"Being an African American in the church has always been interesting, and to say I have never experienced any prejudice from any members in the church would not be true. But my mom always says "Why would I let someone stand between me and God? I just let things like that roll off my back." And I do the same thing."

‎Come Back Podcast on Apple Podcasts
‎Religion & Spirituality · 2023
Come Back Podcast on Stitcher
Sharing stories of coming back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have a story of coming back, email me at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.
Come Back Podcast
Sharing stories of coming back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have a story of coming back, email me at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.




I'm Chandler, I am from Baltimore originally.   That’s my city.  I love it there.  I live in Maryland right now.  I am a legal assistant.  I work at my local courthouse.  And right now, I am hopefully getting married soon here.   Me and my lovely girlfriend, Elena.  And I just got my own place.  And so right now I'm just working and living life, you know.




Awesome.  So, how did you meet Elena?




So, it's interesting.  I always kind of like to think God put her in my path so many times, and I just missed her.   We met at my YSA branch.  And I had just approached her and was like, “Hey, I'm Chandler.” And we really hit it off.  And then I asked her out.   I had gotten the job as a legal assistant a few months ago, back in July, and I texted her and was like, “hey, we should celebrate!” And yeah, the rest is history.




So, let's hear the story!   I want to hear from the beginning.  Your background in the church and then what kind of led to your leaving and then coming back.  The whole thing. Let's hear it all.




Right.  Absolutely.  Yeah.  So let me think where to start.  So, I kind of I guess it sort of starts before I was born with my parents.  My parents are both converts.  My mom and my dad are like probably two of the strongest members that I know.  He didn’t grow up religious.  My mom did.  And then they met when they were in college and dated for two years, I think.  And then they broke up. 


And in that time period, my mom joined the Church.  She joined the Church in Florida and was married to a member who she ended up splitting from and getting divorced and then moving up to Philadelphia. 


So, her and my dad got back together.  And my dad absolutely loved my mom.  But like my mom was like, “if you're gonna get back with me, if we're gonna be together, I would like you to join the Church and at least speak with these missionaries.” 


And so, my dad has been in elders quorum, in the stake, in primary, and young men’s, Boy Scouts when the Church did that and everything.  And I always think it's funny, because he's had a lot of callings in his time.  But when my mom told him, “I want you to join the church”, he laughed and was like, “yeah, that's not gonna happen.”  So, it's just interesting, like to see where that went. 

I think growing up being African American, and being in the Church is kind of like, I feel like even now has a weird kind of thing to it.  A lot of people are like, surprised to hear that, like, “Wait, you're black, and there are black Mormons?  I've never really heard of that.”  And like, seeing people's reaction is always interesting.  But my mom, she has a great point of view on this that I actually inherited, and to say, I haven't had any face, like any sort of like prejudice from any members in the Church would be not true, but that's not my fault.  That's their prejudices.  And not to mention, like, again, like my mom always says, like, “why should I let someone stand between me and God?” And so, she's like, “I just kind of let things like that roll off my back”, and I do the same thing. 


So yeah, I grew up in the church.  I kind of had not necessarily an exciting upbringing.  Got baptized when I was eight, got the priesthood became a deacon when I was 11.  My older brother did as well.  I have to say I have two brothers, my older brother, my younger brother. 


My older brother, Weston, did the same thing.  He's three years older than me.  And my little brother, Trey, also ended up getting baptized given the priesthood and everything, but both of them have since gone inactive. 


And yeah, I think when my older brother kind of went inactive was where it really kind of started.  So, my older brother was in high school.  And he was someone I really, really looked up to and a lot of his friends who he had in Young Men’s and Young Women’s kind of moved out all the same time.  And so, he started kind of falling away from the Church and just losing his testimony because he wasn't really connected to our ward. 


And he had started kind of acting out, started drinking, and kind of partying, and stuff like that.  And I think I tried to stay as close to the Church for my parents’ sake as I could.  But I think probably by about eighth grade, when I came back to church and went through the repentance process, my bishop, I kind of said, “Well, I always had a love for the church, a close relationship with Church, that was never really any issues.”  It was like, at a certain point, which I'll talk about later, and where I left, but like I said, I think recently, I've kind of looked back and like, around eighth grade, I kind of already had one foot out the door, which I think a lot of people do around that age. 


And so, when I was in eighth grade, I met this girl at a church dance, and her name was Alexis.  And her and I really hit it off, but she wasn't actually Mormon, she was Catholic.  And she was just there with a friend of hers.  And we just stayed in contact through that summer and then my freshman year. 


