"The thought that I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole was a big fat lie. Our identity is children of God, and of course we are all misfits, every single one of us is, we all need Christ! No one is the same, there is no perfect member out there, it doesn't exist, it is just a narrative that we tell ourselves and becomes an excuse, it became an excuse for me. We all belong with Christ. Another thing there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt can be good as it encourages healthy changes in our lives. Shame is a tool used by the adversary, shame deters us and is more like an external thing, it's about what others think of us. We can shame ourselves but it usually has to do with some sort of external criteria. While guilt is like an internal, motivating process that helps us learn and grow, and that is why we are here! We aren't here for it to be easy. My last takeaway is that Christ is always there waiting for us. Always. He never gives up on us, in the dark times and the low times, especially, He is there. He is just waiting for us to turn our face towards Him. I experienced that and can testify of the deep and incredible love that He has for us, we can always turn back to Him and he can save us. His love is infinite, we don't even have the capacity to understand it right now."




So, we'll just kick it off!  I'm so excited to hear your story.  I mean, you sent it to me in an email and it’s so powerful and I've been so excited to hear your story on the live version.  So, I'd love to just start by hearing a little bit about you, and then we can just kind of jump into it.



Sure.  Yeah, absolutely.  So, I have been a licensed psychotherapist for 16 years, and I brought my business online, and I married my husband, and I have my son, and we have a dog.  And that's me.



How old is your son? 



He's three.  



Oh, awesome.  I have a two-year-old.  



Oh, fun.   It's such a fun stage.  It's a hard stage.  But it's really fun.



For sure.  Well, awesome.  Okay, so let's jump into it.  We can just start at the beginning or wherever you want to start.



Cool.  Okay, well, so I grew up in the Church, my family was really active, happy family; really involved in the Church.   And I think it's important to my story that I got sexually abused as a child.   And I really struggled after that with guilt and shame.   In my elementary school years, I was really distracted and felt really stressed in school, I just kind of sat there and sweat.  And it was just kind of stressful.  But when I was eight years old, my parents became more aware of how I was handling that and that it was causing me a lot of stress.   I wanted to be home; I was calling home sick almost every day.  And so, my dad gave me a father's blessing at that point.  And really, it helped me so much.   It helped me, and I didn't really stress about it as much after that point.  So, it was a really good thing.  

But still, I felt like it kind of still influenced the way that I thought about myself like in church and one of the big themes of my story is when it came to the Church, even though I grew up –and I didn't do very well introducing myself— but I grew up in in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and that's where I live now.   

And the ward that I grew up in with my family, everybody was great, but I just kind of felt dirty.  And like I had to hide.   And I remember as a teenager kind of thinking of myself as – this is bizarre language – but kind of thinking of myself as like a slutty child.  That word – that language – actually crossed my mind, and how bizarre is that to say of an innocent child?  

So, I just felt stressed and uncomfortable in some church lessons, I kind of felt like I was a square peg, trying to fit into the round hole.  That's kind of a big theme of the story.  And I'm stressed and uncomfortable in some lessons as a teenager, especially just trying to feel like I was a good kid.   I was great.  I didn't really rebel against the Church.  I followed my parents’ rules.   I followed Church standards.  But I just had this kind of past that I always felt like I needed to hide.  

And so, one lesson – this specifically stands out— as a teenager (and this does not make sense on like a cognitive level why this affected me) but we were learning about the adulteress that was thrust before Christ.  And then of course, what does Christ say like, “he without sin can cast the first stone.”  And so, the story is so beautiful and so merciful and so accepting.   But I felt really stressed during that story; I felt like she was vulnerable and being in a vulnerable situation, and she was being exposed to everybody, including Christ, and how awful that would be for her.  And it also felt unjust because it was the man, like the man is not in this story, it's just the adulteress, you know?  So that's kind of a background.    A really happy childhood overall; great family.   

I'm the oldest of four.  So, I have two younger brothers and one younger sister.   Really love my family of origin.    After this, I went to BYU Hawaii, and so did high school, you know, played the part, obeyed the rules, kind of felt like I was always wearing a mask in a way.  But after that, I went to BYU Hawaii.  And I was really happy there.   It was a good time of spiritual growth for me.   I made great friends.  I felt that things were really working out there.  


