It has been a wild ride of a decade for me, that is for sure. In my better moments, I see life as an adventure, and so it has been. And the past decade has been the most adventurous of them all for me.
I think it has been the hardest decade of my life, but also the best in relation to eternity. I have learned the most these past 10 years, and a lot of that is because I have been able to put into context so much of what I have experienced and learned throughout my whole life previously.
I feel like my whole life has been a roller coaster going round and round, and up and down, but then this last decade, the car has flown off into the stratosphere at an incredibly high rate of speed, and it has been terrifying, and amazing. No more rails to hold me down or give me a false sense of traditional and worldly security. It’s pretty much just me and God now. Thankfully Vaughn is in the car with me. 🙂
Although my search for truth and trying to understand the things of God all my life led to it all being able to happen, I can identify a certain catalyst moment for most of what I have learned and experienced this last decade. It was accidentally (seemingly, but I don’t believe much in pure coincidence) seeing a book on Amazon, and choosing to purchase and read it.
That book was The Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil. I looked it up today in my purchase history on Amazon, and I bought it on April 26, 2009. Over the next couple of months I bought more copies to give to friends whom I thought would love it like I did. 😬 😊
So, for my children, grandchildren, friends, and whomever else reads this, here are some experiences and things I have learned over the past decade or so. All of them were valuable, although some were incredibly hard and sad, but I am grateful for all the experience and hope I will learn what I am supposed to from it all.
(I want to be clear that whenever I say the Lord told me or showed me something, I am talking about him making things known to me through my spirit, or telling me things in my mind and heart, or through a dream, or what I call a vision. I am not talking about him standing in front of me and talking to me face to face.
I have friends who have had that happen, but I have not had that happen. I do not want to misrepresent my experiences, or say things in such a way as to imply something other than what has happened, as I have heard many do. But I do not know another way to say it other than to say the Lord has told or shown me, so you can just know I am not talking about conversing with him face to face when I say that.
And I especially want to say that whatever I believe the Lord has told or shown me has been my experience, and does not mean that others should believe or think the same thing.
We are all supposed to use persuasion, as the Lord does, and as he has said in the scriptures. Not try to control people with our “spiritual” experiences. And everyone has their own journey anyway.)
I have read some amazing books the past decade. Although The Second Comforter was amazing and the catalyst for the past 10+ years of incredible stuff, there are other books I am more likely to recommend that I have read during that time. Some of them are: Come Let Us Adore Him, Preserving the Restoration, Knowing, Application of Impossible Things, and Ten Parables. There are lots of others, but I would love it if my loved ones read those and told me their thoughts, and we could discuss them.
Early on in the decade, I had to confront being afraid at Church. I would never have imagined that would be possible. It was a shocker, but good for me. It made me look at my own treatment and judgement of others, and at my “pride” and confidence in what I was so sure I “knew” for almost 4 decades.
One of the miracles for me early on was the Lord changing my brain in an instant so that I suddenly understood in a way I never had before that I must not follow men, that it was very wrong. That was an amazing moment that I can hardly describe.
I lost the respect of many family and friends. Very good for me. Pride is incredibly dangerous.
I heard of people maligning my husband for his beliefs (which are the same as mine) behind his back. A good way for me to learn to let go of anger and hurt. I have learned a lot about forgiveness and understanding. I believe everything comes from fear or love at its root. We all need to forgive all those things done stemming from fear, which includes anything controlling done in the supposed name of love. Controlling people comes from fear.
Also early on I had an overwhelming baptism of fire experience. I have talked about that some elsewhere. I learned in a deeper and more prolonged way about the love of God for all of us.
I also had some other spiritual things happen that taught me a lot about the atonement that I won’t go into, but in 2012 or so I had an experience where the Lord was telling me we were to move to Utah. I knew that with a surety in my soul greater than I knew before was possible to experience. It was absolutely not what I wanted to do, but I knew it was what was to happen. And I have had continual evidence of the importance of that move ever since.
At one point the Lord told me that a certain person whose teachings the Lord had told me were true would be excommunicated. I knew that since I believed the same stuff that person did, that I would also be in danger of excommunication. At that time, that was an unthinkable horror to me. I prayed that by the time it happened, the Lord would give me courage and understanding so I could handle whatever came of it. He did.
I have been pitied, ignored, called an apostate, had friends be rude, de-friend and block me on Facebook, and other things that were very sad for me. This has all happened because I believe differently, or because I have talked about things that are true but seem “negative” to others. But I have seen other friends suffer much worse than I have, including being excommunicated, and losing spouses, children, and other family members because of their beliefs. So very sad, but all good for me to see to reflect on my own treatment and judgement of others again, and to see how fear destroys things.
