Several times in the past year I have been asked to share part of my story in front of large crowds - crowds of 150 up to 2000 people. I have also taken some time to share bits and pieces on Instagram. But, sharing here feels scary - it feels permanent and more like a bold declaration. It also feels like something I need to write about more; something that deserves being shared in a space where it can be saved for a long time to come. I have journaled so that someday my children and their children will be able to read what’s been on my heart. Yet I still feel the pull to keep sharing in public spaces. And that pull has led me here, sitting at my computer with so many thoughts on my heart and not really knowing where to start. So today, I’m going to share one of my presentations from last year. I shared this with a couple hundred adults at a Saturday evening conference at my church.
Shortly before I shared this at the conference, I had the thought that I needed to share my conversion story more. The story of how I experienced a true, heart changing conversion. I quickly forgot about this seemingly random thought because, well, I’m a mom of 3 kids and life took over. Another week or so after that, I had a very vivid image of myself speaking in front of a large crowd from my church pulpit. But, it was super fleeting - as quickly as the image entered my head, it was gone. A week or so later, I was caught in the hallway between church meetings and was asked by one of the leaders if I would be willing to share my testimony at conference. After I got home that day, I sat down to write in my journal and it hit me what had just happened. Those random thoughts and images were not so random at all.
I have had many experiences like that over the past two years and I have uncovered a lot of them each time I’ve been asked to share with other people. I truly think I gain more insight and revelation than those I am speaking to.
I was born and raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was baptized at the age of 8 (as is custom in my church), went to seminary (an early morning scripture study class during high school years), graduated from Brigham Young University (which is owned and operated by the church), and married in the Detroit Michigan temple. I was checking my boxes left and right but soon discovered that checking boxes does not equal an easy breezy life. After I got married, adulting hit me hard. Perhaps at some point I will go into more detail, but there were miscarriages, job loss, marriage trouble, lots of moving, mental health issues with my kids…you get the idea…normal life trials. Over the years, I slowly let go of my grip on my relationship with God and my Savior. In 2012, I walked away from the church I’d grown up in and had no plans of ever returning.
There were a lot of little experiences along the way that softened my heart, but there was one big experience that was the catalyst to beginning my conversion process. One day in August 2017, I was driving home after dropping kids off at school when I heard a really loud voice say ‘Just Trust Me!’ It was the most clear voice I’ve ever heard - as if the Lord was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. At that point in time, I’d been fighting off the urge to go back to church for quite some time, but I could not brush off that voice. The following Sunday, my children and I walked into our local chapel and I haven’t looked back. As I trusted that voice and walked through the chapel doors, I knew He had forgiven me and that He was guiding me down the path He had planned for me all along.
I have struggled through much of my life with trusting others and trusting myself. So, it has been amazing to me how the Lord has used something I have considered a huge weakness and turned it into the theme of my life the past 18 months. It has been a huge testament to me of the truths found in Ether 12:27 (found in the Book of Mormon) “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Time after time over the past two years, He has proven to me that as I trust Him and take the seemingly impossible or crazy steps He is asking me to, He strengthens me, builds my confidence and blessings have been poured out upon me and my family.
I have been super lucky to have been able to purposely clear unnecessary things out of my life. I know that God prepared this time for me, and I have taken full advantage of the time to immerse myself in the scriptures. As I have read every day, my mind has been opened and I have become more discerning. I have been given answers to things that have been bothering me for years. I’m not claiming that all my questions have been answered, but having my mind calmed on some things has allowed me to seek and trust God more. I have been able to see His hand not only in my life, but in the lives of my children, my extended family and in those I serve and serve with. It has been amazing to me that the more I let Him in, the more I want to do to keep His presence with me at all times. I think the thing that has helped me the most is reading the Book of Mormon every single morning for the past 14 months. I set out on January 1, 2018 telling myself that it would be the year I would KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. I vowed to spend as much time studying the truths in it as I could. I read the book cover to cover four times in 2018 and am currently halfway through for the 5th time. I can say with certainty that the Book of Mormon has changed me.
At some point, I hope to share more of my experiences. I am in awe of God’s goodness and mercy. But, until I have some time to write more, the most important thing I can share is this…I look forward to the day that I get to see the Savior face to face, hug him and tell him Thank You. He has been with me every step of the way; I can literally feel His arms embracing me on the hard days, nudging me when I start to question if I’m pursuing the right things (ahem, writing this blog post). He is there helping me know how to help my children when I don’t feel like I can. I can see Him in the classroom with the youth I serve each week. I hear Him in the voice of my three year old as she sings I Am A Child of God as we drive around town. I feel His presence when my 12 year old asks questions as we study our scriptures together. And I especially felt Him when my (now) 8 year old decided to be baptized after so adamantly declaring she would never do it (turns out her friend and her brother had been praying for her to change her heart).
My hope is that each of you feel the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But, if you don’t just yet, be diligent, faithfully seek answers - I promise He is not afraid of your heartfelt questions. It is the best feeling when you finally come to know whose child you are and you know you have a Savior who gave His life for you. I know He lives and I know He loves me. I know He loves YOU.
(If you need any clarification or help understanding any of the terms I used, just ask. I know some things I mentioned are very specific to my faith but I’m happy to define.)