I grew up with an idea of Jesus, but always wondered: How could a man who lived thousands of years ago have anything to do with me? And why are there so many different Christian religions? Don't they all believe the same thing? Why are Mormons so weird? Why is there so much pedophilia in the Catholic Church? Wtf?! Why do I think that Evangelist, Presbyterian, and Baptist are the same thing? Is Jesus God? Is God Jesus?
I had a lot of questions.
I always wanted a connection to God, I just didn't know how to find it. I honestly believed it was easier NOT to get involved in any religion. My Catholic family argued all the time. Mormons came across as arrogant. Jewish people - super judgemental. Buddhism made sense, but never stopped me from making poor choices, and Islam - I didn't know a lot about. There was no shortage of people who claimed to be religious, but who also happened to be the worst or most annoying people in the world.
There's always that one person that preaches, yet happens to be the world's biggest hypocrite. That's all it takes to taint 1 perception of religion. Religious people claim to do the right thing in one breath, and "man's not perfect" in another. All the guilt, shame, and judgement that comes with religion, makes me understand why people think they're better off without it.
When I lived life without religion, I thought my opinion was the most important thing. I was in this life on my own and never thinking to consult God. I didn't recognize this at the time, but now I realize God was trying to connect and communication through the inner voice of a conscience. I wanted to do things that pushed the envelope and I didn't want a conscience. My conscience would say, "Don't do it. You know it's wrong" and I'd choke my inner voice with pills, alcohol, and marijuana with the justification: "Every one is doing it, and I want to experience it for myself."
In experiencing "it" for myself, my heart grew hard. Age 15-25, I hit the scene hard. I fornicated and did a lot of drugs. I'll never regret the drugs because I never let them ruin my life (and psychedelics connected me to God). However, I seriously regretted fornication. As much as I wanted to go into a situation like IDGAF, my conscience wouldn't allow it. Whispers of rumors, ZERO regard. Fornication haunted my dreams.
The truth is: I could be impulsive in the moment, but the lingering consequences made my heart hard.
After 10 Years of this insanity, I realized...
Something has to change.
I had to change.
I expected to be a lot further in life at the age of 25. I couldn't believe I was back in Utah for the 11th time. Nothing but negativity dominated my brain: "I hate this place. I hate the Mormons. I especially hate the Mormon congressman who pretend to care, and do nothing about the smog, and sell our national parks for oil drilling. Everything about Utah and the suffocating presence of the Mormon religion made me mad.
I wanted to connect with God, I just didn't know how? I was blaming the Mormons for my lack of connection to God because they were the closest religious influence and they were a tough example. They were selective in their inclusion, unconscious in their exclusion, and gossiped more than any collective group I've ever witnessed in my life.
I could go on and on and on, but why? I wasn't getting anywhere. I was actually drifting further and further from the idea of God. I hated man's example of God, but I really wanted to know God.
Why is it all confusing?!
I tried to keep an open mind, but I felt weird in a lot of churches. First of all, fluorescent light bulbs? Come on. Second, cathedrals are nice, but that grandiose facade does not hide the fact repeat pedofile offenses are still going down in the church. To be honest, I never liked the image of a crucified Jesus. Why are we worshipping a dead man on a cross? Is this how Jesus wants to be remembered?
I had questions.
I went on a journey of truth to find the answers I was looking for. As I read the scriptures, I found messages that struck my heart.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16
Question answered! God is the father. Jesus is the son. When we believe in this,
we receive a spirit of everlasting life.
I liked learning about Jesus' ministry. I loved hearing that he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the imprisoned and sheltered the homeless. The more I read about Jesus, the more I realized, I want to be like Jesus. Whether I believed in the details of immaculate conception or not, he's a great example of patience, understanding, and love.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- Matthew 11: 28-30
Of all the Christian churches and world religions, I liked the meek and gentle presentation of God through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. "Charity never faileth" is the Relief Society motto and I believe it. I've never felt better than when Obviously, there's a few weird o's, but they're our brothers and sisters too and we need to help them. I liked the idea of being charitable. I liked being baptized and cleansed of all sins! I wanted to change. I wanted to forgive and be forgiven.
When I first investigated the church, the Mormons and the missionaries were gung-ho about getting me baptized. I was like, wait... What's the ulterior motive? Apparently, none. They just want you to have a closer connection to God.
How could I resist?
I had nothing else going on. I considered myself to be spiritual, but deep down, I had problems. I had a strained relationship with my parents and a hard time forgiving. I wanted to be like Jesus, but, how could this gospel be the thing? I could always try it. I had questions, but nobody could answer those questions but myself, and I couldn't imagine to answer them until I placed myself in the shoes of understanding.
"I'll get baptized."
The Mormons were the only ones excited for me. All of my friends and family were like, "wtf...?" To be honest, I just wanted to try something new. was going this direction and I had to see it through to the end. I wanted to change and be refined, and I knew that this was the thing that was going to refine me.
There's so much pain and suffering in this world and I don't want to be apart of it. I want to be a force for good. I want to make people feel as good as I feel when I see an individual care for another without any greed or gain behind it. I want to be a light to this world.