Exit Story of Jenn

18 July

I was born and raised a Utah Mormon. I was blessed with wonderful parents who loved me very much. I have many good childhood memories with them and my siblings.  My family was very active in the LDS Church and I was taught it was the only true Church on the Earth. I was taught that although other religions had ‘some truth’ to them, they were still all wrong.


I was very shy, but was a good Mormon girl and did everything I was told to do.  I studied the Four Standard Works, went to Seminary, read books by General Authorities, followed the Word Of Wisdom, kept myself pure, and  I accepted all of my callings from the Bishop (even if I didn’t want too) because I believed they were inspired of God. I was told that if I turned my callings down, it was like telling God ‘NO”, and that I would be letting Him down. I did all these things because I was taught that if I did everything I was told to do and lived a perfect life, I would be able to live with my family in the Celestial Kingdom.

My journey to leaving the LDS Church started when I was about 12 years old. As a teenager, I did not have many good experiences in Young Women. I went to Young Women camp and did not like it at all. I only went to camp two years and dreaded it every single time. It was torture for me. I was very shy and had no friends in my ward, so I had no one to hang out with at camp. I was always alone, depressed and homesick.
Most of the girls in my ward were the rich / popular type, who hung out with girls just like themselves. Many of them had a snobby attitude and didn’t treat me very well. I didn’t feel welcome at all at church in Young Women.
There was a time when I thought about changing wards (my parents were totally for it) and going to one of my friends wards instead, but was told that I should stay in my ward. I was very unhappy and went through some periods of depression. My Mom and I both almost left the LDS Church because of these experiences.

God started working on me at this time. I remember one day while I was in one of my depressive episodes saying to God, “There is no way I can be perfect! There is no way I will make it to Heaven!” And God, the real God spoke to me, “You will be in Heaven with me.” I said, “I will? But how? I can never be perfect enough!” It wasn’t until years later that I would understand what that meant.
Soon after I graduated from High School, I met my husband at a LDS Singles Dance in Ogden. He grew up in a Mormon home with a family of 15 kids. His parents were totally believing Mormons. As a teenager he became inactive for awhile up until a year before I met him.

I saw him almost every week at the dances. And after we had known each other for about a month, he told me that even though he was 22 years old, he was going to serve a mission. He had already sent in his mission papers before he met me. This news completely took me by surprise and my heart sank when he told me this. Although I was happy for him, deep down in my heart I knew this was the man I was going to marry, even though we had not had our first date yet.  I knew in my heart that I would miss
him while he was gone.

Soon after he told me about his mission, he asked me out and we began dating, and we soon fell in love. He asked me to marry him the day of his farewell. I told him ‘Yes!’ We told people about it. Some people were happy about it, and others said we were making a big mistake and that I should continue dating while he was gone.  My husband’s first companion on his mission had been ‘Dear John’ed” and he told him that I would leave him too.
I had been hurt deeply in a relationship a few months prior to meeting my husband, and because of what I learned from that experience, I knew what I really wanted in a husband. After my bad relationship, I had prayed that I would meet the man I would marry, because I was so tired of being hurt and tired of the dating game, even though I was only 18 years old. It didn’t matter to me or him what other people thought about
us.

My husband went on his mission in California, but we gave each other a CTR ring as a reminder of our love and commitment to each other, until he came home and we could get married.
Two years later he returned home and we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. We had two children within two years of our marriage. After my second child was born, my depression returned.

In the Winter of 1996, my boys became ill with various ear and respiratory infections. I was up with them every night and was extremely fatigued all the time. Then I became ill with bronchitis and was sick for two months and wasn’t able to sleep very much at night.

At this time, my boys and I had several Priesthood blessings given by my husband and my Dad. They would say that we would be healed soon. But soon never seemed to come.
I felt very overwhelmed taking care of two sick kids and trying to care for myself. I know it was hard for my husband too. I became very depressed and it put a strain on our marriage. I started to doubt the LDS Church. I thought to myself, “How can a loving God let this happen to me and my kids? Where is He?” I felt like He had abandoned us.
I told my husband of my doubts and this is when he admitted to me he was having doubts too.  Even though I had doubts, it put a strain on our marriage because I would still defend the LDS Church when he would say things about it that he questioned.

We talked to our Bishop because of my depression to see if they could help me get some therapy through LDS Social Services. The Church did end up paying for my counseling, but the Bishop told me that I just needed to “pray more” and then my depression would go away.  I remember going away angry from the Bishop’s office thinking, “How can he say that to me?!? I have been praying but it’s not working!!!” I felt like he didn’t understand that things like this don’t always go away just by praying.

Sometimes God uses other ways or other people to help us in situations like these.

I went to counseling for awhile, but when the counselor found out about my marriage problems he said that he couldn’t help us, so he sent us to another therapist. I went to him for awhile, but the Church wouldn’t pay for him to counsel us since the therapist wasn’t through LDS Social Services, and we couldn’t afford to pay for the counseling ourselves, so we stopped going.

My husband and I had signed up for the Internet around this time, and we started researching various beliefs. We looked into practically every religion, and we leaned more towards New Age beliefs than Christian beliefs. As a Mormon we were taught that if the LDS Church isn’t true, then there is no true church! So we had a hard time believing in just one belief system.

A few months later,  I found a Christian Ex-Mormon email support group on the Internet called “Mormons In Transition” or “MIT” for short. I met a guy on there who sent me Sandra and Jerald Tanner’s book “Mormonism shadow Or Reality”.  The book shows things that you would never learn in the LDS Church about the early history of the Church, complete with references.

