Beyond The Checklist

031: How Gods Love Will Help You Rebuild When Your Life Feels Shattered || Natalie Reeve


Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women Podcast podcast. This is Darla. I’m so happy to be here with you. I say that every week, but I am. I just get so excited to record these episodes and to share with you other women who are navigating the covenant path, just like you are. And I just get so excited to hear their stories and to be able to share them with all of you.

So today my guest is Natalie Reeve and Natalie welcome. I’m so happy that you’re here. 

Natalie: [00:00:50] I’m happy to be here. 

Darla: [00:00:51] Will you just take a second and tell everyone a little bit more about you. 

Natalie: [00:00:55] So I am the mother of five children. I’ve been married to my husband for 13 years. And we met down in Southern California while I was teaching school and he was working for a construction company.

And then we’ve since moved up to Utah and I’m now not teaching school. I taught school for six years, but now I’m just homeschooling my kids and helping other people homeschool. So that’s what I’m doing. 

Darla: [00:01:20] Okay it’s good to get to know you better. And actually we’re not talking about homeschooling.

Natalie: [00:01:24] Now. We aren’t. That’s not why I’m here.

Darla: [00:01:28] You have your own very unique journey on the covenant path. And one of the things that we talked about before we started the interview that you told me that I really loved, and I’d love to hone in on this and hear more of your thoughts is that there was a time in your life when you were being pulled in both directions like God was pulling you one way. The world was pulling you another way. Can you tell me a little bit more about that time and what that was like for you? 

Natalie: [00:01:52] Yes. So this goes back about 15 to 20 years ago in my life. Growing up, I gained a testimony of the gospel very young and I was very grounded.

Never really felt the pull to partake of worldly things so much in high school. Like I just, I feel like I was in this bubble. I grew up in Southern California, but because my testimony was so deep, I felt like I was very protected even while dating and so forth. I just was very centered in the gospel.

And then at 21 I got married and I married someone who was wonderful in many ways, but after we got married, it became apparent that in just about every way, I was not enough for him. And it started right away where he started critiquing my body and saying things like, oh, I can’t believe you actually look skinny with clothes on, or he’d say things.

Did you know that you can lose weight if you do this? Oh, just dropping hints constantly about my body and weight. Immediately after we got married and of course for me, that just led me to feel paranoid and I started to hide behind food. And so I started to just make pies and cookies and all these things to protect myself in a way.

And so I started to overeat where you think your husband’s critiquing your body, you would not so much to do that, but I just, I felt like I was hiding needed to hide myself. And it just spiraled from there over the period of the few years that I was married to him, where it was, my things were just attacked.

My sense of humor, my speaking abilities, if I slurred my words that was wrong. There were just all sorts of things that I did that was wrong. And because I trusted him. And I wanted to be happily married and I wanted to improve myself, I just accepted that information as fact. I didn’t even second guess.

I’m like, oh, I guess I slur my words. I got. So I started like practicing how I was talking. And then, and so I just trusted this information in this feedback that I was getting that all these things were horribly wrong with me. And suddenly within a few months, I felt like I was in the deepest, darkest hole.

Like I had it written across my head. I have problems. And I didn’t know that I had problems when I married him, but he pointed all these things out. Anyway, and so the process of falling into that hole was very fast, but climbing out was very slow, and up to that point in my life, I had such a deep testimony, but I did not have a close, connected relationship with Heavenly Father.

And about a year into the relationship I was writing in my journal about how lost I was. And I didn’t know where, who I was, where my personality went. And I felt like I had just evaporated and I had this image come to my mind. Something that actually did happen 10 years later, but it was of me walking into a room and it was like I radiated and I had two little kids in front of me.

I was holding a baby and I felt somebody. I walked into the room, which was actually a chapel room. It was actually a chapel and I felt someone from the pulpit staring at me. And from that pulpit, I could, I was just electrocuted with love by just the way that person was looking at me. And I felt that was a husband who loved me deeply, and I didn’t put it together that it was a different man, but just that image of me coming out of this hole carried me to seek. How do I become that person that I saw walk into that room with these kids and have the confidence to do that? And cause at the time I couldn’t look someone in the eyes. I couldn’t say a full sentence confidently. I just was like completely a shattered soul. I started to turn to Heavenly Father.

