Years of Pent-Up Emotion

Years of Pent-Up Emotion

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Years of Pent-Up Emotion

“One day your dream to be sealed to your husband in the temple of the Lord for time and all eternity will come to pass,” my patriarchal blessing assured me. I remember telling her that there must be another husband in my future because there was no way Eddie Pierce would ever take me to the temple! Over the years it became a joke—a way to relieve the stress of living with a husband who seemed to fight me over anything that involved the Church. I tried my best to fulfill church assignments while he was out of town on business. It was just easier to “hide” my callings than deal with the contention they caused.

My daughter and I had been baptized on the same day in 1978. It all started with Donny Osmond’s marriage, which spurred a conversation with the bishop’s wife next door. The next thing I knew, she was inviting us to take the discussions, and I agreed. I felt the Spirit at our first meeting, and I couldn’t wait to be baptized. Eddie didn’t come to the baptism and told us not to talk about church in front of him. He said he didn’t need organized religion, and he certainly didn’t want “some old man in Salt Lake” telling him how to live his life. He liked his coffee and wasn’t going to give it up for anyone.

Starting with my baptism, the Church—or rather, my involvement in the Church—became a huge obstacle in our marriage. Eddie felt the Church took time away from him. It was the direct opposite of what the Church taught, with its emphasis on the importance of the family. The problem was that we weren’t sharing the same things. Talks and lessons at my meetings inspired me to love Eddie into the Church, but it seemed Satan was waiting for me when I got home. I prayed to know what the Lord expected of me. I prayed to know if I was where I belonged. Each time I received the same assurance that I was. For some reason unknown to me, I was right where the Lord wanted me—married to someone who seemed to test me every day.

In April 1998, I decided I’d waited long enough to receive my endowment. Once I made those covenants in the temple, the windows of Heaven were literally opened to me. It was as though the Lord was waiting for me to take that leap of faith before He was ready to bless me with anything else.

In August of that same year, twenty years after my baptism, it became apparent to me that things were not improving between us. I had friends who knew my spiritual side, but it was something I had to continue to hide from him. I prayed about it again, and this time the Spirit confirmed that my decision to leave was the right thing to do. I can’t tell you what made it acceptable then when it had been wrong for twenty years, but I couldn’t deny that it was the answer I received. I prayed again, pleading, “Heavenly Father, if I understand you correctly, you approve of my decision to move out. But I don’t know where to go or what to do. If this is right, you’re going to have to open some doors for me.”

That night I went to bed not knowing how I was going to accomplish this change, but I woke up out of a sound sleep at 4 A.M. and was given the first piece of the puzzle. A good friend of ours owned a rental house, and I remembered that his renters had just moved out. I could hardly wait until 8 A.M. to call and ask if he would rent the house to me. He said yes, without asking any questions.

I prayed for continued guidance, and the Lord was there with me every step of the way. I went to the bishop and told him of my decision. I assured him I wasn’t even considering divorce—I just needed to get away to clear my head and figure out exactly what I wanted. He asked if there was anything he could do to help. “Aren’t you going to try to talk me out of it?” I asked. He told me it sounded like I’d already thought it through and gotten the confirmation I needed. He suggested I ask the elders quorum for help moving my things.

Everything was in place, and I planned to move over Labor Day weekend. I decided not to tell Eddie I was leaving because I didn’t want the fight. A death in the family postponed my moving from Saturday to Monday, and I wondered why the Lord had added that test to the growing list of challenges, but everything worked out. In fact, going to that funeral confirmed again that moving was the right thing to do. The brethren in our ward were there to help me move; sisters came to help pack and unpack. I was out of the house before the end of the day, and around 4 P.M. I called Eddie at work to tell him I wouldn’t be there when he got home. All he said was, “It’s probably for the best.” I gave him my phone number and told him if he wanted to talk about anything, to give me a call. He assured me that he wouldn’t need the number. I hung up thinking it had all gone far too smoothly!

Once he spent a day or two in the house alone, he changed his mind. He called me at work. He called me at home. He sent flowers. All I really wanted was some time to think. In twenty years he hadn’t wanted to talk, and now that’s all he wanted to do. He told me he would never join my church, but he was willing to learn more about it so he would understand.

