Bre Lasley: Recognizing God's Hand After Surviving an Attempted Murder
Three years ago, Bre Lasley lived out most people’s worst nightmare when a stranger climbed through her bedroom window and attacked her. However, in a video following the attack Bre can be heard saying, “Heavenly Father was there the entire time, the entire time.” On this week’s episode of “All In,” Bre testifies of a living God who loves all of His children, even her attacker.
MORGAN JONES: On September 23rd, 2015 Bre Lasley was in her bedroom when a complete stranger climbed through her window and attempted to murder her. For six minutes Bre and her younger sister, Kayli fought their attacker before a police officer arrived and shot the attacker, killing him. Since that day, Bre has made a conscious choice to continue to fight the effects of surviving such an attack, starting an organization called Fight Like Girls, to inspire other women to fight back as well. Bre has spent the past three and a half years since her attack seeking to raise awareness that self-defense is just as mental, emotional and spiritual as it is physical.
Listener discretion is advised as this week's episode includes Bre's violent, though not explicit, first-hand account of the attempted murder that almost took her life. Bre Lasley’s story has been shared on many national news outlets, including ABC News, the Meredith Vieria Show and Dr. Oz.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we discuss what it means to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm Morgan Jones and we are so grateful to Bre for being with us today and for her willingness to share the role of faith in her survival and recovery. Bre, thank you so much for being here with us.
BRE LASLEY: Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to tell a little bit about my story.
MJ: There's a video that I've watched over and over again on your Fight Like Girls Instagram account. This may sound weird that I've watched it many times, but it's a video of you right after your attack. And I just think it's so inspiring. In it, you say, "And then he got around and he put his knife up to my throat and that's when I saw the policeman shoes. Heavenly Father was there the entire time, the entire time." Can you briefly just recount for listeners what happened that night? And then what you meant when you said that heavenly father was there the entire time? How did you know that?
BL: Yeah, so it was September 23rd of 2015. Me and my younger sister Kayli had just moved in, we'd been living there for six days. I was sitting on my bed, just in my underwear, I was working on a few things and I heard a male voice say, "Hey." I thought, there's no way. We had a six-foot fence around our house, my window was seven feet off the ground, I thought there's no way. And Kayli had just gotten home from Park City, we had said goodnight to each other, she was down in her room, I was obviously in my room. And then probably like 15 minutes later, I heard the same voice. But he said, "Hey girl, I'm coming in." And when I turned my head to the right, about six feet away, there was this ripped, shirtless men coming through my bedroom window, he was coming in headfirst, My initial thought, being on my bed, sitting in my garments was, he's gonna rape me, I gotta get off my bed. And I thought if I could get over to my window in time, I could push him out of my window so that was my goal. And I don't know if you've ever had a bad dream where it's like you completely freeze.
BL: That's what happened. Like, I mean, I was moving, but it's-- the more that I've learned about trauma or like reaction, it was like a frozen response.
MJ: Like paralyzes you.
BL: Just very slow and it's just yeah. So I remember I got over to the window and by the time I got over there, he was already standing up so I kind of ran into him and I just put my hands up and said, "Please no, please no." And I had my phone with me, my computer was on my bed, I offered him, "Here, take my phone, there's my computer, there are my car keys, take whatever you want, just leave me alone, just please don't do anything." And he didn't take any of that. So it was just right then I just knew he was there for something more. He was there for me. But I found a little bit of peace knowing that he didn't know Kayli was downstairs, or at least I didn't think he did. And right after I had that thought, he put his hand over my mouth and told me to shut up and cooperate with him, or he was going downstairs to get my little sister. And so at that moment, I knew that he had been watching us or maybe he knew Kayli, but I knew I didn't know him.
