Yesterday, I talked to a dear friend on the phone for a very long time. It was the first time in years that we have been able to talk with so much vulnerability. I was brought to tears as I expressed my love for her, talked about my story, and the reasons why I hadn't been able to tell her. She, like many other people who have contacted me in the last couple of days, spoke of how my faith has been so touching.
Here's the thing. I don't feel like I am outstanding in any way. I don't feel like my faith is exceptionally strong, either. In fact, I want to tell you something:
I have really struggled with a faith crisis because of this. I have especially struggled over the past month, specifically since my episode with my bishop. That happened after the Togetherness Project, and while there, I had heard other horrible stories about church leaders. It all shook me to the core. How could men of the church be so cold and not understanding? And how could God let this happen to us? We didn't ask for this. My life is full of beautiful women, struggling to keep their life together because of this plague. Why can't God make this a little easier on us? You can see a little bit of my faith crisis coming through in this post, but it has run even deeper than just this.
So many times throughout this experience, I have been completely clouded in darkness. And you know what? I now understand why people would choose to leave the church, any church, and choose to not believe in God. It almost seems easier that way. It's so easy to forget the light and just sit in an angry fit of rage (Believe me, I've done it. And it's also made me miserable, and it's been that much harder to reach for the light again when I realized darkness was not what I wanted. Once you sit in darkness, the hole gets deeper. And maybe you don't want to crawl out. Or maybe it's just hard). And then, it's easy to just move on. I have seen so many women who have left the church or chosen not to believe in God, and they say they are so much happier. I have envied them little bit.
But I can't do that. Last week I thought long and hard about this, my faith crisis. I have a friend who found out just after the Togetherness Project (which she attended because she really connected with all of us, and I thank God that she did) that her ex-husband was addicted to pornography. It sent her spiraling. As we talked on the phone about it, and she was really struggling, I said, "Wendy, hold on to what you know." I'm so glad I said that to her because she has now said that to me several times, and it keeps me going.
Because of revelation I have received, because of the light I have felt, and because I feel that I truly know God and Jesus Christ, I just can't choose to leave my church or God. I know too much.
I know that God lives. I know I have a loving Father in Heaven who is just as distraught as I am that this is happening to me. He doesn't want to see me in pain, but He is letting me work through it and find my path to Him. He has given me tools to get there. He has a plan, and I am trying to follow it. As I follow His guidance, I will find joy and happiness in the process of returning to Him. Most importantly, my Father has provided me with a Savior. I know this. I know I can lean on Jesus Christ not only to repent when I do wrong, but also to protect me, guide me, and give me healing for the pains I am suffering.
I am holding on to that. I am clinging to what I know.
I also know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. Reading it has changed me, especially this time around. I finished it earlier this year and immediately started over. And since I started over, I have found so much to be applicable to my life and my journey to find Christ (and since I started over is when all hell broke loose in our marriage, so it was even more crucial for me to find the stuff I'm finding in that book). I can't deny that. I can't deny what I know. And that is why I can't let it go.
I have been able to see through this pain to know that God has a plan for me. I have tried so hard to stay close to him (except for when I haven't). Going "public" with my blog was a really scary thing. But, like I said, it's been beautiful. I feel truly humbled. I have incredibly seen how God has, in fact, been guiding me to this point. Had we not followed the prompting to share our stories, I wouldn't have met so many amazing people. And those who have come to me in complete gratitude would not have been touched the way they were.
I'm sincerely not saying any of this to brag. I am just completely in awe of how God has allowed me to be His servant and a hand of light for Him. Because of all of you, I feel even more inspired to continue staying on the path that I am walking. I am grateful to YOU for how you have touched my life.
I know what I have said in this post could be controversial to some. I wouldn't want anyone to think I am being self-righteous or judge those who have left the church (any church) or chosen to not believe in God. I respect everyone's ability to choose for themselves, and I certainly don't judge anyone for making choices they have made in efforts to come to peace with their life. This is just my story and my testimony. Please respect what I have to say as much as I respect what you have to say.