11 Jul

LDS Convert Guest Post: Jessica, Part II

Posted by Jenna, Under Religious

If you haven’t read it, here is Part 1 of my story.

In 2003 my family moved to Germany. This was the best, and worst time of my life. Spiritually I was thriving. I loved attending seminary, Wednesday night activities, and church of Sunday. From the first part of the story, though I only mentioned two songs – music really influences me. I have been very blessed with abundant musical talent, and because of that I was very active in the Arts program in my high school. This is where I met my future husband. (To read more about our story, click here!)

Jessica & B-man, Belle and Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol"

Despite my spiritual and physical growth, emotionally I was at the beginning of an uphill battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and depression. This would eventually pull me down in other areas of my life too. In the beginning of my struggles, I was so reliant on Heavenly Father. So faithful. This was probably the best way to go, but in my junior year of college, I faltered. I became very depressed, and eventually fell back onto self-harm. This actually has nothing to do with the church, as I mentioned in the comment section, I come from a long time of people who have suffered from depression – it’s definitely the genetics. I lost my faith. I gave up. Thankfully Heavenly Father did not, as he put the right people in my life, exactly when I needed them. I did get professional help for my issues, and I’m fairing… decently better now. Why is all of this important? Well. I hated my life. I hated Tennessee. I had successfully alienated myself, and I needed something new. So, I decided I would move to Utah. Because I had moved around so much in my younger years, I now had a very large collection of friends in Utah, and it just felt right. I also was accustomed to moving every few years, and I needed a change of scenery.

I moved back home to Virginia for the summer, I didn’t want to take everything I owned all the way across the country. That Summer (2008), I met up with B, just to hang out. We started spending a lot of time together (I’m condensing) but the short story is, we were made for each other. I felt so calm around him. Despite his very non-religious up bringing, I felt so comforted being around him. We started dating, something I hadn’t done in a very long time. There was so much talking. We talked about life, Europe, college, family, and we talked about the church. A lot.

Before his first Sunday @ Church, Summer of 2008

I told him he should’ve gone to church with me in Germany, because then we could’ve started dating earlier!

He said I had never invited him.

My heart sank. So selfish. He is a giver, and I depended on B for so much of my happiness in high school, but I never shared what made me happy. I was completely overcome by how selfish I had been. I had invited other people, many times. I decided to rectify the situation. Quickly.

I got him a bible. I know a lot of LDS people are quick to hand out the Book of Mormon. We spent hours upon hours on the phone, reading the scriptures together (I did give him a Book of Mormon too, later). B latched onto everything. It was amazing, and so good for my soul. So very good. He taught me how to be happy, and he brought me back to my Heavenly Father when I felt so very far away. In return I taught him how to pray, and bible stories and I got to tell him about all of my wonderful experiences with the church. It was coming back to me, my faith was being restored. I owe this completely to my sweet husband.

Needless to say, I never made it out to Utah. B and I got engaged, and set the wedding date for a few months after his college graduation. I knew that he was the man for me, even if he wasn’t a member of my church. I know a good thing when I see it, and we were good together. Even though we are often told to marry inside of the church, my own experiences growing up had shown me that there are amazing Mormon people, and there are amazing people who aren’t Mormon – and both are great. I wasn’t going to push him, because I really do believe that these things happen on their own terms. It was between Heavenly Father, and B, and all I could do was love him. But, I was in for a surprise. In the year+ preceding the wedding, B started meeting with the missionaries. He was nervous about it, but I promised that if it didn’t feel right, he didn’t have to do. But it was oh so right. I kept my nose out of things though, so to speak. I tried my best not to pressure him, but it was hard to contain my excitement. B was baptized at the end of the summer, before we both went back to school.

B with my family @ his baptism.

The year was painstakingly agonizingly slow. I you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you completely understand what I mean. But I had much to be grateful for. B fit in well at his University ward (congregation) and I drove up to Virginia Tech to visit him often. We got officially engaged in World’s Fair Park, September 2008.

World's Fair Park, Knoxville TN

During the year B grew so much. I thought I had found an amazing man before, but everyday we would read the scriptures together (over the phone) and we would pray together, and he would ask me questions and we would discuss the symbolism and the meaning and what this has to do with either of us. It was something I never dreamed I would be doing, and it was happening.

B and I were married in the Washington DC temple, August 15, 2009. Much like Jenna’s wedding, we had our temple sealing in the morning, and a beautiful ceremony and reception in the evening.

