I've often thought that the strongest souls are the ones who have endured the hardest trials in life. I've been through some really hard things and tend to wonder, "why do I feel so weak?"
Tonight, I waited patiently outside the doors of the High Council Room. I had just finished hours of sharing difficult events of my life - mistakes I've made, unfortunate things that have happened to me and uncovering how inadequate I am at making choices when going through tough times. The apple symbol flashes on my phone as I turn it on. It takes a minute to load and I notice the "I love you too" response to my text before I started tonights process. I half smile and my heart sinks, beating wildly in anticipation of what was going to be the outcome of this disciplinary council. "This is the right thing to do." I tell myself, followed by thoughts of, "Whatever the Lord says I need, I will do" or more disappointedly "How did I come this far?".
I'm lost in my head as I hear the door creek open. I look up to see my Stake President motioning to come back into the room. Everyone's standing as I make my way back to my seat. The energy in the room is intense but peaceful, chaotic yet calm. The words that came next sent my world in a spiral. "Brother, we have found it necessary that you be excommunicated." The voices fading around me as if I am underwater. My spirit and body in shock, struggling to comprehend and feel the gravity of what was decided.
"Did this just happen to me?"
I sit in silence, occasionally nodding as members of the council share their feelings and hopes that I never give up and hold fast to the things I know are true. When the concluding remarks had been said, one by one I'm embraced in hugs accompanied by words of encouragement and love. With swollen eyes and a heavy heart I gratefully accept their kind words, desperately soaking in every positive note I could.
It's a quarter to 11 as I get in my car. It's cold, but tonight the air feels colder. On the short drive to my home my mind is flooded with flashbacks and I replay the day that my father had baptized me a member of this church that had been a part of my life for over 30 years. It had a great influence on every good piece of the man I had become and now that part of me was gone.
I sat alone in the dark imagining what my life will look like now. Who will stay? Who will go? How do I get back? The weight starts setting in, pressing my soul. I lay wide-eyed for hours. Still in disbelief and a shattered spirit my eyes grow heavy and I drift to the psalm, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) We are strongest when our Heavenly Father is near. When we are broken, weak in the heart but willing to rise to what is required of us we find an intangible strength within us. Again, “why do I feel so weak?”. Because the strength being displayed is not my own.