December 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm (Emotional pain, Emotional scars, Forgiveness, Guilt, Miracle Forgiveness, Repentance, Sexual abuse, Shame, Through faith)
Tags: Cheating spouse, Drug addiction, Forgiveness, Guilt, Latter-day Saints, LDS, LDS Singles, LDS Young Women, Loss of a child, Mormonism, Mormons, Pain, Relief Society, Relief Society Lessons, Repentance, Shame, Sickness, Struggles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The LDS Process of Repentance
I’m sorry that it’s been so long since posting here to my blog. I’ve been struggling with some pretty difficult health issues—so much so that I haven’t been able to sit at my desk for more than an hour or so. For the past few years I have been living in constant pain all over my body. This pain has gotten progressively worse, and through an EMG study it was discovered that I have both a muscle and a nerve disease. I am scheduled to have a muscle biopsy in a few weeks which should help determine exactly what is wrong.
I sure never thought that I would have a life that was so full of pain—both emotional and physical. I don’t think there has ever really been a time in my life that was “ordinary”. In fact, if Hollywood made a movie out of my life it would have numerous dramas to focus on: my first husband was emotionally abusive and cheated on me for many years; my oldest daughter was a 2 ½ lb preemie and my second daughter died from SIDS. I truly don’t know if her death was more difficult to go through as a mother than when my daughter Jen was addicted to methamphetamine’s. At one point, I didn’t even know where she was for over a year and filed a missing persons report. In 1999 I was diagnosed with late stage kidney cancer and was told I had less than two years to live. In 2003 I developed a brain tumor and have undergone two major surgeries as well as radiation therapy. Because of that radiation, I suffer from chronic sinus infections, both fungal and bacterial.
These “highlights” don’t even begin to address the emotional trauma associated with growing up in a prominent LDS family and being sexually abused for most of my childhood. I grew up with President Kimball as my prophet—the author of The Miracle of Forgiveness, where he wrote the words that haunted me for most of my life: “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
My own sinfulness overwhelmed me and intensified my feelings of guilt of shame. Trying to obtain forgiveness for those sins through the LDS Process of Repentance consumed my life as I lived every day in complete and utter failure. You see, unlike many Mormons, I actually believed the words of my prophet when he declared in The Miracle of Forgiveness:
“Trying is Not Sufficient. Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin… It is normal for children to try. They fall and get up numerous times before they can be certain of their footing. But adults, who have gone through these learning periods, must determine what they will do, then proceed to do it. To “try” is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong…Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load.… It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.”
Of all the pain I have gone through in life, nothing has compared to the sure knowledge that I could not do the works which President Kimball told me were necessary to obtain my forgiveness. And in a way, I am thankful. This pain led me to find the true Savior of the world—the Savior whose work had already won the forgiveness for every sin I have or ever will commit. In fact, the sins of the entire world were covered by the life-shed blood of our Savior, when He died on the Cross and “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The Apostle Peter testified that forgiveness is obtained through faith, not works: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Did you notice Peter’s words: “all the prophets” bear witness that we receive forgiveness through belief? Peter’s words prove that LDS prophets are not prophets of God.
Many times I have wondered why my life has not been an easy one. But through it all, I know and trust that God has a purpose for everything. I also know that because my Lord and Savior has given me my hearts desire and cleansed me of my sins, I love Him more than life itself. I place my trust fully in the promise of God: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I also love these words from the Apostle Paul, who helps explain why I have dedicated my life to witnessing the truth in love to Mormons: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
I might live in daily physical pain because of my health issues, but the God of all comfort has blessed me with the peace that passeth all understanding. The desire of my heart is to share what I have found with you. God has shed His light in my heart and given me a passion to reach others who have gone through similar pains and trials. Yesterday my husband got me set up with his old laptop computer on a little table that slides over my bed. God willing, I pray that I will have the strength to share my faith with you more often than I have been able.
