In my last post I started by saying I’m a woman of faith. I want to tell you exactly what this means.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ has restored His church through Joseph Smith. I haven’t always known that.
Until I was 16 years old I had never met a Mormon. When I was in elementary school I saw a Mormon family cross the plains on Little House on the Prairie, and that’s all I knew.
As a senior in high school I was a professed atheist. I sat behind Denise in chemistry class at my new school. I was as inquisitive then as I am now. When asked about her religion, she told me she was a Mormon.
I was fascinated when she told me that they had early morning seminary – a church class for high school students, before school. “Wow,” I asked her, “you go to church every day?”
Denise’s relationship led me to meet her brother, Rob, who was home from college waiting for his Mission call~ another shocker! Rob was devoting two years of his life, at his expense to preach? Amazing! After dating for a few weeks, Rob invited me to listen to the missionaries. I learned a bunch from them and more about the church from the lessons he taught by example.
When Rob wouldn’t take me to the movies on Sunday it was another shocker, “What,” I asked, “you believe in keeping the Sabbath day holy?” When both he and Denise encouraged me to say, “Gosh” instead of the Lords name, I only chuckled.
I listened to the missionaries once a week for months. When I attended sacrament (worship) meeting with his family, the program was dedicated to Rob’s mission farewell. The entire family was crying and Rob’s dad shook my hand. He said to me, “There Linda, you’ve had your first spiritual experience.”
I thought to myself sarcastically, “Spiritual experience? Everyone is sad that Rob will be gone for two years! It’s normal emotions, not ‘the spirit’.”
After Rob left to serve his mission in Scotland, I started attending other churches to compare for myself. I continued for months, still seeing the missionaries almost every week. I did as the Missionaries suggested, I was obedient to the commandments and prayed to receive witness that there was a God and if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the “only true church” as the missionaries were claiming. I came to recognize there is a God but I wasn’t ready to hear if the LDS church is where I should attend.
I continued comparing churches, until I came to the conclusion that if I was going to join a church, it would be the LDS church because it followed the Bible the closest. At that time I didn’t want to devote my life to God and the gospel. I was getting grief from my family and friends for even considering it. I remember writing in my journal, “I am so confused, I don’t know what to do! I just want to live a ‘normal Bailey existence’.
But I new too much, I could never live with myself if I denied the Church of Jesus Christ, no matter what my friends and family thought.
When I told the missionaries I was ready to be baptized, they were very excited and surprised that I was only 17. I’d need my mom’s permission to be baptized.
My mom denied permission for almost 6 months, then finally relented, assuming it was a whim and I’d forget about it when I moved back to live with my dad in Michigan for the year before college.
I was baptized a year after I was introduced to the church, October 10, 1981.
Thirty years later, my testimony is stronger than ever. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the vehicle that will take us back to Him. As a member of this church, I live a wonderful life, of course full of bumps and bruises, but I’m helped and supported by God himself (through the hands of His people) to get through and I’m honestly happy because of it!