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

I “quit attending” when I was about 16 due to a job that had me work Sundays. When I finally quit the job and started back to church, I felt like a stranger. I thought people would be happy to see me but I didn’t get much response. I had both great and horribly bad examples of members in my youth, and my family wasn’t a righteous example—although they weren’t terrible either. I guess I was left to my own devices. So I chose my best friend who was Mormon, and we partied heavily. 

I always thought I would eventually marry in the temple, at least that’s what my parents and brothers had doneif I could just find a Mormon boy who drank but wanted to reform. Unfortunately no one I liked liked me back. So on I marched. I felt a bit like I wasn’t the right material for the “righteous families” as well. My plan was not working, so I quit praying and tried to hide from God. That doesn’t work. By the time I was pregnant and unmarried at 29, I felt I was excommunication material and was afraid to go back. So I stayed hidden for 26 years.

By the time I was 40, I had an 11-year-old child and a husband who loved me and accepted me. We decided to go back to church, but which? We started at the Episcopal Church and that was my awakening. I started with the Bible study class and everything I had learned so long ago came rushing back. As I talked scripture with the group, they thought I was a preacher’s daughter. I told them I had received the Holy Ghost at eight from my father. I understood Isaiah. I talked about the home/visiting teaching program. They thought I was incredibly knowledgeable. I knew what revelation was about in that moment.

I found my way to a church and asked the Bishop if I could see him. I cried and cried as I talked about the last 26 years of my life. I thought I would have to go before a council of some kind. He just hugged me and said “Welcome home.”

My reconversion has changed everything for me, needless to say. I think I have a unique calling because I feel the broken-hearted, and I understand how the rescued people are just as capable of receiving revelation as the “ninety and nine.” Especially in a non-Priesthood holder family, I know I have access to God’s power and I am not denied (thank you President Nelson). I am a daughter of God, and I am never alone. We are all equal in his eyes.