Hi, I'm a Mormon and I love Christian Rock
Weird title right?
Let me first acknowledge that we (Mormons) have been asked by church leadership to no longer refer to ourselves as 'Mormon', but instead as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, in an effort to clarify that we are followers of Christ, but for this post I'm going with 'Mormon' because that's how most of the rest of the world knows us.
This is going to be a vulnerable post. Most of my blog posts are directed at a specific audience; female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who struggle with a sexual addiction. Anyone else touched by my posts are just a bonus, but my target audience has always been the same.
This time is a bit different for I'm going to share some deeply rooted fixed beliefs and fears I have about other Christian religions because most of my interactions with them have been negative; riddled with comparison and judgment.
My first real interaction came when I was about 20. I was working at a Stationers shop in Torrance California and a customer approached me and asked me if I wanted to attend her bible study group. This was a really vulnerable time for me because I'd just come out of a very volatile two year relationship and I had no friends. I thought, "I believe in the bible, no harm," and agreed to attend. I was actually pretty excited but didn't want to appear needy so kept my emotions in check. Over the next few weeks I attended a number of meetings until one day I attempted to cancel due to not feeling well and was met with resistance. It was then that I realized they were trying to convert me. Things fell apart pretty quickly after that. I loved their friendship, their fellowship, their unity and their desire to serve Christ, but I wasn't interested in joining their church and our relationship eventually faded out. Sadly, I think this happens in a lot of religions, including my own.
The next major event was some 7 or 8 years ago when I attended my church's annual Women's Conference at the conference center in Salt Lake City. Although you can find the entire story here, the short version is that some nice folks outside of the venue dressed as pioneers were handing out packets of tissue to women as they entered. I thought it was such a nice gesture, until I went to open up the packet to find there was already a slit up the side where a business card with anti-mormon propaganda had been carefully inserted. It was very hurtful to have them invade my sacred worship day like that.
These experiences, as well as a handful of other—less invasive and personal—experiences have left me with a core fixed belief that most of the rest of the Christian world hates Mormons. And although I'm just coming to confront this fixed believe, I think it has really isolated me from a lot of people because I fear what they will think of me if I tell them I am Mormon.
But I think I'm done with that. For the last—oh I don't know, 9 years maybe—I've been listening to KLove, a national (maybe international?) Christian Rock radio station. I'm not sure how I came across it, but I did. And oh am I so glad that I did. KLove has this thing called the 30 Day Challenge, which invites listeners to listen to them, or other Christian music, for 30 days. I did this early in my recovery, have done it a number of times since, and invite all my sponsee's to do it when I work on 30-in-30's with them. This challenge invites and holds space for the Spirit and Christ; increasing our vulnerability and connection with them in ways I cannot describe. I recommend it for everyone.
Ever since starting to listen to KLove I've been a closet lover of so many Christian artists: Kari Job, Natalie Grant, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Micah Tyler, We Are Messengers, Jeremy Riddle, Bethel Music, Hillsong United, Crowder, MercyMe, Plumb... and the list goes on and on.
But still there is this lingering fear...
I remember many years ago, KLove invited listeners to send in a story about—something. I honestly can't even remember what the actual request was, but I DO remember having the perfect story. I tried to type it out but was very careful to not 'sound Mormon', because I didn't want them to know. I was scared that they would reject me. But I also didn't want to actually deny I was Mormon, so in the end I just didn't send the story.
This is a tragedy! I imagine this is what Peter felt like when denying Christ three times. I actually feel like I'm denying Christ on some level by not owning how I know, love and worship Him.
The culmination of all this erupted about a week ago when a bunch of friends and I attended the MerycyMe, Crowder and Micah Tyler concert in Orem, Utah. Never in my life have I experienced anything like I experienced that night. It is amazing to me that the concert has since carried me for days beyond the event itself. The power of music is so great. The power of the Spirit is so great. And the power of coming together as like-minded unified individuals to sing our praises to God is SO GREAT!
And I couldn't help think: 'THESE ARE MY PEOPLE'! We may not all be the same religion, in fact I know that we weren't because the gentleman next to me kept saying "Praise Jesus", which I loved, but just isn't my lingo. But it didn't matter because he, too, was my people!
I also experienced the power of hand raising, which isn't a common practice—or a practice at all really—within Mormon culture. Many people in the stadium would raise their hand when the artists would say something that resonated with them, or during a song they loved or just when they felt the Spirit. It was their way of silently saying 'amen'. It is the sacred act of raising their hand to the square in a solemn hallelujah for what is being taught.
I also learned that the Spirit doesn't just dwell in quiet places, but actually rejoices and sings in loud praises right along with us. I am sure there were angels in our presence dancing and singing right along with us because every single word that was spoken and sung that night was absolute truth.
With all my heart I thank you, Micah Tyler, Crowder and MercyMe for accepting me into your fold. Thank you for connecting me with other Christians who are not of my specific faith, but are still my people. Thank you for teaching me about the grace of God. And thank you especially for touching my soul so deeply that I will never forget it, even into the eternities.