May 4th, 2010 by admin

31 Comments

The Journey Is The Reward

The Journey Is The Reward

Blue

At A Glance

Salt Lake City, UT, April 2010

Blue married Doc thirty-five days after he returned home from his mission. Nine years later, he revealed to Blue that he didn’t actually believe in God. Blue discusses how spiritual laziness in her early marriage contributed to her husband’s crisis of faith, how her family now functions with its unusual dynamic, and why she stays in her marriage and in the Church.

Tell me about meeting your husband.

In my patriarchal blessing I was told I would be led to a righteous young man who would love me, and that we’d be married and have a family.  As eighteen year old freshmen in college, Doc found me and we quickly became best friends.  While he was basically in love with me from the start, I had zero interest in waiting for a missionary and kind of resisted letting my feelings evolve in that direction.  But the better friends we became, the more impossible it was for me to resist falling in love with him.

Did you ever have any doubts that marrying Doc was the right choice for you?

That year as we grew closer, I knew that if I was supposed to marry him I’d need to know for sure that he was the one.  So for the first time in my life,  I really fasted, intent on getting an answer.  And to my joy, I got it. I just knew. The spirit showed me my answer in a way that confirmed he was my match.  I couldn’t have made it through the years he was gone without the assurance that it was the right thing to do.

We got married about a month after his mission ended, and quickly settled into a busy life that included church, work, and school. Unfortunately, we didn’t establish a habit of reading the scriptures and praying regularly together.  Today I have a testimony of the importance of regular scripture study because that is our armor; it is the way that we can protect ourselves every day.  But Doc and I weren’t doing that at the time, which I feel led to what happened next.

During the first year of our marriage, Doc decided to look into some questions that had come up during his mission about the church. He went to the BYU library to research topics and find answers to his questions.  Quite unexpectedly, as he delved into the history more deeply, he began to lose his faith in God. But instead of mentioning anything to me about it, he just kept it to himself, because it was painful.

Pretty much within that first year, he went from a true and faithful member, to not believing in God anymore.  But again, he didn’t tell me what was happening within, because he didn’t foresee where this road was going. He thought, “I can compartmentalize this. I can live the Mormon life, even if I don’t believe it and it won’t be a problem.” He didn’t realize that as time went by it would become harder and harder for him to live at odds with himself; that he would eventually grow weary of it.

Did he live as if he were a believing Mormon for many years?

Yes. He continued to attend church and serve in callings. He told me once, when I asked him why, “It’s a good journey and the journey is the reward.” There are a lot of things about the church that he likes. It teaches good principles in general, and it’s his heritage since he comes from pioneer stock.

After college we moved to Chicago where he continued his studies and earned a Ph.D. We both really loved our ward there. He found friends in the ward who he could relate to, members who had questions and weren’t just “swallowing the kool-aid” (his words).  Many of them had found a way to reconcile their questions and doubts with their faith.

When did he finally tell you about what he’d come to believe?

About nine years after we were married.  I was pregnant with our second child… He sat down next to me one night and somehow it just came out that he didn’t believe in God. This caught me completely off-guard. I’d realized he wasn’t as gung-ho about the gospel as some people, and had various questions about our church specifically, but it had honestly never occurred to me that he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

He suggested that I only believed because I had been raised in the United States, and if I’d been raised in Japan, I would believe in Buddha. If I had been raised in India, I would have believed in Hinduism. I’d never even thought of that.

This was an earth-shattering realization for me. Doc was studying to be a scientist, and I thought, Scientists don’t have an agenda, they just want truth. So if I had read and studied like he has, I’d have concluded what he’s concluded, and therefore he’s probably right. I was just devastated. My whole life shifted in an instant. My whole belief platform was yanked away from me. I could see the possibility that everything I had believed wasn’t true; that maybe I had imagined it. Maybe it was all in my brain.  I suddenly couldn’t trust any of the spiritual experiences I’d ever had before… except one.

When I was fifteen years old I was at the beach, and got sucked far out to sea.  After considerable time trying to make it to shore, my energy was spent and I was struggling to fight for my life. Suddenly, the suggestion came to my mind (when I was so tired and fatigued) that I should just take a little nap to get my strength back, and then I could keep trying. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, and I thought, “Yeah, that would be a good idea.” I had just shut my eyes to do it when what sounded like an audible man’s voice pierced through the fog in my mind and decisively instructed me, “Pray!”

I instantly jerked back to alertness, and replied in my mind to him, saying, “I can’t pray, I can’t get to the bottom of the ocean to kneel.” Then I saw my whole life flash before me. That’s such a weird and amazing experience. You would think that it would take a long time, but it was almost like an instantaneous awareness of everything, with certain things highlighted all at once, in this case all the lessons I’d heard about how we can pray anywhere, about anything, no matter what. This experience didn’t seem to use up any time, and it was the first time I realized that I didn’t have a clue about some of the ways God has of communicating. I simply said, “Heavenly Father, please help me.” No typical formalities, or even “amen” at the end. And I don’t know what happened, but that was the last thing I remembered before I woke up on the sand, with a bit of a sunburn from being there a while.

