As a child, I never liked church. How I became an adult that loves church and is able to sit for three hours of it every Sunday is a story of small promptings, an awesome opportunity and a change of heart on my end.
When I was five, my family and I joined the Presbyterian Church. I never really liked it or felt comfortable there. I found the scholarly sermons boring and I had no idea what Presbyterians believed in.
When I was 14, my family received a flight voucher from an overbooked airplane. My dad decided to use his voucher to visit his aunt in Utah. On one of his excursions, he needed to decide whether to visit Promontory Point or go visit BYU where my grandfather did a semester of college. My dad chose to visit BYU. He came back from his trip to Utah with stories about a university where people did not live in co-ed dorms and seemed really happy. “It was like the 1950s,” he remarked. Hearing about a college that had no drinking or co-ed dorms made me really happy. From the moment I heard about BYU, I wanted to go there.
My supportive parents decided to learn about this school and the church that sponsored it. My father revealed that my grandfather was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but had left the Church after marrying my non-LDS grandmother.
Before my junior year of high school, my mom researched about how to get me into BYU. She joined a listserv that had LDS people on it. She made friends through this listserv and became more interested in family history. Her online friends encouraged her to check out the Church and to get me into early morning seminary if I was serious. We also made my first visit to Utah. When I stepped onto the BYU campus, I could see myself going there. I was sold. My mom said it was time to learn about the Mormons so I enrolled into early morning seminary. I was the only non LDS student in the class, but fortunately I knew one family of brothers through school. I also lucked out that the curriculum that year was the Doctrine & Covenants. It was a really good introduction to the church for someone who loves history.
Around the time I joined seminary, there was knock at the door. Two missionaries showed up asking for my parents. My mom told them to stop by another time. They followed up. As a family, we sat through the first few discussions. My dad and I quickly lost interest. My mother stuck with the missionaries and joined the Church.
I fortunately got into my first choice school—BYU. When I moved to Provo, I made some LDS friends who grew up in places without a lot of Mormons. They answered my questions and didn’t pressure me into joining the Church. I’m glad they took the friendly hands off approach to me because I would have rebelled against the pressure to join. I also took a Book of Mormon class that had a convert professor. The experiences he shared as a non member at BYU Hawaii also helped me feel more comfortable in my LDS surroundings. I regularly went to an LDS ward because there was nothing else to do on Sundays in Provo.
During my sophomore year, I read my scriptures one Easter Sunday and felt I needed to join the Church. I recorded the feeling in my journal, but it was a scary thought to me at the time. I related my feeling to my mom who had the missionaries visit when I came home for the summer. They mentioned when you joined the Church you took on “The name of Christ” and the responsibilities that came with taking His name. I freaked out and stopped the discussions. I wasn’t ready for that responsibility yet.
Some experiences over that summer helped me decide I needed to investigate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints further. I needed to get over my hang-ups. I needed to move forward in my progression with the Church. I had some great roommates my junior year that helped me draw closer to making a decision about joining the Church and gaining a fuller testimony of the gospel. One day while talking to my grandmother on the phone, I said “I’m going to join the Church.” I couldn’t believe I said it. I told my roommates who were really supportive and made sure I didn’t back down again.
I came home for Christmas and my mom had the missionaries over the next day. I cleared six discussions in two days, which made them super excited. When the missionaries asked what day I wanted to be baptized I said “December 23.” The ward missionary commented, “That’s Joseph Smith’s birthday.” I knew that. I always felt a kinship to Joseph Smith because I also was 14 when I found the Church and he was part of my introduction to the scriptures through D&C.
When I was baptized, I felt clean and pure. I felt God’s love and I knew I made the right decision for me.
It has been 16 years since I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am amazed how this one decision changed the course of my life to the point I can’t comprehend what my life would be like without the Church.