BL: I can't explain, there's no words to explain the fear. I think every girl that's listening, or every girl, in general, has had the fear of this happening to them. And I don't really know if there's anything you can do to prepare for that kind of fear. But I knew I didn't want Kayli to feel what I was feeling. So I just figured if I could get him out of my room and take him to the front room with a big window, then someone would come in and help. And I can never forget trying to pull his arm to get him out of my room and my hands just slid from up by his armpit all the way down his arm. His skin was just super soft, sweaty, and I felt defenseless, I just felt alone and scared, and then I heard screaming. And I thought somebody else came in our house, but I turned around and it was Kayli. And she had woken up and ran, she knew something was wrong, she said that she just woke up and she knew that I wasn't making noises of like, there was a mouse in our house. She knew that it was like something serious was going on. And so without thinking anything else, she just ran up to come and help me. And as soon as she got upstairs, she was physically fighting. She was swinging, she was clawing, she was on his back trying to claw his eyes out, trying to hit him in the throat, basically doing whatever she needed to do to hurt him and to get him off of me. It was just all kind of slow motion, I still didn't really know what was going on. I really wanted just to talk him out of whatever he was doing. And I remembered not letting-- and I don't know if it was a training in young women's, I don't know where I learned this. But I had never previously taken a self-defense class and I don't even know, I need to ask her about I haven't even asked her if this is true or if I just made it up. But I remembered something that Elizabeth Smart said or her sister something Elizabeth Smart related said, "Don't go to a second location." And some random reason she popped into my head that, "don't go to a second location" popped into my head. And that was just I knew I couldn't go downstairs and I knew I couldn't like leave my house. I just needed to stay where we were until help came.
BL: And right when I finished that thought, he picked me up and kind of threw me in front of the basement stairs. And I'm I'm like kneeling in the doorway, I am holding on to his shorts, Kayli's standing on the first stair behind me and I'm punching him as hard as you can, where you're supposed to hit a boy. Where I've been told my whole life to hit a boy and nothing was happening. And that was really scary because the three things that girls are most commonly taught for self-defense, gauge their eyes, hit them in the throat or hit them in the groin. We tried all of those and they weren't working so I knew that he had to be on some type of drug and it was like that moment I knew we were in for a really really long night. He lifted up his left leg, kicked Kayli down the stairs, her head went through a wall and the only wall in our house that wasn't made it brick. Doctors, specialists, people who have seen pictures of how she hit and know how she hit, there are 17 stairs and they're like very steep, narrow stairs. Her body didn't hit one of them. The only thing that stopped her was her head going through that wall and they said that she should have been paralyzed or killed on impact. And she wasn't, she got back up and came back up the stairs to help me. And we ended up at the bottom of the stairs, we were fighting, the story goes on. But, there was a time I could no longer hear Kayli screaming and it was really scary because she was the vocal one, she was the fighter. And I was just trying to keep the peace and just like get him out like talk him out of it. When I couldn't hear her screaming, my attacker realized that we'd been trying to call 911. I had told Siri to call 911 three times to which she responded, "I'm sorry Bray. I don't understand" I'm forever mad at her for mispronouncing my name, I'm like my name is Bre, Siri, I've had you for like seven years, come on. But also it was really scary because it was like, wait a second, why isn't she understanding this?
MJ: Yeah. If Siri should be able to do anything—
BL: If Siri can understand anything, I get it, she doesn't understand when I'm like Siri,, where's the closest Chick-fil-a? Fine, she gets confused. "Siri call 911," give me a break, right? And she didn't get it and that was really scary. My attacker realized what we were doing, he hung up my phone and when he ended my phone call, my phone fell down the stairs and so there's a little bit of light, and all I could see was his left hand strangling Kayli up against the wall. And I was so angry. And I couldn't believe that he would be doing that after he'd already kicked her down the stairs and after he'd already just beat us both up. I'm like who is this man, who's this monster. And so I was able to-- I remember like running back and then just running into him, just tackling him. And I did that, we went into our laundry room, I'm on the ground, he's on top of me. And then I hear Kayli, she's screaming again and he's telling me he's going to kill me, Kayli's telling him she's going to kill him. And I was like, what's going on? Like, let's all just hone it in, like, just try and talk about this. And just I don't know, I can't even explain the feelings I was having because obviously, I was really scared but all of our reactions were very different. And I'll never forget, he was hitting me with both of us hands and then I realized that his right hand was no longer active, he was no longer punching with his right hand. And I remembered I had a box of pencils and so I reached over with my left hand to grab a box of pencils, to defend myself and, you have to understand too, our basement's completely dark, there is nothing. There's a small window in the basement of that home in Kayli's room but it was midnight when this was happening. There was no light, we didn't have any of the lights on upstairs, completely dark. But when I reached over to grab something, I turned my hand and I could see the hunting knife that he brought into our house. It wasn't my knife. It was like a flashlight was shining on it. I could see it that perfectly. And if I didn't see the knife, I wouldn't have known what he was going to do next because I didn't feel him when he started to stab me. I couldn't feel anything, there was a lot of adrenaline and whatever else was happening that I couldn't feel it. But I was able to see the knife and so I was able to Kayli that he had a knife and that she needed to leave because we needed more help. And she told me she's not leaving me three times and then I just remember saying please, like if you don't leave, we're going to die. Did I want Kayli to leave? Heck no. She was the fighter, she was Kayli, my little sister. But I didn't want Kayli to see her older sister be brutally murdered and then be brutally murdered herself. So I wanted her to leave. But when she did, that was hard. It was scary.