High school wasn't very fun for me.  I was bullied a lot.  My older brother, he was such a popular guy.  He was Captain the football team.  He was so popular; I remember freshman girls coming up to me and asking me to have him give them his autograph.  He was that kind of guy.


It always kind of frustrated me because I in high school couldn't run fast or throw a ball far.  So, he was the go-to guy for all sports.  And, yeah, my little brother at this point in time, he was suffering some health issues.  So, he kind of started to struggle as well.  But all of us kind of around the same time, started having our own separate issues, because we had gotten older, we’re all three years apart.  So, we all kind of hit the same benchmarks as far as inactivation at the same time in our lives, right?


My freshman year, all of my friends, my main friend group at the time, were all members.  But again, like, looking back, I don't think they were people maybe who I may I should have associated with in general.  I think for a few of them, their parents tried the best they could, I even think they tried the best they could.  And some of them have come back, but like moved away.  Others have completely disowned and disavowed the Church. 


But yeah, I think things kind of went south my freshman year.  My freshman year, a friend of mine, again, like kind of wasn't a great friend.  I think as you get older, I feel like you get perspective on a lot of stuff, right? And that was just one of those things.  I'm like, “man, like, you weren't really a great friend.”  But he had kind of, I guess, long story less long.  He and I kind of fell out.  And then at one point, like he had called the police.  And then I was arrested for the first time.  Like, in school, I remember taking my SATs, and everyone like, got up and like, left, and I was like, “that’s kind of weird, like, what's going on?” And the police came in and arrested me.  And I found out later, he had accused me of something that was just out of kind of spite.  And as I look back, you know, I think that my house was growing up, my parents tried to keep the spirit at all times.  And even like when me and my brothers were inactive. 


I ended up getting arrested.  And I was in juvie for a while, and then I was in an inpatient hospital for a while, and during that time, the girl I met in eighth grade, Alexis, her and I were like, kind of in a relationship.  At one point in time, like, she had gotten pregnant.  And I remember, like, at the time, I had just turned 15.  And I'm, like this boy, I'm small, and in high school.  I was maybe 110 pounds my freshman year, and like, I had no clue what to do.  And so, I kind of kept it to myself.  And so, when I had gotten arrested, she had a miscarriage.  And that was something that I remember like, not really, you know, because I had actually, I had been in total and an inpatient hospital and like back and forth between the juvenile facility and everything.  And like, I had no contact with the outside world, so I didn't know otherwise.  Right? 


And so, she had a miscarriage.  And then a few days later, I guess she had kind of hit a really bad like, I don't know, to this day kind of whether it was postpartum or what.  But she had gotten really, really depressed, and she took her own life.  And it was it was, maybe it was, it was the worst thing that's ever happened to me.  Right.  And I think, at that time, I kind of just pushed it down and kept moving.  And so, I had been in an inpatient hospital, and like, basically, like, not home for a month and a half at this point.  And it was terrible.  And I hit a point where I just was like I was like, “alright, well, like God was wrong.  Like, that's it.” 


And like, that was like one a flip switched in me.  I like to say, like, at the time, if everything I had, like, kind of been doing at that time, had gotten out, I probably would have been a lot more trouble than I was.  So, I suppose that's kind of a small mercy.  But yeah, I just was like, you know, she was the kind of person who gave you the clothes off her back, if you needed it. 


And like that, like, there was just a moment where I was like, “no, like, everyone always says, everything happens for a reason.  Like, everyone always says, like, you know, God doesn't make any mistakes.  And like, he was wrong on this one.” 


And, yeah, so that's, like I said, kind of where I like, fully, like, started to step away from the Church more and more.  I think, like, a lot of leaders in the church, no matter where you are, like, tried their best.  I think that there are a lot of people who were misguided and had a different point of view on things, but I think all around no matter what, you know, where things are not like now, I think they really did try their best, you know. 


But that being said, like my leaders also weren't really like super like, as understanding and didn't show us as much Christ like love as I had felt they should have.  And, you know, I'm not God, I'm not all knowing.  So, I can't speak to whether, like, at that time, like, they made the best move.  Like, I think, looking back, there were definitely a few of them, who probably made the best decisions they could for the youth, given all the information they had, right.  But my bishop was, he was very, like, kind of like, stern.  And, you know, well, “you break the law of chastity, like, you know, then, you know, obviously go through repentance process, and that's it.  And like, the repentance process is gonna go like this.”  And, you know, like, he was very, like, scolding and, and kind of cold. 


