In my wildest dreams, I could never once have imagined leaving the Mormon Church. I’d been a member all my life. My ancestors crossed the plains. They were with Joseph Smith in the beginning. They left behind all they had for the Church—more than once. My dad was a bishop. All three of my brothers had been bishops. I’d been a relief society president. I thought I’d built my house upon the rock. But when the real storms came, my house of faith crumbled to liquefied sand.
I can’t fully explain why hardship drove me away from my faith, while others around me who also experienced trials held fast. I do know that unanticipated pain and loss led me to ask “Why me?” or “Why them and why not me?” Bitterness and resentment over unexpected turns and twists in my life festered and morphed into an unbelief that did not serve me well in the end. I would be gone for almost 15 years before I came back.
I was fortunate that family members and friends remained beside me. They refused to let go of me or give up on me. No matter how stubborn or difficult or blind or unrepentant I was, no matter how long it took, they held fast until I made room in my heart for the Lord to soften my feelings and wrench my heart strings until, similar to the prodigal son, I “came to myself,” and found my way home.
My purpose in sharing my story is a simple attempt to reach out to those who may also be struggling, or to those with family members who may be struggling. It’s meant ultimately to be a message of hope, gratitude, and love. It’s filled with people who held on to me as I struggled for years to get my bearings. This was neither a quick nor painless process for those who loved me. I’d like to think it was worth it in the end.