“I left Christianity because of the people”

“I left Christianity because of the people.”

The words hurt my heart yesterday as I chatted with a good friend of mine. We were discussing religion. God. People. Mainstream Christianity. Topics that went hand in hand with some e-mails I sifted through while I sat on my break. One email in particular stuck out to me and I shared it with him.

I won’t quote it word for word or tell you who wrote this email (Totally not my style). And I hate giving attention to negativity–but this one, in turn, made me seek for the positive. *That’s “worth-sharing” material in my book*

The long winded email elaborately stated that I’m not a Christian because I don’t read the Bible. He told me Mormons go to Hell. It stated that I’m confused and hurting over the loss of a parent because I’m not a Christian and God isn’t on my side. BUT, *they kindly interjected* if I confess my sins and look for a different church, THEN I’ll be saved.

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When I read this yesterday, I couldn’t help but share some of it with my friend. And that’s when he told me, straight out, “I left Christianity because of the people.”

Now, bear in mind, my friend *We’ll call him Dan* is probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s hilarious. He talks about his wife as if she’s made of gold. He works hard every single day. And without saying it, he certainly shows that he believes that kindness matters. So this was a side of Dan I hadn’t seen before as we discussed religion. I never knew that he used to be an active church member, in love with the word of God and over-scheduled with church events. I never knew that people–like the one who sent me that email–taught him a whole different lesson about Christianity.

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So–how could I NOT write about it??

Sitting there with Dan and hearing his story, I rewinded five years back to before I joined the LDS church.

I was what you would call a church floater for a time, bouncing around from one non-denominational church to another, joining different congregations and getting baptized into several different fonts. I floated–never really finding answers to all of my questions–yet settling down in a Pentecostal church until I was 18 and *had* to leave. I just couldn’t stay anymore. It wasn’t anything personal–it was just I really needed to find truth and answers to my nagging questions. Needless to say, through a friend, two missionaries, and 7 sleepless nights reading an old copy of The Book of Mormon, I found the light I’d been craving all along.

Now, five years later, one BYU-Idaho education later, a hundred missionary opportunities later, a dozen temple trips later–I don’t hesitate to still call myself a Christian. Oh–and I sure don’t let dust collect on my Bible either.

I am a Mormon and I am Christian. 

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I strive to be the kind of Christian that people like Dan feel comfortable talking to. The kind of Christian who doesn’t cut into this story and tell him to get his hiney back to church or he’ll face hellfire. The kind of Christian who has about five gay friends who *know* I’m Mormon and actually love it. The kind of Christian who goes to church because it’s a hospital for the sick, not a temple of the proud. The kind of Christian who shares a testimony of Christ simply because I *love* people–not because I love how much I know.

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I strive to be the kind of Christian who continues to adore people of varying faiths and different cultures–enjoying the unique perspectives and different acts of love and worship. I strive to be the kind of Christian who puts kindness before “being right” and love before condemnation. I strive to be the kind of Christian who doesn’t throw scripture in someone’s face, yelling out random verses to prove I’m a “scriptorian”, but to embrace scripture and try to live it to the best of my ability. I strive to be like so many of you reading this now–of all different faiths and backgrounds–who simply have it nailed on the head on how to love, how to serve, and how to emulate the Savior’s example.

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Yes, you choose to be offended. You can read a talk about that right here.

BUT you can also choose to be offensive. To be brash. To be hurtful. To use your status as a Christian to raise yourself up above everyone else and look down with haughty eyes. You can choose. (There’s a talk about that too! Right here)

Don’t be the reason someone leaves Christianity. Don’t be the reason someone feels like the outcast in your world.

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Instead, choose to be more like Him every day.

I found that when I choose that, I can honestly set aside pride and the need to be “right” or “heard”, and in turn–more people will listen to what I believe and even if they don’t believe the same thing–well, at least they feel God’s love in the process.

Because LOVE is what being a Christian is all about.

THAT, you might say, is my religion.

