John and I really only had one thing in common when we first started talking in a romantic setting, and that was how much we loved God.
I met John when I was 16 and he was a new missionary in my hometown.
He was good-natured and always happy, and there was a humility about him that none of the other Elders I had encountered seemed to posses. He seemed to radiate with love and gratitude for life and for the opportunity to be on his mission and serve the lord. But I was not physically attracted to him and my mind was otherwise occupied with someone else.
So, when he returned home from his mission, I was in the midst of my newly-independent phase, and would ask him via facebook what his particular insights were about some of my struggles when I was really low. I always felt comfort in the things he would say, and the spirit said, "you know, this is the kind of man you need to marry" and it went from there. I got the courage to tell him just that, even though I knew the outcome. We agreed to see each other before making any decisions about a long- distance relationship. The spirit was so strong when we reconnected in person, and I felt so comfortable around him, that when he left 48 hours later back to Arizona, I cried. Really, really hard. In front of my parents, which I had never done.
Being with him felt so different in comparison to the 2 other boys I had dated. So full of conflicting feelings and generally really uneasy, and then all of a sudden this unrelenting peace? I wasn't happy about enduring another long distance relationship, and I was sick of feeling stuck in Florida, so I donated most of my worldy possesions, sold my car, quit my job, and had my feet on Arizona soil a week later- all of my belongings in a check-on suitcase and a carry-on bag. Once the decision was made, everything fell into place.
We had a complicated courtship, but I still felt peace around him, even though I was nervous about marriage. We got engaged in October and married in December.
We worked and schooled and lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment for about six months, until I lost my job. We moved in with John's parents for a few months, and that was my first time really understanding why I seemed to have so much emotional baggage and insecurity. I had never realized that how my dad treated me was defined as abuse, until I was sitting home alone and reading the book "healing your emotional self" by Beverly Engel. It was a rough realization and so many memories were unlocked and flooded me to the point I would cry myself to sleep every night for weeks. I didn't know how to process these memories, these re-opened wounds.
And that is when I started feeling the anger.
How could so many people in the church have known what was going on and did nothing about it?
How did my Dad gain so much influence over my mom, that she was too scared to stand up to him?
How did my Dad feel right holding a temple recommend while hurting my siblings still at home?
How did my bishop feel right doing nothing?
I was now at odds with God.
we eventually moved out, bought our own house, and I got a job that helped soothe the sting, but I endured this anger for several months until John said I needed to get help. I finished counseling and felt better, but I soon thereafter Got pregnant and it triggered the anger all over again. Even though I had many testimony- building and faith-affirming experiences. The people in my ward triggered me and I was just over it. I was coming to church because John was going and I wanted Paxton to go too. This carried on into my next pregnancy, when I had basically decided to stop wearing my garments and was going on Sundays because we were in the nursery.
John's parents noticed I wasn't wearing my garments one day, and out of concern had asked me if everything was ok. I was really irritated and impatient and basically told them it was none of their damn business. Just to give a bit of insight to just how angry I was on a constant basis.
I would always get frustrated with lessons on the atonement, because it seemed like I was using it to heal from what had been done to me- not what I had done. It
didn't feel empowering, it felt the opposite. I had no choice but to
give my hurts to the lord because I had no control over what the past
had done. I had to wait for the lord to heal me in his timing so that I
could move on from this phase of anger. That didn't feel empowering. And
it also didn't help that my bishop didn't show up for an appointment
that took me copious amount of humility to set up in the first place, so
that I could figure out what to do about my feelings. I felt invisible all over again.
I had periods of stalwart behavior.
As angry as I was, I tried even harder to fight it with the gospel, and my efforts would wax and wane until I got comfortable just floating for a while. I finally decided that this needed to be done. I was exhausted from the pent-up anger I felt towards the church and my Dad. I needed to make a choice. I started digging into the deep universal doctrines of the gospel because that felt like the only thing I could rely on. So I started there.