Monday, April 28, 2008

My Conversion Story

There's a woman named Dee whose blog I read faithfully, because she is extremely funny. She is also someone who believes in God, although her love of a morning coffee suggests she is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I am.

Have been since I was 16. A strange time to join a religion? Maybe, but I wished I had done it at 15. Anyway, she is encouraging her readers to link to her blog with their individual testimonies. It is uncommon for her to do anything "preachy" on her blog, but she was asked to do it, and thought she could turn it into a big 'ol party!

So, here's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

My dad was raised Catholic, my mom attended a Baptist Youth group, though I'm not sure she was ever baptized in their faith. By the time I was born neither was attending any church. My friend in elementary school attended several different churches with her parents over the course of our friendship, and she would every once in a while invite me to go. And I went, to see what it was like. I often felt very out of place, and was never really interested in going back to any of them.

When I moved to Livermore, I was invited by a guy to go out and play mini-golf. Little did I know, it would be in the gym of his church, and all the mini-golf things would be boy scout projects.

I will never forget walking in the doors. It felt incredibly comfortable, like I'd been there forever, not that I had even known it existed the day before.

When I shared this sentiment, I was invited to numerous other Wednesday evening youth activities. My parents were divorced, and my dad seemed to think it was good that if I was dating it was at a church, and my mom seemed to be happy that I had found anything that made me happy. I met with the missionaries, who, over the course of several weeks taught me the ins and outs of the "Mormon" faith. I was asked several times to offer an opinion on what was being taught, to share how I felt. I would usually answer, "Yeah, that makes sense, I guess," or, "I don't know."

Very unlike me. But what I remember the most, was thinking, "This all looks good on paper, if there is a God. IF there is a God, I think this is what He would do, and what He would be like." He would have sent his son, Jesus Christ, to atone for my sins, make families a priority, there would be prophets on the earth, and a way to redeem those who will never hear the words "Jesus Christ" in their days on this planet. But I wasn't sure there was really a God.

I tried reading the Book of Mormon, but I read it with the attitude of a scholar, trying to keep track of where in Jerusalem everybody was and who they were related to. I became very confused, very quickly, and not liking that it didn't come naturally to me (books had always been
easy to me) I gave it up. For a long time.

When I tried to pray, I had such a hard time not feeling silly, that I got out a 5x7 depiction of the Savior, and would talk to it! I asked several times for an assurance, but I don't think I really expected one, and it didn't come. From January... to August. I went to church every week, just about, with people I hadn't known who came and gave me a ride. My step-mother couldn't understand why I had to go all the way to Farmington, when there were perfectly good churches just up the road!

Finally, I went to youth conference in August. A weekend event, with faith-building games, dances, lessons, and best of all fellowshipping with people who held the same standards. It was there that I learned the Electric Slide!

One talk was given, based on the Nike sneaker's "new" motto: Just Do It. I was struck in the heart, a feeling again that I will never forget. I knew if there was a God, He would want me to be baptized into this church. If there wasn't, then it could do no harm. I needed to take a step into the dark room, and put my faith in Him. So I did.

I was baptized September 18, 1993. Of course, the story doesn't end there. I went to early morning seminary my senior year, and in the summer after graduation all my friends had moved away. When I went off to college an hour from home, the ward down there was a foreign land, and I didn't go. I sank into a deep despair, quite deep for a just turned 18 year old girl. Then, one morning as I stepped out of my apartment, I glanced up the street in the opposite direction of my classes. There were 2 men in white shirts and dress pants walking away from me, not an odd thing on a weekday morning in the downtown of a city, surrounded by banks and businesses. But I knew who they were.

"Hey Elders!" I called out, and sure enough, they turned to look. And they had the name tags I knew to mean they were indeed full time proselyting missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They came over and spoke to me, and invited me to institute (a weekly scripture study group for college age adults). At institute I met other members, and was secured a ride to church. A few short months later, I knew I was not where I belonged, I moved home to my mom's, attended my home ward, and saw a young man I had known before in a whole new light. We started to spend time together, though it was months before we would admit we were dating. We made a mistake, that turned out to be the best mistake of my life. We were married, and after a couple of years we were sealed as a family in the temple for time and all of eternity.

Marriage is not easy. Through the babies, the miscarriages, renting, buying a house, paying the bills, I've needed my faith. In this day and age, trying to cope with horrific things like school shootings, snipers in DC, drugs on the Main St of our little town of 5,000, it takes my faith to get me out of bed in the morning to try to make a difference. My dad once told me church was just a crutch, not something he needed. I've thought about that a lot through the years, and a crutch can come in very handy when you have a broken leg. The world as it is will break our hearts. It's meant to, the Plan of Salvation requires it. But when our heart is broken, and our Spirit contrite, we are able to let God into our hearts, and when that occurs, AMAZING things can happen. I once heard a beautiful poem, where the man invites the carpenter in to fix a few things. The carpenter hammers and bangs, knocks walls around and makes holes in places. When the man complains, the carpenter replies, "What you had was just a house, I am making you a mansion."


WendyDarling said...

WOW! Thank you for sharing. :-)

Tara said...

A wonderful conversion story. Thank you for sharing that. Lately I've really needed to hear and see and feel the strength of other's testimonies. They are a wonderful buoy. Thank you so much.

Ashleigh said...

I really, really loved this post Thanks for sharing!

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I'm very aware that I have readers with vastly differing faith experiences. And I always pray that everyone feels comfortable stopping by my blog. Especially if it's a mom who just needs to stop and giggle.

And you're right, my love of all things caffeinated would be a deterrent to join up!!!! :)