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38 thoughts on ““I left Christianity because of the people”

  1. Great post Kayla. I’m new to your blog. I also think it’s about trusting God to work in people’s lives. When we try to assert our two cents where love and comfort is really what is warranted we are saying we don’t trust God to convict people. Our job is to love. God and the Holy Spirit convict. I left Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was 19. God has done an amazing job of leading me to His truth when I search and come to Him with open arms yearning for Him. If memory serves me in the parable of the servants–each servant had to be faithful with the coins THEY were entrusted with. The Master did not ask them to meddle with other servant’s coins. Our job is to love and be faithful.

  2. Why does a person’s belief in God have to be labeled as anything other than being a believer and having a true and personal relationship with Him? I left the Church, not Christianity, because I feel as though the church is the most hypocritical environment of all environments. No matter what kind of church it is. No matter what kind of “religion” it is, as religion is just that…Religion. A personal relationship with our Lord and Savior is so much deeper than religion.

  3. Thank you for saying things so well!

    I’m so sorry for the hurtful things your “friend” threw at you suggesting that the reason you were hurting is because God is not on your side. But a couple of things they said are true, sort of… (tongue in cheek):
    1. if you don’t read the Bible you’re probably not a Christian. OK, yeah, probably need to read the Bible if you’re a Christian. Got that covered; I read it constantly. Check.
    2. Mormons go to Hell. Yep, true that. And Catholics and Atheists and Muslims and …. Some of everything I guess. So, yeah, there will be Mormons in Hell.
    3. Not true, sorry. Not sure how to explain to them, but my mom died this summer and I’m not hurting or confused. And I’m a Mormon! For some reason I guess God is “on my side” anyway? My situation was very different from yours. She was 89 and I’m almost 60. If it had happened 30 years ago I’m sure I would have had a much more difficult time with it, and it would have hurt deeply. But as it happened I felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost immediately and have felt that reassurance and even rejoicing for her ever since.

    I just found your blog when you wrote about God giving us things that we cannot handle ourselves. I love how you explained it. I absolutely agree. And now this.

    You have articulated so well what I feel. I love God and my savior. I feel the Spirit of God in my life so often and He has been so kind to me. All I want is to love Him enough to let Him change me and maybe even have opportunities to be involved in His work here on Earth while I’m here. We’re just people; We’re not our religion. Whatever we have that helps us feel the love of God is good, and whatever we’re doing that takes us away from that isn’t good. I find that my activity in this wonderful church has brought me closer to Him. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    See? You say things so much better than I can!

  4. Great post. Some people who call themselves Christians tend to give that word a bad rap. I’ve written about this on my blog, but the first things that usually pop into someone’s mind when the hear Christian is judgemental, hypocrite, and holier than thou. And it’s true. And like you said, it all comes down to love.

    I am nothing more than an undeserving beggar standing at the feet of Jesus. He welcomes me with open arms, dirty rags and all. I am no better than anyone on this planet. We need to show others the same unconditional love that our Daddy shows us. Is that person gay? Who cares. Love them. Period. But, they dabble in witchcraft. So what? Love them. Period. That girl had an abortion. She needs to get her act together. No, she needs love. Plain and simple.

  5. That’s so true. We’re all his children in his eyes. I too went through so many religion’s not being fulfilled until I met my husband who was LDS but inactive for over 30 years. 7 years ago I was blessed with Amazing missionaries that I can’t praise enough. I know I’m a Christian and LDS. I wouldn’t change it for the world! Maria

  6. no… o forget it… you know what I mean.
    My beloved husband died 4 months ago from stage 4 colon cancer,
    Your blog fell into my lap via praying for the sweetest baby girls blog
    prayingfornoraroseyusko.com. A poster shared this blog & when I clicked
    on it it was my saving grace. You said the exact words I have been trying to say to so many people but could not……they do not understand that hallow look in the eye that exist in a cancer patient…. that was the look my husband had that haunts me, my daughter & son. Yes, other who have lost loved ones instantly say that we are lucky we could say good-bye, but they did have to witness the horrible pain & suffering that we & our family member had to endure.
    I pray I have that quick non-suffering demise & pray that my family knows
    I did not suffer……I DO NOT EVER WANT TO WITNESS what I just did with my beloved husband 4 months ago……. still trying to heal……..
    thankful for the amazing insight that you had in the short amount of grieving time……God bless you

    • So well stated. There is nothing more hurtful than watching your loved one suffer and want to go “home”. I experienced the same thing sometime ago.
      Thanks for posting. May God bless you!.

