My story ~ Melissa Thiring
The purpose of my story, is to share with you the miracle of my conversion to Christianity, and to testify of my Savior Jesus Christ. I give all credit to Him for my experience. I never would have found out that Mormonism wasn't true on my own. I was too deeply convinced of it's truth. I believe Christ called for me. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:17) My story begins in October of 2001 when I was about six months pregnant with my son Gabriel. At this time, I was still very devout in my LDS faith; maybe more than ever. My husband Matthew and I were about to celebrate our 2nd wedding Anniversary, and were very excited for the arrival of our first child. Yet along with our excitement came apprehension over our division of religious beliefs. How would we raise our child? What would we teach him about God?
We had spent many evenings discussing, and okay, arguing over who was right. These talks had been going on since we first met, and almost came between us many times during our engagement. We almost didn't get married because I was a Mormon and he was a Christian. Still something always kept us fighting to stay together. We had hoped to have united in our views before we had children. Basically since we were both sure we were right, we each had faith that the other would find the truth and convert. We were amazed that after three years of discussions, neither of us had budged an inch. We were both as sure as could be. We were going nowhere. I was angry at how stubborn my husband was. Little did I know that the following verse applied to me; not him. "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." (Proverbs 14:16) My heart was hard. I was completely closed-minded. I was not being honest even to myself, let alone God.
I tried to get Matthew involved in church activities of any kind, and hoped my fellow members would help influence him. Poor Matthew. He put up with us. Now I know how he feels, because my family is currently trying to bring me back in, and it's hard to see them waste time on something that just isn't going to happen. Matthew agreed to participate in certain church events, and I was always hopeful that he would recognize that we Mormons were the greatest people on earth. I thought that he must know that since we were such good people, and did such good things, we must be right. (I wasn't boastful at all was I?) Ha. One year Matthew came to our church girls camp to lead the advanced hikers up 9,500 ft. Mt. McLaughlin, as he knew the trail, and enjoyed mountain climbing. He only came to church with me one time, when my brother had his missionary farewell. I thought he was scared, but really, he was just not about wasting time on something pointless. He tried his luck with me by taking me to his Christian fellowship a few times, but that never went over well, as I was always weirded out by what I called Jesus freaks waiving their arms and praising the Lord a little too loudly in the front row. So here we were, tired of going in circles.
Though it seemed more critical than ever at this point to get to the bottom of our conflict in concern for our child, we needed a break. We were worn out. We agreed to disagree for the time being. Instead of the usual drilling, we started to just read the Bible every night and saying a prayer together, which is something we had never done before on a regular basis. No arguing, just reading. We both continued in our personal prayers as well. I had basically come to the decision of just living the LDS gospel the best I could, and I truly believed that if I was faithful and strong, I would get what I desired. This idea coming from a promise from an LDS scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 82:10. It goes like this, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." So basically if we are faithful, he is bound by law to bless us. I went to church every Sunday, and at this time I was the Sunday School teacher for the 14-15 year old kids. I enjoyed my class immensely.
I attended the Temple when I could, and most of all, I was more diligent in my personal life than I ever had been. My baby gave me strength. I had always been told that those who fell away from the church, had done things in their lives to weaken their testimony. The spirit left them because of sin, and therefore they were easy prey for Satan. These individuals would stop going to church. Maybe they had been offended by someone, or just felt uncomfortable at church because of some secret sin. Then, they would never be heard from again, or they would "persecute" the church, and become "Anti-Mormon". I was told they would act like this because they were not happy, or jealous, and that they lashed out at the church and its members because deep down inside they knew the church was still true, but weren't good enough. Now I realize that this is an extremely unfair and unjust judgment of people who left. I know this view is completely wrong, at least for my situation, as I was honestly doing my best. I was working to keep my testimony strong, and I was confident that I was correct, and the Lord would bless me. So if the LDS promise of D&C 82:10 was correct, Matthew should have been converted to Mormonism right? How interesting it was to me to find out that at this point in my faithful LDS life, my change took place.
One night in November 2001, Matthew was reading the Bible to me. We were sitting on the couch, and he stopped for a moment to explain to me how the gift of the atonement from his savior Jesus Christ made him feel. He spoke very softly that night. As he was talking, I realized I had a few tears in my eyes. Matthew asked me what was wrong, and caught off guard, I said "nothing". That night in bed I thought about what he had said. His words hit me in a new light, and I knew I had felt something wonderful. As a Mormon, I viewed the atonement differently. I found myself longing for the peace I had felt earlier. The peace I knew my husband had. I tried to forget what happened, but a few days later, it happened again. We were sitting at the table reading, and we were studying a similar passage as the previous night. As I was listening to my husband, and staring at my notebook, I noticed it was wet. I was crying again! I promise you, both times, I didn't realize the tears right away. I put my head in my arms and just sobbed. I testify to you the power of sincere prayer. My prayers for my baby were sent off to God daily. "Please let my child be Mormon". One night I was beside my bed praying alone, when I realized that even though I knew Mormonism was right, I should still pray in a more honest way. So I changed my prayer to, "Father, I love this baby, and I know you do. I pray that you would allow this baby to know you, and to have your truth. Even if it is not what I believe the truth is, I honestly want him to be in the right place". Well. my prayer was answered, but in a way totally and completely shocking to me. Matthew and I were both sincere in our prayers for our child, and we truly believe that God heard us, stepped in and changed the one of us who was lost, and it was me.