This happened on a blistering hot day during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and the beach was utterly packed.  When I woke up I looked around.  No one was paying attention to me. No person had rescued me or they’d have been with me.  When the recollection of what had happened out there hit me, the realization that God was real, and not only that, but he knew me, simply overwhelmed me. Somehow I was saved from a watery grave. I’d been snatched and preserved for some purpose.  My life mattered. I held onto this experience for years.

When the recollection of what had happened hit me, the realization that God was real, and not only that, but he knew me, simply overwhelmed me. Somehow I was saved from a watery grave. I’d been snatched and preserved for some purpose. My life mattered.

So that night when my dear husband told me he didn’t believe in God, even though I could almost explain away all the others, that was the one spiritual experience I couldn’t disregard. There was simply no other explanation.


At this point did he tell you that he’d been doubting for nine years?

Yes. For nine years he had a secret that I didn’t know about… which in and of itself felt like a betrayal. I thought, “But we tell each other everything. How could this be?” He has since said many times that he wished he’d told me from the very beginning of his crisis of faith.

After he told me about his loss of faith, not a lot changed in our day-to-day. I had my own crisis of faith in response to his, but we still lived like active believers, paid tithing, attended church, served in our callings and enjoyed the fellowship of our ward. But after he finished his Ph.D., we moved to New England, and Doc had difficulty finding any kindred spirits to connect with in our new ward. We were both suffering spiritually. He didn’t want to disappoint his family and hadn’t disclosed his loss of faith to any of them. So it was this big secret that I had to bear alone.  After struggling with it for a few years, I encouraged him to talk to the bishop about where he was with his faith.  Eventually he agreed to, and our bishop (who was also scientifically trained) encouraged Doc just to compartmentalize his beliefs. That helped for a little while.

And by “compartmentalize” you mean live as a Mormon and work out his theological issues within himself?

Yes. But for my husband, it didn’t feel like there was anything to work out. He just thought, “I don’t believe. I don’t know there’s a God. I don’t think anyone can know.”

Did he ever go through a time where he tried to fast and pray and read his scriptures to work out his spiritual problems, or do you think he faced it with a scientific approach?

I think that he concluded that he’d spent two full years reading, praying, studying and teaching the gospel every day as a missionary, and there wouldn’t be any point in trying that route again. He also studies the human brain in his profession, which he says is an amazing organ that we know almost nothing about even now.  He told me “I wouldn’t trust any answers I got because our brains are capable of producing amazing experiences, and we interpret them through our life experiences.  They don’t necessarily mean what we think they mean”.  I always felt like this was a tidy and convenient excuse, because it leaves no room for faith in his life, only evidence-based beliefs.  But that said, his seems to have been an honest fall from faith, despite the common perception that “he must have sinned or done something to lose the Holy Ghost.” I admit, I thought that too at first.

But I believe we can lose our way by giving into carelessness, doubt and sin. My husband and I were careless about reading the scriptures and saying prayers. We entertained doubts, and we all sin everyday.  We need the Atonement and regular repentance in our lives if we’re to keep the Spirit with us. If we don’t guard ourselves against those things, then we’re in danger of things we don’t even know are out there. It’s the small and simple things that bring great things to pass, like a strong testimony and sense of purpose. What’s “smaller” than prayer and reading the scriptures? What’s simpler than studying His word and feeding our spirits and remembering Him every day?

Please talk about how you struggled with Doc’s loss of faith.

After my initial shock wore off, I confess trying to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with God. I prayed, “Okay, Heavenly Father, if you need to blind me or maim me or give us some trial to humble him, it’s a small price to pay for my husband’s soul.”  It didn’t take me long to realize that this wasn’t how God works (and that I wasn’t all that humble myself).

Time went by and his agnosticism became an enormous wedge between us. It’s not entirely his fault. A lot of people look at me and say, “Oh, you’re a saint for hanging in there,” but the fact is that I did a lot of things that contributed to the situation, too. After my initial crisis of faith passed, I determined to stay close to the Church and I had Doc’s blessing and support in this, but from then on my position was, “I’m right and he’s wrong.” I thought that clearly I’m the believer so I’m in the right.  Smug sure is a clever form of pride.

So for a long time I operated as though all our problems were entirely his fault.  I thought things like, “If he’d told me when it happened, before we had kids, this would be a no-brainer.  I’m not strong enough in my faith to be married to a closeted apostate! I need a man I can lean on.”  But now we had our lovely children to consider, and we both want what’s best for them, to say nothing of the fact that he and I love each other.

My attitude only served to make him feel like nothing he did was good enough. I remember him saying, “I will go to my grave knowing that I’ve disappointed you. There’s no way that I can undo this, and it’s just tragic. I didn’t want you to be the star of your own personal Shakespearean tragedy.” It’s just sad, and from his perspective there’s no way around it. He didn’t expect this to happen. Neither of us asked for it, but it is what it is.

So what happened next?

Things degenerated a lot.  Our relationship became very rocky.  I wasn’t doing well spiritually on my own, and finally things were so bad that one day I thought, I can just leave the church. No one here would care, and it would remove this big wedge in my marriage, it would be a way to improve something in my life.

