This blog post contains mature themes dealing with abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
“He also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” (Alma 31:38)
Oh, how true this scripture is. My Savior has literally swallowed up many of the afflictions of my soul. I love and trust Him with all my heart. Allowing the Savior to swallow up all of our afflictions can make life so much easier… and mine was terribly, terribly hard.
I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has taken me many years to find the time and courage to write my story. I finally made the decision after talking long-distance with my mother, whom I love dearly. She has gone through much pain and sorrow in her life. She was divorced when I was two years old and remarried when I was four, on my birthday. I have had to forgive my step-father… and also my mother.
During this phone call, my mother confessed, “You were an abused child.” When I said that I knew that, she asked forgiveness. I told her I had forgiven her long ago. She had been constantly praying for that. There had not been sexual abuse, but years of physical and psychological abuse.
There had been a long, uninterrupted chain of abuse in my family. My mother’s father had abused my mother. My father had abused my mother. My step-father beat my mother several times. I saw much of this when I was growing up. I was the oldest child in the home, being from my mother’s first marriage. I did the cleaning, the laundry, the dishes, much of the cooking, the yard work, etc., for my parents, four brothers, and my grandmother who lived with us for several years. I did not have the freedom to do “what the other kids did” and complaining would bring on harsh physical abuse. Even when our Lutheran pastor spoke with my parents, things did not improve.
When I was a senior in high school, I moved to Florida to live with my grandmother and an uncle. I made the bus trip alone from San Diego, and on the way faced a homosexual assault that made me fear even for my life, but which the authorities and my family seemed to find amusing. The Lord guided me to safety. I knew He did.
I started drinking and spent the next three years basically drunk. I graduated from high school even though I had been absent 111 days. No one in my family came to my graduation. I then spent several years just drifting. I moved to Ohio and found my biological father, an alcoholic who was always very ill. I love him. I lived with him, my three sisters, and a brother for six months or so and attended college. But I couldn’t concentrate, did not do well, and drank a lot. Still, I was seeking a spiritual connection.
I was baptized into the Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. I didn’t feel it was right and felt cold during my baptism, but this was the pastor who had baptized my grandfather and mother, so I felt a connection to him. I decided to return to San Diego, which was hurtful to my natural father. But he would also lose control and become physical, dangerously so, and it was a dead-end life with both of us abusing alcohol.
In San Diego, I found an apartment with roommates who attended San Diego State. I continued to drink, then moved to a rooming house where the landlady was very nice. She was a Christian Scientist. At the rooming house, I became friends with a Czechoslovakian man, Mike. He had found a Book of Mormon in a trash can. He hated the destruction of books because of all the book burning he had experienced under communism. He gave it to a friend who was converted and baptized. When the book was returned to him, he was also baptized.
I had been raised Lutheran. Although I had attended different Baptist churches, the Methodist Church, Catholic churches, the Church of Christ, the Community Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Christian Science Church, and had even studied Buddhism and the Bahai religion, I always rebounded to the Lutheran Church and wanted to be a pastor. Along the way, I had gathered truths found in each religion. Mike kept asking me to go to church with him, but I consistently declined until he stopped asking. I did, however, find myself willing to help with a welfare project with Mike — the LDS Church had a fish cannery in San Diego.
I had never seen this before — people happy about cleaning and canning fish! I had an absolutely wonderful time. The next step was to go with Mike to a youth group meeting. The speaker was talking about the U.S. Constitution and how it was supported by scripture, that the Lord had a hand in the establishment of this nation. It all fit so well with my conservative beliefs. I realized I had seen a film in Florida featuring Ezra Taft Benson, “Stand up for Freedom.”
Mike was the one who baptized me into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When I look back upon the many awful years in my family, it amazes me that the children were never taken from the home by state authorities. When I look back, I am actually grateful. My love for them is overcoming the damage. The years have been tough, but the rewards have been innumerable. The family is ordained of God. My mother accepted the gospel. It was so beautiful to be able to lead my mother into the waters of baptism and then confirm her a member of the Lord’s Church on earth. It was great when my son turned twelve. He was baptized in the temple for my father. It was a warm and beautiful experience. When I went to the temple to do my mother’s work after her death, I saw her there. My deceased brother also appeared to me in the temple, urging me on to do the work for my stepdad although I was ill.
“And He shall turn the hearts of the… children to their fathers….” (Malachi 4:6)
This certainly has come to pass in the unification of my broken family. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, one family has been able to unite itself. Much pain and sorrow have been healed. Today in my legal work, I try to be a counselor to help unite families.
The chain of abuse has been broken in my family line. I try to be happy and follow the scriptures. I have done all I could to raise my own son in righteousness. I prayed with him and taught him truth. He is now grown, has been a fighter pilot for the USAF. He is married with four beautiful children and is now a commercial pilot. We experience joy in our Latter-day Saint family.
In advanced age, it was the homosexual assault so many years ago that was the abuse that most haunted me and forced me into counseling for PTSD. Allergic to the many medications the doctors tried, this assault caused me physical illness as well as mental challenges. I have finally found some success through natural means, and have prayed to forgive him and that he would find the gospel. I wish I could take the gospel to him and change his life.
Show love to every single person, dear friends. As Jesus said: “Love one another, as I have loved you” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” To do this, we must love ourselves. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot love our Savior.
I love you and may God bless each of you.
About Mike Thompson
Mike Thompson is an attorney living in Utah. He is married with one child and four grandchildren. Mike found and joined the LDS Church, moved to Utah, then moved to Idaho to attend Ricks College. He was President of the Student Senate there. After graduating from Ricks at age 25, he served his LDS mission to Norway. Later, his only child, Justin, also served a mission in Norway. He left his dreams of becoming a Lutheran Pastor behind when he joined the LDS Church. His favorite time is spent with his wife, Trudy, his son, and his four grandchildren. Always having loved Jesus Christ, the Church has brought him happiness and joy and has underlined the importance of family in the Kingdom of our Savior. His time is concentrated on his family, his church, and his country.