The theme of the conference was... Open Mormon Pioneers in the 21st Century. Among the speakers were... Carol Lynn Pearson, Joanna Brooks, Margaret Toscano, Jared Anderson and John Dehlin. The speakers were all amazing. The musical numbers were absolutely moving. But the best part part of the event had to be the "testimony meeting". It was refreshing to hear the non-typical testimonies of such incredible people... all with differing beliefs but all sharing what was in their heart, in a safe, respectful and accepting environment. Such a beautiful thing!
Most of the testimonies were mainly focused on expressing gratitude to Mormon Stories for giving us all a place of acceptance, discussion and growth. I am also grateful to have found this community a few years back when I REALLY needed them. I really resonated with the "pioneer" theme because that is what I feel like. I am the very first of all my family, in-laws, friends to ever choose to leave the path of devout, orthodox, literal believing Mormonism. I am the first to be on this beautiful journey of exploration. I came to this place on my very own, and I am really proud of myself for trusting my spirit and taking this journey. The only thing keeping me from being happy all the time is the occasional pain I feel when I realize that I have many friends and family who no longer accept me or consider me a "good" person. This hurts... and thus the need for this community.
I wanted to get up and bear my testimony, but I never quite found the courage. Sometimes I have a difficult time verbally expressing my thoughts and feelings into coherent sentences. Though out all this journey the one thing that I have not only hung on to, but have managed to increase is my connection to Divine Spirit. I have always felt this strong connection and never lost it. I am a divine and spiritual being. I am light, I am love... and I am a good person! In fact, I feel far more spiritual now then I ever felt during my years as a devout Mormon. The following are some of my thought that I would have liked to share if I had been more brave...
My Testimony Today
The only real thing I know is that I don't know anything... but I hope and I believe. My beliefs have greatly changed over the last few years, and I fully expect them to continue growing and changing over time. I would like to express to you where my testimony is today...
I do have a testimony of God. However my definition of God has changed. I believe God is the energy that connects every living thing with each other and the with Earth. Therefore God is neither male or female but encompasses both. God is everything and everywhere and we are all a part of that. God is Spirit. In order to feel a connection to God we need to look inward... get to know ourselves, spend time with ourselves, and discover the God that is within. You are God.
I am God.
I believe that we are here on the Earth not as a great TEST where we are to be judged and placed in a caste system accordingly, but we are here for an EXPERIENCE! It is impossible to fail at having an experience! We are here to discover the full measure of our beings. We are here to know ourselves and to grow. It seems to me that there is no possible way for a soul to experience everything necessary for ultimate growth in just one lifetime, that is why the concept of multiple lives fascinates me. (I think will write more about this later in another post.)
I think that Heaven is a term for the state you are in when you are connected to Spirit... and Hell a state of being disconnected from Spirit.
I have a testimony of Jesus Christ. He is a beautiful example of how we should pattern our lives. I don't know the true details of his birth or death, but I do believe he was an enlightened being, and following his example of unconditional love seems like a pretty good way to go.
I have a testimony of prayer... in all forms. Be it kneeling, meditating, singing, dancing, chanting, or just appreciating nature. These are all ways of connecting with God and Spirit. I believe the energy that connects us all has the capabilities to manifest our desires... I try to keep my thoughts positive as to create positive experiences for myself.
I have a testimony of the eternal nature of families. However, I do not believe that any LDS Temple ordinances are needed to bind families together. Souls are bound together through love, and shared experiences. The stronger the love, the stronger the bind. Those souls who have the strongest of love will remain connected together and always... in whatever life or worlds they travel through. If you want to make sure you will be together with your spouse, partner, children, friends in this life and the next... love them. If you want a powerful eternal connection to humanity and the Earth... love your neighbor, love the the Earth. Just love!
And lastly I have a testimony in goodness. This world is a beautiful place made up of divinely beautiful people of whom I am all connected to through Spirit. I look forward to my future because I no longer fear this world. I am ready to embrace it... in all of its beauty, in all of its forms.
I am ready to LIVE!
I am ready to LOVE!
This is my testimony today... tomorrow it may change, but either way I am grateful to have something to hope and believe in.