Beyond The Checklist

013 How Your Covenants Help You Belong to Jesus with Noelle McBride


Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. If you’re a woman who is ready and willing to be a follower of Jesus, you’re in the right place. Join me as we dive in deep to learn how to embrace your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists, I’m your host Darla Trendler and I’m cheering you on.

Welcome to your journey.

Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. Thank you so much for being here. Today’s episode, I have a great guest for you. I know I say that every week, but I just love all these women that I’m meeting. And this season, we are talking about different aspects of being on the covenant path and what that looks like for different people and I’m so passionate about being able to share other women’s stories. So, I have a great guest for you today. Her name is Noelle McBride, so welcome Noelle.  So happy that you’re here.

Noelle: [00:00:57] Thank you so much. Darla. I’m happy to be here. 

Darla: [00:01:00] Great. So glad that you’re here. Could we just start off, would you just tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Noelle: [00:01:05] I am the mom of six kids and, about 10 years ago, a little less than, I went through a difficult divorce. And, my husband, my former husband and I had been married for 17 years and that was a really difficult season in my life. And, I spent, a few years being single and, taking care of my children and, ended up getting remarried, unexpectedly and wonderfully. I married a widower and he had three children and I had three. And so, we have six together.  We have a blended family and, Darla and I found one another because of a book I wrote, Beauty for Ashes: Divorce and the Latter-day Saint Woman. And it is my story of going through my divorce, utilizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Darla: [00:01:50] Yes, it is a fantastic book. I’m so happy that I met Noelle and was able to read her book. And even though divorce is not something I’ve experienced, I learned so much from reading her book about going through challenges and staying close to the Savior and what our covenants mean. So that’s what we’re going to dive into today in the interview. And we don’t have time. I don’t have time in every interview to talk about someone’s whole journey on the covenant path. So, we’re just, every interview, I’m just trying to pick out one thing. And so, for Noelle, we’re going to talk about divorce and what she has learned and how she’s come to know the Savior better. That is part of her journey on the path is going through a divorce. So, Noelle, tell us a little bit about your situation, and you said you were married for 17 years and all of that. So, tell me a little bit about your divorce. 

Noelle: [00:02:35] I got married when I was 20 years old and I was married in the Portland Temple and my former husband and I met in the singles ward. So very classic LDS story and We had three sons during our time married and through life circumstances, there wasn’t any one big thing that I could be like, this was the reason for my divorce. But just through the years, different life circumstances, we ended up moving onto different paths and through a very, very difficult process with a lot of prayer and a lot of help from a counselor and my bishop, I made the decision to get divorced. And I talk about that actually quite a bit in detail in my book. I talk about that process that I went through because that wasn’t an easy process. And really, I wanted to do anything that I could to preserve my marriage. Nobody gets married to get divorced. There was even a point where I had made the decision that I had felt prompted to get divorced, but made the decision to stay married and had a very, special, sacred, spiritual experience that helped me recognize that I needed to take a different path. 

And then I had the opportunity to go to the temple, and have that confirmation, which was really a special experience. So, a lot of that is, is in, detail in my book. But then I start to take the reader through my process of I’m divorced, which was never something that I ever planned on. Now, what do I do with my life? My life didn’t look any more like the cookie cutter version, like you get married in the temple and you have children, and you hold callings, and you live happily ever after. Right? And get to be grandparents and all that sort of stuff. And so suddenly everything that I had planned for my life came to a stop. And I didn’t know what my life was going to look like anymore. And that was really hard for me.  It kind of broke my heart, honestly, and it was with that broken heart, and then I was humble enough to go to the Lord and I’m a planner. I know most women are, and I’m also a recovering perfectionist. So, it took a lot for me to humble myself and go to the Lord and say, okay, Heavenly Father, what is it that you have planned for my life? What is it that you want?  

