I was raised in an LDS (Latter Day Saints) home. My Mormon upbringing shaped my worldview and my view of God. I didn’t believe Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit were one God, nor did I believe in the infallibility of the Bible. I didn’t connect Jesus’ death on the cross with my personal forgiveness. To me, God was part of a religion with many strict rules. As I understood this religion, the better I followed the rules, the better my chances for a good afterlife with God.
I also viewed myself as better than others, lucky enough to be born into the LDS faith – the only true church on earth, restored by Joseph Smith. While I felt superior, I carried around many doubts. For example, if families were sealed together forever, as I was taught, why was my family with divorced parents not even together on earth? Or why did Christians not consider me a Christian?
Because I didn’t see God as personal, eventually I had very little faith left in God at all. When I was 17, I also began to struggle with depression and anxiety. Sometimes I would hit a low point in these struggles, followed by better times. However, even on good days, depression and anxiety were lingering in the background, never totally absent.
When I was 18, I got engaged to a Mormon friend I’d known all my life. Since we planned to marry in the temple, I had to prepare through meetings and interviews with my bishop, a spiritual leader in our community. During this time, I was already having terrible anxiety, but when I arrived at the temple, it got even worse. My family and church leaders led me through a ceremony known as the “endowment,” filled with rituals, recited prayers, and chanting. The endowment was supposed to make me feel closer than ever to God, but instead I felt a creepy darkness.
After I was married, the temple ceremonies I had recently experienced sparked tons of questions about my religion. But I had no one to turn to for answers. My new husband and almost my entire family were Mormons. Nothing was adding up or making sense. I knew God was real, but that was all I knew for certain.
As my religious beliefs crumbled, the world around me was crumbling too. It was the spring of 2020, and I was in isolation like the rest of the world. I had only been married a few months, and things were not going well. I fell into a very deep depression marked by daily suicidal thoughts. Frequent panic attacks followed. If we went anywhere, I ended up in the bathroom crying. I had no desire to live and carried around a list of 10 reasons not to take my own life. The 10 reasons were people and animals I loved.
Around then my husband and I made friends with a Christian guy online. He would stay up late telling us about Jesus and answering my tough questions. He pointed out ways my religious beliefs didn’t line up with Jesus’ teachings or the Bible. Although I trusted our online friend, I read the Bible sometimes to see if he was telling the truth. I even started to watch videos online of people who left the LDS faith and became Christians. These videos motivated me to continue my search for God.
Sometime later, we moved to Utah to make a fresh start, and I stopped attending the LDS church. As I slowly deconstructed my beliefs, I realized I viewed Jesus as a ticket to heaven, but not as the Lord of my life. As I kept learning about the Jesus of the Bible and wanting to grow in a relationship with Him, I realized the LDS Jesus and the Jesus of the Bible were not the same.
God also opened my eyes to things that were wrong in my life and my marriage and helped me take steps in a better direction. Sadly, our marriage ended in a divorce, but through the immense pain of that loss, I saw God more clearly.
About a week after the final separation that led to our divorce, I went to a Christian church for the first time ever on Easter Sunday. After church I went to a park and listened to some worship music a friend had sent me. I was overcome by an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence. I prayed, telling Jesus I only wanted Him. I welcomed Him as the one and only God, the Creator, my Savior, and my Lord. I traded my broken life for His. Mormons use the term “the gospel,” but they define it much differently. That day I received the true gospel: “He who had no sin became sin for me, so that in Him I might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When I had first left the LDS faith with its strict rules, I didn’t want to hand my life over to Jesus. But God showed me that rules are not really what being a Christian is about. I was so drawn to the love and grace of Jesus that I wanted to know Him and to make Him known.
As I began to live out my new life in Christ, I dealt with major backlash from my following online, my family and especially my dad, a devout Mormon who did not approve of my decisions. When Dad helped me move to Texas, he even told me I had a demon inside me. Because of the Holy Spirit in me, I responded with grace. Although my father and I have had a rocky relationship for a long time, Jesus’ healing has helped me be able to reconcile with him to some extent.
Publicly denouncing my LDS faith to follow Jesus, along with my divorce, caused a lot of painful drama. But once again, Jesus healed my wounds, fulfilled me and made it possible for me to extend grace and forgiveness to others who really hurt me. I was even able to forgive my ex-husband and to apologize for my faults in our marriage. I can honestly say I have no hard feelings toward him.
Since then, Jesus has brought much growth in my understanding of marriage, family and even friendships. For about a year after I trusted in Jesus, I fought a battle with my mental health, but I allowed Him to heal me as I surrendered my strongholds. I remember the day I prayed, finally giving over those struggles to Jesus. When I opened my eyes, the world looked brighter and more colorful. Now I have so much purpose to live. As I keep replacing old beliefs with truth, life still isn’t easy, but it’s abundant because Jesus carries my burdens.
After Kingsland became my church home, I was able to dive deeper in God’s Word. Fellow believers there have supported and encouraged me and never made me feel “less than” for my never-ending questions about God and the Bible. I’m so grateful for friends who have loved me in good times and hard times, always pointing me to Jesus.
Now I can see God’s hand in every step of my journey even when I was lost and confused. Three years ago, I had no concept of who God really was and I wanted to die every day. Today I know God is Jesus, who took on our sins as the perfect sacrifice, then defeated death by His Resurrection. I understand how Jesus fulfilled the old law, tore the temple veil, became our high priest, and sent the Holy Spirit to transform my mind every day. Only through Jesus can we be redeemed, healed and transformed.
Sharing my story online has resulted in many others sharing their motivation to learn more about who Jesus really is. First Peter 3:15 tells us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you … the reason for the hope that you have.” Telling your story is so important because you never know who it will impact. God uses each one of our stories, no matter how simple or crazy, to lead others to Him.