And then out of nowhere, all of a sudden, I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had non-Hodgkins’s lymphoma.   So, it kind of took me away from this wonderful place where I finally felt like I actually fit in which was weird.  Anyone from my youth –or anyone who knows me growing up – probably didn't pinpoint like, “she never felt like she fit in.”  It's just not really how I presented.   But that was certainly the case, and nobody knew my story.  I did not start sharing my story about the sexual abuse and all of that until I was older.  

So, spiritual growth, good things at Hawaii, got the cancer, had to come home to Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights area, to be cared for with my parents and family.  And in that moment, my childhood was gone in an instant.  And that was another really spiritual time for me, again, my father, my dad –I'm really close to my dad – and I know you're close to your dad too.   

He gave me – and I'm really close to both my parents, my mom as well, my mom and my dad – but he gave me a blessing with my bishop.  And I was blessed right at the beginning.  Right when I was diagnosed, I thought, “I'm going to die.  This is a death sentence.”  And I got this amazing blessing for a full recovery.   And so that gave me the faith and hope through that experience.   I had incredible experiences where I felt family members on the other side of the veil, they felt really close to me, they felt like I could touch them.  I did not try to touch them, but I felt like they were there, like they were tangible to me, like they were comforting, and I felt their presence.  

One thing that came from my cancer experience – and I've had a lot of time to analyze this in my years of being a psychotherapist and now an online coach where I've done the inner work around this – I really developed control issues which is common with trauma, life after trauma.  I felt like I needed and wanted to control everything around me –even though that's very impossible, right?  So, after my cancer experience, it took a couple years and then more years to heal, and during this time I never returned to BYU Hawaii, which was sad for me.  That was a bummer; that was a loss.  

But I went to graduate school to become a licensed psychotherapist, I did all of that.  I wanted to help others overcome trauma.  And kind of right out of the gate, I wanted to work with people in cancer situations, struggling with loss, struggling with cancer, difficult diagnoses, life after cancer.  But I actually started really focusing on sexual trauma.  That's kind of where I started.  And it was really organic.  That's where I fell as far as the beginning of my professional career.  

So, at this point, I was kind of in a weird place.  I was 25 years old.  I felt kind of too young to get married, I had a really hard time making long-term decisions.  I had a good friend, a boyfriend, who had been around since high school era at this point.  But it was hard.  I felt like I had to go and do something.  So, I decided to go on a mission.  And so, I went on a mission, I had a great mission experience.  I loved it, I saw so many miracles but again, I had a really hard time feeling out of control, stemming from the sexual abuse and then the cancer.  Feeling out of control is the worst, anyone dealing with life after trauma can understand that.  

So, I was actually originally called to serve my mission in El Salvador.  But I scared myself in the MTC, I literally scared myself so bad that I started getting physical presentations of my cancer symptoms again.  And so, they sent me to the doctors, and what ended up happening after this was the MTC mission president essentially called me into his office –really loving and really nice – and said, “You know, you can go to El Salvador or you can serve your mission in Florida.”  And I was like, “Florida!” I had just scared myself so bad.  There's a lot of people who just told you scary stories.


Anyway, I think it's important to my story that I was so driven and influenced by fear.  Fear was a really controlling factor and being in control.  So, I ended up Florida.  I was in the same area for 15 months – that's unheard of by the way, it is unheard of to be in an area for that long when you're serving a mission.  15 months, we had a mission president change, and that kind of why it happened the first time.  And then again, I was getting really stressed, I had two really difficult companionships at the end of my mission.  The last two were really, really hard.  And, of course, I was a licensed psychotherapist at this point, albeit an inexperienced one.  And so, I felt like those last two companionships, they had special hardships and difficulties on the mission.  And I kind of like felt like I was caring for them and providing therapy.  

I really cared what my mission president thought of me, he would say things like, “Oh, you're a happy spirit,” I got a lot of praise from him, and that meant a lot to me, so I didn't want to tell him how bad I was struggling.  So, I really didn't seek in the situation.  And being in the same area for 15 months, I was like practically a member of the ward at this point.  These people, I knew them.  And my cup was really empty.  

