Have you ever wondered about someone’s story? Someone’s background, upbringing, trials, successes? It’s so easy to sum people up when we meet them, but deep down we know there’s more.
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I was 5 years old and sitting in my LDS (Latter Day Saint, or, Mormon) Primary class for children, singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” wondering why Jesus would want me to be a piece of the sky.
I was 8 years old when I was baptized into the Mormon religion. I remember stepping down into the warm baptismal font in my neck-to-ankle white suit knowing my sins were about to be wiped away. My last thoughts were, “Wait, I’m not ready. I wish I could sin more, and THEN be forgiven.”
On my 10th birthday, we had a family pizza party. I didn’t wear shoes the entire day as I played outside in the green Spring grass. Dad gave me a black “Coleman” sleeping bag and a “MagLight” flashligh. Always one for emergency-preparedness (including everything from cold Colorado temperatures to bear attacks to Y2K) it was an awesome gift. (To this day I favor the MagLight brand over any other flashlight.)
I was 12 years old and snuck into the Youth Dances held in the gymnasium of the Mormon church I attended. The appropriate age for a dance attendee was 14, but I snuck in with my sister (who was 17).
I was 14 when I house-sat for a friend and got drunk for the first time. I walked home with my “boyfriend” and kept repeating that I thought I was going to die.
I was 16 when my sister went to college and I snuck into more dances. My mom and I ate Twizzlers and listened to Backstreet Boys on the way home from visiting my sister at Southern Utah University.
I was 17 and on top of the world. I was on the high school swim team, had a college scholarship waiting for me, had a cute boyfriend, and was a rock solid believer of the Mormon religion. I attended early morning Seminary classes and was very active in my church functions.
I was 18 when I converted my aforementioned cute boyfriend to Mormonism.
I was 19 when I knew something was missing for me- spiritually speaking. I withdrew, (most of my rebellion happened around age 14) and stopped believing in the Mormon church.
I was 21 when I partied like a “normal” (worldly) college student.
I was never raped, hit, or shockingly hurt, but I was lucky, on many occasions.
I was 22 when a coworker told me about a Christian radio station she listened to during the day for encouragement. I looked at her weird, but knew something was different about her.
I was 22 when I saw a woman in the shaving cream aisle of Wal-Mart wearing a cross necklace. I thought to myself, “I want that. I want to be so bold for God, that people see me and know me as one of his.”
I was 22 when I moved away from my college town and took my dream job in Arizona.
I was 23 when I started attending a Baptist church every now and then. One day, the Pastor was preaching so hard, his fake front tooth fell out! This was truly my first introduction to a non-Mormon church. The people were friendly, the food was good (Baptists are known for that) and the friendship was genuine.
I was 24 when I asked Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior and I gave my life to him. It was September 12th, and I was sitting on my bed. I had met with my pastor many times to ask many questions. I had previously submitted my paperwork to the Mormon church requesting they destroy my record of membership (a requirement in order to leave the church.) On September 10th, I received confirmation that my request had been completed.
I discovered that what was “missing” for me was a true relationship with Jesus Christ. More than following a religion (Mormon or otherwise,) it was about the personal relationship.
I got on my knees, resting my elbows on my bed and prayed the prayer and read the Bible verses my pastor gave me. Nothing happened. Lightning didn’t strike. In fact, my condo was eerily quiet. I called a friend from my Baptist church and asked her if I did it right.
She told me it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong, but it was an act of submission to the Lord. She said that in time, and with exercise in my faith, that I would start to feel new.
September 13th I woke up and felt new. I was not ashamed! (Romans 1:16) I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was now a believer of Christ.
That day I left for a work trip to Tucson, where I was able to find a church to attend. I worshipped like never before, since I was a new believer, and knew no one. The praise and worship was very moving. I knew I had made the right choice to give my life to Christ. I knew I was never going to be the same again.