The bishop of my home ward now, he is the coolest guy ever.  But he was the bishop I had gone through the repentance process with few years ago, but everyone kind of just wasn't, maybe there was just a lot of struggles.  And I think it was hard for everybody in our stake to handle. 


So yeah, I've slowly started to back away from the church.  And then around that time, as well, I started drinking heavily, and self-medicating.  I was born in Baltimore, and something about me is my parents are actually, they're a mixed-race couple.  So, I was adopted, me and my older brother, we were both adopted.  And my little brother was born in the covenant to my parents. 


And for some reason, in my brain, I went to, okay, well, I kind of had a everything I cared about, I had a relationship, I really cared about what someone I thought I was going to be with.  I had friends, I had like at least, like, some sort of standing within the Church and all that's gone.  So, what do I do now? And for some reason, my mind went to “Okay, well, I have to find my birth mother.  I gotta find where I come from, to know who I'm going to become.




How older were you at this point?



This point? 15.  It was a rough thing to go through at that point.  And, yeah, so I started hanging around in Baltimore.  And just like I was there, like nightly and I, so where I am in proximity to Baltimore, especially at night, maybe 45 minutes, an hour.  And so, you know, it's not far so I could leave it midnight and like, hang out there, come back before anyone had known otherwise. 


And so, I snuck out a lot.  I was hanging out right down there.  And I had met a group of people who at the time, it was just friends of mine, but like later on, like, it didn't for some reason, click like that, like,” Oh, this base was a gang.”  Right? And that's, I feel like that's weird.  And I also feel like gang members and people who are in the inner-city kind of get a bad stigma towards them, right? Because, like, a lot of them are just trying their best, right? Like a lot of them are just doing what they think is best for them.  And whether it's misguided or not, like that's something that that's just kind of how they were raised. 


So, yeah, when I was going through high school, I went from like, you know, ninth grade, I was like, barely like good grades, straight A's, then like the second semester was like A's and B's.  Sophomore year, I jumped to like C's or Ds.  And then by like, end of my sophomore year, for the rest of high school, I was just, I just didn't care about high school.  Like, it was just something that I was disinterested in. 


I would show up to school drunk.  Like, I had a really, really bad addiction.  Also, at this point my parents didn't know, I kind of cut them out.  Again, like growing up, I think it's just, my parents had, like, I know that they loved me.  I know.  And I love my parents, but I think all of us had kind of a hit or miss relationship with each other. 


As well, at this point, my brother had kind of gone fully inactive, right? I've talked to him about the sense, he doesn't have any ill will towards the Church, he’s always told me he never had any bad experience.  He just said, like “Church just wasn't for me.  Like, that's it and doesn’t feel like, this is what I should be doing.  So, I didn't want to be here.”  And like, he's someone who, like, I've always respected because I'm like, “that makes sense.”  Like, my parents would go to church.  This the entire time from when my older brother had gone inactive to when I had come back and neither of them neither one of them are active to this day.  Like they still they went to church every week.  And like my mom told me, she's like, “I knew that you guys would come back.”  She believes all that. 


I haven't gone through the temple yet, so I can't speak to what she's seen.  But at the time, she told me this even when I was like, 16 is everything at the time, like, whatever.  Like, that's not true.  And I came back and was like, “alright, so I guess all of us may be coming back.  Probably Alright, like, fair enough.” Right?


When I had kind of gotten towards the end of high school, I kind of just, I kind of just, like, tapped out.  It's funny, I had a teacher on my last day telling me, she's never seen a student sleep so much in high school, and still graduate.  And like, I just




Yeah, I was going to ask you if you actually graduated?




I did.  I finished high school.  I finished high school online.  High school was just, even now, I feel like school is just maybe not the thing for me.  But I do, on the other hand, like wish I had applied myself a little more, but like I said, like hindsight is 2020. 



I can relate for sure. 




Yeah, yeah.  And as I've gotten older, I'm just like, “man, like, I would be a lot further than I was, if I got my college degree.”  But yeah, I finished online school.  And then, I had started working in a supermarket.  I get upset at myself sometimes because I did so little during that time.  And like, again, like I could have just been much more efficient, and I wasn't. 


So yeah, I had also ended up joining a gang.  And I think at the time, I kind of just, I had a strained relationship with my family.  I didn't really have a sense of like community or a sense of like God, and so I just needed a belonging, I needed somewhere to be.  And that was kind of what I had the opportunity to do.  And I had a friend who was in high school, who introduced me to kind of that life, and he ended up being murdered.  And so, I had like kind of also felt it was like a duty and like an honor to him to do this.  Right.  And it was not fun. 


