My name is Marivic and I am a Mormon woman in progress. I say that not so much because I worry about not being the kind of Mormon woman people expect me to be, but because I believe I still need to cover a lot of ground before I become the Mormon woman Heavenly Father wants me to be.
I have been married 24 years to my husband and best friend, Alan, and we have three children, 2 boys and a girl. Our oldest son, Christopher, completed earth life before he turned three years old which is the biggest sadness of our life, but we have faith that someday we will have a full understanding of the plan and have the answers to our questions. I look forward to the day when we are reunited with him, and faith becomes true knowledge, and I can finally comprehend why he left so soon and broke our hearts.
Meanwhile, we have been blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy our daughter and youngest son, both currently wonderful teen-agers. Ah, I know— “enjoy,” “wonderful,” and “teenagers” should be antonymous! Believe me, I often agree, but I can honestly say that Heavenly Father blessed me with good children who fill me with joy and make me grateful for motherhood. It is the hardest but most fulfilling role that I have been entrusted in my life. I am grateful that the gospel of Jesus Christ enabled me to recognize this.
The first time I heard about the Mormon Church was as a young girl in the Philippines. I was about eight years old when Mormon missionaries were first invited in to our home. Unfortunately, my parents were in a sort of “all is well” state common to the prosperous, and my dad told the missionaries not to come back. But times changed. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, and the people of the Philippines suffered. The years of economic hardship my family endured under the Marcos regime humbled my parents and the next time the missionaries knocked on our door my parents’ minds were open and their hearts were ready. Our family was baptized into the church in 1977.
Being a young Mormon in a predominantly Catholic country was quite interesting. The best education was at private schools run by the Catholic Church, so I attended private Catholic institutions both in high school and college. The nuns and the priests were aware of my religion and were tolerant and kind. They did not bother me about my beliefs but neither did they exempt me from the required Theology classes. So for at least a couple of years I managed to balance being president of my seminary class in the LDS Church and an A-student in theology at my Catholic school. You would think I would have been one confused young woman! But I believe that this experience made me feel secure in my faith and my Mormon identity no matter where I am and what the circumstances are. It taught me not only to be tolerant of people with different values, but to also be comfortable in my friendships with people who do not believe as I do.
My friends in the church and out of the church like to say that I am not a stereotypical Mormon. Maybe it’s because, as some say, I have a lot of spunk. Maybe it’s because, in some ways, I tend to do things atypical of how some may have stereotyped a Mormon wife and mom. For example, except for a brief five-year stint as a stay-at-home mom before my kids went to school (which was an awesome and treasured experience), I actually choose to work outside the home; I am a revenue manager for a large hotel chain in the United States. Also, I do not find joy in baking, cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, gardening, canning, etc. I do enjoy reading, amateur photojournalism, and occasional blogging. I currently serve on the Activities Committee in my ward and as a visiting teacher.
I may not fit some stereotypes, but I am a Mormon woman who is deeply although quietly grateful for the gospel and for the Savior. I pray and I study the scriptures. I also strive to have a clean mind, clean hands, a clean mouth, a clean heart and a clean life. I teach my kids to love, to be kind and courteous, to be happy, to seek intelligence and knowledge, and to have faith. I can only hope these things count in my identity as a follower of Christ.
There are many spiritual experiences that have shaped who I am. These experiences came when serving as a full-time missionary in The Philippines Baguio Mission, and when serving in different church callings throughout the years, whether it be as a nursery teacher or as a Stake Young Women President when I was just in my twenties.
However, the experience which defines me the most, which indelibly shaped me and convinced me that Heavenly Father lives, is the experience of losing my first born child. I was crushed under the weight of overwhelming sorrow, but I was lifted up so I could rise from its depths and allow faith to set me on the path to healing. This experience is so sacred to me I have rarely if ever shared it. But I felt it would be worthwhile to share here.