I remember I hadn’t been studying the gospel on my own for years at that point (outside of church attendance), including reading The Ensign magazine.  But for some reason, as I was wrestling with my relationship with the Church, the Ensign came in the mail and I started reading President Hinckley’s article where he promised certain blessings would come into our lives if we’d read every day and finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.  For some reason, I thought “I’ll take this little challenge.”  It’d be kind of a parting “Hail Mary” to the Mormon Church. I had no idea this challenge was going to become a church-wide movement.

I started reading the scriptures consistently everyday, and after a few months I somehow developed a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I remember the moment it happened. The book became almost like an epic movie while reading the Alma war chapters.  Before this, I couldn’t keep anyone straight and most of it didn’t make sense to me.  There were nice verses here and there, but I didn’t get all this talk of war.  So how surprising that it was in the war chapters that the spirit of that great book started to work in me!  Suddenly I could almost “see” the people, they were alive and distinct individuals to me and it was as though I could feel and sense what they were experiencing vicariously. It was an amazing spiritual experience. I spent all day reading… I literally got lost in it and it was delicious in a way that people had described before, but which I had never experienced.

So I finally had this tiny little Book of Mormon faith, and I was almost like, “Oh, great!” Honestly, I kind of hoped it wasn’t true so I could leave the church with a clean conscience. But now I had to stay. I knew something in a way I never had before.  And that was hard but it was also good. Because for the first time I had this kernel of bonafide faith…. and it was the smallest little kernel… but it was real. Finally my testimony wasn’t just based on belief, or acceptance or upbringing or social friends. I was staying in the church because darn it, it is true.


Were you upset because you didn’t end up with the life you had envisioned for yourself?

No doubt I’ve spent a lot of time hosting a glorious pity party!  My attitude was, “I did everything right. I got married in the temple and did all the things I was taught.  This shouldn’t have happened!”  No one ever told me “Set your goals, but if life doesn’t work out the way you planned….”

No doubt I’ve spent a lot of time hosting a glorious pity party! My attitude was, “I did everything right. I got married in the temple and did all the things I was taught. This shouldn’t have happened!”

So when things didn’t work out the way I expected, I was caught off-guard. I think that’s something we can do better—to prepare our children and ourselves–with skills and awareness needed to handle unexpected life events.  Talk about how to live happily with unanticipated changes, especially in families.  Satan will use anything he can to tear apart families, and the adversary started using my husband’s decisions and beliefs to cast doubt in my mind about whether I should stay in my marriage or not. I mean, wouldn’t it be better for me to leave him and go find a righteous man who wants to raise the kids Mormon? That’s the idea that I had to fight and wrestle with.

You and your family moved to Salt Lake so Doc could attend medical school, even though he was already well-established in his scientific career. How have things changed for you as a family since making that decision?

I knew medical school would be hard; I thought I knew what we were in for as a couple and family. But I had no idea how rigorous and demanding the process would be.  I had accepted where we were as our “new normal”, and figured we would just ride out forever, with Doc as a closeted heretic living like a believer. But after we’d been in school a couple of years, he came to me and said, “I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t live the lie. I need to start edging my way out of the church.”  He stopped taking the sacrament, and made some other changes that were very disheartening for me.  I had gotten so comfortable with how we’d been, and this was yet another change. I was having a really hard time with some other struggles already, and this just tipped me over the edge. I fell into a deep depression, that required me to pull in and let go of a lot of things just to survive.

Why was it so hard for you to see Doc actually leave the church, when you’d known for years he didn’t believe?

It was hard because I love the guy! I also felt like it was my job to fix him. And that as long as his only struggle was not believing, then he’d be able to have his change of heart and no one would ever know what we’d been through.  Edging his way out of living like a Mormon terrified me like nothing else.  I worried over his soul like never before.

Then I had lunch with a friend who was in a similar situation, but after they were married her husband actually became totally anti-Mormon. He never set foot in the church, and began making a lot of the same choices mine had made.  She finally decided, “I can either accept him for who he is, because he’s a great father, a great husband and I love him, or I should let him go because it’s not my job to make him feel like he’s not good enough.” She said it was the hardest process, but she finally made peace with their situation. It was hard to break those habits of judging him, but once she did, their relationship got closer and things really improved.

In that moment I had an epiphany that what I had been doing was holding back my love, being critical of Doc, looking at the motes in his eye and ignoring my own beams. I had a lot of repenting to do because of that, and felt truly humbled for all the hurt I’d caused him with my judgment and pride. I wrote him a letter and expressed how much I love him, and how sorry I was for all the years I had held back my love and acceptance and made him feel bad about things.  I thanked him for all the wonderful things about him, including how he’s stuck it out with me through everything when so many other men would have just walked away and never looked back.  It took a lot of weight off my shoulders to finally have that insight, and I was so grateful for that tender mercy.

How has it changed things?