By this point in time, I've been shot twice and stabbed four times.  Like it's, yeah, yeah, it's not even fun.



You have been through a lot of trauma in your life.



Yeah, yeah, yeah.  The first time I was shot, I was at a music studio in Baltimore and like, just a group of people come up and shot the studio up.  But that was just one of the times where it hit me, I'd been in many situations where things went south, and then guns came out.  And like, at the time, I remember thinking, like, “this sucks, but like, whatever, like, I'll tough it out, like, I'm a real one.  So like, I don't know, like I can, I can, I can eat this, like it is what it is.” 


And by like, 18 or 19, I had just come to terms with the fact that I was gonna die at 21.  Like, I'm just like, before, I'm 21 like, I'm gonna die.  And, like, again, like looking back, I had I really like I don't know, kind of where I got the sense from, but I do remember, my pat coming back to church kind of starts with, like, my 21st birthday, where my friend Corey, she's not a member, she's not even a huge fan at church.  But it's funny, because we had a had an interesting conversation about God. 


And so she was in a situation that, you know, could have ended up in a very bad way.  Because one of our friends like, basically, like, set her up to be robbed.  And I remember like her telling me like, “Yeah, but like, you know, like, it's not a big deal.  Like, I forgive them.’  And I'm like, “huh, like, could you forgive him? You gotta go get them?” And she's like, “why, like, what good does that do for me?” And I'm like, “it'll give you a peace of mind.”  And she's like, “No, it won't, like, that's not gonna help me in any way.”  And I like told her like, “Man, I wish I had that.”  She'd always told me like “you do, you're just like, you don't want to, like use it, but you have it.” 


And so, at this point in time, as well, like I was going to therapy, and I started dealing with the loss that I had suffered when I was, you know, in high school, and kind of everything I had gone through.  He's like, “you went through something traumatic, and you made it out the other end and the person you're with didn’t, and like, it sucks, but like you, you have survivor's guilt.”  And I'm like, “Okay, well, like, what do I do with that?” And he said, “you work through it?”


And like I said, around that time, I think my relationship with God kind of became to get like, started getting closer.  And it's interesting, so Alma the younger, he tells about how he basically, like got struck down, right, because he was just a really bad person.  And the same kind of thing happened to me in a weird way.  Where I had been working with a therapist, I had had this friend in my life who was still trying to like, almost like coach me through forgiveness.  And at that same time, I just got sick.  And like, I had gone to the doctor, I had gone to every specialist, to my therapist, and a neurologist and everything, a psychiatrist, I had gone to neurologist everything, right? And like, they were all like, “we don't know, like, you're just sick.” 


One said it’s insomnia.  One just said, like, “oh, try these meds.”  You know, I heard a bunch of different things from a bunch of different people.  And, yeah, I just, I had gotten sick.  And I feel like it's always kind of interesting because a lot of people these days, whether they're members of the Church, or they're Catholic or Jewish or whatever, feel like a lot of things that happened in the Bible can't happen now.  And that happened in the past, can't happen now. 


But I can tell you that they do.  And I kept having a dream over and over and over again, like seeing myself die.  And it was, like harrowing.  And I would wake up every day and be like, “this sucks, like this is horrible.  I don't like I don't know what's going on.  I don't know what is happening.  Why do I keep having this dream.”  And I'm just trying to figure out a lot of things. 


I think the best way to describe it back there was my spirit was sick, and I had been at a crossroads morally and I had kind of been at a point where I knew things were either going to go all the way left or all the way right. 


So, when I was 20, I was shot for a second time, and it was just a graze, but it still was like one of things that was like, “this is getting to be too much for me.”  Then it shifted from that to like a few months later, I was stabbed, and then like a few after that I was stabbed again. 


And so, I get like, at this point, I'm inching closer and closer to my 21st birthday.  And I'm like, “alright, when is it gonna happen? Like, you know, I think I'm gonna die.”  And like, I'm 24 now.  So again, like, I didn't end up dying.  But a series of my friends ended up dying, I think the final straw for me was two of my closest friends who I had had at the time, they had been killed hours apart.  And like, I got this news, and I was like, “This sucks.  Like, I don't want to be in this life anymore.  Like, all my friends are dying.  I've been shot, I've been stabbed.  I’ve been jumped like, this sucks.” 