But it was also like, no one has loved me that much ever to take that risk to leave, to save me. I don't think I would have, Morgan, if I'm telling the truth. I don't know if I would have left Kayli, I think I would have thought I could have done it on my own. And I could have fixed it or whatever. Luckily, Kayli knew better and she left and by the time she got to the top of the stairs, she turned the kitchen light on. So now there's a little bit of light and the last thing she heard before running outside was he's stabbing me, he's stabbing me. So my attacker stabbed me multiple times in the abdomen and then in the leg. I could tell he knew exactly what he was doing, it wasn't just like these quick and announced stabs, he was leaving the knife in and kind of going. He was just trying to get something he was going for an organ or a vein, it was very clear that he wanted me dead as quickly as possible. After he stabbed me, he stood up and said, "Now I'm going to get your little sister," and turned his head and laughed. And I was able to get up and pull him down.
And I usually don't talk about this part of my story because it's so special to me and also, it's hard for me as a victim to talk about it because it wasn't something I wanted to feel then. But we were down on the ground, I pulled him down, and keep in mind that I already been stabbed and he'd already said terrible things to me and he wanted to go and get my sister and kill her. And I remember holding his arms and he put his head down and he said, "I'm sorry." And I felt a love that I have never felt before in my entire life and it wasn't from me. I didn't love him, I didn't care about him. He's, I mean he's murdering me, right? Believe me, there was no love coming from me and I think that that's why this part of the story is kind of hard to tell because, just from a victim's perspective, I don't and probably will never love him, right? But I knew that somewhere, someone loved him. And it's because of that feeling I had, I mean as quickly it came, it was gone even faster. But it came and I felt it and I can't deny it. Of anything that happened that night, it was the love-- that love, then the love of my sister that saved us. And I guess we can jump back into that but I felt that.
Then he stands up and I was kind of like I don't know what else to do but I didn't want him to go by the stairs because then he was going to get Kayli, and I just heard this voice say, "Tell him there's $1,000 cash in a Nike box in Kayli's closet." There's like, no, we're so poor. She doesn't have $1,000 cash. And anyway, Kayli has two walk-in closets. She had purchased some Nike shoes and had the boxes saved in her closet, which I didn't know that. And so I was like leading him into this closet, he says, "No," he picks up a suitcase hits me in the head with it, hits me in the stomach with it. Then I'm on the ground laying on that suitcase. He's sitting on me, my legs are pinned down, his left hand was on my forehead and he tries to stab me and he couldn't. And it's not like, I mean, he knew what he was doing before. He's sitting on my legs, my legs are pinned, he has his left hand on my forehead and he reaches the knife up above his head to come down and stab me and he couldn't. And I can't explain it. I don't know what it was. He was trying to stab me in the head and he couldn't do it. He even said, "Why isn't this working?" And I was like I don't know, buddy but don't jinx it, whatever it is, it's working. There's still two holes in the suitcase that my head was on. And meanwhile, Kayli is running up and down the street, screaming for help. We had already called 911 multiple times, we didn't know this at the time, but not one of our calls was dispatched. But we thought okay, we called 911. All we repeated was our address and, "Help us," so for a minute and 30 something seconds you can hear me screaming my address for help. And that call wasn't dispatched. Why? We still don't have answers to. But we thought like okay, we're good. We just need to keep fighting a little bit longer until somebody comes. But I was really tired in the basement and obviously so scared and I was by myself and I mean with Kayli it was obviously terrifying, but then not being with her and not knowing if she were okay, it was just a little-- it was too much. So we stood up, he picked me up, he had his knife at my throat and I just gave up. There's literally nothing else I can do.
