My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 5 – A New Voice of Joy)

Link to Part 4: https://kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/my-faith-transition-from-mormonism-to-biblical-christianity-part-4/

Over the New Year’s Eve holiday, we were staying in our vacation home in Logan, Utah. Due to health issues, I hadn’t been to a church service for a while. Thus, I decided to look into checking out a new location in the area. My soul longed to hear The Word and drink from the living waters of Jesus Christ. I had already heard about one congregation through one of my Facebook friends when I first inquired about local places to meet with Christians and I quickly located that info through the online support group.

As we walked into the building, we were immediately greeted by a very friendly woman called Jane. As it turns out, Jane and I had previously met in the summer at a car dealership while getting our oil changes. She remembered me and cued me in on a conversation we had had with another man who was visiting the area for the summer. Wow! Another reminder that when God is involved, nothing in our lives happens by coincidence…

Anyway, after our initial conversation, we were invited into the worship service and the pastor wished everyone a very happy new year. Then the musicians began to play and I was even more surprised and pleased to see that I actually knew some of the songs! That wasn’t a common thing for me to experience since my transition, but oh so refreshing to see some familiarity in the music.

Speaking of music and voices, something that had happened to me when I traumatically lost my husband six years ago while living in Argentina, was that I had lost my singing voice. My whole life had been a successive and uninterrupted scene of music. I had taken my first piano lessons at 8 years old and then at 11 or 12 years old when I was in 6th grade, I joined the school band and started taking private flute lessons. Those lessons went on throughout my youth.

I believe my first choir experience was in first grade when we sang patriotic songs and put on a program for our school and parents. To be honest, I can’t ever recall a moment in life when I wasn’t singing. I’d always had a tune in my head and was singing or relating everything in life to a song or melody. That’s how much music was a part of my life, especially the singing part. In high school, I was part of the school choirs and ended up being in the Madrigals group my last year. In Argentina, I sang on a regular basis and formed a choir there and taught others to sing harmoniously. For me, to lose my voice was not only frustrating; it was painful and devastating. No longer could I even hold a tune on the church hymns I had grown up with as a Mormon. I couldn’t even sustain the regular notes. It was as if my whole soul had been closed off to expression. There was no evidence that I had ever sung, much less with a beautiful voice.

I once saw a program on TV about the country singer Shania Twain having lost her voice and how she went on a journey to get it back. I wasn’t a professional singer like Shania, but it was so much a part of my life, that it was like clipping my wings. I needed to get my voice back. More than six years had passed since my singing voice had been hidden from me.

I’d told some close friends about the loss of my voice. One newer Christian friend Dorothy Catlin told me that I’d get it back and that I just needed to keep on trying to sing and that one day it would be restored. I listened to her encouragement, hoping that would happen soon. I needed to sing the praises of my newfound relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. And I needed no barriers put in my path.

Returning to the New Year’s Eve Sunday service, tears began to freely flow as I realized that my voice was returning to me to sing His praises! The Lord of all creation had heard my desperate cry to restore my voice. He had held my tongue and vocal chords until I could feel His love and joy.

I sang and sang and sang! His praises were freely flowing from my lips as I expressed my gratitude towards my Savior for ransoming me from the bondage of Mormonism and into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. What was I also feeling? The sadness that I had felt for too many years was now being replaced with JOY, a joy that I had never known. My youthful smile was coming back, along with my voice, and my musical gifts that I could not possibly keep to myself. I couldn’t help but share my newfound joy with anyone who was wiling to listen.

Psalm 71: 23 states “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.”

John 17:13 “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

Psalm 5:11 “But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.”

I had never felt this kind of joy and happiness before. It was new to me. I needed to feel more joy, joy that I’d never felt before. It was like I was becoming new, renewed and rejuvenated by the song of redeeming grace. I am a thankful daughter.

 

 

 

 

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My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 4 – Grace)

Link to Part 3: https://wordpress.com/post/kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/103

The fellowship that I have begun to experience since I became a Christian has been so much more authentic than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve always tried to be transparent in my life, genuine and simply real. The friends who know me well know that with me it’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of deal. And my friends mean everything to me.

There is a transformation that takes place once one decides to truly follow Jesus Christ. Even with my linguistic background of many years, I still find it difficult to put into words how my experience has continued to change my life.

I was taught in Mormonism that I needed to perform certain religious acts and ordinances that would eventually help me render myself worthy to be called into God’s presence. We were taught that God’s grace would go into effect “after all that we can do.”

I have since learned that there is nothing that I can do for myself that can make me worthy to be in God’s presence. Anything I can offer Him will be like filthy rags. Grace is a free gift that Jesus Christ has given us, based on what He has done for us, not what we could possibly do for ourselves. Once that knowledge entered into my soul, I knew that the works that I felt pressured to do to earn my worthiness were covered in Christ. That didn’t mean that I would go out and do the things that were prohibited before. To the contrary,  it now meant that I felt an urgent responsibility and duty to share this good news with my fellow men and women who didn’t understand that it was all about Him, not us…

Ephesians 2: 8-9 states: For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.

Romans 11:6 states: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

One of the key testimonies that helped me understand Grace was the testimony of Micah Wilder from Adam’s Road. He is a former Mormon, who while on his mission trip, converted to Christianity. He has an incredible story that I’m posting here:

https://www.adamsroadministry.com/testimonies

When I heard Micah’s testimony for the first time, I knew that this was going to be my path and that I needed to embrace what grace was and come to understand it freely, as it was the gift Jesus Christ had given me. And that in Him, it was finished.

The Bible has come alive for me now and I love the Word. Many  scriptures such as these now have new meaning: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).

This version of “Amazing Grace” by Chris Tomlin has become my favorite song, as it describes how grateful I feel towards my Savior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I

 

Your Perception IS Your Reality

I recently had an experience in my professional life that forced me to rethink how I communicate with others.

Without going into much detail, what I can say is what I knew to be the truth was completely different from what the other person claimed it to be. And I was like, ‘What just happened here?’

When my mentor said something like this, ‘maybe her perception is her reality’, I got thinking that maybe she was right. And there it was, as clear as the light of day!

So, I started doing some online research about this and found the following in Elite Daily: “When truth is blurred by lies and misinformation, perception becomes reality and all is lost.” What people perceive is usually what they believe, and this is based on what they hear, see and think. Most of the time we cannot control what happens but we can always control our reactions.”

And Lifehack states the following: ‘Things aren’t always what they seem. Marketers and magicians rely on this fact to make you see things – the way they want you to see them. Artists do too.’

As I reflect on my own family life and how my siblings and I perceive the way our lives were, I can’t help but ponder what my brother said recently to me. He told me this, “That’s not the way it was. We were all there.” To which I respond, “Yes, we were, but the way each of us experienced our family life is very different, because the way we perceive it is Our Reality.” We cannot seem to see eye to eye on much of anything, but I’m come to peace with the fact that his reality is one thing and mine is another. And that’s OK.

When we experience immersion in a culture that’s different from ours, our perception of reality expands. I lived a “second life” in Argentina by becoming deeply immersed in that culture for the 17 plus years I lived there, 16 of it having lived as a local resident while being married to one. My temporary stint of 1.5 years the first time was completely different from when I went to live there and experience firsthand what it’s like, how the locals feel and think and to also come up with my own perceptions of why things are the way they are. And boy did it open my mind. I could perceive another reality than my own. And as Charlemagne has stated, “To have another language is to possess a second soul”. How true that is! When you truly learn another language, it opens your mind to other possibilities and you can then begin to entertain other perceptions that allow you to see the world as others see it. Wow!

