Atheist or Agnostic
Sometimes Only Suffering Will Bring People To God
By Lindsay Hoppe
I spent a lot of years looking for a religion. I
was raised without one, my mother is an Atheist, and I always felt
incomplete when it came to religion. I believed in God, but that was
about all I knew.
I had some basic knowledge of Christianity which
my father and step mom had taught me, but that was about it. When I
was 12, I started searching for a religion. I went to churches with
friends. I'd say I've been to most of the major Christian sects:
Episcopal, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Lutheran, Jehovah's Witness,
Catholicism (Roman, didn't go to an Orthodox church).
I studied all the major religions in varying
detail, including Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Paganism. I find
religion and the ways people worship the Lord to be fascinating.
I think it was this hunger for knowledge and
spirituality that caused me to search, and eventually led me to the
finding the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When I visited all those churches over the years,
nothing ever felt right to me. I always felt that there was
something missing. I'd go to a church, and just feel...empty and
lost. Nothing ever touched my soul.
Also, repentance was hard for me. I didn't even
believe in sin for some time, I just believed in karma, that what
you do comes back to you. I didn't want to believe some things WERE
sins. While it is that your actions have consequences, I now know
that is only half the story.
There are things we should and shouldn't do, by
following the commandments, your life will be infinitely easier. The
Lord doesn't give us these commandments to make our lives difficult,
he gives them to us because he loves us.
The Gospel isn't chains , it sets us free. I spent
countless years making endless mistakes because I didn't have this
integral piece of knowledge. I didn't realize how much misery I'd
created for myself. I didn't know there was a better way.
I have this friend named Suzanne, who is a member
of the Mormon Church. I met her through an online community for
natural parenting and we have been online friends for years. She's
an awesome person and mother.
I used to tell her my thoughts on spirituality,
she'd just gently teach me about the Gospel, never intending to make
me convert but mostly just satisfying my curiosity and chatting
about God. I admired her faith and wanted the peace that she felt in
her life. I wanted that kind of faith.
One of the biggest issues I had with converting to
Christianity was the idea that after we die, we either go to Heaven
or Hell. It seemed to me that the rules which governed who would go
where were kind of harsh, under that law, people like Ghandi
wouldn't go to heaven because they weren't Christian.
I just didn't think God was that mean! I knew even
then that God loves all of his children dearly, that he is fair and
just. Suzanne explained to me about the levels of glory, and how we
all go where we would be the most comfortable, and how Hell is
really only reserved for The Worst of The Worst. It just made sense
The more I learned of the Gospel, the more I began
to feel the Holy Spirit testify to me that it is true.
I prayed and prayed to believe in Christ. I know
that seems ridiculous to some, but I spent so many years not
believing, not wanting to believe, not wanting to repent, with the
weight of my sins weighing on my soul. I wanted that real, true
faith and the peace that comes with it. I wanted to experience true
There was this one morning, I woke up feeling
somewhat blue. I felt as if my head was underwater. As I was
messaging Suzanne as usual, it just dawned on me to investigate the
Mormon faith. At the time it seemed to make so much sense, in fact,
that I wondered why I hadn't thought to do it beforehand!
It seemed to "fit" me, the emphasis on Family and
God's love (not his wrath), the belief that even if you are not a
believer in Christ you will not be condemned forever in a pit of
burning lava. I clicked around on Mormon.org. I was overcome with
the feelings of peace, it felt like coming home.
I have always wondered why so much of my life was
suffering. I consider myself to be a good person. And yet, I have
been through things no one should ever have to experience. When I
came across this on Mormon.org, it really spoke to me:
Sometimes, only suffering will bring people to
God. Suffering can humble you and open you to the influence of God's
Spirit. Through your own afflictions you can learn compassion.
Through the afflictions of others you can learn to truly serve.
And it just hit home to me. In that moment I
believed. This suffering was God knocking on the door, so to speak,
and all I had to do was open it and the suffering would be released.
So I prayed. I asked God, how I could know that
this would be right for me? What should I do? What is the plan for
my life (or is there a plan?)? Within a few minutes, I came across
In order to come closer to Heavenly Father and
receive all the blessings that He has for you, you must first
develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter taught
that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
But what is faith, and how can you develop it?
Faith in God is more than a theoretical belief in Him. To have faith
in God is to trust Him, to have confidence in Him, and to be willing
to act on your belief in Him. It is a principle of action and power.
To have faith is to "hope for things which are not
seen, which are true" (Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21). Each day you act
upon things you hope for, even before you see the end result. This
is similar to faith.
The Book of Mormon prophet Alma compared faith to
a seed. If you plant a seed and nourish it, if it is a good seed it
will grow and eventually bear fruit (Alma 32:28-43).
It is the same with faith. If you are obedient to
God's commandments, study His word, and have a desire to believe in
Christ, faith will grow inside of you.
When the Gospel was explained to me at church, it
just made sense to me. I didn't feel like anything was missing. It
just felt....right. I knew that I was where I belonged. It was as if
I had been living in darkness all these years and suddenly, there
For me, the decision to become baptized was easy.
I sometimes look upon that month I spent investigating as a sort of
honeymoon, it was like when you first get married and everything is
new and there are no problems.
But of course, real life eventually sets in. You
have to pay your phone bill and take out the trash. Your new spouse
snores at night and steals the covers. This is where the real work
sets in. It is similar with converting; once the dust settles, the
reality of the complete and total life change beings to hit home.
Suddenly I noticed everything was different, old
songs I listened to no longer had meaning, tv shows I'd once enjoyed
now seemed empty, clothes I'd once worn I didn't want to wear
anymore because they didn't fall under modesty standards.
One of the things I've always struggled with is
feelings of inadequacy and depression. One day when I was feeling
that I'd never be worthy of the temple, during my scripture study I
came across Alma 24:10 which says
"And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that
he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and
also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders
which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts,
through the merits of his Son."
We ALL have struggles. This is why we are here!
Learning from our struggles is the entire purpose of being on this
planet. The most important part is that we strive to become better
than what we are today, and that we repent when we do wrong. God
will forgive us through the atonement of His son, Jesus Christ.
I think sometimes one of the hardest things is to
let go of our struggles and trust God. The Lord Jesus Christ invites
us do to this. He said,
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of
me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto
your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles said in his talk at General Conference in October 2006,
The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure
"pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind," because our
Savior also took upon Him "the pains and the sicknesses of his
Brothers and sisters, if your faith and prayers
and the power of the priesthood do not heal you from an affliction,
the power of the Atonement will surely give you the strength to bear
I know that this is true. Finding the gospel for
me has been life-changing. Many of the burdens I carried for years
have been lightened. A whole world has opened for me. The love of
Jesus Christ is more than I can ever explain.
I've read the entire Book Of Mormon, and I know
that it's true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know
that Jesus lives, and that he died for us. I know that the love of
God is beyond our comprehension. It is pure love, and He is waiting
for us to come home to Him.