Have you ever just woke up feeling amazing? If you haven’t then you need to figure out what in your life is missing because I just realized I’ve spent far to many years not feeling like this, and guess what? I’d rather feel amazing. How did I get to this point in my life? Well, to put it bluntly, by doing all the wrong things first! Now, that is not a strategy I recommend to anyone, if you are able, please figure it out sooner and then you’ll be happier sooner. I’ve always felt like I have a testimony of the things I believe in. For those of you who are LDS, you know what I mean. I believe that this church is true, I believe that we have a prophet on the earth today who guides us. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I believe that Joseph F. Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost and restored the true gospel to the earth in this dispensation. Yada, yada, yada. Right? Everyone has heard that testimony. That is the testimony I have, the fundamentals. The other part of my testimony was gained by doing all the wrong things and then figuring out after the fact that I was wrong. So in other words, the hard way. But you know what? I really don’t think I would change how I got here. Even if I look back at all the decisions I’ve made all of the things that have happened in my life, all of the heartache and suffering, I really don’t think I’d change a thing.
I am almost 43 years old. I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints my entire life. Born and raised in Utah, no less. So how does someone who is born and raised in the church, parents married in the temple, given a blessing at birth, baptized at 8, went to Seminary, etc, all the things that every good “mormon girl” does in Utah, and well everywhere else I guess, how does that person go astray? It’s simple, you can be born a member, raised a member, watch countless members abide by the culture that appears to be “Mormonism” and yet watch them not really live the gospel. So as a young adolescent, seeing that even in my own home, starts to make you think, I don’t want to be a part of this hypocritical crowd. Like how fake, right? I used to joke that I had to come to Sin City to find true LDS people. People who walked the walk and talked the talk, because from where I grew up, I just didn’t see it. Now, I’m not saying every LDS person in Utah is fake. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t met every person in Utah so how could I say that? I have members of my family who are very faithful members of the church. So I don’t want to paint all of Utah in that light but, quite honestly, there is a mormon culture in Utah that just is very different from the rest of the country or world. It’s true. I think just because so many people in Utah grew up as members of the church that it was sort of expectation. Sort of a given that you would be this very faithful member of the church just by virtue of being from Utah. That is not the case. Every person, whether born in the church or whether becoming a convert later has to be converted in their own right. You can’t coast on someone else’s testimony for your entire life. It just doesn’t work. But I digress. So I sort of consciously but unconsciously chose to become in active as a member when I was probably 16 or 17 years old. I just saw this hypocrisy within the realms of my small existence, my small little corner of the world, where I determined that was the whole of the church. Obviously a very immature and adolescent way of thinking.
I went about my life, thinking, I am so independent and I don’t need anyone’s help in life, because I’ve got this. Fast forward 3 years and I had just ended a long-term and long distance relationship when I met my Husband, Bob. This was after I graduated high school and I’d just turned 19. We got married in 1995 after living together for 2 years. I was still in active and my husband isn’t a member of the church, but one would argue, if I had not went on the path I went on, I never would have met him. I’m so glad that I did because my life wouldn’t be what it is without him. I remember driving home from work one day and thinking (mind you I had not been to church or done anything church related other than get married in a church) since I was probably 17. I was now in my 20’s probably about 24ish I’d say. So I’m driving home and I get this thought that just comes to my mind that was a question really. My thought that just randomly entered my mind was, I wonder where a LDS church even is in this city? Like very weird out of nowhere. I thought nothing of it, when I got home there was a voicemail on my answering machine from someone in the Cedar Creek Ward saying “hi, this is so, and so, from the Cedar Creek Ward, I just wanted to let you know that we received your records and wanted to make sure you knew where the church building was and what time we meet?” So he proceeds to leave that information on my answering machine. Whoa! Right? I had literally just had that thought driving home. So next thing I know I have a visiting teacher stop by my house to introduce herself and she invited me to a relief society function. So that is how I ended up coming back to church. Back in the sense, I went every Sunday, or as many as I could. Then I found out I was pregnant with our daughter probably a year or so later. I remember deciding I was going to raise this baby in the church because it was all I knew. So I went to church more regularly. Still never quite converted myself, but I went. I remember walking up at the temple grounds while I was like 6 months pregnant, just pouring out my heart saying that I promised the Lord that even if I never fully repented or fully came back I would raise my daughter in the church.