MJ: Well you're probably losing blood at that point.
BL: Oh yeah. I'm losing, I mean there's just a little bit of light from the kitchen, but still, it was so dark that I couldn't really see. But I was very tired and just, I mean, he's 6'2" and 210 pounds. I'm 5'3" and 100 plus, you know, so it's like, it was just exhausting. And so my feet are dangling, you can relate.
MJ: I can, you're right. Thanks for bringing my height into this, but yes, I can relate.
BL: So my feet are dangling, his knife is at my throat, I don't know where Kayli is and this night just kept going and going. And I was just, I gave up. And then I heard, "Keep fighting." And that's kind of turned into my life motto of just keep fighting. And that's what I did. I kicked something, which ultimately saved more time, push us back into the laundry room. Now my back is on his chest, he wraps his legs up and over me. So he has me in this hold and then he has his knife at my throat and his left arm around both of my arms and there's nothing I can do. The only thing I can move was my head. And so now we're, to take you back to the video that you saw of me in the emergency room when I said I moved my head just a little bit, that's when it happened. I remember just thinking okay, I could feel his lips on my ear tell me he's going to kill me. He just flexed his hand to slit my throat and right when he flexed, I just thought like I'm gonna move my head over just a little bit just to save time for my throat being-- I don't know what I was doing. I wasn't looking for anyone or anything in particular I was just, I don't know, avoiding that. And so I moved my head and that's when I saw two shoes coming down the stairs. And I heard, "Salt Lake City Police. Drop the knife." So Kayli had been outside, she was running up and down the street screaming for help. Neighbors called saying, "A lady is running up and down the street screaming bloody murder, like something's wrong, someone come and help." None of these calls were dispatched. So officer Ben Hone from Salt Lake City Police Department, he was driving southbound, he was going to check up on another call on his way and then end his day and go home. And so he's driving southbound and he could hear Kayli screaming. So from two to three blocks away, turns the corner, sees Kayli, gets out of his car. He's a canine officer, they never leave their canines. But when he got out of his car, Kayli was screaming at him, "He's stabbing my sister. Help us, Help us, please hurry." And he knew that like he wasn't going to get his canine out because the canine would have attacked Kayli because of how she was responding and he didn't know what was going on. And Kayli was just on top of him, like get in there. And so he comes in our house and Kayli directs him to the basement and that's when I saw him. And from eight feet away in the dark, Ben Hone gave my attacker three chances to drop the knife and he didn't. Instead, my attacker extended his arm, he was kind of playing peekaboo with his head from behind my head, telling Ben to step back because he's going to stick me, and he extended his arm to come back and stab me in the throat. And when he extended his arm, his head came out from behind my head, our cheeks were touching and officer Hone took one shot. And that one shot struck my attacker directly in the nose, which shut down his central nervous system, which ultimately made him drop the knife. If he would have hit him anywhere else, he would have been able to finish this last reflex and I wouldn't be here.
And I think that long way of answering your question, there was a lot of times, but heaven was there. I said Heavenly Father and I mean that I think that He sends help, He did send help. Elder Holland, I can't remember what talk it was, but he said something about how angels are dispatched to save us. And that's what happened to me that night. I believe that there were heavenly angels but I also believe that heaven dispatched earthly angels, Kayli being one of them. Ben being one of them. Our neighbors across the street, who were at the time, EMT students. And they came over with their EMT bags, and had gloves and were able to stick their fists in my wounds and keep the blood from flowing until an ambulance got there. There were so many angels that night. And there's no way to deny that there was heavenly help the entire time.
MJ: Yeah. I have like full-body chills right now. And I think part of your story that is hard for me to hear is-- so my little sister's name is Kayli and every time that you tell the story, I feel like, we used to be very paranoid about something happening in our home. It's like you said like every little girl thinks about that.
MJ: And so I can only imagine like when you talk about the love between you and Kayli and her leaving like that's how I would feel in the same situation.
MJ: You've said that your first instinct wasn't to fight back, but then Kayli came up and she started fighting and it's like your instinct kicked in as well. Why do you think that mentality kicked in?
