This week for Mormon Monday, I found myself raising my eyebrows when I read a question from a reader who preferred to stay anonymous. It was a different kind of question -- it was more personal and dear to my heart. I was flattered that this individual asked me and I'm happy to answer it the best possible way I can. Here is the question:
"I know you mentioned previously in your blog that you in the past struggled with if God existed. What was the defining moment for you when you realized his existence and when you thought in your heart that The Book of Mormon was true? What was the experience like for you personally? I always hear of a burning in the bosom but I wanted to get your personal take on it."
As I mentioned previously, my experiences are rather dear to my heart. If you're about to read this, brace yo'self for a potential novel post. When I was a sophomore in high school, I met a hilarious boy that I instantly became friends with. He always brought a smile to my face. I would always look forward to going to school to see him (not on a romantic level, just on a friend level), as he always put me in the brightest spirit possible. A few weeks later, he took his own life as he struggled with being accepted. It tore at my heart strings. I blamed myself. And I had a really hard time getting closer to God in a situation like that.
Not even two months later, a family friend who we were extremely close to got in a car accident and died while serving the Lord in Africa. His name was Chad. I had my regrets with what I did and didn't say to him before he died. I hated myself. After a few days of staying home from school, I decided to go to seminary. For those of you who don't know what seminary is, it's a LDS class you take during your high school classes and learn more about the gospel. When I went, my seminary teacher started class by saying, "Did any of you hear about the missionary that went to this high school that passed away this weekend? Super sad stuff." People began whispering. Then talking. I heard one girl say, "I knew Elder Turnbow. He was in the car with Elder Wayman. His family told us that Elder Wayman was ridiculous for the way he swerved and that it's a good thing he died instead of Elder Turnbow. I'm sure glad Elder Turnbow didn't get hurt." She went off about how Elder Wayman practically deserved it. I was livid. I walked out of class, went and sat on the steps, cried, and went home.
There were two people who were dear to my heart that passed away within two months. I put the blame on God. I was angry. I repeatedly thought, "Why would God do this to good people? If there was a God, he wouldn't let this happen." I wasn't in the best state with my family and I was being pretty rebellious throughout school as well. A few weeks later, I broke down. I could NOT do this anymore. At one point in my life, I was so sure that God existed and in another point, I hated Him. I wanted nothing to do with Him. I went home and prayed. I asked God to help me feel that He was there..and to help me see that He cares for me and that He has a plan for everyone. It was a little overwhelming, but the feeling I felt was unreal. The Holy Ghost came upon me, and confirmed my thoughts of God possibly being real. I decided to start praying a little more. And from there, my feelings were enough. In order for me to have felt such a strong feeling, I had to open my heart and believe it first. It's super hard to explain, really. And in order for those to find out for themselves, they have to open their heart, want to believe, and pray.
It's the same answer with the Book of Mormon. I never really had a strong testimony, belief, and knowledge of The Book of Mormon until after marriage. I admit it! But the book has completely changed my life. I think my experience is a little bit different. The way I found it to be true wasn't a burning in the bosom. Though I have felt that, that's not exactly what my first experience was. Instead, it was reading the book, praying about it, and doing what the book told me to do. There are commandments in The Book of Mormon. When I began living the gospel and trying it out, that's when I found out that it was true. It's kind of silly, but when people ask why they should start living the gospel if they aren't sure yet, I answer with "What do you have to lose?" Every single thing this gospel teaches is to make you a better person and grow closer to God. If you read the Book of Mormon, and pray with an open heart, asking if it is true, and even live the commandments, it's only going to make you a better person...and confirm, your belief too! If you don't have a Book of Mormon, please contact me! I would love to send you one, free of charge.
If you have any questions about Mormonism, don't hesitate to email me at we(n)serendipity(at)gmail.com and your question could be featured on future Mormon Monday posts!