“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” ~CH Spurgeon
Growing up in my Mormon world I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect. I believed that I would never be good enough to go to Heaven. As a Christian I know I will never be good enough to go to Heaven, I will never do enough to get to Heaven. I take comfort in knowing that because of Christ I will go to Heaven.
Every day I am so amazed by the love God has for me. It blows my mind to think of His suffering and pain on the cross and although Christ knew of the anguish he would go through when He was put on the cross and yet He willingly went through it all for me. I am so undeserving of His love and grace, and yet, He is so willing to give it to me.
Living everyday life is hard. I try to be the person I want to be. But that is also fueled by the expectations of those around me. I fail every day. The most amazing thing is when I fail God’s love and grace are still there for me. Every day, I try to keep God at the center of my life, and every day I fail. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think back to my life before Christ and I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t answered the phone, or if I hadn’t believed that God loves me. If I still lived in my Mormon world I don’t know how I would survive.
There is a song called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, the chorus states:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
Think about that for a minute…God loves you so much, He would leave his flock to find you, to fight for you. I fail every day. I fall short every day. I can’t earn God’s love or grace. I will never be deserving of Gods love or grace.
I know I am a sinner, a failure, a hypocrite, a disappointment, and yet my God still loves me. He’d leave the 99 to come find Me! In my hardest darkest days, that is what keeps me going. Knowing that I can’t do anything to make God not love me. Knowing that no matter what, He has forgiven a horrible, hypocritical, sinner like me.
Knowing all my failures and shortcomings, “I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.”
It feels amazing to know…
I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in the Reckless Love of God.
One of my Facebook memories from today was an excerpt from the book; Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer it said, “The highest call on your life is to enjoy God. But you can’t enjoy Him if you are convinced He is upset with you. Jesus came to deliver you from the wrong kind of fear in your relationship with your heavenly Father. You should be relaxed in His presence. You need to have reverential fear, the kind that provokes respect, honor, and obedience. But you must refuse to believe any thoughts that the Lord is angry with you.
You are no surprise to God. Jeremiah 1:5 states that before He formed you in the womb, God knew you! He knew what He was getting when He drew you into a relationship with Himself. He already knows the things you will do wrong in the future. God is not nearly as hard to get along with as you think He is. It is not your sin that hinders you, it is unbelief!”
Oh, how often I still struggle with this concept. It is so hard to let go of the thought, “I will never be good enough for God”. Life is hard. Every day is a struggle. That’s one of the things that has been the hardest things for me to accept as a Christian. I want God to make life easy. I want Him to say, “Hey you’ve accepted me, here ya go… here’s an easy life”. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We are our own biggest barriers. The devil uses us as a wedge to get between us and God. He feeds on our fears and our doubts. We fall into that trap and we often feel worthless.
I remember growing up the struggle I had with myself and believing that God loved me. I struggled with feeling that I was good enough. I struggled to find happiness. I spent a good part of my life searching for joy, for happiness, for purpose and meaning. I really believed the mantra of; I’ll be happy when… but when those moments came, I was happy for a moment but it didn’t last very long and then I was focused on the next big thing that I wanted in my life. I had no identity and no real purpose for living other than what my religion told me.
Growing up I often struggled with the thought that God was mad at me. I struggled with believing that God could love me even after some of the things I had done. At times I felt like God wanted nothing to do with me. I believed the more I accomplished in my life, the more God would love me. The better chance I would have at going to Heaven. I believed the lie that I could do enough.
When I found Christ, I was at rock bottom in my life. I was at a point where everything I was afraid of happening was and I had lost all hope for myself and my future. I felt worthless and hopeless. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything good in my life, it was just I was so focused on the big things, I couldn’t see the amazing details of my life.
As I have mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. I love her books and insights, I love watching her Ted Talks and using them to help people improve their lives. One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is, “Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times were so afraid of the dark that we don’t let ourselves enjoy the light. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, or become so afraid of doing things or afraid of the good moments that I don’t take time to enjoy them. But God didn’t create us with a spirit of fear. God created us to draw near to Him when we struggle. God isn’t a god of anger. He is our Creator. He loves us and wants us.
