As I am writing this, I am crying. Crying for the last two years of my life that I can NEVER have back. You need to understand I come from a LONG line of good old LDS stock, my ancestors settled the Salt Lake Valley, I have lived in UTAH all of my life. Interestingly enough I did not convert until 2 years ago, funny huh?? Most of my family was LDS but my mother was inactive, I had a passing interest as a teenager but quickly decided the church was not for me. I met my husband at 19, he was 29 and we both had the same goals in life. Have fun, eventually have kids, and enjoy life. I had always had a close relationship with god, prayed read the bible, even attended different churches to hopefully FIND myself. I was ok with that until my son was born.
As a mother giving birth is a deeply spiritual experience and it rocked my world. I looked at my first born and felt an awesome responsibility to teach him about GOD. My husband had never believed in God and that was fine with me, we loved on another and that was enough for me. I didn't give much more thought about how to start attending any church until Nov. 07. That was when my life changed forever, I had just had a miscarriage and then two weeks later my dear husband ended up in the hospital with a ruptured colon and almost lost his life. That is when some dear neighbors of mine who I had always respected stopped by and asked if they could take our son to church, being a life long Utahn I saw no problem with it I figured it would be a great way for him to learn about Jesus.
Soon after my dear son started to ask me to go with him, how could I say no, he looked up to me and I figured "What could it hurt?" Soon after I began attending regularly and all of the sudden I was surrounded with a loving community helping me through the trial of my husbands illness, inviting my son on playdates. You have to understand that as a Utahn when you are non LDS you always feel like you are on the outside looking in. I grew up that way, often overlooked an not invited to things simply because I was not LDS. I was sure not going to let that happen to my son. After all these people were so loving, what could go wrong??? My husband supported my decision but did not join, all the other "members" assured me that were plenty of couples like us and it was no problem in their eyes. That was all I needed and in June of 2008 I was baptized.
My extended family was ecstatic, finally the "Black Sheep" of the family had found her way and I finally felt accepted. I finally felt like I was doing right by my son. I guess my first clue things were amiss was in August of 2008, I was finally expecting another child and after my horrible miscarriage I felt like my life was finally on track. It was a high risk pregnancy and so of course we kept it to ourselves for a while. I was called into the bishops office and asked if I would like to do baptisms for the dead. Due to my condition I didn't think that would be wise s we confided in the bishop about our exciting news, we asked him to keep it to himself for a while, he agreed. A few hours later the relief society president called to congratulate me, I was stunned!! She quickly informed me that the bishop had told her only so I could get the help and support I needed, and that made sense to me so I didn't give it another thought.
I was often on bed rest due to bleeding and so as a new member I was quite overwhelmed with all of my new duties. I was quite shocked that I was given a visiting teaching assignment and was told everyone knew of my pregnancy by now and that I needed to do the lords work even if it meant doing the calls from bed. Well of course I wanted to do the lords work so I found a way. I was often called to do many things and I did them without question, I figured help others and when I needed help they would be there for me. It got to the point one week when my husband pointed out I had been gone 4 nights in a row, that I needed to back off my church duties. I also felt his and I relationship changing. As we all know we are told the only way to have an eternal family is to have both parents and children sealed to one another in the temple. I pleaded with my husband (a decision I now regret) to give it a chance. Things got much worse. Every-time I would bring it up to someone in the church they would just say "be a better example to him" or "he will join soon, don't worry!"
Looking back it all really started to unravel after my daughter was born 8 weeks early, I was on hospital bed rest and was told I would be hospitalized the rest of my pregnancy. I had several visitors from church mostly bringing me things to keep me busy or telling me I could do extra assignments from bed, to keep my mind off of things. It kinda bugged me but at that time I still felt they meant well, overall all the people I expected to visit or be there for me were not. My daughter arrived 1 week later only 3 pounds, 15 ounces and would have to spend the rest of the next two months in the NICU. I called the bishop to bless my daughter, he did, but he would not do as formal naming as my husband was home with our son and couldn't be there. At first I was just too busy to see the significance that one little action would have in my life for the next year. I was stunned when my visiting teacher came by a week later and didn't even know I had delivered. After all I had heard of many births even preemie births announced during sacrment meeting. There had been no such happy announcement for me. I now realize it was because my husband wasn't a member but was just too tired at the time to see it.