It is really hard for me to change habits, and I’ve had to work at not saying things I would have said in the past. But we are sealed together and I want to be with him forever.  I don’t pretend to understand the ins and outs of all that, but I believe that if I live as well as I can, that’s all I have control over. If I love Doc as unconditionally as I can, like our Savior loves him, that’s all I can do. I don’t know how it will all work out, but I’m somehow not worried about it the way I used to be.  I’ve felt peace about it finally.

If I love Doc as unconditionally as I can, like our Savior loves him, that’s all I can do. I don’t know how it will all work out, but I’m somehow not worried about it the way I used to be. I’ve felt peace about it finally.

As I mentioned, I used to think it was my job to save him. I still have a lot to learn about the atonement, and I worry about how his choices will affect our children through their teen years and beyond. They may struggle in ways they might not have if he’d been a strong member leading by example in the church., and that scares me just like it would any mom. I don’t know what kinds of things they’re going to have to deal with, but I do know that no one gets through this life without our own customized set of circumstances and opportunities to learn and grow and prove ourselves.   We will all make major mistakes, but Heavenly Father loves us anyway.  I’m just trying to become like Him.

What things have helped your marriage the most?

I think the thing that helped our marriage was me helping me. This included finding a good therapist to work with.  There were so many different things I had to address—things that happened during my upbringing that affected my self-esteem and my sense of identity, as well as all my relationships. Developing genuine faith in Christ has been a big key. He has always been near me, even when I didn’t know it.  I’m discovering that everyone struggles to figure out who they really are and why they’re here. I know now that there isn’t just one way to be a Mormon. Realizing that you can try to do everything “right” but you’re still going to have trials, and that they’re actually a blessing in disguise. The Savior actually did everything right and he still had trials.  Without Doc’s experiences I wouldn’t have gone through the journey, which has resulted in a little bit of bona fide faith that continues to grow.  Despite how painful it has been at times, I am very grateful to have my dear husband, lovely children and a testimony in my heart.  Doc was right, the journey is the reward!

At A Glance

Blue


LDS_woman_photo_BlueCOLORLocation:
Salt Lake City, UT

Age:
41

Marital status:
Married 20 years

Occupation:
Flight Attendant

Schools Attended:
Brigham Young University

Languages Spoken at Home:
English

Favorite Hymn:
“How Firm A Foundation” especially the last four verses that we never sing!

Interview by Shelah Miner. Photo used with permission.

31 Comments

  1. Pam
    8:06 am on May 5th, 2010

    I am no longer a Mormon, but I like this site and have tremendous respect for my LDS friends. I left because of personal integrity and because it was unhealthy for me to stay when I no longer believed in so much of the dogma. As I struggled with my own disaffection from the church, it was my faith in Christ that sustained me through the pain of learning all I did about the church and it’s history. I disagree with the idea that it is spiritual laziness, many who leave, whether mentally or actually resign from the church study very diligently and pray just as hard.

    I have had times, when I question the existence of God, I think we all do, so I understand those who are agnostic, they are saying they just don’t know therefore don’t believe, but I am one who tends to return to my faith, praising God and the Word, which ultimately provides comfort. My testimony of Christ or in God was never based on the church; for me, they are not one in the same. Glad you recognized that your unconditional love for each other, no matter what his faith status may be right now is the most important. When all is said and done, the pure and simple gospel of our Lord is just about loving God and each other.

  2. lemon grower
    10:28 am on May 5th, 2010

    This is an amazingly reassuring article. My husband confessed this to me at 21 + years of marriage. It came as a complete shock. He had served as a Bishop during this time and apparently felt almost identically to the way your husband describes. He tried to compartmentalize as much and as long as he could and now he no longer can. He wishes for the children and I to remain active. He thinks the church is a good thing “for most people” – but for himself, he can no longer keep up the facade.

    I was willing to live with this and work on it – but instead, it has made him feel that he has to leave our marriage – that part of the problem is the pressure to live up to something in a ward where people see him as their former Bishop, and where his children see him every day. And I think the guilt…of somehow not being able to be the person I thought he was.

    I don’t think he realizes how forgiving I am of all of this. I saw little cracks in the facade now and then, but had no idea he considered himself a mormon “atheist”.

    I find it reassuring to know others have gone through similar things.

    Currently we are separated. I see little hope for reconciliation on his end. But I still love him regardless of his doubts and feelings about church.

  3. Peace Seeker (Oops! Correction on last line.)
    3:37 pm on May 5th, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have also come to many of the same understandings because of my trials. I had a similar situation to your beach story that could not be explained; making it clear to me that God was real in a very physical way and could do what ever he wished. However, he will never use that power to force someone to heaven. But what keeps me going more than that are the small miracles and messages from God along the way. I have learned that if we are truly Christlike we will accept people for what ever level they are at, unless they are harming others mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and/or sexually. As long as they are living good lives and are kind to people who do not harm others then I don’t have a problem with their lifestyle. I know many Mormons who live the so called rules and yet they have hearts of stone or minds full of air. I have a sister who left the church because of such people. She is the sweetest person who would not hurt a fly. I believe God loves her because of this. He sends trails her way from time to time because he wants her to turn to him; because he loves her. But he has also blessed her with something that I have wanted all my life and I am still an active member. I often am brought down with sorrow over the bitterness and hatred inflicted upon me by others. I fight not to despair, and seek for the skills to teach others to love one another. I know some day I will receive my righteous desires despite how he lets me be tried like Job at times. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job 1: 4-5. I have found that there is no other source to turn to in this world. I proclaim also as Peter proclaimed when the Savior asked him if he was going to leave Him also, ” Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