And at the end of my mission, I had three weeks remaining., and I ended up being questioned about a potentially inappropriate connection between myself and one of our recent converts.  He was a miracle.  And it was such an incredible story of my mission that I was like, “This is why I didn't go to El Salvador, I came to Florida because of this convert and the people that I've met in connection to this.”  And so, it was really hard for me.  And I felt like the president was misunderstanding me and I felt like I was being wrongly accused.  And I understand now that my mission president was really trying to protect me, he wanted to make sure that I was safe, and this recent convert was extremely inappropriate, had poor boundaries.  And not just with myself, but with a lot of the sister missionaries.  It was not a great situation.  I felt like I had it all handled.  

So, there was the definite pride thing going on there and didn't want to ask for help.  I wanted to stay in my area.  I wanted to finish because I'd been there the whole time.  I only have three weeks left.  I begged my president to let me stay.  And he refused.  And I literally felt broken from this experience.  I felt like it broke me.  I mean, seriously, it was so hard for me.  And my subjective understanding of this at that time was that I was being harshly punished.  And I saw it as like a banishment.  I was like banished to a new area for the last three weeks.  And the reason that I was sent to this particular area because they had a therapist and I wanted to stay so bad.  And my president had never seen this this side of me, and I was presenting kind of neurotic, in total frankness.  So, he sent me to get some professional help on my mission for those last three weeks, and I felt so judged.  

I felt like my whole mission was judging me.  Now the ward –the area— was judging me.  I just felt like they all saw me as being bad.  I all of a sudden was just bad, which is not the case at all.  Anytime I tried to explain this story to anyone who had served a mission or had a leadership position on a mission they'd be like, “yeah, that's not that big of a deal.  That happens all the time.”  And I was like “no, it was a huge deal like you don't understand it was a huge deal.”  So, I resigned to serve those last three weeks, the rest of my mission and just try to survive it, and I felt completely defeated.  

In my exit interview with my president, he said that he had consulted with the Lord, and he knew that I was innocent of any wrongdoing.  But at that point, it really didn't matter very much to me what he said, which I think actually ended up being a good thing.  I cared too much what other people thought of me.  That was part of my downfall.  

So yeah, I left my mission not feeling very great about myself.  I always say that I like limped – I emotionally limped home – from my mission.  And it was, for the most part, such a great experience.  So, it's sad, but now retrospectively – and I feel like this podcast is so amazing, thank you so much for what you're doing, giving this a voice – I feel like this whole situation for me was perfectly orchestrated by the Lord. the exact circumstances to have me fall.  I needed to fall because I had been stacking this tower of cards for years, and it was going to fall at some point.  And I felt like the Lord helped me have it in a time of my life where it wasn't easy by any means.  But where I could learn to let Christ prepare me through the Atonement.  I didn't understand the atonement at that point.  But now, with even the small human comprehension that I have of our Savior and His Atonement, I mean, yes, I needed to learn that and understand it, that was a perfectly orchestrated lesson for me.  

So, after my mission, I’m not feeling great, I tried to re-engage with my singles word.  And again, this is kind of a theme for me, but I felt like that square peg trying to force myself into the round hole, and I just didn't feel like I belonged.  So, I ended up going inactive.  And within a year of getting home, I was inactive.  And then shortly after ended up breaking commandments.  And I felt like I would never be good enough.  So, I thought, “why try so hard and beat myself up so badly if I'm never going to be good enough anyway?”  I just had this perfectionist complex.  I consider myself a recovering perfectionist.  Perfectionism is terrible.  It's entitlement, and it's ego.  And it's all these bad things, but wrapped up in the guise of sheep's clothing.  