And the answer that I got didn’t come all at once. It was little bits and pieces here. One of the biggest things that I learned on my journey was that I wasn’t a list, a list of accomplishments. This person did this and this, that my Heavenly Father was more interested in who I was becoming versus a list of what I was doing. That was probably one of the first lessons that I learned was that through this process, I was going to become a new person. And the cover of my book, which you can actually, see, I’m going to show here really quick, too. So, it is the Provo City Center Temple, and then it’s also the, picture of the tabernacle, the Provo City Tabernacle burning. And that is really symbolic to the process that I went through. There were bits of my life, my old life that were burned away and became ashes. And I remember when I was in General Conference when President Monson announced that he was going to turn the tabernacle into a temple. And I just had tears start to come to my eyes because I realized that was me. That was exactly, I had been this serviceable tabernacle dedicated to the Lord, fulfilling my callings. I worked hard at being a good mom, a good friend, a good wife, all those different things. And, but the Lord allowed that part of my life to burn away, and then he rebuilt my life into a temple. And I got to experience that on a really amazing level, especially through my covenants. And I spent a lot of time talking about covenants and how my covenants helped carry me through something that I didn’t think I would be able to survive.

Darla: [00:06:55] I really love so many aspects of your story. Because how many of us can say we had a plan for what our path was going to look like and what our journey was going to be, and it didn’t work out the way that we thought? I think most people can relate to that, whether that hard thing that, what made us deviate was a divorce or something else challenging. Everybody can relate to that. But I really love how you’ve equated that with the ashes, like something burning, something going away. And then that allowing the Lord to be able to rebuild you and to turn you into something new. And you also said a word that I love, and that is “becoming.” It’s about becoming who Heavenly Father wants us to be not about, like you said, that list of accomplishments. 

I always think of it as a checklist. Okay, I’ve done this and this, and I’m checking all these things off and then I’m going to get back to my Heavenly Parents. Well, that’s not how it works, right? And you learn that through that, through this experience. And I love how you are sharing that and helping other people to see that maybe they’re feeling like they’re in the middle of a fire right now, that they’re being burned and just to hold onto that hope that there is something more, that Heavenly Father has so much more in store and that he can rebuild us. So how did you see that process play out? Like after you were divorced and you’re going to the Lord and you’re saying “I want to be a new person.” What were some of the aspects and the ways that Heavenly Father did that for you?

Noelle: [00:08:21] I want to say that a lot of times that we think of fire as a negative and destructive force. But fire actually, especially when it comes to forest fires, they have to happen because they clean out the underbrush and then they allow new growth to come forward. And that really is, I think, at the crux of it. So, while this burning was happening, which was very painful and difficult, what was happening is then the underbrush of my life was being cleared away, which was going to then allow new things to come forward. Working with my counselor, there were lots of different things that I did. A couple of the things that I did is I actually did my, at the time it was the young womens, personal progress. And I had been serving in a stake calling and the stake young womens. And so, I had the opportunity to redo my personal progress and I had done it as a youth and I earned my medallion and that was a great experience. But to get to then do it, 17 years later as an adult who had gone through a lot of different changes having children and working outside of the home and also this really difficult trial of being separated from my husband at the time, and then, eventually being divorced. And so, my self-esteem when all of that happened was really low. I just really didn’t have a lot of self-esteem. 

And so, my counselor suggested that I work on that. So, I started to work on my personal progress and that was huge for me because it helped me to remember my divine worth and it gave me a focus. Because a lot of times, especially when you’re going through a difficult trial, you focus on everything that you, you there’s lots that you don’t have any control over, right, when you go through a difficult trial. And so, it’s easy to focus on those things that you don’t have any control over, and then you don’t ever feel like you’re making any progress.

So, by channeling my energy into working on my personal progress, it allowed me to feel like I was making steps in the right direction, which was really exciting. The other thing that I did was really unique is again, my counselor’s suggestion, I had very well-meaning friends that as soon as my divorce became final, they were like, Oh, we’re so excited. You, you can start dating. And the idea of dating was just, it made me sick to my stomach. It took me a long time to fall out of love with my former husband. And that was difficult. 

