My name is Diana L. I was born and raised an SDA. I am a second generation Mexican SDA. It is unusual for a Mexican to be anything but a Catholic. I went to SDA schools from 1st grade through university, graduating from Loma Linda University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy.
I remember pastors saying in church, and teachers in class, to study the Bible for yourself to make sure you are hearing the truth. To my mind I trusted them because they had studied the Bible and were the trained pastors/teachers, so I did not study the Bible for myself. When I did study it, it was to affirm what the church taught. I used the Bible texts the church used to affirm whatever it was I was studying. The sad part of all this was I was never able to tell any one why I was a Christian and I could not do it without mentioning the keeping of the Sabbath. I found it impossible to share the "truth" with anyone and at times condemned myself for this. I felt bad that I could not tell others of Christ and what he did for me. So most of my life I coasted along not really a happy Christian, but thinking that maybe if I confessed my sins every night that God would love me and take me to heaven at His second coming. I have to say, I did not really know what the SDA church taught even though I went to SDA schools. I studied for the tests, passed them with a good grade and forgot what I had studied.
I was baptized the year after I had polio. I was 12 years of age, I really do not remember what the doctrines were that we studied. In my mind I was baptized to show God thanks for healing me from the polio with no after effects. I was thankful I had not died.
I was raised with the idea that God's angels watched me all the time and wrote down all the bad, naughty things I did. It would be nice to blame my parents for my beliefs, but I am an adult now and am responsible for me.
I got married in 1965 to a man who became an SDA just so I would marry him. He lied to me about things that were important to me. When I found that out I was furious and consequently, I was not very nice to him. I stayed married to him because SDAs do not divorce. We had a son. In 1979 we separated and the divorce was final in 1982.
I needed support as I went through the divorce and I did not get anything from my church. So I gradually quit going to church. At the same time I joined Parents Without Partners to help me go through this process. I met so many nice people and have friends from that group that are still like sisters.
In 1984 I knew something was wrong with me as I was developing crazy eating habits. I had heard about a 12 step program for people with problems with food in 1973 while living in Canada. God brought it to the front of my mind in 1978 and I attended the meetings for 6 months. I did not stay with their program and dropped out. So in 1984 I was directed back to it. I am telling about the 12 step program because it is crucial to what helped me to see the SDA church and its beliefs as they really are. In my 12 step program I learned how to let God into my life and help me with every thing that affects me. It taught me to let go and let God. It taught me how to accept people as they are and how to pray for my enemies and those that hurt me. It taught me about wisdom. It taught me what is mine and can do something about and what is not mine and that I cannot do a thing about those things. It taught me about detaching and still be able to care for some one. It taught me about "I" messages and how to express my displeasure without making the other person look bad. God and my 12 step program helped me with my son as he went through his teen years. It taught me how to share what God has done for me in a manner I was never able to do before. It taught me that my emotions are mine and what I do with them is what makes the difference and most important, that emotions are not facts. It taught me to trust God with all my life. It taught me to live one day at a time and that I cannot relive yesterday and tomorrow is not here. My 12 step program cleared my mind of the cobwebs and errors I learned growing up in the SDA church.
At one time, I was re baptized, but did not stay in the church as there was nothing for me there. This was about 2 years after my divorce. I remember praying to God to help me fill my life with activities that he wanted or I would go back to the Friday and Saturday night dances. I really looked for things to take their place, but I could not find anything satisfactory. So I went back to my dancing. I eventually gave up the dancing so I could go to bed early on Saturday evening and get up early on Sunday morning so I could be bright eyed for flying lessons.
I had a female friend who was a minister at the Takoma Park SDA Church in Maryland. I told her about the things I was learning in my 12 step program and asked her why I did not learn these things in all my SDA schooling. What she told me surprised me. She said they could not teach me because they did not know.
Some where in those years my name was taken off the church books at the church I had attended. I found out about it when I met some Adventist friends from that church and they told me. The church never tried to contact me. I understand that they were supposed to.
I would attend church occasionally where ever I was. I was in New Port Richey, Florida, Miami Coral Gables, Florida, and Wichita Falls, Texas.
