Former Baptist Church Member
"I Finally Set My House In Order"
My first experiences with religion were given to
me by my grandmother when I was 4. She was a non-denominational
Christian, and the only thing I still remember was singing "Jesus
Loves Me," and thinking that was all I was every going to need.
My parents didn't really make the effort to teach
my sisters and I about religion, I assume, because they could not
reach an agreement on what to teach us. My mother is a Catholic, and
my father wasn't, and neither of them were all that devout anyway.
We were the typical American family that
celebrated Christmas, never went to church, and yet my sister and I
were smacked if we took the Lords name in vain for any reason.
As I got older, I made what attempts I could to
approach religion. I remember being 8 and trying to read the
childrenís Bible my grandmother had given me for Christmas one year.
I didn't understand what I was reading, and I knew it.
When I made an effort, I usually just stuck to
prayer. I remember relying on that more and more as my parentís
separation became more and more imminent.
I never really felt like I got much from my
prayers; no feelings of peace, no comfort, and I certainly wasn't
getting what I prayed for. But I was simply doing what I had been
taught to do since childhood because I figured I wasn't supposed to
feel anything back. It never occurred to me that there might be
something wrong with that.
My dad started making my sister and I go to Church
with him and my grandmother on the Sundays we were with him. It was
an Episcopalian Church where most of the people there were family
members I had never met before.
I didn't like. I didn't feel like I got anything
out of it because it was MISSING something; something critical that
I didn't know how to name. I only knew that I was going for the
wrong reason, and there was no sense in that.
Eventually, we all stopped going, and I didn't
think about it much. My home life continued to deteriorate, and I
found it hard to believe in the "Benevolent Lord" that was supposed
to be protecting me when I watched what I was forced to see on a
Church to me became a private disappointment, and
my prayers were desperate pleas for something more from my life. But
I always felt as if I was doing nothing more than talking to the
ceiling, so I finally just stopped.
I didn't think about religion again until high
school. A friend of mine was a Southern Baptist, and she asked me to
come to the Church where her father was the pastor. I declined,
saying that I was as Christian as I was going to get. And then she
said there would be free donuts, so I accepted.
I enjoyed the donuts very much, and being around
my Baptists friends was better than being at home, so I decided to
give it my best shot. The same emptiness, the same inadvertent lip
service was all that came from me. I saw all of the people around me
with eyes closed and hands raised towards the ceiling.
I saw the tears of joy, gratitude, FAITH
bejeweling their cheeks, and I just didn't feel it. I believed in
God. I believed in Jesus. They kept telling me that faith in Christ
was all I needed to be saved, but I knew in my heart that there was
more. I just couldn't find it.
I had no idea how to ask for what I needed, or
where to find it. I was dissatisfied, and trapped. I often cried
about it, and begged with God for the answer to my problem. I could
almost feel Him telling me to hold on, but I had no idea what I was
even supposed to grab, so I kept silent and hoped something would
come my way.
After breaking up with my then-boyfriend, who was
also a very disappointing example of a Christian, I was at my wits
end. Either my answer was going to come soon, or there was nothing
left in me to even fight for anymore.
I was so tired of fighting everything all the
time, and having nothing to show for it. I wasn't even happy. Why
should I continue? And then the answer came. Only I didn't recognize
I became close friends with a few of the students
at the karate school I had been teaching at for 4 or 5 years.
They were LDS, but that didn't mean a thing to me
at the time. I had never heard of the Mormons, not even the polygamy
misconception, so I was pretty much a blank slate. My boyfriends brother,
Jake, was in a similar crisis of questions as me, so he and I never
really talked about religion.
Ben was a year younger than me, and two years
younger than Jacob, and yet there was something about him that I
couldn't quite put my finger on. He was The Good Kid. Gentle Ben. A
blast to hang out with, and yet he was different somehow.
As I became better friends with him, I realized
that he probably had what I was looking for. I just assumed I would
never have it for myself, and didn't pry into the issue much.
Ben and I eventually started dating. I was up
front and honest with him about my life, and he couldn't believe it
at first, I was so good at hiding everything.
He took it all in with a kind and understanding
acceptance that I envied, and I couldn't understand how he could be
so forgiving. I learned more about his church, his family, and how
the two were inseparable. I was jealous at my worst, and curious at
We continued seeing each other, and after a
falling out of about a month that happened in February, I was at an
all time low. I had hurt the one person who ever genuinely cared
enough about me to take in every part of me, and not judge me for
any of it.
He was willing to still be my friend. He was MORE
than willing, and I felt like a schmuck. So when our mutual friend
asked me to come to a Wednesday night stake activity, I couldn't say
I didn't like it. It scared me. It was on the 3
Kingdoms of Glory, and I had never heard anything so bizarre. I
swore to myself that I would never do another activity with these
people again; it was all just TOO weird.
And yet, I felt as if I couldn't say that, like I
needed to keep listening to what they had to say. Even though what
they had to say made me uncomfortable, their religion made so much
sense to me. I felt myself accepting it against my will.
So I did what any pseudo-Baptist would have done.
I told my preacher everything, and asked him to tell me what to
He and I had a long discussion about religion that
upset me very much. I didn't agree with a thing he said. These
people weren't members of a cult! I could feel it! For once, I was
I knew I couldn't trust what he was telling me. As
much as I had always respected him, something was wrong. My search
There was one more thing to try to do that would
allow for me to remain a conventional Christian. I had to be Saved.
I needed to find some way to assure myself that their way was right,
despite everything that was going on inside of me.
I assured myself that I was confused, that
conventional Christianity HAD to be right, because being a Mormon, I
had learned, was not an easy thing to be.
I knew I had a choice to make. And it came in the
form of an invitation to an LDS church. I was pretty skeptical about
the entire ordeal, and didn't expect it to be any different than
anything else I had ever seen.
And I was never so glad to be wrong in my entire
As soon as I stepped into the congregation I was
invited to attend, I could feel the difference. These people weren't
just happy. They were whole! The meeting hadn't even started, and I
felt a mighty change taking place within me.
I knew that I had found what I had been searching
for. My years of questioning, and silence, and faking it was over
now! I was home! And then the meeting started, and things got even
more exciting! My love of genealogy and my morbid fascination with
mummies and Ancient Egyptian culture had never made so much sense!
Sunday school was wonderful too! Questions I had
had for months, they were able to answer in 5 seconds. And Young
Womenís was a more than welcome change. I was with other girls my
age, talking about how faith fit into my life as a daughter of
Heavenly Father. I fell in love with the entire LDS church service,
and didn't want it to be over.
I finally was able to set my house in order, to
put my life together the way I knew it was supposed to be. I started
going to church with the Mormons, which raised many eyebrows in my
family. And their jaws dropped when they heard I wanted to be
baptized, which I knew was coming that very first day.
I knew I wanted to be baptized before even took
the Discussions. But Jake was away for the summer, and I refused to
be baptized without him. Even after I found my faith, he still
questioned his, and I knew it would mean something to him for me to
insist that he be there.
On August 26th, 2006, I was baptized into the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I made a covenant with
God that I treasure more than anything in this world. More than
money. More than family. More than life itself. Because of the
Atonement of my Savior and Brother, Jesus Christ, my sins were
washed from me, and I was finally whole.