I’ve been fortune enough to delve into people’s professional and personal lives since I taught English to many different populations such as Argentineans, Koreans, Chinese, Israeli and other Europeans such as Spaniards, Germans, French and Dutch, just to name a few. Most of the classes I gave were personalized where I would go into their private homes and teach them. It was there that I gained a sense and representation of the way different people thought. I learned that Argentines value family and leisure time above work and they work to live, not live to work, as I had been accustomed to doing in the U.S. The U.S. has a definite sense of ‘what you do for work is who you are’, whereas the Argentines would intermingle and the taxi driver, doctor and lawyer would all find common ground about the same issues, which were usually the weather, politics and the current social climate in the country.

I learned from Koreans that education prevails over any other priority in their life. Those people even sent their children to school (kwan) on Saturdays. That wasn’t the norm in my culture and upbringing. And I prepared many of my Asian students to live in the United States after living in Argentina. Many told me that they were just living in Argentina until they could move onto living in the U.S. themselves. I was witness to that happening. They were always preparing for the next step in their lives. One of my most beloved and successful Korean students told me that until 40 years old, we were just fooling around. Once we reached middle age, we would finally figure out what we wanted to do. Of course, he was older and wiser than me, and I was younger than 40 at the time and thought I knew better than he did. But he turned out to be right. Until 40 years old, I think I was just learning until I could finally begin to put that wisdom into practice… Wow, what a lesson that was!

My Jewish students were some of my favorites. Buenos Aires boosts the 3rd largest population of Jewish people outside Israel, New York being the 2nd largest concentration. I found that we had much in common and they were big on capitalizing unique experiences. They were well-read and well-traveled and could talk about anything with intellectualism. They were the ones who forced me to crack open more and more books and read so I could simply converse with them, which I consider invaluable today. After all, you are the books you read…

The French taught me about quality. I learned that Dannon chocolate tastes different in France than in Argentina and that their version was superior to the local recipe. A Dutch man taught me that Americans are so “stuck on themselves” and that we have an entitlement mentality about us that annoys other nationalities. And honestly, I must say that I agree with him. To me, there is nothing uglier than “the ugly American” who thinks they have a right to be treated like royalty everywhere they act like asses in a foreign country. Germans have taught me that there is no room for inaccuracy. You either do it right the first time or you don’t do it at all. They are brutally honest and probably wouldn’t make the best diplomats, because they say it like it is and there is no room for fluff or nonsense. And I like that!
My purpose in writing these thoughts is to extend a challenge to you: Look around and see what you can learn from people who are different from you. After all, wouldn’t you want the same courtesy and respect shown to you? We each come with our own unique packages, born with our own talents, gifts and personalities. And there’s a reason for that. Furthermore, if we insist on being right and the philosophy of ‘my way or the highway’, are we truly evolving to become the higher version of ourselves? If not, are we truly growing or are we are living in ignorance? Could we be limiting our opportunities for growth because of our closemindedness? If we are, we are really shooting ourselves in the feet! And we ourselves become our worst enemies…

I’ve often heard this thought quoted in my business, “It’s not what we don’t know that hurts us; it’s what we DO ‘know’ to be true that simply isn’t so.” Consider this: We might be so stuck on what we’ve accepted as the truth because of our limited perceptions, and it might be the very thing that hinders us from so much growth and even prosperity! After all, isn’t the definition of insanity this: ‘Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result’? Hello people, if it isn’t working YOUR WAY, it might possibly be time to do things differently! For example, if the job you’re working in isn’t producing the results you want, don’t you think it’s time to start looking for a new opportunity that gets you closer to what you’re seeking, even if it’s just doing it as you can, on a part-time basis? What are the steps you need to take to create the kind of life you’d like to create for yourself? Maybe someone else would love to mentor you and teach you how to create that opportunity without any monetary fee.

I’ll give you an example of how I’ve done exactly that in my own life. I’m a professional linguist and because I knew Spanish fluently, professional opportunities were being offered to me that would increase my income level if I could do the same tasks in another language that was more in demand, one of them being Portuguese. I had learned Spanish from being immersed in the Argentine community, but I had a desire to learn Portuguese better. For as much as I would’ve loved to have packed my bags to move to Brazil, that wasn’t a real possibility for me. Furthermore, I had practically no time to travel to a teacher or allot time for a teacher to come to me either. It then occurred to me that because I was a qualified English teacher, maybe someone who spoke Portuguese might want to do a language exchange with me at no cost to either of us.

I put out an ad to find that person and a few responded. I started out with Adriana from Rio de Janeiro and then I went onto Renato who was from another part of Brazil, yet he was physically located in Vancouver, Canada. Thus, because of so much technology available, we opted to do our language lesson exchange via Skype. I don’t know how much Portuguese I truly learned or how much English they gained, but to me that experience proved to be invaluable to me. I’ve lost a lot of that Portuguese fluency due to lack of practice, but it did give me an expanded world view into what it’s like to see the world through another set of eyes. And Adriana and Renato are still my friends today.

So, continuing with that challenge of being willing to open your mind to new possibilities that will in turn open new doors to other worlds. And as you do this, let me remind you that Opportunity knocks on the door of those who are the most prepared at that time. Moreover, there’s no time like the present and we are not getting any younger. I truly believe that the more we open our minds (and hearts) to other possibilities, ideas and philosophies, the more we will begin to perceive and live life to its fullest. But it starts with one step. Question your “reality”. Ask questions. Look for other alternatives. Think outside the box. Read more books. Go to more classes. Learn a new language or new skill. You never know when that could open a new door to an awesome opportunity or experience for you.

A newer and more beautiful world is awaiting you and it all starts with opening your mind to new perceptions.

I’m in my own journey of expanding my reality and I’d LOVE to know what you’ve been learning along the way.

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A Global Perspective: My Two Countries (US and Argentina)

May 3, 2012 marks the day I returned to my country of birth (the US) with my two boys to live. For me, it had been 16 years since I’d been “home”. I hadn’t seen my family, friends or country since December 1995 when I voluntarily left my roots to marry my handsome Argentine prince.

Now, after five years of being back in the US, life is very different for us now. We are now getting used to “American” life and are becoming more integrated into daily life, community and the local culture. However, I know that our previous life living abroad has forever changed us and has transformed us into the people we are today.

Living in a foreign country will mold and change you, as you are forced to open your mind to another way of life. It is inevitable. When you first get there, you feel like you’ve lost your whole reference point of the way you used to view things and the way you always thought things should be. You might find that your old perspective serves you very little in your new location, and your coping skills don’t work with the old rules and regulations. Thus, your mind begins to expand to think that there may be another way to do things that is different from the way you’ve thought and have been taught previously.

That adaptation process can be very painful at times, as you struggle to find anything familiar to grasp onto. Anyone you run into from your country of origin or who speaks your same language instantly becomes your new best friend, since you are desperately trying to find common ground with others that you don’t necessarily have much in common with in your new location. The comparison game of “it’s not like that in my country” is a constant and it can often cause you to be discontented in your new place.