And like I kind of told you, my bishop when he started going through the repentance process.  I was tired of going out and being like, “Alright, got my phone, got my wallet, got my keys.  Oh, no, like, Where's my gun?” Like, I didn't want to have to do that, you know? And, yeah, it was just, it was not a great point in my life.  And so, the night that they died, I just had felt alone.  And I'm just like, “I don't have anybody anymore, like these people, and I don't have them anymore.” 


And so, yeah, I just I go to my mom, and I just was like, “I'm really upset right now.”  And he's like, “I think you should pray.”  And I'm like, “what is that going to do?” Like, it was just like, a no, like, in my mind, I'm like, “What do I need to pray for?  I drink. Like, you know, like, I don't need to deal with this.”  But something just kind of shifted in m where I was like, “Whatever, like, it can't hurt, right?”


And, yeah, I had prayed, and I'm, like, “God, haven't talked in a while.  But like, I need some help here, man. I just need some sort of comfort.  I really do need something to help me in my life.”  So, this was January of 2020 at this point in time. 


Probably the next day, I walk out of my room in parents’ house, and I go through my kitchen, and I hear this like voice from my living room.  He's like that “Is that Chandler.  Hey, Chandler!” And I'm just like, “Who is? What missionary or whatever is this? Who's talking to me right now?” And so, I go over, and was like, “Hey, how's it going?” They're like, “Hey, like, really good to see you.  We're glad to see you like, how's it going? Like, what you up to these days?”  And I'm like, “Oh, I'm like, just doing whatever” kind of making small talk with them. 


And they had told me like, kind of about, like, what was going on, and like, all the changes.  They’d only been members of the bishopric for like a month, or, like, around that kind of time.  And they had just invited me to like Young Men's, and like Andrew later on, you know, we were talking about kind of like missionary work and everything.  He's like, “sometimes, like, you just gotta, like, let people be and then let them come back on their own.”  He's like, “That's kind of what I did with you.”  And I was like, “what do you mean?”  He's like, “I kind of surprise attacked you.  I came in and I was like, ‘Come on, man.’  And you were like, ‘sure, like, whatever.’  Like that strategy works.  So, you know, clearly worked with you.”

So, he invited me to Young Men's.  And I had gone for a few weeks just to kind of like, be there and like, help out.  When I came back to church, I was called to be his Young Men's advisor.  They're just crazy.  Like, there's just one kid in the Young Men’s, his name is Sam, he's gonna be president one day, I swear, like, he's such a bright kid.  And he and I had gone ministering one time, we did a lesson on the temple.  And he had been sealed to his family kind of when he was a little younger, he’s 13 I think right now, and 13 or 14 had been sealed, his family at nine or 10.  So he kind of has a fresh memory. 


We were ministering to someone, and at a certain point in the lesson he like, almost like, if we were missionaries, I feel like he would have grabbed my main tag, and been like, “Give me this.  I'm the senior companion now.”  Like, he just took over the lesson.  And the sisters were there because they were having dinner there.  And they were just like, “okay, like, no, like, by all means Sam, like, go ahead.”  And like afterwards, they were like, “he just did like a better lesson than we've had, like, in a few weeks.  Like, that was crazy.”  But then afterwards, I was like, “You're going on a mission, right?” He's like, “Yeah, yeah, I plan on it.”  I'm like, “Yeah, I can tell.”


So, the youth just kind of opened my eyes to things.  And then one night, I texted my bishop, and was like, “how do I work on coming back to church and becoming an elder” and he's like, “Well, you'd have to become a priest first.”  Because when I left at 15, I didn't get the chance to become a priest.  But he's like, “let's sit down.  Let's talk” and like we had worked kind of slowly through their repentance process.  It took a while, like it took a few months because there was a lot of stuff I had to get off.  And there were times where, you know, I would tell him something and he had to contemplate like “What, what can I say? What do I do with this” because he was just made a bishop.  And like, you know, this is now we're like now in the middle of the pandemic, and so he had to deal with other members and what they were going through.  And, you know, there are things I told him that I'm sure he had to, like, go to the stake president and be like “Chandler told me this.  Is it okay?  Can we continue with the repentance process?” 


And so, it was a long while, I probably was going through it for 10-ish months.  Somewhere along the line, they called me to be in Young Men’s.  And that was, that was another like, great experience.  Because again, like I love to get in there, in my home ward, they're fantastic.  I've fully like kind of started coming back to church.  And that was just, like, I just saw a change in my life.  Like, everything was just better.




