My Journey Back to God

Mette Ivie Harrison, a well-known mystery and young-adult novelist, is the author of The Book of Laman, which was published this week by BCC Press. Below, reproduced in its entirety, is the author’s afterword to this exciting new book. The Book of Laman can be purchased here in paperback form and here as a Kindle e-book.

 

BoLI lost faith in God completely in 2007 after the stillbirth of my sixth child and spent the next five years as an atheist. In 2012, I decided that I wanted to try to believe again. I’d felt very alone, in a spiritual way, despite the fact that I’d continued to attend the Mormon ward in my neighborhood.

And so began a full year of me trying to pray to God and ending up saying the only thing I found I could say with real conviction, which was, “I don’t believe in you.” I said it over and over again, night after night, because I was determined not to fall back on the old platitudes that I’d once used and that had ended up failing me. And then, one night, I prayed more than that. And a little more. And the journey had truly begun.

Writing my Linda Wallheim mysteries has been part of my journey back to Mormonism, a way to try to make a model of a Mormon woman I might someday be able to become. It hasn’t been entirely successful. Linda is a compilation of some of the amazing, faithful Mormon women I knew and admired (women like Sue Gong, Jody England Hansen, Neca Allgood, Debra Coe, and Lisa Glad). She isn’t me, though I’ve often wished she were. I’m still clinging on to faith by the skin of my teeth most of the time. But there are bursts of brilliance that strike me now and again and convince me that there’s value in the struggle. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a place for me in Mormonism.

As I returned to The Book of Mormon as someone whose faith had been crushed and was still fragile, I found myself uninspired by the Nephi in its pages. In my youth, I’d been determined to be that Nephi, always stalwart, always sure of himself and of his revelations from God. But that wasn’t me anymore and sometimes I wanted to shake him. Couldn’t he see how hard what he was asking was? Couldn’t he just once see things from the perspective of his less faithful, less valiant brothers who were just human beings? I’m far more Laman and Lemuel these days than I am Nephi. Does that mean that I’m doomed to hell? If that’s true, why am I trying so hard?

And so the idea for this book was born, which I promptly dropped everything to write in a very busy October of 2014. I had no idea that it would ever be published. I didn’t write it for anyone but myself, really. I didn’t trust the Mormon publishers currently on the scene to do justice to the story, and I’d tried self-publishing without much success. It was just my attempt to tell the story of someone who was deeply flawed but still trying to grapple with the divine, and who also deserved, in my opinion, to have a story told.

Many people helped me tell this story. Candice Stevens, Jeffrey Creer, Quinn Colter, Kevin Cummings, and Erin Jensen for looking at the earliest version of this book. You’ll see changes here that have made it stronger and that is because of your careful concern.
What I hope now, as I send this out into the world, is that there are other readers out there who need to see Laman’s story because it’s theirs, too. He’s redeemed in the end, not because he deserves it for his faithfulness, but because God’s love is infinite and encompasses even the wicked brothers. God never forgets them. He never gives up on them. And that, ultimately, is why I’ve returned to faith, and to Mormonism.

 

Comments

  1. I want to read this entire thing in Young Women’s. I’d want them to feel like there is a place for them no matter what and that faith is hard work and a hard road.

  2. ” because God’s love is infinite and encompasses even the wicked brothers

    As one in need of that love without end, thank you.

  3. Happy Hubby says:

    Really looking forward to reading this.

  4. I’ve just ordered a copy, and thank you for it in advance. I tried once to write a serious view of how Laman would have experienced the same things, and didn’t have the nous to finish it. You’ll have done a better job, based on your previous work.

  5. I have a long standing gripe with the Nephi was a hero mantra. Often times I try to remind my fellow class/ward mates that in the end it is Laman and Lemuel’s descendants that come out victorious. I have tried to go deeper but that conversation never happens.

  6. Beautifully written, thank you

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