Sunday, January 15, 2017

My New-Old Life


It has been an incredibly hard and amazing month. 

A month of going back to the LDS church and throwing myself into a religion that I had left behind.

I feel peaceful at times while other times, I feel anything but peace. 
I think that's one of the problems with the amazing religious stories we might hear---they aren't always as easy as they seem. Some of them are absolutely unrealistic to most of our lives. One amazing answer to prayer doesn't negate all of the fear and doubt that was originally in place. My fears are still very real. 

I can remember when I left the LDS church, I started to feel this weight lift off of my chest because I no longer had to think through some really hard things or make sense of doctrine that was confusing me. I could walk away, knowing I had tried but knowing that I was moving on to bigger and better things for my family.
I truly believed we had found our place in this world within the walls of Redemption. I did. And I don't regret the journey we've been on.

This month has been full of questions and quite frankly, I am exhausted. 

I'm still scared. 

And although I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm not always ecstatic about it.

That's the thing with answers from God---they aren't always easy. At times, they require a lot of personal work and growth. And right now, I'm trying as best I can to put my faith and trust in Him.

Logically, I have faith that I'm doing what's right. Because if God told me that those promises in my Priesthood blessing were real then that means the Priesthood is real. And if the Priesthood is real then Joseph Smith was a real prophet. And if Joseph Smith was a real prophet then the Book of Mormon is true.

But having that knowledge isn't making this easier for some reason. I'm still over here wrestling with myself and trying to make sense of my place in this new-old world.

I went through the temple for the first time in two years this past Friday. I was picky about who I was going to invite, something that felt hard because had I been in a different place, I would've invited ALL of the people who have been there for my family these past few years. A part of me figured the temple session would be easy for me because I've always loved the peace inside the temple but there was this other part of me that was anxious and fearing my reactions and in the end, I knew who I'd want to handle the freak outs if they happened.

It was hard. But a beautiful kind of hard. The kind that you want to work through because you have this feeling you're going to learn something important in the end.
I got in to the temple session and started to feel extremely anxious. This was too fast. Why did I decide to do this so soon after coming back to church? What am I doing here? I don't even belong.
I was kind of freaking out inside of my head and I asked God to help me know what to do next. His answer didn't come with words, just an incredible feeling of peace and comfort that I was going to make it through the next few hours.

And I did. 

I ended up enjoying my morning at the temple and left feeling incredibly grateful that, even though I don't feel a strong conviction to certain aspects of the church yet, I know that God isn't going to abandon me on this journey.

Sometimes, the hardest things are the right things.

I've learned to trust that sentence these past few years as I've signed divorce papers, severing a relationship I vowed to be a part of forever, as I've opened up about how I was affected by pornography addiction and my own personal eating disorder hell, as I walked away from the only church I had ever called home to try and find my place in this world, and as I made the decision to come back to the church I had called home for so many years but now with more questions and doubts and fears.

In all of these cases, the hardest thing was still the right thing at the time.

Working through grief and doubt isn't easy. That is a truth I can attest to.

And the truth is that I considered leaving the church after I got divorced. I was fiercely grieving behind a wall I had put up. People would tell me I was handling my divorce so well and I would just cringe and think, "You have NO idea how dark my life feels right now. THIS IS FAKE! I am not handling this well at all." I started to feel extremely lonely and struggled through each Sunday meeting. I can remember one Sunday, my friend's husband said to me, "Suzanne, you are acting like a teenager whose parents have forced them to be here." And that was a perfectly accurate description of my attitude toward church.

Another truth that I'm working through is that a year after my divorce, I experienced one of the darkest trials of my life up to this point and I think this was my final straw. In fact, I can clearly remember my mother coming over and picking me up off the couch I had been laying on for two days without eating or going to work or doing anything other than crying and sleeping and as we drove to get some lunch, I said to her, "I'm not going to go to church anymore. I'm too angry at God and this was the very last straw." 
And although I didn't leave right then, although I tried to work through everything while staying active, it just wasn't working for me. I wasn't feeling like I was doing the right thing. Every Sunday, I felt like a foreign object at church and I just couldn't take it anymore.

And so I left.

I left because it was right.

And I came back because it was right. 

I don't believe that the choices I made would be right for everyone but I believe they have been right for me.

I have loved these past two years of religious growth. I have had friends who have pushed me and asked me hard questions and I've had to figure out what it is I believe.

In fact, I'm still figuring that out. 

You guys, I guess I'm just here to tell you that this process isn't perfect or easy.

But although it hasn't been easy, I have been thinking about the person I used to be and the person that I am now and I like this girl a lot more. I like the experiences that have brought me to this point in my life.
And although I've hated the dark trials, I like seeing how far I've come and how much I have healed.

In fact, as my daughter was baptized yesterday (an experience I'll post about separately), I experienced a gratitude for her father that I haven't felt in a very long time. I felt like we were a family again---a different kind of family but still, a family. As he baptized her and we both started to cry, I realized that the reason I am fighting to heal is because I want our children to know that we will always be here, that we will always be bonded together because of them.

This kind of healing and perspective is not something I expected to happen.
I still struggle with hurt feelings a lot of the time toward Hayley and Andersen's dad.
We are both guilty of not being very kind to each other.

But this perspective showed me just how much I have worked to find myself since getting divorced.

I am a completely different person and I believe I'm a better person now. 

So as hard as this all is for me, as scary as it feels to adjust to this new-old life, I am putting my trust in God and having faith that, with Him by my side, this is going to get easier and better.