The closer I draw to God the more twinkle lights I have in my life. Knowing God, helps me appreciate the small moments in life. He helps me embrace the struggles and find meaning and purpose in every situation. I think because I have found purpose in Christ and I know He loves me regardless of anything, it is easier for me to appreciate the small things in life. Life isn’t about the big extraordinary moments. It’s about learning to appreciate the small everyday things knowing that God has your back.
I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of twinkle lights.
I’ve had people ask me if Christians are allowed to sin and do whatever they want because they believe in salvation by grace alone. That always makes me laugh. Grace is not a get out of jail free card. As a Christian I know that I sin every day. And even when I sin, I am not free from the consequences of my sin even though I am forgiven. I also know, I have already been forgiven of my sins. So, I guess the question is, if I already know I am forgiven, then, why isn’t grace a get out of jail free card?
The real problem is that sin is everywhere. We as humans like to think that we are “good” people and that just living as a “good” person in the world is enough. As a Christian, I know I am not really a good person. I do things wrong every day. I even have days when I know I am living life not pleasing to God. But as I grow in my relationship with Christ, I become more accepting of myself and I focus more on Christ and try to be a better person.
As a Christian, I find the more I grow in my relationship with Christ the more I recognize when I am in sin. I am often more convicted when I feel my behavior and things I am doing are not pleasing to my God. The biggest difference from my life before Christ and my Christian life is that I know I am already forgiven.
Growing up I struggled so hard with feeling like I was enough. I felt the impossibility of living a life free from sin which led me to feeling very hopeless. I just wanted to be accepted and be enough. I often felt it was pointless to even try if I was never going to be enough anyway.
Micah Tyler has a song out right now called Different. The Chorus is
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
I think this is exactly how I feel as a Christian. I don’t feel that I am ever free to sin, but I sin every day. I want to be different. I want people to be able to see Christ in me!
I feel like when I became a Christian, and recognized I was saved by grace and it didn’t matter what I did, God would still love me. I felt hope again. Being saved by grace I have become a more willing participant in my life and the world around me (most days). I make more of an effort to live a life pleasing to God. I want to be different for Christ. I want people to see what He has done in my life and I want His light to reflect out of me. In most situations I try to do the right thing. I focus on being positive and trying to be a positive light to those around me. It took me a while to be able to say, “I am saved” and believe that I had truly accepted Christ into in my heart and would go to Heaven, but when I did I wanted to shout it from the roof tops and share the love and grace that I received from Christ with everyone.
As a human, I have a sin nature. I sin on a pretty regular basis. The nice thing about grace is, I know I am forgiven. There is nothing I can do ensure my forgiveness other than accept Christ as my Savior. But the best part of being a Christian saved by grace alone is at the end of the day I can say, “God, I tried today, I didn’t do too great. But thank you for loving me any way. I’ll try again tomorrow”. That’s the great thing about being saved by grace. So, as I Christian do I feel like I am free to sin? Absolutely not! But as a Christian am I grateful for the knowledge that no matter how bad I mess up in the day, and regardless of the consequences I face, I am forgiven? Absolutely YES!
I’m just a Small Town Girl…wanting to be different in a sinful world.
Thanks for being patient with me, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks!! I hope you enjoy this weeks blog!
As I was scrolling through Facebook last week I came across a post by one of the Mormon apostles Jeffery R. Holland. It talked about having difficult times in our lives and referred to something written by John Taylor quoting Joseph Smith.
John Taylor wrote that he once heard Joseph Smith say to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. … God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”
Holland went on to say that we have to suffer just as Christ suffered. He stated that when Christ was in the garden he was in agony and “We must walk where He walked”. I’m not exactly sure where Mr. Holland was going with this whole thing but what I got from it is that we are meant to suffer. God puts difficulties in our lives to see how strong we are and if we can’t handle the pain and trials in life then we aren’t worthy of being in the presence of God.
