Last Sunday was the 6th Annual International Hug a Convert Day. Cindy sent me her story on Tuesday, so I figured I would hold it until next year.
Nah. Live is too short. Here is her story. Thanks Cindy!
I grew up a Catholic in Utah. Very strong Catholic family. Very Anti-Mormon family.
After a lengthy divorce and custody battle, it was determined that my abusive ex-husband would get custody of my son. I was distraught and a mess of emotions. I was on my knees pleading with the Lord – PLEASE! Begging Him that I would do ANYTHING, ANYTHING, PLEASE ANYTHING to have this decision reversed.
And there was a knock on my door:
I slammed the door so fast! And yelled at the sky – ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!
But . . realizing that I had just made a bargain with the Lord, I reopened the door and let the Elders in.
From there my lessons proceeded as usual, until we got to the Joseph Smith story, I had a road block there that a 14 year old boy founded a church. I was asked to pray about it, and was blessed with a knowledge that the church was true and Joseph Smith was a prophet.
The problem was telling my parents. Even though I was 24 I knew that they were still very anti. I kept my baptism secret from them for months, until my dad’s truck broke down on 2700 west and I saw him walking along the road and pulled over to give him a ride. I forgot to take my CTR ring off and he was rather angry that I had joined the church. He said I was disowned and not his daughter anymore. I took him home and when I went to follow him into the house, he slammed the door in my face. My mom called me later to ask me if it was true that I had joined the church, my dad hung up the phone for her. We started talking in secret. She told me she was okay with my joining the church, but “I should NEVER marry one of those Mormons”!
The ward I was in was full of single mothers just like me, many of the priesthood were from different wards, I felt needed, accepted and loved. Since giving up coffee, recreational drugs and alcohol, I needed new friends, and this ward provided that for me, thank goodness. They helped transition me from party girl to relief society sister. Taught me how to be a good wife and mother (when the time came again) and how to build a gospel centered home.
I soon met someone who was willing to date a divorced person (believe me, it was bad). We were sealed in the Salt Lake temple, and blessed with 3 beautiful daughters. We celebrated 25 years this year and our daughters are all grown, with the youngest one on a mission.
What has changed me the most about being LDS was actually moving out of Utah in 2002. We moved to a tiny little branch in Story City Iowa, pretty much everyone has 3 callings. Within our first week of moving to Iowa, a long time branch member passed away, and I was jumping into service with both feet. The Relief Society President called me and asked if I could watch kids, make something for the funeral lunch and help clean up after the luncheon. I was needed, accepted and loved! This branch has taught me about service.
I have been a member for over 25 years now. I didn’t get custody of my son. But I have received peace with that.
Story City Branch, Iowa