I have been living in my present location for almost 1 whole year now. Almost everybody knows what I am about to post, however there are a few people who do not know. Instead of telling them I figured I would make a blog about it. For those who do not know, it's not that I did not want to tell you, the timing I felt was just never right.
If I am going to explain this I need to start from the beginning. I grew up in a few different churches and religions. I can remember going to church with my aunt Judy and her children. I also remember going to a baptist church while I was a child. A pastor would drive down to the apartment complex where I lived in a van and pick us up for church and in the summer vacation bible school. I really enjoyed this church. At 8 or 9 years old I thought I knew who God was.
In 1987 when I was 9 years old my father suddenly pulled me out of my baptist church and took me to this new church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints without any warning. Also known as the mormons. My father was baptized into the LDS faith in 1976. He had been inactive for several years and had decided at this point to start going back. Part of my problem is I did not understand why my father did this, he never made my mother and sister attend church, just myself. In some sort of way I resented him for this. Forcing me to leave a church which I actually enjoyed attending and not making my mother and sister attend.
Here I am now 9 years old. Attending a new church. My father did not tell me what kind of church this was or what they believed. A few months after I started attending I remember the missionaries coming over to my home to teach me lessons. I do not recall what kind of lessons they were teaching me or what they were even about. Nobody took the time to ever explain this to me. After these lessons I remember getting baptized. I do not know why this was happening, just my father wanted me to. Like any good child, I obeyed my father and went along with it. I stayed active in the church for 2 more years. I remember advancing in the priesthood and not knowing what this was about or what was going on. Men came into my class and put their hands on my head and spoke some words, shook my hand and left. I of course, just went along with it. Maybe I should have stopped and asked questions. I was not that kind of child. I was very shy and kept to myself.
Over the next several years of my life I was active and inactive. Going to church and not going to church. I went through my phases where I wanted to go and then I didn't want to go. Over the years I learned more about what the church stood for and what it believed in. In 2003 after my first visit to Arizona I came back home and once again came back to activity in the church thanks to my aunt and uncle. In 2005 I received the Melchizedek Priesthood.
In 2007 I was inactive. I had been for over a year. I was questioning a lot of things about the church. Was the Book of Mormon true? Was Joseph Smith a true prophet of God? The whole validity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints rises and falls with those two questions. I started to do my own research on the internet. You can now imagine what kind of websites I visited. I visited anti-mormon websites. The more I read these websites and the views expressed by these people I became fascinated by them and their views. A lot of these people are ex-mormons who hold nothing but hatred for the LDS church.
While reading these websites I began to think a different way. I will say these types of websites really had a profound effect on me. While visiting one of these sites I came across a letter in which someone had resigned from the church. This was news to me, I did not know you could ever do that. I had heard of excommunication before. After all of this, I felt I did not have a testimony. I felt the whole church was a charade. I copied the letter, word for word and mailed it into church headquarters in Salt Lake City. I remember before I put the letter in the mail my father was fighting me tooth and nail, screaming at me to not mail the letter. He told me to just stay inactive, this way if I ever wanted to come back I could. He told me that one day I would regret it. Of course being the prideful person I was I mailed the letter. Heck, What did I know?
In October 2007 I received my final letter from Salt Lake City stating I was no longer a member of the church. While I was away from the church part of me still kept the church close to me. I still read the ensign which I had a subscription to. I even watched Gordon B. Hinckley's funeral on television and actually cried at the thought of the leader of the church being dead.
My best friend Brian really helped me out with God while I was away. I started to attend his church. In this church I came to find what I feel is a new relationship with God. However, something kept nagging away at me. It felt like this voice kept telling me something. I just did not want to recognize it. Finally after months of this nagging feeling I felt like I needed to do something about it. I was reading the ensign one night and I decided I had to know for myself if the LDS church was true or not. I started to read the Book of Mormon again. Another key to this which I feel helped me along the way is that I started to once again meet with the missionaries from my local ward. I did this over a period of a few months.
The missionaries told me the only way I would find out for myself if all of this was true was to pray and ask God if all of this was true. What did I do? I started to pray. I cannot say my answer came over the first few times. In fact it did not. After a few months of praying and not receiving an answer I felt I was at my weakest. I decided I was going to try one more time. I got on my knees and started to pray. I asked God to answer my prayers once again. For him to let me know if The Book of Mormon is true. If Joseph Smith was his prophet and if we have a prophet on the earth today. I poured everything I had, my heart and soul into that prayer. Finally after the prayer was over I felt something I had never felt before. I felt inner peace. I felt like I was on cloud nine. This is the only way I actually know how to describe it.
I started attending church once again. The minute I walked through the doors again of my home ward with the missionaries I felt like I was home again. I finally had a true testimony of his church. I met with my local bishop for months and we talked about my situation. I know I repented. A wonderful event happened in my life on August 23, 2009. I was re-baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After my baptism I was confirmed a member and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
I will never forget that day as long as I live. After my baptism I truly felt like I had "come home." I gave up a lot when I left. The wonderful thing about this gospel, his gospel is that we can all repent and come back. I know where I truly belong. As a member of the Lord's true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I will always regret what I did. I live with that guilt everyday of my life. However, we are all human. Humans make mistakes. It is how we learn from those mistakes and apply them to ourselves to correct them. I have learned from my mistake. I am in the process of fixing it.
To those of you who are questioning I say go to the Lord. Pray to him and he will tell you in his time if this church is true. I know he did for me. For those of you I did not tell this to. I am sorry. I did not mean to keep it a secret. I still feel it is soemthing very personal to me. Now here it is, out in the open. I hope I have answered any questions you may have. If I have not, you know you can ask.