Ashly Stone: The Power of the Comeback

Wed Jan 25 05:00:07 EST 2023
Episode 209

Before Ashly Stone started her podcast, two words kept running through her head: “come back.” Those two words meant a lot to Ashly, who at one point in her faith journey left the Church but later returned. Recognizing that everyone’s faith is unique, Ashly now interviews others about their experiences “coming back” to the gospel of Jesus Christ. On this week’s episode, we talk with Ashly about the transformation that took place as she turned her heart to the Savior and allowed herself to experience the gospel, as well as the power in of each and every person’s own “comeback.” 

Questions that we have regarding spiritual matters can only be answered by the Spirit.
Ashly Stone

Show Notes

2:18- Road to Addiction
9:26- A Father Who Kept Watching
14:56- A Book of Mormon in the Salvation Army
18:31- A Goal With Power
23:51- Two People With Pasts (Like All Of Us)
31:29- The Origin of the Podcast
37:23- God Is In Charge
41:18- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 


Come Back Podcast 
Come Back Podcast Instagram Page
Faith Is Not Blind by Bruce and Marie Hafen

If you have a story of coming back, email Ashly at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.


Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00

I was recently introduced to the Come Back Podcast and was immediately intrigued by the stories and experiences shared. In my opinion, the podcast works because of the person who was inspired to start it. Ashly Stone knows what it's like to leave the church and she knows what it's like to come back. So when she talks with others about their experiences of coming back, it is completely void of judgment and instead filled with light. In a recent social media post, Ashly wrote, "I feel like it is my duty to share these stories. With so much negativity online so much attacking, so much arguing and debating, these stories are a witness of the incredible miracle of the Savior's atoning sacrifice." I'm grateful for Ashly's witness and for the many witnesses she is introducing us to through her efforts.

Despite growing up in a Latter-day Saint home, Ashly Stone was formally in and out of rehab facilities as she struggled with drug addiction. Ashly and her husband, Jesse, met in a meeting for the Church's 12-Step Addiction Recovery Program and years later, were reunited and married. Last year, Ashly started the Come Back Podcast. As she puts it, Our message is this everyone's faith journey is unique and may lead to leaving the church or stepping back. I am not here to invalidate any individual however, I have seen the power that comes from taking a chance, even a second or third chance on the Savior and opening your heart to experience the gospel in its truest form. I am here to share stories of coming back." This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, What does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am so excited to have Ashly Stone on the line with me today. Ashly, welcome.

Ashly Stone 2:02

Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.

Morgan Jones Pearson 2:05

Well, I am such such a fan of everything that you are doing. And I'm excited to hopefully introduce more people to the Come Back Podcast into your story. As we talked today, I want to start out kind of going back in time a bit you were raised in a strong Latter-day Saint home. And you've said that you love the church as a young girl but that in middle school, you became exposed for the first time to drugs. I wondered if we could start there. And have you tell me a little bit about how you were initially introduced to drugs and alcohol?

Ashly Stone 2:43

Yeah, yeah. So I wasn't devoted to the church at that time. As much as I could have been with activities and stuff. Like you said, younger years, I was 100%. But I felt insecure. I felt like I wasn't ever pretty enough. I wasn't ever skinny enough. I wasn't cool enough. And so when the opportunity presented itself to try marijuana for the first time, I was like, You know what, I'm going to try it. I was at a friend's house and the cool kid at the high schools there. And I wanted to be cool. And I just I tried it. And after that I was kind of like I was waiting for this big feeling of like, Stop, don't do it. But that didn't really come. So then it was really when I drink alcohol for the first time that I was like, Oh my gosh, I have confidence for the first time in my life. And it was just kind of a downhill spiral after that. And I I didn't really have anything that I wouldn't try. I just I tried pretty much everything under the sun. And that's kind of when my life spiraled out of control.

Morgan Jones Pearson 2:44

So I am curious, you mentioned you know having a desire to be cool being the initial reason for trying drugs and then recognizing that you had confidence in trying alcohol. Do you think that's what drives people toward actual abuse of those substances? Or are there other factors that lead to substance abuse?

