I always knew I would come back to the Church. Still, it came as a surprise to me when the Holy Ghost whispered that now was the time. I hadn’t exactly been living in a way to invite the Holy Ghost to speak to me.
But the whispering of the Spirit was persistent.
My parents had been blessed to learn of the gospel in their teens, not long after they began dating. After their marriage they were diligent about sharing this precious gift with their children. I grew up in the Church, watching my parents serve faithfully in leadership callings. In my teens, though, I dropped out, determined that I must experience life on my own terms to learn if what I had been taught was true.
Still, I never denied that the gospel is true, and a part of me knew I needed to come back. Despite the worldly lifestyle I was living, I just knew somehow that I would be married in the temple—someday.
When the Spirit spoke to me, I was in my mid-20s living far from home, in a major city of the country where I was born, and enjoying my job as a flight attendant. My parents believe those spiritual promptings came to me as a result of blessings that were pronounced on them by President Thomas S. Monson after my father was called as a mission president. President Monson promised that they would receive unexpected blessings as a result of their desire to serve and their willingness to accept the call.
I was comfortable in my lifestyle—not ready to give up what I now call “my sugar-coated years,” although I was discovering that there was little substance under the sugar coating. A breakup with a man after two years of dating opened the way for me to consider a more important relationship—with my Savior. One day while I was feeling dejected over that breakup, the words came to my mind, “I have to go back to Church.” I began attending meetings when I had Sunday off, and later I requested that I be given every Sunday off. My request was granted, even though this privilege was almost unheard of in my line of work.
My next step in the repentance process was prayer. I had always been taught that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I turned to Him for help in making the changes that were needed in my life. With His help, the doors opened wider for me to come back.
At that time, I had a Primary child’s basic understanding of repentance and forgiveness. When I was taught more fully how the Savior’s Atonement really applied to me, I learned I could be forgiven for those parts of my life that were not acceptable in the Lord’s eyes. The words of Mosiah 26:29 came to have deep meaning for me:
“Whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.”
After much sincere repentance, I was able to go to the temple with some friends to do baptisms for the dead. I found there a few loving people who had known me since my birth. In the temple I felt overwhelmed by a sense of accomplishment. I was worthy at last to be within those walls! As a group of youth from another part of the country prepared to do baptisms for the dead, I watched them, hoping they would stay close to the gospel as they grew older, and that they would be stronger against temptation than I had been, because it never stops.
I had gained an excitement about studying the gospel, and every time I read in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, I felt an increasing certainty that all I read was true. It was exciting to feel worthy to partake of the sacrament each week. For me, the feeling was like being given a precious gift all over again.
When I was able to receive my own endowments in the temple, and then to be sealed to a returned missionary and to move to his country, I felt this was the fulfillment of a dream.
Unfortunately, part of that dream would soon be lost. In just over a year, my marriage ended. The decision was not mine, and even though I did not want the outcome, nothing I could do would change the situation.
Watching that part of my new life crumble was more painful than I could ever have imagined. Divorce was emotionally shattering. I was alone—in my ex-husband’s homeland and far from my family—wondering how to deal with the hurt. There were many tears, and it would have been easy to become bitter. But I could not, because my Heavenly Father continued to sustain me as I turned to Him in prayer and by attending the temple regularly. He has been there to comfort me each time I needed Him, to soothe my aching heart. I know now that the Atonement of His Son can help to heal this wound too. I also know that the healing has been helped by the love of my family and the support of good friends that my Heavenly Father has placed around me.
Sometimes I look back and marvel at how He changed my life. Sometimes I still look back and wonder too how some things went wrong—the things I could not control. I suppose no one would willingly choose the pain and testing I have gone through. However, through these experiences, I have come much closer to my Heavenly Father, and I would not give up any of what I have come to know and understand about His love for me.
He still sustains me and lifts me up, and with the strength He gives me, I look to the future in hope.