Chat With a Mormon Online
I am a successful businessman, but far more importantly I am a husband and father of five wonderful kids. I like to visit other countries and love to go scuba diving with my wife and oldest son. I enjoy reading, studying history and making new friends.
Growing up in the southern US, I was often confronted by my well meaning, but often misinformed, friends regarding my beliefs. From the time I was young I had people telling me that I believed many strange things that simply weren’t true. However, it caused me to spend a lot of time studying the bible and learning about Christ’s teachings. I also had to decide for myself if the things I learned in church and in my home were really from God, or from a charismatic charlatan. It was hard being one of only a few Mormons in a school of 2,000+ predominantly evangelical Protestants, and it would have been convenient to leave my little congregation and join them. But I had read the Book of Mormon many times, I had studied the history of the church and its leaders and most importantly I had prayed and ask God what I should do. From a young age I learned that while my friends were wonderful people doing wonderful things, there was more. I learned how to feel and recognize God’s influence in my life, and thereby learned to choose right from wrong. In spite of the peer pressure, I couldn’t deny what I knew to be true, both from intense intellectual study, and from answers to my prayers. That little bit of faith I had as a child and teenager has now grown and strengthen me through many trials. It makes life easier. It helps me be a more patient person, a kinder person, a more understanding father and husband. Even more, I now know who I am and what God wants me to be doing. I can make a strong case for the church from a purely intellectual point of view, but that’s not the whole story. I am a Mormon because of a thousand little events where God answered my prayers and showed me the way to true happiness, and that’s pretty cool.
They say in every life, there falls a little rain. I’m not sure that was ever truer than this year (2010). In December of 2009, I took some time to take stock of my life and I couldn’t have been happier. In spite of the bad economy our business was doing well, my five kids were all making good grades and growing into funny, well adjusted youth. My wife and I were very happy with our marriage. I didn’t think it could get better. Then, our 11 year old son began to act like he had the flu. After a month of steady decline his body broke out into massive bruises and red spots and he was soon diagnosed with leukemia. It was a scary time, but I was optimistic. Childhood leukemia has a high cure rate, we had wonderful doctors and lived close to the hospital. It was bad, but I figured a few months of intense chemotherapy and we would be back to normal. Then the rain started to fall. When you take any medication there is always a list of terrible things that may happen, but rarely do. We get so used to hearing about bad things that never happen that it normally doesn’t sink in as a real possibility. As the treatment process started, almost everything that could go wrong did. The chemo caused his nervous system to “misfire”, which caused sudden paralysis, intense pain, seizures, etc. Most of his organ falters at some point and the pain meds used to manage the shooting pain in the nerves caused a complete shutdown of the intestinal system. We spent months in the hospital just trying to keep our son alive and manage the terrible pain. At home we had to care for him like a new baby as paralysis would come and go from his limbs. During this time of crisis, we still have four other children to care for and a business to run. Learning to balance life became more an act of just trying to keep the fires put out then actually enjoying life. I could go on for pages about this experience, but this is the important part. I got so beat up, mentally and physically by this experience that at one low point I began to wonder if God just hated me. I never questioned his existence, I have far too much evidence to wonder about that, but I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. Why did everything have to go so wrong at the same time? Cancer is bad enough without all the extreme side effects. How much more could our family be asked to endure? At that time of crisis, when everything hung on a tiny thread, I hit rock bottom emotionally and started to dig. I wasn’t sure I could keep going; fires were breaking out far faster than I could put them out. I was feeling very sorry for myself and just exhausted with the whole situation. But what could I do except endure? Where could I find hope? Then I remembered all the lessons I had learned as a child and started to turn toward God. I started to seek help in the right places. And over a period of weeks, through some special experiences, I learned that God really does know me and love me. It seems weird to write this; because it is something I have always known. The words I say today are the same words I said a year ago, but now they have a much deeper meaning. My family and I have been through a very real hell this year, and in the middle of all that I found a deeper strength and courage then I ever knew to be possible. My marriage grew stronger, my family grew closer and we witnessed hundreds of tiny acts of compassion that strengthened many others. I guess sometimes bad things happen so that God can have a chance to show his power. Our journey still continues, but bearing it has become much easier. Not that the nature of the challenge has changed any, our son is still struggling a lot, but our ability to deal with it has increased tenfold. And as Christmas approaches I have a new, special appreciation for the season. I know that when I start to hit bottom, I’ve got a host of heavenly friends who are willing to step in and say “I got this.” They lift me up and carry me when I can’t go any further. Businesses struggle, kids get sick (sometimes very sick), marriages get strained, but the love of God never fails. Even when I do dumb things, he is there for me. Without that foundation we would have never survived this year. It really does work.
That’s pretty easy to answer but harder to put into practice. I try to treat everyone the way I would treat the Savior. I’m not perfect, but I try to think not of what Jesus would do, but what I would do if Jesus was the one to whom I was reacting. It’s not easy, and I still have a temper, but I’m getting better each day.