Category Archives: Stories of Conversion

Andrew Schneider’s Conversion Part 3

How has your life changed since being introduced to the Church?

  • From the moment I was prepared to first feel God’s Spirit speaking to my Spirit to bear record of truth that Jesus Christ did in reality restore His Church in these latter days, nothing has been the same in me, though mortality continues down its meandering path.  The power of the Holy Ghost and the gift of sanctification through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is everything to me.  Through this grace, I learn how to better love and serve others to become more like Savior.  This causes every fiber of my being to desire daily improvement upon the prior version of myself I was yesterday.  The spiritual gifts administered by Priesthood authority that are only available in the Lord’s authorized Church by way of sacred covenants fosters more transformation than any other power, authority, experience, or embellishment the world could ever offer humanity as an alternative.  The comparison is analogous to night versus day, with the rays of sunshine in the daytime constituting a magnitude of transformation only possible through the fullness of the Priesthood, Gospel of Jesus Christ, and true and living Church of the Savior.  But to know of a certainly, all genuine truth seekers must travel the same pathway by firsthand experience, personal immersion, and an acquired desire to pick up their cross, forsake the world, and follow the Savior as He has asked of countless people in all ages of the world.  By losing my life with commitment to serve the Savior, He has shown the way to find myself.  All that I ever hope to know of myself that I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands has become an ever growing reality in His Church.

What have people around you thought about your joining the Church?

  • Everyone that has known me recently and even those reacquainted from my past after I joined the Church have noted the stark differences in the person I once was compared to who I am today and hope to become in the future. They notice the sometimes dramatic shift in lifestyle, patterns, patience, compassion, charity, and other attributes that I don’t consciously think about so much as do my best to demonstrate.  The veil of darkness and blindness that once covered my spiritual eyes has been lifted to help me know the difference between right and wrong with absolution, as well as greater strength to resist the evil and choose the good.  While I have invited family members and friends to come and see the purity of truth and power of God I have witnessed by seeing firsthand for themselves, all have yet to venture that proposition.  Nevertheless, I am grateful in my heart that the Lord has granted such conversations to take place.  God shows by way of certainty that decisions I make to follow the Savior have impacted people’s lives in wonderful ways.  Those I knew previously who initially thought the commitment to my new faith would result in another fleeting interest area of a wandering mind, now see immovable conviction and numerous positive life changes.  Mistrust or perceived folly in my original decision has been replaced with respect for the blessings in plain view for all who knew me before to see.   Time and living my faith changes people.

What were some of your hesitations about joining the Church?

  • The biggest apprehension I experienced in joining the Church was worthiness to be baptized because of the past sins I had committed in a former state that was rapidly transcending into a new consciousness of existence as the Lord’s invitation plucked at the very core of my heartstrings.  These witnesses were so strong and immediate in the time span since my initial introduction to the Church and first Missionary lessons that I relatively quickly and with utmost certainty come to know I had found the Lord’s true and living Church.  As there is duality in all things and the most opposition follows the greatest truths, I was tempted to delay Baptism until I felt worthy by continuing to meet with the Missionaries and repent of my past sins.  The same is true with whether or not I could follow the commandments taught by the Missionaries as my mind grappled with past traits of rebelliousness and a growing desire to be obedient because these were God’s laws and His Church, not mans.  These struggles came to a crescendo while on vacation weeks before I was to be baptized in a decision to view a few of the many anti-Mormon web sites.  This in combination with doubt expressed by close family members that this venture was not actually what I thought.  In a moment after I decided the web sites were a waste of time because God showed me truth in personal ways I had never before experienced, I felt so said in my heart and worried with great anxiety that the unprecedented joy I was feeling would disappear with doubt.  But, the Lord strengthened my resolve to follow through with angels and servants on earth to assist with helping my testimony to grow while the doubt receded from my thoughts.

Who has helped you through the process of joining the Church?

  • My friend and new colleague at work helped me combat the opposition that was trying to stop me being baptized so I could rapidly gain understanding about exactly what it meant to make sacred covenants with God by Priesthood authority now again entrusted to man on the earth for the last time.  Making the transition would have been far more difficult if not for this friend and the local congregation members who befriended me and showed kindness that I had found to be so rare a quality in my travels.  Together, they answered my questions, alleviated concerns, and helped me embark on a new journey of spiritual enlightenment and transformation.  From the seeds planted that grew to become a mighty change of heart, and forward into baptism and beyond, the Lord has sent many disciples to guide me in ways I could not do myself.  I began to understand the patterns of good and evil influences in my life and how they worked through others.  Slowly but surely with the help of loving people and the Holy Ghost, initial hurdles were overcome in the Lord’s way, plan, and time that I could understand with perfect clarity.

