My faith wasn't always as strong as it should have been, and is now. In middle and high school I was a rebellious child, trying to exert my independence by doing “what I wanted” when I was basically only doing what I knew my mom wouldn't want me to do. However, even in my independence, I started noticing I was getting too far into trouble.
About this time something happened that changed my life. Begrudgingly, with the persistence of my mom and church leaders, I decided to attend a week-long church girl’s camp. I had been before, but this time on the last night there was a speaker that I believe was asked to speak just for me.
The speaker started by talking about her father’s death and how she had aimed her frustration and anger about his passing at her church and God. I immediately related with her as my father had also passed away only 2 years before, and I had struggled with the same emotions. She went on to speak about how she had become interested in the “things of the world” and had wanted to go with the flow, and did. Again this was me. She told of her drinking, wanting to be the life of the party but still finding a good guy, which is what I wanted. She then proceeded to tell the stark reality of the emptiness she had felt, and how confused she was when this lifestyle didn't bringing her peace and fulfillment. She told of her depression and feelings of worthlessness, caused by a void in her life that she just kept trying to fill with meaningless things.
As I listened I felt like she was up there telling my story, and I knew I had something missing.
Her tone then changed, and she told how one day she remembered the church of her childhood. She knelt down to pray, and felt like she should go to the chapel she remembered, where she was greeted and welcomed. She shared how the emptiness in her life began to be filled, and of her choice to attend church regularly and begin bringing her three daughters with her.
As I listened to these words it was someone else’s voice I began to hear, my Lord and Savior calling out that now was the point in my life to turn and take a short cut—missing all the pain and emptiness that I would otherwise have to suffer through—to feel His love, because He loved me so. The feeling that accompanied this was so complete and unconditional; I knew He was telling me this because of His love for me and because He wanted me to be my happiest.
That day I decided to change my life, and never turn back to glimpse the pain that I had once been in.
It’s amazing to see how this love has not only changed how I feel about my life, but has changed the way I see the world, the people in it, all we've been blessed with, and the love I have for my family and friends. I know this love stems from building my life upon the rock of Christ, which keeps me sane and gives me perspective.
My faith in Him is now unwavering, based upon the knowledge that I know He lives and loves me. I have felt Him testify of His love for me in the desperate moments when I needed Him most. He died for me and my sins, and was sent by a loving Father who loved us enough to send His Son.
Though it’s impossible to be perfect like Him, it is an honor to try. He was a teacher and servant, and also a missionary and instrument for Heavenly Father, and I want to listen to His counsel to “Come follow me.” I want to learn to serve all as He did without regard for color, appearance, financial state, health, sexuality, personality, or sins. He had time for all who needed Him, and I hope to do the same, while ever being optimistic and diligent. It is a lot to follow, but it’s what I know to be right.
I’m so grateful to say my life really changed that day. As I write this I am only a few days away from leaving my home and family to serve as His representative as a service missionary for 18 months in Omaha Nebraska. I want to serve so that I can share with others what was shared with me. I want to show them that by focusing on Him and His path, their emptiness can also be filled with happiness and peace.
I can honestly say I feel like the happiest person alive, and know it’s all because of Him.