It is so beautiful in Las Vegas today! Sure it rained in the Summerlin area, sure it went from overcast to bright and sunny this morning. But it's so awesome out. At my house is a light breeze and the heat is not intense right now. It's the perfect time to sit outdoors and blog. Assuming, my spinklers don't go off on me again like they did last night. My parents got me a family pool for my birthday and the kids and I spent time in it last night. After they were all tucked into bed and the house was cleaned - I went outside, put my feet in it and began to blog - only to have the sprinklers go off before I finished my first paragaph.
So I'm going to try again now. I rarely get to blog while outdoors - because the heat is intense. But when I do, I find it really enjoyable. I can just look up and see the beauty of God's creation all around me. I used to be able to see it better before the houses were built behind us because I had a great view of the mountains. So now I'm content with either looking towards to the front of the house and seeing the mountains or simply taking in my messy yard. Which, isn't all bad considering it's messy because of the amazing children the Lord blessed me with.
The Lord is so good and blesses us all with differently in life. Four years ago, our blessings were that Steve went from a hardcore atheist to someone who believed in Jesus Christ. That I was turning back from my agnostic, druken, addicted lifestyle. (Please note: I was not addicted to drugs as I did not DO drugs but rather I have an addictive personalilty and was addicted to several other things in my life including porn, ciggerates, energy drinks and pills, and when I allowed myself - alcohol). When I started college - I started with quite a load on my shoulders. I had just given my daughter (who was 3) up for adoption, I'd had an abortion over the summer, and I had stupidly involved myself in sexual sin even deeper and more depraved which lead to rape by a local school teacher and finally the ending of a relationship of a longtime boyfriend. To say the least, I was a bit overwhelmed by trying to act as if everything was normal. When I found these three amazing friends - Jeremy, Remo, and Seth - I began hanging out with them all the time. They were seasonal friends and while the habits they introduced me to were bad - they still stuck by me as my life went from rock bottom to hell. As I hung out with them more and more, I began to drink more and more. At first, it was weekend nights. Then a couple of weeknights, and before I knew it I was waking up (now pratically living there) and drinking and watching porn with them. By the end of my first semester in college - I never came home to my parents' house because I was always drunk or getting there at the guys' house. When I finally did hit rock bottom - although I'd be back there shortly again - my parents finally tried to bring me out of my stupor and back to God.
I would have none of it - rebelling and deciding the life I was living was my own and not for them to decide how best to live it. By the end of my second semester in college - I would have another abortion, continue in my drunkness and become a stripper. During this whole mess - I met Steve. He was and still is - amazing. He didn't judge me - but rather was my sort of friend for awhile. We'd bump into one another on occasion as we were both involved with our Greek orginaizations (me an AXD and he a DSP). When we finally began dating it was awesome. However, I was a stripper and not the most clear headed at the time. When I finally got out of stripping I settled down for awhile. I continued in my drinking, but was finding Steve's prescence in my life very calming.
Before I finally came to Christ in 2004 I would return to rock bottom again - I've disclosed most of these items in an earlier blog. When I finally laid there broken before Him, aware of His sacrifice for me - I was in awe and deep sorrow. I didn't want Him to have died for me. I knew I wasn't worthy and thought of how dissappointed that His sacrifice extended to even me. I read a book by Stephen Robinson called, "Believing Christ" and it truely affected how I began to view myself and my walk with the Lord. It isn't so much about just saying we believe - but really truely believing.
I felt a deep need to confess my sins to my Bishop and did so which resulted in a Bishop's Council and disfellowshipment which should have only lasted 6 months but went well into 18 months. It was the best experience of my life. The past 4 years in the LDS church have been a blessing from the Lord. Just as the children He gave me, just as the home we live in, just as the messy somewhat ruined yard we have. All of them - blessings.
That's why I do not find joy, comfort, or anything of the like when I recieve personal messages here on MySpace (or even IRL) that say, "Congrats on leaving the LDS church!" or "We've been praying for this" or "Good to know God is reaching those people." I feel disturbed and even a bit saddened by this. The Lord is amazing, His will can be confusing, and the gospel is grace. Yet we never take the time to wonder - what does this look like?
For me it included the lack of judgement of two LDS missionaries who treated me respectfully even though I was dressed like a stripper when I first met them. It was two completly different Bishops who truely had the love for their "flock" no matter how wicked they were. For me, it was stepping into a church that was not what I felt comfortable with and being surprised by God. If we were to paint the pictures of grace of various people just here in Las Vegas - how colorful, how amazing would that painting be? How diverse would it be? I cannot even imagine it - but I can simply imagine the fullness of God's love and sacrifice being testified in each and every single image.
With God, we each walk our own walks with Him - when we draw close, He draws close. Yet He never abandons us, never stops loving us - never stops watching us. In all my depravity as a human being, in my time rebelling against Him, denying Him, hating even His people - He still safegaurded me from far worse things.
I was recently criticised for not being calling out the falsehoods of the LDS church. While the Lord has opened my eyes to untrue teachings - He has not laid it upon me to become some outspoken, vengeful critic of the LDS church. I do not either speak out against those accuratly or respectfully (meaning they engage in civilised conversations without resorting to name calling or the like) criticise it either - because even David stated that he had a perfect hate for God's enemies. Does this mean the people in the LDS church are God's enemies? Only they (individually) know so - I do not call them or think of them this way. However, I can see why some people do. I am not anyone's judge. The Lord used the LDS church to reign me back in, pull me close, and truely dicipline me. I am grateful.
I have done nothing good or praiseworthy - the Lord however, has. I didn't suddenly decide to leave - the Lord called to Steve and I. I didn't decide to suddenly open my eyes and see what was untrue - the Lord opened my eyes through His amazing Word. I do not claim any of these things nor do I pretend that I am to be the one to do the same for others. We all have to come to terms with God in our own time, we all have to be willing and humble to hear His voice. So please, do not congratulate me on something I did - because I did not do it - the Lord did. Please do not share with me your praise that the Lord brought me out as if the Lord does not speak or have a relationship with other LDS. Because He does. They may not be in a place that He is ready to pull them away from the Church. But instead, please - simply praise the Lord for His goodness and pray that His will be heard and heeded by everyone who calls to Him.
What grace looks like - can never be put on an assembly line, it can never be boxed, it can never be identical to every single believer. The only commonality is that we suddenly become aware of God's love and sacrifice and want to accept it. Outside that - our experiences, our paths, our lives will never be identical. The Bible states that we are to judge rightously - yet we know that our judgement is fleshly as even Jesus told the Pharisees. Let us not walk in the flesh but in the Spirit so we may simply heed God's call to each of our lives.