And as I turned to Heavenly Father, I would say to him, how do you feel about me? Because I had no sense of who I was, how anybody felt about me. I had no ability to combat the negative information coming to me from my spouse. And so I started to turn to Heavenly Father with all my heart. And the first time that I turned to him, it was like this flood of love just washed over me.

And it was like tangible love. And I had never thought all my 23 years on this earth to ask Heavenly Father how he felt about me, but then in the darkest, deepest, lowest moment of my life, he came in and told me because I asked and as I started to I was stunned by the emotions that I felt and the, it was like, there were angels around me constantly. I started to come out of this hole and day after day, I would ask the same question and it would help me get through that day. But at the same time in the same breath because I was becoming more whole, I started to overcome my need to hide behind food, and I started to be able to control myself around food.

And I desired so much to please this husband that I had at the time that I started to really control my consumption of food so that I could be attractive for him. And at the same time that I’m having all these amazing spiritual experiences with Heavenly Father coming to me and revealing how he sees me, I also became ultra controlling over food and feeling pulled in a direction to become this perfect wife physically, and so there was this like extreme effort that I was putting into pleasing my husband still. And so I was pulled in these two different directions by becoming growing closer to the Lord.

But then at the same time becoming more materialistic in taking care of my body andobsessing over it. And so I became so controlling over that that at the same time as the spiritual experiences, I became anorexic, fully anorexic would have anxiety if I ate a tomato.. That type of anorexic. And I got down to 88 pounds and that 88 pounds was what made me stop and say, wait, how did I get here? And it made me reflect on the marriage. And as I reflected on the marriage, I turned to Heavenly Father, and I went to the temple and I was told explicitly that if I wanted to complete my work on this earth, that I could not stay married to him. And there were reasons why I could not stay married to him.

There were things going on behind my back that I don’t want to go into, but there was definitely some covenant breaking going on and the Lord gave me permission because it was the right thing for me to keep that covenant with him. But that covenant with my husband needed to be broken.

And it was very an extraordinarily confusing time because I was like, wait, does Heavenly Father tell people to get divorced? Does he do that? Is that in I was only 23 at the time. And I didn’t know anybody at 23 who had been divorced. I didn’t know anybody who none of my friends were going through divorce.

And so I turned to Heavenly Father quite a bit during this time period probably about a hundred times a day to say, are you sure? Are you sure you want me to do this? Are you sure? And the answer was like, yes, this is your path. It was very discouraging because here I came into the marriage, very whole, very happy, excited, innocent trusting.

And then I walked away, completely shattered, not trusting, lost my innocence and anorexic. And so I had this huge journey to go on to rebuild and I didn’t know that I was  being broken when I was being broken. I didn’t recognize it as it was happening. But then when I stopped and realized, oh my gosh, the distance between where I was and who I am now, it’s like miles apart.

How do I ever make up for that? And how do you make up for something like that? You don’t. The Lord does. And that’s where he carried me through anorexia to get to the other side, through rebuilding my life, putting it back together. It was a very long process. It took me about nine years to fully recover from just a few years of damage from the marriage and in also to forgive.

And they say the miracle of forgiveness, that the book, that title of the book, it truly is a miracle that we do forgive. But when we get to that place where all the all that was broken can be put back together as if, there’s still some things that will never be the same, but it is a true miracle what the Lord can do from taking your life at a young age, very shattered life at a young age and making it into a beautiful life.

Darla: [00:11:25] I really love, I love the way that you express your faith in him. And one of the things that we talked about before that I like to go back a little bit in your story and have you talk about one of the things that you told me, it was about, you had a covenant marriage and then on the other end, some covenants were broken, but you came to realize that your covenants were still intact.

Tell me about that. Like, how did you come to know that? What did that look like? 

Natalie: [00:11:49] I remember the day I got married, I remember promising myself that my life was no longer about me. It was about my husband and I felt like 100% I stayed true to that through the marriage. And that was actually what contributed to me breaking a little bit breaking me because I never stopped to evaluate and say, wait, I need to stand up for myself right now. I never did that. I just, it was all about him. So when the marriage ended, I felt the void of the physical person. But I did not. I was never there emotionally and spiritually from that physical person was there out of nowhere, it was like Heavenly Father came into fill not only his role in that covenant relationship as a father and a God, but also filled in the role that my husband was supposed to be playing the whole time. And he filled it in the love that I had needed the whole time. He filled in the nurturing, the support, the. The strength the guidance he filled in all of those roles that I wanted my husband and my husband, and it was missing for the whole time he came in and she played that role.