So just seems like, “Oh, I'm just trying to be my best self”, but it's so self-deprecating.  So then, I fell.  I escaped to a different kind of life than I'd ever known, into the party scene.  I met and partied with new friends all over the world.  At first, it was really fun.  I actually felt free for the first time.  For the first time, I felt free.  I was like, “this is great.  Why have I learned my whole life that this is so bad?”  I felt like I was being accepted like, pure and full acceptance at first.  And it was only after I'd been in it for a time that I started to see how dark it was, the dark side.  And I was heavily drinking and recreational drug use socially.  And drinking causes depression, and, for me, recreational drug use was causing huge anxiety.  So, all of a sudden, I was missing my childhood, I was missing the values of my childhood.  And again, it all creates a dependence, a social dependence, you know, huge dependencies on different levels for people who engage.  And also, the social connections that I was making at that time, for the most part, were really like self-serving, it felt like a very selfish scene to me, and I think it's also really crucial to note here that I never stopped believing in the Church.  I just felt like I couldn't do the guilt and the shame anymore.



I was just gonna say what you said just barely about missing your childhood, it just really struck a chord with me because I can relate to that so much.  I remember when I was in my whole addiction and everything, and I remember seeing a picture of myself as a kid, and it breaking my heart to see that picture because I missed my childhood, I missed feeling safe and that at-home feeling.  I thought that was really amazing.  But anyway, go on.



Thank you.  I agree.  I agree.  I would see pictures of myself as a child and see the light in my eyes and be like, “Why did I judge myself so harshly?” Like, I was innocent then.  Now I'm not, but I was then.  People would try and talk to me about other things like the anti-information and all that.  And honestly, as much as I heard that, I was like, “okay,”.  I had a testimony of Joseph Smith.  I didn't question that.  I was like, “You know, if he did all of that, and then he's still going to the Celestial Kingdom, that really only gives me hope.”  I just didn't have the same reaction is other people do it.  And we're also different.  

So anyway, it was in the party scene where I met my husband, Ryan.  And Ryan was always a true seeker.  He always struggled a lot with substance abuse.  And he basically was inebriated for over a decade by the time I had met him.  At that time, he didn't really want to kick it, but he never really could kick it.  And even though it didn't look perfect between us on paper, we always had this amazing spiritual connection, to be honest, through all of it.  

We met at a Halloween party in 2014 in Park City, and of course, heavy drinking.  I always had this deep spiritual connection.  It's kind of funny, because early on in our relationship, I woke up one morning, and this is so goofy because do you remember the 80s Saturday's Warrior movie?  I don't know if anyone's really heard of it.  


I’ve heard of it, but I don't think I've seen it though.  



Okay, well, I only saw it one time, and I was like six years old.  So, I didn't know it.  And I didn't remember it.  And it's not something that I thought about.  But as I was waking up one morning, I just had it come into my mind.  I was waking up, and I don't know if I was having a dream about it or if it just came in when I was waking up, but like, there's this couple that met in the preexistence.  And she was going to a family who was a member, and he was going to a family that was non-members.  And they were in love, and they just wanted to find each other.  I was like, this is funny, but maybe I knew right? I felt like he was trying to tell me that I knew Ryan in the preexistence.  It's kind of a funny because, like, again, it’s such a corny movie, but you know, that point that I met him, I knew him, you know, I knew his spirit and he meant something to me.  And that was really, really cool.  

So, we live together.  We met in October; he moved in with me in June of 2015.  And we lived together for a couple of years and got married in June of 2017.  And it was a hard first year of marriage, and we had lots of ups and downs.  Ryan –always being a truth seeker— in school, he studied Eastern religions and thought.  And he loved Buddhism, and he really had a great spiritual basis, and we connected on that, I felt it.  

And when we were engaged, my dad had this impression during conference that he should take me on a trip to the Sacred Grove.  And so, I was getting married in June and so in May, my dad flies me to the Sacred Grove.  And again, this is a time of my life when we were still very deep and partying.  Our life was not in alignment at all with the Church's standards.  I still believed Ryan was spiritual, but you know, we were we were not living the Church’s standards.  So, I went to the Sacred Grove with my dad, and while sitting in the Sacred Grove, I had this thought and idea come to my mind –which I now recognizes revelation – that Ryan was going to get baptized in the Church.  And at the time I was like, “No way, this is Ryan.  No way.”  It seems so unbelievable since our lives were what they were at that time, but the Lord put that thought into my mind, and I feel like He was holding my hand and slowly guiding me towards Him step by step and slowly showing me the possibilities that He has in store.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Nothing 

So, we got married and first your marriage was tough, and so then comes kind of like my comeback story.  I had my son in 2019, and at that time I was able to have a small glimpse of the love that Heavenly Father has for us.  I just remember looking down at my beautiful, perfect, little baby and I was like. “Wow.  How could I be hard or judge this little, perfect babe.”  And those aren't even doing justice what I felt.  It was like, “I can't ever put him into any limiting beliefs box where he will get stuck like that.  Of course, he can do anything.  Of course, God loves him.”   Some things started making sense to me looking down at that beautiful, little boy.  

