On Sunday it was the Webster Family Spectacular in church. As in we all gave talks and sat on the stand. And off. And on. And off. And on.( the girls couldn't decide where to sit after they were done speaking) Katie spoke about how the missionaries helped us and showed Gods love to us. Kotah was taken aback by how scary public speaking is and ended up in my arms as I read her talk for her. Ty talked about faith and his experience with Gracie. It always tugs at my heartstrings how much he loves her. I talked about Gods love. I did try to warn the counselor who asked us to speak that it would not be a good idea. At least 4 times I told him it was a bad idea to put me at the pulpit. I'm blunt. I'm more than a little sarcastic (after the joke about dressing in drag on the Vegas strip I have 95% assurance that I wont be asked to speak again) I wont be fake. All laughs aside, I thought I was farthest from who should be speaking in church. I didn't even want to be there.
When we were planning to move, I had a few in depth conversations with some friends. One of the questions I was asked more than once was if I would stop going to church once we moved. I didn't have an answer. Going to church is hard for me. I have panic attacks once the girls leave my sight. Maybe they aren't noticeable, but my heart races. I get tunnel vision. Everything sound is slowed down and muffled as I frantically scan the area to make sure they are safe. I fight back screams and tears. Maybe it looks like I have it all together or I am just pissed off at the mess of crackers I am cleaning up. I honestly wish that we'd stopped going a year ago. Before this ever happened, but obviously right after. In speaking with a therapist, we may have added trauma by continuing to go after. The meltdowns were so draining. We took turns staying home with her. Walking the halls. And then came the baby who picked up on the intense emotions and screamed her guts out the first 5 months of her life anytime we tried to go into the chapel.
But we kept going because that is all I know. I don't know a life without the church. Yet as the months dragged on, I was willing to find out. Can you imagine if the abuse had happened at a large chain store that I wont even try to name for fear of slander charges? Would you understand if I said I never wanted to step foot in any of those stores again? I was torn. I have questions and doubts. Oh boy do I have doubts. And anger. Lots of that. Lets just say that the church doesn't make it easy to get help when something like this happens. There is nothing in the handbook about what to do should abuse happen on church property. And the what to do if law enforcement is involved is laughably unethical in my book.
So the idea that a move could provide a perfect opportunity to fade out seemed agreeable. But I was afraid. Afraid of a God that would punish me for making a bad decision. And honestly, I just didn't want to find out what that punishment would be. My family suffered while I struggled inwardly with my anger, my fear, my indecision. I searched for answers to how I was feeling. For peace. I met up with some friends and one of them taught me a valuable lesson that God can not help us if we do not exercise our agency. Its like if I ask Katie what she wants for lunch and stand in front of the fridge with her. I can't help her get anything if she wont make a choice. Similarly, God can not help me if I don't tell choose what I want. And, in another lesson, its like an ice cream shop- no one choice is bad, but you have to make a choice to actually have the ice cream. So I made a choice. We would go to sacrament meeting, but we would skip primary. Then I wouldn't panic and I could still hopefully stave off a punishment.
We had visited a ward a month before we moved. Even though this house would not be our "dream house", Ty and I both felt that the ward was where we were supposed to be. But when we visited I had to laugh. The ward we visited would not be what we needed as a family. But we still felt to go forward with the house. Interestingly enough, it was the wrong ward. As we went to the RIGHT new ward for the first time, everything felt better. But I still was certain we would head home after sacrament. The prayer ended and we were descended upon by half the ward. In a good way. And one sister asked if Kotah was a sunbeam as she was the teacher. Well yes, but I bluntly explained to her what had happened and that we would not be participating in primary. She said "Well, if it helps, I'm a nurse." And then went on to talk about some background she had with mental health and abuse. As I struggled to pick my jaw up off the floor, Kotah warmed up to her and asked if she could go to her class. With simple boundaries in place, she took her teachers hand and went. Katie, not wanting to be left behind, insisted that she be allowed to go as well.
To say that it has been amazing almost does it injustice. Nothing short of a miracle could have set in motion what was needed. And I found out this week that her teacher has also instructed her substitutes on the boundaries and how to approach different situations. We truly are lucky.
And yet, as I was asked to speak on Gods love, I felt so inadequate. I have to not think about the past 11 months or my doubts and questions and anger surface quickly. I have to be present or I am quick to notice every flaw, every wrong in the church. How can I speak on a subject I question? How can I communicate to others a perfect love from a perfect being, when I have felt the heavens are silent to my cries? Nephi says that " I know that He loveth his children, nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things" but I cant even say that. I think God loves his children. I hope He does. Conditionally maybe? One every other day? When He has the time? Because I can not see how any part of my little girl being abused in His house is Gods love. Where was His love then?
But still I spoke. In 1 Corinthians 13 vs 9 Paul says "For I know in part and I prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with". So I spoke the part I know. I can recognize when I see Gods hand in my life. I don't know why He allowed Kotah to be hurt. I wish I had answers. I wish the justice system was faster. I wish the church was better able to know what to do in these situations (I wish they were non existent). I wish it wasn't so damn hard to get mental health help. The mental health insurance nightmare is worth swearing over. It should never be this hard for a child to receive therapy from a good therapist.
I can choose to look at the darkness. Its in front of my face. I have to wade through it as I seek help, healing and justice for my child. But it can engulf me so quickly. So I struggle to see the light. To look for it. I find it in the Primary teacher prepared by God. In the neighbors that open their homes to us. In the family that comes to visit and help. In the little fun things I get to do with my kids, even if I royally suck at making taffy. In the music we dance and sing to. In the weekly visits I have with friends. I can choose what I see. And however dim it glimmers in my sight, to live- I must see the light.