I agreed to have dinner with him. Again, he told me he wanted to learn more about the Church. I told him if he really wanted to know about it, President Gordon B. Hinckley was coming to town for a regional conference, and he could hear about the Church directly from the prophet. He said he’d like to go, but as soon as I invited him I felt uncomfortable about it. This would be my first opportunity to see the prophet, and I wanted to go there fasting, to invite the Spirit. I told him if he planned to go and make light of it, or just find things to argue about, I didn’t want him to go. I really wanted to go by myself, but he was so convincing in wanting to learn more that I agreed to take him with me.

President Hinckley came to Houston and spoke to a crowd of about 25,000 at the Astrodome on September 26, 1998. While other speakers took their turn, there was a lot of moving around, but when President Hinckley stood up to speak, people took their seats and a quiet calm fell over the stadium. The Spirit was strong, and I was filled with the knowledge that President Hinckley is a prophet of God. The first thing he did was joke about our sound system. “I don’t know what you Houstonians paid for this sound system, but I believe you were cheated.” Everyone laughed. Apparently, people had been moving around earlier trying to find a spot where they could hear. I can’t remember what President Hinckley said after that, but my heart just broke when he walked off that stage. I could never get enough of our dear prophet, and I wanted him to stay there forever.

On the way home, I asked Eddie if he felt anything. He said he felt peace and calm. I told him that was the Spirit. “What’s the Spirit?” he asked. I told him the Holy Ghost was telling him that President Hinckley was a prophet and that the things he heard were true. There was no arguing or contention. When we got back to the house, I asked if he wanted to watch a church video with me. He agreed, and we watched “On the Way Home.” At one point, Eddie broke down and sobbed. Thirty years of pent-up emotion came pouring out as his now-softened heart had felt the Spirit.

That week we had the missionaries over for dinner. Elder Rehling made a distinct impression when he asked, “Brother Pierce, how long have you been a member?” When Eddie told him he wasn’t a member, this young missionary was at first speechless, then rebounded with, “Well, would you like to take the discussions?” Eddie told him no, he didn’t think so, and that was that.

A few days later Eddie called me and asked for the missionaries’ phone number. I gave him the number and tried not to think much about it. He did call and schedule a meeting with them. After the first discussion they challenged him to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about whether it was true. I wasn’t there for the discussion, but when he told me about it, I explained to him that his confirmation might come in many different ways—he might feel peace, he might feel a burning in his bosom, he might just have the feeling that it was true. I told him that he would know. He read Moroni 10:3–4 and prayed about it, and decided that when they asked him about baptism, he would tell them no. However, when the elders challenged him at their next meeting, he said yes, and then started to laugh. He said, “I guess I’d better explain why I’m laughing. It’s just that I was all prepared to tell you no, and when I opened my mouth, ‘yes’ came out!”

Giving up the coffee wasn’t a problem once he committed to it. He continued the discussions, and baptism was scheduled for October 24, 1998. A friend who was our former branch president came to visit and asked Eddie if he was joining just to get me back. Eddie assured him that as much as he loved me, he wouldn’t join the Church just for me.

The day of Eddie’s baptism arrived. His sister Barbara, who had joined the Church after her daughter and son-in-law were baptized, was there to see it for herself and offer the opening prayer. The Relief Society room was packed, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place as our friends and family witnessed this life-changing event.

One of my friends told me I shouldn’t expect a baptism to change him or our marriage. It’s true that we are both very different people and have our own strengths and weaknesses, but the most important thing we share is our love of the Lord and our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were sealed as a couple and to our daughter in the Dallas Temple with a room full of friends there to support us. We served as temple workers when the Houston Temple opened. He was there to support me every step of the way in my calling as Relief Society president. I support him in his calling as high priest group leader. It is such a joy to be able to serve the Lord together—no more hiding my light under a bushel, but sharing it along with my husband and looking forward to the day when we can serve a mission together.

Others told me that one day he’d come around, but my faith wasn’t strong enough to believe it. The Lord kept the promise He made in my patriarchal blessing so many years ago. I know with all my heart that He was waiting for me to covenant with Him in the temple. Once I did, the blessings poured out, and my marriage, which was once only for this life, is now for time and all eternity.

Joyce Moseley Pierce

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