BL: That's a really good question. And the only way that I can answer is obviously through my experience, in my personal experience in that situation, but also like talking to therapists and trying to be educated on it, too. I think that, I mean, we were in the same situation, obviously, Kayli, just to show like her strength, she chose, she knew something terrible was happening and she chose to come upstairs and to help me. And I think that all comes from a sisters love and a family love and being a good person. But it was just that love. I think sometimes we have to do whatever we can, for a long time, I blamed myself for not physically fighting back, I was really hard on myself for it. And I was, I even blamed myself for the attack happening because I'm the one that opened my bedroom window. And it's so ridiculous. Because obviously, it's never a victims fault. But you get in this mindset where it's like, Oh, I should have done this, or I could have done this or whatever it is. And my thing, and I want anyone who's listening, if you're going through something hard, you have to do whatever you have to do to protect yourself. And for me, my reaction of not screaming or fighting, that was okay, that worked to keep me safe. nd I can't, I can't be upset about that, I think you have to love yourself enough to protect yourself. But then sometimes, in order to protect yourself, you also need to protect others. And I think that love for yourself can save you. But really what ultimately saves us is our love for ourselves and then our love for others. Because it wasn't until I started fighting for Kayli, that we were both fighting, and then that guy had a battle that was too hard for him. I guess what I'm saying is just I think that sometimes love for ourselves, sometimes we save ourselves by fighting for others. And that's what saved me and Kayli.
MJ: Yeah. It was fascinating to me when you were telling the story how you talked about how your responses were all different. But it's almost like that's the way that it was supposed to be. You know, like all of those, like you and Kayli's individual responses being so different made for a duo that he couldn't combat.
BL: Totally. There's a few scriptures that I like to refer to in this situation. And one of them has been because that night, I mean, it's kind of hard in the healing process to not compare yourself. I mean, comparison, we all know, it's terrible. No matter what stage of comparison, no matter what causes the comparison, comparison is terrible and we should avoid it. But especially like in this case, for me, I was like, "Well, why am I not healing like her?" Or like, "Why am I not healing to this other victim?" Or, you know, it's just different, like, "Why didn't I fight like her," or whatever. And I got stuck in this comparison thing. And a lot of it was because of our reactions that night, but we have different like, the different parts of our brain-- it's just like, God is so wonderful and our bodies are wonderful, our brains are everything that we have, our spirits like kept us alive. But our brains, there's these different parts of our brains that causes different reactions. And so I froze at one moment and that's caused from one part of my brain. Well, there was a calm feeling. And it was weird because that night—
MJ: You were like I should not be feeling this.
BL: Yeah, I shouldn't feel that. And then that night, it was just so insane what our brains are capable of doing, what the human body is capable of doing. And there were parts of that night where yeah, I was fighting and I was angry and that there was nothing he could do to get past me to get Kayli and there was nothing he could do to get past Kayli to get me. Like, we had these reactions that are just amazing to like, just these natural reactions. And one of them, one of the things that the brain does in a traumatic situation, is you can feel calm, even amongst like the scariest, most traumatic thing. And for a long time, I always wondered like why? Because, like, why was there like a peaceful, almost feeling that night? And I didn't know what it was and it was almost kind of hard to talk about because I didn't want to feel calm in that situation. I didn't want to talk about that because I'm so angry with him and what he did to me. And there's this scripture in Second Nephi where it says like, "All of your afflictions will be for your gain." And that feeling of calm might sound weird, but that was hard for me because I didn't want-- it was just hard for me to feel a love for someone I don't love and I don't want to love. And I think a lot of times, like, I would have never known that that moment in the basement where I felt love for him would save me. At first, I was just angry. I'm like, okay, cool. If God wants to have him, love him on his own time, like I don't want to know about it, because I hate him.
MJ: Well it probably also feels kind of like you're quitting. And nobody wants to feel like a quitter.
BL: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, thanks for finding the words for that. But I think later on, reading that scripture like Heavenly Father's not bound by time where I was. I mean, this whole thing lasted six minutes. From the second Ben walked in our house, he had to walk through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, turned the corner, walked down 17 stairs in the dark. So from the time he called back up from when you walked in, to the time he called shots fired was eight seconds, he did all of that in eight seconds. And it's just another testament to me that God knows each of us perfectly, to the second, to the millimeter, to the inch, in our darkest moments, and in our best moments. He's just there the entire time.
