She writes in her book, Defined by Christ (Covenant Communications, 2010):
I was once invited to speak to a congregation in the deep South. Apparently they didn’t know I was LDS until I arrived, because the minister seemed utterly shocked when he said some negative things about Latter-day Saints and I told him I was one. His hospitality suddenly turned into hostility. When he introduced me, he said with no hidden disdain that the Mormon Church “is a Christian-like church.”
I was tempted to correct him but sensed that the best doctrine I could possibly teach would come not through my words, but my actions. The next few hours I was on my best behavior, because I felt like I was truly representing Jesus Christ.
After I finished speaking, a number of people approached me and said something to the effect of, “Well, you sure could pass for a real Christian.”
I don’t know if the words were meant as a compliment, but that’s how I chose to interpret them. I smiled, grateful for the spiritual help I’d received in fighting the feelings of the flesh. I did my best to convey the fact that my faith–all of it–hinges on my belief in Jesus Christ and my devotion to His gospel.
When we embraced at my departure, the minister whispered in my ear, “We have nothing in common, Christians and Mormons.”
My eyebrows arched as I backed up. “Is Jesus your Savior?” I asked.
“Ye, ma’am!” he said in his rich Southern drawl.
“He’s my Savior too.”
The smirk melted from the man’s face, and I had to fight the one that threatened to break out on my mine.
That is the essence of my belief: Jesus Christ is my Savior. It’s that simple. It’s that wonderful.
Why, then, have I spent so much of my life feeling unworthy to be saved?
“Why, then, have I spent so much of my life feeling unworthy to be saved?
How does she answer this question?
Fr. Greg, that’s what I was wondering as well. I could speculate because I don’t think she has converted from Mormonism.
Greg and Jeremy, I just finished reading the book.
Toni is a hard worker: “I had spent years as an active Latter-day Saint. I’d served in every organization of the Church. I’d played the organ in sacrament meeting and helped dozens of Sunbeams learn to fold their arms and bow their heads. I’d been married in the temple. I’d cleaned the meetinghouse and shoveled snow from the parking lot. I’d mothered six children. I’d survived Young Women’s camp and Webelos. I’d taught gospel doctrine. I knew how to bear my testimony in multiple languages. I could recite the Articles of Faith word for word. Silently, I’d endured ferocious trials. Didn’t all of that indicate faith?” (p. 15).
She was desperate. And she is writing to all those LDS ladies who feel desperate too. It is a book exploring “who they are” and “what they are to do.”
Her answer is in a nutshell, two parts – Believe the part that Jesus has done for you and how he looks at you, but also you must do your part (in essense, work harder on your part). As President James E. Faust once taught, “Each of you will have to work very hard to qualify for your eternal potential.”
1. Remind yourself that Jesus is your loving Savior.
2. You need a “heart knowledge” and not a “head knowledge” about Christ.
3. Start changing. “I had a lot of repenting to do. I had a lot of work to do” (p. 36). “I decided to compile a complete biography about the greatest man who ever lived, much the same as I had done about the great composer. I borrowed stacks of books from the library. I invested in a new set of scriptures and marked every quote that fell from the lips of Jesus. I found historical dates. I studied pictures of landmarks that dated to ancient Palestine. . . I filled notebooks with information. I even wrote a novel incorporating the information i learned. Ever so gradually, my scripture study began to yield a change within me.”
4. Muster faith. Follow in His footsteps. “Use the force of Christ’s atonement. It works. I promise–it works” (p. 49).
But remember, “Atonement brings salvation after all we can do” (p. 83).
The book describes the classic struggle and heartbreak in the I-15 Corridor and the classic wrong answer of a gospel remedy offered by a God named Jesus sent by another God, the Father, to all of his spirit children in mortal bodies on this earth trying to plod through all the difficulties and screwed-up mess of this life. And by the way, beware of Satan who led away a third of your spirit siblings away from the Father.
This is all told in this latest book – Defined by Christ: Seeing Yourself Through The Eyes of The Savior (Covenant Communications, 2010).