And my covenant with him that I had made at the beginning of the marriage, I never broke it and he never left. He was there the whole time. And even when we go through a divorce or we go through something because of the choices of somebody else, it does not require us to feel shame about it because there was no breaking of the covenant on our part.

And when we know it’s the right thing to get a divorce, when that is confirmed by the spirit, only the spirit and the Lord can make that choice with you because only he can know when it’s time for that relationship to stay put or for it to dissolve. And I’ve worked with many women who have been in my shoes.

Many of my friends, not, I won’t say many, but I feel like I attract people who have gone through my path or will be going through my path. I attract them. And then I just happened to be like, oh my gosh, I’ve walked this path. And I always say to them, let the Lord be your husband. When your husband can’t do be there, recognize that the Lord is filling in that place.

So then when I did get remarried the Lord started to fade into the background and I wasn’t working less at finding him. I wasn’t seeking him less. I wasn’t reading scriptures less, but he was less present in my life. And for months after I got remarried I would pray every day where did you go Heavenly Father? Where did you go? I need you. In a few months into that marriage, the spirit said, I gave you Dan. Turn to him. Let him fill the role that I’ve been playing and that was the answer to everything. I needed Heavenly Father, but I also needed a man to fill that place to make me whole, I, it wasn’t going to be just me and the Lord replacing the man that hurt me.

It was required for me to replace it with a righteous man to fulfill the healing process. 

Darla: [00:15:10] I really love that imagery. I think it’s important to remember that we’re making individual covenants and that an individual journey. We have a personal God who tells us and guides us and helps us to know what’s right for us because I think someone else in your situation, or not, maybe not the exact same situation, but they might get the answers, no stay married. 

Natalie: [00:15:30] Yes. 

Darla: [00:15:31] And he can he can say that to someone else and it’s not wrong that he’s told you something opposite. 

Natalie: [00:15:36] Yeah. 

Darla: [00:15:36] And so I really love how your story illustrates that it’s an individual journey. And it’s just about figuring out what he is saying to you. And so I think I really wanted to make sure we touched on that.

I think that is just a beautiful way to imagine our covenants that we make in the temple. And, you held onto those covenants, even when someone else wasn’t and that’s what got you that relationship. And that’s what got you through that. So I really love that. I also want to talk about you said that you were being pulled because you were in this going towards the world and dealing with this eating disorder, but yet still having these spiritual experiences, what did you learn during that time about beauty and about what’s inside.

I just would love to hear what that experience of your journey has taught you. 

Natalie: [00:16:22] Okay. I’d love to share. For those of you who have not struggled with anorexia or with eating disorder of any sort there’s something called body dysmorphia, where you look in the mirror and you literally see something very different than reality, and it doesn’t matter the number on the scale, your eyes do not see the same thing that the numbers on this scale reflect. And so when I became anorexic even though the numbers told me 88 pounds, my eyes could not see it. My eyes could not see it. Even though logically I knew that. And so I had to overcome anorexia. It’s such a complicated process because it’s truly a mental disorder in that your brain tricks you. Your brain is playing tricks on you. And so no matter what I did to control and to focus on my body, I proved that I was never going to accept that I was enough. I wasn’t an, I wasn’t enough at 110 pounds. I wasn’t enough at a hundred pounds. I wasn’t enough at 90 pounds.

So I knew that was not the root of my issue. The root of my issue is that I lost my inner sense of who I was on the inside. And because I lost that, because I became nothing on the inside, that’s what became reflected on the outside. So the answer wasn’t tofocus on the outside. It was to focus on becoming somebody on the inside.

And once I became somebody on the inside, it would reflect on my outer body. And so I went to a counselor and I told her kind of my story. And she said, you’re going to struggle with this every day for the rest of your life. And I looked at her and said,, I don’t believe that. And when I left I didn’t go back to her because I said, I know Heavenly Father will heal me from this.

I know this isn’t going to be a lifelong struggle. So I relied on the Lord to help me with this. And a lot of it is about control, but I can’t go into all of it in this short podcast, but I relied on the spirit to tell me what instructions I needed to do to change. So every day I would run eight miles, no matter what. I would just run eight miles and it had to be at least eight miles.

