You’re 11, 10, 7, and 5 right now. It has been several weeks since I decided I couldn’t bear supporting the church and faith of my childhood financially or otherwise. It broke my heart and it was the last of a series of heartbreaks that your mother could take from me.
I’m writing because there’s an accountability I have to you as a father. In part, that is just making sure that I’m available and ready to be available to make myself known, but also there is more to it than that – and I am honestly uncertain as to how well I will do in this regard; I’m still trying to figure it out. Still, I believe firmly that my role as a parent is that of a steward and mentor. My choices and faith will never be right enough, powerful enough, or influential enough to negate the importance of you actually knowing Jesus Christ and being able to have the Holy Spirit as your living and ever-present guide. You will be blessed according to your faithfulness. The promise is that if you seek, you will find. So hopefully my life and witnesses and sacrifice will be sufficient enough for you to at least see that I know that God is worthy of being sought and followed at all costs.
Regardless of my efforts, I believe I will fail you over and over again because my whole-hearted love for you doesn’t begin to approach the perfect love of God. Know that I am going to do my best. I just hope that by the grace of God, He can clothe that broken dedication with His power and consecrate my efforts toward the bringing of you into His presence.
I want you to understand, at least in part, what has led me to leave the church and the faith that introduced me to Christ in very powerful ways. At the age of thirty-four, I have studied its theology for almost two-thirds of my life. I spent my youth as thorough keeper of the Law of God; I regarded Gods law as high as I regarded Him. My dedication and faithfulness to those teachings were largeley why your mother saw me as a man worthy of becoming her husband and worthy of entrusting Her children to.
But that was then. There’s something that happened to me – there was a part of me so broken and irreparable in my mind that I had tried to smother it out of my soul for love for God and out of fear for my goodstanding in His eyes. My heart was all for Him, but it didn’t know Him for who He really is. This fallen part of me, pushed by my shame into the darkest parts of me, was fighting to be known understood and accepted. However, as I kept it hidden and unexpressed for the sake of obedience, it only festered and swelled.
I became so burdened that I couldn’t bear it any more. My soul had been obscured under the rocks of abuse, shame, and toxic perfectionism for decades (your mother and I have talked about abuse as “hurts on our spirits” for quite some time). At this point however, my identity and purposes were not only obscured, they were being crushed and extinguished.
My desperation and pain brought me before the Lord despite me being almost completely sure He had no solution for me.
In so doing, I laid down the single most important thing I had clung to my entire life. I had formed an identity as an obedient child, it was through my personal righteousness that I thought I had found favor with God. It was through this obedience that I was an heir to the promises of God as surely as Isaac was the fulfillment of the promises of God to Abraham.
But I had to lay that down for the sake of the truth. The truth was that despite all of my dedication and obedience, my nature was still broken and I couldn’t carry the burden.
When I brought myself into His presence to confess my reality and my inability to do as I felt He required of me – it was something I couldn’t do any more – it was then that He gave me virtually all of the promises I had longed for since I was at least the age of fourteen. I was assured of His unfailing love for me and assured that because I had laid the whole of my heart before Him, He gave me the whole of His.
He gave me something I didn’t have the perspective or experience to understand at this level: grace. Because I had given all of myself, I was in a relationship of covenant; where I was an heir. I learned that He was able to welcome me into the full embrace of His love, because He had just done it. He showed me His love for the sinner – and thereby my equal standing with the most vile of sinners. He forgave me much and poured His love into me; in that act He empowered me to exemplify Him. As I was not too filthy for Him, there is no one too filthy for me! I wasn’t “fixed” or perfected by this experience; my most broken parts were overshadowed by His love, not instantly corrected by it.
The scriptures I never understood were others’ individual experience of what God just gave me – those scriptures came alive. All of scripture was fulfilled in Christ and the promises of Christ were fulfilled in me!
It is the testimony of Jesus Christ. The revelation of Jesus Christ is eternal life. It is eternal life that begins in mortality. It is overcoming the world through faith in Jesus Christ. It is being perfected in Him and sanctification eventually follows.
This lead me to conflict – not a conflict of fear because I’ve known my God for years – but a conflict with all of the traditions and stumbling blocks I had immersed myself in as a child. I dropped everthing – except the living revelations to me – like dung. I found a lot of beliefs that God has inspired me to believe and I added the peices that fit in with my experience back into my heart with scrutiny and found a heap left before me when I was done.
On the flipside, the beauty that God gives isn’t something that you “sit on” and do nothing about. God, Himself, doesn’t light candles that we will put under a bushel and He only establishes cities on hills to be seen.
I wanted to share! But we have beliefs we hold on to more dearly; my firsthand experience and learning is counter-authoritative so people get afraid, catch a glimpse and then bury it, or can’t even begin to understand it.
In LDS scripture God proclaims a condemnation on our people because of their vanity and unbelief. This is so tangible and visible to me and heavy on the shoulders of our people. It chokes me to see, but I believe they are headed in the right direction. I feel like it will be at least another fifty years before our people get some of the subsequent wreckage cleared up and clarity reestablished. While the word of the Lord is to roar out of Zion, most of what I hear now is insultingly short of that.
Kiddos, I’m hoping for you to be an instrument in helping lift that condemnation; I feel my call elsewhere – and generations theological of protectionism and teaching are in place to protect our people from my warning; it cannot be heard, and when it is heard, it is willfully rejected.
So, to assist in lifting the condemnation, you need to not be condemned yourselves. According to the scripture, that requires you to take the covenant seriously, not superficially, and believe. According to our LDS belief, there will never be a shortage of people willing to teach you, but it is quite possibly your greatest responsibility to God and yourself to discern between the teachings of God and the teachings of men. However, if you truly have “no other Gods” before Him – the king of heaven and earth – He will be your king and you will hear His voice and eventually know Him. If you put myself or any other man and woman in His role, you will fail. By all means listen to and educate yourself in the perspectives that you encounter, because it is only in hearing and understanding that one can really discern something’s truth. If you “trust not in the arm of flesh,” you will be able to sort through the ideas naturally – placing some as foundational to your faith and laying other aspects aside according the instruction of voice of the Lord to you.
If you do this, you will grow up as more of our infallible errors are being slowly flushed out by the teaching of truth as well as by the pure passage of time. Pure doctrines will be more acceptable and our people will be more prepared in fundamental ways. Still, there will be so much work to be done! You will have your life and your ministry because you have truth and an accountability before God.
I will do my best to give you my life’s work so that you can invest your sweat, passion, and tears into a new work that I honestly am completely ignorant of. I do know of your power and capability – God has taught me that much about you. But, how He directs you to use it… that is for your your ears and your hearts alone. You are your own keepers of your own Holy of Holies. Don’t yield that space to any other person; it is for you and God alone.
With love, Dad.