This story is part of our Tales of Return collection. Read more from Tales of Return.

Due to an early childhood sexual experience, I did not consider myself clean before the Lord—especially when I recited the Young Women’s motto each week during church. This lead to my not valuing my virtue, and being raped by a recent convert to the Church. This is how I began my sexual life.

We were friends and I thought I loved him. Our intimacy lead to disciplinary councils—he in his ward, and I in mine. He obtained probation, and I was disfellowshipped. In my fury and confusion about our different outcomes, I left the Church for over a decade.

During that time, I focused on my education. My self-esteem grew based on what I could achieve academically. I continued to make poor choices about who I was intimate with, but I was careful enough not to get pregnant. Overall, I found my intimate relations to be empty and unfulfilling.

After landing my dream job, I moved to a new town. At that same time, there was a temple open house that my mother invited me to. Inside the temple, I felt the Lord’s love for me. The Holy Spirit I was given when I was eight began to grow. Within a few months, I began to attend church again. I was living the life of someone who lived by Gospel principles, but I wasn’t partaking of the sacrament. I couldn’t, due to being disfellowshipped. I worked with the bishop to clear my record. I also met and began dating a man who wanted to marry me in the temple. Given my past mistakes, I couldn’t believe he valued my soul that much. We were sealed in the Lord’s temple in November 2006 and are the best of friends.

Christiane and her husband