I know that life is hard. I have had difficult times in my life and weathered many storms. However, I don’t think that God ever wants us to suffer or be in agony. I know that God challenges us or wants us to grow. But most often when I am in a situation where I am in agony or my heartstrings are being pulled that hard it is because of my choices.
Sometimes there are things that happen in life that are really hard to understand, that happen not because of our choices but maybe because of someone else s, or just because. This is one thing I struggle with often. When someone I love is diagnosed with cancer or another chronic illness, it’s hard to understand. No one chooses cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety, etc. or when you lose a loved one in a car accident. It’s difficult and it’s hard to understand.
The thing that helps me the most to gain some perspective on this is, thinking back to the garden of Eden and Eve eating the apple. When she did that, sin and death entered the world and the world began to die.
One thing I know for certain is that God is always there. He will never leave me to go through the storms of life alone. And as I have said many times in the past I am never going to be worthy of His presence but that’s why I have a Savior!
I was completely baffled by by Mr. Holland’s statement!! “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through…God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings”. It blows me away to think that my loving God would set out to “wrench my very heart strings” and if I can’t handle it then I am not good enough for Him.
It is heartbreaking to think that God would put difficult things in your life, just to see if you were strong enough to handle them. He is going to make things hard and make you struggle and if you give up or you feel like you can’t make it through then you aren’t deserving of being in his presence.
The saddest part of that quote is, so often that is a very common theme in Mormonism. If you are in a storm or struggle in your life then God is testing you or you aren’t working hard enough. What it comes down to is that you need to try harder. One quote that I’ve heard or seen often from my Mormon friends is, “The teacher is always quiet during the test”. I have always struggled with that quote. When I see that, I think of the poem Footprints in the Sand. He is always there. Always walking along beside us and more often than not, He is carrying me, especially in my most difficult and darkest times. I also think of the quote that says God won’t give us anything we can’t handle. I think that is the furthest thing from the truth. If God is putting something in my life that I feel I can’t handle it’s because He wants me to rely on Him. He wants to be my strength. It is so I will trust in Him and not in myself. It’s so I will rely on Him!
Last week I saw another post that was talking about Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (ESV). It was talking about how often people misinterpret the passage. In this devotion it talks about if you take the whole passage from Philippians in context the passage isn’t about gaining strength or pushing through hard times. It’s about being content in the moment and relying on God completely in whatever circumstances we face.
As a Christian the most important thing I do is rely on God and trust that God is going to take care of me. I don’t have the ability or strength handle or face everything that happens in my life. In fact, there are so many things that I can’t handle, that I struggle to face even on a daily basis. If I thought, for even a second, that I had to do them to prove to my God that I was worthy of Him and His love and presence, I would fail every time. I think I would give up. What is the point of living if you know you can never do enough or be enough. Just the thought of trying to prove myself to God is depressing. I fail Him everyday!
What gives me hope is knowing that His word, the Bible, tells me He is my strength. The Bible is full of stories of God taking people that weren’t adequate for the task at hand or who didn’t have the strength and ability to do what He wanted them to do or go through and yet they came out on top. Not because of their strength or ability but because of God’s! Can you imagine David being told by God he would kill a giant! Do you think he didn’t question God. Do you think he could have killed Goliath on his own without God.
I know there are times when heart wrenching things happen but I really don’t think that God seeks to do us harm or has a desire for us to be in pain. When I have seen people go through difficult times it is the people who rely on God and trust in Him who seem to be the most resilient in the situation.
Overall, God is my strength. He is the one I rely on especially when storms of life are raging. The hardest part is relying on him when the waters of life are calm.
I’m just a small town girl…living in a stormy world where Christ is my strength.
Don’t forget to check out the music videos for this week!
I was thinking about writing about the forbidden drink of Mormonism this week which has become one of my most favorite drinks in the world. But that isn’t what God had planned for this week so I will address my thoughts on that in a future blog.
