We’re going to skip ahead a number of years here. During the years from 2000 – 2007 I was a fully active member of the church – 2000 was the year I gained my “temple recommend” and I joined the church in 1998. The years between my joining and 2007 were overall good, but oh so stressful. Aside from the fact that I was holding 2-3 callings in our ward, I was also raising two young children and working full-time. My husband, who truly is an amazing man and partner, was right along side of me, in every way except being a member of the church.
I have said before, and I meant it, for the most part, this is his story to tell. I will share that over all, it wasn’t because he believed or didn’t believe in the LDS tenants. Frank was raised in a pretty strict religious home growing up and as a result felt restricted. He saw religion as a burden rather than a blessing.
I am strong-willed. I always have been. When I decided to join the church, I went head-long in and didn’t look back. In my head, and my heart, I assumed Frank would follow me. After a year or two I figured I would up my game and show him how happy I was and how easy life was with membership. So, no matter how busy or stretched thin I became, I made sure never to complain. It was such a difficult time in our marriage. I’d attend church and see all these happy families sitting row after row, together with their kids, and there I was, alone, hurting inside because this was the only place of division in our home.
It’s not to say there weren’t good things or blessings to come from my time with the church. There were. The social connections I made were beautiful. I would not have met my best friend had it not been for my membership. I’m not sure our paths would have crossed otherwise. They teach about being prepared. If you’ve heard of Mormons having a basement full of food – this is a true depiction. Food storage, financial preparedness, all the ways to be ready for an emergency — all true — and not a bad thing. Frank lost his job in 2001, right after 9/11. We couldn’t find work for months while living in Phoenix. We survived, in part, because of these principles. I am thankful for that time in my life and the lessons I learned. God doesn’t waste one moment of our walk — I believe He uses every step on our path for His good and for ours.
In the mid-2000’s we made friends with a new family to the ward. I never would have imagined the impact that family would have on ours. We quickly began to spend much of our time together. Weekends became joint dinners, movie nights, kid sleep overs. Sunday’s were marked by after-church dinners. My friend and I served in the female youth program together for years and her husband and mine were fast friends. My kids thought they were just extended family after a while. During all this time we had many talks together about faith and what we believed. My husband was participating more and more in these talks. New Year’s Even 2007 was pivitol. While gathered around their kitchen table, ringing in the New Year, my husband asked what would change if he joined the church? We assured him nothing (he had already begun coming to the first of three hours of Sunday church and he was holding a non-member calling in the Cub Scout program) other than an additional two hours of his time on Sunday and oh, we’d be tithin on both our incomes now, not just mine. Come April, my husband became a member as well.
I remember feeling so much joy. Our lives were so full. We were surrounded by friends, our kids were happy, jobs were good, and now we shared a faith. We were on top of the world and I couldn’t imaine things being any different.
And then I tugged at the thread.