MJ: It's beautiful. I love the way you put that. So now you have this organization that you've started, Fight Like Girls.
MJ: And I love, I think the name is so perfect. I think it's such a, it's so you know, you just say that and it's like we understand what it is and we understand where it's coming from. But within this organization, you teach others that self-defense is just as mental, emotional and spiritual as it is physical. And I think that that is powerful. How do you feel like you and Kayli were prepared mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
BL: That's a great question. I can only speak for myself, but for me, I think having faith in a higher power is my number one thing. And that's for everybody. Something, if I'm speaking honestly, something that was kind of hard for me after my attack, people were saying, "Oh, well, you were saved, because you were living righteously or because you were doing this or this." And that's kind of hard for me to hear. It's like, wait a second, that takes away from that feeling I had of love for my attacker. Like, he obviously wasn't living righteously and Heavenly Father still loves him, like He's gonna take care of him. But it's just like, God is a God to everyone. And his love, it's not bound to anything. His love's endless, it's for everybody. He knows me just as perfectly as he knows Joe across the street, you know. And I think that having that knowledge beforehand of knowing who I was, that really solidified my healing process. Because even with my questions or doubts, whether it's with religion, or whether it's with life in general, I know who I am and that's a daughter of God. And I think that knowing that has been my saving grace because getting to the type of rock bottom that my attempted murder took me to, I don't think there could be anything else that could take me out of that. And I think that's the number one thing, is what I tell people in public speaking or with Fight Like Girls, the number one thing you have to do to start your healing process or to start fighting back is to find hope. And my hope was, Heavenly Father, was Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ. But somebody else's hope could look differently. But just finding something bigger than you. And then after doing that, doing whatever you have to do to help yourself. A lot of times, I mean, after my attack, I felt like I'd never struggled with anxiety or depression, I didn't know where to go, I didn't know who to talk to, I almost felt guilty, even saying that I was feeling depressed, or even saying that I wished he had just killed me because it would have been a lot easier. Because I knew that angels saved me. And I almost felt like, "Who am I to, like, have these feelings?" Like I was so hard on myself that I was like feeling guilty about it. And something that I've been learned through the process is, well, first of all, it's, I think we just need to talk about it more, and it's okay to have those feelings. It doesn't mean that we no longer have faith, it doesn't mean that we're less than, it doesn't define us.
MJ: It doesn't mean you're ungrateful.
BL: Exactly. It's just a part of our story. And it's a part of our fight story, that just like we have to protect ourselves physically, we have to protect ourselves just as much emotionally and mentally and spiritually.
MJ: Yeah, absolutely. What would be your advice, Bre? Or what would you encourage others to do beyond learning about physical self-defense? What would you encourage others to do to prepare for situations like that in these other aspects?
BL: Yeah, I think that just, well, first of all, Fight Like Girls will eventually be a platform, we're in the process of working on it right now, that you can go to Fight Like Girls, and we're going to have all kinds of different resources for physical, emotional, mental, spiritual self-defense, and you can find those there. Because I think the biggest problem, especially for a victim after something happened, a victim of any sort of trauma, not just something extreme, like an attempted murder, but of any sort of trauma, needs to accept it and needs to be okay with, not with what hurt them, but okay with where they are right now. And just try and move forward. I think accepting it is really hard but after we accept it, I think just being okay to openly look for help. And finding that help, I mean, whatever helps you will look differently than helped me, but just being open to counseling to therapy, to therapy of all sorts, musical therapy, art therapy, talk therapy, EMDR therapy, whatever it is, I think just being open to help and being okay. And taking it as a strength, not a weakness.
MJ: Yeah, I think you're such a good example of that because you've told me that you went to like, every kind of therapy.
BL: Oh, yeah, sign me up. Which has been super helpful, but at the same time, I think the most helpful thing is loving myself and not forgetting that love for myself. I think one of the most important things to remember, no matter where you're at, or what stage you're at in your life, or what stage you're at in your faith, whatever it is, if we truly believe that were created by a higher power, then that power is in us. It's a part of us, we were born with it. And so really, there's nothing we can't do. There's no fight we can't fight. It's just remembering that power, finding it for yourself, how it works for you, how you can live your power, and then living it.
