“I’ve always struggled with my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Tami wrote on her blog in August of 2016. “My testimony was always on high or off. There was no in between. I’m sure people wonder . . . if I had a very strong testimony at times in my life how in the world could I just let it waste away? I don’t have the answers to that question. I’m stubborn? Satan is a jerk? I’m forgetful? I left my room without thinking to pray? Yeah, probably all of those combined into a big mess.”
Pulling Away from the Church
Tami Havey grew up in a strong LDS family. Weekly family home evening, daily family prayer and scripture study, early-morning seminary were the norm. “We went to church every week. Never missed,” Tami said. Growing up, her father, now President of LDS Business College, served as a bishop, a member of the stake presidency, and a high councilman.
Imagine their shock when their beloved daughter and sister, now grown with children of her own, posted on Facebook that she was denouncing the Church. “Was I ever dramatic about it,” Tami wrote. “I didn’t let my family know beforehand. They were angry and hurt, which just fueled my fire even more.”
Although the announcement came as a shock to many, Tami’s struggle with the Church began many years before when, at 19, she began dating a non-member. She stopped going to church and went to a lot of parties. After a couple of years, however, she decided that wasn’t who she wanted to be. She quit her job in the California Bay area and got a new job in San Francisco. “I decided to clean up my life, and I couldn’t hang around those people anymore,” Tami said.
One day her sister came home to San Jose from Rick's College and invited Tami to attend the young single adult ward with her. Tami's decision to go changed the trajectory of her life.
“I said, okay, fine . . . just for the summer,” Tami recalls. But one thing led to the next and she was called as Relief Society president. “That really was the catalyst for going back to church.”
Tami met her first husband while serving in the YSA ward, and she moved to Utah when they got married. They had three children, a girl and two boys. Both of their sons were born with Hirschsprung's disease, a condition that causes blockage in the bowels. “In a nutshell . . . when they’re born part of their intestines are dead,” Tami explained.
In 2012, Tami’s youngest son, Carter, spent most of the year at Primary Children’s hospital. The experience was extremely difficult for Tami. “It was all I could do to keep my emotions in check. Until I couldn’t,” Tami wrote. “During one ward council meeting I cracked, and I stormed out. I handed in my binder and keys and told them I was done.” Tami had been serving as the ward Young Women’s president at the time.
Tami fell into a deep depression and was even hospitalized. “As a mom, there is nothing more heart-wrenching than to see your child lay there being poked and prodded and hurt, and there’s nothing you can do to take that pain away. . . . It was devastating,” Tami said.
During this time Tami’s husband lost his job, and Tami went to church solely for the financial help. “Where was God?” Tami wrote about her feelings at the time. “I had a critically ill child, a husband with no job, and depression to boot." Once Tami's husband found a job and they no longer received financial assistance from the ward, she felt as though she had no reason to continue attending.
Despite Tami’s growing distance from the Church and the adversity in her life, she remembers several spiritual experiences that she had in the hospital. “I know that angels were around us lifting us up . . . without that I don’t think either one of us would have gotten through it,” Tami said.
One such experience happened during Carter’s longest hospital stay. “He was hurting . . . and I asked the tech to leave for just a moment,” Tami said. They knelt on the cold, hard floor and Tami said a prayer.
“It was overwhelming—the feeling of peace and of love from people that we couldn’t see,” Tami said. “It was an experience that I will never ever forget.”