Describe your first visit to the temple.

  • During my first visit to the Washington DC Temple with my new friend, I met a Sister Missionary from Ghana, Africa.  She told me before I left after many hours of watching movies and looking at the attractions, if I prayed and asked Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ whether these things were true, answers would come.  It was that invitation that stayed in my mind until I began praying sincerely for the first time in my life a few weeks later.  Fast forward until two days before I was to go through the Temple the first time over a year later, my friend and I decided to go down to the DC Temple visitor’s center to help my mind prepare.  This very same Sister happened to be there and we shed tears after I told her my story.  She mentioned that her family had disowned her for serving a mission, but because of her determination, they ended up investigating the Church while she was away and found the same truth she had witnessed.  Many were now in the process of being baptized.  This was a precursor to the indescribable joy I felt when going inside the Temple a few days later.  The beauty and holiness of the Temple was yet another affirmation of the Lord’s divinity and very real involvement of concern and love with His Church and members.  My heart was so full of joy that it changed me profoundly on that very day of my first attendance and every visit since.

What would you like others to know about the Church?

  • Despite centuries of man-made contradiction, hypocrisy, violence, and many other negative realities of organized religion and Christianity, as well as how easy it is to doubt things not yet seen or known with enough measure of certainty, there is a promise of truth God has given to the world through His Son Jesus Christ.  We are literal sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven who loves every one of us who lives today.  God has given His only Begotten Son that we can know of absolute truth if such a desire is met with sincerity, humility, and an unfettered willingness to follow what He is prepared to give to us by spiritual means the world does not see or recognize.  Not only does God live and love us, but in these latter days of the world, He has performed a marvelous and mighty work to restore that which was lost, that all things might be gathered in Christ who will return in the glory of His presence.  There is great purpose in God’s plan for His children that is testified of in the Bible and the Book of Mormon for the reality of our day when the Priesthood authority exists again to organize and proliferate His Church upon the whole face of the earth that every precious soul has a chance to receive this glorious message.  Despite the attempts by the spirit of persecution that has tried to convince people that such things are not true, nor is there a God, this work has rolled forward since the days of Joseph Smith to fill virtually every nation, kindred, and tongue.  If you have ever wondered what ever happened to the patterns of the Bible or considered why we born only to die, these and many such questions do in fact have real answers.  We can know the face of God if we are willing to put away the world long enough to receive Him.  Who can hear this faithful saying and is willing to prove for themselves all truths?

Andrew Schneider’s Conversion Part 2

How did you feel at your baptism?

  • The day of my Baptism was an emotional release that remains an affirmation of making the most correct decision of my life.  The peace, joy, and happiness of that day still resonates deep in my soul as a sacred witness that God loves all His children and conducts His work in these days just as real and concrete as the most basic facts known to all the world.  The tears flowed ever so tenderly as I bore my brand new testimony to a rather sizeable group of members who choose to spend their Saturday afternoon with a person they hardly knew.  That evening as I sat in my house, I drank in deeply the truth of what it meant to be baptized by Priesthood authority in the Lord’s Church.  Though I have witnessed many sacred spiritual events that are very personal to me since that time, there are few as powerful and memorable as the day of my Baptism.

What is your experience with reading the Book of Mormon?

  • Since the first time I read through the Book of Mormon, it was like a lightning rod in my hands to gain insight and illumination into the mind, nature, and works of God.  Change comes to me in mighty ways according to the grace and mercy of the Savior Jesus Christ with each successive read, study, and pondering of many themes arising from this sacred volume of scripture.  These words help me to progress forward spiritually in ways I cannot foresee beforehand as principles are turned into action and result in personal life experiences that continue to add unto my growing witness of truth and desperately needed aid given to live more like the Savior in my daily walk.  The Book of Mormon is another testimony of Jesus Christ to all who have lived on the earth since its publication through the prophet Joseph Smith.  It shows that the works of God are not limited to the ancient Israelites on the eastern continent as recorded in the Bible.  Instead, true to the unchangeable patterns of God given to the world at various ages and periods according to the faith of the people, all words in the Book of Mormon received by holy prophets in the Americas at those times do not in any way contradict or negate the Bible.  The purity of truth and thoroughness of the doctrine expands upon the Bible.  The Book of Mormon fulfill the promise of Joseph Smith specified in the introduction that a person would get nearer to God than by reading any other book.  Of this I have observed often.

