Life Changing Moments

by Anonymous

There are moments in everyone’s life that are turning points.

I had one of those during those difficult few months of the Prop 8 campaign in California, months in which I felt so upset as I saw politics I didn’t agree with infusing our church meetings.

It happened on an evening in which I had discovered that my husband had volunteered to make phone calls urging people to vote yes on Prop 8. This was an unexpected blow to me, since I had remembered him commenting during the similar Prop 22 campaign that he wouldn’t feel comfortable getting involved.

I was furious when he told me. I felt betrayed, and I felt sickened. Most of all, I felt scared. What kind of future did we have as a couple if we differed on something that was to me such a fundamental indicator of the way people look at the world?   What did it mean if we were mobilizing on opposite sides of this?

Out of fear and anger, I ripped into him and questioned his kindness and the validity of his motivations. Then I locked myself in the bathroom for a half hour and I tried to calm down and stop crying. I finally came out and I was still upset at him, but I was also upset at myself for acting like that. I’m usually pretty even keeled and not the type of person that blows up at people.

After thinking about it for a couple of days I came to the conclusion that I need to let him have his journey. He lets me have my journey and goodness knows I do things that he does not like or approve of. But he doesn’t get in my face. He gives me space to follow my conscience and to do what I think is right. I realized that I needed to give him space to follow his conscience and do what he thinks is right.

I’m not very interested in debating the merits of Prop 8 here. I’m just using this story as an example of those moments in life that lead to important realizations, realizations that change the course of a relationship or that give peace when peace was not expected.

Please share your life changing moments.


Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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13 Responses

  1. nat kelly says:

    It is so hard to have a disagreement with your spouse about something that means so much to you! I know I can handle disagreements with a lot of people really, really well. It doesn’t bother me to know that someone thinks my views are totally crazy. But if my husband thinks about something differently than I do, and that something is serious or important, I can’t stand it. I love that guy, and I can’t stand that he might think about something in a way that I find hurtful. The most recent experience with this was when we were talking about the Seattle cop that punched the 17-year old girl in the face, which I find despicable, and my husband opined that he thought it might have been justified (or at least not surprising). I was horrified. Lol. Sounds like I should be less controlling, eh?

    I’m glad the experience gave you insight into your relationship.

  2. jks says:

    I work at letting my husband have his own opinion and make his own choices. It is hard sometimes because we share our lives and we are raising children together. And I’m always right which means if he disagrees with me it means he is wrong. Definitely challenging.

  3. z says:

    Aww… it’s hard when you think you’re on the same page about something and then find out you’re not. It’s always such a shock, and it undermines your sense of familiarity with each other.

  4. Angie says:

    Here are two life-changing moments from my college years:

    I was in the middle of a six-year investigation into religion and the LDS church. All of my five roommates were LDS, I was attending Institute classes, and I was my university ward’s Relief Society president. I was also seriously questioning my religious beliefs, going to other churches’ meetings, and reading the Book of Mormon and anti-Mormon literature. My dad is agnostic, and my mom is Mormon, so I felt free to explore my beliefs.

    (Here comes the life-changing moment #1) One Sunday at lunch, I started crying and told my roommates that I was pretty sure that I didn’t believe the Mormon church was true. One of my roommates calmly said, “I know you, and you’re going to find the truth.”

    (Here’s moment #2) One of my Institute teachers used to meet with me once a week at 7:00 am to discuss my religious questions with me. After a few months of meeting, he said, “You are a great lady, and we would love to have you in the church. But if you decide to go a different way, then the church will go on without you.”

    Both of those comments completely freed me to pursue truth – they changed my life. My roommate and my teacher expressed love and faith in me. This freed me to trust myself and the things that resonated as truth. And they also freed me from the pressure of external expectations. With or without me, the church would do its own thing. The church didn’t/doesn’t need me to validate it. True or false, it stands on its own.

    These two comments are still as clear to me as they were twenty years ago.

  5. Jessawhy says:

    I had a similar experience with my husband and prop 101 here in AZ. He was also not thrilled with the church’s making phone calls, but he agreed to sign up and when he made the calls, he urged people to vote their conscience. It was his compromise between fulfilling his responsibilities and not promoting a position he wasn’t comfortable with.

  6. Anonymous author says:

    Nat Kelly,
    You’ve articulated exactly how I feel. When something means so much to you, it’s jarring and scary to see your spouse come out on the opposite side.