Twenty years ago this year, my son who was not yet three passed away during his nap. There was no medical explanation for the devastation I was asked to bear. “Undetermined natural causes” was all the medical examiners could give us as the reason for why my world was turned upside down. Suddenly, what I thought was my strong testimony that helped me as a young woman, a missionary, a young bride, a new mother, could not hold me up against overwhelming grief and pain. I found myself desperately needing to know that the plan of salvation was true, not just because I felt it or that it made sense in my mind, but because I know. I needed to know it just like I know with perfect knowledge that the sky is blue, and that I have five fingers in each hand, and that a flame hurts when it burns my skin. I had to know not in the abstract but with absolute knowledge that there is indeed a resurrection and that I will see my son again. If I could not know that, then I decided I would rather die.
I am not sure how much my mother-in-law knew of my struggle, but she arranged for me and my husband to meet with Elder Richard G. Scott (an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; the Mormons) shortly after our son’s funeral. (She was a church office employee back then and was able to do this.) My husband and I went to see Elder Scott and I was determined to get an answer. I did not want an apostle to just bear his testimony to me. I wanted an apostle of Christ to give me a testimony, to tell me how he knew the plan of salvation is true, so I could know it myself. I told Elder Scott exactly how I felt. But of course, and as you already suspected, Elder Scott could not give me a testimony. He shared his testimony, but he could not give me the knowledge and testimony I sought. However, I will always remember what I walked away with on that day. Elder Scott, whether he knew it or not, gave my spirit peace and solace when he told me that it was okay if all I had was faith and not knowledge. He did not judge me or chastise me. He simply told me to keep believing even when I don’t know. Because believing based on faith will carry me to the end, and in the end I will know.
Twenty years later my heart and my spirit are still broken in many ways, and I am still without perfect knowledge. For this I sometimes believe I am farther behind than most Mormon women in their journey back to Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, I am farther along in that path than I was twenty years ago. I can only measure myself against my own progress and not against others’. Along the way I learned to separate the gospel from the cultural expectations of my religion. More importantly, I know now more than I knew back then that I have a Heavenly Father, and to Him I pray. I believe with a deep abiding faith that someday I will see Christopher again. And so I continue in faith to seek understanding, and knowledge— a Mormon woman in progress.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for defining the concept of “FAITH” in the best definition that I have ever
experienced. This message has reached me today in a very low place but in your words I can feel the proverbial “blessed assurance” of faith. Just that- faith. Not proof. Not something of the tangible, empirical world. Not a mood. Just the wholeness of setting every fiber of our being on the word of the Lord and placing our trust in Him-not perfectly, but humanely. This is a beautiful reading that I will re-read and treasure. Bless you and your family.
I love that you describe yourself as “in progress”. That is what I am too. Constantly working to do better and know more and be who I want to be.
Thank you for sharing the experience with your son. You have me in tears. You are a strong and powerful woman.
A mormon woman in progress. Aren’t we all? Oh Marivic, thank you for taking the time to reflect on your life and share these powerful spiritual experiences. Like Gloria, I appreciated your description of faith.
Marivic, I was moved by your story. Thank you for sharing it. I always knew you had depth and testimony, you are an inspiration to me.
What a wondeful thing to read to day. How lucky am I to be blessed with someone like Marivic in my life! Such a great example to me and such a wonderful sister-in-law!!
Your words today reached a place inside of me that I rarely let anyone go….thank you.
Thank you for sharing Marivic, I know you are a strong person, sharing your heart proves that. You offer a lot of love and friendship in your life and I have learned much from you. Hopefully we recognize we are all a work in progress. Keep on holding on, the promise is sure. Joy cometh in the morning. Love you :o)
That was great.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is an uplifting story for me being a filipina , a convert and was raised and grew up in a Catholic enviroment and school like you. You may not be a stereotyped Mormon woman but you are the daughter of our Heavenly Father who He loves like everyone else. I am pleased to read your testimony. What a spiritual treat!
Like Lilian and Granma, I too am proud to be a part of your family! You’ve always been a great aunt and although I have been taller than you since first grade I’ve always looked up to you 😉 You are a wonderful person!
Thanks so much for sharing Marivic. I am going to send this link to a couple of “blogging buddies” who I think will value what you have shared today. Love you.
Marivic, this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a personal and sacred experience. I actually wrote you a long detailed response over email, but wanted to leave a note here too.
thank you for writing this and allowing us to see so deeply into your soul. I am grateful for the opportunity to know you better and share in your life, both the happy and the painful parts. Reading this has strengthened my own testimony . I wish we had the chance to spend more time together before we move. Please consider sending this into the Ensign so even more women can have their lives enriched by reading it.