It never less. And then one day I felt the spirit say, run six miles today. And then, and as I obeyed what the spirit told me to do and submitted to that instruction, I started to be able to pull back on those anorexic, controlling, over-exercising tendencies. And then another day I felt the spirit say, run four miles today.

And then the next day was like, don’t run more than four miles. So as I submitted and was obedient. I started to heal from this obsessive cycle. Anyway, so that’s part of the process, but then I felt very guided that I needed to get in touch with my soul. I knew how Heavenly Father saw me because he had told me over and over in those moments that I said, how do you feel about me?

I knew that Heavenly Father saw me that way. I didn’t see me that way. And the way that Heavenly Father saw me. So I knew I needed to get in touch with who is this person that Heavenly Father sees.. So what I started to do to heal myself was I would look into my eyes in the mirror and I started with about 15 minutes a day.

I would just look into my eyes and I had a rule that I was not allowed to be judgmental. I cannot look at any part of me and say anything negative about myself. So I’d look into my eyes and I started to see the soul that God saw. And I started to see the beauty beyond the appearance, the beauty beyond anything tangible.

And I started to get in touch with who I was originally and just the living soul within me. And there was a lot of things that weren’t beautiful and there’s a competitive edge. There was anger. There was bitterness. There were things in the way of that beauty that I could look into my eyes and see.

But as I cleared those things up, I got in touch with something deeper. I would say is my divine nature that all of us have inside of us is this divine nature. And that was ultimately what allowed me to let go of clinging to this ideal. And in our day and age, we are so bombarded with objectification in every way, shape and form, especially as women. I think men too, but there’s this ideal that we can strive and strive and live out our day striving for this physical ideal. As that will never be fully satisfied. It can’t satisfy us. But when we focus on discovering and clearing out and cleaning up some of the muck inside of us and really tuning ourselves to our divine nature, then all of those things, the wrinkles or the thin lips or the bigger thighs, all of those things fade because you realize that’s not the beauty that can satisfy us. It’s being a beautiful soul and really doing the inner beauty work that really can satisfy you and feel like make you feel like you’re enough. A few years later, I ended up having twins and for any anorexic, you say the thought of having twins it’s it was a beautiful thing, but as in an anorexic brain, your brain goes straight to, you’d have to gain so much weight and the stretch marks, and I was able to go through that whole process and just focus on the beauty of my growing these babies and embrace the loose  skin and, embrace it all because I had discovered the beauty that satisfies and that becoming a mother and just nurturing that person and ignoring the other stuff that comes along with having children. That’s what that meditation, the daily meditation taught me and ultimately all theanorexic tendencies faded. Took about five years, but it all completely faded. And that was one of the things that helps me.

Darla: [00:22:43] I think you’ve just given us a clue, like anything that we struggle with if we know our divine nature, if we know who we are on the inside. That’s a way to help us get over anything in our life. And you’ve been through so much and it sounds like that’s how you’ve done it is figuring out who you really are and being able to tap into that divine nature and  helping you see yourself as God sees you. And just going from there. I really love that. What would you say to another woman who’s had struggles similar to yours, whether it be with your divorce or the eating disorder, anything else that you’ve experienced?

What would you say to give hope to somebody who’s maybe in a dark place like you have been in the past? 

Natalie: [00:23:23] Okay. I will. I’m going to add on one more struggle that I went through simultaneously and it ended up being a blessing, but I went through infertility as well with my previous husband and with my new husband a total of five years of infertility.

And I want to add on to that, whether it’s divorce, whether it’s infidelity, pornography infertility, eating disorders, you need to assess very wisely and own only what is yours to own. It is so in our nature to feel guilt, to take on somebody else’s mistakes, to take on what if I did this differently?

What if I did that? What if I had said this? What if I had been this way? And you can analyze and analyze, but ultimately, the only thing you can own is your relationship with yourself, your relationship with God and your choices, and then everything else is truly other people’s to carry. And I think really seeking wisdom from Heavenly Father in how much of this should I own and how much of it should I give to you?

How much of this is somebody else’s to own? I think I’ve worked with several of my friends and my new husband has served as a Bishop and whenever he had a woman come in, who was struggling with any of these issues, he’d often say to me, to them, you should probably talk to my wife. She has been through this.

