Peace, Be Still — The Power & Light of His Love
As a young girl, I had a very strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I grew up belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and I did everything I could to make good decisions. I was always at the top of my class and found success in my after-school projects and activities. But when middle school came along, I started to lose my confidence. I started drinking and smoking marijuana with my friends on the weekend. Fast forward to just a few years later, and I was a full blown heroin addict. My life was in shambles.
At 19 years old, I was accepted into the Drug Court program in St. George, Utah. I completed the program with a little over a year of sobriety, but I still had the gaping hole in my heart that seemed impossible to fill. Shortly after Drug Court, I was back on heroin again, but this time I had reached my lowest of lows. I couldn’t imagine a life without drugs, but I still had a little bit of hope.
I was living in a drug house in Arizona when my dad came and rescued me. I will never understand how he never gave up on me, despite the many failed attempts at helping me. If there is someone on this earth whose love for their child somewhat resembles the kind of love our Heavenly Father has for us, it is my dad. “Unconditional love” seems like an understatement. I got in the car and started feeling the heroin withdrawals kicking in. The only thing on my mind was drugs, but I didn’t know if I had it in me anymore. My dad asked if he took me to rehab, would I run away or would I stay? It was in that moment that I finally surrendered. I was so broken and sick—I didn’t know how I could go on. There was no light at the end of the tunnel that I could see. I buckled my seatbelt, and off we went to Fresno, California.
My dad dropped me off at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on February 20, 2013, after a ten-day cold-turkey detox. Fresno is famous for gangs, drugs and crime. I was the only LDS girl in the program, and I felt out of place. The Salvation Army has its own church, and when entering the program you accept this as your new church. I questioned whether or not I was in the right place. It was so different from the church I was raised in.
A few weeks after entering the program I wrote my parents and told them I wanted to come home. This place wasn’t for me. A few days later, the chaplain pulled me in his office and asked me to pick a Bible off the shelf; it would be the Bible that I used during my stay in the program. Out of the 75 or so Bibles there were to choose from, I decided to pick the pink one. What difference did it make anyway? Sitting in the chair in the chaplain’s office, I opened the Bible. To my surprise, there was a Book of Mormon bookmark in the Bible with a message that said “Read the Articles of Faith.” I sat there in complete shock. I was the only LDS person there, and this was not an LDS Bible.
Back in my room that night, I did as the bookmark said and read the 13th Article of Faith: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” It was difficult for me to embrace a program that was a different religion to the one I was raised in and loved so much, but once I opened my heart to the good things that it had to offer me, the Spirit confirmed to me time and time again that I was in the right place.
About a month before I graduated the six-month program, I received an email from a family friend who had seen firsthand the struggles that I had gone through. The counsel he gave me changed my life forever: “Read The Book of Mormon every single day, and I promise you will never go back to your old life.” I was at a point that I had been several times before. I had a few months clean, but still felt like something was missing in my life. I had nothing to lose, so I held onto that promise. I have read The Book of Mormon every day since.
Russel M. Nelson said: “I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in The Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.”
After graduating from the program in Fresno, I made a goal to get my temple recommend. I did everything I needed to do. But instead of focusing on the enormous mountain I had to climb to repair all of the damage I did to my life, I kept my focus on the next right step. Now I am married in the temple to the man of my dreams, I have a beautiful baby girl, and I serve as a facilitator in the LDS 12 Step Meetings as well as in the Young Women’s program of the LDS church. I use my story to give hope to families that may have an addicted family member, or to those that may be struggling themselves.
Through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, broken hearts can be healed, addictions can be overcome, and life can have peace and joy. There are so many different trials that we face in mortality—some more apparent than others. But one thing I do know is that no matter the trial, our Savior has provided a way for us to come back from the darkness to bask in the light of His love.
Ashly cherishes her role as a mother and wife. She loves the outdoors, running, and CrossFit. Her passion for sharing her testimony of the atoning power of Jesus Christ has led her to speak at many places—from youth firesides to the Utah State Prison. She is a leader in the Young Women's program for the LDS Church, and is a facilitator in the LDS 12 Step Meetings. You can connect with Ashly on her website or Instagram at @thelightoutside.