Fast forward a few years and I moved into the Palmyra Ward. Mikayla was 4 years old and a very rambunctious, loud, toddler. I remember that I loved the Cedar Creek Ward so much because I saw what real LDS people behaved like. I saw that they weren’t fake and that they lived the gospel as best they could and were just really great people. So I was a little afraid of moving into a new Ward. But the Palmyra Ward turned out to be even better. I remember first thinking, I don’t belong here because all these people seem so together, like they have it all figured out and as funny as it sounds, I noticed the manicured hands and pedicured feet on the women, thinking, wow, I don’t belong with these people, they are far to classy. But I couldn’t have been more wrong, because they have all been super wonderful to me and my family. As you can see, my progression was just very slow. I did what I could at the time. I didn’t actually go and see a bishop to start any kind of repentance process until probably 2009 or late 2008, not sure. It took that long. Meanwhile, Mikayla was baptized in 2008, my brother passed away in 2009. I finally received a Patriarchal Blessing in December of 2009, and then in 2010 I got my temple recommend, which I have previously talked about before. Pretty miraculous right? Obviously I’m leaving out a lot of gory details about my own personal journey, but that is because those details don’t matter really. They are just events and things that happened in my life that are part of my history but don’t make up who I am as a person.
So yay! I made it to the temple, took out my endowments and went to the temple that first 2 years as often as I could. Then, in probably 2014 middle of 2014 I’d say, I made a choice to step away from the church again. I know, what? Why? It’s simple, and I just figured it out. I wasn’t fully converted. I wasn’t. I had walked the walk and talked the talk, but inside I didn’t feel it. Not really. I had problems with feeling the spirit except maybe in the temple which I always did, but it’s like the spirit didn’t speak to me personally all the time. I couldn’t feel it. It was hard for me to determine what was the spirit and what wasn’t. I didn’t fully understand that myself then. I didn’t understand that until recently. I had repented, received a patriarchal blessing, went to the temple, and I couldn’t feel it. Something was just missing still. It was a personal testimony of the Holy Ghost, of personal revelation. I was missing the point really.
So over the last 4 years, I went astray and went back to my old life. I remember a few years ago a friend of mine saying “I don’t understand how someone can grow up in the gospel and basically have the same up bringing I did, and yet they totally went a different direction and didn’t stay in the church” (something to that effect). Since I have personally been there, I said, it’s easy really. I think she didn’t really understand that because she’d never really strayed. But if you have strayed, let me tell you how easy it is. It’s as easy as breathing, or walking. The reason it’s easy for some, is because they don’t feel it. It’s easy when you don’t have that amazing feeling with you all the time. It’s just easy. It was just easy for me, even after going through the temple to say, yeah, I’m just going to not do this anymore. I’m going to go back into the big and spacious building because I just don’t feel it and at least in the big and spacious building there are lots of people there. Maybe I’ll feel something over there. It really is that easy.
So now, today, in this moment I feel alive, I feel the spirit, I just feel again. I finally feel what I think I didn’t feel before. Have I made my way back to the temple yet? No, have I made my way back to the Bishop’s office yet? No. Will I? Probably, but what I also know, is that I took that long road there before, and I’ll likely have to take that long road back and I’m not in a rush to do it. Not because of fear or anything, because I feel like there is a process for myself. I feel like it has to be the right time, much like it had to be the right time last time. I believe that maybe I was meant to go to the temple in 2010 for various reasons, and I also feel like I was meant to step away again. Because the Lord knows that for me to learn a lesson, I have to actually live it. I can’t just be told to do this or don’t do that, I am actually someone who doesn’t learn that way. I learn by doing. By living. By sometimes taking the wrong path and having to back track my way back. If I didn’t do those things, I would not be the person I am today. I would not feel the amazing feeling I feel right now. I would not be writing it down in this blog, completely unashamed of who may or may not read it. This moment was orchestrated. The people I’ve met were supposed to meet me. The people who’ve entered my life were supposed to be there. The people who left my life were supposed to leave at the times they did. Nothing is by accident and it’s all part of a plan. Does this mean that I won’t take a wrong turn again? Of course not. Does this mean that my life will be easy now that I feel this way and I know these things? Of course not. Because I don’t do things the easy way. But that is the beautiful part about it, it’s my life! I choose freely how to live it with the Lord as my captain, but I still have the wheel. I’m still steering it, but I know, no matter what direction I take, he always has my back. He always has a plan for me. Don’t worry, because it all works out in the end and it’s Amazing!