What does a typical day look like for you?
Most people who know me well agree that I my life today looks nothing like the path that my childhood started on. Today I have a loving husband and beautiful children growing up in a healthy home. My current happy circumstances are due to many things, but what I want to focus on today is how finding peace helped me overcome the serious challenges of my young life.
Tell us about something that has been essential in your personal conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel.
I was removed from my parent’s home at the age of seven. There was a domestic dispute, which was not out of the ordinary, but this one caught the attention of enough concerned people that they intervened. I had seen it so many times before: The family member being hurt varied, but the hurt and pain inside me always felt the same. There were also times of quiet, but that was usually because someone was hungover and sleeping or the door to my parents room was locked while they used drugs. At very rare times in my childhood, I felt peace. But even at that young age, I yearned for it.
I found myself, along with my older sister and our little brother, in a place called Boys Town. Boys Town is a home for at-risk youth. A host couple cares for a group of youth in a family-like environment. I was blessed to have a loving couple with their three children caring for my sister and me for two wonderful years. We felt love from them. Every day that I woke up in their care I truly thought I was getting closer to having complete peace in my life. There was always the reminder of the past when my biological parents would not show up for visits again, or when they missed their court hearings as each day they got closer to losing their parental rights. It nagged at my heart for years. When I was ten, my parents formally lost their rights and I became a ward of the state.
A couple of dark years followed. The family I had started to love stopped working at Boys Town. They promised to come back for me, but that dream began to fade–the process to qualify as foster parents was tedious. I felt scared, lonely, angry, and lost. The little peace I had felt coming into my life was ripped away and the void was very real. Fortunately, Someone Else had always looked out for me, and He was still there. After two years, I was placed in foster care, and somehow ended up in the home of the caregivers who made that promise. Upon entering their home for my first visit, I was overcome by a calm, quiet feeling. That feeling had touched me before, but had never filled my entire body. I felt peace. Their home was filled with peace.
They adopted me less than a year later. In addition, they introduced me to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I chose to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That began the journey of a lifetime—of discovering who I truly was and am.
How does the restored gospel affect your life on a day-to-day basis?
In my new family, I learned how to love and be loved. I have learned of my infinite worth. I have learned the true meaning of “forgive and forget”. Most of all, I have learned to find peace when the world is falling apart around me. I can’t control so many aspects of my life, and I certainly can’t control other people. But I know now that regardless of what is going on around me, my Savior suffered so that I would not have to. I can rely on Him and find peace in the turmoil of my past as well as the turmoil of the world.
We can all find this peace. It is not out of reach. It may seem distant in some moments, but it is there. Through prayer and study, our Savior can reach our hearts and help us see our true potential. It is worth the aches and pains when you know you can come out of top in the end. I am so grateful to know my Father in Heaven has a sure plan for me and that I can always have peace when I rely on Him.