Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Knew You Loved Me Still

Dear Bishop,

I will never forget many things surrounding the first time I came in to talk to you. My life was a wreck. I had just gotten home from a stay at a mental hospital. I was hurt, broken and lost. As I sat in your office I very matter-of-factly told you how I hated the church, how I wasn't going to come anymore, how I wanted to be released from all callings and how I didn't want help. I confessed my sins, mostly out of obligation, and I believed that you would call it quits on me and excommunicate me so I could be released from all responsibility and sent on my merry, sinful way.  

I remember the look on your face…was it shock?…maybe a little. Concern? Definitely.  But I didn't see it that way. I saw a man who would just not be able to grasp it all. He would be disgusted with me and my sins and addictions. He would say 'I can’t help her' and that would be the end of it all. I could continue to justify my life, my sins, my lies etc. I do remember crying but I know it wasn't tears of sorrow.  They were mostly tears of pain. You asked if we could pray together. I nearly fell off my chair, what? Was this guy for real? So you prayed and I left angry, bitter, and feeling everything was over.

In my disciplinary counsel I didn't feel love. I felt resentment, anger, frustration and bitterness. I expressed that I didn't have a big desire to continue in the church. I felt sorry for the things I had done but it just wasn't coming through yet. I remember you saying later how the atmosphere in the room and the feelings from me were dark , that I was practically begging to be excommunicated. You prayed, your bishopric seemed shocked and I felt disgusted. The decision you made did shock me and I left feeling confused and numb. I was not excommunicated. What did this mean? It meant I had to keep being “good” and trying.

A few months went by and I no longer attended church. I felt free and liberated, or so I thought. I began to indulge in my addictions more and more and act out worse than I ever have in my life. It was as if my spirit was really taken over from a dark spirit. 

Finally, so broken, and feeling as if I was beyond repair, I came to you again.  This time out of desperation, out of pain and sorrow... so much sorrow I had never before felt. I laid it all out in front of you, every single sin. It was painful, it was embarrassing, and I was devastated. I was broken. Again I thought you’d say all was lost and that I was hopeless. You didn't though.  Instead you took it all with grace. You didn't even flinch or cringe at some of the things we talked about. You listened, you heard and you loved.

I did have a second counsel and this time I was so terrified, I knew I was going to lose it all. However I knew this time it was all out of love. I knew as soon as I walked in the room that there sat men of God, who loved me, who cared and who wanted the best for me. I knew that no matter the decision I would not recoil from God or from the Atoning power of the Savior, it would not change what I would plan to do and that was to change, to seek the Atonement and to really apply it.

Months have passed since that time and I still struggle with my addictions, I have given in a time or two but I have never stopped feeling the love of our Savior, nor of you. I sat with shock as you expressed personal family struggles, some with those who had struggled with addictions themselves. I knew you loved me still, just as you would still love your family. I know without a doubt of your desire to continue to help me. 

I appreciate the assignments and study we do together. I appreciate your prayers and can feel them. I am so grateful for someone who was in tune enough to know what I really needed, to know what would put me back on the right path, the eternal path that leads to Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Though I am not currently a member of your fold you still are there for me, you truly know how to feed the lost sheep. I look forward to the day I will belong again as an official member of your flock.

Bishop for all of this I am grateful you took it with grace, kindness and the love of Christ.

A Beautiful Daughter of God

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

3 comments:

  1. I think I really like the author of this letter. ;)

    I felt a lot of resentment and anger and bitterness at my DC too. What a waste for what could've been a positive experience. But through it all, my bishop conveyed lots of love. How!?! Bishops are amazing.

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  2. I really loved this blog. It is just so raw and honest. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but it is nice to see that someone else who is very strong in their testimony and convictions, is also human, has made big mistakes and has learned and become better from/because of them. So refreshing and hopeful. It's also nice to see how much help a bishop can be.

    Love this :) love you!!

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  3. I read this day that it was posted. It touched my soul. I wanted to read it again today. My heart needed to feel your strength and commitment and willingness to be humble and submissive. Thank you for sharing this with us. The road is curvy and bumpy and has some potholes, but with the Savior the road can become smooth and straight. It takes time, energy, commitment and love but I know you will be make it.

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"