About a week ago, the Stake President met with John to let him know that he had decided that he could recommend John for baptism. The Stake President had already scheduled the disciplinary council for this past Sunday, February 28th.
Thirteen months ago, I felt like this day would never arrive, and now it had.
We met with the Stake President briefly after we arrived at the church. As we met in his office, we could hear the High Council singing hymns in the adjoining room. The Stake President explained what was going to happen and then led us into the High Council room. The Stake President read through the reasons John was excommunicated then asked John several questions and invited him to share his testimony.
At one point during the disciplinary council, I was asked to share the changes I had seen in John over the past year and to share my testimony.
Until last year I felt like I was beating my head against a wall in our marriage. I could not understand why I was unable communicate with John. I felt miserable and alone in our marriage and felt little connection. I was at a point where I had reached my limit and was ready to give up on our marriage. About that time John told me about his addiction. All of his secrets spilled out over the next few days. He might say I was good at getting him to tell me everything and prying things out of him, but it didn’t mean I was nice about it. John suddenly felt free and I felt like I had been buried, but I also felt peace.
I could see that John truly wanted to change and be rid of his addiction. I could see that he would go through this repentance process with, or without me. I began to see light come into his eyes, where before there was darkness. Even though he could no longer participate in church, he still attended every week with us, never once “hiding” in the hallway while the Sacrament was passed. John took his place as the spiritual leader in our home. He now gathers our family for morning and evening prayers, leads family scripture study, and makes Family Home Evening a priority – if we miss, he makes sure we do it on Tuesday or Wednesday night. He studies the scriptures on his own – I can’t ever remember him doing that before. He also takes time to bear his testimony to our children.
John has realized that our family needs to be a priority. He is working hard to repair his relationship with Jack. Instead of golfing on the weekend, or going to movies with friends on weeknights, he stays home and participates in family activities. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of how our life can be if we both work hard, and it gives me hope.
I have been able to forgive John, and it has been a miracle. I can remember the terrible things that John did, but it no longer causes me pain. I have learned how to apply the Christ’s Atonement in my life and it is healing me. I know that the Atonement can heal me, and can cleanse John.”
Several of the High Councilmen took turns asking a few more questions and then we were asked to wait, with our Bishop, while they made their decision. A few minutes later we were invited back into the room.
I held my breath. I knew that whatever decision was made, it was made thoughtfully and prayerfully.
The Stake President said that the decision was unanimous and that John could be baptized.
Thirteen months of hard work.
John would be able to be baptized.
Tears of joy and relief.
I felt love wash over me. Love from the men in the room. Pure love. The love of Christ.
And I knew. I knew that the time was right.
This Saturday, John will be baptized.
And Sunday he will be able to take the Sacrament, bear his testimony, sustain other members in callings, participate in meetings, even have a calling.
Friday we will tell our kids. We have decided we want them come to the baptism.
I love this gospel. It is glorious and wonderful.