  4. Brett Nielson
    8:37 pm on May 5th, 2010

    Love what you have shared here Blue. Claudia and I love you very much, and after reading your piece, we love Doc too. Of course we wish he was a believer still, but we accept him for the good person he is to you and the kids. Keep staying strong in your faith! It will all be worth it. I can say that my faith has been tried to the max on several occasions, but I still choose to believe…and you’re right, reading the scriptures and doing all the basic little things are a life line of faith. Give those up and our testimony can be easily be attacked. I could write more about how the supposed “history” issues of the church are no reason to let doubt overwhelm us, but I’ll forbear for now. We celebrate your strength and all that you have learned!

  5. Melly
    10:32 pm on May 5th, 2010

    Thank you for your honesty and openness, dear Blue! You will be a strength to those who struggle. You have learned the meaning of unconditional love…faith can become knowledge, which you have! We don’t always have to walk blindly, do we? There is great goodness in this world – all of which comes from that eternal source of truth and light. Albert Einstein said it best, “You can live life in two ways: One is as if nothing is a miracle, the other is as if everything is.” You have chosen to see the miracles -regardless of the outcome, and you will be forever blessed. My hubby and I look up to you — you have tremendous courage, and we know Doc knows that and loves you for all that you are. You have a beautiful soul, and I am grateful to call you my dear friend!

  6. chris
    1:26 am on May 6th, 2010

    I feel for your struggles and am happy for the joy you have been able to recognize even though things don’t turn out as planned. I think this story really gives us an example of what endure to the end means–no judgment intended. Enduring is not easy…even the prophets pray to be able to endure. Keep on at it and please never stray away from your faith.

  7. suzy
    9:54 pm on May 9th, 2010

    Bravo Blue! I am so proud of all you have done and are still doing. I just love the line, “No one expects this to happen, Neither of us asked for it!” I know I certainly didn’t 21 years ago when my oh so similar marriage began. Life wouldn’t be all that great if we knew what was around every corner. Just remember how great it feels when you figure somthing really difficult out? You achieve a donting task? Yes, it’s true the curve balls make it tough, But put aside the kids, put aside the commitments we’ve made, even put aside the LOVE for a second and remember that ONE thing…… “THE WORTH OF EVERY SOUL”- oh ya, EVERY SOUL. Doc’s worth it.

  8. Chrysula Winegar
    11:29 am on May 13th, 2010

    Stunning interview. And not such an unusual dynamic. Sending you both continued strength, commitment and the continued capacity to truly see and hear each other. There’s a whole bunch of marriages out there with two devout believers who don’t have what you two have.

  9. Twyla
    9:46 pm on May 13th, 2010

    Thankyou for this interview, it has given me strength and an understanding of what my husband is going through. It has also given me the courage to ask him, because I was starting to feel as though he was upset and frustrated with me, when I find out it is the lord.
    I think he fears that I will leave him if he doesn’t stay in the church and I never would because the church is not what made him a good man and a wonderful father. He will be that weather he has faith in the church, or in god, or if he believes that we all create our own destiny.
    He told me that he is sick of going through trials and I understand what he means, I am too at some points. But I attribute some of the many blessings we have to the lords work and he attributes it to mans work and decisions.
    At times in our marriage I have felt like I have had to carry the faith in our family, and that it has been hard being that I am a convert and know very little about the church.
    I love my husband so much and I am so thankful to have him in my life because he is proof of blessings and love. He has put up with many of my issues and things that I am not dealing with very well, from my past.
    I wish at times there was something I could do to change his mind but I can’t control how he feels or what choices he makes. I can only chose to love him with all my heart and show him what it means to have unconditional love.
    I wish I had another way of contacting you so I could get to know you better. Thankyou once again this is exactly what I needed to read.
    One other thing I wonder sometimes if we aren’t given the same trials over and over again because we didn’t learn it the previous times and so we have to go through it again so we can learn. It is our choice as to how we react and deal with them. Maybe sometimes we just need to realise that life isn’t as simple as we would like it to be.

  10. Bree
    10:03 am on May 20th, 2010

    I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this touching story. I can relate to how you have felt Blue. A little over a year ago my entire family (excluding my brother who was on his mission) left the church. It was the most confusing, sad, and frustrating time in my life. I went through so many struggles watching them live their new lives after 20+ years of actively living the gospel. I had to take action and get answers for myself. I started reading the scriptures and praying more then I ever had before. All the while I had a fear for my dear brother returning home from his mission and learning of my families new beliefs, I did not want him to ever feel the way I did. My brother has been home for a few weeks now and we have talked about our family. He told me that things like this can happen to anyone. That all we have to do is love them and be examples to them the best we can.

    After talking to my brother I then realized the pity party I had been hosting for myself the last year or so. It still gets really hard and frustrating but I’m trying.

