These are my last couple of days as a non-member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Sunday, at about 5:00 pm, I will be rebaptised and be back in full fellowship of the church. Phase #1 of my repentance, recovery and rehabilitation will be done. For the last couple of weeks I felt like I’ve been floating around in a cloud in anticipation of having my excommunication over with. So it’s been natural that I’ve been reminiscing on my journey. And with that reminiscing, a few things stick out.
When I think back on where I’ve been, where I’m at and the process in-between, I see a whole lot of people, a chorus of people, who have had an influence in one way or another on my recovery. There have been people both hindering and helping; both judgmental and accepting; both naysayers and supporters. But all have had an influence and that influence was highly dependent on how I received their counsel and actions. Such as from that one sister who told me that I was in the right place when my wife left me, to the unknown one or more who petitioned the Bishop to not allow me to attend church, to the church leader who called me to a calling and then later chastised me because I did things that were out of order. I could have been offended and driven off many times but I decided to have courage and take the bad with the good, learn and incorporate both lessons into my rehabilitation.
But there are many dear and true friends that I’ve made along the way. They all have been my supporters and all have had faith in me when my own was wavering. All were patient as I changed from an obnoxious, toxic person to a humbled person trying to figure out which direction to turn. So many have given me blessings when I was in need, all of them listened to me when I whined and complained about how difficult life had become. I’m sure that at points some were exacerbated with my stubborn unwillingness to change only to be surprised when I learned my lesson and moved forward. Some I berated argued and yelled at; I was like a dog at the end of a leash, yapping and fighting at being forced to go in one direction until I submitted. All are very precious and dear friends for whom I have strong loyalties to.
Another thought is how I’ve been very careful these past few weeks to not give in to temptations. I’ve been reading, praying and staying active in the church in an effort to ward off the evil that so easily tempts me. But what I’ve discovered is that it’s not the big things I have to worry about, it’s the little things. For example, baptism wipes away sins so the thought came to mind that I could do just about anything and it will all be taken care of. Can there be anything more dumb and uncommitted? I was at the market the other day and I had this hankering and strong desire to get me some coffee ice cream. Now first of all, ice cream is the last thing I need but coffee flavored? I knew that it would not only trigger a need for more coffee, but open the door for more “little sins” that would add up to bigger ones. What did I do? I didn’t even go to the ice cream isle. I want to have a spiritual baptism. I can’t have that if I’m rebelling even in a small way.
I also looked back and I can see the hand of the Lord in every aspect of my journey; from my first prayer after my excommunication to the present day. I had to get humility and the proper attitude to listen. But I believe that because I wanted to change, but didn’t know how, I was guided along until I was able to feel the Spirit. And even then, I was further guided along but with much richer blessings. But at the time, I was oblivious to all what was happening around me, except the evil that I felt.
There came a time I had to call and plead with the Lord to take away from me all these temptations, sins and the evil that I was surrounded with. It was almost like Alma of old (minus the prophet part) but what goes for him also pertains to us. So I did remember Christ and He remembered me. The sweetness and peace of the Spirit I was allowed to have at that moment changed my direction. How grateful I am for that experience. How grateful I am that I had enough presence of mind to call out to God, and that God answered my desperate cry for help.
But there was one moment that I can point to that got me on the road to recovery. It was when I was by myself, in my little apartment, surrounded by darkness, feeling the evil in the room with me, doing what I’ve been doing all along and trying with all my might to fight them off with my own will power, and loosing. It was at that moment that I remembered the Lord, knelt down and said a little, desperate prayer; “Father, help me!” I guess I was humble enough because I reached out and someone grabbed onto me. It was at that moment that It was made known to me in a small, simple, quiet way that my Father in Heaven knows me as an individual, that He deals and interacts with me as an individual, that I am counted, that I matter to Him because I am His and I belong to Him because I am His child.
Don’t get me wrong, I still had to deal with my behavioral issues, my anger issues, my lack of tact, my constant and consistent sinning and my rebelliousness. But it was at that moment that I knew that if nothing else, there was one person I would turn to who would fundamentally change me. And it was that person whom I learned had a much larger perspective on what my potential really is. That He sent his Son to pay the price of sin and suffering so that I wouldn’t have to if I would repent and put forth a sincere effort to change. I did, and soon I will perform the ordinance of baptism to show my obedience and enter into a covenant with my Father in Heaven to, instead of constantly and consistently sinning, strive to constantly and consistently obey His commandments, bear another’s burdens and stand as a witness of the goodness and power of God.
How I look forward to that! How I can’t wait to come back into the fold of God! How I can’t wait to finally come home!