The crossroads of Mercy & Grace…

baptism

Making the decision to leave the LDS religion was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.  I don’t lament decisions often.  I feel inspired to make a change and I generally heed that inspiration.  I have always felt very close to the Spirit and following its promptings have always served me well, even when I didn’t understand their full impact at the outset.  It’s how I moved to Arizona, Colorado and now here, to South Carolina.

I didn’t lament the decision because I had any doubts about leaving.  I had come to understand that the things I once held so dear thinking they were timeless truths were in fact not full truths and in turn had become shackles in my life.  I was ready to shed what now felt like oppression.  My skipped beat was in leaving the lifestyle creating by following the tenants.

I was socially entrenched.  All our friends, with few exceptions, were in the church.  My best friend and her family being the most important to me.  Our social calendar revolved very much around Sunday and mid-week activities.  My friendships were connected by callings and service opportunities.  My husband had followed me into the church and now I was going to have to explain I had made a mistake.  There was so much loss at the time.  In moments it was overwhelming.  And then there’d be glimpses of the freedom and light.

When I told my neighbor I was leaving, I felt JOY from uttering the words.  When I finally told my husband and was able to explain when I had learned and why I felt I was being prompted, I felt the heaviness wane.  It was the start of a journey I could not even imagine and all the steps in between those days and yesterday brought me to the crossroads of Mercy & Grace.

My biggest contention with the LDS religion is that it is a religion of Works.  Without going into a long, drawn-out debate of how backwards this philosophy is, it is what began my search for Truth in the first place, so for that I am grateful.  I compare it to not being able to understand joy without sadness.  I guess part of my education was what Grace was not so I could recognize what it was when it entered my life.  In the end, a religion of Works was telling me Christ’s sacrifice was not enough.  It was not the last, or first, step in salvation.  It was not a pure gift.  Works was something I could do to make up a difference?  It was a requirement.  Ordinances required for the highest level of approval and salvation.  I was never going to measure up.  I became sad, some days distraught at the thought.  Overwhelmed always.  It was a burden I was carrying around my neck.  And the I was introduced to Grace.

Grace taught me that Christ’s sacrifice was the point.  Enough.  I was good just because I am, and because I believed in Him.  I was saved after, and before, anything else I could possibly do.   Because His sacrifice is the ultimate gift.  To think I have any control, any ability to “do” anything, belittles it.  He is enough.

Understanding that Grace has been the most powerful thing to enter my life.  The love, the compassion, the mercy I now feel when I have a difficult day, when I think I’m not measuring up, when I have an issue I need help with…I have no hesitation in turning to Him.  I don’t feel the weight of guilt that maybe I’m just not reading my scriptures every single day, maybe I’m not praying enough, maybe I’m not worthy of His time.  Those feelings evaporated once I let Grace seep in.  And I am so very thankful.

About a year ago I started feeling I had one more step to take in my Christian walk.  And that was baptism.  My Castle Rock church was hosting baptisms one Sunday and I thought, “it’s time…”  But it wasn’t.  I had a distinct impression of “not yet.”  I didn’t understand it, but the prompting was so strong I let the thought go.  Once again, God knew Plum Creek would not be my forever home.

When we moved here to South Carolina, we were going to a small church.  They were hosting baptisms shortly after we arrived.  I loved the people there and thought, “now is the time.”  Again, it apparently was not the time because nothing I tried to do brought me closer to signing up.  I was so resistant.  Then we decided to seek out a larger church where Frank and Kenzie would feel more at home.  So we “stumbled” upon New River.

The day we walked in those doors we knew we were home.  So, a few Sundays ago when they announced they would be hosting baptisms on May 6th I thought, “not yet…” and again, I was wrong.  The feeling of “now is the time” was so overpowering, I can hardly describe it.  I was brought to tears in trying to articulate why now.  God has brought me to my Church home.  This is where we will be, where we will grow, where we will serve, for years and years to come.  These are my brothers and sisters in Christ and this is where my family has planted itself.  Now was the time.

So, yesterday I made my public commitment to Christ and entered the waters of baptism for the final time.  His mercy and grace and love enveloped me as I entered that pool of water and was submerged.  I came out of those waters new and clean and light….and joyful.  I went in thinking this would be the end of something — the breaking of my last tangible tie to the LDS church — I came out realizing this wasn’t the end of anything, but a new beginning of my walk with Him.  This morning the glow has not dimmed one bit.  I feel so at peace.  I feel a light within me that is shining so brightly.  I am His.

And to make the day even more special, Ryan, our family pastor at New River asked to baptize me when it came my turn.  Ryan and I met when we first started going to New River.  I was seeking more understanding of the trinity and Ryan and I spent an hour together discussing it and my journey.  I left knowing that not knowing all the answers is sometimes the best thing.  Not from a stand point of ignorance, but from a point of continuing my quest to understand.  Man doesn’t have all the answers.  We just don’t.  If we did, we wouldn’t need Him at all.  I am thankful that I have learned to come to him with all things.

And yesterday, I was exceedingly grateful for His tender mercy.  For His grace. For His love.

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