    I honestly thought I was the only person to have gone through something like this. I’m grateful that we have each other to lean on and share each others bourdens. I’m glad I’m not alone. Thanks for your example and strength Blue.

    I may not know all the answers to my families concerns but I could never deny the very personal and special experiences I have had and the things I have felt to ever lead me away from this Gospel.

  11. Valerie
    9:27 am on May 21st, 2010

    Wow! What a thought provoking article! This is your long, lost friend from growing up, Blue. I just wanted to tell you that I admire your faith and courage so much. We can learn so much from our life experiences. I am a true example of having life not turn out quite the way I planned. It is so refreshing to see someone like you turn a difficult experience around and become stronger in faith and more wise in perspective for having lived through it. Thank you for helping my testimony by giving me one more reminder that life is what we make it.

  12. Anne
    11:06 am on May 22nd, 2010

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am in a very similar situation right now. I am watching my husband’s thin cord of faith very loosely hold him to the church, and it is looking very close to becoming severed completely. I appreciate the insights you shared. The main feeling I have received from the Spirit is to simply love him and have hope. I, like you, don’t know how all this will end, but ultimately Christ doesn’t want us to give up on those who are dearest to us. Sending you much love as a fellow sister in the gospel

  13. Cath
    7:07 pm on May 23rd, 2010

    I commend you for your faith and the way it coexists with love for your husband. Although these dynamics must be challenging, I think you are thriving beautifully. And doing exactly what God would have you do. You’re an inspiration. Although I do not struggle with the same trial, I know many women in a similar situation. I’m sure your words and story will uplift many. Thanks for being brave enough to share. And to do it with such honesty.

  14. John
    2:04 am on May 24th, 2010

    Dear Blue, I can relate to your story although not the way you might expect. After growing up in the Church, going on a mission and being married in the Temple, I left the Church about ten years into our marriage. As you can appreciate, this was not what my wife had bargained for. As she prayed for guidance, the answer she received was simply to love me. As she tells it, her response was that she didn’t want to love me. Never-the-less she did. While I never expected to have anything to do with the Church again, after fifteen years away something happened that started me back on the road that led to my eventual return. Today, my wife and I are preparing to serve in the Temple starting next month and hope to submit paperwork to go on a mission sometime next year. Miracles do happen although not on our timetable. Keep your children close to you and teach them the Gospel. They may turn out to be instruments in the Lord’s hand in bringing your husband back to the Church.

    Regarding those who let some event in Church History destroy their faith, I like Davis Bitton’s response, “I don’t have a testimony of the History of the Church… there are faithful Latter-day Saint historians who know as much about this subject as any anti-Mormon or as anyone who writes on the subject from an outside perspective. With few exceptions, they know much, much more. They have not been blown away. They have not gnashed their teeth and abandoned their faith.” History is a human endeavor that must inevitably involve someone’s perspective. Imagine what the Book of Mormon would be like from the perspective of the Lamanites rather than the Nephite Prophets. Would it surprise or shock you to learn that they saw the same events differently? Which would be the more accurate representation of what “actually” happened? How can we really tell for certain what actually happened? Even if it were somehow possible to be an eye witness, could we be certain that we saw everything and reported and understood all points of view accurately? Can I be totally “objective”? I don’t believe it is humanly possible. While I expect that most all of us have questions about things that happened in the past whether in our own family or concerning historical events or people, our curiosity may have to wait until that day when we can experience God’s version of “You Are There” which includes the ability to read peoples minds and understand their motivations as well as observe their actions. Until then, I too do not have a testimony of Church History – or any history for that matter. That doesn’t mean I throw it all out, just that I understand the limitations and the need to be cautious in the conclusions I make based on it. I thank the Lord that I’m not the judge of anyone based on what is available in history books.

    I think your analysis of the importance of prayer and scripture study is correct. As Alma said: “…if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26) Testimony is not an event so much as it is a way of life. We have to be willing to ask, to knock, to invite God into our lives, not once but on a regular basis. In my own case, I not only was not doing these things but I entertained the notion that I was fatally flawed, unworthy and hopelessly doomed. While that hasn’t changed, my understanding of repentance and the atonement has helped me appreciate the need for a savior and seek for His help that only He can give.

    May God bless you!

  15. Alyson (New England Living)
    12:04 pm on June 3rd, 2010

    I just love Blue! I have for a long time, but this makes me love her all the more! What an amazing journey. I can really identify with both you and your husband. I’m still in the midst of my crisis of faith and I can completely understand his point of view and I can understand your’s too. I want to make whatever faith I do have work. I want to see this thing through, if I can.

    I don’t think any of us really understand how things will be sorted out on the other side. I think that part is meant to remain a mystery for us, but I really love your attitude and realizing all you can do is control your behaviors and beliefs and the rest you need to just accept and not try to change.

    You are an amazing woman, Blue!