What are your feelings about Jesus Christ?

  • Jesus Christ is my Lord, Savior, King, and High Priest who is the creator of all life on the earth, the only name by which we can return into the presence of our Heavenly Father, the greatest example and epitome of love the world has ever known, and our personal light in the midst of darkness encountered in the thorny pastures of life.  Truly, the Savior is everything to me and as a living prophet has said, we are to abide in Him permanently, steadfastly, and unyieldingly that He may transform our natures to be aligned with His will, just as He submitted every part of Himself to the Father and quality to take upon the sins of the world.  Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of my faith that shall be as eternal as the life of the soul.  He loves me and knows with perfect perspective and comprehension all sufferings and joys.  Through His Atonement, I can become whole, though I fall short every day of His glory in my sins.  Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father are the only ones who know the potential of the person I can become.  In short, I am less than the dust of the earth without the love, gift, and blessings of my Redeemer in whom I put my trust in all things I receive while on this mortal sojourn.

Andrew Schneider’s Conversion Part 1

Describe your first visit to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • I recollect a distinct impression as one filled with a sense of “coming home” when I was introduced to members of the local congregation for the first time.  I never felt entirely comfortable or fulfilled with any other organization of involvement during my life in the way I experienced during my initial visit to Church.  Being shy and socially awkward during my life made it difficult to engage groups of various sizes and many types of individual people.  The moment I set foot in the Church building, those feelings and lingering effects of past experiences melted away like frost on a new spring day.  My heart was filled with joy and an inexpressible attachment to people I had never met.

What were your initial impressions of the missionaries? How did that change over time?

  • Perceived notions of raving preachers with doomsday delusions danced in my mind before the first visit to the extent I coordinated that meeting at my friend’s home.  Expectations were somewhat unfavorable due to my disdain of organized religion, yet life had humbled me enough to exercise even a small particle of faith, even if it was surrounded by doubt and a need to affirm for certain it was founded.  However, when I entered my friend’s home and saw two meek “boys” as I thought of them at the time, I soon realized how imagined my thoughts were compared to reality.  As the ice of unfamiliarity was broken with the Elders, I felt a burning in my heart akin to a joy I never knew.  They felt like family in no time.  Skepticism and hesitation soon gave way to immense enthusiasm for their message and its profound impact on altering the very fabric of my life in ways I had never thought possible in such a short period of time.

Brother Malone’s Story of Finding His Way Back to Church

What made you stop coming to church?

I think for both my wife and I, a lot of it came from the people we had met. I was a convert at 19, and I could never find anyone that could give me any real answers to my questions on faith. All I’d ever heard was, “We just do it this way because we’re supposed to.” I fell away after about 2-3 years after my conversion. My wife was born in the church, and had met some people who were “holier than thou”, and felt it necessary to convey everything she was doing wrong, and she fell away to get away from that group of people.

 

What made you decide to return to church?

My wife and I decided to return to the church after having some big life changes that left us feeling as if we had lost our foundation on what life was. It had been almost 15 years for either of us since we had been to church. We moved into a new neighborhood, and decided to meet with our bishop to seek his counsel on returning to church.

 

What was the hardest part of returning to the church?

Trading the weekend parties for family time. I gave up drinking, smoking, and coffee all in a few weeks time. It was difficult to readjust to the standards of the church, but over time it was worth more than I can say.

 

What surprised you the most in your return to the church?

Reading the scriptures. So many people have read 1st Nephi at least a hundred times. When I started this last time, something clicked and it all started to make sense to me. I couldn’t put them down. I was reading multiple chapters throughout the day, and actually seeing how they relate to me today. They have been such a huge blessing to me.

 

What did you miss about being fully active in the church?

Honestly, I never was. After I was baptized, I never had any guidance or plan to earn the priesthood. I sort of fell through the cracks.

