"I'm so much stronger and wiser now."

Shondi Partridge is a 45-year-old widow of eight years and a single mother in Lake Forest. She’s been a member of the church for five years. Here’s a peek inside her life.

What’s the hardest thing about being a widow?

The loneliness. I miss my partner and best friend.

What do you think your husband thinks about your life right now?

He’s happy, proud, grateful. And I’m sure he knows that I’m a good mom. If I had one more day with him, I‘d spend it sitting next to him, holding his hand and talking.

What do you want your life to look like in five years?

 I hope I’m working as a nurse with my own home, small as it may be. I’ll be working hard, being a mom. Hopefully I’ll meet a nice guy, but who knows?

What did you think about Mormons before you became one?

I thought the Mormons were weird because they were always so unbothered, unaffected by things that went on that other people would be angry about. They would just always smile and come back with something pleasant. They were always so happy.

What’s an experience that helped shape your testimony?

I was pretty low. My husband died. My son was about two. I went back to work and I hated it and nothing was right in my life so I prayed. I hadn’t prayed in at least a decade. I prayed for guidance to get me to the church that would get me closest to Heavenly Father. Less than twelve hours later I was walking through a friend’s apartment complex to take Johnny to the playground when I saw two missionaries out of the corner of my left eye. (She laughs.) Those poor guys. So I zigged right to avoid them. At the next corner, I saw them again and they were closer. As I started to go right again to avoid them again it hit me, and I said, “No, Lord. NOT the Mormons.” Then I realized what was going on. We met at the third corner, I let my shoulders droop in defeat and submission and said, “I’m supposed to talk to you.”

What surprised you most when you joined the church?

That a lot of my preconceptions were wrong. Families still had problems. There were so many more backgrounds than just people born in the church who came from Salt Lake City or Utah. People came from everywhere, even other countries. Some were born n the church, some not. I thought everyone was born in the church.

What was the hardest part of joining the Mormon church?

Coffee! I miss my coffee. And of course being consistent, but I find when I am the rewards are amazing.

What’s the best part of joining the Mormon church?

Instant family. A feeling of belonging, a feeling of acceptance. Of not being perfect and having that be okay.

What has been your favorite calling in church?

Young Women’s because the girls were awesome. Their spirits, excitement, eagerness to learn was unstoppable. It made it so fun to feed them spiritually and to get to know them. They were great.

What are you most proud of in your life?

Becoming the mom I am now. That’s totally due to the church and prayer and scripture reading.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life so far?

You choose to be happy. Let love rule. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And of course, follow the Golden Rule.

What’s the hardest experience you’ve ever been through?

When I was in a six-and-a-half year abusive relationship. It was abusive in every way. Every way. Finally one day I just had it. I was very regretful that I had wasted, in my mind, that six-and-a-half years. But on the other side of it, I wouldn’t say I’m glad, but I don’t regret anymore going through it. I’m so much stronger and wiser now. I think I went through that so I could understand other people going through that as well. I‘m not there anymore. That’s the best reward. I’m not there anymore. That’s not me.

What wisdom do you have to pass along to people on the road behind you?

Enjoy what’s in front of you right now. Work is important but so is play. Connect with as many people as you can right now.

Any final thoughts to share?

I’m so grateful to be part of His living church because I can save my son a thousand worlds of hurt that I had to go through and he won’t.