I still thought that the SDA church was the true remnant church. I thought that because I was divorced God did not want me and I could not remarry, so I might as well stay out of the church and remarry if I met some one.
I still attended the SDA church occasionally. I remember being at Manassas, VA SDA church one time and the minister was preaching using only quotes from EGWhite. I walked out. I could not listen to it. If I was going to go to church I wanted to hear the Bible.
I met a very dear couple, Richard and Diana, who accepted me as I was, at this church and I went to church only to see them. We would discuss the Bible and they are first SDA people I spoke to about how I felt about the legalism in the church. I told them that I did not want to belong to a church that was so legalistic and that I had told God the same thing, which I had. I also told God and this couple I wanted a church that was alive, not like the churches I had seen. I had also told God I was happier the way I was then when I attended church faithfully and paid tithe. The churches I had attended were lifeless and very elite. If you had money, you were accepted into the church clique. If you pay tithe, keep the Sabbath, show up at Sabbath school and church you are a Christian thinking was not for me. I was not accepted, even though I am a graduate of LLU and made a good salary. I wanted something more, like I had learned about in my 12 step program. I wanted a God and a church who cared about me personally. I wanted a church where people were not afraid to talk about what God was doing for them.
My friends understood those things we spoke of and we became very close. Richard heard about cell churches and when I heard of them I was curious. One weekend in February of 2001 an SDA minister who was working with the SDA cell church movement gave a weekend seminar at the Manassas SDA church. I went to it and really liked it. It reminded me of my 12 step program.
One summer Sabbath afternoon, after the potluck lunch, the couple and the pastor and I were talking. I forget what it was about, when he asked me what church I belonged to. My friend started giggling, because she knew of my SDA background. The pastor looked at her then at me. I then explained I had been raised SDA and was a graduate of LLU. We talked about the church and my relation to it and he is the second person I spoke to about the legalism, elitism and lack of love and how I had told God I was happier the way I was then when I was a faithful SDA in the SDA churches I had attended. I was surprised he agreed with me. Dr. John Glass is his name and I learned to love him and his wife dearly. I could speak to him about my relationship with the church truthfully. At times it surprised him that I was truthful, but as I told him, God knows what I am thinking and feeling, so I cannot sugar coat it when I tell you.
I even went to a weekend retreat for SDA women with my friend about one year later. I went because she was a good friend, not because I wanted to learn anything. I ended up talking to the woman speaker for that Sabbath. What she told me after we spoke a while was that God was using my 12 step program to bring me back to him. At that time I remember that I had thought the same thing in the year or two prior to the retreat. I did not know then how right she was.
In October after 9/11 I went to a pharmacy near Front Royal, VA to pick up some medicine. It was a Saturday morning. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. I decided to go into Front Royal instead of to church. I bought some lunch and was sitting outside the store eating it when a man walked up to me and asked me if I was a Christian. By then I had decided to claim Christ as my Savior. I told him I was and then he asked what church I belonged to. So I told him I had been raised Seventh day Adventist and that I felt ashamed because I was not in church, but maybe this is where God wanted me this morning. We talked about God and what he had done for us and we ended up praying for each other. It was a wonderful experience. I had never talked to a stranger like that before. He was the pastor of a small church up there in the mountains.
Being the SDA that I was, or thought God wanted me to be, I invited him to our church. He never came. But before we left each other he told me that I was the only one, he met that morning, whose actions and words showed that they were a Christian.
I moved out of state to the west in November 2002) and went sporadically to the celebration church in Las Vegas. In May/June of 2003 I started attending regularly and was finding fellowship in a class for people in 12 step programs. I had not had that kind of fellowship since I met my friends I have mentioned above. In Oct/Nov I thought maybe I should be baptized again to reaffirm my faith and belief in God. I told the SS leader I wanted to be re baptized and she told one of the pastors. Neither of the pastors visited me as I had asked. One made an appointment with me. I came home early and he never showed up. I was told he did things like that frequently. They were busy planning for an evangelistic campaign at the church. One of the pastors told me he would contact me after the series, but he never has. The other pastor (the one who was originally going to contact me) asked if he could contact me also and I said yes, but he never has either. Oh, he also apologized for not keeping his appointment with me.