Ashly Stone 4:28

Yeah, so I mean, now I've been in and out of treatment many times, and I've seen a lot of addicts that have gotten sober or theirs or whatever. And I think that a lot of times it kind of stems from something in their childhood or some issue that they're trying to cover up. That's what I've seen a lot of for me. It wasn't really anything major that happened in my childhood. I went through a lot of therapy and I was always trying to figure out what it was that really drove me to that. The only thing I could ever really come up with was that my dad worked a lot when we were kids. And that's gnarly. I mean, a lot of dads work a lot and he worked as much as he did, because my mom was a stay at home mom, and my dad was a high school teacher. And so for him to give us a life with...there was five kids in our family, and he did construction after school. And so he worked. Sometimes he would go do construction after school, and then he would get up before school and do construction jobs. And so he worked so hard. And in his mind, he's creating this life for my family where my mom can be a stay at home mom, and to me, I was this little girl thinking, you know, where's my dad, he's always gone? And it's just one of those things where like, he was doing what he thought was best. And who's to say that wasn't best, but it just kind of stuck with something that hurt a little bit as a little girl. And so that was the only real thing that I could uncover from why I went down the path that I did. But yeah, I think with other people, I think typically, there is something, some unresolved thing, in their past that kind of leads them to it. I think people that feel like a whole person, like they feel like they're content with who they are, they don't really need that thing outside of themselves to make them feel happy and okay. It's not even, like really happy. It's just feeling okay, that's kind of what it was. And so I think people that already feel like a whole person, they could maybe try it and not have that constant just need for more, you know what I mean?

Morgan Jones Pearson 6:56

So I wondered for you, so it got to this point, you mentioned you were in and out of treatment facilities, and living a life very different than I'm sure you ever imagined or anticipated when you first tried those things? How would you describe the bonds of addiction and the control that addiction is capable of having on a person?

Ashly Stone 7:22

It's interesting because as a little girl, I never got in trouble. And I tried so hard and was such a good kid. And the first time I tried it, like I never in a million years would I think that I would end up in jail and rehab and probably should have died on multiple occasions. And I think that what it came down to was, I just had to have it. And it was really when I tried heroin. I broke up with my boyfriend sad story, blah, blah, blah. And I just was bummed out. And I had a friend that was like, Hey, you want to try this? And I was like, Yeah, I'll just try it. Who cares? I just didn't see I didn't play the tape through on that one really well, and write it three times and I was hooked. I was sick without it. I remember just being like totally emotionally unstable without it. Like my mom, if I just saw her calling me, I would just bawl like I was so empty inside. And I had to have it to be normal. And it was really then...well that and I also went through a period of time where alcohol, I was such a horrible alcoholic that I was like, shaking without it. Like I had to have it just to stop the shakes. And I was only like 19 at that time. So I was really young and not even old enough to drink alcohol. And so just having to have a substance to be able to function is a really rough way to live. You don't have a choice at that point. You'll do anything and everything to be able to just feel okay. And you're basically in handcuffs. And so like I couldn't even imagine a life where I could live sober that was so far from the realm of possibility in my life.

Morgan Jones Pearson 9:26

Well, when you first when you initially started your podcast, Come Back podcast, you had a conversation with your dad, and I thought it was so cool that that's the way that you chose to start the podcast and your dad repeatedly was the one that tried to show up to help you and you said "Most people would have given up but he never did. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't still be alive." I wondered, I feel like there are probably people listening to this podcast who feel like they'd like to give up on someone. But I wondered, why would you say we shouldn't give up on the people that we love? And what kind of gratitude do you feel toward your dad for not giving up on you?