However, as you begin to adjust to your new place, you slowly stop comparing and you accept your new life and the circumstances that brought you there. You realize that nobody is going to adapt to your ways, so you learn to follow the “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” philosophy. Little by little, you start incorporating other mannerisms and eventually embrace your new life and the adventures that await you.

My two countries are the United States and Argentina. The people of Argentina have given me many gifts. The gift to be able to see life from a different angle than the one I’d been raised with, a different worldview, a new language and a new way of expressing myself, which even awakened feelings and emotions I never knew existed, as well as unique experiences. They accepted me as their own, took me in and allowed me to grow in ways that I never knew I could. My interpersonal skills in relationships can go now deeper than before, due to having been immersed in Latin America for so long.

I was blessed to be able to teach ESL and EFL (English as a Second Language / English as a Foreign Language) to many students with varied socioeconomic levels and cultures. Most of them were private classes and it taught me so much about relationships and how important human interaction is. I must admit that I made many mistakes in these interactions and have hopefully come out of these, having learned the value of that getting to know another human being at such an intimate level is a privilege. Maybe it’s because my students were speaking another language that they often felt safe enough to share their secrets with me. In any case, it’s something that I hold sacred and would never like to take for granted. Each student blessed my life beyond what I can describe and I was the benefactor of all their teachings, as they became my some of my best teachers.

Where we lived was about a one hour drive outside of the capitol city of Buenos Aires. Predominately settled by Italian and Spanish (Spain) immigrants along with an influx of Germans, it was like a having a little piece of Europe in South America, but one that speaks a beautiful dialect called Castilian Spanish (Castellano). Besides the fact that the food was out of this world delicious, I felt like I had found a piece of heaven on this earth and it was fascinating to me!

It helped that most of my professional experience proved that that the culture there is generally very accepting and open to foreigners. The locals are usually curious to know what it’s like to live in another part of the world. They want to know what you’re doing there in the first place and I often had comical but repetitive conversations with taxi drivers about why I would ever choose to live in such a place.

I always found that curiosity so refreshing, especially since I rarely found a group of inquisitive Americans who wanted to know what it was like in another place other than their own. A prime example is once I returned to the US, I took on an English teaching gig for a corporate student to teach him at his company. His origin was Dutch, having come from The Netherlands (Holland) and he made a bold observation to me that shocked me a bit, but something I also found quite amusing. After three years of living in the US, his observation was that Americans are so stuck on themselves and can’t see any other viewpoint except for their own. He blatantly stated, ‘There is another world out there, you know?’

Perhaps we can easily blame our educational system in place in the US at the time, that we weren’t taught much about global affairs, which involves at a minimum, knowing where other countries are located geographically and a few facts about each country. I was publicly schooled in the 80’s and very few of us seemed to know what was going on in other countries or seemed to care for that matter. In fact, in full disclosure, I admit that when I was first assigned to serve an LDS (Mormon) mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I didn’t know where it was on the world map!

Luckily that ignorance is changing with this new generation of millennials. They are curious, have full access to the Internet and are generally interested in living life to the fullest. And of course, that involves frequent travel and unique experiences. Things are changing and I personally think that’s a good thing.

I get emotional and cry when I hear both country’s national anthems. The Argentinean flag with its blue and white colors chosen by Manuel Belgrano, the leader of the Argentinian revolution against Spain represents the blue sky parting to reveal white clouds, as is said to have happened when the Liberation demonstration began in Buenos Aires, on May 25, 1810, thus this date is celebrated as “Día de Mayo”. Observing the flag, our gaze is immediately attracted to its center, where we find its most striking feature: a human face wearing a neutral expression inside a gold sic with straight and wavy rays emitting from its center, representing a sun. The sun, name “el sol de mayo” (the sun of May) after Argentina’s May revolution, which eventually lead to the nation’s independence from Spain, is a national emblem.

Figuratively, the flag of the United States of America stands for freedom and democracy. It represents the unity of America, our common cause and the hope for a better tomorrow. It contains 13 stripes and 50 stars representing the 50 states. The strikes represent the 13 original colonies and are broken down by color with each having its separate meaning. White signifies purity and innocence, Red is hardiness and valor, Blue means vigilance, perseverance and justice. It’s no wonder I’ve chosen my next career to be about justice, which mission I feel passionate about and love fighting for!

I’m thankful and so blessed to say that I now have two countries that I can call my own and where I feel completely “at home”, having built distinctive lives in both. I am a local “Yankee” in Argentina and a “Latina” who drinks mate, pronounced “mah-tay”, which is a typical hot Argentine tea drunk with a metal straw, in the US. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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On Sexual Harassment & Misconduct: A Story All Too Personal

It is the end of 2017 and it seems like everything is coming to a head in the public arena. Allegations of many public figures in Hollywood and the media have come to light and we as spectators are shocked and at a minimum, are seemingly surprised at what we’re seeing on the news. Or are we?

Those who have been the target of sexual harassment behavior and misbehavior, and further perpetration have more than their share to tell. This morning I woke up to see the NBC News headline, “Matt Lauer admits there is truth to allegations, apologizes” and so I went on to read a partial apology from the recently dismissed and well-paid news executive.

I’ve never been one to talk about sexual harassment, but for some reason, this piece of news has just opened up a slew of old memories that I’d put in the back of my mind for a long time. They are currently acting out a wild dance in my head as I realize I have to speak up about this issue and come to terms with unresolved feelings that I’ve simply stuffed in my emotional storage unit. However, the time has come for us to be more educated about the repercussions that victims endure oftentimes for many years in silence, the silence that needs to be broken.

I’m a former beauty queen who grew up in a competitive society where sexual harassment was not only tolerated, but accepted and covertly encouraged. I remember the first two years I vied for my local beauty pageant title. These were the golden years where Miss America was a highly coveted role and I participated in those preliminary processes as a young 17 and 18 year-old girl. I remember vividly how the swimsuit competition was held at a private home and I thought that was bad enough. Then once my name was called out as part of the “Top 10”, I shrieked with horror as we were expected to put on our bathing suits again and exhibit ourselves in front of the whole town onstage. I’ll never forget how humiliating it felt to show my front side and then the side view. Then we were told to turn our rear ends to the audience while they examined our buttocks and upper thighs in high heels. I wondered when it would be over and as a young girl, I couldn’t get off the stage fast enough. It was severely traumatic to me. That’s when I began to feel objectified and I was officially the “dumb blonde” who gave “beauty queen answers”. It would be many years before I would begin to overcome that limiting label.

My young dating life started and ended with a series of misadventures with advantageous men who expected me to “put out or get out”. After all, isn’t that what pretty beauty queens were expected to do? Heaven forbid that we might have our own dreams and ambitions and that somebody might love and appreciate us for who we truly were, the talents we possessed, and for having a brain. Having lived my younger years in the 80’s, I can tell you that it wasn’t considered an asset for a woman to have a brain.

I remember having one boyfriend who critiqued me just like one of my beauty queen judges. His words went something like this, “You’d be perfect if you’d just be 20 pounds thinner.” I’d heard that all my life and it was devastating to me. It was always about becoming the perfect Barbie doll. Well, truth be told, even at my best, my big-boned body frame was a hefty 140 pounds, being 5’10”, heads taller than the rest of the girls. During that time, the emcee would give a list of our accomplishments, talents and hobbies, and then the announcement of how much we weighed. It was a constant reminder that I wasn’t ever going to compete with those shorter and slimmer girls who’d had the good fortune of having been born with smaller frames than I had and who weighed a maximum of 115 pounds.