And then came 2020.  And Ryan and I both wanted structure for our son in the changing world.  You know, we had COVID, we had division, we had the earthquake here, we had fires, droughts, the world was changing so fast.  Things that I never thought I would see in my lifetime just happened in a month's time.  Like, it was just crazy, you know, and I was like, “Oh my gosh.”  It really scared me.  And I really felt like I really needed structure for my son, and Ryan completely agreed we needed a structure.  And I presented that maybe I should take him to the Church.  And Ryan said, “I think that's a good idea.”  He'd watched my family members who are really active, and they were great examples to him.  And he was like, “I think that the structure there is good.”  And he did clarify and made perfectly sure that I knew that he would not be getting baptized, he wouldn't be coming with me either.  Like he would not be there, nor be getting baptized, but that I could take James and he thought that would be good structure.  

So, I started taking James, and I decided to attend the ward that I grew up in – my parents ward – because I wanted to go with somebody, I felt scared to go back to church on my own, now with a little boy in tow.  And plus, my boy is really hyperactive, and he's awesome; a handful, I love him.  Yeah, you get it.  And as far as I was concerned, I didn't know at this time if I would fully be coming back to the Church, to be honest, I still didn't want that.  I felt like the shame and the guilt thing.  I finally don't feel that, it's not plaguing me.  So as much as I believe in the church, I just don't know if I can totally dive back in, but I need this for my son.  

The ward that we attended is amazing.  There are no words to describe it.  And at this time, when I was coming back, still some of it was being broadcast on YouTube so Ryan was kind of watching some Sunday School lessons with me, and sometimes he would watch the sacrament meeting and stuff.  And he would say things like, “wow, this guy teaching Sunday school, he's really awesome.  He does not at all seem like a like a sheeple.  He's not just a follower.  He's obviously really intelligent.  And, quite frankly, the lessons that he's teaching in Sunday school are like motivational life lessons, I think that I could definitely apply this to all parts of my life.  I like this.”  So, he started coming to church with me in person, he just started coming.  And I was shocked.  And he would say to me and members that although he would never be baptized, he loved learning the teachings and he really felt like, again, they were applicable to his life, just like kind of motivational speeches.  

So, the ward family embraced us fully and add a ward picnic.  This amazing couple –who actually their story kind of resembles mine and now ours –where the man who really befriended Ryan had been inactive for many years.  And then he met and fell in love with his wife who was a non-member, and they together kind of grew in the Church, and he came back, and she got baptized, and they did that, and then this and then they were getting sealed in the temple around the time that they met us.  And so, it was really cool and he just really befriended Ryan on such a beautiful level.  Ryan started asking me questions like, “Is there some sort of a reward? Why is he my friend?  Is there still like some sort of like MLM-like pyramid scheme going on here.  Like if he baptizes me or is there a reward for him?” And I was like, “no, nothing like that.  No, it's just eternal rewards maybe but nothing in this life.” He even asked like, “did they get like a tithing discount?”  It's really funny, because again, he had no really background in the church.  

But they would come over to our house after we would put our child to bed, and he would just share things, talk with us, share cool scriptures.  And he and Ryan were really on the same like wavelength as far as way that they think about the world.  And it’s just amazing because like Ryan would have like an idea or a question earlier in the day, and we'd be kind of like talking about it, and then later that evening, this guy would come over and answer it.  It was just, it was so inspired.  And it was amazing.  

Also, another couple in the ward had just returned home from serving as mission presidents.  And they took us both under their wings, and it was amazing.  They invited us over to dinner.  And again, Ryan's just like, “wow, these people are amazing, they're intelligent.”  He was just blown away.  