  16. dc
    2:23 pm on June 7th, 2010

    Oh heavens. Thank you so much. Last week my boyfriend of six months- who is also my best friend of much longer than that- told me he’s not sure if he believes in God anymore. I went back and forth between feeling like I had to break it off to knowing what pain it would cause me to let go of what we have. Right now, my thoughts and feelings are that we can’t control others, and we don’t know the future. All I know is what I’ve experienced so far, so that’s what I have to go off of. So, I’ll stay by his side for as long as he’ll let me. Hopefully that’s forever.

  17. Whitney Johnson
    8:58 pm on July 8th, 2010

    This was a wonderful interview. Thank you Bleu for sharing your story.

  18. Todd147
    8:07 am on August 5th, 2010

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Just as there are stages in our physical growth, there are stages in spiritual development. It’s actually quite normal for maturing spirits to reject organized religion at some point. With your support, he can find God again.

  19. Michelle
    8:02 pm on October 25th, 2010

    I admit that I tend to see things as “black or white”. I think I’ve always been that way. But, as I encounter people struggling with their faith, including my own siblings, I start to see that there is pure genius, as well as love, justice and mercy, driving the plan of salvation. There is a way, always a way, no matter how impossible it seems to our finite minds, to return to Christ.

    My older brother committed suicide 11 years ago and I thought that was the end of his soul at first. But, as I came to experience the atonement healing me, I knew that there must be a way for it to still heal my brother — even on the Other Side.

    The Book of Mormon describes the atonement as “infinite and eternal” and Doctrine and Covenants 138 talks about v. 58 “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
    59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.”

    This whole plan is so intricate and enormous and so all-encompassing and so wonderful and JOY-full that I’ve learned that we need not worry so much. Like Blue and many comments have said: the whole point is for us to work out our own salvation and just love everyone else.

    I’ve always loved a phrase that Pres. Monson said years ago, “Membership [in the Church] is more about who has your heart than who has your records.” It motivates me to not only live the Mormon life but to really feel it and experience it — for my membership to more than a number, but a truly sanctifying experience. My younger brother has also lost his faith and he has a beautiful heart. And as long as he’s my brother (which is permanent), I will love him (forever!). I just want him to be happy. I’m not sure that unhappily going through the motions is the right thing to do anymore. I’m not sure that severing ties is right either. Of course, in the end, we just want them to have faith that can qualify for the Kingdom. In the meantime, if they feel our love and support, they will hopefully feel that ownership and empowerment to find out who they are and what life means to them, and somehow — even if it’s by a route we’d rather not take — find themselves back in the healing arms of the Savior.

    Thanks for this amazing article!

  20. Elisa
    7:10 am on October 26th, 2010

    Thank you for sharing, Blue. It is amazing how similar our stories are. I too waited for my husband while he was on his mission. We were married in the temple as soon as possible when he got back. 10 years later he left the church after studying and intellectualizing himself out of the church.
    We have been married 15 years now and it has been a struggle for our 5 boys who have had to find their own testimonies and do what they think is right.
    The difference between us is that my husband fully believes in God and is now a Baptist preacher.
    I have gone through the same struggles of self pity, finding my own testimony to rely on, and getting council from those who can see the bigger picture.
    Each Bishop I have talked to has given me the same counsel as I have read here. Love him. As my husband continues to make choices that are not in line with what I believe that might teach my kids a different example than what I might want them to have, I just have to pray, trust in my Heavenly Father to strengthen myself and the boys, and just love my husband. There is nothing gained from judging where he is at. None of us are perfect and maybe his sins are just more transparent than mine.
    Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that I am not alone in this lonely journey.
    ~Elisa

  21. Dori
    4:13 pm on October 26th, 2010

    I am very touched by your story and I can relate to the feelings you had when you realized that your husband wasn’t who you thought he was anymore. I don’t feel so alone anymore in my burden of silence. Nobody seems to understand that there are layers upon layers of accepting that kind of reality. So grateful for this tender mercy of indirect understanding.

  22. Tonia Ewell-Thomas
    5:43 pm on October 28th, 2010

    Blue,
    Thank you for your story. After the death of our son, Charles, my husband worked very hard in the church so that we could go to the temple and be sealed as a family.
    Later he fell into an awful depression. He is now drinking himself silly on a nightly basis. I have been counseled concerning divorce but I still stay. My children are now teenagers and both are special needs. Sometimes I just want to leave them all and wash my hands of them but I know that God will guide me if I let him. I go to church alone and I go to the temple with the ward. I miss my family but “God will force no man to Heaven”. Thanks for your story.

  23. Relda
    12:19 am on November 3rd, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. I feel great comfort in hearing it tonight. My son struggles with his own testimony as a newly-wed. It is painful for both of us as I continue to ask him if he is attending church on Sundays with his new bride. My prayer is always-for his happiness and personal understanding of just who our Heavenly Father is. I will love my son with all of my heart, forever…continually hoping that he will eventually come to know God. I daily feel such gratitude for the Comforter-easing my sadness as a mother.