Fast forward to 1995. I married a foreigner and went to live in his country. To make a long story short and without going into too many details, he had been taught to objectify women all his life. By his side, I endured every type of humiliation a woman could be subjected to, and put up with his arrogance that I later learned was a personality disorder with a name: Narcissism (NPD). He lived his life not worrying about how others, especially women, felt. I learned what it feels like to be on the receiving end of not only having a partner who displayed a lack of empathy, but also a fullness of impunity, not having a conscience that would awaken him to a sense of how his behavior was affecting others. He took no accountability for his actions and was not afraid of the consequences. After all, in his country he knew he had to be a lot more visible or had to commit much more serious crimes to be held responsible for and he went about his business covertly, knowing that his wife would never reveal those details or tarnish his church reputation that he had so carefully crafted through deception to get to where he was in the hierarchy. Or would she?

In 2004, I had a legal separation with my husband and I needed a job I could do from home. Previous to that time, I had been teaching English for several years at locations outside my home, as a freelance teacher who was my own boss. But my circumstances had changed now that an attorney had set up a visitation regimen, and I needed to follow a strict schedule or I would be violating our agreement. I found a full-time translation job I could do from home. It would be a decent regular salary and I could fulfill my end of the legal agreement by not having to worry if I could be home on time early enough to take over my care-taking responsibilities with my son.

During this time, I had become acquainted with another US expatriate who was living in that same country. We had talked about our similar business activities over the phone, but we hadn’t ever formally met. One day we decided to meet at a public place, since I was going to be in the area that day anyway. When we met, I thought he was attractive, but he was married and I was recently separated. We talked and then we walked in the downtown area. We continued to talk about mostly business and I put the thought of how attractive he was in the back of my mind.

A short time after, we decided to meet again to discuss business. At that time, he offered to take me to my subway station in his car. I then opened up to him about the seriousness of the abuse I had endured at the hand of my soon to be ex-husband and I believe I even cried in his presence. I remember it being a vulnerable moment where I desperately needed a friend. As we sat there together in the car, he reached over and tried to kiss me and I turned away, shocked that I was even in such a situation to begin with. The truth was that I was blindsided by this advance. It was completely unexpected. After all, we were both still married and I wouldn’t knowingly participate in this type of behavior.

However, I felt like I could trust him professionally, so I convinced my new place of employment to also hire him, which they decided to agree to do. The months that followed turned into more encounters, often culminating in inappropriate interaction. I would often be asked by him to do certain sexual favors, but I never fully gave into him and we never had sexual intercourse. He then convinced me to meet his wife. After all, “it would be easier that way and she would never suspect that we were together, since we were coworkers and had to interact anyway.” After meeting her and their child, I realized I couldn’t continue doing this to another person who didn’t deserve this betrayal. But I had fallen into a trap.

Because our lives had become so enmeshed and my livelihood depended on my full-time job, I felt like I couldn’t leave him. I wasn’t the kind of person to have an affair anyway and it went against all my morals and teachings. What had happened to me? Where had my better judgment gone? When I told him he needed to make a decision about us, the best he could do was tell me we could meet in hotels from time to time. That meant that he got to keep his good job, his wife and child and I would then be forced to feel like I was playing second fiddle? That somehow didn’t seem like a good deal to me, and to be honest, I wasn’t this kind of girl to give into this type of lifestyle. Why did he get to have his cake and eat it too, while I was getting only the crumbs? I felt completely humiliated, used and abused.

I knew I had to do the right thing and end the relationship. That would mean that I would need to resign my good job. I was terrified at the facing the prospect of the consequences that loss would involve. What could I do after that to keep myself afloat financially? It’s not like I would be offered such a lucrative job opportunity in that third-world country ever again. With deep pain in my heart, I turned in my job resignation, but included with that was another catch of confessing to his wife everything that had gone on. I told her that he had taken advantage of me being vulnerable at a critical time in my life by initially trying to kiss me and that I’d never meant for things to go as far as they did. Of course I was willing to own up to my part of what I did, as two were involved in the relationship and I had my share of culpability in the matter. After all, it takes two to tango.

Nevertheless, with time, I came to the realization that the dynamics that played out were definitely one of a man who was trying to get a vulnerable woman he worked with to get him a leg up in the workplace, so he could secure a better financial position for himself. It was a hard one to swallow, but I had to realize that I had fallen prey to an advantageous person who was only out for himself, at my cost. He’d played every card he could get and I fell: hook, line and sinker.

I wonder if my case was an isolated incident. Unfortunately we all know that answer and that it’s more commonplace than we realize. And it’s a dog eat dog world out there when it comes to workplace and people dynamics. The truth of the matter is often how well we play the game in a work environment where lines are frequently blurred of what’s appropriate according to an organization’s sexual harassment policies versus dealing with real life.

In an effort to gain some insight on how prevalent this issue is, I did an online search and found this recent article explaining how a 2016 study reveals that 75% of workplace harassment victims who complain face retaliation: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/national/percent-workplace-harassment-victims-who-complain-face-retaliation-study-finds/4vB69nFkKsxWhqFZ8hkEPN/

I as a woman, am sickened by how widespread this epidemic is. 75% is the majority and it’s simply not acceptable by any standard. I’m a middle-aged woman who mostly works from home, but I’ve had the opportunity to do language interpreting in other settings. I have been shocked to find that most of my interpreting assignments have dealt with shedding light on what companies do when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.

My very first assignment in the US was with a human resources department that was interviewing a man who had been the witness of a sexual harassment incident at his work and he was telling his version of how he saw one of his male coworkers harass another female worker on his shift. As a man, I perceived how uncomfortable he was while expressing how afraid he was of not only losing his job, but the retaliation that could potentially follow as a result of him making statements about what he had observed in his workplace. He even had to draw a picture of where and how his coworker had touched the female coworker in his presence.

Other interpreting assignments were in front of judges in administrative hearings where I had to interpret for the mother of two teenage brothers who had been accused of raping a nine-year-old girl. It was heart-wrenching to me to have to look at these so-called perpetrators that were sharing that room with me. I wonder how this abhorrent pattern took hold of such young men to begin with… Other ongoing interpreting assignments have involved teaching employees about the consequences of sexual harassment in a predominantly male industry that involved living onsite with both genders during the harvest season.

Another article I found online about Harvey Weinstein revealed that we are failing women who report workplace sexual harassment: http://www.newsweek.com/how-human-resources-failing-women-who-report-workplace-sexual-harassment-687158

Quoting what I found in the article, “The problem is, HR doesn’t exist to protect the employees — it exists to protect the company.

Statistics show that a majority of women has experienced “unwanted and inappropriate advances” from male colleagues — and a quarter of victims said the male colleagues who harassed them had power over their careers. Yet the vast majority of women — 75 percent, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study — never bother to report workplace sexual harassment out of fear of retaliation or not being believed.”

As the woman I am and the fact that I’ve just disclosed my own personal experience of sexual harassment, of course it’s natural that I would feel outraged and have called this behavior out. However, but I have to say that I feel no small sense of victory that steps are finally being taken to convey a clear public message that we are not expected to accept the acceptable any longer. My hope is that more victims will have the courage to come forward and add to this recent public outcry that no sexual harassment or misconduct must be allowed, whether it be in the workplace or otherwise. It is humiliating and belittling for women to have to endure this type of behavior just to keep their employment or be able to advance without compromising their values and dignity.

