Back from Inactivity


In one of my MIA classes during my high school years, my teacher discussed the possibility that some of us girls would become inactive. I remember looking around the room wondering which ones of us would fall away. I couldn’t imagine any of us not being active, especially myself. I was certain that I was safe. Yet in a couple of years I was among those my teacher had been discussing, a statistic on the list of inactives.

Inactivity wasn’t something I planned. It crept in without my being fully aware.

While attending Ricks College, I began finding reasons for missing sacrament meetings: a good movie was on; I was too tired; nobody spoke to me at church. I had a whole closet full of excuses. Missing one church meeting without valid reason made it easier for me to miss another and then another. I began to skip meetings almost every Sunday, except for those times I went home to visit for the weekend. I went to Devotional only when I had to sing in the choir, and I didn’t pray as often as I should have. But I still felt I was a good Mormon.

When I left college and went to work in another town, I decided I would start going to church again. I went several times, then quit—I didn’t like the ward. I saved my tithing because I planned to pay it sometime. But the amount grew larger and larger, and I bought worldly goods instead.

Since I didn’t attend church, I didn’t know other LDS people my age; therefore, my friends were nonmembers. I didn’t think anything was wrong with going to a bar with them now and then as long as I drank soda or orange juice. Once in a bar I even ran into a girl from my old MIA class. We both tried to explain that we were “only drinking soda.” Neither of us believed the other.

I’m not sure at exactly what point I realized what had happened to me, but after about three years of inactivity, I tried to return to church. I wasn’t very successful. Inactivity is a slippery slide. The farther we go, the faster we slide. Some go so far away that they no longer believe they have what it takes to come back. My heart aches for them.

Even those of us who try to climb back sometimes feel we’re not making any progress. We grow so afraid, that we won’t let go of the side bars long enough to reach up and advance. The process of climbing back to activity can be slow and painful. The falling may bruise us, and climbing back may take all our strength, but I know now that it is possible to get back.

I realize that I might never have made it without my husband, Kurt. When he joined the Church I felt it was my turning point, a good chance to come back.

I had been born in the Church, yet I had never read any Church-related books. When Kurt joined he read the Book of Mormon in a week, and he hasn’t stopped studying the gospel since. I felt I needed to keep up with him. I’ve read and learned more about the gospel since his baptism than ever before. I finally gained the testimony I needed to help me through my struggle. When we were sealed in the temple in December 1980, I wept for joy. I felt I had finally reached the top of the slide.

I know the Church is true, and I know the Lord answers our prayers. When I found myself in serious inactivity, I prayed for help and the Lord sent me Kurt. When I struggled for knowledge, I prayed for guidance and received a calling to teach in the Primary, where I’ve had the opportunity to review gospel basics. I remember one lesson in particular. I felt that because I had been inactive I wasn’t as good as those who had never fallen away. That lesson just happened to be about the parable of the lost sheep, and I learned that the Lord loves me dearly, even though I strayed. When I prayed for children, the Lord gave me six all at once—these lovely souls in my CTR-A class who bring me such joy!

As I struggled to come back, praying for help, I promised the Lord that if he would help me become active again, I would do everything I could to encourage others not to follow the path to inactivity that I had followed. I know now that I should not have let petty excuses keep me from my meetings. When I felt alone or ignored at church, I should have introduced myself to someone who also appeared to need a friend. I should have kept reading the scriptures even if it had been only a chapter a day. Above all, I should have continued to pray—always.

Sometimes my husband asks me if I’m afraid of becoming inactive again. My answer is “Yes!” I am afraid, but that fear is a blessing because it keeps me on guard. When I stay up late Saturday night and don’t feel like attending my Sunday meetings, the fear of becoming inactive helps me get up and go. I know what it’s like and I don’t want to find myself there again. So far I’ve been one of the lucky ones. Enduring to the end is now my goal.

[illustration] Illustration courtesy Providence Lithograph

Trudy Dilworth Bockoven, a homemaker with one child, serves as Primary in-service leader in her San Francisco, California, ward.