My Search for Peace Through Real Truth
Sheri Anne Nemelka
10 March 2010
My childhood to my twenties consisted of a typical experience of any modern day dysfunctional family. I had an older brother tragically die when he was a small child. My bereaved parents divorced during my teenage years when my father’s romantic interests outside the home became unacceptable to my mother. I listened to the inconsolable sobs of my “victimized” mother and cared for a much younger brother who came into the world unexpectedly at the end of my parents shared drama. It was hard for me to see my dear mother suffer from low self-esteem and the inability to see beyond her own heartache caused by a man.
I was raised in the LDS faith and given the foundation of any orthodox LDS woman—serve the church, get married, serve the priesthood holder. I met a boy a few years my senior who wasn’t LDS, but followed my example and eventually became one. We married and without any known example of what love and relationships should be, I assumed I was in love. From that marriage came two beautiful daughters who I raised from infancy to their early teenage years.
Leaving my twenties behind, I entered into my thirties and turned my stable life upside down. I sent my life into a whirl by following in my father’s footsteps and leaving the security of a responsible husband, loving children, and a home of our own, for the excitement of a new love. I finally felt like I knew what true love was when I met and fell for a man outside my monotonous marriage. The years that followed brought much tribulation and heartache. When the hopes and excitement of the new relationship ended, I turned back to the only religion with which I was familiar, believing that my unhappiness was a direct result of living contrary to the laws of the God that I had been taught to believe in and obey. I turned to the only man who I knew understood my heart—God.
After confessing my sins to those I believed possessed the authority from God to make me clean and whole, I began to live a life which I thought would put me in the favor of my God and his son Jesus Christ, whom I assumed I had grievously let down. I believed that adherence to the many rules and regulations of what I believed to be God’s only true church would eventually led to the peace and happiness I sought. I became a model member; and even as a single mother, I held multiple callings. I read my scriptures daily searching the words for instruction on how to live my life. When the church would sponsor the Educational Series of LDS faith in my area I would attend every weekend, sometimes a Friday and Saturday session. I assumed the priesthood leaders who taught these lessons were the top dogs when it came to knowing what religion was all about, and could unfold the mysteries that would lead me to the peace I desired. I really wanted to know exactly how to live my life right according to God’s will. Looking back now, I see how listening to all these men teach with their pretended knowledge and authority prepared me to recognize the difference between one given authority by men and a religion, and the One given authority by the only ones who know real truth.
I eventually made myself worthy enough to find a LDS priesthood holder who took me to the temple where we were sealed for time and all eternity. He was a single father with two young boys. Their mother had committed suicide, leaving the beautiful boys struggling for the attention only a mother could give. I became that mother. And it wasn’t long into my temple marriage that I realized why their mother had killed herself. Life with this particular priesthood holder was unbearable. For the sake of those two young boys I tried to live up to my temple marriage commitment. The emotional abuse became too much, even for God to change. After about 3 years I left that relationship, hoping that not all LDS men were like the father of these two boys. Looking back at it, I knew I married him because of his boys. At the time I married him, deep down, I still loved the man who I had left my first husband for, whom I had left to serve my God and my religion.
After my second divorce, I began to attend activities for the LDS singles, which is where I met Christopher for the first time in April of 2004. At the time we met I was content with my religious beliefs, believing I would continue to learn and be blessed by adhering to the rules set by God’s leaders upon earth—the ones who justified my ex-husband’s abuse.
As I got to know Christopher, I saw him as a very kind, friendly and fun man to be with. Always respectful of my beliefs and my religious devotion, he never once discouraged me from attending my meetings. He never once attempted any physical contact with me, always aware of my desire to remain worthy to my God. It wasn’t until just before we were married that we first kissed.
I remember one of our first conversations where he was explaining to me the purpose of the nine planets of our Solar System. Everything he said made so much sense and I couldn’t get over the comfort and ease I felt with what he was saying. It wasn’t long before Christopher told me he had the Gold Plates and that he was in the process of translating the sealed portion of them. I had heard from an Institute class that Joseph Smith had only translated a portion of the plates and remembered seeing a diagram of how much remained sealed. That’s about all the knowledge I had of them at the time. Of course, I was a bit shocked when he disclosed to me the details of his past and how he received his calling, it was a lot to consider, and at times, I would doubt and be afraid of my involvement and how it would affect my life. My doubts would always be relieved by the consistent character of the man and ultimately by the work that he would produce.
I began to read sections of the Sealed Portion as he would finish them. During this time, I was still an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Christopher at times would call me excited to share what he had translated the night before. I was amazed and happy as I finished each chapter. I completely loved what I was learning even though I would have moments of anguish for my past judgments of others. I recall one of these painful moments while I was walking and contemplating what I had read. An experience with a family member was brought to my mind. I had created bad feelings because I judged him to be wrong in his actions. Ironic as it seems now, my problem with him was that he simply described the peace that he had in his life once he left organized religion, a decision that I too was soon to make. I could not imagine at the time that anyone could find peace outside of God’s only true church. Looking back, however, I realize I never really had any peace except that which I created inside myself.
Yes the tears would flow often as I read the Sealed Portion. The undeniable truth I was reading convinced me of the many ways I had hurt others by believing my way of living was the only right and proper way. When I had finished reading the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon, there was no doubt left in my mind pertaining to the truthfulness of how and why it was brought forth. The power it has to change the way a human being has thought and acted for so many years can only come from a source of advanced knowledge.
I often saw the box where Christopher kept the plates, but never dared desire to look at them. Then out of the blue one day when I went to visit him and Charley (the invalid man whom Chris cared for at the time), he asked me if I wanted to hold the plates. I said no and got pretty nervous at the thought. With that unmistakable soothing smile he opened up the chest and brought out the plates wrapped in a heavy cloth. He laid them covered in my arms. I can only describe it as a surreal experience. I felt the weight and the outline of the rings, but Christopher did not take his hand away from them and did not uncover them. It’s hard to remember just how I felt, but for whatever reason, that experience did not convince me of the truthfulness of the Sealed Portion. The only way I was convinced, was upon reading what those plates contained.
All the books and writings of this Marvelous Work and a Wonder have empowered me with the ability to find my own peace and happiness outside the dependence of any man. I have truly found the real God, my Father, and am one now with His son, Jesus Christ. How is it possible to find peace in a world that appears to be in a constant state of turmoil? I never found it in the LDS Church. My parents never found it there; in fact, no one I have ever met found true peace—the peace that I now feel—in that church. The only way I have found it is by having the sensible answers as to why things must be as they are and believing that human beings who have advanced beyond our current understanding are in control and will ultimately do what is necessary to bring about our eternal happiness.
There are people who would say that I have been deceived or somehow manipulated into supporting this work because of my love for Christopher. I support the man responsible for this work because of what this work produces for those who embrace it. I know this, I was not deceived by Christopher. He left me many times, in fact, believing that his relationship with me would affect his work. I have a history of leaving men with whom I am not completely satisfied. This shows a strength that my mother didn’t have and that I hope my daughters can learn from. If for any reason I am unsatisfied with Christopher as my husband, I know I could leave him also. But for what it is worth, I often live homeless in an RV with him, I have few possessions, and little worldly security. But I have not once in all the time that I have known him wanted to leave his side. This does not speak of him as the One chosen to do the work, but of him as a man, my dear husband and friend.
The peace and happiness that I have witnessed in myself and others is all that it takes to do what I do in supporting him.
I would be willing to speak to anyone interested in more details about me and why I love and support this work.
Sheri Anne Nemelka