I have studied so many things freely over this past decade. It is so wonderful to not feel restricted in what you can or should read and study and learn. There is truth everywhere. So much is missed when men tell you what to read and what not to read. The truth should not be feared. If the truth can shake something, then it should be shaken. I have learned to trust the Lord, and not men, to help me discern. I have also learned that fear is not from the Lord, and that a “bad feeling” initially about something doesn’t mean it is not true. Things that cause us cognitive dissonance, or threaten our pride or what we have based our foundation on, can “feel” bad at first. Joseph Smith said that the Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. We can have a feeling in reaction to the knowledge the Holy Ghost gives us, but feelings alone are not reliable ways to “know” something. There are lots of examples in scripture of people having a “bad feeling” about something true being told to them.
The Lord told me to be rebaptized on Sept. 20, 2014. It was my 57th birthday, and I was born in 1957. There was much symbolism in it for me, although I didn’t even realize all of it until afterwards. For those wondering, yes, I believe my baptism on March 24, 1973 when I was 15 years old and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also was vital and something the Lord told me to do. I would never have gotten to the second without the first. And both were vital for me to show the Lord through my faith and action that I accepted what he was doing in my life, and in the world now.
I have had some shocking revelations of how much me being a member of the LDS Church, and the things that caused me to do, hurt my extended family who weren’t LDS, and even my immediate family. They were telling and showing me the harm it was causing them through the years, but since I thought I was doing right and must follow men whom I thought surely knew better, I harmed myself and others needlessly, and against what the Lord would have wanted. It took the Lord gently showing and teaching me so much for me to realize it. I am so grateful for mercy and the love of my family in spite of my foolishness.
I have mourned the loss of friends and the closeness of many relationships, but I have rejoiced in the making of new friends and relationships different from any I have ever had before.
By 2010, maybe sooner, I had met some people online who had also been reading and believing some of the same stuff I had. I can’t remember exactly when, but I think by 2013 a bunch of us had gotten together in an online chat group. We became really good friends, and other people have joined over the years. This group has become an amazing thing. Much of what I have learned this past decade, I have learned through discussion and experience there. Most of us consider this group our “fellowship” much like the early Christian “churches” after Jesus’ death and resurrection. A church was always supposed to be a group of believers, not an institution.
Over the years, since we can chat whenever we want, we have learned so much about each others’ lives, personalities, and beliefs. We have most all gotten together in person at various times whenever we could. And we do Zoom calls to chat face to face and to do the Lord’s Supper together. Many of us pay our tithing to those in need in the group. The amount of tithing help and care given, and the many people helped over the years would likely stun anyone who heard about it. I consider the people in this group part of my family and love them dearly.
From this fellowship interaction, I have learned more than I can tell. Everyone in there has dealt with some similar trauma, and it has been worked out on there to a large extent. One major thing I think we have all learned is how to continue to love and care for, and still be friends with, those who profoundly disagree with us. We have huge differences in how we view many things. And although we are certainly very far from perfect at it, I have never come close to anything like it in any relationships I have ever had before. Because of being able to freely express our thoughts, without dire fear of rejection or shunning, we are all able to learn so much. This has been a blessing greater than I can express.
Over this decade I have learned that so much of what the LDS Church believes about Joseph Smith, and so much of what most of those who have left the LDS Church believe about Joseph Smith, is not what I believe about him. I am amongst a very small group who believes he was a prophet, did begin the restoration of the gospel, did bring forth true scripture, did not practice polygamy in the way the LDS Church and most former members think he did, and that he would hardly recognize what the LDS Church teaches now. I believe the LDS Church and its scores of offshoots are clearly descended mostly from Brigham Young and his beliefs and traditions rather than mostly from Joseph Smith, as most members think they are.
I have learned what tithing was always meant to be, and how that changes the very concept of the nature of God. And I have learned that tithing is for the poor, and I have experienced and watched the absolute miracles that abound when it is handled that way. There would truly be no poor at all if we all understood and lived the law of tithing the way the Lord wants.
In Oct. of 2014 Vaughn and I resigned from the LDS Church. We would have been excommunicated if we had stayed, although not by our Bishop at the time, who was very kind to us. But he pointed out that the next Bishop likely would, and someone at some point surely would, unless we changed what we believed. After we resigned, the Lord told me that he had led us to that course in answer to something I had been praying for a long time, and that was that no one would ever be condemned because of anything they did to me. No one would be in trouble for kicking me out when I was following the Lord, since I had resigned.
I have learned over this past decade that what I called the plan of salvation is much more vast, much more complex, much more beautiful, and much more merciful than I ever imagined before. That this life is one step in an almost infinite number of steps to become like our Heavenly Parents, but at the same time it requires so much more to progress here than I had realized.
I have learned from looking back that the Lord has tried to teach me much of that before, but I could not see it until I was where I am now. Now I can look back and see that the Lord has been leading me carefully along, but that I also could have stopped that movement forward at any time by making different decisions, or rejecting what he was offering me, and it chills me to the bone to see how easy it would have been to do that. I am also aware that I have likely done that with some things anyway, and don’t realize it. I can only pray he gives me other chances in this life, so I don’t have to do it all again.