Ashly Stone 10:16

Every person in my family was just...I was hurting everybody so much, because I had little sisters, I think my little sister was seventh grade at the time. I mean, maybe between her fifth and seventh grade year was when things were really, really bad. And my other sister was like a junior in high school. And then I had my older brother who was on a mission and you know, going through his mission and then coming home and my older sister, she got pregnant when she was a teenager. And so she had her own trials that she was facing. And I was just off on another planet. And like, whenever my family did see me, it was like I was stealing from them, whatever I had to do to get my drugs. I just thought I had blinders on and eventually got to the point where it just hurt everybody so much that they had to distance themselves from me and my mom, she is the most loving, caring woman on earth. But she's told me 'I had to close my heart off from you, because it hurt so bad.' And my dad, he just really he stepped into that pain. I think, on the podcast with my dad, he talks about how he lost his dad at a young age. And he was 16. And his dad drowned. They were on a scouting trip in Canada and his dad drowned, the boat capsized. And my dad and my uncle and my dad's friend are the ones that survived. And it was really traumatic, that experience with his dad. His dad, I feel like, has been the guardian angel in my life kind of and that kind of connection with him. And like him just doing everything he can to show up for me as my dad and and save me essentially, he never ever gave up on me. And I hurt him in so many ways. He couldn't trust me, he would try to take me to treatment, and I would just run away. And he would drive all across the country to pick me up somewhere. And I just kept doing drugs. It was really painful for him to do that. But I don't know how he didn't give up on me to be honest, because it was crazy. But he just didn't. He always took my calls. If I was not high, if I was withdrawing from drugs, I wanted to get high. But if I was high, I wanted to get sober. And I know that's kind of a weird thing to kind of digest. But when you're high and you're okay, you can see your life and think, wow, my life is in shambles, like this really sucks. But when you're withdrawing from drugs, the only thing you can think about is getting drugs. So every time I would be high, I would be calling my dad, "I really need help, like, please help me" and then then he would come and try and help me and I'd start withdrawing again. And then I was just off to get my drugs. But now it's been almost, in February, it'll be 10 years that I've been clean, and I am a completely different person than I was 10 years ago. And I can't even relate to that person. My dad and I have such a special bond because of everything we went through. And I just I think that he doesn't hold that against me now. And it's hard for me to even relate to that. I can't even understand what I was thinking during that time. Because it was it's so far off from who I am today. But you just never know who somebody's going to be. You have no idea what the refining process in their life will look like or what God is doing in their life at this time to refine them to make them a better person. And so we just don't know how things unfold. And what you can do is just love them and don't give up on them. I'd say don't enable them. Like my dad, he wasn't giving me money. That's one thing that people want to do is they want to like help their kids try and keep them out of jail or try and help them financially or whatever. But that's really just enabling them and he didn't do that. He wasn't enabling me but he would always tell me he loved me and that he was there for me and and I needed that. It was my lifeline during that time. I needed that. Somebody that believed in me, that believed I could do it. And so yeah, I guess my advice for other people would just be you just never know. You never know how much somebody's heart can change.

Morgan Jones Pearson 14:56

Right? I love that. One thing that I thought was so cool. As you shared your story was you talked about a significant moment with the Book of Mormon, and that you had this experience while in rehab. And I wondered if you could share a little bit about that.

Ashly Stone 15:18

Yeah, yeah. So I was in rehab for the 15th time or whatever. And I was at the Salvation Army in Fresno, California. And I had been in a free detox before that, and free to Fresno County residents. So there was a lot of gang members in there, it was really hardcore, and I'm a little girl from Utah, it was pretty wild. And so then I go to the Salvation Army, similar setup, it's a free program, there's a lot of people that are just have a really hardcore lifestyle that go in there. And I'm the only member of the Church anywhere to be found—and not really that you could call me like a member of the church at this time, because I was very far removed from everything related to the church. So the Salvation Army, you work 40 hours a week, and I'm like, I don't even know if I should be here. This is awful. I haven't worked in so long and I'm withdrawing from drugs, and I've got to be here working in this warehouse, and it sucks and the preacher guy pulls me into his office, and he's like, okay, Ashley, pick a Bible for you to use while you're here at the program, because it was a Christian-based program. So if you're familiar with the Salvation Army, it's all Christian-based. And I'm like, okay, so there's a shelf with like 100 Bibles on it. And I'm like, I'll take the pink Bible. So he hands me this pink Bible, and I open it up, and there's a Book of Mormon bookmark in it. I'm just like, what? Like, how is this even possible that this is in here. I kept looking at it like, there is no way this is in this book, this Bible. And I knew that was straight from Heavenly Father, "Ashley, I've got your back, you are where you need to be." It felt like home, I'm in this foreign place and there's this little piece of something that feels like home. And then towards the end of the program, I got a message from it was actually somebody that I met in a different treatment center that was a family friend. And he sent me an email just checking in on me to see how I was doing. And I told him I was in rehab again. And he's like, "Ashley, if you read the Book of Mormon every single day, I promise you will never go back to your old life." And I at this point, I don't even know if I can stay sober. I don't even know, I can't even picture my life sober, I couldn't even picture being happy without alcohol at least. But I'm like, whatever, I have nothing to lose. So I just decided to try it. And I've read the Book of Mormon, every single day, for almost 10 years since he told me that. And it's interesting, because there's a quote by President Nelson that says, "If you read the Book of Mormon every single day, you will be immunized against the evils of the day, including pornography and other mind-numbing addictions." And I can totally testify that that is so true, because I experienced that firsthand in my life.

