Hugs for Gary Thomas

I was born in 1957, my parents had a 17 year gap in their ages, and lived a hard lifestyle.  This was my father’s 5th marriage,  and it wasn’t long before this marriage failed.   Amazingly,  the judge awarded custody of my sister and me to my dad, in California,  around 1960.

A chance meeting at a diner between my grandmother and another customer resulted in my father hiring Glades to take care of us, and they eventually married.   When I was 8, Gladys adopted us.
Mom (Gladys)was a non member from Utah.  We used to go visit her family in the summer.  Eventually my dad’s emphysema got so bad that we moved to Utah.   This was the first time I remember meeting members of the Church.
Being a new kid in a small town, I didn’t fit in at all.  There was bullying, and fights.  I also found a core group of friends,  who set great examples.
I was invited to participate in softball, basketball, and scouts.  I didn’t understand the requirement to attend Sacrament meeting, so I just did the minimum, and I certainly wasn’t paying much attention. ……..except to the music.
In the meantime I had another group of friends,  that were older and were my father’s drinking buddies.  I started drinking with  them and my dad.
The uplifting friends hung in there though.   I asked a girl on a date, she agreed only if I went to a fireside with her in return.  The speaker talked about family. I remember parts of it distinctly.
Then I asked another girl to a school dance.   She told me she had to ask permission from her parents  (not uncommon in Utah), so I figured it was a formality.   The next day she told me her father said no, because I was a non member.  He also wanted to meet with me to explain.
I was a cocky arrogant 16 year old, so I was convinced I could persuade him to change his mind.  I tried a phone call,  he turned it into a dinner invitation.   I then learned about eternal family,  and how this could only happen in Temples.
3 hours later,  I had a full stomach,  a token agreement to talk with “missionaries”, and no date.
I procrastinated, because I hadn’t agreed to a set date.  6 weeks later, 2 stake missionaries knocked on my door because of a referral.  Flannel board discussion,  with 2 men who were the fathers of my classmates.
I wasn’t a golden contact.  There was 1/2 inch of dust on the Bible in my room.  I’m sure that these brother’s were sure I was wasting their time.   Changes were happening at home. More arguments with my dad, and my rebellious path was leading me towards light.
Nearly 4 months into the discussions,  as the missionary was leaving,  I asked him what I needed to do to be baptized.   He sat down in shock.  2 weeks later I was baptized and confirmed.

I married a girl from that group right after turning 18.  42 years later, we’re still best friends,  and eternal companions.
Life is good,  I cannot imagine it without the Gospel.

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  1. “I married a girl from that group right after turning 18. 42 years later, we’re still best friends, and eternal companions.” *tear*

    I think your story shows the importance of being kind and inclusive to others as church members. Non-members will notice the difference in the kind of people we are and how we treat others, not in our belief system necessarily. Then their interest in “why we are so happy” will lead them to discovering these beliefs and truths for themselves 🙂

  2. So happy you found the gospel and your precious wife! Thanks for sharing your story.

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