I would, occasionally, find myself being sucked back into the legalism and did not like that feeling. Another friend had been re baptized and I discussed baptism with her, telling her that I could not accept all the legalism. She told me that she had been told that baptism was an affirmation of your faith in and acceptance of Jesus Christ.
In our Sabbath School class at Christmas time the leader asked us to write down what we wanted to give God for Christmas. Being the legalist that I can be, and not really realizing it at the time, I told God I wanted to respect the edges of the Sabbath and keep it the way he wanted me to keep it. What an impossible situation I put myself in. After I told God that, it seemed to get worse. Looking back God was telling me, Diana , that is not what I want. I want all of you, not you trying to win my favor with your actions. I used to ask God, What do I have to do so you will help me with..??
The 12 step class got very involved in the evangelistic meetings. I COULD NOT. I THOUGHT I WAS RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT. Just about that time I rediscovered a website on the Internet about Mrs. White and her plagiarism. I had seen it before and book marked it on my computer and forgotten about it. I read about her and went to the other web sites recommended. What an eye opener. It felt like a burden had been taken off my shoulders.
At this time, also, an SDA friend, told me about a cell group to which her niece belongs. They were having a brunch on Sunday morning in January and she invited me. I met her where the cell groups meet for church and met some wonderful people.
I had no difficulty giving up EGWhite. The legalism still tugs at me though, which is shades of EGW, occasionally, on Friday evenings and when I get my paycheck. The feeling of superiority occasionally tugs at me. But now I can admit what it is so I can give all that to God and let him take care of it.
I decided to study SDA doctrine for myself, seeing as EGW was such an influence in the formation of SDA doctrine. I bought a Strong's Concordance to go with my KJV Bible. I wanted to know if what I had been taught was Biblical. I have forgotten all the doctrine of the investigative judgement. It never made sense to me when I did study it. When I was in school I studied it enough to pass the tests and forgot about it. So I am studying the Sabbath, the covenants, tithing, and state of the dead. That is one I am having a hard time with. I was so at peace with what the SDAs taught when my Mom died in 2002. I need to restudy all these things to lay a firm foundation. But most of all I need to lay a firmer foundation in Jesus Christ.
It is because of what HE did for ME, dying on the cross and his resurrection and my acceptance of what he did and my love for Him that I am saved. It is strange to say that as I am new at this. I am saved. I AM SAVED. Thank God I am saved.
I have had feelings of superiority because of my SDA beliefs that have come back to mind. I used to feel so superior because I was in the "remnant" church and I had the "truth". I could never give a Biblical reason for it without mentioning the Sabbath and never mentioning what Christ did for me. In a way I miss those feelings, like I miss the pain of a root canal. I am no longer unique or different. I have to admit I kind of liked that feeling of superiority. So being an SDA gave me a feeling of superiority. What a waste of energy.
I am so glad that I no longer have to feel that way.
Any one can come to Christ and they are accepted by him if they love him and accept his sacrifice. I do not have to work to win God's favor. My actions will reflect his love for me to others.
So that is how I came to leave the SDA church. I thank God for the 12 step program where I learned how much God does love me and how he cares about every little thing in my life. Like I said it cleared the cobwebs of Adventism out of my brain and made me ready to accept the Bible and its wonderful truths.
I am just beginning my walk and journey with Christ and I am sure it will be exciting and interesting. Thank you God for the 12 step program, Thank you God for Jesus and his life. Thank you for the computer and those who love you so much that they took the time to put all this information on the computer so I could find it and read it and know that you love me. Thank you for their sharing about you and the Bible truth. Thank you for bringing my attention to the web site I had book marked. Thank you so very much.
In the meantime I am visiting the Calvary Chapels we have in town and the Community Church. I am also visiting the cell church and taking part in their Bible studies they have 2 times a month. I am asking God where He wants me, as I like roots and want to settle down in one place. Please pray for me as I take this walk with Christ. With his help I will walk into heaven and meet him face to face.
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DIANE L. (Anonymous because of 12-step program connection)