Someone on Formspring asked if I would share a guest post from someone who had converted to the Church, telling the story of how their life changed after joining the LDS Church and why they joined. I think they were hoping that TH would write a post (I was too), but he said he joined so long ago that he can’t remember. Gina saw the question and volunteered to write something up for me. I love her story and I hope you will as well.
First summer together
“HE’S WHAT?!?” I nearly screamed.
“He’s mormon.” My friend repeated of the boy who was close to becoming my boyfriend.
Thoughts flooded to my head, “polygamy, racism, patriarchal, brainwashed, cult….”
Everything I had heard about this religion went against this boy I knew. He was sweet, a complete gentleman with the utmost respect for women (I saw it especially in the way he treated his mother), he was smart–not just smart but intelligent. He wasn’t a follower. Most of all I saw happiness, it was a happiness I had not seen anywhere else. It radiated from his inner being.
Ultimately I trusted him and who he was. I decided that really all I knew about mormons wasn’t from mormons at all. I decided to go ahead with the relationship.
Nearly three years later I would have a complete stranger call me “a bleeping bigot” while trying to promote an Mormon activity on the University of Washington campus that I was attending.
I was Mormon.
My journey to becoming a Latter-Day Saint (which I prefer over being called Mormon because it lacks the stigmatization) was life changing.
I dated Kyle for a year before he left on a 2 year mission. During the year before he left he shared his faith with me and I shared my fears of faith with him. All my life I had not been interested in alcohol, smoking, or drugs. I was one of those teacher’s pet straight A students. I had a reputation for being a prude at school which I was fine with.
As Kyle shared the standards of the Church with me I felt more and more comfortable with the idea of Mormons. He challenged me to dress more modestly. He told me I was beautiful and that what truly made me beautiful was the way I respected my body. I didn’t need to show it off because my true beauty came from inside through my eyes. I became addicted to this philosophy. I love that people focus on my face, my eyes when they tell me I look pretty, or beautiful.
Last day together before he left on his mission
Kyle left on his mission and I promised to wait the two years for him. Little did I know that 3 months after he left, I would be getting baptized. Why? People always ask.
For him? A little.
Mostly it was because the gospel of Jesus Christ had entered my heart in a way I could never imagine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught me beautiful things about myself, my purpose, and my future.
I waited to meet with missionaries until he left because I wanted to do it for myself. Yes, he was a part of it because he introduced me to the church but my joining was far beyond him. They asked me to get baptized at my first meeting, which is fairly unusual. I instinctively said yes. I remember being surprised by my answer. But I knew it was right because it came from my soul, my spirit. It was not debated between my heart and head. It was a pure choice. I have been so grateful for that experience.
My life has changed in small and big ways. Like I said the drinking alcohol, abstaining from drugs was easy. I never liked coffee growing up so that was easy too. Tea was a little more difficult but I felt like it was such a small thing to give up for all that the Lord had given up for me. I started going to Church every Sunday. In the past 4 years of being a member I have missed maybe 4 Sundays total. That was HUGE change from before. I was a holiday Catholic. I liked being at church but I felt no need to go every Sunday. Now I LOVED going to church. I wanted to go. I looked forward to the beautiful truths I would hear, my heart, mind, and spirit expanding each time.
So what were the BIG changes?
I had a new perspective on life. I had purpose, direction. I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I prayed to him everyday, I spoke to Him knowing He heard me. My relationship with the Savior was most impacted. The church explained His love and sacrifice to me in ways that I had never heard or understood elsewhere. The explanations and real experiences of prophets, apostles, teachers, and friends touched me. The atonement of Christ became very real in my life. It changed how I acted everyday. I wanted to use the gift Christ had given me. The forgiveness he offered to become something. To continually grow and change into the beautiful daughter that He saw in me. I felt my sins wash away as I was immersed fully in baptism. I felt His love. I wept.
Reading the scriptures was hard. If you do not grow up with them consistently, they can be difficult. Even though I was an English Lit major, I struggled. I still do. But I still find beauty in the words of God. Words that speak to me perfectly, like the words were written just for me. Accepting the Book of Mormon wasn’t difficult once I read it. It clarified questions that I had always wondered about. It taught me more about the love of my Heavenly Father and Savior.
The temple. I love the temple. As soon as I heard about the promise of being sealed to my family for all eternity I fell in love with the temple. I knew I wanted to be married there. There was no question about it. When Kyle returned from his mission, almost a year later we were married in the Seattle, Washington temple. My family was not there for the ceremony. I am sure it was difficult for them, it was difficult for me too. But they understood and accepted my faith. They saw how happy it made me and how important it was to me.
This leads me to the most asked question about my conversion, “How was your family?”
They were wonderful. My family is all about support in dreams, in aspirations, in hopes. I remember asking my mother why she was ok with it all and she said, “As long as my children aren’t destroying society I will support them in whatever they do,” (aka no killing, stealing, beating up people).
My friends had a more difficult time. Did I know I couldn’t have coffee? Wear a bikini? I wasn’t exactly a religious person, why now? All I knew was that an amazing relationship had grown from giving up these little things. I relationship I cherished. They seemed like such trivial things to give up in comparison to the blessings I was receiving.
The hardest change was telling people I was Mormon. I am proud to be Mormon, don’t get me wrong, but every time I tell someone, I think about those thoughts going through their head. Those thoughts I knew weren’t true. But it pains me to remember how judgmental I had once been. I hate that people might think that about me. My tactic is to let me faith come naturally. I let them get to know me for me and then when the opportunity arises I tell them.
This church has changed my life. I am a person that I always dreamed I could be. I have a deep testimony of my Heavenly Father, of His son Jesus Christ, of the Book of Mormon in testifying of the Savior’s divine ministry and the love of our Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the restored Church of Jesus Christ that was established in the New Testament. The blessings of the temple are real, the words of the prophet touch my heart and inspire me, I am grateful that I have direction in my life. Direction that is leading me closer to eternal life.
Thanks Gina! If you’d like to read more about her life, please visit Gina at gidgetgoestorome.blogspot.com
I would love to post more LDS convert stories here! They can focus on how your lifestyle changed, how your friends and family reacted, what made you convert, bear your testimony, etc. If you’d like to write anonymously that would be fine as well. Please email me for submission guidelines if you are interested!