Question really quick, sorry to interrupt.  During this time, did you feel any cravings for drinking? Or like, what was that like, trying to like, come back from like, all this alcohol and partying and you know? Was that challenging?



Oh, 100%.  Yeah.  I tried addiction recovery.  In high school, I kind of tapped in and out.  Because my parents would be like, “Well, can you come to church?” And I'd be like, “Can you give me like 100 bucks or whatever”, and they're like, “sure.”  And I’d be like, “Fine, then I’ll come to church this week,” like stuff like that, right. 


But I haven't really been into it.  But I’d gone into additional recovery for probably two, three weeks, but didn't really stick.  And when I came back to church, I had gone into like a local AA group that wasn’t associated with church. 


I remember this guy who's in my group was an older gentleman, his name is Bert.  He told me at the time, because I quit cold turkey.  So like, I went from like, literally, the week prior to drinking a whole bunch to like, not drinking at all, and it sucked, and like I had the shakes for a really long time.  And like, my body reacted in a way that like, “this is horrible,” right?


And he had told me, you know, in regard to cravings, he's like, “how long have you been sober?”  And I'm like, “about a year now.”  And he's like, “Yeah, you're probably gonna get cravings for like, 3-4 years.”  And I'm like, “what, like, that's such a long time.”  And he's like, “Yeah, in the grand scheme of things.  It's not, but it is.  Yeah.”  And I'm like, “do they ever stop?” He's like, “No, just the bad ones do?” And I'm like, “okay, all right.” 


It's super hard because I think when we think about, you know, like repentance, something a lot of people don't think about as far as like, stepping away from the church is the consequences they can have for like, you know, what, after you even come back.


One of the most surreal conversations I had was with one of the youth in my ward.  She had come up to me, and I remember her telling me like, she kind of pulled me aside was like, “Hey, Chandler, can I come and talk to you about something?” Like, “yeah, sure.  What's up?” She says, “you know, you went away, you kind of stepped away from the Church.  You know, I have my doubts.  I feel weird about kind of things that are going on in the ward right now.  If I stepped away, like, what do you think would happen?” And I told her first I was like, “I'm not the person to go to about this.  I said, I'm not, you know, I don't think it's a good idea.  There's a reason I'm back.”  And then I told her I said, “also, like, I didn't like get special permission from the First Presidency to go on like vacation.  Like, I left, and I had to go through a whole bunch of processes to come back”.


At one point, I was planning on going on a mission.  And there were some things that kind of came back from my past that kind of prohibited me from my mission, which is another just one of those consequences, right.  But I think the surrealness of like, my drinking kind of hit me, when I was going through my physical.  I told the doctor at the time, I was like, “yeah, like, you know, I used to drink a whole lot.”  He's like, “how ‘a lot’ is a lot?”  And I'm like, “you know,” he's like, “a liquid diet?”  I'm like, “Yeah, basically.”  And like, so he runs some tests, I go back, like a day or two later, he's like, “so, you know, I have some news for you.”  I'm like, “okay,” he's like, “You have acute liver damage.”  And I'm like, “what?”  I'm in the prime of my life.  So, I'm not expecting to hear like, “yeah, you have liver damage”, and I'm like, what like, what does that mean?


And he tells me like, “I don't know 40-year-old you; I don't know 50-year-old you, but a lot of people when they have liver problems, they typically come up to 70-80 years old.  If there's any damage, if this doesn't heal itself, which it may over time, like you're gonna see your liver start to have serious like side effects, like 30-40 years old.”  And I'm like, that's in like 10 years like that is so crazy to think about. 


But that was just something that I ended up sharing with this girl.  And I was like, it's hard.  I told her like “if you want to leave which you have all the freedom in the world to do what you want to do, but like take it for me, it's not all it's cut out to be out there.”  Like I think a lot of people think if I go out, I just kind of comeback whenever and like, that's not at all how it works. 


And then it's also super hard, it's not like you're like kind of going in and out of a pool.  It's like really hard to go out.  And then be like, “oh, yeah, well, I'm just gonna come back to church now and just kind of go back to doing what I was doing.”  Because you're always gonna have that like, craving, like, even now, in the past few weeks, I've been going like back to dealing with like, you know, there's been a lot of like, it's just a busier time at work.  And I've been dealing with, like, with having a craving for alcohol. 


