Going Back to Church
Tami promised her sister that she’d attend church when she got home. She texted the mission president, President Chambers, who she had met with before to let him know because he and his wife had promised they’d come with her if she ever decided to go back. She was afraid they would be too busy, but Sister Chambers said she would be there.
When Tami walked out the door Sunday morning, her neighbor asked her where she was going, and Tami told her she was going to church. Her neighbor was happy but told her she was four hours early. “I didn’t even know what time our ward started!” Tami wrote.
Tami went back home and waited and waited. She thought about when she’d been to church on Easter and the jaws that had dropped. She was a “nervous wreck.”
“You have no idea how terrifying it is to come back to church. I almost threw up the first time. I’m not kidding. I had such sweaty palms that I was grateful for a hug rather than a handshake,” Tami adds.
But she did it, and she stayed the whole time. She couldn’t leave after sacrament meeting because this time, there was a circle of friends giving her hugs and she couldn’t get away.
Tami said, “When you see someone walk through the chapel doors that has been gone for a really long time or has struggled, don’t ignore them. Don’t sit in your seat and listen to the prelude. Don’t just look at them. Get up and go hug them, and tell them how happy you are to see them. Put your arms around them and tell them that they matter and that you’re happy that they’re here. Offer them a place to sit next to you.
“That’s what happened. A lot of people came up to me that first Sunday back . . . and there were some that ignored me, but there were so many that hugged me and told me how happy they were to see me. And that made all the difference in the world.”
In that first Relief Society meeting back, Tami got an answer to a question that she’d been struggling with for a long time. During her months as an anti-Mormon, she’d told God that if he would just send an angel, she’d come back. “For me, that was the only way I’d believe. . . . I wanted an angel dressed in a white robe, with a halo and big, white wings. It didn’t happen.”
The answer was a quote that the Relief Society teacher put up on the board:
“The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings. Through the Holy Ghost, the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.”
“I almost stood up and raised my arms and said, ‘Praise Jesus. Hallelujah,” Tami wrote.
Tami’s Message to the World
Now, four years later, Tami feels truly happy and content. She has divorced and remarried and lives with her new husband and four of their combined five children in Harrisville, Utah. They were able to go back to the temple in March and will be sealed together on December 2nd.
“I teach Relief Society, which I love. I always wanted to teach Relief Society," she says. "We just bought a house in April, and life is really fun. Life is happy.”
“My message through all of this is that . . . changes of heart, miraculous changes of heart, are still possible in this day and age." She continues, "Your past does not define your here, your now, or your future. I won't let my past define who I am now. Because of the Atonement, I am just as worthy to walk through the temple doors as someone who's never left the Church. For that, I am beyond grateful.”
Tami hopes that by sharing her story, others who are struggling to come back to the Church or who are terrified of doing so will know that it’s possible. She hopes that if someone else googles “Ex-Mormon returns to church," they’ll find hope.
“I know why that flood happened. That flood happened so that I could come back to the Church and share my story," she says. "God can heal any heart and make it whole and happy.”