The Abbott family has been in the Mormon church since its beginnings. Until my direct family showed up and ruined that lovely tradition.

When I was nine, nearly ten, my family left the LDS church. In the ten years since, I have faced a great deal of pain, bitterness, anger, frustration and confusion. While these started clearing away when I accepted Christ at fifteen and started devouring the Gospel, there is still a deep residue left on my heart and mind from the doctrine I spent the first half of my life passively snacking on.

Jessica Abbott is a sophomore at Corban University.

Jessica Abbott is a sophomore at Corban University.

When you convert from one religion to another, you live in a constant state of doubt. Is this really biblical? Or is this from something else I have been taught? Everything merges together, creating a terrifying collage of truth and lies.

The year leading up to my acceptance of Christ, and a couple of years later, I would think through every single ounce of doctrine and theology presented to me. I evaluated what everyone was hearing from the pastor; while the congregation was nodding and “amen”-ing in agreement, my mind was scrambling to find evidence for the speaker’s claims. While I now have a greater grasp of my beliefs and am firmly grounded in my faith, there are times when I will hear or read something and immediately freeze, thinking it sounds eerily familiar. Is this from the Bible, or my early years in Mormonism?

Because of conflicting doctrines and ideologies, I have become far more familiar with my former religion than I ever was within it. I have done extensive research on key points of confusion where the two conflict, while also researching topics specific to Mormonism. I know more about the LDS church as a Christian than I ever did, or likely would have, as a Mormon. This certainly helps when people ask questions about it, as they often do.

It comes up far more than one would expect, likely because it has been such a central part of my story.  Since it has been such a key part of my life, I tend to see Mormonism in everything, along with its contrast with the truth. But, it’s not just in doctrinal comparisons that I see it. I see it in the shattering of my heart when I remember that my dad’s family is still in it. I see it in the helplessness I feel when old childhood friends go on their missions. I see it in the light in my mom’s eyes when she’s telling me about her own journey out of Mormonism and into Christ’s arms. I see it in my siblings when I realize they were hurt by the church just as I was, but they’ve simply dealt with it in different ways. I see Mormonism everywhere, and with it comes a pain that has been so persistent that it is now expected.

It can be difficult to constantly be reminded of the past, to feel the need to research a different religion to understand yourself and to be confused by conflicting doctrines. But, it also all brings about a stronger, greater faith. It is through this background that my faith is strengthened. Every time I face doubts, research Mormonism, or recognize this religion and its effects, the Lord becomes greater. His presence is clearer. His Gospel explodes and radiates truth. It is painful and difficult, but it is incredibly worthwhile.

If given the choice, I would not choose this life of conflict and confusion. But God has taken it and is making it into something beautiful. He has redeemed my circumstances and it is being formed into a testimony to Him that can speak volumes – as in hundreds of volumes of books of His glory, mercy, grace, redemption and protection. We do not choose our stories, but fortunately God knows how to write some pretty spectacular ones.