For a couple years, Michael and I have fallen away from the church. There had been a lot of reasons for this: we felt slighted by some members of our ward and because of that we had planted the seeds of bitterness and harvested them. We felt that Heavenly Father simply wasn't aware of us and was giving us too much. I can't speak for Michael, but I know I was having thoughts of questioning whether I really believed what I had been taught by the missionaries in 20006.
Life kept hitting us during this time and instead of allowing them to draw us closer to Heavenly Father, as trials are meant to do, we became even more bitter and enraged with Him. Who did He think He was? Why had He abandoned us during this difficult time? Where was His mercy and love when we needed it the most? I can't count the times I only turned to prayer to scream at Heavenly Father that I was done. That I was becoming disenchanted to not only Heavenly Father and His desires, but also to Christ.
After a while, I had attempted to attend church again while the kids attended church with my in-laws. I felt out of place and lonely. I still felt bitter and angry toward members and because of that I did not feel that I belonged in the church building, let alone praying or reading my scriptures. Obviously, I was right to stay away. After a couple months of trying to solo coming back to my Heavenly Father, I do not know Michael's thoughts during this time and cannot speak for him, I stopped again. Only this time I seemed to really be done with the gospel.
During that time I felt alone in a chaotic world and mine and Michael's relationship deteriorated. Horribly. We both just stopped putting in the effort of being married, started being overly passive aggressive, and not communicating. Sadly, this led to us separating for a month in 2015 (this is a post I'm not sure will be written. It sucked and was terrible. Awful and horrible.) and making me feel more alone and vulnerable. I didn't think I could turn to Heavenly Father, to be honest I don't think I considered it. He didn't care anyway.
After Michael and I came back together, things were looking up. We have been working on improving ourselves continually and we have found that joy in being married again. We do the little things again. But something was still missing for awhile. I could never put my finger on what seemed to be off, but I was happy that Michael and I were doing well so I didn't really question it. I mean, I still had the questions rolling around in the back of my mind. Did I still believe in Heavenly Father? What would I be willing to do if I did still believe? Whenever they'd come to the front of my thoughts, I'd simply push them away for another time.
See, during all the time we were away, Heavenly Father didn't give up on either of us. We had more people praying for us than I ever thought possible. And you want to know something amazing? He heard them. And He answered them. It was not an overnight thing, but rather one of those things that builds up.
May of this year (2016) Michael and I celebrated our six-year anniversary by going up to Brigham City, just the two of us. It was incredible! And where we were staying, was just blocks away from the Brigham City Temple. Of course we walked around and admired the beauty of it. My heart started aching though. I wanted to go in. I wanted that comfort. I wanted to walk those sacred halls once again. I was gobsmacked by this. Where were these feelings coming from? I thought I was done? Disenchanted? I kept silent about these promptings. I didn't know what Michael would think. Heck, I didn't know if I was willing to do the work to get back there or if I even still had the faith to believe.
Well, about a week to two weeks after this I was on a "Yannie-Date" and was browsing Facebook on my phone. I came across an acquaintance's page that had a bunch of anti-LDS things on there including some videos that tore my heart to pieces. So, somewhere I still believed. What to do with that? I decided to ask one of my former young women leaders if her husband could give me a priesthood blessing. He said yes. I went to their home and Brian and I spent four hours talking about the Gospel and bearing testimonies, ending with a priesthood blessing.
The next day I asked Michael if we could go back to church-together- as well as read our scriptures, and a couple others things. He agreed and we attended church that Sunday. I felt safe and secure being there. I didn't feel excluded. I felt loved.
We met with our bishop soon after returning to check in with him and work with him to get back to the temple. On Oct 8, 2016 we met with our bishop and had our interview with him and the Stake President interview followed the next Sunday. Oct 18, 2016, I had gone back to the temple for the first time in YEARS!! It was so simply wonderful. I felt that I had returned home. On the 21st of Oct, Michael and I returned together.
I've had quite a few people ask me what made the difference, or comment how much I did to get back to church and to have the relationship with my Savior that I now have. Usually when these comments come up, I share the above experiences and kind of leave it at that but none of it would have been possible without 1) my Heavenly Father's love for me and my family, 2) my Redeemer and his atonement, 3) my willingness to work to apply Christ's atonement to not only cause me to heal from my sins but also all hurt I was feeling, and 4) Christ and Heavenly Father not caring where I was only wanting me to return. It is through Christ my heart has been turned. It is through Christ that I have found joy and fulfillment in life again. It is through Christ that I have been able to move forward. He has never abandoned me nor have I ever been alone and I never will be.