'Stolen Innocence' Excerpt

For members of the FLDS, dating is not permitted in any traditional American way. However, once a girl has been promised to a priesthood man, sometimes the new couple is given a chance to spend some quiet time alone together. The man will typically come by the girl's house and pick her up for a ride in his car. Both Nancy and Lily had the chance to meet and talk to their future spouses like this, yet for some reason I was still in the dark about whom I was to marry. It was troubling, but I held out hope that it meant that now was not my time after all. My hope turned out to be short-lived. When a few days passed and Uncle Warren still hadn't responded, my anxiety returned and once again the future became uncertain. I kept replaying my conversations with Fred and Warren in my head, insisting to myself that they just didn't understand how old I was.

Finally, Uncle Fred summoned me to his office. "Uncle Warren has contacted me, and the prophet wants you to go through with the marriage." His words hit me like a sharp slap. I could barely stay focused as he continued, "This is God's calling and your mission. You must open your mind and heart and do what has been revealed for you."

"I just don't know if I can do it because I don't feel like it's right," I pleaded, swallowing the knot in my throat. Carefully I explained that I didn't want to disobey the prophet; on the contrary, I believed that following his word was the key to my eventual salvation. I'd be much more willing to accept any decision from the prophet if he'd just let me wait a couple of years until I felt more ready.

Fred heard me out but continued to state that this was the will of the prophet and of God. Still, something inside of me kept pushing back. Uncle Fred insisted that this was the path that God had chosen for me. It felt like I was being punished, and I wasn't sure why. Though it was hard to see a way out, I remained resolved to fight for what I believed was right.

By the end of the week, I'd grown tired of everybody talking to me about my impending marriage and of the spiteful attitudes of some of my stepsisters. I could feel that many of the older girls were worried that they'd been passed over for someone so much younger. If it were up to me, I would have gladly traded places. I said as much to Uncle Fred during one of my conversations with him, but he'd frightened me when he told me that if I refused to follow the destiny that the prophet had revealed for me, I was not likely to get another opportunity. Eternal salvation depended on marriage to a priesthood man. I believed his words and was terrified of that fate—being alone for all eternity, stuck between worlds forever.

When I arrived at prayer service on Thursday night, I was emotionally exhausted. I'd been in my mother's room for hours sobbing over my situation. I knew that she too had doubts about my marriage, and even though I was being viewed as disobedient, she encouraged me to stand up for myself. Nevertheless, she had to tread carefully. All it would take was Uncle Fred getting wind of her support for me, and she herself would be subject to reprimand from the prophet. There would be extreme consequences for her if she overstepped her role as a submissive wife, and her eternal salvation, for which she had already sacrificed so much, could be taken away in an instant.

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