  7. I really like the way you choose to look at things. This is the way I look at the pope. He is all about love. Not the trappings of power. I love it! I am sure with all my postings. My friends think I am catholic. No! I am just enjoying one person finally practicing the Lords teachings. Good work!

  8. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blown away by this. I am madly in love with your brain now. 🙂 Jesus is Love. Love is my religion too. Love NEVER fails!! xo

  9. I am a Mormon and I am a Christian too. I joined the LDS church in 1997. I know its true.

    ________________________________

  10. The more of your blog I read, the more I love how you speak for your heart. I feel you are often speaking my heart as well. Thank you for sharing your heart and mine so eloquently. Peace to you and yours.

  11. I have been trying to fill my day with positive, uplifting messages. I set a goal to read the Ensign cover to cover when working on my Personal Progress Medallion with my daughter, as I never received mine as a youth. Your messages give me one more positive thing in my day, so thank you. There is enough bad news in the world and all we have to do is turn on the news or pick up the paper to see it. This year I am going to instead chose to pick or tune into something positive that lets me know just how many good people and how much good there still is in this life. You are a talented writer who has a way of touching my heart. Thank you for your positive and uplifting posts.

  12. I’m conflicted!! How can I agree with a MORMON about God? But I do!

    2.1/2 years ago, I was struggling VERY hard to prove that I was not an alcoholic. I’d spent 6 months making lists and breaking commitments to myself (and others) about drinking. Finally, on July 4, 2011, I had my moment of clarity. No need to go into those details, but the next day my family called a meeting, and the next day, I attended my first AA meeting. It took me about 3 weeks – attending mtgs every day, to say: “Hi, My name is Jim. I’m an alcoholic.”

    But when I did, it was amazing. Over the next few weeks after that, I began to understand why I tried SO HARD to NOT be an alcoholic. I *knew* God did not Love alcoholics. If I was an alcoholic, I was in deep trouble with God. When I finally made that statement, my box fell apart. It was what I now call my “GOD BOX”. I had God in a box. There was no room in that box for an alcoholic. That day, towards the end of July, 2011, my box fell apart and my God got bigger. He kept doing that, breaking down the walls of the box and getting bigger!

    In the ensuing months, it finally dawned on me that God wasn’t the one in the box. I was. Since that time, He has absolutely demolished that box. But I have found a relationship with HIM that amazes me.

    There are pieces of that box that are part of this relationship. But the pieces are no longer the substance. The relationship is. I’ve learned the difference between a religion and a relationship. My box was my religion. I had to step out of my religion – for a while – to establish the relationship He wants to have with me. My belief in the fundamental truths of my “religion” is stronger now, but I no longer am as judgmental of other people’s boxes.

    WOW! where did all that come from? Thank you, Kayla! U inspire me. 5 years ago, I would have un-friended you. But then, 5 years ago, there was no room in my box for you. Are you a REAL Christian? Not for me to judge! I DO see some very Christ-like qualities in you and your writings. I like your GOD -box,

      • Oooops! I touched the wrong button on my iPhone and it said “U have unfollowed this blog” I touched it again and it said I had re-followed. Whew!! Close one.

    • jimdcat–wow. i was completely moved by your comment/story. i am so glad you shared it. God continues to amaze me too and keeps on showing me just how MUCH love He has for ALL of us..whomever we are. xo

  13. Very good post. I think more and more we need to follow that example of love, just love, no matter the religious title we use, or the color of our skin, of the place that we live. Jesus said that living/loving like Him would divide us from the ones that we love, unless they too are loving Him, they just can’t understand our faith. After my mother died, 3 years ago this month, I began a journey of looking at Jesus differently, looking at my faith, and my church. If I wanted any of those to be different, it was up to me to change, not them, but me. I’m trying to do just that. I’m sorry you had the negative comments. I’ve just started reading your blog and I look forward to getting to know you better and reading more of your thoughts. Thank you for sharing this.

