This post is dedicated to Sister Fitzgerald who upon leaving the church has known only bitterness and grief. I will speak directly to her with the hopes that others in her situation will liken my words unto themselves.
Sister Fitzgerald, according to D&C 29:7 missionaries are sent throughout the world to "bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts". In Mormon 9:23 we learn from our loving Savior that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Sister Fitzgerald since you joined the true church you are amongst the very elect of God. Why then have you turned away from that which you know to be true? While I do not know the details I do know that many have been offended at something little that someone said or did. Sister Fitzgerald did your Bishop spell or pronounce your name incorrectly? Is this what started you on the road to apostasy? I realize that this can be hurtful as it happens to me all the time, but I would ask that you ponder the inspiring words of Apostle Elder Bednar who said "Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children's children, and the generations that will follow."
Sister Fitzgerald when members are offended they lose the spirit of the work in which they are engaged and become infidel in their feelings. They say that they do not know whether the Bible is true, whether the Book of Mormon is true, nor whether there is a God or not. When they lose the spirit of this work, they lose the knowledge of the things of God in time and in eternity; all is lost to them. Is this your fate Sister Fitzgerald? Has your mind become confused and darkened in this manner?
Within the church we find all that is good, pure, holy, God-like, exalting and ennobling. Will you listen as I tell you what you will receive in exchange for giving up the church? Pay attention for I can say it in very few words and here they are: death, hell and the grave. That is what you will get in exchange and I can assure you that Satan rejoices exceedingly over your fate Sister Fitzgerald.
You are experiencing darkness, ignorance, doubt, pain, sorrow, grief, mourning and unhappiness right now. You have no arm to lean upon in the day of calamity and no eye to pity you when you are forlorn and cast down. This is what you get in exchange for your apostasy from the Gospel of the Son of God. This is the reward Satan has in store for you.
You have gone into the dark, and are not able to judge, conceive or comprehend things as they are. You are like the drunkard who thinks that everybody is the worse for liquor but himself, and he is the only sober man in the neighborhood. The apostate thinks that everybody is wrong but himself.
Sister Fitzgerald have you committed a sin but do not want to repent? Are you trying to avoid giving a detailed account of your iniquities to your righteous priesthood leaders that you may be forgiven? To silence your conscience or justify your sinful actions have you moved away from the truth, looking for imperfections in others or questioning Church doctrine? Do not fall into this oh so common trap.
I testify that you may return from the mists of the darkness of personal apostasy by repenting of your sins, overcoming offense, eliminating faultfinding, and following your Church leaders. You must also humble yourself, forgive others, keep your covenants, partake of the sacrament worthily each week, and strengthen your testimony through prayer, daily scripture study, temple attendance and serving your fellowmen.
In a moment of utter despair you reached out to me, a stake president on my facebook wall and pleaded for help. This assures me that the spirit is still buried deep within you. Our conversation can be found here for all to read:
In a nutshell you asked what you should do about church members who express disappointment and heartbreak over your choices. This was my response, given powerfully as directed by The Lord Omnipotent:
“Sister Fitzgerald, before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. Had you chosen to reject the missionaries and serve Satan you would have been judged accordingly at the last day. But when you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.
It is with this knowledge and our deep concern for your welfare that we (the righteous Saints of God) tell you that we are disappointed in you. By saying this we are hoping to make you think more deeply about your decision because evidently you have not given it enough thought. A deep thinker would come to understand that Satan is at the root of any doubts and that only by coming back to the Church can one be saved. Please listen to the heartfelt anguish and pleadings of your fellow saints, put back on your holy garments and enjoy the financial blessings of paying tithing once more that the windows of heaven may be opened unto you and your children.”
Brothers and Sisters if you have left the Church I would plead with you to return to the safety of the fold. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.