My personal appeal to female victims

As we come together to continue denouncing unacceptable behavior, may you each have the courage to join with others who cannot muster the courage to speak up, for fear of retaliation or other consequences. There is however, strength in numbers and our voices need to be heard. Those of you like me who have spoken out against these acts, thank you for doing so. You are the true female warriors.

sexual harassment cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 3: Closing One Door & Opening Another)

Link to Part 2: https://wordpress.com/post/kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/86

 

Now what? I had just made a bold declaration of something that I wasn’t sure I was going to follow through with. Yet, the more I thought about leaving my religion of 50 years, the more I realized that there was no turning back now.

After all, it was my whole entire life! It was the only thing I knew. I’d done everything I was supposed to do, like graduate from Seminary, graduate from college, go on a mission and get married in the same temple my parents had been married in. I loved the Church and the LDS people and most of my friends were still active members of the Church. Yet that “knowing” deep inside told me that things were about to change drastically. I knew there were things that could never be reconciled.

I had once had a firm testimony of the truthfulness of a Mormon testimony. I once believed Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I bore that solemn testimony to many in my life. Now things had changed. I now knew that there was no way he could be a true prophet of God and I also came to the realization that we don’t need prophets to have a close relationship with God.

Through the grace of God, He sent me messengers who I call angels, who would help me. Once the realization came to me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn’t true, I didn’t know what to do next or where to go. Was I going to become an atheist or agnostic? Like so many times when I would do my soul-searching, the answer came clearly, “You know there’s a God; you can’t deny that.”

God’s messengers started coming into my life and I began to be directed to people who would help me understand truth. I was told to “read the New Testament as a child.” I learned of a young man who converted to Christianity while on his Mormon mission.  After watching and listening to the testimonies of Adam’s Road Ministry”, I knew that I had somehow been called out of Mormonism to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, I didn’t have any idea how that might happen.

The first step I took was to take my husband Michael on a ride, telling him I had something serious to tell him. I said, “Mike, would anything change with us if I left Mormonism?” Thankfully, he didn’t hesitate at all to respond positively, “Kim, I married you, not the Church.” What a relief that was! We hadn’t even been married a year and I was dropping bombs on him left and right. Poor guy! Luckily he seemed to take it well.

What followed was extreme anger. Coming to the realization that what you’ve believed in since birth, was nothing less than dealing with a death or a divorce. I mean, how do you come to grips with the fact that you’ve been taught false doctrine all your life? I, like the guy in the video below stated, probably should’ve not come out yet, still being in the transition stage where I hadn’t fully crossed the bridge over into Biblical Christianity. I wish now that somebody had told me to keep my mouth shut until things got better. But being the impulsive person I am, all I could tell people was that I was leaving the Church. Like the below video states, “unfortunately we came to them before we knew too much about the true gospel. I knew enough that the Mormon gospel was not true, but we didn’t know enough about the true gospel yet and all I did was stir up arguments, stir up bad feelings, etc.” and I didn’t have all the answers yet.

It’s a tough time when your whole foundation crumbles beneath you, but I believe that everyone who makes this transition, goes through this same process.

I got invited to go to a church where two of my friends were performing in a gospel choir. My new friend Carolyn presented me with a beautiful new red-letter Bible, and she seated Michael, Dylan and I on one of the front pews. It was a beautiful service and the music was interesting. The only thing was that I wasn’t prepared for such revival and that kind of active praise. People were dancing with their arms uplifted. It was a bit too much. However, I did learn a new song that I absolutely love, “Where Feet May Fail”, by Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJJJkiRukY

I believe that’s where the roots of my true conversion began to take hold of me. After all, if anything was going to reach me, it was music. I began to listen to Christian music. And then I was reminded of several years ago in 1990, after I graduated from Utah State and I went off to do my internship in Colorado as part of a rural development project. That summer in that beautiful rural town internship experience, I made friends with people who knew this kind of music and I believe that’s where I learned to love Michael W. Smith’s music (my favorite song became “Friends“) and Amy Grant. The timing wasn’t right for me back then, but I sure learned to appreciate the music that was shared with me at that time.

My dear messenger friends told me I needed to find a Christian congregation to go to, and by the grace of God, I was led to Bishop Earl who is the person who interviews former LDS who’ve transitioned over to Biblical Christianity. He told me about a noncongregational church that was meeting in Brigham City not too far from where I live. I decided to try it out.

That first Sunday was so beautiful. I was greeted by so many friendly people and I learned that about half of them had been formerly LDS like me. That Sunday was also a potluck, so we broke bread together and talked a lot. Bishop Earl and his wife Karla introduced me to Pastor Jim Catlin and his dear wife Dorothy who led a women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings. I also met some other dear people who’ve fast become my friends. What I liked about this nondenominational church was that they didn’t have all the rules and regulations that LDS did. And people seemed more genuine than I’d felt in what seemed like forever. And it was more of a middle ground where it wasn’t so “hallelejah’ish”. This was a place that seemed like it could fit where I was at. I didn’t feel like anything was being imposed on me. It felt OK.

I decided to go to the my first women’s Bible study session. It was about Ruth in the Old Testament. No sooner had we gotten through the first part of the study, I began to cry. The story of Ruth wasn’t just about a woman who’d decided to bond with her mother-in-law, but it was My Story of how I left the US and went to live in Argentina. I once told my then mother-in-law that I felt like Ruth, that I would do as verse 16 said, But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” For 16 years, I lived among the people of Argentina and loved them as my own and they loved me. 

I wasn’t used to reading the Bible so much, but one day I opened it up and there it was in 2 Timothy 1:5. My grandmother Lois seemed to speak to me, affirming that I was on the right path. She had possibly been my greatest support and mentor all my life. I didn’t even know my grandma’s name was in the Bible. Little did I know the beautiful treasures that were contained in that beautiful book…

I wanted more. My soul hungered and thirsted to know my Savior. I wanted that personal relationship with Him. One day I told Him, “Jesus, I receive you into my soul.” I asked Him to heal my infirmities that had plagued me most of my life. Other days, I would tell Him that I loved Him and that I wanted Him to be part of my life, that I surrendered fully to Him and other things that are simply too personal to write. I wanted that relationship that my friends told me they had with Him. The biggest realization is that there is nothing I can do through my works to earn His love or my salvation. His love, righteousness, mercy and grace is enough and He is all I need…

The days that followed have been incredible. As my eyes began to be opened more and more, the clarity of my path began to unfold. I’ve been led to newfound friends, new truths and even a better marriage. I have more patience with my husband and sons, that is, once we got past the initial shock of me leaving Mormonism.

And I’ve come to what Phillipians 4:7 in English Standard Version ,
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There is a before and after. I can honestly say that the chronic fatigue I’ve felt in the latest years has largely been replaced by strength, as I realize I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. A lifetime of chronic anxiety and depression has been replaced by hope and joy. I now know that everything is going to be OK. My days are brighter, colors are more vivid and I feel more deeply. I’m a thankful girl.

 

My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 2 – Major Losses, Decisions & Discoveries)

Link to Part 1: https://kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/my-faith-transition-from-mormonism-to-biblical-christianity-part-1/

When I returned to Utah, my mom had offered my boys and I to live with her and we’d accepted that offer with gratitude. After all, her health was failing and it was a good mutual agreement. I would accompany her to medical appointments, go shopping and just spend time with her while she would get to know her grandsons she hadn’t ever known, since they were living in different countries.

