So sorry that we haven’t posted in a while! Hopefully this will make up for it. 😉
Here’s a real question: How many times have you felt judged or looked down upon because of your past?
If your answer isn’t too many times to count, then you are one of the lucky few who hasn’t heard the gossip spread about you. It’s common knowledge that people talk, a lot. Last August, I fell victim to horrible gossip spread by ‘friends’ and adults. Looking back now, it has been one of the biggest blessings I have ever received.
In June 2016, I volunteered abroad in Peru. It was an amazing opportunity and I worked my butt off to get there. I saved everything I earned for six months and at the young age of sixteen, boarded a plane to experience new cultures. This was also around the same time I started questioning the church and acted out at home. I hadn’t really encountered a situation where I had true freedom and no consequences, at least from my parents. Obviously not a good start to a story.
For the first two weeks or so, I did everything I was supposed to be doing. I volunteered in a clinic, I went to church, I spent time with my host family, and I was happy. But I was curious. Many of my friends would go to clubs and stay out for much of the night. I decided to check it out for myself and see how dumb these people could be. What kind of person could like going out and partying all the time? The first time I went out, I didn’t drink or do anything except laugh at the people who were so drunk or high they could hardly walk.
The next time I explored the club scene, I wanted to see what a margarita tasted like but was too scared to ask my friend for a sip. Somehow she figured that it was the ideal moment to offer some to me even though I had turned it down sharply the time before. That random night in Peru in a crappy club was the first time I had ever touched alcohol. From there it snow balled.
When my last week in Peru came around, I was going out every night, I got drunk or high (Or both), kissed too many guys, and returned to my home away from home far to late. I made dumb decision after dumb decision. I craved the attention and the buzz I got from my nights out, yet something was starting to become very apparent. Even though I was having the time of my life, or so I thought, I felt completely empty. No guy kissing or dancing with me, no drink, no drug could cover how hollow I was becoming.
When I returned to the United States, I went about my life, trying to forget my wild days and move forward. The Lord had a different plan in mind, thankfully. My parents, friends, and church members found out. People started talking like nobody’s business. I was so upset that I left my home ward and fled to the local YSA (young single adults) branch to start over. While I was there, I began to make new friends and I FELT ALIVE ONCE MORE. They showed me how amazing the gospel is. They showed me that even though I had one heck of a past, I could still move forward and achieve great things. They didn’t sit and judge me because of what I had done.
Because of the happy feelings and understanding the young adults showed, I found myself at a family home evening activity where I met Sappy. From there we have grown so much in the gospel, we go to the temple regularly, and we love reading scriptures together. We have shared our pasts with each other and DON’T FREAKIN CARE. What I did or what he did doesn’t define us now. Looking back, I am so thankful that I gave in to those things. They shook me out of my funk, quite violently actually, and revealed how unsatisfying and empty my life was without the gospel. It forced me to turn my heart towards the Lord and find the man I’m meant to marry.
Now, I’m sharing all of this because EVERYONE HAS A PAST. But with the right person it doesn’t last. They won’t define you by that; they won’t judge you or make you feel small. Even to this day people talk about what I did while visiting Peru, but it doesn’t bother me because THAT ISN’T ME ANYMORE. Ladies, men, don’t specifically search for someone who doesn’t have a past; don’t search for someone who will hold yours against you either. Instead, look for an individual who will listen to your earlier experiences in order to understand you better as a person. Find a sweetheart who will hold you close no matter what you went through. I have changed from the person I was in Peru and that’s why it doesn’t bother me to share my past. If you or your significant other truly have changed, I would encourage you to talk about the past and let bygones be bygones. It will only help you understand them and love them more fully.
“Psalms 25:7: One last observation: If God is willing to forgive and forget sins truly repented of – ‘the same is forgiven and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ – then surely we must do the same. Nothing is more un-Christian than to keep bringing up past sins – those of others and our own – thereby refusing to let them die. This is to deny the Atonement of Christ. This is to block divine forgiveness. This is to keep alive what God Himself wants buried. Whether it be in a youth or an adult, forgive their transgression. Let the Atonement have full sway. Let the future be bright even if the past wasn’t. You and I and all mankind are one day going to plead for such grace. Let’s show Christian discipleship by granting it to others.” – Elder Holland