My faith crisis story (Sally)

This is the third post in a series how several of us have dealt with a crisis in faith.

No one can make us do anything we seriously don’t want to do. I can’t even say when I started to slide backwards it was such a gradual change. In all hindsight, I can honestly say it was because I took my membership and my temple recommend for granted. I believed that members sealed in the temple were sealed for all time and eternity; therefore, there is no divorce. You work things out.

I need to rewind a little bit. When we moved to the west coast 19 years ago, I left literally everyone I knew behind ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù not counting Keith and my children ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùparents, in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, life-long friends; the list goes on. Nevertheless, I knew we needed the move to get our heads above water. In the last contract my husband had done in Regina, he cleared $2.50 an hour. That was a little hard to handle with 5 teenagers who are always hungry. I knew even before I prayed about it that it was what we needed to do. It didn’t make the transition any easier, but I adjusted.

Move forward a few years, and our son Kim left on his mission. I had never in a million years expected to react the way I did. Two years seemed a lifetime to me. My whole life was being a mum; although, I had more bad days than good ones as a mother. Having one of my children away where I couldn’t make sure he was safe tore me. He came back home late in 1994, and I was very excited. Little did I know the next year would be worse, at least in my eyes. The kids had a great year. Four out of our five children got married in an 8-month period, and the only one who did not get married moved into his own apartment. WHAT? No, no, no, that is not supposed to happen. A mum doesn’t get empty nest syndrome that fast!

My whole purpose in life had been to be a mum. That was my role. Now it was gone. I floundered. I think that was when I started just to not think. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I just was going through the motions at this point. The following year, I agreed to move to Vancouver for Keith’s work. He had spent almost 10 years by this point commuting back and forth to work. It was taking its toll on him, so I told him we could move away. I figured it wouldn’t matter. The kids all had their own lives to live with their new families. The night before we moved, friends had brought over some Chinese food, as they knew everything was packed. A few bites into the dinner I could feel my mouth going numb. I asked them if they had checked if there was MSG in the food, and they said yes and that there was none; however, I knew there had to have been. I went to get my epi-pen. I had forgotten to refill it, so we went to emergency. I told them what was happening and needed epinephrine. They gave me a shot, but it never helped. They could tell my heart rate was racing, so they hooked me up to a heart monitor. The rate was climbing over 150 at this point, but it kept climbing. Keith said he was just going to out side for a second to call someone to come give me a blessing. He was gone for only a minute, but when he came in, he saw the heart rate at 255 and knew I was going. Last thing I remember was his yelling for some help, and the monitor doing a flat beep before the darkness took over.

Obviously, seeing as how I am sitting here typing this, they brought me back. Eventually, I asked what had happened and that I didn’t understand why the epi had not worked. The nurse said they hadn’t given it to me. She said the first 2 they gave me was Benadryl! WHAT! ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI told you guys when I checked in what I needed.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù She said we always get people in here who say that for the high they get with it. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìDo I look like someone that needed a fix??¢‚Ǩ¬ù I told them Benadryl actually intensifies the effect of MSG for me, and they had actually made things worse. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìOops, sorry.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù Idiots.

We finally moved, but it took 3 weeks before I would go to bed to sleep at night. I was convinced I would not wake up. I would doze sitting straight up on the couch or in the armchair, but I wouldn’t lie down. We would go to church, but I really felt like an outsider. People used to call the ward the Nearly Dead/Newlywed ward as there were many university students living in the area, as well as several nursing homes. I told the Primary president that if anyone ever needed a sub ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù even at last minute ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù they could call me. I never received a calling in the 4 years we were there. No home teachers, no visiting teachers. Coming from a very strong ward made this very disheartening. Had I not already been in bad emotional shape, I don’t think that would have affected me as much as it did.

