Jenny and I have been following each other on social media for a while and she asked me if she could share her story. I seriously love when people ask to share their story! My goal has been to create a place for people to speak up about their trials and hardships without feeling guilty, like they failed, or weak. I love Jenny’s story and her beautiful testimony.
Jenny Jamison lives in Utah County and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She loves music, the mountains, rainy days, autumn, cookie dough, and her dog Bridger. She is passionate about helping women understand their identity as daughters of God to help them avoid the pain found from searching for fulfillment, love, and acceptance from anything or anyone other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. It’s her belief that women feel joy, are confident, and can change their own life and the world when they know their innate divine worth.
I remember distinctly thinking, “How am I still breathing?” I didn’t understand how you could hurt so much emotionally and mentally and still be alive. I had just discovered my husband struggled with an addiction.
I had been in a battle with anxiety and depression for as long as I could remember. I already felt less than from the sexual abuse that happened to me when I was a teenager. I had been harboring pain my entire life because I desperately longed for more of an emotional connection with my father (who also struggles with mental illness). Overwhelmingly, I didn’t feel lovable, wanted, or enough at all. I never had. I didn’t know how much more could I take. The pain seemed unbearable.
I felt completely shattered and broken. Irreparable. I got to a point where I could only see darkness and pain in my past. I felt like all of my own regrets from sin, the heartbreak that had entered my life from the decisions of others, and the consequences of living in a fallen world completely overshadowed any moments of light and joy in my life. I remember just hating all the things that made up my life and I didn’t want any of the regret, the devastation, the sorrow.
I thought, “Maybe if I pray hard enough, I’ll wake up decades in the past, and I’ll redo life; I’ll avoid all pain and make no mistakes!” I even thought that maybe I would just forget all the pain over the years, and that forgetting was the only way to find peace and joy in life. In my darkest times, I remember wishing with all my heart that I could literally gather up all my broken pieces from my life and somehow throw them away forever and get rid of them for good. I wanted a miracle that could somehow change my past so that it never existed.
Over time, I started to realize that all of these wishes and hopes were the Adversary’s attempt to get me to avoid true healing found in the Atonement of Jesus Christ… but I didn’t want to turn to Him or to God; I didn’t want to accept that my past was what it was.
I already had been having a hard time turning to God for years because I didn’t trust Him. I was convinced for a long time that He was only there to correct me harshly, punish me, control me, and show me how much He was in charge of my life — that it didn’t matter what I wanted or what I felt, and that He would make all decisions. I remember avoiding the temple, prayer, scriptures, church — anything that would give me time to be still and quiet. I avoided it all in varying degrees for years because I didn’t want to give Him the chance to talk to me. I was certain all He had to say to me would cause me pain and even more sorrow — and I couldn’t take anymore.
Eventually, I separated from my husband right before the holidays. It was excruciating, but I knew it was the right thing for me to do. Being alone is something I have felt my entire life and it has always been difficult for me… but now living alone after being married seemed more than I could handle. I felt more alone than I ever had. I cried continually and uncontrollably every day for weeks. I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t do anything most days. Leaving the house felt impossible. I felt less important and more forgotten than I ever had. I knew that I was at my rock bottom. I had no one there 24/7 to help me, listen to me, and comfort me whenever I needed them — no one, except my Savior.
In all honesty, I think the major turning point was when I finally talked with complete honesty and vulnerability to God for the first time in years. And I was upset! I yelled and screamed so much I could hardly breathe. I told Him all of my pain and told Him how much I hurt and why. I asked, “When will this end?! Haven’t I had enough?! Why am I constantly left alone and hurting? How much can one person take? When will I finally have someone notice and care for me?” I sobbed and sobbed. And then, things started to change.
My understanding of having a broken heart and contrite spirit expanded. I used to think it was just a nice way to say “be humble”, but now I was beginning to understand on a deeper level because I definitely had a broken heart. Very slowly, timidly, and apprehensively, I started to give some of my broken pieces to the Savior. I needed to know He was safe. I needed to know He could be trusted. I felt so hurt by so many people in my life, and even by myself, that it was difficult to trust anyone. So I went at my pace.
I started to feel small amounts of joy. I started to feel the Spirit more and more. I started praying more often and sometimes would share personal things — going beyond the safe limits of just praying over my food and for safety. I started looking outside myself and serving others in small ways. I was testing the waters, and they were proving to be calm and still and safe. Eventually, I started going to the temple again. I was so afraid of going there — the one place on earth that is the epitome of peace. What would the Lord tell me there? How would I feel? I went in with total faith… and came out with complete relief, peace, and gratitude. And I kept going. And I haven’t stopped! I feel complete safety there. I know Heavenly Father is safe. I know He loves me. Each time I go to the temple, I feel extremely proud of myself and completely aware of the miracle that it is that I am even there by choice. After all I had been through I never thought I could find peace and joy there ever again.
For years I felt certain that Heavenly Father and the Savior had abandoned me. In some very dark times, I would yell and shout at Them about how I felt. I blamed Them. I didn’t want Them. But now I can see that They never left me — that was how much They loved me. I hadn’t turned to Them for years and I had even blamed Them… but They never left my side. They waited. Lovingly. And when I finally pleaded for help, They immediately came and showed me love and joy.
While I still am a work in progress and struggle with many things, I have learned a few things through all of this. I know that your brokenness can be made beautiful through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He truly can take our broken heart, if we offer it to Him, and make us strong in our weak places. He can enter us in our brokenness and show us what true love is. He can help us see ourselves as He does, and we can feel greater self-compassion. He can take away the sting of the past.
There are so many things that can leave us feeling broken in this life — even beyond repair. We will all experience sorrow and regret and heartbreak in this life. But God has more in store for us than that — He created us to feel joy! No matter what you have been through, or are going through now, know that it is not yours forever. Know that whatever has happened to you, is not who you are. You are more than the pain that comes to you in this life. You are a literal child of a living God. He is there for you — always. And He will wait for you and be ready to help you heal when you are ready, at whatever pace you can handle.
I am learning more and more that the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ is real and all-encompassing. It is the only way to healing, and it is the only way to peace. We don’t have to forget our pains, or try to avoid them our entire lives, to find peace — there is a better way, and it is found through the Prince of Peace. Turn to Him. I know that as you do, you will find peace and you will find healing. He is safe. He is loving. And He is there for you. Always.