Since I hadn’t been there for 16 years, we had much to catch up on.  I do believe that the worst thing had to be that not only was her physical health severely going downhill fast, but her mental faculties were being taken over by dementia. Many times she would treat me like I was a little girl. At times she could only retain a long-term memory and that made it especially challenging for me as her daughter.

After many hospitalizations, she finally had a massive stroke at the end of July 2015 where I found her lying on the kitchen floor, unable to speak or move. I called 911 and had her transported to the nearest hospital, but it was determined that she’d never be able to do things for herself again. She’d also left a directive that if that ever happened, she did not want to be resuscitated. My siblings and I, along with the medical staff, made plans for her to go into hospice and pass away in the least painful way possible. We were all with her when she passed on a peaceful Sunday.

After she passed, my relationship with my siblings deteriorated quickly and after that, it seemed better to keep a low or no contact rule with them. We simply couldn’t see eye to eye and I needed to focus on my boys and what lied ahead.

My mother had left us each an inheritance and I thought that the best use of those funds would be to buy a home. After contemplating locations, I felt a strong pull towards northern Utah, specifically Logan. That was further confirmed as my real estate agent and I traveled there to look at houses. We found the Victorian dollhouse the first day. It was love at first sight and was situated on a 1/3 acre property in a beautiful neighborhood with a park in front. It was perfect for just my son Dylan and I. My older son Alan had just moved out to go to school in Salt Lake City, so this house was ideal for us.

We moved in right before the school year in August and we began life in our new area. This was the town where I had done my undergraduate studies at Utah State University for the whole time I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree until I graduated. I loved it there and spent what I consider the happiest days of my single life there in Logan.

Back in the present, I started dating and quickly met my husband Michael online. It didn’t take long before we fell in love. After all, we’d grown up in the same area and had similar ideas as to how we wanted to live our lives. We were married the day before Thanksgiving in 2016. Michael had his house in Honeyville, but he decided to move in with us in Logan and rent out his home for the time being.

Dylan and I had started going back to church when we first arrived. It was a congregation that had a very small base of regulars who were mostly older people above 60 years old, along with an ongoing transition of young married couples and families that were constantly coming and going, which was typical of the college town it was. However, there weren’t more than 3 or 4 boys in the ward and they weren’t Dylan’s age. With those demographics, it would be hard for him to make a group of friends he could do things with. There also wasn’t a stable group of middle-aged people who were my age.

The Logan bishop was a kind older man who was the principal of the on-campus elementary school. A well-seasoned man with plenty of wisdom, he was a fatherly type who I felt like I could trust, and I started confiding information about my life and the things that had happened in the past. But little did I know that just as I was getting into deeper parts of my story, he would soon be released as the bishop and my next-door neighbor was called to be the new bishop. I wasn’t prepared for that change to happen.

My husband Michael had been inactive in his church for several years before, and due to his recent divorce, the ward members had taken sides with his ex-wife and he didn’t exactly feel that comfortable going by himself. But he agreed to go with me to my ward to see if things would get better.

We sat down on the pews and no sooner had we gotten through half the meeting, when Michael went into a type of seizure and started making strange noises. A handful of men came to his rescue and took him out of the meeting. He was more embarrassed than anything else and was hesitant to return. I believe we ended up going just a few more times to church before we decided that as a family we’d rather spend Sundays at home or take a drive somewhere. I was also having some health challenges that made mornings especially challenging. Getting anywhere on a Sunday morning wasn’t going to happen for a while. There were some days that simply getting out of bed was enough.

My health challenges continued and while Dylan was at school, besides my regular work, I would find myself reading more than usual and watching YouTube videos on topics I was especially interested in, like Psychology / Mental Illness and the history of the LDS (Mormon) Church. Boy, was I thankful to have so much information at my fingertips. I read and read and read and couldn’t get enough.

In my quest to find out the dynamics of my first marriage, I came across some particularly interesting information about Narcissism and the dynamics of narcissistic abuse. I read and read and joined groups on Facebook where I could discuss with other people how these relationships begin and how a victim could get caught up in such a controlling relationship, suffering narcissistic abuse. I was then able to identify that my first husband was most definitely a narcissist and so were other members of his family. That accounted for me having spent 16 years of my life (my whole marriage to him) estranged from my American family.

But how does one get into such destructive relationships? Well, this led to me also determining that in my own family, my own mother had very strong narcissistic tendencies, as well as at least one sibling. The main feature of what a daughter feels in a relationship with her mother, is that she never feels good enough. That led me to become an overachiever, all in an effort to gain love and acceptance from a mother who would never say she loved me or give praise or validation. It wasn’t to be.

Delving further into the world of psychology, I wanted to know why I had been the victim of such abuse and wanted to know what was really wrong with me. I felt like I had strong sensitivity, if not an oversensitivity to everything. I felt things deeper than most everyone I knew. I could connect with people at the deepest levels and understand things about people’s souls. It came naturally to me. I had a gift where I could see people in their best light, with their full potential and believe in them. The only problem was that those people couldn’t see what I could see.  But an aha moment was about to reveal itself. One day I found 2 terms that perfectly described my life experience since as far back as I can recall. I was a highly sensitive person (HSP) and an empath. Those 2 discoveries changed my life from that point on.

When you are a highly sensitive person and an empath, you often fall prey to abusive relationships and believe untrustworthy people too much. This is because you only perceive people at their best and often overlook their faults and weaknesses. And in my case, I learned that abusive individuals like narcissists were attracted to empaths like a moth to a flame. I would help these individuals discover their true potential. But first I needed to learn about how to protect myself.

If I had been given a gift, I would need to learn how to channel it into more productive ways and learn why I had been given that gift in the first place. The answer was revealed to me one day, clear as a bell: Go back to school and get your Master’s degree. You need to open your own private practice in Marriage and Family Therapy. 

As I looked further into Master’s programs, I decided on a graduate school and determined I would start in November 2017. But that wasn’t enough. I would specialize in Personality Disorders to help people who had endured narcissistic abuse, the LGTBQ community, grief and just help families with their challenging relationships.

At that point, my mind began to be opened to the point where I couldn’t learn enough. I knew what my next step was to be in my professional life and I was on fire, researching all kinds of things regarding Psychology, Narcissistic Abuse and the like. And I was also reading all kinds of books about Mormon origins. I had immersed myself in studying and finding out the “rest of the story”. Little did I know what I would find.

I’d heard rumors about my church history, but I needed to know for myself and from different sources, if what I had heard was rumor or fact. As I started to get to know the origins of the church I had belonged to for 50 years, I found that there were severe contradictions of the First Vision by our first prophet Joseph Smith. There were more than a half a handful of different versions. How could that be?

I also learned that Joseph had 34 wives, some of which were already married to other men, child brides, adolescent affairs and abuse towards his first wife Emma, who he told would be destroyed if she didn’t accept the other women who were revealed to him through revelations from the Lord. My faith in the prophet Joseph Smith began to be seriously shaken. No longer could I believe that someone with this type of history could be called of God.

