Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Mother

My mother has one of the more unusual conversion stories I’ve come across. She was introduced to the gospel through her husband’s drunken ramblings.

When my mother met her first husband, and eventually found out he was a not-practicing Mormon, she was a little surprised. She’d heard about Mormon pioneers passing through the Midwest, but didn’t know they still existed in modern times. She didn’t really think anything of it – her parents were Methodist, but didn’t really go to church either.

After their marriage, she discovered he was an alcoholic. All the typical alcoholic drama ensued, but then something atypical started happening. When he was really, really drunk, he would start bawling, and then start talking about this wonderful church that was “the only thing that could save him.” Of course, when he’d wake up the next morning, he would deny it, but my mom recognized that there was something about this religion that spoke to his soul. More interested in saving her marriage than finding religious truth, she started attending Mormon worship services and was eventually baptized. She encountered a fabulous support network, including particularly amazing visiting teachers, and she started developing a testimony of the Mormon faith. While there were certain elements she thought were really odd (she didn’t especially care for the first vision, or the Joseph Smith story in general), she recognized that there was goodness and power in this religion, so she was able to overlook the difficult elements and build on the good.

Her marriage didn’t stick, but her commitment to Mormonism did. The more she learned, the more her testimony grew. She met my father, another recent convert, in a singles ward, and they were sealed in the temple. She talks about how she had said prayer after prayer that her first husband would get his act together so she could have access to temple blessings, and she was very upset during the divorce proceedings that God hadn’t answered her prayers. She now recognizes that the Lord did answer her prayers for temple blessings – just through the marvelous man she is now married to. Her full conversion happened when I was about 7, when we visited the sacred grove. While standing on that ground, she felt a powerful witness that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of the Lord, and really knew for the first time that his story was true. I didn’t appreciate until recently that it had taken a decade for her to have that final witness of the truth of Mormonism. Her willingness to move forward in faith is very inspiring to me, and it gives me hope that my own doubts and concerns will be resolved if I give them time.

There are so many things I admire about my mother, I don’t know where to begin. She is a phenomenal visiting teacher – the stuff of General Conference addresses. People that want nothing to do with Mormonism will let her in the door because she offers them genuine, no-strings-attached friendship, and I have seen generations of faithful families result from her visiting teaching efforts. She is absolutely dedicated to her callings, no matter how big or small. She is a firm believer in the value of education, and inspired me from early ages to stretch myself and grow; she even had me reading words before the age of two. She has always made time to listen to me and my concerns, no matter how busy she is, or how trivial my concern is in the big scheme of things. I am so grateful for her influence in my life.


Elissa said...

Sounds like you have a great example to follow!

Suzanne said...

Your mother is amazing. Thanks for sharing her story, even if it has some painful parts, I appreciate what a wonderful woman your mom is. I hadn't heard the part about her final conversion and you told it so well. Give her a hug for me next time you see her!