The Pathway Back

The following is the story of a friend, Taylor Steiner; 
and her journey, from leaving the church to the 
miraculous path back. 

I’m the oldest of five kids; the example, the leader.  That’s what I was constantly told when I made decisions going against everything I was raised to believe at least.  When I was fourteen years old, I decided church was stupid (that was my word back then).  Want to know what my excuses were?

“It’s restrictive.  It’s boring.  It’s not for me.  Mom wasn’t raised in the church so why do I have to be this perfect Mormon girl?” 

It was from the time I was diagnosed with depression that I went down the rabbit hole.

I was 12 years old the first time I tried to commit suicide.  I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing at the time, but I went into the medicine drawer and took a bunch of pills.  We went to visit my great grandma later that afternoon and I felt horrible.  I couldn’t stay awake; I couldn’t sleep.  I didn’t tell anyone…I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up.  I tried to overdose a couple more times in high school after being bullied.

Depression and anxiety took over my life.  I was miserable, suicidal; I wasn’t getting the help I needed because I didn’t like being told what to do.  I was oppositional defiant.  Tell me to do something and I did the exact opposite. 

“Don’t date until you’re 16”, so I got a boyfriend. 
“Get straight A’s”, so I started failing classes.
“Don’t skip swim practice”, I proceeded to never practice.   

I felt like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough for anyone.  I couldn’t live up to my parents expectations to be perfect, I couldn’t swim like I wanted to and my grades were slipping. 

My whole life was a disaster. 

Enter alcohol. My first sip of alcohol was in the basement of my neighbor’s house with V8 as a chaser. It did NOT taste good, but it felt different.  By the time I was 16 I was drinking almost every day; I had a McDonald’s cup of lemonade and vodka in first period.  My “best friend” and I would skip classes constantly.  I went from a straight A student to barely passing at all.  I pushed everyone good away from me; I isolated myself from my friends and family, except for my best friend, B.  Her mom would buy us alcohol; she would drive us to the liquor store and ask us what we wanted and buy it for us.  We truly didn’t care about anything…We just drank, partied, and slept. 

This lifestyle went on for a while. I was constantly grounded with no phone, no computer, and no friends.  That didn’t stop me, though.  B would come pick me up and I would sleep over at her house, or my boyfriend’s house.  I went from guy to guy; never single.  It helped me feel important and loved… Boys were my kryptonite.  If a boy gave me attention, I gave him anything he wanted.  I had one boyfriend for a couple years, M.  We met at my first job and we spent all our free time together.  He was a year older than me and made a good first impression with my family, or so I thought.  Our parents tried to tell us to break up; we refused and came up with a plan to have a baby so they couldn’t do anything to us.  That resulted in both of us being sent to one of those troubled teens schools.  I ended up at Cross Creek in Laverkin, Utah and he ended up at Diamond Ranch also in Southern Utah. 

Being sent to this school sparked the idea that this lifestyle I had was not really making me happy.  I started to think about what I wanted.  For the first time, I didn’t have my parents breathing down my neck telling me what to do, I didn’t have B inviting me out to party, I didn’t have M to run to;  I was alone.  I picked up a notebook on my first day and started counting down to my birthday: 311 days until I turned 18 and could leave that place.  I wrote in those journals every single day. In the beginning I was angry… I was so mad at my parents for just sending me away instead of letting me live with my consequences.  I was mad at the school for thinking I had an eating disorder; I was sad that I wasn’t with M and B.  I was in a group of girls that had drug problems, that were detoxing, that had serious issues and I didn’t fit in. 

It didn’t take long for me to pick up a Book of Mormon and start reading.  I read that book every single day. I requested a copy of Preach My Gospel so I could have a better scripture study; I made friends with the only other member there, K.  Her and I would read, study, and talk every day.  It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted to be active…  I wanted the Spirit to be able to be with me. 

I was happy knowing the truth. 

I worked my way up in the program and got to the last level.  On that level, I was able to go home for Christmas.  This was my first time home since April and to say I was excited to go home and see my family is an understatement.  I arrived home and it was different… my siblings treated me differently at least.  My parents treated me like the same kid.  They didn’t want to make any changes that would help me; they treated me like I was the only one with problems, I was the one who created the contention and disaster that our home was.  They didn’t think there was anything they needed to do differently and so most of the trip was spent fighting.  I got back to Cross Creek and was punished there for it being an unsuccessful home visit. 

I got another chance to go home the week before my birthday and I thought for sure this time things were going to go differently.  I thought my parents finally realized we were both wrong; that we both needed the help, we both had areas to improve. 

I was wrong. 

We fought again, about everything.  That’s when I decided I would reach out to B, so I sent her a text from the computer and told her I was home.  Within a few hours I was in contact with M.  I figured that if my parents didn’t think I could change, then maybe I shouldn’t; it was going to be easier that way.  B offered to come pick me up and give me a place to live. She told me she had gone and picked up M and was waiting for my call to come get me and rescue me from my house.  My dad found out and he looked at me and gave me the choice: I could go get on a bus back to Cross Creek that day or I could go with B. 

It was one of the hardest decisions to make, but I went back to Cross Creek. 

