The way back for me has not been an easy one. Thinking about it during my drive into work today, I was trying to think about how to pull my loved one away from the people that influence his choices, habits and thoughts. Then I thought about how long it has taken me to feel more a part of my ward family. Even though I love the church, and have never denied its truthfulness, I still felt a slight distance between people because of my past actions, ways of thinking, and lifestyle.
I wasn’t struggling with a Word of Wisdom problem or anything like that. I just didn’t feel quite adjusted yet. Even though I felt a little awkward, I still continued to go to church. I still chose to please our Father in Heaven and attend church and partake of the sacrament. I still felt His love when I was in church. I still enjoyed my Sunday school class and attending Relief Society. I still attended to my calling as a Visiting Teacher. I loved it all! I chose to continue going because not only do I love the Gospel, and knew that is what Heavenly Father wanted me to do, I chose to go because I knew that regardless of whether I had idle chit chat with a neighbor or classmate, I wanted to be there.
I wasn’t going so I could create relationships with people. I was going to find myself again. I was re-learning everything I had learned growing up, so that I could strengthen myself, and learn who I was all over again. Dealing with the abuse and traumas as an adult from my first two husbands has taken a toll on me. I am not the same person I was when I was a fresh out of high school. I have become hard. I am not a very touchy feel-y person. Though I hug and mug on my daughter as much as I possibly can, I don’t voluntarily hug even my parents. I don’t always cuddle with my husband at night. I need my space. Occasionally when my playful husband grabs me from behind, I feel trapped and suffocated. Then I become angry. We’ve been married for almost three years now, and I still have not overcome that part of my past. My journey back is not only finding my way back to the Gospel, it is finding me.
I’ve mentioned in past articles how a person can feel lost after being absent from the church for some time. I know that is how I felt. But, having had to deal with situations such as abuse, a husband with a drug addiction, traumatic events, loss of loved ones, etc., can change you. It makes you change your ways of thinking, it makes you change the way you handle things, or choose to not handle things. I still feel that way. My mother was telling me the other day that I am not the same person that I used to be, and she doesn’t know why.
I told her to stop and think about everything I have had to overcome, to think about everything I have had to deal with. It began to put it into perspective for her. She realized that I have had to change in order for me to deal with what I have had to deal with. I don’t want to seem like a too tough cookie that has no heart, or compassion. But sometimes, when it comes to someone who is not making the right choices, I have to think about what I have seen. I have seen things that will never ever be any use to me in the eternities. It is no use to me now, except for watching someone I love make poor choices.
The way I see it now, is, yes, I have become different. I am strong. I have some street knowledge (I don’t particularly like to brag about that though). I am not gullible. But I will not always openly disagree. I pick my battles. I speak up when I feel I need to. My eyes do still leak, especially when I am standing at the front of the room offering the opening or closing prayer.
There are other times too; when I am passionate about something, when I talk about my past as well as other times. What is most significant about the new me is that this combination of me can be a new and improved me. I can better withstand temptations and reinforce what I have already learned and expound on them. I am in love with the Gospel Library on my smartphone. It seems I have every book put out by the church for learning/teaching purposes at my fingertips! I love it!
Referring back to my still struggling loved one, it will take some time to find one’s self after experiencing an addiction. I want him home now, I want him done now. I want his old loving self to come back. Having just talked about how life can change you, I know that it cannot just happen because someone else wants it to happen. It will take time. It will take more than just time. He has to try; he has to remove himself from the people that influence his thoughts and actions. He has to want it.
When you know someone is trying to get their life back together, or you know they are trying to find a way to come back to church, be there for them. Extend an invitation often, and offer your friendship. They may not take it right away, but do not forget them. Do not judge their way of thinking, or their habits or past choices. Pray for them. Regardless of whether you let them know you are praying for them, pray for them. They need our prayers.
If you are the one that is trying to find your way back to the church because of one thing or another, do what you feel most comfortable doing. Make your way back slowly, but steadily. Don’t come just for the people; come for the love of our Father, and our Savior. Listen to the lessons, read your scriptures, if even a chapter a day, and say your prayers, you will feel their love. You will eventually want to make more changes, and take on more. I read my scriptures in the shower early in the morning and sometimes, I spend too long and don’t have much time to get ready in the morning. But, I love being able to read or study with no interruptions. I want to read. When you get to that point, making bigger changes, and moving in a positive direction in life, will be easier. You won’t feel so distant from others in your ward family, if you had.
As the saying goes, “Be the change you want.” You can find your way back to the fold. We are always welcomed back, even if we may not have found our niche yet. Our beloved Latter Day prophet said, “Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences.” Friends, we are truly loved by many. Here on earth and in the heavens above. Do not give up on yourself. Be brave!
I'm a Supermom and wife who works full time. I love cooking for my family and friends. But most of all, I love the Gospel and my journey back to it!