This week as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post that discussed the Mormon Church and grace + works. At first the writer seemed to express an understanding of grace. That it’s free, and gives us hope. But then they stated “The works that I perform are to keep his commandments, to feed his sheep and to partake of the saving ordinances that He showed us we need”. This is the part I want to address.
Anyone who is in the Mormon faith and believes they aren’t in a works based faith is lying to themselves. The key statement from above is “saving ordinances”. That is the biggest difference between my Mormon beliefs and my beliefs as a Christian. In Mormonism there are requirements for salvation; “Saving ordinances”. In Christianity, Christ did all the work. There are no requirements for salvation. When Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30) He meant all requirements were fulfilled. There is nothing left do except to accept Him- Christ, as your Savior.
In Mormonism, they believe in order to reach exaltation or the Celestial Kingdom the desired degree of Heaven, you have to follow or meet certain criteria. You have to be a member of the LDS church which most people in the Mormon faith do at the age of 8 by getting baptized. I blogged about that last week (the age of account ability). Being a member adds all sorts of requirements and those increase as your age increases. You are not allowed to say no to any callings, you are required to pay 10% of your income to the church. You are expected to follow all the rules and requirements which include family prayer and scripture study, tithing, fast offerings, monthly fasting, following the word of wisdom, temple marriage, and regular temple visits if you are close enough. Every year you are required to have worthiness interview to make sure you qualify for your pass to go to the temple. Adults aren’t the only ones who are expected to go to the temple. Youth, starting at age 12, begin attending the temple for the ritual practice of baptisms for the dead (this will be a future blog). There are also all sorts of unspoken expectations and requirements that if you’re not meeting you are at risk of not getting your temple recommend, which is basically the pass that your bishop gives you verifying you are worthy. All of these are exceptions you must follow in order to meet the Mormon requirement of worthiness, determined by a man in your ward who is deemed more worthy than you and now you have a piece of paper showing how “worthy” you are. I’m not sure how any of this has to do with being saved and or worthy.
As a Christian, the expectation for salvation is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. He has already done all the work. There are no expectations or requirements. Baptism, tithing, marriage, church attendance, service work, none of these things are a requirement of salvation. Do I do these things. Yes. I was baptized, I pay a regular tithe (an amount that I feel God has led me to give), I serve in my church, I attend church service weekly. The difference is I do these because I want to. I do them because they help me be closer to my God and help me grow in His word. They help me be a better person and connect with other people who are also trying to grow their relationship with Christ.
Nothing in the Christian Gospel is about repaying God for my salvation or doing things so that I can earn my salvation. Acts 4:12 states “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved”. I feel that Mormon believers put as much, or even sometimes more emphasis, on Joseph Smith or the current prophet than they do on Jesus Christ. They accept the word of man over God’s word. Romans 10:9-10 states “If you declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved”. God’s word doesn’t say you need to get baptized, pay 10% to your church, do everything your pastor tells you, go through an annual worthiness interview, fast once per month, get married in a “sacred” ceremony that only those over 18 and who are deemed worthy can attend, do as many good things as you can, then cross your fingers an hope it was enough to make it to Heaven.
I’m tired just listing a few of the expectations. It’s no wonder I felt so helpless all the time. Really, I don’t know who would want to live their life under so many rules and laws. I have a hard time just following the general rules of society. I have to set my cruise control just so I don’t get a speeding ticket. It amazes me still to look back on my life. I was truly bound by the chains of Mormonism. I was bound by rules, requirements, and restrictions. One of my first blogs was Cookie Cutters are for Cookies, because I tried so hard to be a Mormon. I tried so hard to live with the chains and restraints of a religion. I believed, just like my friend on Facebook, that the Mormon Church was true and if I tried hard enough and did enough that maybe I would be worthy of God’s love and I would hopefully do enough to be with my family forever in heaven. As a Christian, I know I can never do anything to be worthy of God’s love. I was set free from those restraints when I gave my life to Christ. I began to truly experience what life is meant to be like. I accepted what Christ did on the cross for me and it humbled me.