Another couple who were amazing and intelligent, who –by the way, fast forward the story a little bit—, they're now our next-door neighbors.  And they're honestly like, second parents to us.  Seriously, it's amazing.  

So, Ryan was being taught the gospel without even realizing that he was being taught the gospel.  And he was shown how the gospel works, changes lives, and inspires people by the ward members who were actually being like Christ, and doing what he teaches in their lives while being instruments in the Lord's hands, which I do not think is unique just to our ward, I think that this is the true desire and goal of so many members out there.  I am in awe when I think about this process.  

So, we started going to church in the spring of 2021, around Easter.  And Ryan ended up getting baptized in October of 2021.  So last year, and it still amazes.  He had one of those amazing spiritual experiences where one night this guy asked him to pray about what he'd been learning, or no, no, actually, he did not ask him to pray.  We read a scripture, the scripture in Alma where he says, like, “what have ye against being baptized?”  And I'm gonna butcher it if I try and go any further.  But Ryan was like, “hmm?”, so then they left that night, they stayed until like, 1am.  Whenever they would come, we would just be talking, talking, talking.  And so right after they left, we were kind of talking about it, and I asked him, “Well, what do you have against being baptized?  You’ve been digging all of this.”  He's like, “hmm”, and, of course, I'm telling his story now, but he went outside and prayed about it.  And he got one of those amazing, miraculous answers where he “heard an answer on the wind, and it was true.”  And even though the adversary and the resistance came, he didn't doubt that, and he got baptized.  It was a miracle, honestly it was nothing short of a miracle.  

And after this, miracles continued, and we were able to buy a house in the ward; the couple that had served as the mission presidents ended up giving us the opportunity to buy their elderly mother's home –she sold it to us, but I mean, it was never listed on the market, it was an incredible deal, it was just amazing, and such a blessing.  And the people in the ward and the community literally became family rather than just friends.  

And the biggest miracle of all, I'd have to say, last week, we were able to go to the temple and be sealed, and be sealed to our little boy.  And I'm still in awe, like, I'm in awe.  I never would have thought, you know?  And last night when I was talking to Ryan and kind of preparing for this interview, he said something really interesting as we were discussing this, he said, “You opened the door, and I stepped through it, and then together we started running.”  And embracing the gospel has brought so much joy.  It's brought so much joy.  Of course, things are never perfect, and the adversary will never stop, but it's all in God's hands, and it's all in God's timing.  And yeah, it's just so amazing how God can see the overview.  And Ryan, after he was baptized, was finally able to stop drinking and smoking weed and doing all these things.  He just was able to, and he just he changed.  A change of heart is real.



It's so real.  It’s interesting that you bring that part up because in my personal story, I went to rehab and all that.  And then the real hard part was the quitting smoking and the coffee that was like my every single day routine.  And because, like, heroin destroys your life, so it's like you have to either choose to live or die when you're doing heroin, but cigarettes and coffee and you know, not living a chaste life, I guess you could say, all of those things, it's part of your lifestyle, and it's not going to immediately kill you.  You know what I mean?  Those things are really, really hard to give up.  

And I had a similar experience to Ryan that I was like, “I'm gonna try this, and I'm gonna take that chance.”  And the ability to quit those things is so incredible.  You can't deny the enabling power of the Savior's Atonement helping you to quit these things because I'm sure he probably was just like, “wow, like, I have this power that's not of myself,” you know? 



Yes.  Watching him has been amazing, and hearing your story, I mean, yes, so amazing.  

So, kind of my main takeaways from this whole experience was like, first of all, that square peg trying to fit into a round hole that is a big, fat lie.  And our identity as children of God, of course, we're all misfits, every single one of us.  We are misfits, that's what we are.  We all need Christ.  No one is the same.  There is no perfect member out there.  That just doesn't exist.  It's a story, it's a narrative that we tell ourselves that becomes an excuse.  It became an excuse for me, it really did.  And I own that now.  But we all belong with Christ.  