Linking my church studies to my psychology research, I read that Joseph Smith was also considered a narcissist. That did it. I could no longer believe in someone who claimed to be a prophet of God, who no longer feared the God he claimed to represent. I also found this quote that Joseph Smith said, “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” History of the Church, 6:408 (26 May 1844)

This was the man who was our first prophet, who had started, or as we are taught in our church, restored the gospel of Jesus Christ, However, knowing what I now knew, there was no way I could believe that a true prophet of God could boast that he had done more than Jesus. That was pure blasphemy. No longer could I believe in a man-made church, even if I’d been in for the whole 50 years of my life. This was not the true gospel of Jesus Christ; it was the gospel of Joseph Smith…

Further evidence of fraud was the so-called “Book of Abraham” that was some papyri discovered among some mummies that were being displayed in the time of Joseph Smith. They were written in Egyptian, but at the time those papyri were allegedly translated, there was nobody in the US who could translate that language. However, in later years when those papyri were able to be authenticated as being the same that Joseph Smith had in his possession, the Church was thrilled to be able to translate those papyri with Egyptologists who were professionals who could truly translate the Egyptian language. With this evidence in their possession, the authorities in the LDS (Mormon) Church would surely be able to show the world that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.

The result?  They were simply funeral documents that had nothing to do with Abraham. As a professional linguist who had dealt with language translation and interpretation for the past 22 years, I knew what details had to be taken to produce a faithful document that was true to its source. This discovery of a document like this being falsified was not only disappointing to me and many others, but it was also proof that Joseph Smith wasn’t the prophet of God he claimed he was.

Continuing on in my studies of psychology, I found an eye-opening video that shed light on my own family dynamic. I realized that I had been scapegoated and that my other siblings also played different roles in our dysfunctional family. I just had to send this video to my family. Surely they would be happy to discover what I had! Well, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the case and it was not only ignored by my brothers, but it was rejected by my sister who said she wouldn’t even look at it. We got into a serious email argument and at the end of the email, I wrote her in anger, saying, “Before you hear this from anyone else, know that I’m leaving the Church.” I pushed Send and that was the end of that email.

Then I thought to myself. What did I just do? What did I just say? Did I really mean what I’d just said? It was as if someone else were typing those words about leaving my church…

Link to Part 3: https://kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/my-faith-transition-from-mormonism-to-biblical-christianity-part-3/

Joseph Smith statue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 1 – Cognitive Dissonance)

Life is so interesting. In our minds, we believe our life should turn out one way, but it doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will. In my life, that’s certainly been the case, and lately that truth has blatantly made itself very clear.

I’ve been LDS (Mormon) all my life, which is exactly 50 years old. I was born into it and it was truly my life. At 8 years old, I was baptized by my father and I was so excited and willing to follow God’s word. I started out in the children’s organization called “Primary”, and my favorite part by far was singing time. There we would learn songs such as “Follow the Prophet” with lyrics such as: “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way”. I could pretty much name any tune in less than 3 notes by just knowing the background or brief description of the song. The pianist would play the notes, and I blew everyone away by guessing the song correctly. I was so good at those songs, I knew them inside and out and nobody could compete with me on the Primary version of  “Name That Tune“.

Once a week, I would walk directly after school to Primary and I loved learning and participating in the activities there. In the small town where we living in at the time (Kanab), the elementary school and Mormon church were right next to each other, so it was within walking distance. And pretty much anywhere in Utah, anyone is within walking distance of a local meetinghouse. That’s how prominent the Mormon church is within the state.

When I was a teenager, I participated actively in all the programs and served as president or counselor of each class (Beehive, Mia Maid & Laurel, which were the names of each age group category). I loved to write and one year I was put in charge of writing my ward’s (local church organization) camp skit and I played the “Fairy Frogmother”. That summer, our skit took first place in the whole stake (area organization consisting of several wards). It was no secret that we had everyone laughing so hard they were crying or running for urgent potty breaks in those wonderfully odor-full outhouses in the woods! Those were good times.

I had my brief stint with church sports programs as well… However, after not being able to catch a softball and a few black eyes later, plus my brief career as a wanna-be basketball player who accidentally made a basket for the opposing team (I wondered why nobody cheered!), it was determined for me by my coach that sports wasn’t my forte. The sports coach one day not so subtly, informed my mother that “Kim was too feminine to play sports”. It wasn’t meant as a compliment… But that was okay; I had other talents like music and writing.

All along my time as a youth, together with my leaders, I helped organize faith-promoting and self-esteem building activities that would help the youth gain strength to deal with the challenges of living in this world. When I was an older young woman, I would sometimes be asked to be a mentor for the younger girls and to speak to them in special events called “firesides”, where they’d be taught principles such as moral cleanliness, which is especially emphasized within our youth. I loved my church and couldn’t ever see myself as part of any other world.

Once I graduated from college, I made the decision to be a missionary for my church. I then served in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 18 months. That experience was a life-changing one that deepened my love and dedication for my faith. It also paved the way for what up to now, has been my longest profession (Linguist: ESL teacher, editor, proofreader, translator & author) and I am so thankful for the knowledge gained while living in Argentina.

Two years after my mission trip, I had been writing long handwritten letters to a male friend who would later become my future husband. He was a 20-year Mormon convert who I had met while serving in Argentina. We’d developed a deep connection through pouring ourselves out in letters and it wasn’t only a romantic relationship, but also a spiritual one and we confided everything in each other. After a trip back to Argentina, we decided to get quickly married shortly thereafter in the Salt Lake City, Utah temple. And my life was going to be perfect with my handsome Argentine prince.

While we were married, my husband and children continued to participate in the Mormon church, in our callings (church assignments) such as mine, which was the eternal pianist, Sunday School Gospel Doctrine teacher, Relief Society (women’s organization) teacher. My husband served as Sunday School president, ward (local organization) mission president and as a high priest on the High Council in our stake. Life to us was our church. We didn’t know any other way and didn’t question why we were living the way we did. After all, we truly believed that we were part of God’s only true church on the face of this earth.

However, after 16 years of marriage, my husband suddenly suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. At that point, I was faced with the reality that living in Argentina with my 2 boys probably wasn’t the best option for us as a family. I hadn’t lived in my country (the US) for 16 years, but I decided that a quick trip to reunite with my family would be the best choice to see how I felt and if my feelings were in order to think about bringing my boys to a country that was foreign to them. After just 2 days of being with my mother, I told her that I wanted and needed to be there with her and the rest of my family. After all, I’d missed them so much in the long time I’d been away.

It took just 2.5 months to make that happen. I put my house on sale there and packed our bags to move to our new country where my boys now needed to learn English, but that is a story in itself that I won’t get into at this time.

I’m from the ultra conservative state of Utah, the one where Mormonism is headquartered in the capital, Salt Lake City. It had been my home for so many years and I desperately felt the pull to return to my roots and give my boys the experience to get to know my world and the church in the way I knew it growing up. They would get to know my side of the family and things would work out for the better. After all, I truly believed that they deserved to have a better life with more opportunities for growth than they’d been given in Argentina.

As my boys began to assimilate into their new country, they learned English, started making friends and to adapt as kids readily do to new circumstances. However, it was their mother that was having the more difficult transition. After all, 16 years living abroad had changed me, opened my mind and had made me more tolerant of others’ differences. And truly, after a mind expands, it can never conform.