I spent the next two months in a daze, trying to go to church, trying to take care of our son and then my husband and I taking turns at the NICU to be with our fragile little girl. I couldn't always attend church due to it being winter and the risk of our daughter developing RSV, which as we all know can kill a preemie especially one in the NICU. People stopped calling, people didn't visit, I was often overwhelmed and if I mentioned it to any of my church friends they would just smile and say "You'll be ok" I couldn't believe it!!! I had seen other mothers with member husbands surrounded with help and christian kindness and yet here I was struggling all because I was a household with a non member husband.
My dear husband took our son to church as a favor to me when our daughter was released from NICU. He was often asked whenI would return and he tried as best he could to explain that i needed to be home. People scoffed even our own bishop seemed to think that if I had enough faith I would bring our little girl to church despite the doctors warnings. I paid no attention to them deciding for the first time in a long time Family first, Faith second. I guess that's when peoples attitudes started to change towards me. I started to pull back spend more time with my husband and our children, I realized how close I came to losing our daughter and how I almost had lost my husband as well due to my tunnel vision. I started to pass over invitations to participate in order to make my own family stronger.
When I finally returned to church all I was ever asked was when my daughter could attend and I would kindly explain she had to be over a year due to her preemie status. That's when our bishop (who we considered a close personal friend) started to cool towards us. In the past he had offered my husband lots of work after hours to help our family supplement our income and those calls stopped. When our bishop did finally come to our home 6 months after our daughters birth it was to find out why my husband had stopped attending, he tried to explain it was just to help me out to no avail. We asked when we could have our daughter blessed and he told me it would have to wait another 6 months to allow my husband time to join and bless her himself. We explained that was probably NEVER going to happen but it fell on deaf ears. Then the real pressure started. Home teachers started showing up unannounced in order to talk to my husband. I felt pressure as a member to let them in even though my husband had made his feelings clear. Then I would be-asked at church when he was coming back, that too fell on deaf ears. I still believed in the church but was starting to see as a woman member with a non member husband I might as well have been single or even widowed because that's how they viewed me as a woman with no priesthood holder in the home.
When my daughter turned 1 I foolishly invited all my church friends to her party, sure they would be just as happy as I she had made it. Some called to let me know they couldn't make it due to colds, etc. I was fine with that after all I didn't want my preemie getting sick. But those I was closest to, those I had supported and helped didn't show. I guess that's when I truly started to see what was going on and what had been going on for the last year. I was being shunned, due to my choice to put my daughters health, and my sons and husbands needs first.
A very close friend of mine a convert as well and her husband, had been examples to us and friends during my conversion process, well she was called to be relief society president. All of the sudden the kind caring woman I knew turned into a clicky and gossipy, and uppity person, we grew farther and farther apart. I would often struggle loaded down with backpack, scriptures, my son, coats etc. and everyone would just pass me like I wasn't even there. I then started to question if these are examples of god's love then do I really want to be a part of all of this??? Still I kept going until a few weekends ago when I was in Gospel Doctrine class and they were talking about creation and how we would all be gods of our own worlds someday. That was shocking to me because that was the first I had ever heard of such a thing. All I knew is there is GOD, Jesus, holy spirit, I never once put myself on the level of being a GOD of anything.
I went home and talked to my husband and more things started to surface, he confided in me how scared he was for our children when they would be taught we could never be a forever family due to my husbands lack of membership. I cried and cried I finally realized that this so called "Family Church" was going to tear mine apart. Since then I have been doing research and I am shocked by the many things I was not taught before my baptism, like shady parts of the church history and concepts such as Kolob. Anyway I really came to the realization that there are too many good and worthy people in this world, and that the only thing keeping them out of heaven was membership in Gods "True" church. I realized my GOD would NEVER leave someone behind just because of where they worshiped, and that my GOD would never tear my family apart just because we hadn't attended the temple together. So there it is, my long, long story. This has been very freeing and therapeutic for me all the anger I felt at being abandoned after my daughters birth has melted away. This Sunday was the first Sunday in a long time I felt peace in my home, we were all together as a family spending time together and divided by nothing.