And second of all, there's a difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt can be good as it encourages healthy changes in our lives.  Shame is a tool used by the adversary; shame deters us.  And it's more of like an external thing.  It's about what others think of us.  We can shame ourselves, but it usually has to do with some sort of external criteria.  And while guilt is more of like an internal motivating process that helps us learn and grow.  Guilt helps us learn and grow, and that's why we're here.  We're not necessarily here for it to be easy.  We're for sure not here for it to be easy.  And we need to grow.  

And then last of all, what I might take away, is that Christ is always there waiting for us, always.  He never gives up on us, in the dark times, and in the low times especially.  He is there, he's just waiting for us to turn our faces towards him.  I experienced that and can testify of the deep and incredible love that He has for us, we can always turn back to Him, and He will save us.  His love is infinite.  We don't even have the capacity to understand it right now. 



I love that.  I have a question for you.  You mentioned that when you were on your mission – and kind of in your earlier years – fear just paralyzed you.  And I can relate with that feeling a lot.  Not so much anymore, but just fear of messing up or fear of what other people think, and I'm curious to know what you did to kind of overcome that?

It's interesting because every once in a while, it will come up for me, especially at work.  When I'm at work and something happens like one of my customers is upset with me or something like that, I have that fear that like really takes over.  And it's interesting because I can share about my heroin addiction with the entire world and I'm like, “meh, whatever.”  But if I feel like one of my customers is mad at me, it is the end of the world.  So, I think that a lot of people have a similar struggle with fearing what other people think, fearing about hard situations, or just dealing with perfectionism, like you said.   What advice would you have for somebody that's kind of learning to overcome that?



Fear is of the adversary; faith is of Christ.  I think that understanding our identity – we are children of God, we can handle anything – understanding our identity, and having a purpose that's greater than just us.  

The nitty gritty of this is inner work.  It’s a process.  Journaling can be very helpful.  First of all, it takes a certain amount of self-awareness, which we do have, but then what do you do with it?  You're paralyzed in fear of what other people think of you.  Praying to overcome that; praying to see yourself the way that God sees you.  For me and my journey, that was the answer: falling away and having this whole card tower that I've been stacking – this mask of “how I want you to see me”.  Of course, that didn't come across as authentic, people were probably always seeing through it, but I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of maintaining this.  

But seeing ourselves as He sees us.  Putting back together the broken pieces when we feel defeated, or we feel like someone's judging us, or we feel like at work, or even like a small situation, like, someone's mad at you.  Like, first of all, that can be on them.  I mean, we can we can let people own their stuff, and then we can own our stuff.  But I would say the overarching answer to that is identity and seeing ourselves as actual and literal children of God, which is so powerful.  It’s best identity there is.



So true.  I love that so, so much.

I have a couple other questions for you that are from listeners.  How do you deal with hard questions in the Church? How do you face those questions and face them with faith?  Maybe church history questions or just some hard questions in the Church that we maybe don't have answers to.  Or things that you personally don't have answers to or whatnot.  How do you face those?



I am of the mindset that I understand that I'm not going to have all the answers in this life.  But I lean into the core basics.  Am I praying? Am I asking? God? Am I leaning into the scriptures? Am I doing the little things? The little things matter.  

I'm not going to know all of the answers to all of the tough questions in this life, but I can tell you that rather than just rely fully on my intellect and try and figure it out, I lean into my emotions.  And I'm that type of person that I'm going to trust, even if my brain tells me that something is 100% safe, like, “oh, yeah, sure, walk down this, this alleyway, it's the middle of the day, there's tons of people around, it's gonna be perfectly fine.”  But if my gut if my emotions tell me, “Don’t walk down that alley, there's something there,” then regardless of what my intellect will say, I trust my feelings, I trust it.  

And I think that there's a lot of truth to that with these tough questions, too.  This joy that we were talking about as children, the light, and being raised in the Church, the structure, all of these systems that high achievers out in the world, they create their structures and their systems, like they just do that naturally.  And that's how they become the high achievers.  They might not all be the best systems and structures, but the Church gives us that, and we were raised with it.  And I took it for granted.  Just kind of leaning into the primary questions versus the secondary questions.



Yep.  “Stand Forever” by Elder Corbridge.  That’s such a good talk, I love that one.