  24. Sherry
    2:08 pm on January 27th, 2011

    My mother has been growing through your same ordeal for twenty years. My father left the church when I was a little girl, together with much of my family (not all at the same time). I have left too. I believe in God, but I have never been blessed with faith in the gospel of the Church. It didn’t help that many of the most dedicated Mormons I grew up with were self-righteous, unkind, and looked down on my mother because of my father. I hate to think of people judging her, because she is the most generous and loving person in the world, I wish I could be just like her, and I know she still believes in the Church. So be strong and know that you are not alone at all. Know finally that it is NOT your fault if your husband/ child leaves the church! Everyone must decide for him or herself. I also hope that you will stay together with your husband, because he still needs your love and support.

  25. Brenda
    4:52 pm on June 13th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this. You are a beautiful person!

  26. Anon
    6:23 am on August 15th, 2011

    Thanks. It’s nice to hear from others who understand. There are MANY of us in this situation. Good luck to your family and many blessings. Love is the only answer here.

  27. Shelly
    4:49 pm on September 13th, 2011

    This past Fast Sunday, my husband was asked, out of the blue, to bear his testimony in Elder’s Q. I wasn’t there, but our HT told me what Ken said in his testimony. Ken basically said his testimony was different and would shock some. He said he had a testimony of Jesus Christ, but not of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For many years he has said he wanted to stop attending. And in his own right he has. Temple worship has stopped and he would not let me go. We went, at my begging, no our Stake Temple night. It was refreshing, but on the way home, he basically said it was a waste of time.

    I loved the answer to your prayer: To love him. In my Patriarchal Blessing, the last part tells me to use the power of love to keep my family together. I have my answer more than ever. I struggle due to the treatment he gives me, but I know what I need to do.

  28. Tanya
    5:04 pm on September 13th, 2011

    This exact same thing happened to me while I was pregnant with our first baby about 4 years ago. I experienced basically the exact same feelings and thoughts as you describe. I’ve always felt totally alone with this burden. The same week my husband told me he no longer wanted to have anything to do with the church (in a very unkind way, I might add) my best friends’ husband was killed in an accident. I remember wishing we could change places. I remember the whole world seemingly rallying around her with support in contrast with my bishop telling me not to tell anyone about my situation. I wish I’d had this article available to me then.

    Things have gotten better between my husband and I and we now have two beautiful babies. My faith in the gospel has never diminished but it is exhausting and emotional for me to go to church without my husband so we don’t make it very often. I feel guilty about it every Sunday and am still pretty bitter about the whole thing… Finding forgiveness is something I’m working on.

  29. Going Through the Journey
    7:44 am on October 12th, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this. I am going through my own journey of sorts as well as my sister. My sister’s husband told her that he only got active so she would marry him and he actually did not believe any of the church or its teachings. My husband told me after 18 months of marriage that he had a drug problem. He has since become sober but he has struggled with tabacco, coffee and his faith. He still goes to church most the time and wants to believe but I still don’t know what the outcome will be.

    I think one of the most difficult parts of this journey is that there is such a little support system. That we, as members, feel like we have to keep it all secret. That it is not accepted at all. Fortunately my sister confided in me so we have the chance to speak to each other but we both feel very alone in the fact that we can’t or don’t feel comfortable speaking to others at church about it.

    I am still struggling with the emotions. In the beginning I felt betrayed by God. I got married later in life and kept myself pure and rejected several non-members and members who weren’t living up to the standards. I felt like I had kept my end of the bargain and why weren’t the promised blessings given to me?

    But I am starting to accept all of it and realize that God has a plan for me. When my husband told my Bishop he had a drug problem he was so worried that he would get excommunicated but the Bishop told him it was worse that he lied about it and that many people have addictions. We were both surprised about the love and forgiveness we felt and the non-judgmental way he reacted and that helped my husband to get sober. I realized God is very forgiving as well. It has also caused me to realize that sometime self-righteousness and judging can be just as sinful if not more, at times than disobeying the word of wisdom or having a lack of faith.

    My husband has since then always been honest with himself and me. We are extremely happy in our marriage and with our kids and learning to communicate about our faith. It helps to talk about it often. I know things will work out somehow, someday. Thanks for sharing this and opening a discussion that is much needed in our church right now.

  30. Leigh
    11:07 am on September 20th, 2012

    Blue,
    Thank you so so much for sharing your story. I realize after reading it and this thread how I am not nearly as alone as I have felt recently. I am 21 years old and have been married for a little over a year. My husband served a mission in the church and shortly after we were engaged and married in the temple.
    Not long ago he confessed to me that he no longer believes in the church. This was a really hard thing for me to swallow as grew up with this idea that we would spend our lives as a faithful, cute little Mormon couple who spends our time going to the temple and who plan to go on a mission together someday. I was heartbroken and it was extremely hard for me to figure out what to do. I have been praying for guidance and many impressions have entered my mind, however none have brought more peace to my heart than when I realized that I need to just love him and support him. I am currently having my own struggles as well with some of the church’s history, but whether the church is true or not, I know that I will be alright and it will all work out in the end if I continue to endure and rely on our Heavenly Father. Thank you once again for telling your story and for in turn bringing me comfort and confirming the answer I’ve received.
    It is my hope that this will be acknowledged more within the church so that others struggling with this type of situation will know that they are not alone!

  31. Judith
    11:00 pm on June 15th, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate the comments, particularly the ones made by President Monson and Davis Bitton.

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