Morgan Jones Pearson 18:31

That's so awesome. Well, and I love how you talked about how religion and the gospel of Jesus Christ did for you what none of those rehab programs that you had attended had been able to do in helping you overcome addiction. You said "what worked for me was setting a goal for myself that had nothing to do with drugs, but that required me to get off drugs in order to accomplish it." Ashly, what was that goal and what was the power behind setting it?

Ashly Stone 19:05

I got out of treatment, I went to live with my parents again, which was totally walking on eggshells situation. They're just waiting for me to see what I'm going to do. But I was like, Okay, I am going to get my limited-use temple recommend. It had been so long since I had been to church and I was like, I'm gonna do this, and I'm just gonna do everything they asked me to do. And I'm just going to see. They say that people are happy in the Church and the Atonement is real and you know, all these things, but I'm going to test it and I'm going to do this little experiment and see if this actually makes me happy. I've tried everything else. I've been through rehab after rehab. I've tried finding boyfriends to make me happy. I've tried just all the things and nothing really does it for me so I'm gonna just do this little test. So I had to quit smoking, which was really hard. I know everybody vapes today. But back then everybody smoked cigarettes that was in that scene. And so I had to quit smoking. And then I had to quit drinking coffee, which was really hard and it was like my daily routine, it was really challenging to give up, and then I had been chewing Nicorette gum, which I was chewing to quit the smoking. So I had to quit doing that too. And I had to go through the repentance process with my bishop. And I had to do all these things. And I got my limited-use temple recommend. And doing those things, it's crazy because I had been smoking cigarettes for a long time, quitting smoking is really hard. Because heroin, its effect, it's very noticeably ruining your life on a day-to-day basis, you're stealing stuff, you're destroying your body, you can visibly see how your body is messed up, smoking is a longer clip, it takes longer to kill you. And so that just makes it harder. If you have an addiction that's damaging your life very quickly, it's okay, I've either got to quit doing this or accept the fact that I'm gonna die or go to jail, or some other treacherous path. Smoking is something that you can actually live a life and keep doing this. So it makes it a lot harder to quit, because it's just like a habit that you're doing every day. Coffee also. And so just the fact that I was able to quit doing it was such a miracle, and can only be described as the enabling power of the Savior's Atonement, that is the only way I can describe it, because it's still a miracle to this day that I was able to do that. So I get my limited-use recommend, and I go to do baptisms for the dead with my singles ward. And I go in there, and it's been like, you know, 11, 12, 13 years since I've been there to do baptisms for the dead, and I'm waiting for this big, huge spiritual experience to happen to me, but it didn't. But I was in there, and I felt good. And I felt at peace. And I was kind of like, you know what? I feel okay right now, I feel like this is good. And so I was like, I'm just gonna keep going with this, I'm gonna keep going with this and see kind of what happens. And I remember finishing the Book of Mormon and kind of also waiting for this big, huge lightning bolt spiritual experience. That didn't happen. But I was kind of like I still feel pretty good. I'm just gonna keep going. So I kept going with it. And I ended up going to California and selling pest control out there. If anyone is from Utah and familiar with door to door sales, that's what I did. And it was actually such a good experience for me, because there were some guys there that were just off their mission. And they were good examples to me of how covenant-keeping Latter-day Saints live their life and what they do. And they kind of mirrored that for me, and I was really grateful for that. And I made the commitment. I am doing this, I'm doing what they told me to do, because I feel better than I felt before. So I kept just taking the next right step and things just kept getting better and better from there.

Morgan Jones Pearson 23:41

And then fast forward a little bit, you ended up meeting your husband, and I have to tell you, I listened to your husband's episode of your podcast as well. And I was like, This is so awesome. Like, you guys make a really, really great team. And that's clear just in listening to you. But you met your husband five years before you actually ended up marrying him and you met him in a 12-step program. Tell us a little bit about how the two of you ended up together and what it means to have someone as your spouse that understands your past in a pretty unique way.

