~by Candace

I know this is the true Church of our Savior Jesus Christ and that we are led by a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

My story:

My life challenges started at a very early age. I was eight years old when I was first molested. He was a friend of the family and I had a child’s love for him. He broke my heart and severely injured my spirit. Unable to tell my parents, my trust of people around me was shaken. I became very insecure and frightened of life. When I reached my teens, my insecurities and lack of participation in school activities became evident and a concerned counselor started drawing me out and I felt comforted by his concern. But, once again my life was jolted when he betrayed my trust. One day he offered me a ride home. I accepted his kind gesture. I soon realized he had other intentions. We took a ride into the hills near our town and the unspeakable happened. Once again I was shaken to the core and afraid to go to my parents. I had no idea how to deal with any of this and so I pushed the thoughts and feelings deep inside. I didn’t have any close friends at school and my insecurities became overwhelming.

I started going to a neighborhood church and felt some comfort but still I had no answers to why bad things were always happening to me. I was convinced that bad things only happened to bad people ant that I was being punished. I met a boy who belonged to another church and we started dating. School became increasingly harder for me to deal with. When I was sixteen and my boyfriend nineteen I convinced my parents to allow me to get married. I was then dropped out of school.

A couple of years into my marriage my husband and I started having very heated arguments. We were both so young and immature. It became an abusive relationship with my husband using physical force. After our son was born, I decided that the best thing for both me and my son was to leave this marriage. I was more fearful for my son than for myself. Once again I was left with the thought and feeling that I was a bad person.

It was very hard being a single mom at the young age of nineteen. I started having severe migraine headaches that often made it hard for me to go to work, or be a mother. I started suffering with depression as well. I had long since stopped going to church, I couldn’t see the point. My friends changed and my lifestyle became one that I am now ashamed of. And soon drugs became an escape from all my worries. At least I thought so at the time.

Even though this was a time of spiraling out of control, I did meet a man who was stable and who had healthy life goals and was willing to be a father to my son, and so, we were married and a year later we had a daughter. I still suffered with migraines and depression. I was also still painfully insecure and that was a problem for my very outgoing, enthusiastic husband.

At some point all of these physical, mental and social challenges became too overwhelming. Prescription drugs and illegal drugs became a part of my life again. I was what you would call a “functioning addict.” My marriage of seventeen years ended and I really went into a tailspin. I became so frightened of life. I was completely convinced that my life had no worth.

Mid-October 2004 I tried to end my life. I was found unconscious, barely breathing and rushed to the hospital. I was put on a respirator. My two sisters, one in California, and the other in Utah, were contacted by my former husband who is a doctor. They have since told me they thought they were coming to bury me.

After five days I regained consciousness and was taken off the respirator. My two sisters were standing by my bedside. Both my sisters have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since they were in their teens. One of my sisters reached over the safety bar on the bed and laid her hand on my arm and asked me if I would like a priesthood blessing. At the same time that she asked that question there was a whisper in my other ear. Jesus whispered, “Are you ready to do it my way?” I knew it was Him because of how specific those words were to me. I also knew it was Jesus because of the love, warmth and comfort that fell on me. I have never felt such love in all my life! Such pure love! I said yes to both questions. Any questions I had about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were answered in that moment.

It’s my testimony that Jesus lives and his Atonement will make everything right. Heavenly Father’s love has healed me. I do not suffer from depression, overwhelming insecurities, nor do I feel like I’m a bad person. As my faith grows and my knowledge of the gospel grows I realize that bad things happen to good people. We are here to be tested. Our lives are subjected sometimes to those who choose to use their agency in a negative manner. When those times befall us, He will comfort us.

Before I was baptized, I worried about forgiveness. I worried about whether Heavenly Father would forgive me if I couldn’t forgive those who had trespassed against me. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” I talked to Elder Hansen (who was the missionary teaching me and who would be baptizing me) about my concerns and he suggested that I fast and pray. I also talked to the local Relief Society President. Sister Hunt loaned me her scriptures and showed me how to use the Topical Guide and the Bible Dictionary. I took her scriptures home, fasted, prayed and read scriptures that night and the next day. I can’t really say that I had any earth shaking revelations, but at some point, an indescribable peaceful feeling came upon me. I no longer had any ill feelings left and I was able to pray sincerely for those who had hurt me. I then felt like I could enter the baptismal waters and enter into those sacred covenants and start my journey of enduring to the end.

I know I’m not alone on this journey. I know that I can call on Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, to help me through any challenge and he will give me the strength to endure.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on this site on June 12, 2008.