Schoen, Laurie (Smith)

Free at Last.

In the summer of my 10th year, we were at a convention at Hotchkiss, CO. All my friends were making their choice to profess, so I did too. I never took part for a year, it just didn’t feel right.

The next year at my home convention in Casa Grande on Saturday night when they tested the meeting, I could see and feel the eyes of the older brother worker in our state just boring into me. I waited for him after the meeting was over and told him that I had professed the year before at the CO convention. He said that he was glad to hear it but wanted to know why I had never taken part in the meetings. At the time I think I told him that the thought made me nervous. He encouraged me to find a way to get over it as “taking part in the meetings is a very necessary part of your salvation”. I think it took a few more months before I finally started to take part but it felt more like a chore that had to be done than anything that came from my heart.

I continued on “faithfully” for many years, although no one, except maybe my sister, knew how many times I would have to find something in the Bible last minute to speak on for testimony time.

I actually knew my husband growing up. His family had left the Catholic church when he was 8 years old and I was 6, and started attending gospel meetings. His second oldest brother was in the seminary in Tucson, he left and came home within a few months. His 3 older sisters, 2 older brothers and his mom and dad all professed in the same gospel meeting. It was about 5 years later that the son that had been in the seminary, went into the work. He was in for about 30 years.

When we got married 20 years later, in 1988, my husband had been in and out of the truth many times and had re-professed the fall before we were married. Within 6 months of getting married, my husband quit going to meetings. I still went for a while and then just seemed to not have the strength to keep going. He claimed, even after we divorced, that the way was still right, he just couldn’t continue. We had unannounced visits from workers, even after he told Dale Bors that we didn’t want any of them to call on us, we just wouldn’t answer the door. My parents never really said much, just gave us the “look” of condemnation. None of the other “friends” ever tried to contact us to see if they could help us in any way.

In 1993 when our son was born, because of an illness, my husband was not working and was unable to take care of our son so his care fell to my parents. They would ask me if I would take him to meetings and I would tell them “No. When he is old enough, he can make his own decision about it”. I knew that they were talking to him about “the way”. I did attend a convention when he was almost a year old. My mother played the organ for numerous funerals, so he was around the friends a lot.

I left my husband in 1999 and took our son with me. For the next 2-1/2 years going thru the divorce, working and taking care of my son, I was thankful for my parents. They made sure that he made it to school and he went with them to the convention since I usually had to work.

I almost re-professed in 2000 at my home convention, but was advised by a sister worker that I should wait until the “mess of your divorce is finished”. I felt like I had been slapped in the face. At the time that I needed their help and support the most, I was refused it.

I have never been back to meetings except for the few times that I was traveling with my parents and had no car of my own so I could leave.

Due to circumstances, my son and I have been forced to move back in with my parents but we leave and go to a local bookstore on Sunday mornings, while they have meeting in their home.

My ex-husband passed away in 2008, I did have the workers hold his memorial service since most of his family and mine still profess.

I have asked my son, now almost 17, if he wants to attend the meetings and convention. He is emphatic in his answer “NO”! He has had his own experiences with the workers and “saints” and wants nothing to do with it.

I love the Lord with all my heart. I have a more intimate relationship with Him now than I ever had before. I know the heart of my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Brother Jesus and they know mine.

Thank God, I no longer have to answer to earthly men (workers) that have placed themselves in the position of judge and juror over anything I choose to say or do.

I am so grateful to be free at last.

By Laurie (Smith) Schoen
Phoenix, Arizona
May 2010