And so I talked to several women going through similar struggles. And the thing I would say is so much of this is not your fault. Don’t own anything that is not yours to own. And sometimes it is really easy for us to be hard on ourselves and own way more than our portion. So that’s what I would say is take on responsibility for only what is necessary for you to take on.

Darla: [00:25:25] That is amazing advice and that can apply to anyone. So I really love that you shared that. Thank you so much. This has been amazing. I have loved learning from you, Natalie. I can just see the light in your eyes and the way that you have cleaved to your covenants and navigated hard things.

And I know that you’re going to be an inspiration to other people. I’m sure that you already are in your own life. 

Natalie: [00:25:48] So that’s so sweet of you. 

Darla: [00:25:51] Oh, you’re welcome.  I have felt the spirit talking to you today. 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?

Natalie: [00:26:00] A scripture that saw me through everything that I really just cleaved to what, and there’s several scriptures like this, but on the covenant path, we’re asked to keep a covenant. We’re asked to keep several covenants, but ultimately it all comes down to one. And that is to love God and to put God first in our lives.

And as we just focus our eyes on that, everything else falls into place. The scripture that came to my mind over and over during those difficult years was this. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called according to his purpose. And the Lord taught me during those difficult years, you love me and I will make this all okay. And at such a young age to be so broken and just feel like how is this ever going to come together to have him tell me you have chosen to love me, I’m going to make this work together for your good and in so many ways beyond my wildest imagination, he’s taken all of the messes and made them into beautiful things in my life.

That, and a story that I can share to those who are struggling and who are going through similar situations and they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. And so I just feel so strongly that that covenant is this promise right here. You love me, you put me first, everything else, all the trials, there will be trials, but all the trials can come together for good, for your good, for your improvement, for your strength, for the strength of others.

Darla: [00:27:42] So many good things that you’ve shared with us. We can see him see ourselves as he sees us to find that divine nature. And then to be able to just put him first. And I really loved what you said about taking those messy parts of, whatever we’re experiencing and being able to let him take that over and make it into something beautiful. So I just think that is such a hopeful message and I’m so grateful that you would come on and share that, Natalie. So thank you so much., 

Natalie: [00:28:07] Thank you.  Love the work that you are doing. 

Darla: [00:28:10] Thank you. 

Natalie: [00:28:11] I admire you for doing this. 

Darla: [00:28:12] Thank you so much. I’m grateful that I have a platform that I could share stories like yours and be able to cause I haven’t experienced everything. And I don’t have to, I can just help other people to be able to share. So I’m really grateful that you would do that if people wanted to connect with you and I know you have an Instagram account, it’s not really related to what we talked about today.

It’s related to homeschool, but just tell people where they could go and find you on Instagram. 

Natalie: [00:28:35] So I have a public account called @simplifiedhomeschooling on Instagram, and I have a personal account, but I don’t really like to share pictures of my children a lot and so forth. So I just give homeschool advice in life, advice on there, mothering advice.

And I do share some of my personal experiences. If you have any questions or want to connect with me, you can just message me on through that account. 

Darla: [00:29:01] I will link that up in the show notes so people can go find you, Natalie, but seriously, thank you so much for coming on. 

Natalie: [00:29:07] Thank you. I’m glad. I don’t know how it ended up. I’m doing this, but obviously the spirit guided this whole process. So it’s been great. 

Darla: [00:29:17] I am grateful and I’m sure everyone listening is really grateful that you follow that prompting and yeah, this has been great. So thank you so much. 

Natalie: [00:29:24] Thank you. Good to talk to you.

And now here are this week’s journal questions. 

Many guests this season have shared how asking God how he feels about them has helped them feel his love. If you haven’t asked God how he feels about you lately, ask him in prayer and then record the answer you feel in the coming weeks and months. 

 Natalie shared how she asked Heavenly Father how he felt about her, but then she took it one step further by using daily meditation and looking at herself in the mirror to see for herself what God sees in her. Who is this person that Heavenly Father sees? 

Try doing what Natalie did. Look in the mirror. Look at yourself in the eye. Don’t judge yourself and allow negativity to creep in. See the beauty that is not tangible. 

See yourself as your Heavenly Parents see you. 

Natalie shared a scripture found in Romans 8 28. All things work together for good to them that love God. 

What does loving God mean to you? 

How have you seen him take the messes in your life and make them into beautiful things? 

Record your thoughts in your journal?