It’s a tale we’ve all heard (or lived) before: a person drifts away from the Church, thinks she’s happy, discovers she really isn’t, and resists the notion that the gospel is what’s missing. Some people who go through this cycle never do come back. But in this month’s Ensign, a woman tells the story of how she eventually did come back after 15 years of drifting.
In “The Exquisite Joy of Repentance,” the author, Peggy Ollerton Archuleta, says, “I had grown tired of my lifestyle. … However, returning to church was not something I was considering; I didn’t think I needed the gospel to be happy or to be spiritually healthy. Instead, I turned to self-help books.”
After hitting a dead-end down the blind alley of worldly wisdom, she turned to her family, who gave her what she needed in a tactful and loving way. She was not offended by their gesture and eventually found in the gospel the happiness she was looking for.
She offers five lessons she learned from her experience:
- No one is immune from making poor choices.
- We must constantly evaluate where we stand.
- Our testimonies are not contingent on others.
- We can live the gospel thoughtfully and genuinely.
- Happiness comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think Sister Archuleta has much to teach all of us, both those who are active in the Church and those who are not. For instance, she says, “The strength of my testimony does not depend on the kindness of the members of my ward or the warmth of my bishop.” We all know this to be true in an academic sense, but in practice we often ignore it.
Another impressive thing about Sister Archuleta’s story is that she ties her return to happiness to her repentance. In my experience, many people are too proud to make that connection on their own.
In the end, this article makes me ask myself what I can do for those around me who may be in the same situation the author was in. What do you think?