The bottom line is, we don’t need any saving ordinances like my Facebook friend stated. The only thing we need is Jesus Christ. The most heartbreaking thing is, I see so many people bound by the chains of Mormonism. Who are exhausted by the struggle of trying to do enough and be enough. I don’t know for sure, but I believe the comment I saw was in response to me posting a link to my blog post response to grace, of a friends comment that said, “I never think I am enough or doing enough… I just have to keep trying”. It breaks my heart to see people share these things because I have lived in that world and now MY CHAINS ARE GONE!! I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. Not by anything I’ve done but by what Christ did for me.
I’m just a small town girl…free from the chains of a works based world.
This is the first time I have ever used one of my original poems in my blog. But I really felt it was fitting. Life is all about choices. The world will tell you, you aren’t beautiful enough, rich enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough, for anything. And all too often we believe that lie. Every time we make a mistake or do something wrong we add it to our list of inadequacies. When we are put in a difficult situation where we make a mistake or we feel incompetent, we pull out that list so at least we have a reason for our failures.
Instead of owning our mistakes or our failures, instead of asking for forgiveness and learning from the struggles we face, we pull out our list and say, “Ha, ha, ha, yep that’s me. I’m driving the bus straight to Hell. Who wants to join me.” We believe it is easier to live with the burdens of our mistakes and failures than to face them, own our stories, and really learn to live.
I talk with people all the time who think there is no way that God will forgive them for the things they’ve done or the paths they have chosen in life. They believe they have been away from God too long and they can’t go back. I love the saying by Lisa Bevere that says, “If you think you have blown God’s plans for the rest of your life, rest in this, you my friend are not that powerful.” To believe that because you have made some bad choices, made some wrong turns in life, been angry with God, or turned your back on God, or it’s too late to turn around, is one of the biggest lies in history. God the creator of the universe loves YOU! He has a plan for YOU! He will never give up on YOU!
Living in my Mormon belief system I struggled with this often. I have said many times, I wasn’t a good person. I really wasn’t. I always wanted to be more. I wanted to be beautiful I wanted to be thin, more athletic, but most of all I wanted to people to like me. I always felt like I didn’t have any friends and I wanted to be accepted by others. When I was in jr. high, I would steal money from my parents dresser drawer and basically buy friends, I had people who would want to be around me because I would give them money and I would buy them candy and soda. When the money in the drawer got low, I had to find other sources of money. I would find money anywhere I could, because I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t. I would go through my siblings drawers, I would go through coat pockets, and I would even go through piggy banks. I would lie about all of it, every penny I took, what I was doing with it, and I would lie to my “friends” about where I got the money. Every bit of my life was a lie. As I got older I lied about more and more things. It came to the point that most of the time I didn’t even know if I was lying or telling the truth. I began to believe I was a mistake. I believed that I was born into the wrong family, maybe I was really adopted at birth. I believed I didn’t deserve to live. I was such a horrible person and I didn’t believe I deserved to ever be forgiven. In my mind I was not much better than a murderer. I made a deliberate choice to take money from my family and I made the deliberate choice to lie. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I would lie awake at night and think about every drop of blood I caused Jesus to shed just for me. It was a lot. I could have caused his death just by my sin alone. Yes, this added a lot to my depression and feelings of worthlessness. But I think the biggest struggle was living in a belief system where there was no redemption. Believing I had gone so far, there was no way I could ever do enough to earn the forgiveness I needed. There was no way I could be forgiven, and I didn’t feel that I deserved the forgiveness anyway.
Brian coming into my life helped cure me from my lying. Even before we became a couple we were good friends, he held my feet to the fire and wouldn’t let me get away with even the smallest white lie. I used to cheat on games all of the time. I would manipulate and find any way I could to win. I love games and am very competitive. He wouldn’t play games with me. He would walk away from the game and not play with me any more. But he never walked away from me and never gave up on me. As our relationship grew, I didn’t want to lie to him, I didn’t want him to be mad at me. I always wanted to be truthful with him. And I realized winning fairly is a lot more fun than winning by cheating.