I have learned that this quote, which can be found here, is truth: “When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which according to Joseph Smith comprehended all truth. It is our own fear that limits our capacity to gain from what’s being offered. It’s a measure of our ingratitude, when declining the invitation that Joseph extended to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God, we elect to withdraw fearfully and conclude that we’re just not interested in what might have been had. It’s actually a trick of the devil to get people to close their minds and close their hearts, because they fear what they may be learning will do damage to them.”
I have learned that our free agency really is paramount, and that although I didn’t usually realize it, I was often infringing on my children’s and others’ agency, and that I was in a system that was doing it all the time while thinking it was not. I have learned that God never does that. And that any thing or system that does is not of God.
In Jan. 2017 I heard of the Testimony of St. John. I read the whole thing right away, before I knew how it had originated. I was blown away. It has amazing stuff that fit in with other things I was learning from the Lord myself.
On Sept. 3, 2017 a covenant was again offered by the Lord to anyone who wanted to accept it. I had previously read it, studied it, and knew it to be the Lord’s voice, which I recognized as soon as I read it. Vaughn and I were in Boise, ID, in the audience on that day when it was offered for the first time, and we accepted it. Anyone who wants to can accept it still.
For a long time we had discussed in our online group about our Heavenly Parents and the condescension of God as discussed in the Book of Mormon, and lots of other cool stuff. A talk was given called Our Divine Parents on March 25, 2018 that we listened to as it was given, and it confirmed some things that we had come to the conclusion were true about Heavenly Mother, and also taught a lot of other stuff that clarified things I had thought about, and much that was new. I love it, and have read the written version several times.
I have talked about the scriptures project before, so I won’t repeat what I have said in other posts, but I am so excited about that!
I have learned that a person can be given a message to disseminate widely from the Lord, but such a person will not ask you to follow them, but will always point you to the Lord. They will not take your agency. They will not have authority over you in any way. They will use persuasion and not force. And they can still be wrong about things. And so, I have learned that the authority must be found in the message and not in the person.
During this past decade Vaughn has had two heart attacks, and I have had health problems. In the moments things like that happen, it is hard to see them as blessings, but the Lord has shown me that they are. I have had to choose hard things in spite of abject fear. I have been shown some of the purposes of the Lord. I have seen some of the immensity of the plans of the Lord and been comforted by seeing that. I have been told by the Lord that I have been healed in the past and that therefore I should realize any lack of healing now is not from a lack of faith to be healed. That gives me comfort.
There is much to learn from trials and possible imminent death. There is much to learn from grief and even fear. I hope to learn it all without having to experience much more of it. 😊
So, these are a few of the important things in my life over the past decade. I wanted to write this to have a record of it, since I am not good about writing a journal at all.
A few more thoughts: One of the hardest things for me over the past decade has been that almost none of my old friends have asked me anything about why I changed what I believe, what I actually believe and why, what I am learning, why I am not a member of the LDS Church anymore, or any of the things that matter so much to me. If I were on the other side of this, I suppose I would be the same, just avoid the awkward stuff or whatever upset me. Just ignore them. But it is hard, because everyone wants to be understood, and not misunderstood.
When we resigned, the members in our ward at the time started talking about how we had been offended and that was why we left. To be fair, they didn’t know us very well at all. Only one person ever asked us about the real reasons why, but the supposed reason that we were offended, was totally made up. But it is part of the party line for why members think people leave: they were offended, they wanted to sin, they are too lazy to come, they weren’t reading their scriptures and praying, etc. Knowing hundreds of people who have left, and also knowing what the LDS Church’s own research shows, I can tell you none of those things, or other simple or shallow reasons, are hardly ever the truth.
We had written a letter for the Bishop to share with other leaders in which we explicitly said we were not offended in any way. But that is still what people said. Our children who were still members at the time and attending there, were very upset by the mean things they heard said about us. One of them was told by a leader that since her parents had left, and she couldn’t be with them forever now, that they would be her family now. She was so horrified that she left the building right after that meeting and didn’t go back.
Over a decade ago, I would have probably thought and acted much the same as those members did, because I would not have been on the other side to know better or to have seen the consequences of my thoughts and actions. But if you are a member of the LDS Church, and have read this far, please know that these common misunderstandings, and shunning behaviors do not help, and are not true. And they backfire. The best thing is when people are just honestly kind and show you love without an assignment to, and there was one person who did do some of that. ❤️
There is so much common ground in this world. All people of goodwill, whatever their religious or political or other beliefs, generally have the belief of loving one another and treating others as you would want to be treated. It would seem to me we could always fall back on that common ground, and try to understand each other, and not fear each other.
If you have read this long treatise, and know me, and are afraid you might have ever hurt me, don’t worry about that! I just love you and thank you for everything, and hope you will forgive me for anything I have ever done that has caused pain or harm. We are all in this life together. We can all love and help each other. ❤️
Thanks for reading this! I’ll try to make my next post MUCH less about me.