    “And I’m always right which means if he disagrees with me it means he is wrong.” Hah! 🙂

    “it undermines your sense of familiarity with each other” That’s a good way to put it. You think you know someone, but people are always evolving in marriage… one of the things that keeps marriage exciting, I suppose.

    “Both those moments freed me to pursue truth.”
    Those are wonderful life changing moments! So uplifting and powerful. And I love that it was Mormon friends who sparked that pursuit of truth. Thank you for sharing those with us.

    Now that’s a good solution. I’ll propose my husband go that route next time a proposition like this comes up again, if he feels the need to get involved.

  7. Stella says:

    I have so many that I am not sure what direction to go in. I remember being 12 years old and praying to know whether the church was “true or not” and getting a very good feeling. Thus, I knew with all my young heart that it was the truth.

    I remember being 27 and praying that prayer again and instead of getting an answer I got A LOT more questions that have led me on a path where I just can’t answer that same question with the simplicity of my youth.

    Though, part of me wishes that I could. Life seemed easier when it was more simple like that. “Yes” and “No” answers are much easier to handle than that big gray area in between.

  8. Jenne says:

    I believe I had a life changing moment yesterday when I read about the changes in church policy around the turn of the century in relation to teaching about Heavenly Mother, the organization of the Relief Society and the social prescribed roles of Mormon women. Learning that the women of the church went from having so much to so little was quite a blow. I’m not sure if I can look at counsel from the brethren in the same way again. I know its our prerogative to prayer for confirmation of the leader’s counsel but where do you go when it is not confirmed to you, and when it undermines the legitimacy of your gender’s capabilities?

    My reaction, that I recognize as very emotionally charged, feels in opposition to another life changing moment that I have experienced. At 16 years old, being raised atheist/agnostic in the Unitarian Universalist church and having begun to learn about the LDS Church, I prayed to know if God was real and I can not deny the testimony that there is a God. Learning about the doctrines of the LDS church changed my life because I found the most complete set of truths that made sense to me in my searching for a fair and just Christian belief. Joining the church 8 years ago changed my life.

    Another life changing moment was giving birth to my first child and realizing how prevalent it is in the maternity care system for women’s voices to be silenced and their choices to be manipulated or taken from them. It was that experience combined with my sense of justice and agency instilled in me by my Mormon theology that led me to feminism, which then led me to learning the history of women in the church.

    And now we’re back to my emotional break from yesterday.

  9. Deborah says:

    Jenne: Just wanted to send you a virtual hug. Reading about the history of women in the church can be both empowering and devastating, side by side. What a complicated dance this can be sometimes. When I read through the original Women’s Exponent and women’s journals from early church history, I marvel at the spiritual gifts, healings, blessings, tongues . . . and I envy. But then I also read passionate defenses of polygamy (publicly) coupled painful memoirs of polygamy as it played out privately . . . and I know that these women had their complicated dance, too.

    There’s no advice to give, but I love passing along Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s fabulous essay “Lusterware” because of the spiritual balm it has given me through the years. It is in the book “All Gods Critters Got a Place in the Choir,” but I could also scan it and send it to you if you’d like. As she says in one line: “In the church, as in your own families, we have the worst of times and the best of times.”

  10. Melanie says:

    The night my niece was born changed everything. Holding her, knowing she had a completely blank slate, that she could be anything and anybody, I got the tiniest glimpse of what it meant to be infinite. Knowing how much potential she had, I could no longer deny my own.

  11. Jenne says:

    Deborah, thank you for telling me about that. I’m not able to get it from my local library, but amazon has it pretty cheap. I think I’ll plan to buy it, read it and then donate it to the library unless I decide I have to keep it. I appreciate the understanding, that you and others know what that realization is like.

  12. Deborah says:

    I have a feeling you’ll choose to keep it. I have two copies. One for me and a “lending copy,” which is out on loan again this week. 🙂

  13. anonymous author says:

    Sorry for the delayed reply! Busy few days.

    Stella, I bet a lot of us look back at those days when everything seemed so clear and simple with some degree of nostalgia.

    Thank you for sharing those moments with us. I’m sending you a virtual hug too. And I heartily second Deborah’s recommendation to read Lusterware. I treasure my copy of All God’s Critters.

    If you are interested in another devastating/empowering read on early Mormon women, check out “A Gift Given, A Gift Taken: Women and Healing” by Linda King Newell. I think there’s some version of that paper in the book Sisters in Spirit.

    Deborah, like I said above, great advice. That essay made me feel better about being a Mormon than anything else I’ve read.

    That was beautiful. Thank you.

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