I knew I had to do something. I missed our kids so much. Our one son moved to Alberta so he could go to university. Another son moved his family to the Kamloops area. We hardly ever saw the other kids. Then another son moved his family back to Saskatchewan. A little chunk kept falling off my heart. I just kept shrugging it off, telling myself that we all had to do what we had to do to survive. Just as we had moved away from our families, they had to as well. I took a course in hospitality just to keep busy. I had always wanted to work in a hotel. I flew through the course, and convinced one of the downtown hotels to take me on as free labour over the summer. If they were happy with my service at the end of the summer, they could hire me; if they weren’t, they could let me go and they wouldn’t have lost anything.

I lasted one week, then was told in a meeting that I was very good. Unfortunately, they actually had no position for me, but one of their sister hotels at the airport had just opened up a month before and they were having a hard time staffing it. He said it would give me a leg up in the aspect of promotions. So off I went. I was hired there, and in one year received 3 promotions. As with any new employee, the last one hired gets all the weekend, holiday, and night shifts. It was no big deal; nothing was happening at church, and I was just glad to be busy.

Then I got sick again. I was in and out of the doctors, and they couldn’t figure it out. They finally hospitalized me and 3 weeks later, I was getting worse. Keith had been there one night when the specialist came in with the latest test results saying they still had no way of knowing what was wrong, but basically every organ was shutting down and we needed to talk about what we wanted to do. He thought that they should send me home, so I could be with my family. Keith was beside himself. He is a fixer and he couldn’t fix this. The next morning I was sitting up trying to get some dry toast down and started being sick to my stomach. The nurses came rushing in to see dark black “coffee grounds” coming up all over the place. They called in my doctor, who was actually on her way to see me. She just asked if I had eaten anything, so I told her some dry toast. She started questioning my eating habits, and she said, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI think you have a severe gluten allergy.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I said, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI have eaten things with wheat in all my life I never had a problem before.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù She said, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThat happens at times.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù She told me to read labels and to diligently not eat anything with gluten in it. A week later, I was home and doing much better, so I went back to work.

This meant I saw even less of our children and grandchildren. I managed to stay in Vancouver for 4 very long years before Keith finally noticed I was so unhappy. We were coming into Surrey on a Saturday and going to our daughter?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s to visit. As we drove by, we saw a sign saying they had condos for rent, so we went in just to see and walked away with one in tow. It was a 5-minute walk to our daughters and I couldn’t have been happier.

By this time, I had been promoted to the position of controller, which is just below general manager. I was in different social circles then was “normal” or to which I was accustomed. I was attending seminars in Montreal, Toronto and New York; life in the fast lane on the way to a head first crash. Then my mother-in-law past away followed 2 months later by my only sister. Everything boiled into one big mess. I looked back to the day we had moved to Vancouver, saw my unhappiness, 4 of my 5 children were inactive at this point and we had 2 grandchildren over 9 years old. I knew that as a mother, I had really let my children down. I realized that just because they had moved away did not mean that I was less of a mother. Shortly after we moved to our new home, we were assigned a home teacher we knew from before. Keith and he were very close. He never questioned us as to why we weren’t coming to church, but he diligently came out for a year before he moved away. I was assigned a visiting teacher who loved me unconditionally. She was very careful not to tread on my toes, always asking if it was ok to end with a prayer or to give a message. One day, the message was on how if parents aren’t living up to the responsibilities of raising their children in the gospel, it was the responsibilities of the grandparents. I knew in my heart of hearts what I needed to do.

I spoke to Keith and told him what I wanted to do. I thought for sure I would have had to do it alone, but he did not hesitate. He said, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWe are in this together for better for worse,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù so we made an appointment with the bishop. We met with him and it was like verbal diarrhoea out of my mouth. Every little thing I thought/knew I had “done wrong” came out. I talked for a long time. With every minute going by, it was a bigger relief on my shoulders. We then had to meet with the bishopric. After much praying and fasting on all our parts, the decision came down to a year disfellowshipment for both of us, which included losing our temple recommends. We hadn’t renewed them in a long time, but it was because we chose not to. Now we could not. That was when it hit me. That was when I realized I had taken my membership for granted. I had taken my testimony for granted. I knew then that I had been wrong in doing that. I promised Heavenly Father and the priesthood holders with whom we met that I would work at regaining my membership with everything I had.

