Listen Taylor Swift never say never little lady. If you’re thinking I’m talking about getting back together with my ex, I will laugh you back to the crazy house you came from! This post in no way is referring to a relationship with my ex husband but everything to do with my relationship to God.
When I got divorced three years ago, I was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or as some call us “Mormons”. My ex and I were married in the Logan Utah temple and everything. That’s right, for those of you who met me post divorce you may not know all that. However for those of you (probably most) who knew me pre divorce, you know that I fell hard about the same time my marriage did.
I remember the day it all happened, the day I walked away. I had found out my husband didn’t want to be married to me so I went to one of my best friends house to get a blessing of comfort from her husband. It was a sad and yet great day when I look back on it. I only remember one thing that was said in the blessing…”it’s going to get worse, before it gets better.” I didn’t think much of it because honestly how could it get worse?! My 9 year marriage was ending, it was pretty bad. I left my friends house not knowing what the next morning would bring however.
The phone call that changed my life went something like this…
Friends neighbor, and former Bishopric member (FN)- “Jessie, I’m calling because I didn’t know if anyone contacted you yet.”
Me- totally thinking he had heard about my divorce “uh nope no ones called me”
FN- “it’s my next door neighbor, she died last night”
Me- thinking he’s referring to her daughter since she had a type 1 diabetes “Syd? What?”
Me- “wait…No no I was just with her last night. What? What? What?”
He went on to explain that she had passed away in her sleep and then her husband and sister called to confirm what I couldn’t believe.
I had met Shamae when I got called at age 23 to be a Young Women President in my ward. I was terrified, but Shamae would serve with me and not only be an amazing help, but she bacame one of my best friends. We had the best memories serving the youth together and all the crazy shinanigans we got into outside of YW.
It was at that moment though when I lost her too that I lost myself. Although I didn’t realize it then, looking back I know deep down it was in fact that moment that I went from sad…to angry. How could God be so cruel? My husband leaves, my best friend dies all in a week of each other? I felt abandoned. I felt like He didn’t really care. It was that mind set, and the terribly tough weeks that followed that changed me. I hid it for awhile, but slowly my negativity showed as I stopped going to church, stopped wearing my garments, and stopped being an active member of the church. It was then that I broke up with God.
I went on with my life and lived happy. I married Brandon and we lived happily without any church. However what we did not do well was let go of our anger. Our anger towards our exes, and our anger to God. We didn’t openly talk to others except close friends about this. To each other though…we of course had so much negativity and hate in our hearts.
Fast forward two years…
We all make a decision to move our family from North Dakota to New Jersey. Our exes, and Brandon and I (and 3 little people). Looking back, a year ago, that was the first little tender mercy God did to start us on our path back to the Gospel.
The first few months in Jersey were lonely to be quite honest. There is so much to do, and I love hanging out with my husband but I missed my social group of friends. I’ve always been that girl that needs her girlfriends. Especially after losing Shamae and my divorce I leaned on my girl tribe so much that they became the sisters I never had. When Brandon and I got married I told him I was a package deal, not just two kids, but some crazy women too!
So here I was clear across the country from everything and everyone I knew…then my kids got a letter in the mail from the primary president. They were so excited to get mail and an invitation to come to church. The girls had known what church was because we were very active pre divorce. They begged to go and I figured I had nothing to lose. I don’t know why I agreed but I think the loneliness I was feeling prompted me to pull the trigger. It was that first Sunday in the Freehold NJ ward that I first felt a shift with in me spiritually. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and…familiar.
Over the next few months I would go on the weekends I had the kids. Brandon wasn’t quite ready to attend with us, but it’s okay because we’d go to church and he’d cook lunch and have it waiting for us when we got home! It was a pretty great deal really. I started to get more and more comfortable going and started changing my attitude towards God. It’s like we had been fighting and I just wasn’t ready to admit I was wrong and say sorry.
Then one day, my incredible husband got up and put the only suit, white shirt, and tie he owned at the time on and told me he was going with us. I tried to do my best to not make a big deal about it, but you guys…it was a HUGE deal. This man, (who lets be clear id love anyway) pretty sure on more than one occasion said “I will never be a Mormon”. So we went to church like no big deal.
It was at about this time, the other parents also decided to start attending the same church. I mean after all my ex was an active member once too. So we all lived in the same ward boundaries, but the idea of attending church together was tough for me! Remember, I still had this hidden anger and I hadn’t quite handed it over to the Lord just yet. I am going to be real with you…I was not nice about it. I told them I didn’t want them going to the same ward and was kind of territorial.
Then something happened to me when the other mom, who is not Mormon said something so hard to hear…”Twice I have been interested in the church and twice now you have made me not want to be a member by your example.” Insert knife in heart and turn please.
For those thinking…how dare she say that. Well, Why can’t she say that?! I knowingly was raised in a church that preaches love our neighbors and forgive our enemies. Yet here I am 2 years later holding on to this anger, for what? Because I can? Because it’s my right? No. Because I am selfish. I found something I love and want to keep it to myself. That is the exact opposite of what the Mormon church encourages.
I did my best to apologize for my behavior and it was and continues to be an apology I can only prove through actions. I never want to be the reason someone doesn’t want to go to church. I left for my own personal anger with God, but just as time has healed my relationship with our exes, it healed my broken heart with God.
It’s been a life changing experience for me, for Brandon of course, but for our kids especially. Although we were of course happily married before, Brandon and I have been able to let go of the hurt that was buried inside us and give it up to the Lord. I look at my husband differently, not necessarily better, because he was always an amazing husband and father, but now I look at him and see my Heavenly Father’s love for me in his eyes, and I’m home.
Fast forward to today a year to the month that we moved here…
Today my path in the church got more interesting as I was called to be Young Woman President. I know, what are they thinking right?!?! The very calling where I met Shamae though! I feel like She was up there plotting with God and this was her way of saying…see Jess, it’s all been a crazy plan to get you to this moment. It’s funny because when she passed, her mom found a card she had been writing to me and hadn’t quite finished on her dresser this is what it said…
All is definitely not forgotten. He will never forget us. He did not forget about me. He didn’t cause heartache in my life, he started me on a path of self discovery and was strengthening me for what was to come. To be able to share these life experiences with others, with These beautiful young girls in my church and to hopefully prepare them for the trials that will come. I am so grateful we came to New Jersey. Did it get worse before it got better? Yes, but remember, “good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees”-President Thomas S. Monson
So, If I’ve learned one thing (don’t worry I’ve learned lots more), it’s never say never.