 

How did you feel when you returned to church?

Our ward has been so amazing. People that care about our welfare spiritually, and as a family. I worked to earning the Melchizidek priesthood, and was able to baptize my son, and be a part of his confirmation in to the church. I don’t think I could have a greater gift. It has been a truly amazing experience.

 

The New NextDoorMormon

NextDoorMormon is moving in a new direction. We have focused, over the years, on sharing experiences and perspectives of everyday Mormons. We have tried to provide another place on the web to find out what Mormons are all about, to highlight the diversity of our community and our shared faith in Jesus Christ. None of that is changing.

But we are now focusing on sharing the experiences and perspectives of a particular group of Mormons, those who are new or returning to participation in the Church.

New Mormons and those renewing their relationship and commitment to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experience many and varied challenges. Affiliation with the Church often requires great sacrifice. It usually means adjusting to a new social, cultural, and theological environment. In general, it’s not easy.

However, new and returning Mormons also experience great joy and generally find their engagement with the Church personally enriching and deeply meaningful. That is part of why they choose to be Mormons.

We hope that providing a forum where these converts can freely share their faith, thoughts, experiences, doubts, and difficulties will strengthen them as they seek to remain committed to Jesus Christ and the Church. We hope that those who blog here will strengthen each other.

We also hope that the conversations, stories, expressions of faith, sincere questions, and, in general, the perspectives of these new and returning Mormons will inspire all who read and respond to seek God in their own lives. We believe these new NextDoorMormon bloggers will provide a powerful example of everyday Mormons who are converted to Christ.

As the number of full-time Mormon missionaries (those smartly dressed young women and men with the black name tags) surges toward 100,000, the commitment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ with all who will listen becomes increasingly evident. We’ve never tried to hide it.

So as it relates to this blog, it is probably worth mentioning that we would love for everyone to make a free and informed choice to become a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We would love for everyone to be converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

But we believe that conversion is a process that each of must independently choose to pursue. We believe that we do not have the power to change hearts and minds, but that God teaches truth and spreads his love through the Holy Ghost. We are not out to convert anyone through NextDoorMormon, but we do hope that all will be converted.

If you are a new or returning member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hope you will consider blogging with us. If you would like to join the team, please submit your information on the “Blog With Us” page of the website.

To everyone, we hope you will return frequently to enjoy, ponder, question, comment on, share, and otherwise interact with the thoughts and stories shared on this blog and with those who shared them. We hope you will feel welcome to participate whatever your religious affiliation (or non-affiliation).

There’s a place here for everyone who is willing to engage in a civil and respectful conversation about topics and experiences that matter deeply to many of us.

Misunderstood, but Loved: Conversion of a Slovakian Priest

By Jan

"My wish is that people in Slovakia will once learn how wonderful this Church is."

I was born to very religious parents. My mother and father had five children before me—one of them died three days after the birth. I also have a younger brother. All of us were raised in deep faith in the almighty God, the Father and his only son, Jesus Christ. We all believe strongly in life after death, in heaven and hell, in angels and demons, in truthfulness of the divine revelations in the Holy Bible, especially in the gospel, in the Holy Spirit and his work among us, in the need of daily prayer, and in the need of being honorable and active members of his only church, etc. Nobody ever doubted a single of these things in my family. Despite this I had plenty of problems with my faith at my teen-age. I was looking for God and I was just upset asking why keeping the Ten Commandments is so difficult. Then I realized I needed a change. I started to cry to God and he answered me.

I was invited to play in a theater group with other young people in our parish, through which I was introduced into Salesians’ work with young people. Salesians—founded by an Italian priest named John Bosco—are a men’s religious congregation (order) in the Catholic Church. They provide a lot of activities for young people in order to educate “brave citizens and honorable Christians” mostly from uneducated, poor, and threatened boys. Don Bosco’s preventive love has inspired a lot of people around the world including me. I decided to follow his example and dedicated my life to the work for the young and the poor. I spent three nice years within communities of great and hardworking Salesians, made friends and got to know a lot of wonderful young people, experienced nice moments on camps, trips, journeys, singing and playing in bands and choirs, and doing things I loved, but there was something wrong. Although I loved this way of life and I believed in its purpose, I was missing something. In summer 2011 I joined the congregation by declaring the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for two years. I hoped to find peace after doing this. I was wrong.