Ashly Stone 24:22

So crazy story, I was 18 and I was just getting ready to go party with my friends. And I was like I'm going to hit up the LDS 12-step meeting, which is makes no sense really. It's so weird. I'm getting all ready to go party and stuff. And I'm like, I'm gonna go. So I go and there's this way hot guy there. And he's this baseball player from Dixie State, and I'm just like, oh my gosh, he's so cute. And then after the meeting, he writes my cell phone number in his LDS 12-Step manual. And then I never saw him again for five years. And we were Facebook friends and that's it. And I saw on social media that he was coming back to church and I kind of was too. And so I reached out one time, and I was like, hey, I saw, you're going back to church and that's awesome. I see you're working at a treatment center. That's so cool. And we just started talking. Long story but I was living in Arizona at the time, because I had to turn myself into the jail there. That's a story for another day. But I was sober at the time. And he said, "If you come to Utah to visit me, you're gonna fall in love with me." And I was like, "Oh, no, I'm not. Yeah, right. No way." And then I flew to Utah for a work thing. And then he picks me up from the airport at 7am. And that was the first time we saw each other in years. And I was like, Yep, you're my husband. Okay, we're getting married.

Morgan Jones Pearson 26:00

So, so actually really quick for those. So I am going to tell people, you should go and listen on Ashly's podcast to her husband's whole story. But just to give people like a little bit of an idea of your husband and where he was coming from at that point in his life. Can you share just a little bit about that?

Ashly Stone 26:22

Yeah, so my husband, he had a similar path to mine. He was a heroin addict. He'd actually won the national championship at Dixie College. I think it was in 2004. And then he went on a mission. And then he actually started drinking on his mission, which is kind of wild. But he got sent home from his mission, he went to his mission president said, Hey, this is what I did. I really want to finish my mission. But his mission president sent him home, and it was really hard for him, because he really wanted to serve a mission and, and he went back to drugs, had a really rough couple years. And then he ended up coming back to the Church as well. And he also has just about 10 years sober now.

Morgan Jones Pearson 27:14

One thing that I thought was interesting and listening to your story, and in listening to his story is that it seemed like you both have regrets. And you both express those regrets. For example, your husband talked about how his biggest regret is not going back out on his mission after he was sent home. And you talked about how you regretted the money and sleep that your parents lost over their concern for you. I wondered for both of you, how do you deal with regret? Because again, I imagine that there are some listening, who have, you know, made mistakes and are dealing with that regret, and sometimes I think can keep people from being able to move forward. So how do you not let regret keep you from moving forward?

Ashly Stone 28:08

So I know for him, he really it does still hurt him with his mission. I think what he tries to do, and what we've both kind of tried to do is just live our lives in a way that we can make up for kind of some of the mistakes that we made. But that's something that he can't really ever get back. And that does hurt him still today. But for me, I think I feel really sad about the things that I did to my family. But one of the gifts that has come from my past my addiction is that we all, everyone in my family, has seen how much somebody's heart can change and how much somebody can change. Like, my brother, he makes fun of me because he's like, you have the gnarliest conscience of anyone I've ever seen. I just don't like to do anything where I think that I might be doing something wrong. I just don't like to do it. Like, you know, whether it's just...the example I always use is like sneaking candy into the movie theater. Like I just don't like doing anything of the sort anything that I think is possibly breaking a rule. Like I don't want to do that. And I had such a change of heart with everything that I do. And so I think the gift that has come from that is just everyone's seen how much I changed and I think I am very fortunate to have a family that has truly forgiven me for what I've done. And my dad and I, it's like that whole experience that we went through together has just strengthened our testimony. And one of the things that I've noticed is that when you're in those early stages of coming back to the Church, God is so present in your life, there's all these little signs and things that you can't deny, like that Book of Mormon bookmark. And I would be working in the warehouse at the Salvation Army. And I'd be like, I hate this, this sucks, I'm going home. And then all of a sudden, this EFY t-shirt would come through my line that I had to hang up on a hanger. And it would say, don't give up, God always has your back, or just something like that at just the time I needed to see it. And I've heard that in the podcast a lot that, that people experience—that they see those little miracles. And I think, as time goes on, I think God expects more faith from you. It's not like He's like hitting you upside the head like He does when you first start taking that step back. You've got to work for it. He wants you to have faith and to put in the effort to be connected to Him. And so I think that, I received those gifts of Him encouraging me to come back. And now I would say my dad and I, we just have a really strong bond over everything we went through and strengthened testimonies.

