good thing about this experience though, was that it unplugged me from my Mormon community back home. The only person I really kept in touch with was my future husband. Being away for my first year of college made him realize how much he missed me. Halfway through my second semester we started dating long distance.
When I came home, I had already been “unplugged” and since I was hurt and disillusioned, it was much easier to just not go to church. No friends were calling me wondering why I wasn’t at church, or invited me to any social events. Nobody except my parents bugged me to go and I didn’t want to go to church with them. I needed an excuse for why I wasn’t going to the LDS Church with them, so I started going to a Christian church with my boyfriend.
He had let me know all along that he would not marry a Mormon and the thought of not marrying him was unacceptable to me. I quit believing that the Mormon Church was the only church that would lead me to God and had become ok with the idea that other Christian churches were good too. I thought his church was weird though. They clapped, danced, jumped, raised their hands and were very loud when they sang. I had something against being “preached at” but, I kept going. There was something there I had been missing at the LDS Church.
One Sunday we were singing, “Let the river flow, Holy Spirit come, move in power, let the river flow.” I was overcome. I wanted the Holy Spirit to come and move in power in my life. I didn’t really understand it, but I wanted it. The pastor noticed I was overcome and came and prayed with me. That day I found Jesus. I didn’t understand all that it entailed, but I knew something had changed.
A year or two later I decided that I no longer wanted to be Mormon and I got baptized in the non-denominational Christian church I was attending at the time. However, I still thought that there was nothing wrong with Mormonism. We attended Christian churches on and off, but I really didn’t have a good grasp of the Christian faith. When we attended Sunday school or Bible Studies, I was usually too afraid to ask questions because I felt like I would just sound like an idiot if I voiced my opinion.
When I did get brave enough to ask a question, I rarely got answers. I was asking one thing, but because of the differences in Mormon definitions, they were answering a totally different question than I asked. Mostly I stayed confused, just existing in the same spot spiritually, never really learning. I always thought that if something happened to my husband, I would end up back at home, and I would go back to the Mormon Church. Their social system would have been familiar and comfortable. I think my husband knew that I was still not totally disconnected from Mormonism, but he didn’t know what to do.
While visiting CBC, I saw an advertisement for Evidence Ministries’ Manti training in the bulletin. I pointed it out to my husband and He was ready to go! This was exactly what he was looking for. He went the first several weeks without me. I didn’t go because I was afraid it would rock my world. I wasn’t ready for it. When I finally went, boy was I confused! Who were these people and why were they explaining things about Mormonism that I had never heard before? As I studied the training manual, the evidence came straight from the LDS sources. Why had I never been taught these things?
Several months later we started going to Evidence Ministries’ ex-Mormon Bible study. Here, I felt comfortable asking those questions that I had been afraid to ask before. Here were people who understood the Mormon religion and knew what questions I was really asking and were able to help start untangling that web in my head.
We went to Manti training the next two years and my foundational understanding of Christianity from the Bible study gradually helped me to further untangle the web. I was seeing so many discrepancies in Mormonism and wondered why I never bothered to ask any questions. The fourth and fifth year we went to Manti training, we also went on the mission trip. We plan on going every year we can and we continue to go to the ex-Mormon Bible study. I am happy to report that I am now firmly established in my Christian faith, and although I still have tons to learn and still a little to untangle, I know that if something were to happen to my husband, I could never go back to that false religion. They have nothing to offer me because they don’t have Jesus. I do.