I was raised to be a hearty, world-fear- ing, God-loving Mormon. I sang the songs in primary, I took notes in sacrament, I eagerly – and happily – took on any service roles or callings thrown my way. As the hymn says, the chapel doors seemed to say to me, shhh, be still.
And so I was.
I was very still. Too still, in fact. While I wanted to believe in this church, and while I mirthfully went through the motions of serving, praying, fasting and reading… my spirit was still. There was no stirring in my soul, or swelling in my heart.
I was the child the church warns you not to be. I was the child who clung to the coat tails of my parents’ testimonies and figured that if they knew the Mormon church was true, then I knew it, too. And I lived this way for years. I punished myself every day for not believing, and wondered time and again: what was wrong with me that I couldn’t believe when every body else could?
It was at age 19 that I decided to stop wondering and start doing something about the anxiety and pain I was feeling in my heart. It was in December of 2009 that I wrote in my journal, “I can no longer live my life clinging to the belief of my parents. If the church is true, and I
am trying to believe that it is, the promise and reward is that I will read the Book of Mormon (with an open heart), pray about it, and the confirmation will come.”
This is the point in the story where you may start rolling your eyes, and getting ready to rip this page to pieces because you can’t bare to hear one more story about a young girl finding her testimony. But, rest assured my dear reader, this is not the story you are expecting it to be.
Upon reading the Book of Mormon with as open a heart as you could find
in the world, I got down on my knees to pray. I prayed for days. Nothing came. No warmth, no whispers, no stirrings, no tears. Just empty hollow nothingness. But that didn’t mean I had given up. It just meant I had to work harder. So I turned to other church approved literature to help buoy me up.
Instead, I found page after page of discrepancies and friction and secrets and silent wages of war against people who fell away, who couldn’t believe, who
believed wrongly…and the strangest thing happened. I felt a stirring in my chest,
a swelling in my heart. A little whisper that told me that this was the truth I was looking for.
I cried for days. My foundation had
been shattered. I felt ashamed, confused, betrayed by myself and by everything I thought I knew. But eventually those feel- ings desisted and I felt a new sensation – something I never understood the meaning of until the day it hit me: free.
I was freed from the shackles of despair over my dis-belief. I was freed from the stronghold grip I’d been maintaining on the testimonies of my parents. It was on that day, those years ago, that I was freed. However, it took me years to understand that I was no different from the hundreds of thousands of other LDS youth like
me: we’d searched, pondered, prayed and found our resolve. I, like them, had chosen to follow the promptings I’d received. I suppose we won’t know for a long time who made the better choice.
NMJ / HEX Writer