When I look back, I am amazed at how quickly the blanket came off my eyes. I'm not sure I even realized what was happening at first. We went on with life as normal. I went to my church. We read in the evenings. I didn't say anything to Matthew for a while, but I had begun to see things from a different angle, and it all made sense to me. I would hear things at church that I had heard a thousand times, but red flags would come up. I started to read some of Matthew's books while he was at work, because I didn't want him to see me. I didn't really even go through a phase of investigation; I just got it! I felt like I had been given a new pair of eyes, and a new heart. I knew the LDS church was false. The hard part was admitting it. Even to myself. I slowly let my husband in on my feelings, and he helped me with all my questions. I went through a million phases in just a few weeks. I knew there was no turning back. I could never erase from my memory all the issues that didn't add up. I could never again explain things away. I was really scared. I couldn't believe what had happened. I couldn't believe that I had so easily dismissed all the problems with the church that Matthew had brought up to me so many times in the past few years. I had been so incredibly blind. I honestly felt really stupid when I read things that I used to believe. I even caught myself laughing out loud at certain doctrines I once trusted. Still I had so many questions about Christianity. I knew Mormonism was wrong, but then what? I was scared to say I didn't know where I stood as far as new beliefs. I wanted an answer to every question I had. I told my husband I wasn't leaving Mormonism until I had worked out all the details of Christianity. I wanted to go from one security to another. I was afraid of being wrong again. The only thing I was sure of was that Jesus Christ was my Savior. I asked Matthew how to let God know I accepted him, and wanted to change my life. We talked about it for a few nights. and he said a prayer for me out loud as he held my hands, and we cried together. That night the 17 Th of November, I went to my room and prayed the sinner’s prayer. I told God that I was sorry for being so stubborn and blind. I pledged I would begin a new life in Christ. At that moment I had to place the burden of all my sins on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. This was very, very hard for me. I felt such sorrow, guilt, and remorse. I didn't want to put the whole load on Him. As a Mormon, you basically pay for your sins. Christ only saves you after you spend your whole life working your sins away. So this was especially hard for me to let go. I had never felt like I had caused Him so much pain before. I always took comfort in the thought that since I would live such a good life, that he hadn't really suffered much on my behalf. But the truth is, He did! There was nothing I did that eased His burden. I cried and cried. I couldn't fall asleep that night. My heart felt broken. I had never felt so unworthy, and I couldn't understand why Christ would die for me. I don't remember how long after that night it happened, maybe slowly, but finally I felt His love sweep over me. I somehow went from guilt and grief to gladness and gratitude. Christ loved me enough to suffer for my sins all alone. So this was what unconditional love felt like! I honestly had never felt that because in the LDS view of the atonement. As a Mormon, there are endless conditions put on our being saved. We are saved after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23). Essentially we have to prove ourselves worthy by our works. This is not biblical, the bible tells us no one is good enough at any time! Only Christ is good enough. I thank God for finding me and helping me to see the truth. I thank my savior for lifting my burden and giving me this great feeling of worth, despite my unworthiness. I testify to the power of prayer. God answers prayers. I testify of my savior and the perfect gift of His atonement. He does indeed love us unconditionally. He saved me from myself. If you believe in Him, then he will surely save you. (John 3:16)The hard part is believing that He will save you now, in your sinful state...without all these good works to prove your worthiness. The works prove your faith.
