This is the second in a series of posts that I’m writing about the years that John and I had conflict over religion. At this point in time John had recently voiced his doubts about LDS doctrine. I was a believing, active, Mormon. This experience below occurs a few months after this one. For those of you who can relate to the experience of having a spouse lose their testimony, I’d love to have you guest-blog your story on pilgrimgirl. Drop me a line: phddilly at yahoo dotcom.
Saving John became my daily obsession. I would read articles on the Internet, in the Ensign, and in Mormon books. I was sure that there was some way to rescue John, if only I could find it.
As a Christmas gift I made scrapbooks of our correspondence during John’s mission. I highlighted those moments where he shared his spiritual experiences. I cried many tears as I reread the letters from my genki elder. I was sure that he would be impacted from re-reading his own words about his belief in Mormonism. I wrapped the albums for him, sealing each seam with a prayer of hope, and placed them under the Christmas tree. He opened them and briefly thumbed through them, but soon put them away and didn’t look at them again.
I tried to think of people from our past who had wielded spiritual influence on my husband. I contacted our former Home Teachers, mission companions, and Institute teachers. I poured out my heart to them, pleaded for them to help me help John. This yielded some sympathetic conversations, but no help for me in reaching John.
I went to our Bishop and asked him to pray with me to reach John. I received several blessings at his hands. In one memorable blessing I was told that “I was the key that would unlock John’s heart.” I continued to search and pray to discover what that key could be, what the trick was to helping John remember his former faith in the LDS church.
In the meantime, I was losing John. I could no longer handle the conversations where he voiced his doubts. I told him not to speak to me about his diminishing testimony. My inability to face his changes created a barrier between us that was growing taller each day. We were quickly drifting apart. I began to wonder if our marriage would last. Were we on the road to divorce?
Then one night as I was kneeling beside my bed (pleading with God once more to fix my husband), I had an epiphany. I realized the one thing that would ‘reach’ John. It came to my mind that if something awful happened to me–something on the scale of my cancer returning—that John would step back into his Mormon role. I imagined myself lying pale and wan in a hospital bed, my husband sitting at my side. John’s hands were clasped together and his eyes closed. I could hear him pleading with God for my healing. Then he placed his hands on my head and gave me a priesthood blessing, a petition for my recovery. I imagined his change of heart as he regained his belief in the gospel. I felt an upsurge of joy and hope. Yes, I realized, it was worth it for John’s eternal salvation.
I laid myself on the altar that night, a willing sacrifice. I told God that he could strike me with any infirmity—-even my death-—if it would bring my husband back into the fold.