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It Was As Though Scales Fell From My Eyes

By Anna Buttimore

I grew up in England as an Evangelical Christian (born-again), attended several different churches of this type and married an Anglican Vicar I had met through the University Christian Union.

When my best friend joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I was upset and angry. I thought she had been brainwashed into a cult and I became obsessed with hatred for the church.

I read every anti-Mormon book I could find and became involved with an anti-cult group, eventually becoming its Area Director for the North Wales area. As well as my research I gave lectures to church groups, leafleted homes warning householders not to speak to missionaries, and wrote a booklet about "Mormonism".

Five years after I started my campaign I received a Solicitor’s [lawyer’s] letter on behalf of the LDS Church asking that I cease my activities (some of which had been dishonest) or they would sue me.

For some time I had known that many of my arguments didn't stand up and that many of the anti-Mormon books were very inaccurate.

I was also beginning to admire the way every Mormon I had met was polite and loving and reasonable even when I was yelling at them. So I decided to comply and resolved to have nothing more to do with the church.

After some time I began to feel sorry for what I had done in the past, so I met with the missionaries and asked them to convey my apologies to the local ward. They discovered that I had never actually read the Book of Mormon and they challenged me to do so.

I didn't actually read much at that time, but it was as though scales fell from my eyes (Acts 9:18) and I realized that the person I had been trying to convince that the Church was false was not my best friend, or any of the people I lectured to, but myself.

I had felt threatened by the church because I had never felt close to God in my own church, but all the Mormons I met had a very real relationship with Him, and that was a huge challenge to my own belief system.

When the missionaries taught me it was as though I was hearing the gospel for the first time. It was extremely difficult to say "I was wrong" and go to church that first time, but not one person reproached me and everyone made me feel welcome.

I felt really loved and was finally able to feel the spirit and know for certain that my Heavenly Father loved me and heard my prayers.

Unfortunately my husband, who was a Vicar after all, still hated the LDS church and soon forbade me to go to church or have anything to do with it. No one was allowed even to phone me or call at the house, and he burned my scriptures.

I went along to his church with him until he lost his job due to his alcoholism, after which I went to a community Evangelical church. As our marriage started to disintegrate I was able to go occasionally to the local branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and when we divorced I became fully active.

My testimony grew even through the years when I couldn't go to church. I found huge strength in prayer and had many reassurances from my Heavenly Father.

In particular I was promised that I would be richly rewarded for my faithfulness (which surprised me, because I wasn't living the gospel particularly well the whole time) and I believe that reward came when I married a wonderful, intelligent, steadfast returned missionary.

I often joke that I embarked on a five year quest to find out what was wrong with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only to conclude "Nothing"; or I sum up my conversion by saying "If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em."

But that trivializes what really happened, which was that Heavenly Father didn't turn his back on me, and even through the hatred which filled me the spirit was able to reach me and help me turn my life around.

I cannot begin to describe the joy which fills me each day as I pray with my family, or spend time in my calling with the Young Women who really inspire me, or just walk through the halls of the church meetinghouse knowing that this is where I belong and that this is right and good.

I do know that this is Jesus Christ’s church, and I truly rejoice that I have the privilege of being a member of it. I love my Savior and am so grateful for all that He has done for me. And especially for his atonement which means that we can be forgiven, no matter what we have done wrong in the past.
 

 

 

 

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