Andrea Liz Harmon Shipman
I was born December 2, 1970, and raised in Provo Utah, the youngest of four siblings in an extremely faithful Mormon Family. My dad was a teacher, and my mom was a homemaker/School lunch lady. I had an incredible childhood with friends and family. My Parents taught by example, service, and hard work. We had a close-knit ward, and I had the best time growing up with amazing youth activities and friends.
As a very young child, I loved going to church. I thought it was so cool that God (Elohim) visited Joseph Smith from the planet Kolob. I have some core memories that really stand out pertaining to my lifelong search for truth. The first is a visit to Temple Square in Salt Lake to see a huge display of The Gold Plates. My dad held me up and told me all about them. I remember being excited to find out what was in the sealed part.
I was about 7 or 8 when the Church announced in General Conference that black people would now be able to receive the Priesthood. I didn’t know they hadn’t been able to hold the Priesthood. I remember how I felt so confused, because I had been taught that God loves ALL his children, and this did not make any sense to me. I asked my dad about it and I got the “Cain explanation,” and I remember being confused. I thought, “God forgives everyone if they repent. Did Cain not repent? Why would God punish everyone else for something Cain did? Why does God hold a grudge for so long?” Just then, the words came to my mind that didn’t seem like my own: “The church is not true.” I said this out loud to my dad and he immediately said, “Yes, it is!”
I moved on and continued being a child not thinking about it much. But occasionally, there would be instances that would remind me about how I felt at that time. And the thought that the Church is not true would always be there in the back of my mind.
As I grew up, I wanted more than anything to have a testimony that the Church was true. I felt the “spirit” with the Music. I felt something when I read the Book of Mormon, but there was a disconnect with how that made the church true? I thought something must be wrong with me.
When I started Seminary my freshman year at Provo High School, I was determined to really study the Book of Mormon (BOM) and gain a testimony of the Church. Everyone else that I knew had this “special feeling” that told them the Church was true. I wanted that too. I had such a huge desire to do what was right and to please my parents and God. By this time, I had lots of issues with the Church and more questions.
I remember raising my hand in Seminary and saying that it seemed like the Mormons are the “great abominable church” with all the temples and such. I said, “I bet when the Sealed Portion comes out, it will say – ‘You dumb Mormons don’t understand what you are reading!’” Mr. Seminary teacher told me I was wrong! My friend said I was so funny! I thought to myself, “That is not funny. I am serious!” I realized right then that I would never know the truth about polygamy, or if Joseph Smith was really a Prophet, or if the church was really true, until I could read The Sealed Portion.
When I was 16, I met my husband Ryan and It was Love at first sight for me. You can ask him, but he always says the same. We dated for a couple of months, but my parents didn’t like him because he was the long hair, leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, not-going-to-church boy. His mom was sure I was going to get pregnant because my parents were pushing so hard for me to not see him. This made me so mad, ‘cause I was barely giving one kiss good night. We broke up. Over the years, we both dated other people. But we would get together for a date every couple years, and then a long distance relationship for a while, until getting married in 1992.
Not getting married in the temple was such an embarrassment for my family. I felt bad for disappointing them. But I didn’t care. I was going to prove them wrong. It didn’t take too long for them to love him and see what I see in him. I ended up proving myself right, and I am so glad that I made this decision. I can’t take the time here to list all the ways he has been such a good match for me, but one of the most important ways has been the way he thought all religion was made up by men to control money and women. Also, how he has supported me through my lifetime of religious frustration and search for truth.
I was inactive pretty much my entire adult life, except for the years 2000 to 2010, while my kids were young. I was scared that the sin would be on my head if I didn’t raise my kids in the Church, and I tried my best to take the kids to church alone. Ryan would usually golf on Sundays, because that made it easier for me to go to church without the kids wanting to stay home like dad.
Multiple times when life was hard, and I thought I could use some of the Temple blessings I thought I was missing out on, I would set “a time period” like “one year” that I would read the BOM and really give it my all to try and get a testimony of the Church, so that I could feel good about going to the Temple. It was the same every time I started reading. I would be so frustrated at the “great and abominable church” and wanting The Sealed Portion to come out so I would know the truth. Why did reading the Book of Mormon make me doubt the church more every time?
April of 2018, after being sober for a month following a ten-year battle with alcohol, I had a kind of break down from feeling all the feelings for the first time in years, and I quit my job I desperately needed. It felt so great to not be hungover. But at the same time, we were struggling with a hard financial situation. I was so depressed, and I was paralyzed at the thought of what I should do next.
In the fall of 2018, once again I decided that I needed to try going to the temple just in case there really were some extra special blessings that could help me get my extremely privileged life that was falling apart back to a place that didn’t make me want to die every day. I set the year limit challenge in my head again. I went to my ward alone one Sunday and it was the worst experience ever. I left mad and I really did not to want go back again. I decided to watch General Conference. The prophet challenged everyone to read the BOM and to underline every time it mentions Jesus.
At the same time, my sister sent me a plane ticket to visit her in Texas. While I was there, I was reading and underlining. I became the most frustrated I had ever been. I yelled an angry prayer to God and said, “It’s been 200 years since the Book of Mormon came out. Where the F#@! is the sealed portion already?”
That night, instead of reading and underlining, I decided to pray for The Sealed Portion, which I technically hadn’t done before.