I started studying Catholic philosophy, which I liked, but I made a confession to a priest that “I had left my heart somewhere else and hadn’t let it come with me.” The priest said: “OK, it is still possible to return if you feel like that.” Another priest suggested I visit a psychologist. I disagreed, but in order to stay obedient, I went. As I expected, it was useless. After I had been told to pay another visit to the psychologist I prayed “to sit on the right seat on the train” (literally!). I remember that well because it was the first time I met missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They looked quite surprised meeting somebody who was asking them questions first. So I started meeting with them regularly. At first I found the story about Lehi traveling to America rather strange. Then I learned something new about the Plan of Salvation… OK, I had studied arguments to prove impossibility of pre-Earth existence of human spirits according to the Catholic philosophy… and I really had no need to read the Book of Mormon, nor did I want to go to a Sunday gathering. I had my plans and activities. However, I felt something strong. There was a persuasive force with the guys that I could not disobey. I liked to meet them just because of what I felt while we were talking. And I was unhappy that I could not feel the same with others. Suddenly I was shocked—the missionaries wanted to arrange the date of my baptism. They hardly understood the situation I was in. I, of course, refused. After the summer in 2012 another couple of missionaries contacted me. I did not understand why they were so keen on teaching me. I told them I could not agree with them about my baptism although I admitted that they had the Spirit! When they asked me why, I replied: “I need a proof that the Book of Mormon is true!”

And so my conversion started. “It takes everyday prayer and reading the Book of Mormon, so that you could get your own testimony about it,” said the missionaries. I refused to read it for a couple of weeks. After this time I realized I could not find peace. Then I continued reading and on my way to Košice (again by train) I was suddenly given the testimony of its truthfulness. I began to thank God for such revelation and this made me desire to join the Church and get baptized.

Everything has changed since then. Such belief is not compatible with the Salesians’ way of life. I was sent home, where my “new” attitude was not accepted either. Moreover, there is very strong resistance against new religious movements and denominations among the Catholics in Slovakia. People are often warned not to encounter missionaries and activists from different sects because of their “unclean intentions”, such as distracting people from their religion, putting them off their balance, blackmailing their families, etc. My parents and siblings are all afraid of this. After several attempts to convince them that their view of Mormons is not right, I decided to let time tell the truth. I must say that my parents have remained truly faithful after all, and even though I was asked to leave our shared home, they still love me and support me spiritually although they do not understand me.

I am really grateful for the truth the Church has taught me and for the missionaries who are so keen on passing it on, even though they are frequently refused by people. My great wish is that people in Slovakia will once learn how wonderful this Church is and how much it can help them to know God better.

My Testimony

By Guest Blogger Laura Pitt

Most of my life, I didn’t think I needed a God. I was agnostic, at best. When I started college in Seattle in 2009, I was in a relationship with a very manipulative and hurtful person. I turned into a very sad and dependent young woman; as long as I was with this man, I believed I did not need to be accountable to anyone except him. This relationship, and other personal events, led to what I call my “rock bottom” in the winter of 2010. I felt so alone and so forgotten that I didn’t think I should be in this world anymore. These thoughts scared me, and a little feeling, a little voice said, “Just wait, and if you still feel this way tomorrow, get help.” I moved home, sought proper treatment, and went to a local community college in the meantime. (And the guy? He’s out of my life forever!) I learned immediately from my rock bottom that I cannot isolate myself, that my friends and family are here for me and want me to be happy.

After a year of working hard at community college, it was time to return to my university.  When I moved back to Seattle this fall, I quickly became overwhelmed with fear. I kept hearing, What if I’m not good enough?

I remember the day so clearly. I was going to officially declare my major. When the adviser explained opportunities within the major, I broke down crying. I told her that I was upset about my bike (which I discovered that morning had been stolen), but I knew it was just the last straw. I felt alone and forgotten again, and I knew I wasn’t going to get through school (and life, for that matter) if I kept living with these feelings.  They paralyzed me, and I just knew there had to be a way to get past them.

I left the meeting completely embarrassed. I walked back home through campus and saw some LDS missionaries. They’d been on campus a million times before, and I had ignored them a million times before. But that day, a little voice said to me, “Go talk to them. They’ll listen.” When the elder asked to pray with me, he asked afterwards how I felt. I was crying (happy tears, this time!) and said that it was comforting and really nice to have someone pray for me. To which he responded, “What you’re feeling is the Holy Ghost.”