After we got married, and our life was in complete chaos, I became involved in an online relationship. I’m very blessed that there weren’t online dating sites like there are today, otherwise I would have been in a lot of trouble. In Mormonism, to be forgiven for adultery, you have to confess to your bishop, be excommunicated, go through a confession process, and then get re-baptized. I’m not sure that I committed adultery according to Mormon standards. But in God’s eyes and mine it was an affair, I became emotionally connected to a man I didn’t even know and had never even met. The man I was having an emotional affair with lived in Canada. If that man had lived closer, who knows how things would have turned out for Brian and I. This part of our lives was a very difficult chapter. I struggled a lot with believing I deserved forgiveness for this from Brian and God. But God did forgive me, and so did Brian, not only was there forgiveness but through turning our lives to Christ, He made our marriage better than we could ever have imagined. I still get giddy to see him after a long day of work, I love to hear him say my name, sometimes, his smile melts my heart, I feel like we’re still 2 teenagers madly in love (just a lot wiser).
Giving my life to Christ was one of the hardest and easiest things I ever did. It is hard to let God have control. When I do, the weight of the world is off my shoulders. Accepting that Christ died for my sins for the most part, is easy. Knowing He loves me and has a plan for me, is easy some days and hard some days. But it is the most healing thing I’ve done. In her book The Gifts of ImperfectionBrene Brown writes, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do”. I’m learning to own my story and, most days, I love myself. It took time for me to accept and understand that God truly loves me and He really did forgive me of all the things I have done. I think the hardest thing was to forgive myself and move on.
As I’ve grown in my Christian walk I have learned that there is nothing that you can do that will make it so God doesn’t love you anymore. There is nothing you can do that God won’t forgive you for. The only thing you can’t be forgiven of is, if you turn from God and then die before coming back to God.
The awesome thing about God is that he can take the most shocking, shameful, appalling circumstances and work them together for His good. He can take the darkest of situations and make them into something great.
I am still amazed everyday at what God has done with my life. He took a broken, lying, adulterer, with a broken marriage, ready to end my life and the lives of my husband and kids, and gave us a life I could only dream of. I’m not the most rich, powerful, thin beautiful, overly talented, or extremely smart but, through His grace and mercy, there is healing, redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. If God can do that to my life, what can he do with yours?
Are you tired of living a life of heartache, pain, despair, and misery? God is waiting for you, He wants to help you. All you have to do is ask. You don’t need to wait for the right time, place, or situation. The time is now. God loves you, He created you, and He has a plan for you. There is no sin too big, no situation too great, nothing is bigger than the Creator of the universe. You can be anything you want to be. Life is what you make it!
I’m just a forgiven, small town girl… living in a healed, redeemed, restored, world.
I have been dreading writing this weeks blog. Last week was a rough week and I wasn’t a very good Christian, and in all reality, part of me didn’t care. I was rude to people, said and did things I shouldn’t have, and wasn’t the follower of Christ I usually strive to be on a daily basis. THANK GOD FOR GRACE!
I was reminded this week that I am a sinner. No matter how good of a person I am, I still sin. I know very well I am far from perfect, but most of the time I like to think I’m a pretty good person and am picking up my cross and following Christ. I make mistakes here and there, but overall I’m a good person. And yet I still have that sin nature inside of me. I’ve come a long way in my Christian walk and I know I still have a long way to go. But I am so grateful for God’s grace and that I don’t have to earn it, because I would fail miserably!! Without the knowledge and gift of grace I would still be living in a depressed, lonely, miserable world.
