Oh my! I can’t even believe the events that have transpired in my life and the lives of my family members since I’ve discovered a newfound authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.
Since I’m the first one to leave Mormonism, that kind of makes me a pioneer on this journey that may pave the way for the rest to have permission to eventually do the same. It’s just that I’ve had to do hard things in my life, oh yeah! I’ve had to do things that aren’t for beginners. The things I’ve had to do are only for people who have resilience and strength. But, I fully know where that strength comes from, and it’s not my own…
Right before I left, my 21-year old son Alan had decided to go on an LDS mission, albeit later than most young men do. He simply wasn’t ready when he was younger and he wanted to get some schooling in first. Moreover, because I let my sons make their own decisions and support them in their endeavors, I’d agreed to not only support him in what he wanted to do, but I also agreed to finance it, not knowing where the money would come from. But that’s the way I was taught. I was taught in my family and religious upbringing to trust God and things will work out. This situation was no different.
Because my boys had been born and raised in Argentina until mid-2012 when I brought them to the US, that was the only world they knew until then. Thus, Alan was in great need to reconnect with his relatives in Argentina that hadn’t seen him since he left at 15 years old. He then made the decision to go there and visit them before heading off on his Mormon mission. They were completely loving and supportive and were ecstatic to see him again. He was “home” again, back in his native land.
My dear son Alan left in September of 2017, then shortly afterwards when I turned 50, God decided to give me a gift for my 50th birthday, which was a week after Alan left. He decided to open my eyes and show me what I’d been part of and how I needed to transition over to Him and enter into a personal relationship with Him. However, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen next…
Back to the present, it’s now the end of January and my son had been expecting his mission call to arrive and it was seemingly late. Having lived in Argentina, I just chalked it up to the slow mail system. He told me that he’d checked on the arrival and it was apparently in its way.
Then last night late at about 9:30 p.m., which was 1:30 a.m. in Argentina, I get a strange uneventful voice message on Facebook, saying, “Mom, I got my call. I don’t know if you’re there, but the Lord loves me and he got me to Europe. I’m going to Barcelona, Spain. Um, what do you think?” I tried to call him back, but there was only a voice message option to leave a message. I was frustrated in not being able to get ahold of him, when he’d just called minutes before…
But other thoughts began to come into my mind, like, ‘Where was the fanfare that is usually accompanied by the announcement of a mission call assignment?’ He’d told me that he’d set up a special group on Facebook where he’d film the opening of his call on a live video call. That wasn’t happening. I told my husband that I was disappointed with the way he’d told me where he was going. Then I went to bed and turned off my phone.
Early this morning my husband was awakened by a Facebook call from Alan, since he couldn’t find me. He sounded like he was in the depths of despair and so I was handed the phone to keep talking to him. He told me that he’d rejected his mission call and that he just wanted to come back home. I didn’t understand any of this. What was going on?
He said he simply couldn’t go through with it and wanted to come home asap. He wanted to know if I would still love him no matter what. He asked the question no parent wants to hear, “Mom, will you still love me?” Then that question was followed by a barrage of others like, “Mom, I’ve disappointed you and the rest of my family.” and “I’ve disgraced you and dishonored you by not going on a mission.”
As soon as everyone in our home, consisting of Alan’s little almost 12-year-old brother Dylan, my stepson who just returned from his own Mormon mission in Spanish-speaking country, my husband and I informed the boys that we’d soon be welcoming Alan back into our home in 2 days and that we needed to somehow make room for him. Nothing like this to get housecleaning and organization going, right?
And as we’re all cleaning, the song “Papa, don’t preach” by Madonna came on the radio. I listened to the lyrics and heard a phrase I don’t recall ever hearing before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. As a mom dealing with a totally different scenario, I somehow felt compelled to listen to the lyrics, because somehow a message would penetrate my heart. For those of you who know this song, you know that it’s about a young girl who’d become pregnant and feared losing her father’s love due to her actions which were, from the tone of the song, going to be judged severely by her father. ‘Papa, don’t preach, I’m in trouble deep. But I’ve made up my mind; I’m keeping my baby.’ You can only imagine a poor young girl, desperate to keep her father’s love, despite her circumstances. But what did that have to do with my son?
‘Papa, don’t preach. Don’t stop loving me daddy.’ This was the outpouring of a child who was crying out to her parent for love and acceptance. I had my answer. My son needed to know if I would still accept him unconditionally for who he was and not because of the choices he had made. And don’t we all need that from our family?
I assured him that he could most certainly come home to Utah and that things would be OK. I had sent him down to Argentina with my years of accumulating precious airline mileage I’d saved. When I tried to book his flight down there, despite the advance notice, the mileage was at its peak and it would pretty much use up all I had. I called American Airlines, explaining that I needed to check into using my remaining mileage to get my son home asap who was in crisis. I said a prayer and waited for the kind reservations agent to check into flights for Alan. She kept checking and then told me that she could get him back tonight, but only if he had a long layover in Miami. That didn’t seem like the best scenario, considering the fact that I was dealing with a son who was practically suicidal. He didn’t need to be left alone for that long.
The airline agent came back to say that she’d found a flight plan for tomorrow (Sunday) night that would have better connections. All this time, I’m thinking, how much is an international flight going to cost me on a last-minute deal? She came back and informed me that not only was the lowest mileage award available, but that I could upgrade him to more comfortable seats. The fee? $200 something, and that included giving him more leg room, because he was tall. I sighed with relief, contemplating the tender mercy that had just been laid at our feet… That was all it was going to cost me? Need I ever doubt that there is a God? Undeniably so! Not only is there a God, but He’s our personal Savior and He’s got our back. Praise God!
After I secured that airline ticket, I got a call from my niece in Argentina, stating that Alan had harmed himself and that they weren’t going to leave him alone for anything. They were extremely worried, but that they were going to be with him at all times. We had a good heart-to-heart talk and agreed that the only thing Alan needed from his family was to know that we loved him no matter what, unconditionally. We needed to love him more than ever and support him. After all, isn’t that would Jesus would do?
I know that God has our back and that He’s mindful of everything we’re going through, no matter how small or insignificant things may seem. If it’s important to us, it’s important to Him and He will see us through these times and exalt us in the end. But he first needs to bring us to where He wants us to be, so He can then bring us up to where we belong…
I’m proud of my son Alan and the person he is becoming. He’s all about being authentic and he truly wants to serve and please God. He will soon be in my care as his mother, and he has family, friends and Christians throughout the world sustaining him in prayer. And I am a thankful mom… I’m thankful for the lessons and the grace shown to me in just a matter of hours. How great is our God!