I GLORY IN MY JESUS
Recently I had a friend tell me of a conversation she had with a gal we both admire. This sweet woman said to her, "I heard from 'so and so' that Ruth has left the church but I defended her that she has not." My friend and I had a good laugh at the misinformation that had been communicated to her. As that news fully reached my heart, I was thankful to this brave woman and I ended my dying laugh with a stress-rub to my forehead.
Then it got me thinking..."How can Ryan and I give the real story?"
Let's jump in:
The Prophet Joseph Smith stated: “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence, we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” “Have the Presbyterians any truth?” he asked on another occasion. “Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. . . . We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true ‘Mormons.’” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 313 & 316. See also: George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), 12–13.)Question: Are you guys still members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Question: Do you have a calling?
Answer: Yes - Ryan was EQ President twice, YM President, 2nd counselor in the Bishopric - I taught RS and Gospel Doctrine, then I was in YW and Youth Sunday School for the last eight years and am now co-serving with Ryan as our ward emergency prep specialists.
Question: Do you plan to leave the church?
Answer: We do not. We have given most of our life in service for the Church. We have always considered it to be a big part of making us who we are. We will always be Mormon - we're thankful for the church.
Question: I've heard you're inactive - Why? Was there sin? Were you offended somehow? Church History problems? Sin? Or was it, sin?
Answer: I am a sinner, yes. I love Jesus, but I cuss a little. I resonate with Joseph Smith when he said, "...no one need suppose me [or my husband or children] guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in [our] nature." It seems like sin or offense tend to be the most common categories of reasons people assume others stopped going to church. I know this blog post is long and it's easier to skim read and then hastily lump my family with a deviant group that we most closely remind you of...but we're not. We're very unique, just like you. Our stories and heartaches, trials and triumphs are unique to us.
Question: So where are you at? Are you fully active?
Answer: Our family has been inactive for the last year.
The simplified back-story:
When President Nelson was sustained to be the President in the April 2018 General Conference, Ryan and I had multiple people testify to us of the overwhelming witness they received that President Nelson was God's prophet. We realized we each had not taken the time to pray and ask for ourselves. We decided to fast and pray. We received no answer. So we fasted multiple days and spent a great deal of time in prayer. In the end, neither Ryan nor I obtained the witness so many others had received. We have nothing against President Nelson. We have no desire to stand in General Conference and yell, "oppose". We desire the best for the church and its leaders. But because we strive to have integrity, we knew we could not hold a temple recommend if we couldn't answer every temple recommend question. We went to our kind and loving bishop and turned our recommends in and slowed our church attendance over the next few months so we could get our bearings.
Shortly after turning our recommends in - one of my best friends, who also lived in our stake, passed away. I was asked to say the prayer at her funeral. I was broken - Ryan and I had watched her die for seven years with ALS and her death, though expected by others, caught me 100% off guard. I fasted for some time to understand why God took her - I thought for sure she would be healed. On the morning of her funeral and the fourth day of my fast - I received an outpouring of understanding that healed my heart and I received what, I felt, the Lord wanted me to include about her and her family in the prayer at the funeral. As I sat down to wait for the funeral to begin I was pondering further on what I'd felt from the Spirit that morning, in awe about my friend's life and the family she left behind. While I sat meditating, a member of the presiding leadership came to the bench where my family was seated and respectfully informed me I was, "not to teach in the prayer and to keep the prayer short". I was confused. I told them I would pray by the spirit, if that was okay. It was repeated: "Keep it short and no teaching". The rest of the funeral was a blur. I was so confused and very nervous to make a mistake. When the funeral was over, Ryan and I went to the home of the leadership that gave the order and asked them why. It was clear to us - if you don't have a witness of President Nelson - you can't be trusted - even to say a prayer at a funeral.
Before I continue: Are we mad at the leadership? No! Zero. He was doing his job. He didn't ask to be put in that position or calling. Callings in the church are volunteer. There is no pay at the stake level and not enough training for every scenario that could possibly arise and we choose to believe most people are doing the best they know how. He was just following the rules. Were we hurt? Yes. But we can say that wounds do heal and we are thankful for the scars - We glory in our Jesus! It brought us to our knees and Christ comforted us in our pain. Ryan and I felt to stop going to church for a season to process what all this means. We were nervous to be watched at church and worried our presence would cause the leadership to be uneasy if we spoke in class or bore our testimony.
