When I first met Silver’s family, they were all a bit wary of me. Who is this Christian girl infiltrating our fundamentalist Mormon home? They were all very friendly to me, but their warmth would soon change.
Once Silver left fundamentalist Mormonism, things got pretty difficult. Silver’s father sat down with us privately and asked me point blank, “What are your intentions with my family?” I felt so trapped, because of course I wanted to set them free from polygamy and convert them to Christianity. But to say so would close all doors forever with them.
So I lied, kind of. “I just love you guys and want to spend time with you,” I said. Not sure what he thought of that. Would Jesus rather I fudge the truth or speak freely and ruin any chance for conversions? I had no idea. But the conversation got worse from there. “Well, I don’t trust you with my family. You and Silver are no longer allowed to be alone with any of the children, ever. And you can never have a conversation with them out of our earshot. And you can never talk about Jesus or religious things with them,” he said.
Silver’s dad is incredibly sweet and gentle. And I am (especially at that point in my life) quite the people pleaser. So to hear him say I was a threat to their family? My heart raced in shock and fear.
Life continued, unsure, walking around egg shells whenever we spent time with my in-laws. Gradually, things became less awkward, but never that great. My father-in-law had that conversation with us Summer 2011.
3.5 years later, evidence of change emerges.
Silver’s littlest brother celebrated his 10th birthday this past weekend. We much prefer to give experiences rather than just material gifts, so we timidly approached his parents before the party. “Is it okay if we give Steven a day out with Teal and Silver? We want to take him out to lunch and to a local candy store.” I held my breath.
“Sure,” his mom said, “you don’t have a problem with it Shawn, do you?”
“Nope, that sounds fun,” my father-in-law replied.
“I just remember you guys didn’t want us doing that before. So I was hoping that enough time has passed for you guys to be able to trust us,” Silver stated. They smiled in return.
Now, my in-laws don’t know we no longer have any faith. But that matters less to them than the fact that Silver and his descendants won’t be in the Celestial Kingdom. The fact remains: We have finally earned the trust of Silver’s family.
What an amazing, amazing testimony not of the shining light of Christ in us (as I would have previously stated), but of our own, of my own, shining light. Of my love. Of my own respect for and love for people who believe differently than me to have earned mutual respect! Amen to that!
(*names changed for privacy)