During that time, he had remarried. And so, there was, it was some, transitions that were really hard to be able to make. And so, my counselor suggested that instead of focusing on dating and putting myself back out there, that I do a mini mission. And I laughed when he told me about it, because I was like, you do know I’m working, and I have three children? Like how does that work to do a mission? 

But this is how amazing Heavenly Father is. He said you just are going, it was very inspired. He said, you’re just, you’re going to act like a sister missionary. You’ll get up at a certain time. You’ll have scripture study. You’ll take care of your kids of course, and work as you need to, but you’re just going to focus on developing your relationship with your Father in Heaven. And, and I love the idea. It was just so exciting for me. And I put all my energy into it. And then Heavenly Father kindly called sister missionaries to my ward. And so, I got to serve alongside these women. 

And the other part of that as part of being a sister missionary, I started going to the temple more often, and when I received my endowments, it was in preparation to be married. And then of course I was sealed and then, spent the next 17 years as someone’s wife. And I often went by myself. It was different to go as a single woman and the more I was in the temple, the more I longed to be there. And what I found is that I got to have some spiritual autonomy. And my experience at the temple was not dependent on someone else. And that was amazing to me and many of the covenants and promises that we make in the temple, I associated those with marriage, but as I sat there in the sessions, I realized that they actually have less to do with marriage than I had originally thought that they are individual covenants. 

So, as I would sit there and because I was going so often at that point in my life, I was going sometimes three and four times a week. I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning, which I know sounds crazy, but I can’t even tell you, it was the place that I could go to feel rejuvenated. Because being a single mom was hard work and, so the sacrifice to get up that early and go was worth it for how I felt and how I was able to then parent. So, by going so often, I actually memorized all aspects of the covenants, which was the first time I’d ever been able to do that in my life. And so, then those words slowly became just a part of me. And then when I was out and about, those words would come into my mind, and they would strengthen me and helped me in times of loneliness or anger or frustration or just remembering my covenants and the promises that came with them. 

And I knew that Heavenly Father, He is unchanging. He, if he tells you like in the scriptures, it says, I, the Lord am bound when you do what I say. That’s in D&C. And so, he’s bound to us when we follow our command or his commandments and our covenants. And so, there was this synergy that I felt when I would go to the temple of I am renewing this covenant with my Heavenly Father. I’m letting him know what my intentions are. Even if I struggle in my everyday imperfections, this is my intention is to rise to this level. And then I just, I felt so empowered as a mother and it made all of my relationships richer and it just strengthened me in a way that I did not expect.

Darla: [00:14:28] I love that. I feel like it’s the power that we are endowed with in the temple that you were experiencing. And I’ll tell you just a glimpse into my life. Something I’ve learned during the pandemic. I haven’t been to the temple in almost a year. And I look, I so look forward to going back, but I have realized in this time that I used to just run to the temple. Like anytime I needed peace or solace, I would just run to the temple. And it, for me, it was more about I just need to be in the walls of the temple. And that’s the only way that I can be close to Heavenly Father or feel him. And I realized not being able to go that there’s still power in my covenants, even if I’m not setting foot in the temple. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to the temple that’s not what I’m saying, but I’ve been grateful for that experience because it’s helped me to realize that the peace and the answers that I’ve received and all of that were not because I was in the temple. It was because I was, there I was learning more about my covenants and I was cleaving to my covenants and that is where the power comes from. 

And so, I really love that part of your story that you learned so much more about your covenants and were able to go to a higher level then because I think a lot of times we just kind of default to the covenants are about marriage. That it’s so tied to marriage. And then something else that you wrote in your book that I just love that kind of goes along with this, you shared a quote by Elder Gong, and this is a part of that quote, but Elder Gong said, “When we covenant all that we are, we become more than we are”. So, I love that. So, I would love to know what does that mean to you and how did you experience that in your own life?

