Good Morning! Our local branch has a darling sister who is about to head off on her mission for the LDS church and she asked the members to provide her with their testimonies so that she could share them with investigators on her mission. This is what I wrote up to send her and I thought that maybe y’all would like to see it as well since my personal testimony of the LDS church is one of my favorite things!
Well I’ll be honest; writing just one short testimony without allowing it to become a huge diatribe is rather difficult because there is so much I’d like to share with an investigator or new member. It’s made more difficult by the fact that my testimony is so closely tied to my conversion story which isn’t short at all, but I’ll do my best!
I joined the church back in July of 2013 after about a month of investigating the church. I grew up religious but not attending church. As a child I would tease and tease my parents to bring me to church which they did for a brief period allowing me to be baptized into the Methodist church. Before joining the LDS church I had been in a really damaging relationship, and during that time I prayed fervently that if I was meant to stay in this relationship that it’d get better and that if not God would give me a way out, a way to escape. That escape came in the summer of 2012 but left me feeling utterly alone and demolished as a person. I had about zero self-worth, no friends, and had been so closely watched and shuttered off that I didn’t know how to drive or go anywhere by myself because that hadn’t been my norm for the past few years. During that time I spent about 85% of my day praying some of the most sincere, contrite prayers I’ve ever uttered asking God to help me and pleading with him to make a deal with me that if he would help me through this pain that I would do anything, go anywhere he wanted, as long as I could feel normal and whole again. The pain did gradually diminish and I received my answer to that prayer the following summer when I visited the local library. I checked the free box in the foyer as I always did for magazines before going inside to find a new book to read and this time, in addition to the magazines and old VHS tapes, was a copy of the Book of Mormon. I picked it up and looked it over while experiencing this strange feeling that I really needed to bring this book home, but ultimately placed it back in to box and went inside. On my way back out I walked past the free box again, experienced those same feelings, and remembered my deal with God. So, a little begrudgingly if I must admit, I took the Book of Mormon home that day. Upon arriving home I saw a card on the counter advertising mormon.org. The Elders had stopped by and left the card in the door while I was gone. If that wasn’t God sending a very loud and clear message than I don’t know what is!
Over the next few days I paged though the Book of Mormon, read everything I could on mormon.org, watched tons of videos from the LDS online library, watched The District, a South Park episode on Mormons, and a PBS documentary on the LDS church. I also spoke with my family about the church who strongly opposed me learning more. Despite that fact I still felt like I needed to learn more so I referred myself to the local elders via mormon.org as I felt uncomfortable calling the number on the card or the one included on the first page of the Book of Mormon I had picked up at the library. A few days after that these two Elders showed up on my doorstep and we talk a little bit. The were so shocked to find out that I had ended up with the Book of Mormon they left in the library free box. We set a time to meet the following day at a local park. It was pouring rain, but we met and I had my very first lesson. I attended church that Sunday and met the local members. I continued to meet with the elders for the following month and attended church despite continued opposition from my family. The local branch members held a fast in my honor and did their best to reach out to my family to help them become more comfortable with the church. The Elders were so excited to baptize me as they had been experiencing much difficulty in the area with finding those willing to be taught. Before they felt prompted to put that Book of Mormon in the free box they had debated on shutting the area down with mission leaders because of the investigator drought. I’m so glad that they didn’t!
In fact, the elders were so over excited that it scared me a bit, so I told them I wouldn’t get baptized until I had read the entire Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price thinking that would settle them down and buy me some time. They were at my door the next morning with copies of the other scriptures! However, God showed me that more time wasn’t needed. I was praying fervently, reading almost around the clock and annotating my scriptures asking questions as they arose, going to lessons with missionaries and a member (my now husband), attending church, and going to scripture study with the members. During that time I came across Alma 32 Verse 26 which reads “Now, as I said concerning faith that it was not a perfect knowledge-even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of the surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith in a perfect knowledge”. This verse changed everything. Upon reading it I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this church was true as were it’s teachings and I needed to join. I texted the missionaries to let them know and we set up a baptismal interview for that week. I passed my interview and was baptized the following weekend. I did end up reading the Book of Mormon (read in 16 days) and the Pearl of Great Price (read in one day) before I was baptized. I completed my reading of the Doctrine and Covenants the next month (read in 30 days).
I know that a long story, and it was actually the shortened version of it, believe it or not! However, that journey gave me a testimony of so many different things. First and foremost that the church is true, that God is my Father, and that Christ walked on this earth and was resurrected to atone for my sins. Also that the church was restored through Joseph Smith and that we have prophets here on this earth today. Second, that having lessons attended by members and having members socialize with investigators is so vital to their process of joining the church. Third that fasting works and is powerful; without the members fasting for me and fasting that my family’s hearts would be softened I may not have joined the church and they definitely wouldn’t have attended my baptism but I did and they did come! Fourth that God hears our prayers, loves us, and guides us to the truth if we but ask; “knock and it shall be opened”. Lastly, the teachings of the church have allowed me to grow personally in ways I never would have without it and to deepen my testimonies of other things. Through being baptized in water I understand completely how important that step is due to the intense, transcendent feelings I felt during my own baptism. Through the missionaries not giving up on me I learned how important missionary work and enduring to the end is. Through following the law of tithing I’ve gained a testimony of how it helps me to budget and has saved us time and again when funds were short and we had no food or bills were due. Some kind of help always showed up when we had made sure to pay our tithing first. Through following my temple covenants I’ve been shown how important wearing garments is and how Heavenly Father helps me accomplish that when today’s standards of dress are fairly immodest. Through following the law of chastity I’ve realized how important and meaningful it is. I did not previously follow it before having met Jon and it caused so many deep scars that have been difficult to heal even two and a half years in to my marriage.
Those are just a mere handful of examples that I could think of off the top of my head! I’m sure that the longer I’m in the church the more testimony I will gain but thus far these past four years have been an incredible, worthwhile, life changing adventure.