  14. What a great post! It’s very easy to get caught up in fights over small details and loose the big picture of what’s important. I’m also Mormon have found a lot of peace in focusing on what I have in common with others and trying to see them as what they are; a child of god.

  15. The title here hits on something. People do leave Christianity because of other people, but they leave other faiths as well. Is the LDS church hypocritical? Yes, we are and yes I am. So it every other church. As Christians, if we want to attract and retain quality Disciples of Christ, we must stop brow-beating people by thumping on our Bibles and quoting Paul and start getting into the community and ministering to them using the words of Jesus Christ. You know, that “do unto others” and “how you treat the least of my brothers” type stuff.

  16. I took a moment to read some of your columns and I was truly touched. I too spent alot of my life bouncing from church to church trying to find answers. Iv been threw many trails , some scary and most heart breaking none have been easy but I have grown in love threw all of them. I feel as though my life as been one trail after another and “feel sometimes so heart broken that I cant move on” I pray always that God’s will be done no matter how painful because I know he knows best. But it still hurts so bad even though I know im not alone. I thank God for Jesus because I believe in my heart that one day all my sarrows will be over ” because of his love for me first”. I pray to love all walks of people and hate only sin. I am not angry at people but hurt from the pain that sin brings. I praise the day we all are completely released from the grip of sin. Untill that day comes ill keep praying to love unconditionally the way he loves me. Iv been married for 12 years to a wounderful goodhearted man that battles with addiction we have 6 kids between us and I praise God for the strength everyday to love them all in there differences. They are great kids and almost grown our youngest is 13 and because of Jesus they all are kind hearted, loveing, careing. God has been raising them so beautifully threw all we have been threw. He’s good at what he does, let us keep on praying! Thank you for your stories they truly help me reflect!

  17. I can honestly say that every single LDS member on my friends list exemplifies this to me. I FEEL the Christ-like love that comes from them. I didnt leave because of the people. Nor did I leave because I didnt feel there was truth in the church. I left because the policies and procedures didnt square with my understanding and testimony of Christ’s love, nor the love that I have felt from those within the church. Of course, there have been those that upon finding that I am no longer active in the church have un-friended me, and I understand that. Fear of association is a powerful motivator But I love them still. I remain on the records because I have faith in love. It is my hope that Christ’s teachings about love will become the guiding principles and practices of all members, but specifically those that make decisions and give counsel that affect people’s lives. I also have many friends that have left the church and I find it funny that there is a stereotype among the rank and file that everyone that leaves is angry or bitter, and it just isnt so. Sadness yes, hurt yes, but anger is often the expression of that pain. I pray for healing for the church as it really isnt the people, but fear that drives the judgments and decisions of how to treat others. If people really believed without a shadow of a doubt that their eternal lives were assured it would manifest in being MORE loving and generous of spirit because what would one have to lose? There is never anything lost in being more loving. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Hi Kayla!

    I swear I think you have read my journal! You are amazing and putting thoughts to words, I am new to your blog, and glad I have found you! I too am a misfit, proud Mormon and Christian! You have touched my heart with this story today, as I have had these exact experiences not just with friends, but members of my own family who believe themselves to be Christian as well. I look forward to the day that personal judgement and negative thought has no power over me. Thank you for your sweet and testimony filled words!

  19. An interesting blog post to read *after* the one that has been posted all over my Facebook minifeed about your anti Ordain Women stance. I understand the need for Christian kindness more than most, as I have read such terrible things about “myself” for my views on women that “border apostasy”. Unfortunately your declaration of a blog post condemning women who want the Priesthood has done more to incite contention than love and understanding among your fellow brothers and sisters (yes, those women in that organization are your Sisters). Please, come back to kindness.

    • Trisha, I think maybe you should stop worrying so much about what you want and ask the Lord what his will is. Take it to him and your leaders. The will of the Lord comes through the prophet and if he says women are not to be ordained to the priesthood then humble your self and except the will of the Lord. He knows best, it is his plan. And if you truly love this church as you claim why are you not excepting the council of the prophet? These questions should be done in respect with the proper authority and not thrown before the world as If trying to convince the Lord of your desires.

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