I wasn’t even close to being a disciple of Christ, but I was able to fake it. Fortunately, God saw straight through me.
I think you should know right off the bat that I was born into a super-normal Mormon family. We went to church, we had family prayer, we had FHE (when we remembered), we read our scriptures, and we did everything else an LDS family is supposed to do.
There was only one problem: I didn’t believe in any of it. I went through the motions and did what I was supposed to do, but in reality I firmly disbelieved everything. I had no desire to know, I didn’t believe in God, I didn’t study and pray on my own, and I definitely didn’t repent. I knew my disbelief would break my parents’ hearts and cause contention, so I never mentioned anything about it. I simply chose to wait until I could safely leave the Church without their knowing.
It’s probably pretty obvious at this point that my mindset has changed a little since then (after all, I am writing an article for a Mormon website). I guess you could call it conversion. It started with a devastating blow: my mom—best friend and confidante extraordinaire—was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a gummy bear right in the middle of her frontal lobe. I can’t even begin to explain how terrifying that was to me; it knocked my emotional world off its axis. I’m usually an emotionally stable person, but I spent a lot of my private time covered in tears, imagining life without my mom.
One night I got desperate—desperate enough to try out the whole God thing. I got down on my knees, like I’d been taught, and prayed like there was no tomorrow. I asked tons of questions: Is God even there? What is going to happen to my mom? Could I get some comfort down here, please?
It’s usually at this point in conversion stories that you hear about a miraculous feeling of love coming into the person’s heart, but I had none of that. My prayer seemingly yielded no results, and I went to bed feeling like my disbelief had been justified. There wasn’t a God—not for me, anyway.
The next day, however, was a game changer. A girl from school whom I had never really spoken to before (and who definitely didn’t know my situation) approached me and asked if I was okay. Feeling a little like my emotional security had been breached, I did my best to keep up my façade. “Of course!” I told her. “Why?”
It was about that time that the miraculous feeling of love kicked in. She told me that she’d had a dream. In it, I had been crying, and she had been told to help. As she told the story, I felt a huge blanket of comfort cover my heart, and tears of relief came out of nowhere. It probably seems weird, but that tiny act of this girl telling me her dream was enough to tip the scale.
That moment kick-started my investigation of the Church. I began with a few questions and a lot of doubts. I sincerely tried to talk myself out of investigating anything at all. Was God really answering my prayer through some stranger’s dream? I had felt pretty loved and comforted, but how could I be sure that those feelings came from God? I began reading the scriptures, looking for those same feelings. For a while, I had myself convinced that maybe I was feeling comfort because I was trying too hard to feel it.
Looking back now, I see that I followed a pattern outlined by Elder D. Todd Christofferson in his April 2004 general conference talk, “When Thou Art Converted.” Slowly, the desire to learn came honestly and purely into my heart. That is probably the corniest line I’ve ever written, but it’s true. I began to earnestly seek after things that made me feel God’s love. I started actually paying attention in church. I read my scriptures a little more often. I started sincerely trying. And I definitely kept praying.
It’s not easy; I still have days when I wish that girl at school had kept her mouth shut. Becoming converted has definitely been more of a trial than some people say it is, and it requires daily effort. I went through about a year of spiritual ups and downs between my first real prayer and my acceptance of the Church. But however difficult it has been, becoming fully invested in the gospel has been completely worth it.
As Elder Christofferson said, the gospel hasn’t just influenced my life—it has become who I am. I am a person who feels God’s love on a daily basis, and I am in a mindset to actually recognize it. I’m happier, I’m more confident, and I feel more love for my family (who, by the way, are all alive and well today). I’m improving daily, and I love the person I’m becoming. Most importantly, I love my Heavenly Father, who has helped me get to this point.
Read or watch the talk that has helped me stay on track.
Source: LDS General Conference
feature image by sergey zolkin
Find more insights
Watch a similar conversion story, “The Hope of God’s Light.”
Read or watch Elder David A. Bednar’s talk on conversion, “Converted unto the Lord.”