I still didn't have all my answers, but I knew they would come. I knew I had to leave Mormonism. I went to church for a few more weeks because at the time, I was in the same ward as my parents. I wasn't ready to tell them, and if I didn't show up they would call me for sure. I was so stressed about telling them. I was actually concerned for my baby, because I was so stressed. The Christmas service was the last Sunday I was there. I decided I couldn't wait until I felt comfortable enough to tell my parents, because I never would. So, I drove alone to my parent’s house with this incredible knot in my stomach. I felt nauseous. The rain and the darkness of the night did not help my anxiety. I walked in and just told them first thing that I needed to talk to them in private. We went in their room and I told them I was leaving the church because it wasn't true. They were shocked and speechless. I didn't want to go into detail right then, I just wanted to get it out and get out of there. I was too emotional. So, when my Dad started shooting off, I got upset. He kept saying things like "So you fell for the lies?....Do you even believe in God?.. You must not have had a real testimony". He even threw this one at me. "You joined the mob that murdered dear Joseph!" He was too upset to think rationally. After about five minutes he drove off in his car. My Mom was much more understanding of the situation. She was just as upset as my Dad, but she knew I was just as upset for upsetting them. I laid on her bed and cried, and she stroked my hair. I think she was overwhelmed too, but she was able to suck it up enough to comfort me. I was crying because I had hurt them so badly. My Dad didn't speak to me for days. I lived just down the road, so I saw them almost every day. After I left their house that night my Mom called my older sister who lived a few hours away, and when I went to my parent's house the next morning, she was there! I was a little freaked out. We sat in the kitchen and talked about it. My Dad wouldn't come in the same room with me. My younger sister and brother weren't allowed to. My mother forbid them to ever talk to me about it. So, I sat there with my Mom and older sister. I had collected myself. I was much more calm. My Mom and I kind of switched places. She was crying, and seemed a little angry too. My sister was crying as well. She said she just wanted me to have the happiness they had. I told them I could no longer be happy knowing I was going against God. My Mom was upset that I hadn't come to them when I had doubts. She said they could have helped me through it. I told her that I couldn't come to them for many reasons. One, I already knew everything about Mormonism, two, even the Church's top scholars at F.A.R.M.S. and BYU couldn't answer my questions, and three, the way it happened, was not in a way where I needed to reexamine my testimony or beliefs. I knew right away that it was wrong. The only reason I investigated was because of my own insecurities. It took me a little while to completely trust God with what He was telling me. I don't think my family bought it. They couldn't respect what I was saying in any way. I soon learned that they didn't believe it happened the way I said it did. They still have their own opinions as to how I "fell away". I made a sincere decision and left. There's a difference. I wasn't sliding or falling. I went from firm, to gone. In their eyes, this isn't possible, because they're right. I would have to have fallen into sin, and had the Spirit leave me, in order to leave.
My parents blame my husband for what happened, as well as blaming me for not being strong. A few days after I told them my decision, my Dad came to our house to talk. His intent was to kind of make up with me, but some of the things he said really hurt me. He told me he had to respect my decision, and that Matthew and I would always be welcome, and we'd have to just go on as families must, when hard and difficult situations arose. This I appreciated. He said I'd always be his daughter. Then he proceeded to tell me that in spite of that every time he saw me, he would get a punched in the gut feeling. He said he had lost me. That now I was only his daughter in this life. That I had lost my place in his eternal family. He actually told me to my face, that they would rather have had me die in a car accident as a Mormon, because at least I'd go to the Celestial Kingdom! My husband almost flew out of his chair and opened the front door for my Dad to get the hint to leave. Before he left, he asked to have discussions with us in the future, to try to "help" me. We agreed because we want to witness to them. They won't have any luck changing my mind. I got the feeling they all thought I was just pushed into it, and had been struggling with my testimony. I have had a hard time dealing with their opinions of me. I know they see me as weak, wrong, and unhappy. All three judgments are false. After I finally told my parents, and quit going to church, our son was born about 3 weeks later. I will forever thank God for my miracle. My son was born into a harmonious Christian home, and I am so happy to say, that he will never have to go through the pain that I went through as a Mormon who discovered she had been sinning against God her whole life.
I will close this page with the testimony of my Lord and Savor Jesus Christ. I know He truly loves me unconditionally. I know He died for me a sinner. He rescued me from the trap that was blinding me and keeping me away from Him. I know there is nothing I can do to save myself. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". (Ephesians 2:8-9) This gift is beautiful and precious only because Christ gave it freely, out of love. I cannot earn it. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way , the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6) I will no longer trust in man, as I know that Christ is all I need. I do not need temple ordinances, eternal marriage, consent of Joseph Smith or any other man. "For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2:5) He is the way. "And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the Church." (Colossians 1:8) The followers of Christ are His church. Not some organization. The LDS church claims that Christ is the cornerstone of their religion. I claim that Christ, the true Christ of the Bible, is my religion. The LDS believe that Christ is not enough. This is blasphemous to me. I testify that He is ALL. Saying that you work in His name, does not mean you are on His side. Christ knows His own. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:22-23) Satan doesn't care if you work miracles and profess a divine priesthood power if he is keeping you away from God, by tricking you into thinking you work for God. Whatever works for him. And the LDS church is working well for him. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:13-14) You see, it is possible. Satan has great power to make anything appear good. Feel good. He can give that false spirit of Christ. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) For those of you who are members of the LDS faith; as I once was, please......please listen. Listen to what God is trying to tell you. Let Him in. Think for yourselves. Put your religion to the test. Open yourselves up to the fullness of love Christ has in store for you. I know He loves you unconditionally. Allow Him to save you. Don't trust in yourself. Man is, always has been, and always be, weak. Believe in Him. Give Him all the glory.
I testify to the truth of these things in the name of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Amen.
— Melissa Thiring