MJ: Yeah. You wrote in a blog post that I read that there was a point where you questioned where the Savior was during your recovery, which we've talked about your attack. We talked a little bit about your recovery but that's a huge part of the story. What have you learned about why the Savior didn't come and immediately end your pain, or why God didn't step in? And what has helped you continue to believe even after this attack?
BL: That's a really good question. To be completely honest, I still struggle with that, I still struggle seeing His hand in some things. And it's really, it takes a concentrated effort sometimes for me to stop whatever it is, it's keeping me from seeing those things and to look for them. A story that has helped me a lot is the biblical story of Daniel in the lion's den. He was thrown into the lion's den, and he should have been eaten alive and he wasn't. And that has been like such a good story for me because it was like, I didn't, I didn't do anything wrong. Like, I was thrown into this den, there was this way scary, angry, hungry lion coming after me. But just like Daniel said, God sent an angel and close the lion's mouth. And I think that sometimes we get so focused on the miracle being delivered from whatever bad situation we're in. And that's a miracle. Oh, well, I like made it from this or God took me away from this or whatever it is. But I think some of the greatest miracles of all, are when we're delivered in our darkest hours. And that's what happened for me, I was delivered. He came in my darkest hour then and he still comes now it's not over, but finding him can be harder. And I think it's just not giving up on looking for him and not recognizing him.
MJ: Yeah. That's really, that's really powerful. You have frequently posted things since your attack about your efforts to combat depression and anxiety. What are some of the things that you would suggest for people, other women or men, who are seeking more peace in their lives?
BL: Yeah, I think the first thing is finding a safe place. And a safe place could be someone you trust that you can talk to. For me, for a long time, I thought that like, "Oh, well, if I do this, this and this in the Gospel, then I'm going to get this blessing, this blessing, and that blessing."
MJ: I think that's what we all think.
BL: Yeah. And I'm like, Okay, well, here I am a 30-year-old, single girl, almost 31 and I'm stressing out. Because it's like, wait a second, I've checked off the checklist. I've gone through a couple of them a few times like there's a couple of double checks, you know?
MJ: I'm nailing this list.
BL: Yeah, like wait, wait a second. And sometimes it's really hard to accept that I think it was just, I'm putting my will before God's. And I need to switch that mentality and a lot of it is just like changing the mentality and not being hard on yourself. If someone's struggling with depression and anxiety, they already have a lot to worry about. And I think they just need to know that Heavenly Father loves them regardless of what that checklist looks like. That checklist is made by us, He didn't make that. He loves us. And I think that's the number one thing to remember that you're loved, to find a safe place and just keep fighting. Meaning, do whatever you have to do to get help. But don't be defined by it, don't let it rule your life. I think that for me, I mean, it sounds like so much easier said than done, I get it because there are some days where I don't leave my bed, there are like four or five days in a row where I won't leave. And those are the darkest, scariest days ever. There's times where I would prefer being in my basement with my attacker, then having the depression that sometimes just comes over me and disables me and just, it's really hard, but I just have to do small things, open my blinds, let a little light in. And I think it's like kind of the same analogy with church stuff. If we're being hard on ourselves with church stuff, just open your blinds, let a little light in and just take that little bit of light one step at a time and let it take you and just we can figure it out. You know, like we're not on this timetable. And I think it's just more important to be okay with where you're at, but always be looking for that light.
MJ: Yeah. Well, and I think that kind of goes back to what you were talking about earlier with, in your attack, it was six minutes, right? And you talked about how Heavenly Father is not on our timetable. And I think that ties in directly to what you were just talking about, like, in this single situation, which we share in common. But in that situation, it can feel like an eternity. But in reality, in God's time, it's six minutes, you know. And so I think that that point that you're making about, like, you know, take the time to recover from trauma, take the time to fight depression and anxiety and trust that Heavenly Father knows you and will work it out.
BL: Yeah, and know that it's real, know that, like, your brain with trauma literally changes, like your body changes. And it's just like if you, I mean, people always say this, but I don't know if we're really understanding it. It's like, we have a broken leg, we go to the doctor, do the same thing with your feelings. Your feelings are real and they're there and they need to be cared for. I think that with God giving me that opportunity to feel His love has helped me so much. Because when I'm hard on myself, whether it's the standards I set for myself, whether it's standards that I feel like are set by culture, whatever it is, when I'm hard on myself, I have to remember the love that God had for him that night, for my attacker that night, but also the love that He had for me that night, and that He has for me now. He's not expecting perfection, He loves me, and everything's gonna be okay. And so it's like, we can't be hard on ourselves. That's Satan's plan.