I kept getting sicker though physically, which was draining me. In all the years we had been members, no one had ever given me a blessing other than Keith. Others had participated in ones with him, but I had never had one without him. He kept saying that he would get someone to give me one. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNo sorry. It will wait until you get your priesthood back.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù They finally sent me to a rheumatologist; he diagnosed me with a severe case of Fibromyalgia. Why can’t I ever have little things? My boss at work was good at bending over backwards to help me out. He took one of the hotel rooms out of inventory, so when I needed a nap I could go lie down. He got me a laptop, so I could come in for only half days and do the rest of my work from home. Nevertheless, it was a time-consuming job, and I knew it wasn’t fair to him. My spine was also continuing its deterioration and the pain became constant from that.

The doctor and specialist finally convinced me to leave work. They also said I needed to move out of the apartment we had as it had too many stairs. We were able to find one that was just in the building across the driveway and was all on the ground floor, so we moved. Physically, I wasn’t getting better, but spiritually I was. I attended every Sacrament meeting. I couldn’t sit for longer than that, but I did all that I could. All of a sudden, we noticed our son-in-law coming to church, and he would phone to see if he could catch a ride with us. Then it was him and one of the kids; then a couple more of the kids. Then our daughter became pregnant, and all of a sudden she was coming back to church.

Although our disfellowshipment was for a year, we barely made it past 10 months. We met with the bishopric again, and we were told we had followed all guidelines and if we felt we were ready, they would give us our full membership back. We were both so ready! Keith gave me a comfort blessing that night. I knew I would never put myself in a position ever again where I would be without the protection of my temple recommend. Would it have been just as easy to walk away had we not lived in that ward, and if we would have had home and visiting teachers? Who knows? An idle mind is a devil’s workshop . . . or something like that. We are all in control of our actions. I think when I hear someone say she left the church because someone offended her, I think to myself, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìThat is just an excuse.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù The gospel is perfect, members are human beings, and things will be said and done that will make you go hmmmm and irritate you. The way I look at it is, the second I move into a glass house, then I can start with the stones. Until then, I am going to work my very best to never be without my privileges and blessings. Because that is what my temple recommend and membership is to me now. A privilege and a blessing.

11 thoughts on “My faith crisis story (Sally)”

  1. Mum

    It takes hard work and soul searching, but you did it. Good for you and for all you do. And we so much appreciate you and dad coming to visit us and for us being able to stay with you when we come to BC for a visit. We miss our family for certain, but we know Alberta was the right (is) place to be for us. We are sorry you went through so much.

    On a lighter note, your grandchildren are so excited to see you at Christmas and Aisling just cannot stop talking about Nana (every phone call everything she is doing she wants to tell Nana about, hehe)

  2. I think you have a severe gluten allergy.” I said, “I have eaten things with wheat in all my life I never had a problem before.” She said, “That happens at times.

    Interesting how many allergies surface in mid-life. That is when I got my chocolate allergy.

    Gluten, though, can be a killer. I’m glad it was diagnosed in time.

  3. The story is quite moving and relates the pain a mother feels when her purpose in life (raising children) is gone and in this case very quickly. With the pain of the children being gone quickly, moving and illness to have local church leaders met out punishment seems over the top and I am amazed that with all of that going on that Sally would continue to attend any LDS services.

    I was not aware a person/couple could or would be disfellowshipped for not attending services especially when illness was also involved. I guess if you can be disfellowshipped for something as simple as allowing your children to attend a non LDS cub scout pack then non attendance would also fit right in.

    It does seems strange for the Bishop to hold a church court since you would need to be active for a year before regaining your temple recommend so I do not understand the purpose of this kind of punishment for someone who wants to start attending again.

    I remember 1 1/2 years ago on this blog when I wrote about some of the things I had experience via LDS leaders were discounted by some and now I believe the stories I have read here this month about being disfellowshipped over cub scout attendance and non attendance make my experiences seem mild.

    Sally must be a true Pioneer in every sense of the word to be able to plod on with such tribulations to endure for a religion.