And it is like crippling, like, because, you know, I've heard a little bit about your story, and I know you did, you kind of have a history with drugs and alcohol.  And I'm sure you know, like, it's, it's so hard to just like, quit and especially cold turkey.  I applaud you for going through that because like I could at all like, like quitting like, in my own home was hard enough for me.  You know, since I’ve come back to church, I have just seen this, like, just a different point of view on life.  And I kind of had a renewed like purpose, right.  But like, that's kind of not worth doing.  It's not like I’ve come church and happily ever after.  It's still like, I had to deal with a lot of a lot of stuff like a comeback from my past life. 


You know, I've had people come back and you know.  There's this kind of like, concept in whatever you call like street culture, gang culture of like, your flag, your gang like, those are your people, your ride or die, you know, right, you're gonna die for them.  Right. 


And I remember telling my branch president, I was like, I kind of put down my flag game flags on it picked up a Book of Mormon.  Like, that's kind of where things started.  Right? And but like, I've had people like, come back, like, one of the ways I had to kind of get out of that life is I had to, you know, you can't just leave a gang, like it just like, you can't just like, come back to church, you can't just leave a gang, right?


And so, I kind of had to, like, almost sell my soul and like really just give a piece of the out to be like, just get me out.  Like, that's it like, you get me out.  And we're straight like, and that was a really hard thing for me to do. 


But since I've kind of come back, I've also had a very interesting relationship with Christ.  Last year, at the beginning of this year, I kind of went through a rough spot.  My little brother, he started doing some serious drugs.  My older brother isn't in a bad spot, but he's kind of all over the place with relationships.  And he has issues and but he's doing good.  Yeah, I just I was struggling kind of socially within the Church, I noticed. 


And I had some of my closest friends.  So, we all kind of became thick as thieves, they were there for me kind of during a rough patch.  I was planning on going on a mission.  And there were just a lot of things up in the air.  And it kind of got to a point where I'm like, “Alright, God, like, Come on, man.”  at the time I thought doing everything I'm supposed to be doing, I’m going to church, paying tithing.  I'm doing this and doing that.  Like, come on, man.  Like what is going on? 


D. Tood Christofferson in the last conference gave a really, really great talk.  Fall of last year, I believe.  He gave a talk.  And one of the lines and they I thought it was I just thought it was hilarious.  He says Joseph of Egypt could have easily thought so prison is what I get for keeping trying to keep the law of chastity.  And I just thought that was hilarious.  Because like, Yeah, like that was kind of my point of view.  And I'm like, wow, so like getting kind of stuck in limbo is what I get for trying to do what's right. 


But I had had this point this year.  And ever since this, I kind of been had like this, like closeness with Christ.  And I remember like, I was kind of like stuck in this position where I wasn't sure what's going to happen with my mission.  I had kind of started to have this feeling like I think my wife is around the corner here, but I'm not sure if that's just me, like getting worried about mission or whatever.  And I like was really, really upset and kind of like was waiting for God to come to me.  But one day I just prayed and I was like, “alright, God, like here's the deal, like, I'm going to do what I'm going to do, am I just trust that you're going to, you know, like, make up to make up the slack when it's ready.  And so, I literally like, am I'm just gonna go wherever you want me to go.  But in order to do that, like I need to pay tithing, I need to do you know, go on a mission, go to institute, go to church.  Doing the things that I need to do because I should do that not because I'm expecting anything in return.


And just like when I prayed for help when I first got into the church, right as I did that things like almost immediately turned around, you know, I had been like, “God, like, first thing is I need a job” because like, I was kind of working at a place but wouldn't get a whole lot of hours.  Like it was hard for me to pay tithing.  And then I was like, alright, the first thing I need is a job.  Applied for a job.  Now I'm a legal assistant, I'm “okay, next thing I need, I need to start being able to have my independence.”  I was able to get a car, you know.


After that, I'm like, “OK, God, like, I need to figure out what the deal is here.  Like, where do you want me to go?” Because I thought I was supposed to go on a mission.  I'm having kind of suspicions that my wife was maybe here.  But again, like, I don't know, if that's just me.  So maybe just, you know, like, I guess just take me wherever you want me to go right. 


And then my girlfriend Elena came into my life.  And that was just it was all just like, I think it was too perfectly timed for it not to be of God, you know. Things haven't been perfect since then.  But they've been infinitely better. 


