Last year when I commented on a post of Middle-Aged Mormon Man, he mentioned I should write out my story for his “International Hug-A-Convert Day,” I told him I wasn’t quite ready. This year has been crazy and amazing and I am late in submitting this; but here it goes.
The first time I remember knowing that there was a God, and Jesus Christ and a part I felt inside of me (only lately would I begin to understand the Holy Spirit); was when my divorced mother allowed me to attend a local Sunday school. We were singing “This Little Light of Mine.” I was about 5. I felt the Lighte of His Love. But my childhood remained full of darkness.
My parents divorced when I was four, my father was a loud atheist, my mom considered herself Christian, and wanted us to decide about religion for ourselves. To help facilitate that; she took us to several different churches. My younger brother and I learned not to share our church experiences with our dad during his weekend visitations.
When I was about 7, a friend of my mom’s was babysitting my brother and I and asked my mom if she could take us to church with her. She attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The memories that I have of that day were that I had to wear my Easter dress because it was the only dress I had that was long enough, and I got a spanking for saying a bad word on the way home from the service.
That was my last experience with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until my marriage of 22 years ended. During my marriage, while raising our 3 children, we attended a Nazarene church, then I began to explore Wicca & Paganism, then Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity; I was searching for answers. No matter where I looked, I didn’t find them.
While I was in the middle of my divorce, I met an unlikely missionary. After being introduced by several friends several different times, we attempted to date. True to my past, I attempted to seduce him. He attempted to teach me about chastity. Both of us failed in our attempts.
Rick was the man I dated, and fell in love with his stories of a God I never had imagined. Something called “Priesthood,” and he referred to Jesus Christ as a Brother and a Friend.
His pain had removed him from activity in the Church of the Lord that he loved. His own marriage, sealed in the temple 29 years previous, had ended in divorce. It was hard for me to understand his faith or associate it with a church he never attended. But he was quick to point out he considered himself a Latter-Day Saint.
As we agreed that we would loose our friendship if we attempted to continue to date, he promised to me that he would be my friend forever. I had no idea, then, what forever meant.
During the summer of 2010, I received a message on a social network that lead to me meeting the woman my oldest son had married and abandoned 3 years previous. I was also privileged to meet her mother, a Latter-Day Saint and our identical twin granddaughters, shortly before their second birthday.
Without me or my family knowing; my oldest son had married, impregnated & abandoned this young woman. Her mother was helping her raise the children my son had never met. The stories of my son and her daughter pulled Mary and I together. To me, this woman was indeed a Saint in so many ways and she welcomed me with love into her family.
I was disabled, on a meager income, divorced and with no place to call home. Friends across the country began to invite me to stay a week or a day, so I left everything and everyone I knew behind and began to travel.
It was a year and a half full of traveling the country running from a life that I no longer had, and searching for eternal answers. During my first trip across the country, I took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the Twin Falls, Idaho Temple. I parked my car and took photos. It was the most beautiful building I had ever felt.
Felt. I felt this building. It felt light. Brighter than any light I have ever felt. I felt close to God and Christ. I felt the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know much about Temples at the time, but I did remember Rick saying that they weren’t open to the public. I didn’t even try to go in, but said a quick prayer, took some photos, and went along my way thanking God for checking in on me.
These types of incidents happened so much in my travels, I began to feel like either The Church or Christ, was following me. When I began corresponding and talking with a man in Arizona in 2012, the subject of religion was slow in coming up.
Keith and I began talking in late 2011, by Valentines Day 2012 we were spending hours on the phone together. We understood each other in ways no one ever had. Then, we began talking about religion. He said he was a Latter-Day Saint. I rebelled, confused about the covenants and commandments, since I had never taken the Missionary lessons. As far as I was concerned, I tried once to date a Mormon and that didn’t work.
I went on with my life and my travels, Keith remained my long-distance friend. No matter how extreme my behavior; my friend Keith was always there to listen.
Two friends, both men, both Latter-Day Saints but inactive. My granddaughters’ other grandma (Mary) a Latter-Day Saint who isn’t as active as she longs to be, but who’s patience with our twin granddaughters and their mother is as close to Christ’s countenance as I could imagine.
On March 6, 2013, I was at my bottom: homelessness, depression and bad relationship choices got the end of me. I got on my knees on the cold wooden floor of an abandoned attic and asked my Heavenly Father how I could become closer to Christ.
I was answered with the immediate impression that I was being commanded to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I called Mary, “How do I get Missionaries to come to where I am?”
She marveled at my testimony and my faith; I asked her what she meant by “testimony.” Not ten minutes passed after I hung up with her, and I received a phone call from Missionaries in my area.
I was baptized 17 days after my personal revelation. Within a month I was impressed to ask for my Patriarchal Blessing. That month also saw me in the Temple Baptistery for my ancestors.
During the chaotic time of my repentance, I realized just how many people on social networks followed my activities. I prayed to know if I should close my accounts and look for different writing venues.
The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that I needed to be even louder about my conversion and about my faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ than I had been in my sin. That would be a challenge.
The first few posts I wrote in my new blog about my testimony went over well. Those who ventured a cursory gander were even more than polite in their comments to me.
I was still concerned, and prayed to know if blogging or other social networks were the proper use of my testimony. I heard my answers loudly when I attended the “Hastening the Work” broadcast at my local Ward Meetinghouse in June 2013.
Over the past year I have learned some hard lessons about leaning not unto mine own understanding. I have also learned a lot about patience.
In my first 14 months as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have had the opportunity to attend services in 11 Wards and 2 Branches in 7 Stakes. I am a woman of many Wards.
I was baptized as a divorced grandma on her own, the first church member of my family. I was married on February 14, 2014 to Keith (also the first convert of his family), after traveling to Arizona and meeting this man Heavenly Father protected me from meeting before I had my own testimony of chastity.
I have recently been humbled to have been allowed to receive my own endowment. Keith and I are working towards being able to be sealed for Eternity around our first anniversary.
I currently blog at http://SlightelyMormon.org. I am working on a book of poetry and prose from the first year of my conversion. My life is more blessed than I could ever imagine.