Step Forward Spotlight: Wendilyn's Story
Our “Step Forward” series spotlights women who have stepped forward in their homes, communities, or in the kingdom of God. Follow along on our blog for more uplifting stories and resources as we each consider ways to answer President Nelson’s call.
Early one morning, Wendilyn woke up to the worst day of her life.
Dozens of law enforcement officers, including U.S. Homeland Security agents, stormed her home, handcuffed her husband, and grabbed her children out of bed. It was then that she learned her husband was deeply involved in viewing, producing, and advertising child pornography. He had also been taking pictures of and molesting their own children and others. Wendilyn says, “My husband had been living a double life. One as a worthy, priesthood-holding, temple-going, Sunday school-teaching, good, Christian man. The other as a secretive and sick addict in complete bondage to his sin. In an instant, he was gone out of my life.”
He was sentenced to serve 20 years in federal prison, and since that morning, Wendilyn has not spoken to him. Suddenly, she was a single parent of three small, deeply wounded children.
“I was completely devastated….I felt alone and so afraid. I was a stay-at-home mom, with no education past high school. How would I ever be able to function and provide? I felt as though I literally wouldn't live to draw in my next breath.”
As Wendilyn turned to the Savior, and as loved ones prayed in her behalf, her pain (although never erased) became bearable.
But Wendilyn found herself spiraling into a dark place.
“I became overcome by voices of doubt, fear, weakness, and loneliness. I allowed my hurt and brokenness to lead me to make some pretty stupid choices. As a result, I became disfellowshipped from the church. I felt like I had let down all the family and friends who had invested so much time, energy, and money to help me and my children. I wanted to find my way back but I let Satan tell me it was too hard, and that I would just keep messing up.”
The trauma of betrayal, heartbreak of divorce, and shame of sin are enough to bodyslam anyone into a devastating faith crisis. But leaning into the love she had for her children and the faith she had in Christ, Wendilyn stepped forward.
She says, “Finally, I got myself into my bishop's office and told him everything. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But if the whole experience with my ex husband taught me anything, it's to be honest and change things as soon as you can. I discovered my ex-husband first saw child pornography at the age of 14. If he had gotten real help and had repented early on, he may have might not have lost his family and everything else that was precious to him. Because of this, I decided I would not hide behind my own sins.”
After working with her bishop through the process of repentance, Wendilyn was able to return to the temple.
Overtime, things changed for Wendy, including the way she saw herself.
She says, “At first, my children were the reason I stepped forward into repentance. But as I began to heal, my point of view changed. I began to see myself more and more the way the Lord sees me. While I love my children dearly, I also love myself. The joy I felt through repentance far outweighed the pain of my husband’s betrayal and my personal guilt-- because nothing feels as good as the confidence of being pure before the Lord. I stepped forward by using the atonement of Jesus Christ to heal, repent, and change. I stepped forward because I’m worth it.”
Wendy’s story reminds us that nothing-- betrayal, hurt, divorce, sin-- NOTHING is worth the price of losing God. When we step forward into the enabling power of His grace we will not find perfection in ourselves or others.
But we will find HIS perfection.
And we will find peace.