Seven Years.

by Lauren Kay Weber

Today marks the seven year anniversary of my baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Two years ago, I wrote a post commemorating my five year anniversary.  Five years felt so monumental.  Today, seven years feels at once huge and infinitely small.

I can’t tell you how much has changed since sitting in my friend’s dorm room talking about the Gospel for the first time.  Sure, there are external, tangible signs of change to which I can point:  a baptism, an endowment, a marriage, a new baby.  But still, those landmarks feel to pale somewhat when compared to the internal manifestations of the last seven years.  The most poignant touch point for me at the moment is this:  gratitude for the blessings of the sealing power.

From our elopement last October.  (c) Mirielle Sanford, Sanford Photographic Services 2012

From our elopement last October. (c) Mirielle Sanford, Sanford Photographic Services 2012

I have had what I feel to be a sure knowledge of the sweeping truth of the Gospel as a whole for some time (I wrote about it here).  Now, it seems my life circumstances have plunged me deep into a microscopic focus on one component of that Gospel:  families.  In the past year, the principle of eternal families has gone from a convenient and happy component of the Gospel to the central doctrine of my faith, with the only exception being my knowledge of Christ as a my Savior.

Seven Years:  Eternal Families

A picture from our elopement. (c) Mirielle Sanford, Sanford Photographic Services 2012

The importance of the truth that, with the sealing power, families can be eternal has been manifested to me in a few different ways. Most overwhelmingly, I have had from time to time these flashes of alternate reality where – just for the most minute fraction of a second – I see a version of myself that never found the Church and thus was never sealed in the temple.  Of course, without that ordinance, that version of me wouldn’t have the promise of life eternal with the person in this world I love most.  And that split second Sliding Doors-esque vision rattles me to my core.  You see, these days, the very definition of eternal torment for me would be to have any sort of consciousness without my husband’s accompaniment.  Sappy?  Perhaps.  But, nevertheless, achingly true.

And then, just last week, Josh’s authentically wonderful grandfather passed away.  This man – whose name happened to be startlingly similar to mine, Lorin Weber (as opposed to Lauren Weber) – wasis a great man… and I intend that word to be read in the truest meaning of the word great. While he was here with us, he was magnanimous, but simultaneously incredibly understated.  I saw the man crack a smile on many occasions, but never in a picture; instead, he always gave the camera a look of stoic grandeur.  He was a man of few words, but at the same time one always knew he was a man of righteousness.

Again, from our elopement.  Outside of the Snowflake, Arizona LDS Temple.  (c) Mirielle Sanford, Sanford Photographic Services 2012

Again, from our elopement. Outside of the Snowflake, Arizona LDS Temple.  Grandpa Weber can be found at the far left. (c) Mirielle Sanford, Sanford Photographic Services 2012

With the passing of this patriarch from our lives, Josh and I have had several conversations about approaching the rest of our mortality without him.  It is a bittersweet proposition, to be sure, but never once have either of us wondered where it is that he went.  More than that, Josh and I both remain certain that he will be there as we move from this life to the next.  And, we’re grateful for his pioneering efforts both here in mortality and beyond the veil.

Now, with the coming of a new spirit into this world in just a few weeks, I have become subject to several surreal moments wherein I have felt plunged into the universality of the many existences through which we pass… in the antemortal realm, in our physical existences, in the postmortal continuation.  I wouldn’t say that I have had that awe-inducing, heart-growing experience where Asher, our new baby, becomes a part of my definition of happiness and, well, part of my very being.  Still, I can’t help but be aware that the eternal circle that Josh and I created in the temple the day we were married is growing, or perhaps already has, in a way that changes our family and ourselves forever.

So, what does all of this have to do with the anniversary of my baptism?

Well, I feel as though I have never known Deity more than I do now, having had such palpable experiences concerning the sealing power.  I have never felt more perfect, in the sense that I feel so very whole.  I have to believe that my baptism has pointed me in this direction, and that it continues to be the momentum toward an ultimate wholeness.  So, I’m grateful.  More now that ever before.  It is only now, through the lens and perspective I have gained through having been partnered, that I can see more clearly the truer meaning of the Lord’s purpose in bringing me into this Church.

As a slight aside, but definitely still very much important, I want to reach out to those who have nurtured me and my growth over these past seven years.  I remember sitting in the living room of the Caudles and the Hamptons as I participated in the missionary discussions, not to mention those in the Chevy Chase Ward who loved me and helped guide me.  I look back fondly on the friendships that began way back then, especially with regards to that I found in the then Cherry Hunsaker (now, Cherry Hunsaker-Clark), with whom I had many of my most formative a-ha’s.  My gratitude extends beyond those beginnings, to those who have maintained contact through the years and become a part of my extended family circle, namely Jason and Lili and my dear, beloved Lamberts.  Oh!  And the wonderful Jacob Fullmer.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.