Morgan Jones Pearson 31:28

Ashly, you mentioned your podcast just a second ago. So I think this is a good transition into that. What led you to start the Come Back Podcast? And how did you initially have the idea for it?

Ashly Stone 31:43

I'm glad you asked. It had been on my mind for a while. I don't know, like a year like just the name "come back." And because whenever we're referring to people like coming back to the Church, you say come back, like if they come back, or whatever. And so that name just really stuck out to me. And then I just wanted to do it. The only podcasts that I've listened to are some entrepreneur podcasts and Papa Ostler, I listen to his podcast, and I'm not a huge podcast listener,

Morgan Jones Pearson 32:22

I wasn't either. So I understand.

Ashly Stone 32:25

Yes. So I was just like, this needs to happen. We need to hear this. And then it just was on my mind. And then I don't know if you remember, there was this big thing going around on Instagram called "Not gonna lie." You put anonymous questions. And then people were answering the questions. And there were so many questions of people saying, Did you leave the Church? And then it just like, gave this platform of people to express all their frustrations with the Church, why they left, all these things and, and that in that time, I was reading some of their comments and the things that they were saying about the Church, why they left and I was like, geez, I can see why that would be hurtful for them. And it made me feel really dark inside. And I was just like, oh, my gosh. And so I knelt in prayer one night, and just was like Heavenly Father, please help me to see what my path is here, how can I strengthen my testimony so that I can be stronger and so that I can not let go of the iron rod, I guess you could say, and that kind of pushed me into reading "Faith Is Not Blind," which is a book that's so good. And it talks about how we have this simplicity phase of our testimony. And then we move into complexity phase where we have questions that we want answered, and they're hard questions, and everybody has hard questions. And ultimately, if you can come out and you look for spiritual answers to those questions, not looking on the internet. While I mean, there are some good resources on the internet, but not looking on TikTok for answers to your questions, actually praying and asking Heavenly Father to help you receive answers that are spiritual answers, then you can come out on the other side with a more mature testimony that is more refined and strengthened. And that's kind of what I went through and kind of like a mini version of that. I was just searching for answers to some of these questions that I saw other people had that kind of like struck me and I had a similar experience with my dad where we were talking about, I was reading the Saints books, and there was something I read in there about polygamy and Joseph Smith, and it just me it rubbed me the wrong way. And I was like, "That feels wrong to me." And I talked to my dad about it. And I was like, Dad, this just made me feel really dark inside. I don't know, this just did not feel right. And it was crazy because we were at my mom and dad's house and the dogs were barking and my mom was doing the dishes, huffing and puffing about the kitchen being a mess, and whatever. There's all this commotion going on. And my dad said, "Ashly, Satan does not want you to hear what I'm about to tell you. And that's why all this commotion is going on right now. But I need you to listen." And so I intently listen, he gets my great-great-great-grandmother's journal, and she was there and part of polygamy. And she was there when the manifesto came out. And they said, to no longer practice polygamy. And she was like, How can this be? They said that this was the crowning jewel of our faith. And now they're taking it back. How is this possible, and then she describes this incredibly spiritual experience that she had, where she knew that she was doing the right thing. And it was just this incredible experience. And side note here, I told my sister about kind of the struggle that I was having with polygamy, and she had just gotten home. And she said, Actually, you need to pray about it and ask God what he thinks about it. And so I did. And so it was kind of in relation to this. So after that, talking to my dad and reading my that journal, it was like, I saw the whole thing with new eyes. I was like, Well, what if Joseph, what if he didn't tell Emma about this? Because he didn't want to hurt her. But he felt commanded by God to do this? Or what if all these different scenarios, we don't have the context. And it was just crazy how I was able to see the situation with just a new set of eyes. And after that, it really taught me that questions that we have regarding spiritual matters can only be answered by the Spirit. And when they do, they're answered in such a complete way that no other online critic can dispute or you can't even really talk about the kind of answer that you received that filled that void or whatever that question you had, like it solves it. So that was my experience with that.

