A few weeks ago I got asked to speak at a relief society activity on “I can do all things through Christ”. I have shared my story before with a group of high school students, and I left the high school feeling really yucky inside. I gave them all the gruesome details of my past, and had to leave out the real key to my recovery- the Savior. I didn’t like that the first thing that these high school students learned about me was that I had a very horrible past. After this experience I decided that I was going to leave my past in the past, and live my new life without ever looking back. Well, it seemed Heavenly Father had other plans for me. Shortly after this I got called to be an LDS 12 Step Facilitator. Part of me felt like it was counterproductive to be rehashing my past and continuing to talk about it. But I accepted the calling and knew that there was a purpose in it that I just didn’t see yet.
Opportunities to share my story seem to be coming from all over the place. I can’t deny that Heavenly Father is making it very apparent that the time has come to help other people. It’s not easy for me to set my pride aside and share my weakest, darkest moments to the world. In fact, putting the link to my blog in my Instagram bio was one of the most vulnerable moves I have made! Allowing ANYONE access to find out about my past. I just decided to jump in with both feet, and if people judge me- who cares.
Last night I shared my story at the relief society activity. I was literally shaking- heart pounding, ALL. DAY. LONG. It was terrifying. When I moved to Northern Utah, I felt so free of my past. I could just be who I am without anyone knowing what I had gone through. I’m a mom, a wife, and in the young women’s presidency. Not a recovering drug addict.
As I sat in front of all those women and began to share my story, a feeling came over me that confirmed that I was doing the right thing, and not to worry about judgemental looks or disapproving head shakes. It was so freeing to know that I was doing what Heavenly Father wanted me to do, regardless of the judgements I may face. My husband is the BEST example of this. In the Book of Mormon there is a story about the tree of life, and there is an iron rod that leads there. The iron rod is symbolic to the word of God. There is a great and spacious building, where the popular crowd hangs out, in their awesome clothes, and beautiful jewelry. They point fingers and laugh at the people that are holding to the iron rod. Some of the people that were holding to the iron rod glanced over at the great and spacious building, and were embarrassed. They fell away from the iron rod. Sometimes I catch myself worrying about what the people in the great and spacious building might think of me, and then my husband reminds me that it doesn’t matter because my focus should be on the iron rod and the tree of life. I am so grateful to have a husband that is so focused on following the Savior.
After I finished speaking, so many ladies came up to us, gave us hugs, and could relate to us in some way or another. They had children, or other family members that were struggling with addictions. One thing that I learn when I share my story, is that EVERYONE has SOMETHING that they are dealing with. Drug and alcohol addiction are very obvious and cannot be hidden for very long. But other problems such as depression, working too much, food addiction, soda addiction, anger, and pornography, are things that someone can be dealing with for a lifetime and people may never know.
I am so incredibly grateful that I went through the challenges I did, because I KNOW that the Atonement can change lives. That it can make broken things became new. It can soften hearts, and heal families. There is hope in the midst of our struggles. If we can surrender our will to God, he will reach out a hand and pull us up.