Thanks to the Spirit, which worked even through an Ex-Mormon Evangelical brochure that I found in a Baptist Church years ago, I ended up finding the pure gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: (“Mormonism”–a nickname based on the name of a prophet in ancient America: Mormon).
Here’s a clipped version of my conversion story.
I still remember standing at the top of the stairs as a child wondering who I was and why I was on the earth. I hungered for that knowledge like no other, and I felt spiritually starved. I attended Catholic Church but asked what to them were unanswerable questions. I posed a few like these: “Well, who lived in heaven and took part in that war besides Jesus? (If there was a war in heaven, as taught, then there had to have been more than two people there, I reasoned.); Why do I have to confess the same sins twice?” and “How can God and Jesus be the same person?” I lived as if on a daily spiritual fare of milk and toast, not knowing there was a buffet table divinely set and beckoning me.
Questions about the purpose of life sprung up as consistently as crocuses do in spring, any time I was willing to allow them to pop through the soil of my soul. At one particular point in my life, I began to despair that I would never know my purpose or the answers to the questions of my heart. Without those answers, the desire to live waned. The world looked cold and senseless. How could I function from day to day without knowing ‘why’ I was functioning? I couldn’t tick if I didn’t know why I was ticking.
Lacking some key to the universe, I sat despondently on the edge of my studio bed, staring at a bottle of sleeping pills. I thought about my circumstances. I had little impetus for moving forward from day to day. I was tired of fumbling for house keys in the cold, of working for work’s sake, of studying theories spilled over in classes without a rod to evaluate them. So I planned to take my life. Just before popping the pills, though, my efforts were aborted– by a gentle but profound strain of impressions from a loving Father through what I now recognize as His Spirit. I was told, through those welcome whisperings, that “every moment of love and every moment of discovery in my life had not been wasted” and that I “must have the courage to live on.” I was also told, in fact spiritually guaranteed, that I would find the purpose of life. I accepted with confidence those impressions though I didn’t quite comprehend their appearance on the screen of my soul.
I spent the next months contemplating my life. On one remarkable occasion, as I was jogging around the neighborhood under the exquisite light of a full moon, I received what I can only describe as an injection of truth–a stunning, indelible witness that God lived. I recall sitting down on the curb, sobbing, tears of joy. I was changed instantly. I felt loved and I felt an overwhelming inclination to love like never before. I knew there was a God which thing I hadn’t known for myself just moments before. I knew, at last, I had a purpose. This was so delicious to taste. I longed to know more about God , his plan for me and my duty and responsibility towards Him and others.
I borrowed a Bible from a Catholic Church, lay out in the field behind their rectory, and read through the New Testament for the first time. I marveled that this book had been preserved for me– and anyone else looking for truth. I particularly recall pondering the word, ‘saved” and the atonement of Jesus Christ. I was filled to know that the Lord, who had just literally saved my life physically, had also died to save me spiritually. I knew that I had an advocate in whom I could completely trust.
I then began to identify and list in my trusty silver notebook, points of doctrine Jesus Christ had espoused and the characteristics of his Church. I learned much from that first scriptural immersion. But three ideas particularly prepared me for the fullness of the gospel. First, I knew that we could become perfect even as God is, for the Savior Himself taught thedoctrine of perfection to his apostles as recorded in Matthew 12:48. Second, I anticipated more revelation than the Bible for the Lord told His apostles (in Mark) that there was more to be revealed that they were not ready to bear. Third, I embraced the truth that there was only one, true way to salvation as the scriptures indicated: “one faith, one baptism.” In fact, I envisioned a time when all quarrels among churches would end, and all denominations would be subsumed under the one true church. I decided to begin a search for the true Church, thinking, again, that it was, likely, not on the earth. After visits to dozens of churches–from Swedenborgian to Methodist–and reading through many books and pamphlets, comparing their teachings with those I learned in the scriptures, I always came up empty. No one, it seemed, scored on every point. There was always some disappointing deviation from what I learned from the scriptures to anticipate in Christ’s Church.
On another investigative visit to the Baptist Church, I found myself, again, disappointed. This time, I was on the brink of abandoning my quest altogether. It was too painful to think that so many who professed the Christ did not know the full truth about Him or about the ways He indicated we should administer his ordinances. Just then, on my way out of thebuilding, I discovered an “anti-Mormon” brochure written by ExMormon on a rack in the vestibule. As I was in the habit of collecting whatever I could grasp on various religions, I clasped it eagerly and tucked it away to read at home. When I arrived at the Baptist minister’s home, where I was a guest, I began to devour this pamphlet. I read eagerly some of the claims of the Church, namely, that we could become more and more perfect as the Savior; that there was additional revelation than the Bible (something called a Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants); that there was a code of health (which I ‘d anticipated through the Spirit); and more. The critical comments seemed superfluous, and I recognized those “Mormon” claims as true from my own reading of the New Testament. This ExMormon’s attempts to dissuade me from belief actually launched my full-fledged investigation of the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mis-called the Mormon Church).
I was electrified and knew I had found something more than a kernel of truth. I searched for a Book of Mormon and found one in a small library in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania and took it home with a half gallon of ice cream. I dipped into both that night and hardly slept. I knew it was true. Before I found the book, I located in a different library a file of pamphlets on the purpose of life left by a missionary whom I do not know but will one day kiss. In there, I found the purpose of life clearly explained. It thrilled me and I barely contained my emotion. It was all I could do to refrain from squeezing the whispering librarians stacking the shelves .I recognized it immediately as the truth.
I eventually called the Church and entered the waters of baptism a short time later. And I must say that I feel like I’ve been eating lobster tails in drawn butter since.
While the gospel has not meant a life exempt from challenge, pain, or struggle, it has meant a life filled with resources to work through those, and through thegift of the Holy Ghost received at baptism, I’m able to receive clear direction, comfort and peace in a real and active relationship with my Savior. I also not only have joy in my children on a continual basis, but a knowledge that ultimately, I can live with them forever and all of God’s redeemed in His presence.