My conversion Story Part 1

I talk a lot about my faith in my blog. It affects every aspect of my life and it means SO much to me. To me religion is more than just something you talk about twice a year on Christmas or Easter, and it’s more than something you talk about on Sunday’s. To me, religion is something that affects every single facet of my life. That doesn’t mean I’m out preaching to every person I meet, or that I pray over which cereal I should eat in the morning, rather it means that I try to continually live by the principles I believe in regardless of the situation.
I say try because I’m not perfect at it. My faith isn’t perfect. It’s something that I have to continually work at and strive for. And I believe that a loving Heavenly Father will help me do that.
Today I’d like to share with you how I got to where I’m at with my faith. It’s something that is intensely personal, but I hope it can help others on the same journey as me – others trying to strengthen their faith and live better happier lives. It’s kind of a long story so it’s one I’ll be releasing in parts.

PART 1

I was born to good parents. My home wasn’t perfect, but no one’s is. My parents did their best to teach me and my siblings good values. They set good examples for us and took us to church where we learned invaluable lessons about little streams that give, that we are children of God, and that Jesus came to John the Baptist. My early childhood was charmed. I was a very precocious and happy little girl. I enjoyed church, especially the singing part, and I never felt the need to question it. When I turned eight I was thrilled to be baptized. I wasn’t forced into baptism mind you. My parents are big believers in giving kids agency and they very seriously gave me the choice. I chose to be baptized because I felt good when I was at church.

When I was 10? Maybe 9? We moved. It was a tumultuous time for me. I was changing physically and my surroundings were SO different from what I was used to. We moved from an area that had only just barely been turned from farms to subdivisions to a ritzy neighborhood filled with big houses and expensive toys. I learned very quickly that I didn’t fit in. It was the first time in my life that I experienced what I would consider to be great trials.

Things went very quickly from not fitting in to full blown bullying. It was like I had a target painted on my back. There were two distinct groups that bullied me. One was at church (made up of boys and a couple of girls that probably thought they were just teasing the weird girl) and the other at school (a more malicious group that crossed the emotional threshold into physical bullying a couple of times). It was really hard. I often felt like I had no friends.

I tried to change myself, to fit what these people wanted me to be, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t be shy. I couldn’t be timid. I couldn’t keep my nose out of my books. I couldn’t stop humming my favorite songs. I couldn’t magically fix my eyesight and stop needing my big round glasses. The bullying continued into young women’s age. And while things were still really hard, there was a silver lining. You see, this is when I started needing the Lord. I had a particularly kind young women’s leader who taught me that I was loved and made me feel so special every time I saw her. I would go to her class right before Sunday school where I would endure what I considered to be torment. Her spirit got me through. If it wasn’t for her I’m not sure I would have kept going. She helped me to feel something I hadn’t really recognized before, the guiding influence of a loving Heavenly Father.

Today I am grateful for the bullies that taunted and pushed me. They led me to something more. It was through this trial that I learned that I really needed something more.

That was the first step of my conversion. And things began to get better after that.

You can keep reading my conversion story Here for Part 2 and Here for part 3

 

My Conversion Story Part 3

Behind? You can still read Part 1 and Part 2

PART 3

I mentioned in my last post the need to exercise faith. Well, in my youth I tried to do that, but there was one specific instance where I completely ignored a prompting and had to pay for it. It was stupid really, I will always feel ashamed for it.

I was prompted to not accept a role in a play, and I did it anyway. I don’t know why I was told not to. Perhaps I would have been less stressed out with all of my AP classes, perhaps a better opportunity would have come my way, I don’t know. All I know is that I ignored this prompting and it rocked me to my core.

You see, once you have the gift of the spirit you have to work to keep it. And when I ignored it, I lost it for a while. I even lost a measure of the knowledge and faith I used to have. I began to doubt myself and I began to doubt my faith. I was miserable. I felt empty inside. It was during this period that I let some of my old demons come back and haunt me. I began to feel bad that I wasn’t perfectly accepted at school. I noticed more when people in my classes were rude to me. There was one girl in particular who made fun of  me in her AP English class and when word got back to me about what she was saying I was devastated.

A few things helped me push through this hard time. One was my parents. I told them what I had done and how I was feeling and they were supportive and loved me unconditionally. My dad explained to me a little bit about the repentance process and how I would have to go through it before I could feel the Spirit the same way I used to.

So I prayed and fasted and asked my Heavenly Father for forgiveness. Then one day things got better.I was sitting in sacrament meeting feeling really terrible, I had been fighting with family members, I had tons of homework, and as I said before I was in a bad state generally. I had a severe stomach ache brought on by stress, and I escaped to the bathroom where I sat down and prayed to the Lord. I told Him that I knew He was there and that I knew He could help me. I asked Him to remove my pain from me. Instantly my stomach ache was gone, and so was the burden I’d been carrying around. I had exercised my faith in Him and He had helped me feel His forgiveness. Again I was given a reassurance of His existence and even more of His love for me. It was almost as if I could see his light from the Heavens. His eyes were on me, and I knew it perfectly.

After that instance things began to get better. I continue to have my ups and downs as I strive to be faithful. I want to be wholly converted. I want to give up my sins to know Him. And though I have a long way to go, I know that He’s there to help me and to guide me on the way.

As a sidenote a good friend of mine commented on my last post that it’s OK to have doubts sometimes, it’s how we handle those doubts that really defines us. He said it perfectly, so I’ll just use an excerpt from his quote.

Jayrod said, “I think it is the doubts that make faith really what it is.  Because when we have doubts and continue in the path we have chosen that is when our faith really blooms. Your faith is so beautiful now, because of the very fact that you have chosen to stay true to what you believe even when there has been every reason to doubt it and walk away.”

Thanks Jayrod. Thanks for reminding us that our imperfections help make us beautiful.

My Conversion Story Part 2

Behind? Check out Part 1

PART 2

In my last post I explained my childhood bullying and how it led me to depend on the Lord. As I got older things got better. I found a good group of friends – people I’m still close to – and began learning that I didn’t need to be liked by everyone to be happy.

I had gained a testimony of the comfort I could receive when I was obeying the Lord’s commandments, and I had experienced a few miracles, but my conversion wasn’t over yet.

The next step in my conversion came by the hand of that same caring young women’s leader. She bore her testimony to us every week about the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I always felt an intense stirring when she bore her testimony, and I wanted that same thing. In my eyes she glowed, and I wanted to glow too. When she challenged us to pray about whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was God’s only church I accepted the challenge.

I went to my room, knelt by my bed, and I poured my heart out to the Lord. I told him that I needed to know if these things were true. Different people receive answers in different ways, but for me it was an immediate assurance. I felt so strongly that God was real and that I was attending his church. I felt peace and warmth and overwhelming love. And I just knew. Soon after I read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know if it was true. I received the same immediate assurance.

It’s important to note here that while I wanted all of this to be true, while I had a hope that it was true, I didn’t automatically assume it was. There were some very serious doubts and fears within me that wondered. It’s also interesting to note that just because I received my witness doesn’t mean I never doubted again. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s true. As I said in my first post – faith is something that requires constant work. It’s not like riding a bike. It’s more like a muscle, you have to keep exercising it to keep it going.

Check out PART 3 for the conclusion