My daughter and I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in February 2016.
To really get into the story, I need to back up a bit. I have always been interested in religion. I have studied several religions since I was a teenger, including Judaism, “Born Again” Christianity, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The desire has always been there to be close to God, I just didn’t really know where I belonged when it came to picking an actual religion.
My cousin lived in Utah when we were growing up and I would go out there and spend summers with her and her friends. That’s when I first came into contact with “Mormons”. I have to tell you how deep of an impression these friends left on my life…there was something distinctly different about them. They were helpful and kind and they did not swear. I remember I got dressed up for a party and one of the boys told me he wished I “wore more clothes”. I was shocked! I was just wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and a skirt. I had always been one of the more modest girls of my group of friends, so hearing that came as a bit of a shock. I loved it though – the rest of the summer I felt good wearing regular t-shirts and longer shorts. My LDS friends were all so funny too. They all had this quirkiness about them that set them apart from other people I’ve met.
Being in Utah means you get to see a lot of temples. They’re everywhere. I remember when I was younger, we went to the visitor’s center next to the Salt Lake City temple. I felt this incredible pull towards the actual temple. I felt that I needed to go there someday.
When I was ten, I met a friend who we’ll call Sam (I haven’t asked if I can use her name for this blog, so I’ll just change it). Sam invited me to go with her to church. My parents said it was fine so I started going with her to LDS church. I remember really disliking the “first hour” (which is sacrament meeting) because…well, because I was a kid and kids don’t like to sit still for that long. The second and third hour of church were always so fun though, so it kept me going back. I loved primary and learning and singing. I felt lost half of the time, but I really liked being there. Sam would let me tag along to their activities when they had them at the church. Those were always so much fun! Those were the things I remembered most about the church.
Fast forward to adulthood – I haven’t been active in any sort of religion or church for years. I had a bad experience with a church that turned me away from churches for a long time.
My daughter had been asking about going to church because she had been watching this family on YouTube called the Shaytards. The Shaytards are a LDS family and they do a video blog about their day-to-day life. Something about them made Katie want to investigate the LDS church. I wasn’t all that interested in taking her to LDS church, so I just kept saying “maybe someday” and figured someday wouldn’t come. But, the Lord had other plans for us. So, Katie met a girl at school named Rosie and they became best friends. Rosie came over one day and we were all talking as I drove her back to her Mom. Turns out Rosie and her family are LDS so she invited us to come to church with her sometime. Katie was very excited about the prospect of going to LDS church.
It still took a month of thinking before we decided to go and check it out. At first I figured Katie would go and realize it was three hours of church and be over it. To my surprise, she was not over it after we went…she wanted to keep going. Months went on and we kept going. At first, I felt sorry for everyone. I felt like they had all be duped and it was so sad that they had bought into all this madness. Then, out of nowhere, a small voice whispered, “What if it is true?” That shook me. I hadn’t even considered that it could be true before that moment. At that point, I decided to really look into the church.
I looked at every single piece of anti-mormon literature that was online. I read the “CES Letter” and all the other things that are supposed to make people lose their faith. I also read the positives about the church. I started to read the Book of Mormon with real intent. One day, after a particularly long day of questioning and driving myself insane, I decided I couldn’t handle it anymore. If anyone had definitively proved the church was true or false, it would be out there online. It wasn’t. It was just a bunch of back and forth. I decided that the only way I would know for sure was to ask God. So, I got on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father. I asked for peace if this was all true and to be left in my doubts if it was false. Immediately, a tangible weight was lifted from my chest. I could feel the peace flood over me like a wave. It was real, it was intense and it was immediate. I had an answer right then and there. I knew it was real. I felt so thankful to have that experience, because it has helped me get through some tough times that were to follow.
From that point, I knew the Book of Mormon was true. I knew the church was true. I knew that this was where I needed to be. My daughter had already been asking about being baptized. I was still on the fence just because my husband was not a fan of the church. The whole thing caused quite a divide between us. It was one of the hardest things we’ve had to face as a couple. It was difficult, because we both had valid points.
For him, this is not what he signed up for. I was not religious when we met and I had no intention of being religious. We were on that same page until all of this happened. So, for him, he felt like it was a bait and switch.
For me, I felt that I didn’t intend to deceive him. I didn’t intend to find religion at this point in my life (especially not after I had already studied so many others and had not found what I had been looking for). I felt bad about the entire thing because I knew that it upset him, but I couldn’t give it up. There were times we’d talk and I would tell him I’d stop going just because I didn’t want to lose him…and then I would feel so empty and ashamed of myself for giving up on something this important to me that I would promise him that it wouldn’t change things between us and he’d say I could go and we’d start the whole cycle over again. If there’s anything in my life that I wish I could change, it would be how he feels about the church. I wish that I didn’t cause him so much pain with this decision. It was a hard adjustment for the both of us. He felt cut out of the decision because I didn’t properly talk to him about it before Katie and I started going. I told him what we were planning on doing…but I didn’t really leave it open for discussion. He voiced that he didn’t like it, but I said it would be fine. To be fair, at that point I did feel that it would be fine. I felt it would be short lived and that Katie would go once or twice and then not feel like going anymore. I felt I owed it to Katie to allow her to grow spiritually in whatever way she needed to grow. One of the things I loved most about my upbringing was the fact that I could explore whatever I needed to explore. I went through so many phases and changes…but those things shaped who I am today. I wanted to make sure Katie felt that same support. I never imagined that I would want to join the church. It honestly did not seem like a possibility to me at the time.
I struggled with whether Katie and I should be baptized. There were a few experiences that led to us being baptized, but this one sticks out the most for me. I had a dream one night about the temple. I went inside and saw a bunch of people. There were several fonts of water spread around. The people were walking around and celebrating. It seemed like a party. I was still walking silently, taking in the beauty of the temple. (Mind you, I had never actually been in one yet.) I saw white everywhere, baptismal fonts and people dressed in white. I walked up to one of the fonts and I was deciding if I should get in. Suddently, a woman came up behind me and picked me up and very gently set me down in the water. I went into the water in the fetal position, eyes closed softly, and I let the water wash over me.
When I woke up, I realized those people who were celebrating were my ancestors. At that point, I knew that we had to be baptized. So, on February 11, 2016, Katie and I were baptized. The following day we were confirmed members of the church.
It hasn’t been easy. Giving up coffee was really difficult for me. I struggled with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to drink alcohol anymore. I strugged with finding my place and what being a “Mormon” really meant.
There were people who didn’t understand the decision. I didn’t really open my conversion up for conversation. I kept it off Facebook and I kept it to myself for quite a while. Close friends and family knew, but it wasn’t something that I broadcasted for everyone to know. I felt that I was in a fragile state in the beginning, and it was best to keep my faith to myself until I was stronger and better able to fight off people’s opinions.
Katie was absolutely glowing on the day of our baptism. Her friends came and rushed up to hug her when we arrived at church. People who we had never met showed up to support us. My Mom and my husband’s Mom and Step-Dad came to the baptism. We felt supported and loved.
When it was Katie’s turn to be baptized, she was so peaceful. She was ready. She understood the decision she was making and she was so happy that it was happening. I have never felt the Spirit as strong as I did in that moment. Katie was so happy and it was very evident. I loved having that experience with her.
I am thankful for the church because I feel that it has bonded us closer than we were before. Honestly, that’s saying something because Katie and I have always had a very close relationship. Somehow, being a member of the church and doing family scripture study and the family activies that the church encourages has really changed our relationship.
Fast forward to now and we have been members just about one whole year. I go to the temple pretty soon to receive my endowments and I couldn’t be happier. My life has really changed for the better because of this decision.