March 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm (Emotional pain, Emotional scars, Forgiveness, Guilt, Healing from, Sexual abuse, Shame)
Tags: Elder Richard G. Scott, Forgiveness, Latter-day Saints, LDS, LDS Singles, LDS Young Women, love, Mormonism, Mormons, Relief Society, Sexual abuse, The Miracle of Forgiveness
God has given me a strong desire to reach out to others who are struggling from the trauma of sexual abuse. I say “others” because although I am 51 years old, I still struggle with emotional scars from the abuse I went through as a child. Unlike physical scars, someone traumatized by sexual abuse doesn’t “look” like he or she is hurting. Those who have been abused are often left with emotional scars that transcend all areas of their lives. Most of us have learned how to hide our secrets, our struggles and even our feelings, so we end up being numb and silent. Unfortunately, this silence exacerbates many of the unhealthy consequences of abuse.
I was 28 years old before I spoke of the abuse to anyone. Doing so was the beginning of a healing process that is still ongoing. Since then I have learned many things about sexual abuse, not only from my own journey but from that of others I have met. For one, the person abused is not the only “victim” of the sexual abuse. Sexual intimacy in marriage is one of the most common issues encountered by someone who was sexually abused. Because of this, spouses of those who were abused may also become “victims” of the abuser. At 51 years old I still struggle from this emotional scar. I have been married for eleven years to a man I love and adore. But my brain still can’t convince my emotions to relax and not tense up every time my husband wishes to be intimate.
Being a member of the LDS Church made my years of sexual abuse much worse. President Kimball’s words in his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” haunted me for years: “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” One of the most difficult consequences of my abuse was being overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame. Even though I was four or five when the abuse started, I still couldn’t convince my emotions I wasn’t at least partly at fault. For most of my life I was driven by my desire to be washed clean, forgiven, to somehow be restored to normal. But, deep down, I knew that I could never be normal. (To read how Jesus healed me from the shame of abuse, read the Post “God Doesn’t Lie–You Have Been Forgiven!!!” In the Topical Guide on the left, click on the Topic “Sexual Abuse”.)
I am very thankful that I no longer believe in the words of LDS prophets and apostles. But at the same time, my heart cries out for members of the Church who do. “The Miracle of Forgiveness” is still one of the more prominent books in Mormonism. As well, one of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk in General Conference that actually heaps more abuse on those who have been abused! Elder Richard G. Scott claims
“These are some of the principles of healing you will come to understand more fully: Recognize that you are a beloved child of your Heavenly Father. He loves you perfectly and can help you as no earthly parent, spouse, or devoted friend can. His Son gave his life so that by faith in him and obedience to his teachings you can be made whole.” (Link to talk:)
Telling someone who has been sexually abused that they can be “made whole” through obedience is just another form of abuse! Don’t you believe him! Not only do Elder Scott’s words expose the fact that he knows nothing about those who have been abused—it also shows that he doesn’t know the true mission of the Savior! Isaiah prophesied of our Savior’s mission—and it’s not through our obedience that we receive His healing:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
There is a parallel between being healed from sexual abuse and being healed from sin. “With His stripes we are healed!” Elder Scott would hold this healing ransom—to gain your obedience, before being healed. But he has it backwards. Jesus already gained both my and your healing—through His obedience. Those who hope in the Lord and Savior living a life of thanksgiving, in part by being obedient.
The Savior of the world does not use obedience as a bargaining tool to heal the abused! When I found out I had been washed clean through Christ’s atonement, I gave my life to my Savior. It is because of my love for Him and gratitude for His forgiveness that I am obedient.
Being sexually abused as a child is the most traumatic thing that has happened in my life. But, amazingly, God used what happened to me as a child to draw me to the Savior whose blood covered not only my shame, but most importantly, my sin!
My niece Kristina designed and created this beautiful stained glass panel to help raise money at a local shelter for abused women. The colors symbolize the various emotions that victims of abuse go though—from pain, rage and eventually to peace. Unfortunately, this healing process is something that she is also dealing with personally.