Testimony by Sue Manning
In October 2004, my husband Randy and I moved our family from Pensacola, Florida to Blue Springs, Missouri. We both felt strongly that it was time to move to the Centerplace. After spending the coldest winter I had ever experienced indoors, I was so glad to see spring finally come around. I truly understood the term “spring fever” like never before. Most Sunday evenings in the summer of 2005, I attended the Summer Series preaching services at the Waldo Restoration Branch in Independence. One evening, Patriarch Verle Cornish preached on repentance. He advised the congregation to asked God to show us ourselves, as He sees us, both the good and the bad. I took that advice to heart and embarked on a journey that changed my life. I began to spend time in prayer each morning asking God to show me how He sees me. I wanted to be clean and wanted God to show me where I needed to start. The first thing He made me aware of was how I didn’t speak positive things to my family. Not that I was always saying negative things, but I failed to acknowledge the good things they did. I started working on that little project and soon went back for more. After a couple of small and manageable issues, God gave me quite a blow. He said I needed to repent for participating in the priesthood while attending the RLDS Church. I was confused. I had repented and was truly sorry for what I had done. I couldn’t understand why God would bring this up. Thus my journey began. One morning in the late 80’s, I was praying and suddenly the Lord let me know someone very close to me was going to die. I had been praying about my parents and thought one of them was going to pass away. I assumed God told me this so I could be prepared. Foolishly, I didn’t ask God any questions or request further explanation. I learned a huge lesson. For days I had a feeling of grief and talked to my pastor about it. He had no answer for me. Then, he said that I had a call to the priesthood. I thought that was an odd time to tell me that, and I didn’t have a good feeling about it. I thought my feelings were because of my concern over my parents. Time passed; there was no death in the family, and I was eventually ordained a priest in the RLDS Church in Pensacola. I never felt good about it and questioned the calling, but everyone I spoke with told me I’d get used to the change. I didn’t. I was married and stayed home with my two small children. Unbeknownst to me, my husband, who traveled during the week with his work, was living a double life. He was converted to the RLDS Church in college, ordained a priest, and was active in church. Although he was not the ideal husband and father, our church friends saw him as a good family man. He displayed some symptoms of bipolar disorder, but I had no idea the issues he actually had. When he left home on Monday mornings, he lived a very worldly life. In a series of events, the truth came out. I eventually filed for divorce. My attorney (and good friend) assured me it would be a simple and quick divorce. My husband was so furious that he did everything to control the situation which made the proceedings last over a year. I was an emotional mess. I was trying to hold things together for my children, look for a job, and deal with the reality of the results of my husband’s lies on our family. In the meantime, my pastor told me that my ministry would be “suspended” until after the divorce. Even though I was heavily burdened, couldn’t eat or sleep, and was having problems with stomach ulcers due to the stress of the divorce, I suddenly felt a weight lift off of me when I was relieved of priesthood duties. I really couldn’t explain it but I did realize I felt a freedom from that responsibility. A year later, after the divorce was final, my pastor asked me if I was ready to be active in the priesthood again. I said no. I decided to permanently give up my priesthood. I soon came to the understanding that the person God told me was going to die was me. I was going to die a spiritual death and lose my salvation. Had I asked Him questions and asked for further enlightenment at the time of my experience, I could have avoided a lot of pain. I was truly ashamed that I had been deceived and of what I had done, and I went before God and repented for the mistake I had made. Now, fast forward back to the summer of 2005. God was telling me to repent of something I had already repented of. So I asked Him why I needed to repent again. Through prayer, study, and His words being pressed upon my heart and mind, I learned that even though my first repentance was sincere, it was not deep enough. My sin, which was an abomination before God, was much deeper than my repentance. I was stunned when the word “abomination” came into my mind. I had never considered myself as a horrible person. And only horrible people do things that are an abomination before God. I was almost offended but learned through my study that indeed God was right. And I was humbled like never before. I was more ashamed and grieved over what I had done. It reminds me of pulling up a dandelion. The root goes deep and pulling it up one time does not remove the entire plant, even though you can’t see it at the time. But eventually it will show up again, somewhere, somehow. I’d rather deal with it now than when I walk up to the judgment bar. Philippians 2:12 says to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. I never fully understood that. I had thought Jesus had done the work. Salvation is free. But my reward will not be the best unless I am totally clean through repentance. And repentance can sometimes be hard work. My experience was not a pleasant one, but the outcome was so uplifting and enabled my relationship with God to be strengthened. I encourage everyone to ask God to let you see yourself as He sees you.