I got back and spent my last week there before choosing to leave on my birthday.  I was put back on the same bus and was picked up by my uncle, who took me back to Arizona with him to live with some extended family.  They were asked not to by my parents, but they did it anyway.  I am so grateful they saw something in me and helped me to get back on my feet.  Everyone was on my side and was helping me, except my parents.  They expressed a lot of disappointment and concern.  The fact that they couldn’t see me for who I could be pushed my mind back to B and M.  I was back in contact and not long after I was back together with M.  I moved to Alaska for the summer to nanny and in August I moved back in with my parents. 

That move was one of the worst decisions I have made.  I put myself back into the environment that sent me back down the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety.  November 18, 2012 was the last time I tried to commit suicide.  I felt like I had lost everything, I thought my parents hated me.  I had broken up with M because I knew he and I would never work with the difference in religion and what I knew to be the truth deep down.  Instead of continuing to feel the disappointment and the inability to live up to expectations from people around me, I just wanted to be done.  That day I ended up at the University of Utah hospital in an in-patient ward, where I spent an entire week before being discharged and going back home… where I still didn’t want to be. 

I started to make some changes.  I was going to the YSA ward; I got a new job…  I was trying. Then I met H.  She was fun, carefree, and different.  We started to drink in the parking lot on our breaks at work. It was with her that I finally made a decision that would ultimately save my life.

I drank a lot because it made me feel like nothing was wrong.  I didn’t have any responsibility.  I didn’t have to worry about anything.  I felt “happy”.  She invited me to a party about an hour away from where I lived, so I went and picked her up; she was already drunk.  We got to the party and I was taking shot after shot.  I was completely gone; I couldn’t tell you what happened that night.  I know I somehow got out of Provo Canyon, dropped my friend off in Mapleton, and got home to Draper where I woke up the next morning and found myself getting ready for church.  My bishop had been hounding me about when I was going to finally stop the act.  I sat through sacrament meeting and then went up to him and said, “I’m ready.”  We spent an hour or so talking about all the choices I made and what I wanted for my future.

I didn’t take the sacrament for a while, but that first time I did worthily was one of the best feelings I have ever felt.  I quickly became very active in the singles ward; I made a lot of friends and planned a lot of activities for everyone.  I went to my bishop and asked him about serving a mission; he called me the next day and said I couldn’t go, that the handbook says I can’t go.  I was sad, but I knew I had made the decisions I did. 

I was still not getting along with my parents.  We fought about everything and anything: The wrong tone, the wrong look, the wrong word; it all sparked something.  I finally decided I had to move out and I ended up in Provo.  Moving to Provo led to hair school, which led to a serving job for a few years, which led to finally finding a place in Provo where I could stay for a while.  Before I moved into the ward that made me who I am today, my dad gave me a blessing.  In that blessing he said, "Get close to your bishop.” 

That confused me... why would I need to get close to my bishop? They had never really done anything for me before.  Meeting Bishop H for the first time answered my question.  This man was the epitome of disciple of Christ.  He was the kindest, most humble man I have ever met.  He was a psychologist professionally and my bishop spiritually; those two things together helped me realize that I wasn’t a lost cause, I wasn’t damaged goods, and I wasn’t useless.  I brought up the mission to him after a couple years in his ward and his face lit up.  He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he told me he wouldn’t stop until he had exhausted all his options.  I met with President M who said the same thing; those two men worked so hard to get me the mission call that finally came months after hitting submit. 

The call was to the Montana, Billings Mission.  I was preparing to go; I was studying the gospel.  I had gotten endowed the August before I was in the temple weekly with my new best friend, K.  It was in the temple that I felt the impression to not go.

I was confused; I worked SO HARD to get that call… To get that confirmation that the Lord knew I was changed, that my heart was truly in the right place for the first time in six years.  I went to Bishop H and he helped me to understand that I didn’t need to go on the mission, what I needed was the preparation and the confirmation from my Heavenly Father that I was forgiven; that the things I did, were not who I was. 

A few months later I was sitting at my best friend’s wedding dinner. In walked an attractive, tall, blonde man on crutches. I talked to him and honestly felt bad for him.  He followed me around and added me on Facebook, so I sent him a message and we started talking.  Later that week he kissed me; seven weeks after that he asked me to marry him, and three months later I was walking out of the Draper Temple holding my eternal companions hand.  Here I am two years later in a place I never thought I would ever get to. 

This gospel and this church and the people I have met because of it, have changed my life.  The thoughts of suicide don’t even cross my mind anymore.  Instead, I am constantly filled with reminders of why I am here today. 

This gospel is the only thing that I have ever felt true peace and happiness in.  This gospel has answered questions and brought people into my life that have saved me.  The Lord is real and I know He knows me; I know that happiness is only real if you understand who you are and your purpose. 

I finally know who I am and what I am supposed to be doing and I do the things I do to show my Savior and Heavenly Father how grateful I am for this life I have been given. 

I would like to thank Taylor for sharing her story with me; and with all of you. 

I was so excited when she decided she wanted to tell others, because this is truly such an amazing example of how much our Heavenly Father loves us; and how even when we fall away from the gospel path ... we can always come back.

No matter what mistakes we make in life, our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to succeed, both spiritually and here in this mortal life.

Our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, no matter what mistakes we make. All He wants is for us to learn and to keep trying.


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