And as I kind of get closer and closer to a point where I'm getting ready to go to temple and getting ready to be sealed.  And like I just, I kind of have an opportunity.  I gave a talk a few months ago in my YSA branch and shared my testimony in another ward.  And I had like kind of just been thinking about the past.  And I had run into someone who was a teacher, who was telling me about other people that came to school with me.  It didn't dawn on me until I kind of did some research online.  By every metric like I should be dead.  Like, every metric.  Every case study out there says like people from my background, like don't live past a certain age.  So, I kind of always tell people, like if you need proof that God is real, like, look no further, like, I've been shot two separate times, I've been stabbed, and I'm still breathing, like how else do you explain that other than there must be a God. 


And it always blows me away to think about the atonement, because there have just been a lot of dumb things I've done in my life, and I think everybody has, but the fact that Christ had such love to be like, “Chandler is going to do a lot of stupid stuff, like he's going to do a lot of stupid stuff.  And it's really not going to be great to see.  But I love him so much that I'll take this, if it means he can benefit from the atonement.”  Like, “I love Ashley so much that I'm going to recognize what she's going to do.  And I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm going to like I'm going to suffer this.” 


It's really just amazing to see and think about, like, how much love just it must have taken to do that, not just for me, but for you, and for my brothers, and for like everyone and I just I still to this day, like every day I wake up and I pray and I'm like, “God, like, I just I wouldn't be here without the love that Christ had for everyone.”  And so, I just whenever I get the chance, I tried to just be like, “look like, this is what life is all about, like just seizing the moment and realizing that like, we're here, we're all here for a reason.”  And I've lost too many people in my life to not realize how short life can be. 


And so now I just try to do everything I can to seize the moment, you know what I'm saying? And a part of that, for me, is just making sure I'm thankful for the atonement, and I'm thankful for just every blessing that I have, because like I said I wouldn't be here without it, you know, so.  So yeah, that's kind of my story.




I love that.  That is so amazing.  You've been through so much in your life.  And it's so interesting because something that I notice in my own story and in all the podcasts is that when people decide that they're going to just like take one little step back to the church, it's like there's so many little miracles that happen.  Like, the bishopric at your house like the next day.  Like you said the prayer, you acted in faith like “God I don't know, if you're listening, I don't know what's gonna like, I don't know what's gonna come with this, but I'm gonna pray.”  And then the next day, it's just all those little miracles that happen.  And it's just so incredible to see how much your life has changed.  And just, I don't know, like, your story is so amazing.  And I just appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast so much.  So, thank you.



Of course, thank you.  I know reached out to you on messenger on Facebook and like, again, like kind of didn't expect the response I saw you want on Saints Unscripted, I watched them, and I started listening to your podcast, and I'm like, “Wow, like, this is kind of like, awesome.” 


And so, I was like, you know, like, hearing different people's stories and just knowing that I'm like, when you're, especially when you first come back, you kind of have a stigma where you feel like you're alone, right? Because you see all these people at church who a lot of them, especially if you let in your youth and come back like you like see, and you expect to have like, everyone kind of given you a side eye.


But like, I have a lot of love for my home ward because I was welcomed back, like with open arms.  And like, yeah, to know that there are people who also like went through the same thing.  And we're also welcome back.  It's just It was super, super, super inspiring to hear, you know,



Yeah.  And I love that you bring that up about your home ward because I had a very similar experience.  Like, when I went back like you, that's what you expect is like, are they judging me? Like, I was just on the county website with my mug shot? Like, they all know, like, you do expect a side eye, but my experience was the complete opposite. 


It was all love and, honestly, like, at that point, it's like I was there because I needed a relationship with God to like, repair my soul.  And if they were saying anything about me, I honestly didn't even really care at that point.



Yeah, yeah, yeah, I had my bishop one time told me like, you know, when I first started going through the repentance process, I told him, “what if this happens, or what if people judge me for this or like, you know, like, what's gonna happen with, you know, again, like a calling or thinking about going on a mission and, you know, everything.”  And one thing he had told me, he's like, “so the thing was repentance processes.  Like, at some point in time, I'm gonna have to loop in the state president, like, and then obviously, like, me and you go through it,” and he's like, “that's it.  Like, you don't have to tell your parents.  You don't have to tell anyone.”  And I told him what I'm worried about is what other people think.  And he's like, “Chandler, you have my word.  I will do my best to shield you from that.  But just remember, like, they're not going through the repentance process.  They're not you, it's just us here.  It's between you and I.”  And like that having a leader be like, “Okay, so like, great.  Like they're gonna talk and like?” was just super, it was really good for me, you know?



Yeah, I love that so much.  Well, your story is so incredible.  And thank you so much for reaching out to me.  I am just, we all needed this.  So, thank you so much. 



Of course, of course.