Washington DC Temple, August 2009

The way I’ve written things, it probably sounds like I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and it is true that I am very blessed – but honestly, life is what you make of it. Heavenly Father has challenged me in my life, in ways that may not have been challenges for other people, but were huge stumbling blocks for me. But looking back, I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, and this plan is on His time, and not mine. I still have my fair share of problems, but I know He cares about me – and hates to see me suffer. I have never been an overt “missionary.” But by being open to what the Lord has planned for me, He has lead me to the people, and places that would help me, and also gives me a chance to bless other peoples’ lives. I am so weak on my own, so willing to look the other way when things don’t go according to plan. I have sinned, and made so many mistakes, but because of His love for me, I can be saved, and that is beautiful to me. This is what works for me, what makes me happy. And I hope and pray that each of you will find what works for you, and what makes you happy.

I have really enjoyed writing this story, and know that I mean no ill will towards any one, of any religion. Thanks for reading.

-Jessica @ One Shiny Star

14 Comments


  1. Hi Jessica!

    I am so happy for you. Thanks for sharing. I am curious though, why you gave B the Bible first, instead of the BoM (since the Mormon Church considers the BoM more true, current, and accurate than the Bible)?

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    Hm, I’ve never heard that before. Maybe that’s true… but I think the basis of Christianity is Christ, and where better to learn about Christ from the bible? I think all of the scriptures are equally important, but that might just be me.

    B did not have any experience with religion, and while some people will tell you how much they love the BoM (and I do), just as much can be learned from the Bible. I think it was just my preference. I have so many scriptures that I am drawn to in the Bible, and since those were the scriptures I felt inspired by, at the time, that is what I wanted to share most.

    Thanks for asking, I hope my answer is sufficient. :)

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  2. Why do mormons call God the Heavenly Father instead of God or the Lord? Just curious.

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    Of course, my answer is from my own understanding – so take it with a grain of salt. :)

    The reason we don’t call God “Lord” is because “Lord” refers to Jesus Christ, and we believe that they are three separate beings, and not one – like the idea of the trinity. But, we do call Heavenly Father “God” as well, but I personally tend to use Heavenly Father because it feels more personal. He is not just a supreme being some where, he is a loving Heavenly Father, who cares for His children the same way my Daddy cares about me. I guess it’s just a matter of preference.

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  3. I love the bottom left picture, there is a lot of peace and happiness in it.
    So do you know if B-man turned toward the Church to understand you better at first, or because he truely felt called by it?

    Oh and long distance relationships, been there done that, while it’s not something fun per say, I feel that personally it was a good experience in our case. We grew from it, and it taught me that I truely couldn’t live without him.

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    That’s a really good question, but I have never asked him. I think the answer is probably that he became interested because of me – as he is rather shy, and wouldn’t have gone out looking for it. But honestly, I know he did it for himself. One evening he called me, so excited, because he had felt so inspired by what he had been reading in the Book of Mormon. So I guess the answer is, both!

    To cope with long distance, we got a phone plan together, so that all of our phone calls were “free” because we had managed to run up his previous phone bill to a few hundred dollars! It wasn’t terrible, it’s just not something I would want to do again. :)

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    PS: That picture was from our engagement pictures!

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  4. I love the top you have on in your bottom left picture. I know that seems weird to say, but if I saw you on the street, I would say the same thing.

    I appreciate you talking about your struggles. I think it is far too common for people to gloss over the really hard parts of their lives. I am also glad you found your faith again – it can be challenging to do that.

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    Thanks! It is actually a dress, with a coverlet. lol. Thanks for reading!

    Reply

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  5. Being non-religious myself, I often skip Jenna’s Sunday posts, but these guest posts have been very interesting! It’s interesting to hear the stories of what draws a formerly non-religious person to the LDS church.

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    Thanks for reading my story, and I’m glad you found it interesting. :)

    Reply

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  6. Just a quick note to say, Jessica, that we’ve had similar experiences! I’m not LDS, but I am a devoted Christian. I dated my (now) husband long distance in college–I was in Virginia (Emory & Henry College), and he was here in Knoxville (where we still live now). I also struggled with depression, but have found healing and am doing better. And it looks like our engagement rings are similar, too. I love the picture with the Sunsphere in the background. I’ve lived in Knoxville all my life (minus college) and it makes me happy to see such a familiar landmark!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Reply

    Jessica @ One Shiny Star Reply:

    Lol, that’s cool! We do have a lot in common!

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  7. Kristine says:

    This is a great story. Thanks for sharing. Jenna, I really like the convert posts. Keep them coming!

    Reply

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