  4. you would need to be active for a year before regaining your temple recommend

    There is no set time for reactivated members to wait before receiving a temple recommend. It varies with each situation.

  5. Pew.. I actually read your comments a couple of days ago and started writing but then I changed my mind and decided to wait and think about what I wanted to say. The Bishopric “doled out punishment” because I had not lived up to mmy promises and cevenants much as I would my children when they were young when they did something wrong. When they would come to me and say ” I did this…” then they got disciplined for the action at times depending on the severity but we would praise them for coming forward and stepping up to the plate by being honest.

    I could have came back and not told a soul about any misdeeds instead staying everything had been peachy kean. But I know that would have been false. It had been my choice 100% completely to go and see my Bishop. I was not disfellowshipped for not attending meetings due to illness. What I was disfellowshipped for is between my husband, my bishop and the Lord.

    I am thankul I went through what I did. I value my temple recommend, I treasure my membership in the churh and you would be hard pressed to find anyone in our wards that would say I did not give 110% of my time talents and energies. And I do it because I am loved and because that was what the Lord needed for me to do for myself.

    I am sorry you feel that it was not deserved or needed. It was deserved.

  6. Sally – It was refreshing to hear that you believe you received something tangible from such a concept and that you believe it really helped you. I doubted that you had been disfellowshiped over non attendance but I did not feel it was my place to challenge you about it since I have witness Bishops & SP’s exercising unrighteous dominion over others and it would not surprise me that something like that really did happen to you.

    I do not recall reading where Jesus preached disfellowship as a part of the religion he started. I can recall where he forgave and told people to sin no more but I do not recall disfellowship being practiced by Jesus.

    I am glad that you had the courage to write about something as taboo as being disfellowshiped. I would be interested in reading/discussing how you were able to plod forward and how you believe that it took such and act for Jesus to forgive you for whatever really happened.

  7. Bradley Ross said: “I am profoundly grateful for testimonies like yours which testify of God’s open arms.”

    I do not follow your logic here – Where is God’s open arms when the church closes itself from you? Are you promoting the theory of punishment (torture) as being a form of love?

    Sally’s experiences might be called a form of Love but perhaps it was really more punishment to scare her into behaving the way LDS leaders want her to. When I was a child, my father would spake us and the emotional scars are still there while all the punishment really did was scare us children into obeying his rules.

  8. Pew

    Not once did I ever feel that the Church closed its doors to me while I was going through my “time out”. The church leaders were very loving and concerned towards both myself and my husband. They would call to see if everything was all right, was there anything they could help us with, did we need blessings of comfort etc. Christ forgave me the second I said I was sorry for what I had done/not done. But there are steps to repentance, recognizing you are doing wrong, repenting of it, and then not doing it again. Bishops did not come up with this plan. Christ implemented it Himself.

    Not once have I felt in the last 3 years or during the year I was disfellowshipped that I was being punished or scared into doing what was right. I always have the freedom of choice to stay where I am or leave. No one is holding a gun to my head. I willingly went to speak with my leaders when I came back and willingly opened up my heart. At all times I felt safe and secure. I felt and knew I was loved and was given compassion.

    Just as we as parents discipline our children when they do wrong so do our leaders. I have been in the Bp/SP offices on more then many occasions (not all mine ) when disciplinary action had to be taken and NOT ONCE was it ever “doled out” in anything but a kind and loving manner. Not once.

    When I commented that I now give 110% of my time and energies… that isn’t just now I do it to keep on the good graces. I have always done that in all my callings over all the years. When I could not hold a calling for my year I did help out where I could. Not once was I told to “do this or that”. I was asked if I could help and was always given the option to assist someone in need. No I do not just help out in our ward and stake. I assist people with their family history. I help out in our local library to read to children. I help out in my community with the elderly. I am the same way at home and in my life as I am at church. I am the same woman on Sundays as the rest of the week.

    I am grateful for my experience. It has taught me that Christ does still love me, he will always forgive me and that he died for the sins I did commit in my years of temporary insanity.

  9. Sorry for the repeat – Sally – It was refreshing to hear that you believe you received something tangible from such a concept and that you believe it really helped you.

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