A few months ago Ryan and I had prayed to know if there was anything more the Lord wanted us to do here in our current home and neighborhood. A few days after that prayer, a ward member and friend who is in a stake calling let us know that the higher leadership has watched when we have friends over at our house and is concerned about apostasy. I went home and googled 'apostate'..."Are we?!", I wondered. We reached out to the leadership and invited them to come to our home to talk about their concerns. They didn't respond for some time until we reached out to them again and, after indicating that they are very busy, said they would only meet with us in a dedicated building (the church). We felt this was our answer. Our growth would be stifled if we stayed here. We were being watched when we had friends over, causing leadership to feel too uncomfortable to meet with us in our home, and requiring direction and council on how to pray...it was time to let the Lord lead us to our next chapter. Again - we feel no resentment. I am pretty darn sure I would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. We believe their intent is good. Their job is to protect the flock and we honor that.
It's about the bigger picture of where do we fit in now?
So, that is where we are at. In the middle of an adventure. We prayed to know where to move and we found a beautiful secluded piece of land about an hour away. We went with our six kids and knelt on that lot and poured our hearts out to the Lord. We asked the Land if we could come and build and live on it. We said that if it wanted us, we would come and we would do our best to bring Life, and Light, and Jesus Christ to it. And that if it didn't want us to come, we would not. Most of us felt a 'yes'. But our oldest didn't get an answer. Two days later he woke up with a big smile. I asked him why he was so happy. He said he had the best dream - that we were all on the lot praying and asking the land if we could come to it. He said, "The land came alive and said to me, "YES" - and it filled my whole body with energy." So now we closed on the lot and will begin building in October/November.
God is good. If you let Him, He can take all those things that seem to be wrong and make them right. He can take your pain and turn it into wisdom. He can cause your suffering to be your sanctification. We wouldn't trade it for anything. Our brokenness brought us to Him. We do our best at home to daily and frequently sing to the Lord, praise Him, talk to Him, fast to Him, and sacrifice for Him. He is the only thing that matters. Ryan and I both had a raw prayer eight years ago. We told the Lord that we would do whatever He asked of us and that we would give up whatever He asked of us. That our lives were His. And He has tested our promise. And we ever remain faithful - to Him.
In April 1843, Pelatiah Brown sought to silence certain critics of the LDS Church by stretching and twisting the meaning of passages from the book of Revelation to make his point. After Brother Brown had been disciplined for doing so, Joseph Smith said: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latterday Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Volume 5, pg. 340)
Question: (or rather someone said to me:) "I believe Ryan is too nice to disagree with you and is just following what you tell him to."
Answer: I married a Man, not a eunuch. When I finished my mission and had my final interview with an incredible Mission President - he said to me, "You showed God you loved Him more than anything else. Now go and find someone who loves God more than you." Besides Jesus, Ryan is the greatest human I know. He loves God more than me and it has always been so. This has been our journey. We believe D&C 121:37. Substitute 'marriage' in place of 'priesthood' and it is Truth.
Question: Did you guys struggle with the church prior to your answer about President Nelson?
Answer: Ryan and I have lived and breathed for the church and would have died for the church. We always had the prophet's and apostles' photos displayed in our home. Eight years ago someone pointed out that our adoration was like idolatry and Christ alone was worthy of our adoration. That began a journey of prayer and following the promptings Ryan and I received. In time, answers came and when Ryan and I had concerns, we spoke about them in discussions with friends and family and most importantly, with the Lord. Later we wrote a paper to our family to help clarify our understanding of the scriptures and prophecy, which I will link at the end of the blog if you're interested in understanding more deeply.
Question: Is there another person or religion you follow?
Answer: No other person or religion - Only Jesus.
Question: Do you believe in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith?
This blog isn't to convince you to believe as we do. At all. This blog is for us to have a voice to a small slice of our life story. Hopefully this will give you a very small window into our hearts and minds. It would be nice to be understood and not just held up as an example of "what can happen to good people who stray" or "the elect being deceived". The good news is - we haven't ever strayed...not even for one second. We are faithful to Jesus Christ. To get to this point has taken every offering we could offer to the Lord. To lay down our all, our character and reputation, any honor and applause, our good name, house, land, parents, brothers and sisters, spouse and children, and even our own life also..."counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ."
Jesus Christ is our everything. We worship Him, and Him alone. It is only His good opinion of us that matters now.
Ruth and Ryan
Please feel free to make a comment below or email directly if you like.
I am They