Noelle: [00:16:04] So Elder Gong, that is a quote from his talk, Covenant Belonging. And this was a talk that I studied for a long time because I wanted to understand what is the difference between covenant belonging and covenant keeping. And so, I took a lot of time to study it. And the best explanation that I can give is that you have covenant keeping men and women who make covenants with the Lord and covenants are a way of saying, this is my intention. This is what I am planning on doing. This is what I’m promising to do. And the Lord in return gives us blessings and says, as you follow this, I understand that this is your intention. These are the promises that I’m going to give you in return for trying and making that effort. And then the other part of it is, and though that comes through, it’s not just through the temple. So, it’s baptism. And that’s where it starts and it’s washing and anointing, then it is endowment and then it is sealings. So that’s actually the last one. There’s, you want to think about all of those. 

So, then the other part of it is personal revelation. So, when you have covenant keeping men and women who are doing their best to follow the Lord, then they’re receiving personal revelation. And so, then when you have men and women, covenant keeping men and women, that are receiving personal revelation, then they are covenant belonging individuals, and covenant belonging helps us to belong to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Like we belong to him. We’re covenant, we’ve covenanted to follow him and do as he has asked us to do. And then the other part of that is that our covenant belonging then gives us place and a story. And that’s actually from Elder Gong and it took me a long time to understand that. But this is what it means. It means that the hardest and most difficult things that you have to go through in this life have meaning. There’s a reason for them. They’re not in vain. They’re not a punishment. They’re not because you didn’t do everything perfect on your checklist. They have meaning. They allow us to grow and to learn. That’s the whole purpose that we’re here on this earth to do is to grow and to learn and to become. And as we, as covenant keeping men and women, follow our Heavenly Father and receive that personal revelation, then we receive covenant belonging. 

And in my book, I actually share how, where you can see this happen step by step. Nephi is a perfect example of it because 30 years after living in the promised land and after everything that they’ve been through. They experienced starvation. They experienced being lost, like everything that you can: murder, plots of murder. But he says a beautiful phrase. He says, and “We did live after the manner of happiness.” He had discovered covenant belonging. He was receiving personal revelation. He had made covenants with his Heavenly Father and then it allowed the Lord to consecrate the trials that he had been through for his good, so that he could become more than he was.

Darla: [00:19:26] Okay. You’re just like blowing my mind. This is so good. And I’ve read Elder Gong’s talk. Now I have to go back and read it again, opened up just some new thoughts and why I think it’s so important that we hear from each other that we’re not just in our own head or in our own studies, but that we hear what other people are learning, and we can learn from that as well and apply it to our own lives. So, I’ve said the word, I’ve said the words on this podcast a lot, especially in the last few months, covenant keeping. We’re covenant keeping women. But you take that one step further with covenant belonging, that we belong and okay I have, I’m going to have to go way unpack all this and study a lot more because I just, I love that concept. 

So, I’ll link up Elder Gong’s talk too in the show notes so that if anyone wants to go study that along with me, you can, but the belonging, and that is really the message that I’m trying to share is that you belong. Whatever your journey looks like and whatever the hard things that you’ve gone through. And I love, how you’re bringing to light that those that’s part of your journey for a reason, God doesn’t waste anything. He does it all to help us become who he wants us to become. I think that is so beautiful. So, like Elder Gong said that we become more than we are. We become so much more than we are on our own and we belong. We belong through those covenants, like Noelle, this is so good. 

Noelle: [00:20:51] This was a huge thing because when I would sit in the temple, and I loved the fact after, especially after my divorce, that men and women sat separately, like that was so comforting to me because it just reconfirmed to me that these were my covenants. They weren’t anybody else’s. They weren’t dependent on anyone else. But I, when you get married, you belong with someone, right? Like you belong together. You have your partner, and it can be your partner in crime. And you go through all these adventures and you have children together, all these life experiences. And then when you’re divorced, you don’t belong anymore with anyone. but as I would sit in there and just you talking about covenant belonging, I want to, I then belong to the Lord. I didn’t have to belong to a husband or, and sometimes in our everyday vernacular we use that word and it can maybe have a negative connotation. You know, maybe women feel like I don’t want to belong to anyone. I belong to myself and I certainly belong to myself and I feel that way. But when you are treated so well, and so good, you naturally want to be with that person and cleave to them. Like you want to belong to them because of their goodness and how good they make you feel. And that’s what happened as I was in the temple is that covenant belonging is even a step further and feeling I don’t have to belong in the world anymore. I found a place with my Savior. 