Yeah, so leaning into the primary questions and then really leaning into how it makes you feel.  So many people that I talked to nowadays kind of want to disregard their feelings.  And people have talked about that here on your podcast.  But truly, we have our intuition, our feelings, for a reason. 



And if can’t trust or feelings, what is this life all about?



Yeah!  Purpose and meaning, that's all that it's about.  And as a therapist, teaching people to lean into their emotions in any situation is what therapy is about, you know?


Yes, that is such a good, valid point!


Leaning into the eye of the storm, and there's a peace and a calm there.  Facing it, you know?  Those are hard emotions, but there's so much beauty and value to leaning into our emotions.  Absolutely.


Oh, man, that is good.  I love that so much.  Thank you for sharing that.  What advice do you have for people who are unsure the Church is true?



Well, for people who are unsure that the church is true, I would say – depending on where you're at with that— pray about it.  I've had the, I guess, benefit in my life of kind of always believing that it was true.  Like that wasn't really my problem.  But watching my husband, and watching his process, and watching him pray and seek answers and really listen and receive answers.  That's another big part of it.  But yeah, I think that if you are in a situation where you are wondering if the Church is true, then pray.  God is always there for us.


Yep.  I love that.  Recently, I had a conversation with a group of people who did a big study on what leads back to not only our church but other churches, and what was it that really helped them come back, and it starts with a prayer.  And it starts with talking to God.  

And it's interesting how sometimes when we've had that distance and we just give this much effort and just a teeny tiny bit of effort, like, “I'm gonna be willing to pray, and I'm just gonna reach out just a little bit and just see if He reaches back,” and I found in those moments that, for me, it was it was finding a Book of Mormon bookmark in this like random Bible in Fresno, California in a rehab where I was the only member of the Church.  These little gifts and tender mercies from God saying, like, “Hey, you're reaching for me a little bit.  I'm gonna reach back, and I'm going to be there for you.”  And that's kind of a common theme with prayer, and so I love that you said that.  

One last question for you.  How can a parent help a child who is away? Like, in your situation, and you're going through all of your stuff, your family remains super strong in the church, how did they interact with you?  Is there anything they could have done to help bring you back? Did they try to? What was that like?



The best thing that a parent could ever do for their child is to love them.  Love and love and love and love.  In my case, I know that I broke my mother's heart.  I, again, cared what they thought about me.  They were so broken when I left the Church.  And my two brothers have always remained really active, but my sister has not.  She's had her own journey.  But my mom just prays, and my dad prays, and also, he would always be there.  

I remember when I first had my son, and I was having my process with that.  And I all of a sudden realized that I wasn't sealed to my son.  And I called my dad – he was always the go to that I would call and ask questions –, and I said, “Dad, since I am sealed to you, are you sealed to my son?  Are you still to James?  Is he sealed to you?” And I can't even remember the answer that my dad gave me, but he always gave me comforting, reassuring answers.  And maybe everybody's not going to be concerned about that particular question.  

But for me, my parents have always been there.  They didn’t act any different when I was in my journey and with my sister.  They don't act any different with us than they did with my brothers who always were very active and stayed faithful.  They just loved us, and that's what Christ teaches, right? That's what it's all about.  It's loving.  We can't control what people's journeys are going to be.  We don't know what's going to happen.  But if there's anything that I have learned through this journey, it's that Heavenly Father had a plan for me.  I couldn't always see that plan.  I couldn't see it.  My parents surely couldn't see it, but He had a plan.  And He did.  He took my hand, and He guided me back step by step.  And He was always there.  He was there, you know?


He took all the things that you went through, and it's like, looking back now it just shaped you into being who you are today.  And isn't it interesting how God can work all things to the good of those who love Him?


Amen.  Yes.



Oh, awesome.  We are just about out of time.  But this was so perfect.  And just amazing.  I am so grateful that you came on the podcast because you have a beautiful story.  And what an honor to have you on my podcast.


Thank you.  It's such an honor to be here.  Again, this is such an amazing platform for people to be able to come in.  And these are heart and soul things and to have a place to come and talk about it, and then I listen to your podcast, like I said, and it's just inspiring, you know? It's amazing.  Thank you so much for what you're doing.


Thank you so much.  You are awesome.