Morgan Jones Pearson 37:24

One, I think it's cool too that sometimes those answers, they don't always like translate super well when you're trying to tell somebody else because we all have to have our individual experiences. But I completely agree with you. I wondered, what would you say for you is your biggest hope for what this podcast will do for those that listen?

Ashly Stone 37:48

So my hope is that I think people they get really stuck on the questions part of it. And when you have hard questions about the Church, they get stuck there. What does it mean for LGBTQ community? What does that mean for them with the Church? Like they get really hung up there, or they get really hung up in historical stuff. My hope is that people can hear others' experiences of how they navigated those tough questions, and then ultimately came back and how their testimonies have been strengthen on the other side, and I think we hear so many stories of people leaving, it's so loud on social media, it's all over social media pages. And my goal is to share the stories of people that came back and how their lives have changed. My life was changed and my husband's life was changed by coming back. And everybody has to go through their experiences. They're on their own path. And sometimes it takes leaving and coming back to really appreciate the gospel for what it does. And now that I've interviewed so many people about their story of coming back, I realized that just because somebody's taking a step back from the Church does not mean that their journey with the Church is over. It just means that they're on their own faith journey. And sometimes that's what it takes for people to have a more mature, refined testimony. And that's okay. I mean, we find so much joy in the Church and so it hurts us to see people leave. It hurts our hearts because we know how much joy it brings. And that's why we're so passionate about our missionary work because we know the joy that it brings, but the Spirit really has testified to me about people in my life that are stepping away, like, hey, love them for where they're at and just know that God is in charge. He is in charge, and sometimes that's what it takes. I had a really horrible heroin addiction and I did some horrible things when I was on drugs, but now all of that that I went through, I'm able to do things like this podcast and share my story and God has worked the whole thing come together for the ability to share the story with other people. And so we just never know how things are gonna end up.

Morgan Jones Pearson 40:09

Before we get to the last question, I wanted to read just a little bit of a post that you shared on Instagram. You said, "My own personal experience of experimenting to see if the Church could make me happy and doing everything I needed to do to get my limited-use temple recommend led to an entire transformation of my life. I feel like it is my duty to share these stories with so much negativity online, so much attacking, so much arguing and debating, these stories are a witness of the incredible miracle of the Savior's atoning sacrifice, a witness of light and truth we have in the Church of Jesus Christ." And I think that that is so well said, first of all, but second of all, I think, what a beautiful thing to want to do. I don't know that there could be a purer intention. And I think you're right, stories have a power about them that very few things do. And you actually said earlier in that post that it's hard to argue with somebody's personal experience. And so I think what you're doing is amazing, I hope that you'll keep it up. My last question for you, Ashly, is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Ashly Stone 41:25

Yes, I think that is such a good question. And for me, it means I am focusing on my relationship with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior. And I'm setting aside all the things that may distract me from that, cultural things or sometimes I'm like, "Crap, I didn't do my ministering assignment again, like, I'm such a failure, like, I can't believe I did that." But like, I am doing the best I can. And if I'm focusing on my relationship with Heavenly Father, and I'm doing whatever it takes to stay on the Lord's side, just on his side and do what He asks of me, and I'm not getting distracted with, you know, all the things that I'm not doing, or I could be doing better. And I can notice them like, "Hey, maybe I should take a look at my ministering assignment. But you know, I'm doing what's best, the best that I can right now with where I'm at. And I am truly just focusing on going to church because I want to gain a better relationship with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior. And I'm, you know, doing whatever it takes to stay in the gospel and to protect myself against evil things in the world today." I think that for me is being all in and, and really just opening my heart to what the Lord can teach me through all the different experiences that we have. So I think that's my response to that one.

Morgan Jones Pearson 42:56

I love it. Well, Ashly, thank you so much. And I again, I just will put in a plug for Ashly's podcast, you should absolutely go and listen. And I appreciate your time so so much.

Ashly Stone 43:11

Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Morgan Jones Pearson 43:18

I'm so grateful to Ashly Stone for joining us on this week's episode. I recommend checking out the Come Back Podcast, which you can listen to wherever you listen to your podcast. Big thanks to Derek Campbell of mixing six studios for his help with this episode and thank you for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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