I’m sharing my story because with Easter coming up and my thoughts turning to Christ, I wanted to share with those who I care about what has given me the most joy in my life and why, in the hopes that maybe someone else who is seeking out truth and happiness will find it as I have (or even if you’re just plain curious, that’s cool too). So I will start with the beginning, with how I came to choose the Mormon life for myself…
But first, watch this video of someone else’s story of conversion to the Mormon faith that I love (if you have the time)
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, wasn’t she always a Mormon? What is she talking about?” True. I was born into an LDS family (LDS is what we “Mormons” call ourselves. It’s short for the full name of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and raised LDS. So isn’t that the answer right there? She came to be a Mormon by being born into a Mormon family. Kind of true, but not the whole story.
Even those of us who are born into an LDS family have to decide for ourselves at some point if the teachings are something we truly believe for ourselves and not just because our parents have said it’s true. I call my story of why I ended up sticking with the religion I grew up in my “conversion story,” even though I might not technically be a convert to the religion. It is still a change of heart and I think most LDS people go through a conversion or change of heart at least once, if not multiple times in their life –When I was younger I think there was a point that I was almost resentful of the religion I grew up in because it kept me from being able to be a “normal” teenager so I definitely needed that change of heart– There comes a point where the reason a person does things must shift from going through the motions because it’s what we do, to going through the motions because we wholeheartedly believe in the reasons behind it or else failing to continue to go through the motions at all. I believe the time in my life where I came to learn the most about myself and my relationship with my Father in Heaven came about when I stopped living at home and had no one around to make me continue to go through the motions.
So I began my quest for truth. I started out college being kind of lazy with my church attendance and following principles of the gospel. I very quickly recognized a negative change in my life so it didn’t take me long to search out change. I decided to test out principles of the gospel to see what would happen. I became hyper-vigilant with church and institute (a scriptural gospel study class for adults) attendance, often going to 2-3 institute classes a week, plus church activities AND 3 hours of church on Sunday (basically if I wasn’t at school or work your best bet was to find me somewhere in the church building), as well as dressing more modestly, faithfully paying tithing, keeping the sabbath holy, etc. I put it all to the test. I also started helping the missionaries teach lessons to investigators (people interested in learning more about our beliefs) most of whom were college girls my age. I started fellowshipping them (helping them navigate their way through the LDS world and just being a friend so they wouldn’t feel all alone at a church where they knew no one) and the missionaries put me on the spot often, telling me to bear my testimony at the drop of a hat. I hated them at first for doing this to me, but then I came to love and look forward to these opportunities to share my testimony at the drop of a hat. I also became better at it. After a while, I also started holding my own little “Family Home Evenings” in my apartment every Monday night, where I’d have the LDS missionaries and a nonmember or investigator over to discuss a gospel topic and teach them a little more about what we believe, while also listening to what they believe if they believed something different. As I continued to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ I continued to learn more about myself and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Saying it out loud helped me discover just what I did truly believe (which was even more than I realized). Sometimes you don’t really know what you believe until you have to open your mouth and declare it, and you can be surprised at what comes out. Missionary work is one of the best ways to grow a solid testimony (but what it is about missionary work is the part where you share your testimony).
I had so many small miracles in my life during this time that came about from exercising my faith and following gospel principles that confirmed to me that they really were true. Some things that should have been downright physically impossible happened as a direct result of having enough faith to follow through with what I believed to be right. Not only did these personal experiences in and of themselves confirm my beliefs, but how I felt as a result of them did as well.
This is the formula I follow to find truth and light in my life. This is the way I know what I know to be true. No principle I have ever learned from the gospel of Christ has ever brought darkness or despair to my life. The principles I have learned to follow bring about blessings, joy, love, and happiness 100% of the time. I have tested out many principles of the gospel in my life and this has rung true every single time. I testify that God lives and He loves each and every one of us. We lived with Him before we came to this earth to be tested; my soul knows this to be true. Even if I can’t physically remember it feel like my spirit recognizes the familiarity. I have had too many experiences in my life that have proven to me that my Father in Heaven exists and hears and answers my prayers to be able to deny it. I just can’t and I won’t. I won’t go into every single individual experience I’ve had that have proven these things to be true because I believe you would do better to go out and find out for yourself. God will not forsake you or forget you. If you earnestly seek Him out, you will find Him and you will come to know for yourself. I testify that God didn’t just speak to prophets of old and now leaves us here in present times all alone to figure out all out by ourselves. There are living prophets today and twelve modern-day Apostles of Jesus Christ that He speaks to us through. And Christ lives! He is there to comfort us and He knows and understands everything we go through. Because of His teachings, I have so much more purpose and meaning to my life and because of His atoning sacrifice I can have eternal life and live with my Father in Heaven again. But the best part is that you don’t have to take my, or anyone else’s word for it! Isn’t it wonderful that we each can come to know this for ourselves? I think that the best part of all is that we don’t have to “blindly believe” but can put our faith to the test by being obedient to the commandments of God and following the principles of the gospel and can see our faith and testimonies grow by putting these things into action! The confirmation of these truths comes after the trial.
So my challenge to you is to listen to our modern-day prophets testify of Christ this weekend during LDS General Conference (to stream it live go here. Sessions begin at 10am and 2pm MST on Saturday and Sunday and go for 2 hours each). Listen to their words and ponder them in your heart, with a sincere desire to know if the messages they bring are true. Pray about it (Moroni 10:4 in the Book of Mormon). Pick one of the talks you like best and apply the principle it discusses to your life. Be diligent about it and really put it to the test. It won’t cost you anything but your time and your effort and I benefit in no way from it. I’m not trying to trick or fool anyone or make anyone believe what I believe because it benefits me in some way. I get nothing out of this other than joy that it might bring you joy.
Happy Easter everyone!