MJ: Yeah, yeah. Well, and having felt that love for someone that is so despicable helps to see that balance.
BL: Yeah, for sure.
MJ: One of the most common questions that I think we hear in this life, and this is something that I think there's a balance, where you've talked about how, you know, sometimes you're like, why did I survive and other people didn't? And then there's, on the flip side, like, why didn't God intervene sooner? Why do you think Bre, that bad things sometimes happen to good people?
BL: That's a great question and I think my best answer is because of agency, because of God's greatest gift to us. It wasn't God who hurt me, it was Robert Berger who hurt me. And I think, taking that away, and I mean, it's unfortunate what Berger, my attacker, did with his agency, obviously. But that's not the whole story. God was there. And I think that bad things happen to good people. It could be because of agency or it could not be, in the cases that it's not, I mean, I'm still trying to figure that out on my own. Because yeah, I was affected by burgers choices. But also there's been things in my life that I don't necessarily feel like came from agency, whether it's an illness or whatever it is that I'm struggling with. And I think that it's just an opportunity to find God, an opportunity to, I think I guess I don't really know if I have a direct answer, because it's kind of like the single thing, why the heck am I still single? You know, it's like, I don't have an answer, I don't know if I necessarily need an answer. And that's, that's really hard for me to accept, I still haven't accepted that. But I think it's just knowing if we can just know that God knows us perfectly, He created us, He has a bigger picture ready for us, it's so much better than our own, I don't really know if we need to know an answer to that question. Easier said than done, I'm going to be eating these words for breakfast in the morning, but that's how I feel right now.
MJ: Your mom's gonna be like, "Hey, remember when you said this?" I never said that. One thing that I love about you Bre, and for listeners information, Bre and I met, I guess a little over a year ago and we're able to be roommates at a retreat. And one thing that I remember thinking, even in talking to you that first time, but definitely in our interactions since, and during this conversation, today, is that you're telling this awful story, but you are totally yourself. There's just like, you know, you'll make a joke, or you'll bear your testimony, it just is who you are. And you don't try to be something else. And I think that that's so refreshing. I think that it is it's beautiful that you don't sugarcoat it, that you just are a believer but you're also honest about struggles. And I think that's how it would be great if we were all a little bit more that way. At the end of this podcast, we always ask this question and I think it's important for listeners to know that the reason that we asked this question is not because we want to hear how great every person that we interview is. I could tell you how great you are, but Bre's not going to talk about how great she is. But I think the reason that this question is so important is because for everyone, it looks different. For everyone, the reason that we're all in is going to be a different reason. And so for you Bre, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
BL: I love this question. And it was really thought-provoking. And I've been thinking about it ever since you asked me to come on the podcast, honestly. I think my best answer came thinking about the sacrament prayers, because like you said, I do struggle. I have doubts and there are things that kind of sting a little bit and maybe it stems from being single and not having these promises from a certain checklist or whatever it is. There are things that I struggle with and I think that it's okay to have questions, it's okay to have doubts and you can be all in. This is what I'm learning, literally this week, that I can still be all in. I think I was so hard on myself of like, I feel like I couldn't even do this podcast, honestly. Because I said, I don't know, Morgan, I'm really struggling with this, or I'm really struggling with that or, like whatever it is. But at the end of the day, I might I know that I have heavenly parents who love me, that created this, that gave me a savior, that gave me an opportunity to live a wonderful life with a wonderful family, and a chance to live together forever. And I think that for my answer of what it means to be all in, is to be willing to be like Jesus, just like we try to every Sunday. I think it's being willing to take His name upon us, meaning just every day, like I just want to be more like Jesus. And if I can take that promise literally daily, then that's kind of my answer is just always remain willing.
MJ: I love it. Thank you.
BL: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much. I love you.
MJ: We are so grateful to BL: for joining us on this week's episode of All In. If you're interested in learning more about Bre, her story and her organization you can follow her Instagram account, @fightlikegirls. For more episodes of All In, visit www.LDSliving.com/allin