In that ten minute conversation, the elder had demystified so much to me about the Godhead (I had heard of but never understood the concept of the Holy Ghost before). There had to be something to this church, I quickly realized.  The elders gave me a Book of Mormon and made an appointment with me the next day to see their church and to have a lesson.

I tried to bail out of that meeting. I called and listed almost every stereotype about the LDS Church as my reasons for not going, and the elder stayed on the phone with me for twenty minutes explaining why each stereotype was inaccurate. I caved, “Alright, I’ll still meet you guys today.”

And I’m so grateful I did. Each lesson was more and more eye-opening. I did have questions, but there were always answers. Every doctrine and every commandment comes with so many blessings (I can write about this, but it’d take a whole other article!). The elders always asked me to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and to go to church.

I had attended numerous Protestant services in my past, but was never compelled to return. However, I loved every moment on Sunday at church for LDS, and I know now that I love it so because it is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ.  I always felt I had to settle when going to other church services, but this was perfect.

I was baptized and confirmed three weeks and two days after my first meeting with the elders. The adversary used my past against me, telling me I was not worthy and deserving of happiness—there was no point in me trying to be a good person anymore because of mistakes in my past. Through my baptism, I was finally released from the grasp of my past. I promised to God that I will try every moment to be the best person I can be, and that I will not turn away from his love ever again. The gift of the Holy Spirit was the “thing” that was always missing for me. Yes, I had already learned that my friends and family loved me and were there for me, but sometimes they couldn’t understand my feelings and my thoughts. I joined so many different clubs and organizations trying to seek that comfort. The Holy Ghost is God’s blessing to me after I chose to be baptized. My Heavenly Father has always been there for me. He did get through to me in my darkest, most humble moments, through the Holy Spirit, but now I have it with me always.

I testify that Heavenly Father never gives up on you. He will be there for you during your highest highs and your lowest lows. He feels everything you feel, and he knows you better than anyone (even you, sometimes). I know that Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to go through so that I could come Home. He knew it would take twenty-one years of investigating before my heart would be humbled and soft enough to finally receive these revelations. I am not alone, I am not forgotten, and I am loved perfectly by my Heavenly Father. The trials I’ve faced here have built my testimony, and I now have no doubt in the truth of the gospel. My life itself hasn’t really changed, but I face each day now with a peaceful and joyful anticipation instead of dread and fear, and that’s the greatest comfort Heavenly Father can give me.

Why I’m Mormon

By Guest Blogger Denia-Marie Ollerton

I grew up in a religious LDS household. My parents were and are hardworking, God-fearing, sacrificing people. But it wasn’t easy. We had our difficulties and challenges, and at the time I felt we had more problems than my seemingly-perfect Mormon neighbors.

Church was just a thing we did every week. My friends were there, but I didn’t feel much else pulling me besides them. I remember thinking that religion as taught in my church was for perfect people only. They’d talk about the virtues of being good, and of happy families. I didn’t feel that fit my experience. I thought that God was cold, mean, and punitive.

In my teens, I got into some trouble with school, friends, and had some close calls with the law. I wasn’t happy, but I was trying desperately hard to become so. I still felt that religion was too strict and family relationships too sterile. Around eighteen years old my parents loosened their grip, and I began to experience the reality of being all on my own. I had long since lost any close friends I had in high school. My interactions with my family were minimal, and my life consisted mostly of going to school, trying to stay out of everyone’s way, and going home to sit in my room. Yes, it was very lonely. I knew that the life I had lived and the choices I had made up to that point were not making me happy.

I noticed my siblings were good enough people, and they seemed happy. They were active churchgoers, and always talked about how great the church was. I decided that I’d try religion one time, and one time only. If it was true, if it did work to live by certain rules, then great. If not, I’d know and I could move on with life. At this time, a lot of teachings from my childhood started to come into mind. One principle that came to mind was repentance. Repentance as I understood it was supposed to be this thing where you told God (or your bishop) about all the bad things you’d done, and somehow that was supposed to make you feel better. Oh yeah, and you weren’t supposed to do it again.

