I was born in Tucson, Arizona and moved to El Cajon, California at six months. At six years, we moved to Marysville, Washington and at eight, we moved to Orem, Utah and finally landed in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where I spent most of my life growing up as a good LDS kid.
I was fairly active all of my life, experimenting in all of the things that a lot of kids did in the 70s. I married my high school sweetheart, divorced and remarried her, and raised five awesome kids. They were all completely different from each other with all of their unique personalities and talents and problems. I had a lot of growing experiences along the way.
My father was a painting contractor for as long as I can remember. He told me that he did not want me to follow in his footsteps, yet off to work I went with him every Saturday and most of my summer to make some extra money. It was fun hanging out with Dad and the extra cash was good too. (I’ve been a painter for the last 45 years).
I was brought up Mormon along with just about every one of my friends and neighbors. It seemed like a pretty natural thing to do. Everyone else was doing it—going to Mutual one day a week, then two meetings at two different times of the day on Sunday. It was kind of a social thing where I could see my friends and learn about the Gospel, Jesus, God, the Priesthood, etc. At the time it all made perfect sense.
I went through grade school and then junior high and then high school learning more about the Mormon religion. I took Seminary (one hour a day during normal school hours) where I gained a greater testimony of the Book of Mormon. But I also was gaining a serious guilt complex at the same time. I guess I wasn’t the perfect angel that I was supposed to be. I was living what I later realized was a normal teenage boy’s life.
There was a lot of pressure to stay going to church and to prepare to serve a two-year LDS Mission. At 19, most of my closest friends all went. They had to lie their way through the interviews to get the final pass. Back then, you could always repent when you were out in the Mission field and, if it wasn’t too grievous (pretty scary word, especially for a teenager that didn’t know shit about anything), you could stay out and not get sent home and disgrace your family at the same time.
I didn’t quite fall into the leave-when-you’re-19 category. For some reason, I thought I would tell the truth. That didn’t work out too well. All my friends got their pass to go, but I was told I had to wait the standard one year and go through the whole process of repentance before I could go. My Bishop said, “Son, read The Miracle of Forgiveness book.” So I did. There was a lot of good stuff in the book, but I’m pretty sure it lowered my self-worth and caused me to feel more guilt than ever. I knew I was going straight to Hell for sure.
Going on a Mission was not that easy for me, I guess. I waited until I was 20 when I had a little more experience under my belt before I gave it another shot. By then, my new Bishop said that there would be a one year waiting period and that during that time I would have to pay a full tithing (10% of my income), attend all of my Sunday meetings, and read the Book of Mormon all the way through. Oh, and stop partying and dating. “Nothing to it,” I thought, until my 1st scheduled interview with my Bishop and the Stake President that basically told me what a disappointment I was and that his kids would never do the things that I had done.
You can only imagine how I must have felt. At the time, I was really trying to live the gospel rules, as hard as they were at the time. I really wanted to go and make my Father in Heaven and my earthly parents proud of me. At the time, it really meant a lot to have your son or daughter fulfill a worthy mission. It was and still is kind of bragging rights, I suppose.
After the kind words from my Stake President, comparing me to his angelic children, I finally had had enough and didn’t ever go back to that group of self-righteous men. I toyed with the mission idea a couple more times. Mostly when those guilty feelings would come along. I couldn’t stop thinking, “I have to get back to going to church and doing the right things.” The guilt never really stopped.
Somehow, I moved on, got married, had some kids, and became a painting contractor, in spite of my Dad swearing that his kid would never do that. He wanted more for me than he had. I’ve actually really enjoyed the painting business. It’s been kind of tough, but very rewarding at the same time.
My wife had grown up in the church also and we both had always tried to make it work. However, there was always something about it that didn’t feel right! She was more aware of it than I was. I kept making efforts to really try to become what my Heavenly Father wanted me to be. I was always falling a bit short and being left feeling that, “I’m never going to be good enough,” or “If only I could be more like our Prophet.”
Something didn’t feel right! So I decided to open my mind and read as much as I could to gain my own personal testimony. I read a lot of church books about prophets to bishops and members that had had visions and dreams. Wow, what a journey. But I wasn’t getting any closer to church. I was getting further from it. I started to see how close-minded most members were and how loyal to the teachings they were and that they weren’t willing to let anything else into their minds that might create a conflict with their present belief system.
Then one day a very good friend of mine, who was also a seeker of truth, told me that he had read a book and thought that I might enjoy reading it also. The name of the book was Sacred Not Secret (The official explanation of the Mormon Temple Endowment). That’s where my journey into the Real Truth® began.
At the time, I had not heard of the Marvelous Work and a Wonder® or about Christopher, or anything else that has to do with this amazing work. For the next year, I was on a quest to discover what it was all about. Finally, everything made perfect sense! Nothing in the books or what Christopher was saying conflicted with itself. It was like I had discovered the real me—who I am, what this life really means, and who God is. I could never figure that out before. Was it the Father, the Lord, who was I praying to?
I finally found The Sealed Portion and read it. I couldn’t put it down. One of the main things that I received from reading The Sealed Portion was peace—an inner peace that I had never felt before. I really have felt some kind of feeling before, but nothing like this. It was undeniably the most peaceful feeling that I had ever experienced. I felt like there was nothing on this earth that could do me any harm or take away from who I had discovered that I am and have always been. Before, there were too many unanswered question and things just didn’t make sense. Now I feel like I really do know, and its pretty amazing!
I spent the next few years reading all of the books. I wanted to share it with everyone, but soon realized that it wasn’t such a good idea. Most people out there, especially LDS members, are pretty close-minded and won’t look outside of the box that their education or religion has put them in. So I only share it now if someone brings it up, which is rare or not at all.
But one thing I can say is that the peace has remained. I feel absolutely no more guilt and shame and, most of all, it has opened my mind and let me know who and what the real god and the false god of this world really are.
There’s a lot more of this that I could keep on about. But let me just say that this work has changed everything about me and my influence on not only my own life, but also every other person around me. It’s like a light that can never go out! It really does bring a new meaning to the words: Life Everlasting!!!