My parents were raised Lutheran in Germany and East Prussia, Â but joined the Mormon church while single in their late twenties after much investigation.Â They were drawn to the aspect of living prophets and genealogy (saving your ancestors) and eternal families.Â So I was born and raised in the Mormon church.Â As a child growing up I loved the stories of Jesus and accepted Christ early on.Â
My dad was an artist and painted a lot of oil paintings of the stories of Jesus and hung them all over our house.Â I also liked the idea of modern day revelation and living prophets who could guide us in these turbulent latter days.
I attended Brigham Young University for a yearÂ when I was 18 and had the desire to become a missionary.Â When I was 21 I was called to serve for 2 years as a Mormon Missionary in Austria.Â
Austria was 89% Catholic and most people there had lost their faith in God and the Catholic church after WWII.Â So it was a difficult mission, as no one really wanted to hear about churches or religion.Â
I ended up doing a lot of service projects and giving surveys to the Austrian people about what they thought was necessary to be happy in life.Â I liked the LDS (Latter Day Saints/Mormon) plan of salvation in regard to the pursuit of excellence, and that as Godâ€™s spirit children we could become like Him, and joint heirs with Christ.
During these 2 years I began questioning my faith for the first time.Â Many people I had met in Austria challenged me and I became confused at why so many people had different spiritual experiences than mine.Â Some told me about how God had led them to their church and how they knew they got the Holy Ghost when they were baptized into their church.Â Others seemed to believe in reincarnation.
One Swedish couple told me how they prayed to find the true church at 14 but God never answered them.Â I also had a missionary companion hit on me sexually while on this mission and that was very frightening and made me know for sure I was not gay.Â But I was kind and understanding to her and we remained friends until she died about 20 years ago.Â By the time I got home from my mission in 1971 I had pretty much lost my faith in God.Â
I lived in Las Vegas then and was 24 years old.Â I was looking for a husband and was desperately wanting sex.Â I still wanted to believe in God and in the Mormon church so I started praying again.Â I was giving God another chance to redeem himself in my eyes (ha, ha).Â But that is where I was at.
God led me to my agnostic (at the time) husbandÂ and he thought the LDS religion had a rational theology, so he joined.Â He figured the spiritual witness would come later, so he often prayed and fasted about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but never got that spiritual witness of knowing like Peter did when Jesus asked him 'who do you say I am'.Â
Then we had children and got sealed in the LDS temple as an eternal family and marriage.Â The temple ceremonies were strange to us and we never got a good feeling about them.Â
I was asked to teach the adult gospel doctrine class and did a lot of research on LDS church history.Â This is when a lot of things began bothering me about Joseph Smith, polygamy, and church history.Â When I asked questions from church leaders I was told not to question, and that really bothered me.Â
My husband left the LDS church first and I continued attending church but was depressed.Â One Sunday at a fast and testimony meeting, I was crying and asking God why He never gave my husband a testimony of the LDS church and book of Mormon.Â Suddenly I had this thought go through my head 3 times, "Why donâ€™t you go visit that Seventh Day Adventist Church around the corner."Â I wondered where that came from and told my husband about it.Â So, we decided to attend there and met this wonderful pastor who brought us to Christ and showed us how Jesus came to save us from our sins, not our problems.
We attended there for 2 years but could not believe in their doctrine, that the sign of the beast (whether you go to heaven or not) was whether you worshipped on the true Sabbath (Saturday). All of this was very confusing for our 3 kids too, and shook their faith in God.
Just to shorten this, in 2010 we moved to Florida and attended various churches there for awhile. We settled on the Nazarene church for two years until an interim pastor there told me that if I did not reject all of my Mormon friends and family, as well as my gay son and all my gay friends, I would not be allowed in their church anymore.Â Needless to say, we left there and eventually found the church we are in today (United Church of Christ) that God led us to.Â
I have always been a truth seeker, even if it meant facing something painful.Â Leaving the LDS church was painful for me after being there for 60 years.Â Paul's admonition to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good, is my motto.Â There was, and is, much good in the LDS church and I have kept that.Â God also showed me that He works through all churches and people who seek Him.Â That He may lead you to one church at one time and then to another at another time.Â I believe that God does mold us like clay and gives us the experiences we need to grow and mature. I do believe in the second coming of Christ where there will eventually be a unity of faith and one church.