How ironic that I am commenting right after my sister whom I did not even know had a google ID. Marivic–I have read your blog, I have met you, and still I did not know what an incredibly intelligent, spiritual and faithful Mormon woman you are. Thank you so much for sharing this story of your son. I think that this experience has most likely put you ahead of other women in certain ways, not behind. I am so glad I had a chance to meet you! Love you!
Very impressive account of your struggle in faith. It really hits home. At one point or another I felt the same way you did although in a different circumstance. “…what I thought was my strong testimony that helped me as a young woman, … could not hold me up against overwhelming grief and pain”. – Amen to this! At this state of grief, I started to question my faith in Heavenly Father. It is at this point that I asked Him to help me with my unbelief. After much prayer and fasting, Heavenly Father answered my pleading and I recovered — my testimony and faith was strengthened beyond expectations.
You are a gifted woman and I admire you. Keep up the great work . I, too, am a woman in progress… let’s progress in the work of the Lord together!
Ate Marivic I am so glad I read your true to life story today…I remember holding Christopher when he was a baby and was saddened when he just passed away. I am grateful for all the things I learned from you way back in my young women days in Cebu. You are a wonderful daughter of our Heavenly Father who He loves very much and I know we will all see Christopher again. I admire your courage and strength for sharing your personal and sacred story. I love you Ate Marivic and I wish I could hug you now and thank you for touching my heart…..
Dear Ate Vic,
you sure know how to make me cry 🙁 I would not want to say how I would have reacted if I was in your shoes and letting go of christopher.. i dont think I can bear it. Reading what you wrote here, I can see you have more faith that you say you have and for that I salute you. As I have said time and again, you have always been the ate vic-vic I have known — strong and resilient. You say you are still a mormon woman in progress… i would say we all are.. but you are progressing beautifully indeed! I am truly proud of you. Thank you very much for sharing this with the world. I am sure Christopher would chose no other mother to grow up with when our time of forever with him comes. love you always!!!
An inspiration to all who know you! Thank you for sharing your story of faith. You are a very strong lady. Your story will help many others going through the same challenges you have faced. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for your beautiful story and testimony. You have influenced me as a mother and I am grateful for your strength. I am not sure how we found each others blogs, but I am so glad to read your uplifting and fun Posts and comments!
We may belong to different religion, but you know, how in so many ways we are similar in our beliefs. I love the part where you said, about not having that much knowledge of what you seek, but because of your strong faith, it pulls you through life. I also like what your elder said &; I quote” ” Because believing based on faith will carry me to the end, and in the end I will know.” It will be one of my favorite words to live by, at time I maybe on the same moments as you are, which is often. And you know that. You should write a book Marivic.
Very touching Marivic!! Your example and your words inspire me to want to be a better person. Thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us. It brought many memories back to me. Your tender expression is so powerful!! I love you!!
Thank you for sharing this story, Marivic. My heart has been touched so deeply to read about your experiences of faith, and it strengthened my testimony in knowing that we will be with our loved ones one day again. I think you are an amazing, inspiritational woman, Vic vic.
I remember with fondness…and I thank you and Alan for sharing Christopher with me and my family and allowing us to love him. I have always enjoyed your friendship and your wonderful spirit and testimony. I love that we are all women in progress, and our various experiences each day allows us to grow to be the kind of latter-day [Mormon] women our Heavenly Father would want us to be. Indeed, our Heavenly Father truly loves the unique women that we individually are. Thanks again, my testimony of our Heavenly Father’s plan for all of us has been strengthened today by you.
Beautiful post Marivic.
Thank you for being you.
You are a strong righteous woman of GOD, and his son Jesus Christ. You can fill it in your story here. Like many of us sisters, I included we are still learning growing and are woman (mormon too) in progress. It is sometimes hard to step out of a comfort zone and express, religion and in your case Heart break. I am sure glad you did, and I am so glad I found your blog through blog hoping. YOU will BE WITH Christopher again and I hope somewhere in your heart you feel peace and comfort that you will all be together again. Jenn