Wednesday, August 5, 2015

For Those Who Have Left

About a dozen years ago, I ended a marriage that should have ended long before. The fall out was devastating but I knew it was the right thing to do even if it made everyone angry with me. I was willing to take the brunt of it because I knew it was for the greater good. It was a shock to some in my ward who saw what appeared to be the perfect family, all seven children sitting quietly in the pews, if not listening, at least not making trouble. I continued after the separation to be active in our ward. And if others saw my family as "broken", and if even my kids saw our family as "broken" I did not. Bruised, scarred, injured, yes, but not broken. I rejected the notion of my family being broken.
Through the years it would go through my mind "what if one of my children left the church, what if any of them break the law of chastity, or the word of wisdom? It would be devastating. I wouldn't be able to handle it."

But as children do, they grew up and made decisions that I didn't approve of and I handled it. I wasn't devastated by it. In the end, I loved them anyway and if I didn't approve I wasn't going to let that get in the way of our relationship. They were still my children. Still the funny, intelligent and caring people that I wanted them to be.

And one day the absolute worst happened. My married in the temple daughter and her equally devout husband told me that they were leaving the church and they told me why.

And I was relieved.

Because you see, by then I had some pretty serious questions about the church and I was afraid of looking deeper for the answers, because if what I suspected was true, how could I deal with that? How could I possibly leave? What would I tell my children? Would they turn their backs on me? I had already turned their world upside down once. But with my daughter admitting this, and me realizing that the church had nothing to do with our relationship, then it gave me the courage to search further. I would have at least one child who would not abandon me.

As it turns out, none of them abandoned me. Not one turned away from me because I turned away from the church. For some it was a relief to admit to me that they didn't believe anymore or that they had problems with doctrine or with the rules. For those who were still all in, it turns out that the relationship was what was important.

You see, my family was never broken.

And so it breaks my heart when I read from so many of you, how your family has abandoned you during a time when you need them most. Or if they haven't abandoned you they have at least made life difficult, or made you feel unwanted or not understood. And although I can understand how a spouse or parent might feel like you have turned their world upside down, I also know that your world has been turned upside down too and that just because you are walking away from the church does not mean you want to walk away from your loved ones.

I wish there was something I could say to your families, to let them know that God is greater than our tiny understanding of eternity. That families are forever, not because of big spacious buildings and passwords and handshakes, but because of love and commitment and respect.

My love to all of you who feel that the cost of truth has been too high but are still willing to pay it. For those of you who still believe in God, He is still with you and will not abandon you, and for those of you who don't, your integrity and honesty will carry you through. And one day hopefully, your families will see that.

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