At age forty-eight, I sit reading my most prized possession, it’s worn from years of holding it too close to my panicked heart yet, the messages within it never fades. This gem holds five-hundred and thirty-one crinkled pages, tear stained margins that my searching fingers never tire of turning, a source that has never left me wanting. I’ve began yet again reading the words of father Lehi, in my beloved book, The Book of Mormon. His words are magical to me, each prophet who speaks to us through this book always seem to be speaking directly to me, addressing my current problem. At this time, I can relate to Lehi when he shares a dream he had with us. He says, “I saw in my dream a dark and dreary wilderness.”(1) As I reflect back, forty years earlier, at one of the first pivotal points in my life. Where my choices could have actually swung toward life or death. For me the wilderness, or the life upon which I traveled seemed too dark and dreary to endure any longer. I had a choice, live in pain or swallow some pills. There where all kinds of colorful, capsules scattered about our filthy kitchen table. I knew drug addicts that took the white one when they wanted to go to sleep. One in particular would ask for the blue one when she wanted to wake-up, the red when she had a headache, when she was sad, there was yet another. The answers to all… her problems laid carelessly among the dirt and scum on that four legged rickety old table. I knew if I took seven of the white pills, seven because that was how old I was, I would fall asleep, finally painless, and never wake-up again. I could go to heaven. A place I knew existed because there were times when the pain of my abuse was too much to bare. At those times it seemed my little spirit would float above my body. Away from the pain and agony a place beside my bruised bleeding flesh that was peaceful, pain-free, and I felt loved. What I did not understand was why I chose to come to earth. Why, why would I choose to come to Hell when I had lived in a place so peaceful, bright, and happy?
I’ll never know if it was my great grandma who lived beyond the veil or perhaps the same person Lehi saw in his dream, “dressed in a white robe…,” (2) who whispered in my ear to walk away from the pills. That the answers people found in those pills where very temporary and actually created the monsters they had become. I listened to that soft sweet voice and decided instead to walk up the street to my beloved creek bed.
I found refuge outside the walls of our abusive home. Solace in an outdoor sanctuary I called The Creek. This Haven had a particular Rock formation that held the hot Oklahoma sun’s heat in it, even into the cool early morning hours. Laying atop it was the one place the world offered warmth and comfort for me. After a rough night with little sleep I could often fall into a peaceful rest here. This particular day I had offered a plea to the heavens. I now, today, feel a connection to Lehi as I read that he too needed comfort and sought it in by sending prayers to Heaven. “I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy….” (3) I too begged my Father in Heaven to help me understand. Why, why would I choose to come to earth, when Heaven was so perfect?
As I drifted peaceful off to sleep I felt the love of God surround me. Almost hugging me, bringing me a comfort that penetrated deep into my heart. That feeling has been embedded within me forever changing my heart, mind and spirit. I could never again after the answer I received, that day, to my honest, pleadful prayer, look at life in the same warped perspective I had been viewing it.
The answer to my earnest prayer came to me, exactly how a seven year old would understand it, in the form of a story.
When I awoke that day it seemed I had matured a hundred fold. I couldn’t wait to share with my family as Lehi did “…that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” (4) I walked back home with new determination that day. I so badly wanted to share with my family what I had just learned. But, just as not all of Lehi’s family followed him, not all mine believed what I had to say. Except my twin sister. That day we discover not only the truth to our existence but, the truth to the Devine power we had within us. Suddenly, we saw truth in a smile, in a helping hand, the resources the Lord had put all around us to help us escape the prison upon which we were born into. Teacher’s, neighbors, and police officers became my closest friends. By the age of 9 I knew I had the power to stop the abuse. I couldn’t change others bad choices but, I could change the way their choices affected me. What my abusers did know to be true was that my birth mother had to take me and my sister out of the situation we were in or they would surely end up in a prison cell of their own making. After the age of 9 our abusers never again involved us in their nightly rituals. And though the things I have heard, seen, and felt will forever haunt me. I still know I have the power, as a Daughter of God to have a happy, peaceful life of my own making despite others bad choices. I learned at age 7 that I could do it.
Next week I’d like to share with you what exactly it was they did that would have caused them to go to prison. But, I ask that you keep a prayer in your heart as you read it. It’s information that could pull someone down instead of uplifting you. And my only intent in sharing is to help all those who are suffering to see that it’s only for a moment it will get better. I promise!
(2) 1Nephi 8:5
(3) 1Nephi 8:8