I’m also very grateful that I have a direct line to God and I don’t have to ask anyone but Him to forgive my sin. Growing up in Mormonism, when you sin, you are supposed to confess to your bishop. Most things don’t really matter it’s just the “big sins”. When you turn 12 and enter into the young men and women groups you have an interview with the bishop every year around your birthday. I remember this was always nerve racking. I’ve discussed many times how I struggled with not feeling good enough. I think this added to it a lot! Imagine, sitting in an office as a 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 year old girl, knowing that you had your own inner secrets such as cutting, swearing, and depression, that you are expected to confess to some man. In the office it was just the bishop and I. I would sit in front of this man whom my parents knew well, and he would ask me all sorts of questions. The questions were centered around if I was keeping my baptismal covenants (that,at 8 years old, I don’t really remember making). I would be asked about friends, drugs, alcohol, sex, basically if I was keeping my self worthy of a temple marriage. The LDS.org website has an article that listed the following in regards to baptismal covenants: “Strive always to remember and keep the Lord’s commandments. Keep your thoughts, language, and actions pure. When you seek entertainment such as movies, television, the Internet, music, books, magazines, and newspapers, be careful to watch, listen to, and read only those things that are uplifting. Dress modestly. Choose friends who encourage you to reach your eternal goals. Stay away from immorality, pornography, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Keep yourself worthy to enter the temple.” I was a teenage girl!! I didn’t strive to always keep the Lord’s commandments. I just stated at the beginning of this blog, I don’t always do this as an adult! Imagine the guilt, shame, and frustration, that consumed me as a teenage girl already feeling inadequate, already feeling like I wasn’t enough, I could never measure up, and the only way to receive forgiveness was to confess to this man I was sitting in front of, the things I had done wrong, and hope that he would grant that forgiveness to me.
When Brian and I were dating we became very “passionate” several times. We both knew we were doing things we shouldn’t and I believed I wanted to “be worthy” to go to the temple some day. The summer before my senior year of high school Brian moved to another state to live with family and go to college. I was, of course, heartbroken he was so far away. He came home to visit in September and signed up to take the missionary discussions from the LDS missionaries. He took the missionary discussions while he was away at college and I mustered up the courage to go to my bishop and confess about our “passionate” rendezvous. The bishop told me I need to break up with Brian and not see him any more. I didn’t tell the bishop at the time that Brian was away at college. I just told him OK. I tried to be honest, tried to confess, and again I lied. Brian was the love of my life, the bishop didn’t even take any of that into consideration. Again shame, guilt, depression. Hopelessness.
You all know that so far, Brian and I are living happily ever after (I don’t listen to authority figures very well).
As a Christian, I am no longer bound by the chains of a religion that forces me to seek forgiveness for my sin from man. My sin is forgiven. Debt 100% paid. I take my transgressions and wrong doings directly to Christ. The Message Bible 1 John 8-10 says “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.” If we claim that we never sinned, we out and out contradict God- make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. Verse 9 is the key, “On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing”. We need to confess our sins to God, not man, not a bishop.
Although my behavior this week most likely wouldn’t have called for me to meet with my bishop and confess anything, I wouldn’t have passed the interview that I would have been required to have with my bishop as a teenager. My language and how I treated others wasn’t very Christlike, but I confessed my sins to God. I am forgiven in Christ Jesus. I am always grateful for the gift of grace and today and am also grateful for mercy.
So often I fall short. I am a perfect sinner. I fall short every day and yet my loving God is quick to forgive me. I am a perfectly imperfect human, made perfect by a loving and faithful God.
I am glad last week is over and I get to start over this week. But the thing that has been on my mind most this week is how grateful I am that I don’t have to sit in front of someone who I go to church with every week and confess my shortcomings to them and ask them to give me the forgiveness that God already promised me in His Word. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the shame and fear that would rise up in me when I would walk into the bishops office.
I see my pastor several times a week. There is never fear of judgement, shame, or worry. I know he is a human, just as I am. I know he makes mistakes at times. I know he is also covered by grace.
The biggest struggle this week is that I was focused more on myself and was trying to take control of situations that I have no control over. When I take my eyes off of God I very quickly fall back my sinful self and do things that I later regret.
I’m just small town girl… living in a sinful world. Praying for a better week.