A year ago, I was not acquainted with Heavenly Father. After a tumultuous break-up with my boyfriend of two years, a terrible demise to a seven-year friendship, and an escape from an abusive step-father, I was just trying to recover. I thought I had witnessed and experienced enough heartbreak and tragedy to denounce a God. I thought, if there was a God, he would not have allowed so much hate and discontent on this world.
Months passed. The loss of my high school sweetheart no longer left me feeling alone and helpless. The betrayal of my best friend no longer made me sick to my stomach. And, without my step-father, my family was starting to recuperate. The healing process had begun.
I moved here from Florida. In Florida, neither I nor my friends were unconcerned with God or church. We believed religion was just an institution created to keep society under control, and we were too intelligent to fall for something like that. Although we weren’t religious, we didn’t curse or practice immoral things. But, after high school, I witnessed a change in my friends. They took up cursing, smoking, and other immoral things. I, not wanting to be involved in any of that stuff, started to drift away from them.
When I moved to Mississippi, my preconceived notions of Heavenly Father were disproved. All of my new friends belonged to a religion. They were steadfast in their faith. I encountered Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Catholics, Muslims, and persons of the “Non-denominational” faith.
At first, I was irritated by my religious friends. They preached the gospel and condemned all other faiths. But then, I grew envious. These people were happy and content with their lives. They turned to God when they felt lost. The only thing I turned to was books, and although books are wondrous and amazing, they do not grant closure but instead only offer a temporary alleviation.
I am not apt to admit it, but I was still reeling from my failed, picturesque, post-high school plans. I was SUPPOSED to go to Kenyon College where I would write letters to my Marine boyfriend while he was overseas. After I graduated, we were going to have three kids and live happily ever after. Yeah, that didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get accepted to Kenyon. I hurriedly applied to MGCCC because I thought I had nowhere else to go. My boyfriend cheated on me with one of my best friends. And, I just fell apart.
I started to search for Heavenly Father.
A friend invited me to his church. I agreed, but when I got there, I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable. The preacher begged for tithes and every worship was like a rock concert. I felt like I was in a house of corruption.
I wanted to find God, but this way of doing it didn’t feel right.
Then, Heavenly Father employed my Uncle Rice as a messenger. My mother was feeling hopeless due to the afflictions that plagued our lives. My non-member Uncle Rice suggested to her to attend a Mormon church and to contact the missionaries as his Mormon wife had so often suggested to him. She agreed.
I did not attend the first lesson, but later my mother gave me a recap of it. She explained to me about Joseph Smith and told me about the missionaries. Our elders were Elders Woolf and McMullin. She mentioned that Elder McMullin was the “All-American Golden Boy.”
I thought she was going through a phase about Mormonism. I didn’t want to attend a lesson because a lot of my friends blasphemed the Mormon faith, but I ended up walking in on one of the lessons after school. I met with the elders. This time, Elder Reil was there. He testified about everything. Elder McMullin greeted me and was like, “I’m from Canada!” I shot an upturned eyebrow toward my mom that said “All-American Golden Boy? This kid’s not even from the U.S!”
But, I stuck around and listened to them explain the three kingdoms of God – telestial terrestrial, and celestial. They were polite and patient. Gradually, my cognizance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expanded. Suddenly, God’s plan started to make sense.
They gave me a Book of Mormon and I began to read it with a wild fervor. I made it a competition to see who could read it the fastest – me or my mother. Unfortunately, I was the only one concerned about this race.
Giddy is the only way to describe the new feeling that was awakened inside of me. I started to Google Mormonism. I searched Mormon principles, culture, and beliefs. I sought out Mormon blogs. I bragged to my friends about it. I secretly promised myself to convert my best friend, Becca. I suppose I was giddy with the Holy Ghost.
I started to pray. It was the first time I had ever supplicated, kneeling on my knees with clasped hands. I asked for forgiveness. I asked for guidance. I was feeling morose and pitiful. As I begged for direction, I felt this warm, tingly feeling stretch from shoulder to shoulder, almost as if someone was wrapping an arm around me. Then, I heard a little voice in my head that whispered, “Everything will be okay.”
After that, I was inebriated with warmth and happiness. I was filled with the Lord’s love and reassurance. I wanted to reach that height of comfort again. I obeyed my elders and prayed to God to ask him if the Book of Mormon was true. I didn’t receive an answer right away until I had started to doubt the Book of Mormon. The quiet voice entered my head once more. It was my Jiminy Cricket – my Holy Ghost – scolding me: “What’re you doing? This book is true and you know it. Quit that!” I quickly apologized.
The Elders had previously challenged me to convert and be baptized. I had accepted, but only to appease them. But now, after conversing with Heavenly Father, I was ready to be baptized.
I was baptized Saturday, January 14th, 2012. Before my baptism, I was really worried I would not receive the Holy Ghost. Everybody I had spoken to gushed about the prickly sensation that consumed them while they were being baptized. They described it as a gentle fire burning within them.
As I stood in the holy water with my Baptist, the sensation scurried across my chest and remained there until I was dunked. It was sort of like my spirit was uplifted and my heart had become light – free of burden or sin. I was reborn. I remember thinking, “YES! I FINALLY GOT IT! THAT’S MY HOLY GHOST!!!”
Being submerged within the Holy Water was even more phenomenal. The sensation did not burn with passion. Instead, the flames relaxed. My body entered a state of absolute tranquility and peace. The violent waves of uncertainty and chaos had become tame with the gentle, halcyon hand of my Savior.
After my baptism, I felt exceedingly clean. I felt like I had just taken the greatest bath in my life! It was a bath that had left my entire body free of any sins, regrets, or impurities.
For the most part, my friends were happy for me when I explained to them that I had found God and become a Mormon. I obtained a new nickname: Britt Romney. I received congratulations and gratification from my close friends.
Of course, I ran into some opposition, but I responded with a quick-fire defense of Joseph Smith the Prophet. I protected him. I realized later that that was my first, unofficial testimony. I asked the person if they thought Joseph Smith would have suffered so much if he knew his words to be false. I could not fathom that Joseph Smith would ever make up such a strong testimony and faith to God for fame. I explained that he was tarred and feathered, his children had died of sickness, he was arrested multiple times and forced to starve in a dark, dank prison, his people were harassed, his village was pillaged, and yet he still stood true to God’s word and plan. I went on to contest that Joseph Smith could not have translated the Book of Mormon without Heavenly Father’s guidance. The Book of Mormon is beautifully written and only God could have had a hand in assisting a man with a third-grade education in writing such a masterpiece.
I bear my official testimony now. I have forgiven my former friends, I have forgiven myself, and I have atoned before Heavenly Father. I realize now why there is hate and discontent in the world. It is a test of faith, it is a result of free agency, and it is the influence of the Devil and his evil spirits.
As is said in 2 Nephi 2: 25:
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.
And because that they are redeemed from that fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
Although the world can be a desolate, scary place, it can also be a happy, beautiful place if we look at life through an optimist’s lens. I believe Heavenly Father put me on this path. Not going to Kenyon was a godsend because I was able to grow closer to my family. No longer being with my high school sweet heart was a blessing because there are a lot of better, nicer, and more attractive guys out there. And, the end of my friendship with a girl I had been friends with since I was 12 was remarkable because I was able to learn what a true friend was – something I have witnessed in my best friend, Becca. Heavenly Father knew that my then-boyfriend was not the one for me and that my friends could have become bad influences. He knew that there were better things out there for me, and I fully believe I am pursuing them now. I am grateful for my church and for the missionaries who saved me and my mother.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.