Richard G. Scott’s talk on “For a Peaceful Life” reminds me of the stage in my healing where I asked often “Where can I turn for peace?” As a daughter of a perpetrator (or a victim of sexual abuse from my father, or a victim of incest) this was a unique question, with unique meaning. During this time I was struggling greatly with spiritual things. When I kneel ed down to pray I was overcome with anxiety. When I went to church I had anxiety attacks. When I went to the Temple I struggled with difficult questions. When i watched conference I felt abused. When I took my daughter to firesides for Young Women’s I wanted to buckle over and bawl. I felt terrible tormented and torn inside by the realities of my abuse and I struggled to heal. What I wanted and needed most was peace, and yet all these places I tried to turn for peace often only left me feeling worn out and tired from the anxiety I felt.
As Richard G Scott says “we all need a place of peace” my torn soul desperately needed peace at this time.
In President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’ talk “The Hope of God’s Light” he tells a story about Jane. Jane was raised in an abusive home. As an adult Jane finds the Gospel and it helps her live a happy life. But when Jane’s abuser dies the pain of her abuse overtakes her again. Uchtdorf explains that is when Jane “sought counseling and medical help and began to realize that for her the best path for her was to accept that darkness exists, but not dwell there. For as she now knew light also existed and that is where she chose to dwell.” I too found help in counseling in many of my dark times. My counselors name is Fred. Fred often told me to be patient. He told me that I should allow God to heal my spiritual questions over time, that I should be patient in waiting for the healing to come. He told me that if I tried to use logic to make quick decisions about spiritual things I would be closing off my opportunities to heal. So I tried to remain patient. Also in counseling I would tell Fred of the anxiety I felt in regards to church things. He told me many times that the best way to heal was to just keep going. So in faith I just kept going.
In Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk “Lord, I Believe'” he talks about something kind of like this. He says “in moments of fear or doubt or troubling times hold the ground you have already won even if that ground is limited… Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes… Even if you can no more then desire to believe Alma declares ‘let this desire work in you until you believe.'” He explains in more detail “when problems come and questions arise do not start your quest for faith by saying what you do not have. Leading as it were with your unbelief. That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak. I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage then is a honest declaration of faith it is not. Be as candid about your questions that you need to be. but if you want to be healed don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle. You have more faith then you believe you do”
I was surrounded by pain. I can not tell you that I chose at that time to lead with faith. But I also chose not to turn away from faith in anger. For me it helped most to make distinctions and divisions in my mind, so that the responsibility for my anxiety was not blamed on the church, it was instead blamed on my father the perpetrator. When I had to run crying from a Relief Society meeting just after the speaker talked about how difficult it must be to live through abuse, I am sure it was obvious to the sisters there that I ran because I was one of those souls who had to live through such trouble. My Visiting Teacher and my Relief Society President, both who knew my story, followed me and hugged me and comforted me while I trembled with emotion and tears poured out my eyes. Later when I reflected on this moment I was embarrassed that my pain was so visible to so many ward members, I was upset that going to church was so hard for m that day, and many other days. I turned it over and over in m brain. I wanted to be mad, to be hurt, to stay away from church if it ever meant confronting that pain again. But as the pain calmed down I remembered the Love. I remembered the dear love of my visiting teacher and my relief society president. In fact I remembered the love I felt from so many of the women in that room. I felt their love. I knew they loved me.
I have written before that a daughter impression of God is strongly influenced by her father. I could not understand or comprehend a loving God at that time. But all around me I could see loving and caring church members. I told myself that God must be at least as loving as them and probably more. I remembered that I had felt Gods love before. I remembered that I had felt great faith in the L.D.S. Church before, and I had had a strong testimony. I could remember countless moments where church members had helped or loved me or my family members. I knew I was better off being a church member even though it came with these unique trials for me.
Uchtdorf also said “even thought we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances God promises the hope of his light he promises to luminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness”
So in faith I kept going, hoping for a day when going to church, praying and all things spiritual would be easier for me.