A few days later, I was watching TV and looking at YouTube videos when I decided to search “the sealed portion of the book of Mormon.” When I saw so many videos pop up, it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I screamed and scared Ryan and started blubbering on about TSP. I was so excited I was freaking out. (Also, I had to explain to him what The Sealed Portion was because he had no idea.) I had never really told anyone about my obsession with finding it. It was personal to me.
I watched Dominic Larkin’s interview and immediately started reading on my phone. I was laughing and crying and celebrating as I read. It said exactly what I had predicted in Freshman Seminary and my ego was shouting, “Ha Ha I was right!” I have to admit, it was a little hard for a second to wrap my mind around letting go of the family unit; but it was all so logical. The issues and questions that had plagued me all my life were answered, and it was so simple and uncomplicated and Christlike. Totally the opposite of the Church.
I read the entire book on my phone in less than a week. I would read until I couldn’t see anymore and then I would take a walk and let all the new information sink in, and then I would read again. I barely slept or ate; it completely consumed me. I loved every word that was written. I was reading day and night with tears of love and joy streaming down my face so hard I couldn’t see. I just wanted to shout my love for Jesus! One night, I decided that I had finally found a purpose in Life, and I wanted everyone to know the happiness I found finally reading The Sealed Portion. So in the middle of the night, before I even finished the book, I filmed myself telling everyone how wonderful it is! Also, the Church does NOT preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I posted it on social media and as soon as a family member saw it, they were horrified and rushed home to make me take it down. I felt so stupid and embarrassed.
I was on an emotional roller coaster.
I was the the happiest I have ever felt to have finally found the truth.
I was angry that I had felt so bad about myself for never being good enough for the temple. I was angry that I had let the Church take some of my happiness away during beautiful moments in my life. For example, the happiest time in my life, when I had my two beautiful babies and each time I went to have them blessed in the Church, they made me check a box saying they were not “born in the covenant.” I was so offended that they were putting shame and guilt on my innocent babies, and not letting Ryan in the circle to bless his own babies. He never complained; he just went along with it, because he knew it was important to me and he would do anything to make me happy. The list goes on and on. I was mostly mad that I hadn’t found it sooner.
On my birthday, I finished reading. I was just happily pacing around the house letting it all sink in. I thought how cool it would be to know what kind of previous lives I had lived before. I walked into the bedroom and all the sudden it felt like a physical window opened up in the top of my head and I had knowledge of a horrible experience in a different lifetime. I then got confused trying to tell my family about what had happened, as they were trying to calm my hysteria down and pick me up off the floor, where I was crying in despair. The more I tried to explain, the more confused I was. I was saying all kinds of crazy things. My family called a crisis hotline and a social worker came to do an evaluation. I eventually calmed down and agreed to go just talk to the people at the University of Utah psychiatric hospital. I refused to check myself into the hospital and I told them I would be fine if I could just get some sleep.
I ordered the other books so I could read a physical copy and I devoured Human Reality. When I read the Joseph Smith Biography, I had a real testimony about Joseph Smith for the first time in my life! And most of 666 (well I skimmed 666, as I had never read Revelation). I have read it now! I have loved all of the books.
One day after a few bad interviews for jobs, I was wallowing in self-pity and I fell off the sobriety wagon. I drank a bottle of vodka and blacked out and tried to die. I was no stranger to blacking out and being horrible to people and wanting to die; but this night, I was fueled with real despair and the idea that it wouldn’t matter if I killed myself as this was all just a game we play. My son had to drive to the ER while my husband was restraining me in the back seat to protect me from myself. I don’t know all the details of what happened that night, and my husband didn’t tell me everything, because he knows I will just beat myself up about it. I do know that I burned my scriptures and all the books that night.
I was forced to spend a week in Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital and I was put on some strong medications. At first, I liked them; it was a really nice break from all of my thoughts. Then the side affects were starting to build up and cause me so much anxiety that my family was worried about me. I lost 20 lbs. in one month and was so depressed I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t even be happy that I was at my goal weight again. Then I changed to a different medication that had less side effects, but it made me gain all the weight back, plus a lot more, which is not helpful when you are a person with a history of eating disorders and body issues. I found a job that was tolerable and I finally got off those medications and started to feel like myself again.
I’ve spent the last 5 years in an internal battle, wishing I could go back to how I felt just after I finished reading The Sealed Portion: full of love for everyone and the joy I felt before my brain broke and ruined that feeling. And also, a deep desire for that experience in my brain to actually be a message from my true self, regardless of how traumatic it was. At the same time, telling myself that it was just a meaningless mental breakdown.
Until recently, I had completely forgotten about a “5 year” “time period” I had set way back then. As much as I have tried to sabotage myself this past year, my true self has been hitting me over the head, trying to get me to snap out of my denial.
My life and happiness level has improved so much since I was finally able to let go of my religious trauma. I had a lot of anger towards the Church and was not the nicest person regarding that at times, which I regret. And it has taken me a long time to let that go and realize that it is ok for everyone to believe what makes them happy.
The things that I have learned from this work and Christopher have helped me in so many ways. I am so grateful for it. I have grown a lot and changed a lot and that is painful. I know this work is the most important thing there is and the solutions to the problems on Earth are only found here with Christopher, the Real Illuminati, and the Humanity Party.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Christopher is the Earth’s only True Messenger and this work is the only solution to the world’s problems. No one else has the solutions.
I am done silently watching and denying my Holy Ghost. I am going to honor my True Self and give my full public support for Christopher and this incredible Marvelous Work and a Wonder.