I was raised as a member of the church, but gospel principles weren’t taught in the home, and they certainly weren’t lived. My parents’ relationship was fraught with problems, colored mainly by my mother’s serial adultery. We were all aware of it but nobody spoke of it. My dad withdrew from all of us, not just my mom, leaving her alone to parent, which created an environment that was sad and toxic. Of the four children in my family, both boys became drug dealers, and both girls ended up pregnant and single. In my mid-twenties I found myself five months pregnant and married to someone I hardly knew. He was a recently returned missionary, and he and his family blamed me for this shameful downfall. His plan, which he didn’t share with me, was to marry me for about a year, mindful of the optics, then divorce me, and gain custody of our son. I tried desperately to unsuccessfully convince him that I was a good person. He remained unconvinced.
As we began our life together, I took to motherhood in a way that surprised everyone who knew me. I attended church with my husband out of obligation, at first just sacrament meeting, then eventually all three hours. Years passed, my husband loved our son too much to divorce me, realizing that he would never gain custody. We deliberately had another child so that our only son would have a full sibling when we divorced, which seemed inevitable. For reasons I can’t recall, we were sealed in the temple after the birth of our second son, but I was still not converted and took my garments off immediately. I continued to attend church, but never the temple. We moved from state to state and ended up in a tiny branch that met in a middle school cafeteria, and it was sitting in that lunchroom that my testimony started to form. I started to quietly implement some basics. First prayer, then, a year or more later, reading scriptures, fulfilling my callings, then visiting teaching. Line upon line, I built my testimony from scratch and started to believe in a loving God. My husband and I found enough emotional maturity and love for our children to build a beautiful home life for them, and we ignored our problems as best we could.
At church one week, a friend told me she attended the temple every week. I had never heard of such a thing, but was curious enough to renew my temple recommend. I made a commitment to attend the temple weekly. That was nine years ago and I have only missed due to extended travel. Six years ago, as our oldest son was leaving for his mission, my husband told me he no longer believed in the church. He stopped wearing garments, refused to pay tithing, started and would spew hateful venom any time we found ourselves alone. Again, I wasn’t good enough for him and the person he now wanted was the person I had been when we first married, one without a moral compass. Fortunately, he kept this side of his life from our children, but they had more awareness than he realized, and sensing his thinly veiled anger rooted then more deeply in the gospel.
One day, feeling especially discouraged, I sat in the chair during an initiatory session, waiting for a temple worker to enter. I said a very specific prayer, asking my Heavenly Father to send me a message through one of the temple workers, letting me know if I was handling my difficulties in the best way. As I walked through the third curtain, a temple worker looked at me, already tearful, and said, “I don’t know why I need to tell you this, but Heavenly Father is so aware of you, and is so proud of how you are handling things.” I cried with her. My Heavenly Father loves me all the time, but I believe His voice is louder when I go to His house. I’m still married, my youngest son is a senior in high school. My husband has told me that the end date to our marriage aligns with our son moving out. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I live in trust and assurance that Heavenly Father is aware of me, and that He’ll guide me when I need Him.