Saturday, January 13, 2007

Paradox is a convert

Being a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been, without a doubt, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I never would have thought it possible either. I've been to so many churches; Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist... there was even a point when I was experimenting with Buddhism... and none of them were really all that fulfilling to me spiritually. The most recent church before the LDS was with my friend Jessica's, whose father was a Southern Baptist minister. I remember sitting through his sermons, with a small voice telling me, This isn't where you're supposed to be. And while I knew what was happening, I didn't know what to do about it. So I didn't change. I just sat in quiet desperation, hoping and praying for something better... for the place I knew I was waiting for before I ever found it.

My boyfriend and his brother (both LDS) were the ones that introduced me to the Church. Miranda is our friend, and the only one that matches my ability to be stubborn. I went with her to my first church activity, which thoroughly scared me to death. I tried to resolve to myself that I didn't want to see anything else of their church, but something stopped me. Try again, I could feel the voice prompting me. But I didn't understand. I wondered; what did these crazy people know that could help me? Was there something ELSE behind everything I was hearing? I needed to find out more.

I made the mistake of asking my pastor. He tore the Mormons to shreds, and tore the shreds to tinier shreds. I could tell he was insulted that I had gone to the LDS church, and I was sorry for that... but I couldn't keep myself away from it! It sparked a passionate thirst and a curiosity that I couldn't even articulate, for lack of understanding. I decided that I would do what I felt was right if the opportunity came again.

And come it did. Miranda invited me to come to church with her this time, instead of to an activity. I remember stepping inside the Rising Sun branch and thinking to myself, this feels so different! I couldn't comprehend why, or what it was. I went into the chapel and sat down. As I listened to the speakers, I was so amazed I couldn't speak! The spirit was so strong! THIS is what I've been searching for! I exclaimed in silent jubilation. I was home! This is where I'm supposed to be!

I would have converted at that very moment if I had been allowed to!! The gospel was everything I ever could have wanted, and SO much more! Everything I always wanted and prayed for in the silent hours of midnight's desperate sorrow... I didn't want to leave! I wanted to hear MORE, to learn more, to be Mormon! I wanted to be Mormon!

That initial thrill was exhilarating, and probably what gave me the resolve to tell Jessica and her father that I was converting to Mormonism. It's what gave me the courage to tell my mother that I wanted to be a Latter-day Saint. And it never goes away! Every time I close my eyes and reflect on how much I've been given since that day, how wonderful my life has become, even WITH all the adversity, I'm amazed! I'm struck dumb with awe and wonder that someone so powerful as my Heavenly Father would bless me with so much joy! ME! Of all of the people that live on this earth, that HAVE ever lived on this earth, he has given me all of my blessings... surely there are those that deserve it more than I do... and he gave it all to me anyway!

Since that time, I've cultivated a testimony that is strong and deeply rooted in faith. I have confidence that this is where I am meant to be. Heavenly Father has blessed me with the ability to see my experiences with a clear perspective, and a gift for public speaking that allows me to share them with people. Fast Sunday is pretty much what I look forward to most anymore, because I get to go up and talk about my favorite thing in the world! The gospel, and why it's important to me!!! What more could I ask for? What more, rather, could I be given?

What more could ANY of us be given?