Imagine entering into a confession booth for the first time (unless you grew up Catholic then carry on). Shutting the door of the claustrophobic, phone-less phone booth and wondering: if you look hard enough can you make out the person sitting on the other side of the partition? The smell of mahogany is stuffy, the seat cushion worn and did someone carve “Brooks was here” on the door panel?
What would your heart confess? I know what mine would unload:
I’m that single mom sitting on the pew who has learned to hold her head up high.
I don’t cook, I don’t sew, I don’t sing but my sarcasm is on point.
I hate cauliflower, curry and coconuts.
Yeah, I’m a bigger girl. Yeah I’m eating this ice cream cone: your point?
I’ve dated. Some may say I’m even currently dating: we’ll call him Mr. M and he may make an appearance every now and again in my ramblings.
I have a ridiculous support system of family, extended family, friends who feel like family, maybe even your family. I heart families.
I also heart books, Oscar Wilde, 19th century transportation and macabre curios. The resin-preserved octopus on my book shelf is named Otto.
I thrive on public speaking but loathe small talk.
Writing is my go-to, my jam, my “why stop here when there are so many places to go” journaling approach: where you start on one topic and roller coaster your way through random thoughts till you stop right where you started.
I’ve been tried, tested, drowned, bruised and hidden too many times on my own accord. Free agency is a gift I often test to its limits. That’s why I’m here; that’s why I write. To peel away the scars and the scabs to unabashedly show you, the reader, what the healing process looks like.
I’ve loved and lost. I’ve failed too many times and I’ve made those I love cry and hurt. I didn’t just turn my cheek away from the Gospel, I flipped it off and made fun of it.
I can’t recall the exact moment I let go of the Iron Rod. It was an inescapable result of my negligence to my faith.
For years I stood one foot in and one foot out of the day-to-day Mormon lifestyle. I knew what I needed to say and do to keep my family from cluing into my inactivation and I relished in the attention my new friends poured over me while we took shots at the bar: this Mormon girl can drink.
At what point did I become the punchline of my own jokes? In this liberalized world where down is now up and wrongs are now social rights I’ve faced off the Words of Christ to justify my own twisted ethics.
Years piled up as I sloped further and further down from the light. Truths were replaced with inconsistencies. Faith shriveled from the darkness allowing justifications to take root: why bother praying at all- don’t you know that you’re just talking to yourself? There’s no one there to hear you.
Then there came a point where I could no longer keep myself from kneeling. My eleven year marriage ended, my new friends turned their backs on me and then I hit rock bottom: I became a part- time single mother. The one light in my life was no longer a stable fixture. As I spent the first night away from my son I turned to my own mother for comfort. She was waiting for me. Such was the faith of my mother: it was her ardent prayers that hit my reflexes bringing me to my knees and back to Christ.
I often thank my Heavenly Father for all the years that my mother spent faithfully praying for me. Recently my brother directed me to a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,” that not only illustrates the necessity for prayer but that God will use this tool to teach patience and resilience. I liken this not only for the many years my mother spent praying on my behalf, but the subsequent years of my own journey as I re-learned to pray. “Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem.”
Have I ever been humbled enough to be grateful for delayed responses? Have I taken the time to look back and be grateful for the journey rather than the reward?
Elder Christofferson continues on, “The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God.”
There was that word again: faith. The key I needed to bring myself back to the Gospel, to repentance. It was a decision I had to make each day when I woke up and said a prayer, a simple, sweet and yet powerful prayer, “Please help me to forgive myself.” Every. Day. For. Years.
“I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve… I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.”
Sometimes the simplest of steps take the longest to master, and even though I felt that my prayers weren’t being answered my faith was growing.
Wasn’t that the whole point?
“I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.”
As I use this platform to dissect the myriad of reasons as to why I left the church I’ll be able to show you the day to day thoughts and happenstances that eventually led me back. It’s in the small details of our everyday lives that lead us either closer to or further away from Christ’s love.
And for my final confession: me writing, sharing, and being uncomfortably, awkwardly honest with my past experiences and hopeful future: doesn’t scare me anymore.