I also remembered the teachings about Jesus. I didn’t have much of an opinion on him. I had heard about the crucifixion and the atonement, but those were just words to me. And yet, he did seem like the only forgiving person in the entire story of religion. I remember thinking, “Alright, if he really is merciful and kind, I’ll test it out. I’ll see if he can handle me and all I’ve done.”

I went to my bishop after thinking this over for some time. I expected some harsh words and punishment, but I was willing to go through the process to get to the other side whatever that was. I went in and just let everything out to him. I was surprised but grateful at how calmly and kindly he handled the situation. He just listened for a while, and then asked if we could meet again after church. I agreed. I went to sacrament meeting, and the speakers all spoke about repentance and the atonement. I cried. I felt like a spotlight had been shone on me, and God was finally noticing me. I went back and talked more with my bishop. All of his words were encouraging, hopeful, and healing.

I walked home that day and went to ponder all that had gone on. It was as if a heavy load had been lifted off my shoulders, and I didn’t even know I was carrying it until it was gone. I felt incredibly happy. I think it was joy. I can honestly say I hadn’t felt joyful or happy up until that point in my life. I had seen people cry “tears of joy” before, but I didn’t want to cry, I just wanted to smile. I went through the rest of that week with a huge grin on my face. I knew then that God lived, and that there was so much more to life than I had known. Who knew that because Jesus Christ died thousands of years ago, and went through the atonement, that I could find healing and happiness in life? I didn’t before, but I knew it then. And there was no way I was going back to the life I had lived before.

I became fascinated with religion. I realized that I had been surrounded all along by a wonderful road map to a successful and happy life! I felt that I was doing years of make up work, but also felt that I was given an increased ability to soak it all in. Everything was positive that I found out. My previous notion of a punitive God was erased in large, sweeping motions. I found out he really did care about me. He did answer my prayers, he listened to me, he talked to me, and he helped me connect with others in ways I never knew were possible.

By relying on the teachings of the gospel, I’ve overcome fear, judgment (mostly of myself), and discouragement and have instead found opportunity, growth, excitement, and love. I thought my past would weigh me down, but it has buoyed me up. It has taught me that if God can right the wrong in life, he can make the good even better. I can come to the Lord, imperfect and all, and ask him to change me. And he does!

I love living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not because it’s what I’m used to, or what I’ve known all my life, but because it makes me truly happy. And although I haven’t had a perfect life, I don’t hold myself to that perfect standard anymore, and I know God doesn’t either. He and I both know that I am powerful, and I have so much potential. And I’ll continue to draw on that potential, with his support, for the rest of my life.

My Conversion

The following is from Bev King, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who relates in this blog how she was first introduced to the “Mormon” Faith:

Sixteen years ago I was yearning to find a group of Christians to join with.  I grew up in the Episcopal church, and there was much about the Episcopal church that I loved and still do love.  I found the cathedral-like beauty of the church interior and the sacred music very uplifting.  I liked the fact that my church was interested in social justice issues.  I resonated with the values of love and service of the Episcopal church, but I was looking for something more.   I explored many different religions but didn’t find one that suited me.  I was spiritually adrift.

After many years of spiritual drifting, I prayed to find a Christian group with whom I could continue my spiritual journey.  I had a desire to deepen my relationship with God and be joined with people who shared the same values.  I never dreamed that when I signed on for my first acting job on the feature film, The Crucible, that I would find the answer to my prayer on that film set.   I developed a friendship with a woman I met on the set of The Cruicible.  One night, we had a conversation about religion.   She told me she was Mormon, I exclaimed, “Mormon, I’ve never known anyone who is Mormon.  Tell me what you believe.”  And she did.

Everything she told me resonated with me.  She told me that there is a Spirit World where we lived with God before we are born.  Families can live together forever.  We live with God after we die.  That life on earth is a time where we can grow and change and can become more like Christ.  She told me many other things that made sense to me.  One important thing that she told me was that each person is entitled to personal revelation directly from God.  My interest was piqued.  I wanted to learn more.  I started going to church events with her and then started to go to church meetings, and three months later converted to the LDS faith and was baptized.

In the LDS church, I have found something very precious.  I have found a group of people who live their religion. They don’t leave their Sunday values in church.  They endeavor to live them 24/7.  I learned that God does hear our prayers.  God is real, and I can have a personal relationship with Him.  For this and so much more, I am so very gratedul for the restoration of the gospel and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that espouses these precious teachings.