What we read in this book completely shook up our world! We had always been told as Mormons to never trust Ex-Mormons or read things they put out. We were told that they were all lies about the LDS Church, so when we began reading this book we didn’t know if to trust what we read. So we began our own research.

We went to our local library and looked up some of these references since many of them were in LDS approved books such  as “Journal Of Discourses” and “History Of The Church”.  We were completely stunned to find out that what we had read in that book, was in fact true!

It’s so hard to describe the horror I felt, but it was the worst feeling in the world to me! The Mormon Church was part of me and I felt like my whole life was based on a lie! I felt like I was all alone! I felt spiritually raped! I felt deceived! I felt scared! My heart was broken and I felt like I was dying inside!  In my heart I was screaming, “No! This can’t be true!” I wanted so bad to believe that it was all just a nightmare and I would wake up any minute and the Church really would be true.

No matter how much I wanted to just ignore the truth and believe the ‘Church’ was true, I knew I could never go back again. I knew too much. I couldn’t live a lie anymore. I went through an identity crisis. I kept thinking, “If I’m not who I thought I was, then who am I really?”

I didn’t know if I could trust anything again. How could I? I had been deceived my whole life! I had been hurt deep down into my soul and I felt very angry, alone and scared. I was afraid to trust anything, because I didn’t want to get hurt that deeply again.

My husband and I had some hard decisions to make. We knew that we would have to tell our families at some point. With our leaving the LDS Church, we knew it would devastate our families because of their belief in “Families can be together forever”.  And with us leaving, it would break their hearts completely in two. We also had to find out for ourselves if there was a true Church or if there was a God.
At this time a Pastor’s son would come into my husbands work and hand out pamphlets about the LDS Church (anti-Mormon stuff). He was friends with an employee at my husband’s work. So my husband and I thought about trying his Church. And so we did.

I remember when we got to the parking lot at this Christian church, I almost backed out. I had been a Temple going Mormon, and although I did not believe anymore, I still wore my temple garments. I was so scared that if I went in to this Christian Church that everyone would see my garment line and know that I was a Mormon! I pushed that fear into the back of my mind, took a deep breath, and went into the church with my
family anyway.

At a Mormon Church on Sunday , many Mormons are in a hurry to get to their seats or after Sacrament meeting they would be in a hurry to get to their classes they were either teaching or just get to a class. But when I stepped into this Christian Church, it was a totally different atmosphere and I was impressed with all the people there and their
attitudes!

The minute we walked in someone shook our hand and greeted us. And then other people would shake our hand and ask us how we were doing, and say that they were glad to have us there or they would say it was good to see us!
Glad to have us there? Good to see us? I remember thinking, “Why are they glad to have us here? They don’t even know us!” For the first time in my life I felt welcomed at Church! And most importantly, I felt loved! We also met others there at Church  just like us who had left the LDS Church and became Christians. It was refreshing to know that we weren’t all alone.

A few weeks later we noticed in the Church announcements that they were going to have a two day Marriage Encounter Weekend for couples that wanted to become closer in their relationship together. Our marriage had been strained because of my depression and so my husband felt impressed that we should go to it, and so we did.

It was the most amazing , exhausting, emotional weekend of our life! At the end of the weekend, we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior! When I was saved, I felt more love then I had ever felt in my life! It was so amazing! I loved Jesus! I loved my family more then ever! And I even loved the people at the Marriage Encounter even though I didn’t know them! I know now, that I was feeling God’s love for them.
I felt God’s love so strong that I wrote a ‘Letter Of Love’ to my family, telling them about Jesus and how much He loves them! My family just didn’t get it. And a week later I received a letter from my Dad telling me that the letter was filled with a lot of love, but that he felt like I had forgotten some things like my Temple Covenants I had made and other things. I was prepared for them to react this way, but when I received his letter it hurt me deeply because I wanted them so badly to feel the gift of love that God had given me.

A few weeks later, my Mom confronted me and asked me if we had been going to a Christian church. Her and my Dad had known for some time that we had some doubts about the LDS church, but her and my Dad suspected we had been going to a Christian church. They were very upset when they found out it was true. And it caused a lot of pain for a long time.

Leaving the LDS Church is the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s not easy living in Utah as an Ex-Mormon / Christian. It’s emotionally exhausting sometimes. It’s so hard at times to the point where I just want to take a break, get away from it all and get away from Utah. In fact my husband and I have tried a few times to move away from Utah, but
God has always come back and said, “No. You need to stay here”.

We know now that God wants us here in Northern Utah to help other questioning Mormons and Ex-Mormons get some support and answers to their questions. And He has blessed us with some wonderful friends whom we have started a support group and Ministry to Mormons in Northern Utah. Many people who leave the Mormon Church are so scared. They feel like they are all alone in their feelings. They need to talk to others who have been through what they are going through.  And they need to be around people who understand them.

Since leaving the LDS Church, I have learned to only put my trust in God. not in man. And that anything a Pastor or Christian says to me, I need to check out in the Bible to see if what they said was true (Acts 17:11). Something I was never taught as a Mormon.

As a Mormon, I  was taught to trust in what the Prophet says no matter what. And to never question what the Prophet or other leaders say, even if it contradicts what the scriptures or past prophets have said. It’s refreshing to know that God never changes, unlike the Mormon god who is constantly changing .

God has given us many blessings since becoming Christians, including giving us another son. God has given me peace and joy through all my trials. And He has given me His love.
One of my favorite scriptures speaks of how God will always be with us. It is. “… Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy. 31:6
I couldn’t have had the courage to leave the LDS Church without God in my life. It’s so comforting to know that whatever happens in my life, that God will always be here for me. He will never leave me or forsake me. But He will always be near me to help me through all of my struggles.

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