Within my church experience, I began to experience what I’d describe as “cognitive dissonance” deep within my heart and soul. I felt like I’d suddenly been thrust into a world with newer and stricter rules of ‘the nots‘: for example, “thou should not“, that was followed by many strong expectations of I “should”, I “have to“, I “need to” do this and that. I mean, it was exhausting! Why hadn’t I noticed these rules before? I did some deep soul-searching and my answer came loudly and clearly: “Kim, you aren’t the same person you were before. You’ve changed.”

But what had changed for me, so much so that I couldn’t adapt to my old mountain home? Well, to begin with, it sure didn’t feel like “home” to be there… The plain and simple truth was I didn’t fit in. That realization that for me at first seemed like a social challenge that I was dealing with, in time began to build up like a pressure cooker. Surely things would get better, wouldn’t they? Well, truth be told, they didn’t…

Link to Part 2: https://wordpress.com/post/kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/86

Cogdissonance

Mormonism

Turning 50 – A Redefined Sense of Purpose

I just turned 50 last week and although I wasn’t thrilled to be completing this milestone, it turned out to be super revealing. At middle age, we start reflecting about our lives, where we’ve been, our successes and failures and take stock of where we’d like to be and where we’d like to go.

While doing some soul-searching and inner reflection, I asked myself what makes me happy and what brings me joy. Mind you, I’ve been a successful entrepreneur and have noteworthy achievements under my belt. But none of that has allowed me to feel joy like I feel when I help people with the harder issues in life, like dealing with Mental Illness.

In a nutshell, my story is basically one that may resonate with many of you. I was raised in a narcissistic family unit where my narc mom and enabling father set up a system where each of us played a role. I as the oldest child, was “parentified” from a very young age, as my mother expected her children to take care of her, instead of taking responsibility to care for her own children. I had way too much responsibility from a young age, but yet I continued to play the role of the “perfect” and obedient daughter, until I started to feel that despite my efforts to do this, my mother would never be satisfied with anything I did. I endured deep emotional abuse, humiliation and belittling, especially when I wanted to be my own person.

At 28 years old, I’d had enough of trying to be perfect, and I sensed that despite the fact that I’d dated a lot, I could never trust any man enough to marry him. After all, I was terrified! But I wanted out of that situation. My father suddenly died in an accident at work, and my mother became a widow. My father in many ways, although he was enabling, did play the role of peacemaker and would buffer the abuse dished out by my mother. But after she died, she became more and more self-absorbed and played the “widow” victim to the max, drawing attention to herself to get her needs met.

At that point, I felt like there was nothing for me to do but leave. Consequently, I fell in love with a foreigner and decided to leave the US to go and live in his country. That ended up being 16 years. I thrived away from my mom’s influence. We went no and low contact the whole time I lived there. However, after 16 years, he suddenly died and I was forced to rethink my family’s (we’d had 2 beautiful boys together) future, as well as our safety, since we were living in a third-world country.

During the whole time I lived abroad, I was never visited by my family and never understood why. However, when my husband died, things weren’t the same and I was extremely emotionally vulnerable. I decided to make contact with my family who immediately contacted me upon hearing the news of my husband’s death. Moreover, my mother was in ill health and I decided to travel there to just reconnect. It seemed like a fairy tale and I thought my mother had changed. She was showering me with love and affection, but in a way I’d never had all my life. I thought to myself, ‘she’s changed’, so I’d like to come back to the US.

I sold our home and came back with my 2 boys who’d never been to the US or had contact with my side of the family. My mom offered us to live with her. And because she was on her last leg of life, I agreed to be her caretaker. I would spend hours and hours talking to her, reading entire books to her and just loving on her…

However, after our “honeymoon period” of becoming reacquainted after so many years, her abusive narcissistic patterns returned and not only I was treated horribly, but my boys were also product of that, being my offspring. She passed 2 years ago. When that happened, my 3 siblings came upon me in full fledged fury, accusing me of all kinds of things like elder and financial abuse and that my boys and I were treating our mom horribly. I was also accused of being “a bad person”. This was all a lie and I was blindsided by this. I couldn’t understand all this aggression and why I was being labeled an abuser when I wasn’t. Only one sibling admitted that our mother had talked badly about me to “people”.

In a court of law, at least evidence would be admitted. In my family, I was accused of all kinds of lies and I was never told what those lies were, so I could at least defend myself. In my case, I was convicted and punished without any chance of defense. This has paralyzed me and I can’t get anyone to tell me what I’m guilty of. I am more than willing to talk about this, because I’m innocent of all these accusations, but they won’t talk to me at all… They’re hell bent on being right and heaven forbid there could be more to this story. After all, the truth hurts! But it has also set me free, because I hold that truth.
So, what good, may you ask, can come out of a terribly painful situation like this? Well, I’ve decided to go back to grad school and get my Master’s in Family & Marriage Therapy and to write my story which will be published in a future book. And it’s not a story of being a victim either. It’s a story of compassion and how mental illness affects families.

In a narcissistic family dynamic, the thing that hurts the worst is truth and I’m revealing my side of that. It’s been the hardest feat of my life, but I feel strongly compelled to tell what so many victims haven’t been able to. I can’t stand the thought that there are people out there (maybe even you) who’ve endured this type of abuse from their own families. I’m doing lots of research on this and have lots to share. In addition, I’m an empath, so I feel it very deeply. There is much healing to be done on my side, but my hope is that if I’m able to help anyone to recognize what has happened in their own life and be better because of it, it’ll be well worth the journey and effort it takes to heal a wounded soul.

Please take the time to comment below. I’d love to get your feedback.

50 year old woman

Welcome to my blog!

This is my first entry and I basically want to introduce you to the things that are important to me, so you can get a feel of what it to come. Most of all, I thank you as the reader, for taking an interest in what I write about. Thank you!

Well, for me the most important thing for me is family and deep connections with people. I have 2 awesome sons who are the world to me. My older son Alan is currently in Argentina with his relatives, reconnecting with them after 5.5 years of not seeing them since we left. My other son Dylan is a 6th grader in intermediate school and he’s learning to play the viola! I never would’ve envisioned or predicted that my son who’s struggled so much with behavioural issues like ADHD would like orchestra so much, but he does, and it’s so exciting to see him get enthused about learning an instrument, especially a calmer one like the viola!

I will also be writing about my professional life, as I’m currently running 3 businesses. The first business is my own called Small World Language Services (www.smallworldlanguages.net). I started that while living in the Buenos Aires, Argentina area for 16 years. It’s a linguistic company that I started while teaching ESL and the experiences involved with teaching mostly private students. We then added Proofreading, Editing, Translation and Interpreting services. The other business is Airbnb, and we just started doing that in June of this year. I have much to say about those experiences. Finally, I have a really unique business called LegalShield (legalshield.com/hub/kdthorne). We help people get affordable access to the US and Canadian legal system and protect people against the growing threat of Identity Theft. It’s been an awesome business and it’s allowed my family to experience things we never thought we’d do. Michael and I were able to go on an all-expense paid trip to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas in June, which ended up being a “group” honeymoon along with 1000 other associates.

I write about Music, since that’s been an important aspect of my life. I’m most interested at this time about Mental Health and Recovery, and am planning on going back to school to get my Master’s degree to open a future private therapy (counseling) practice to help victims of abuse get back on their feet and thrive. That I know is my true purpose in life and I’m super passionate about it.

Finally, I write about what it’s like to be in the human experience. Life isn’t easy, but it’s worth it when you can learn what each lesson teaches you if you let it. If there’s any doubt, Life is what I write about.