Saturday, November 16, 2013
I was sitting in my recliner this morning reading the scriptures. As I sat contemplating the words I was reading I was struck by the story of Enos. This has always been my most favorite book in the Book in the Book of Mormon, but it hit me in a completely different way today. It hit me so hard, because I am now the person that has returned. I am now the person that changed my life, and accepted God once again. Love was what brought me back to the church.
During my youth I was very active in the church. I loved Primary, and learning about Jesus. I love singing the primary songs, learning the articles of faith, and saying my prayers. I loved knowing that Jesus loved me, and I loved him. I found extreme comfort in knowing that I was loved.
As a teenager I was very overweight. As you can imagine, I was bullied pretty badly in school. I felt alone, lost, depressed, and fragile. When I was 14 and left the church, I felt like God didn't care about me anymore. I knew he heard my prayers, because I never stopped praying. I just assumed that he didn't love me enough to listen. I mean, if no one else on this earth could love me because I was fat, how on earth could God love me? I felt completely and utterly alone. That was when I turned my back on Heavenly Father, and the church.
From the age of 14 to 24 I said many terrible things about the church, the people who were a part of the church, and the lifestyle of members of the church. I bashed them any chance I got. I still knew that the church was true deep down, but I was trying so hard to disprove everything that it stood for. After all, these people that had been so mean to me, and bullied me because of my weight were all members of the church. If that's how members of the church treat one of their own, than this church absolutely wasn't for me. Not only was it not for me, but it couldn't be true. People of the God I believed in didn't act like this. They were supposed to love one another. Members of the church didn't love one another, and they definitely didn't love me.
I'll never forget a time when I was 19 years old. I was taking the missionary discussions in my search for truth. I remember going into these discussions believing that I could disprove everything they were going to tell me. An amazing thing happened though. As they shared the Gospel with me, (I still thought the story was crazy) it wasn't the story that got to me, it was the love they had for me. Here I sat, this big overweight girl, and they didn't even care. All they cared about was making me feel loved and teaching me that my Father in Heaven loved me. I don't remember the stories, or the discussions, but I remember their love. That was the 1st time in years that I thought of members of this church to be people of God. It was the start of the opening of my heart so many years later. I wish I could thank those missionaries today.
As I went about my life, searching out every religion possible, and pushing out members of the church, I came across a boy that seemed to just care about me. He didn't care what I had done in my past, and he didn't care about what I was doing then. He just wanted to be my friend. As I got to know this boy better, I saw a light about him. There was something different about him, and I wanted to know what that was. I wanted to know what made his eyes shine, and his smile bright. I wanted to know what made him who he was.
The first date Dave and I ever had was magical. I couldn't stop starring at him, and I just wanted to be in his presence forever. I wanted to feel of his love and kindness forever. It was an amazing night. It would take 5 months of Dave and I knowing each other before the church was every brought up. I'll never forget hanging out at his house, and looking through his closet (yes I was snooping) when I came across a scrapbook. The best part is that it was a scrapbook his ex girlfriend had made for him. :) That wasn't the point though. As I pulled down this scrapbook and started to look through it, I realized that the boy I was dating was Mormon. Not only was he Mormon, but he had served a mission. This was his missionary scrapbook. I figured out then and there that the light that he had about him was the light of Christ and he got that from his belief in the church. That was the moment I opened my heart to the Gospel.
That night sitting on Dave's bed, looking through that scrapbook changed my life. It started a conversation between the 2 of us about what he believes and what he knows to be true. It started the life that we now have together. I owe everything I have today to that night.
I didn't come back to the church because someone was trying to force me to believe. I came back to the church because a man loved me. He showed me he loved me and cared about me, without ever bringing up the church. He knew I would find out, and that when I was ready we would talk about it; but I came back because of his love.
His love opened the pathway for us to talk about the Gospel, for us to go back to church together, for me to read the Book of Mormon for the first time, and for us to be sealed for all eternity in the temple. It started with love, and it still ends with his love to this day.
I'm so blessed to have Dave in my life. I'm so lucky that he loved me enough to show me that my Father in Heaven loved me. He showed me that people aren't perfect, but that God is. God loves us perfectly, just like our Savior, and Dave showed me that Christlike love. Dave has a love that no one on this earth can understand unless they experience it. I am the luckiest girl in the world that I get to have his love daily.
I'm grateful that love brought me back to this beautiful church. I'm grateful that I understand that the people are not the Church. The LDS Church in itself is perfect, but people are not. The General Authorities are not perfect, but they're all trying. The most important thing we need to remember is to love one another because that is how you will bring your loved ones back to the Gospel of Christ. Love will bring them back.