Darla: [00:22:18] And isn’t that so beautiful because that’s something anyone can have, no matter what your experiences, what your journey looks like, anyone can have that. And I think it’s a good reminder too for everyone to find that belonging in Christ. Even if you are married and now, you’re remarried, right? So, you belong in your marriage, but we all need that belonging in Christ. So, I think you’re bringing out something so important for all of us to remember and to cleave to that, like you said, when you are treated so well and when you know, someone loves you and finds value in you, no matter what, it creates that. So I just I love everything that you’ve shared. 

Noelle this has been so amazing. And I know that your story is going to help other people and that whetherwe’re talking specifically, your journey has been divorce, but everybody faces hard and challenging things. And we all sometimes feel like we’re in that fire, but we can look at it as a really good thing that Heavenly Father is helping us to become more. So, thank you so much for sharing all of that. I do have one final question for you, and that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path?

Noelle: [00:23:25] I have seen and felt the Savior through that process of covenant belonging. But even more than that, we talked about this a little bit in the beginning, but there’s a scripture that talks about how the Lord can give you a new heart and can take out that stony flesh heart. And I feel like through that process, that is what happened, that I got broken wide open. And what I learned is that, when you knit yourself to someone. Especially in a marriage and then you go through a divorce, it’s like ripping that knitting apart, and then you can bleed profusely from it. But the Lord is called the Master Healer, the physician. Right? The great physician for a reason because he’s the one that can knit our hearts back together and give us a new heart. 

So, I feel like I was given a new heart and so my focus shifted to my Savior and every aspect of my life where I breathe in and out and every breath and every thought is for my Savior. And it’s made me a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter. 

And it has made me new. I, like the scriptures talk about being born again. And, when I was younger and would read that I didn’t understand what that meant, but I do feel like through this process, I’ve had the opportunity to be born again and to have understanding of the beauty of our Heavenly Father’s plan and the plan of happiness. That’s what it is. It’s a plan of happiness and even amidst the deepest and most difficult trials, He’s shown us the way that we can have happiness. And that is through his Son, the Savior ,Jesus Christ. 

Darla: [00:25:21] That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart, Noelle. I really, I just feel like there’s someone out there that really needs to hear this message that being on the covenant path, yes, i’s a straight path because we have those covenants that we have to make, but they’re not there to help to make us feel like we have to all be the same. We have to all fit a mold. We can have that belonging through Christ. And we can know that He created us the way we are for a reason and has given us all these experiences for a reason so that we can belong to him. And I love how you’ve illustrated that that is something that all of us can have. 

If someone wants to learn more about what you’re sharing, I’ve read your book and I know it is a place that anyone could benefit from learning more, especially about covenants and about becoming who Heavenly Father wants us to be, where can they find your book? 

Noelle: [00:26:08] Actually on Amazon. So, the name is Beauty for Ashes: Divorce and the Latter-day Saint Woman. And it’s under my name, Noelle McBride, N O E L L E McBride. And, you can purchase it on Amazon and I will say I just it has been the most amazing experience. I never intended on writing a book about my experiences but felt very impressed and led through the process. And I ended up self-publishing it, which is not something that most people do, but it has, especially, I did it because of COVID during the time of COVID you couldn’t get into any publishers. And if you decide to read it, I hope you will share it with your friends and family because it has just, it’s one of those books that it’s not just about divorce, it helps teach so much more forgiveness, boundaries, covenant keeping, all of those different things that kind of fall underneath that umbrella of, for my experience, through divorce.

Darla: [00:27:08] Yes, and it’s beautifully written and so many good things. I enjoyed reading it so much. So, I’ll link all that up in the show notes as well. So, if someone wants to go straight to Amazon to buy it, you can find that in the show notes, but Noelle, thank you so much for being here and for just being willing to share a part of your journey on the covenant path.

Noelle: [00:27:25] Thank you.