On January 31, I will celebrate my 34 years as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why is that so special? Well...
I grew up going to church, at least most of the time. When we moved to Florida in 1967, my mom thought we should attend church, and we started attending The First Baptist Church of Rockledge. My sisters and I also attended St Mary's Catholic School. Soon after we started going to the Baptist Church, my two sisters, Mom and I were baptized. Yes we were Baptist girls going to a Catholic school. You can see where I got a pretty good religious education.
Fast forward a couple of years. Because of some sort of issue, many of the congregation left First Baptist of Rockledge, including us. Not sure why. First we headed over to the island, but that church was WAY too big. We tried all kinds of Baptist churches in the area. I had a lot of questions and remember asking some of them to different ministers. Mostly, I got, "You should never question God." I was not questioning God, I was just curious, about a lot of things. One in particular was what happens to us after we die. I think what spurred this question on was the fact I had just lost my dog. The specific question I had was, "After we die, where do we go? Do we go straight to Heaven? or Hell? What about family members and friends? Will we know them? Will I see my mom and know that she was my mom on earth?" The answer I got made me start doing some thinking, real soul searching.
My best friend and I decided to start going to other churches. I remember the first time we decided to go to another church, we got up, got dressed and waited for that bus. The funny thing was we were too chicken to go out and get on the bus. We sat there at the window, and watched that bus drive right by. We were so silly. Eventually, we did catch that bus, probably the next Sunday.
After going form one denomination to the next, I finally quit going all together. I knew, though, something was missing. Then, one day while I was a Sophomore in high school (1975), I met a girl. There was something about her that people were drawn to, including me. I really couldn't put my finger on it. I remember talking to her about her church. She was very open and I learned a lot. I learned that many of the things she was telling me, I already believed. One of which were eternal families; how after we die, we had the opportunity to live with our families, and that marriage was not "until death do we part" but "for time and all eternity."
Another thing that struck me about what she believed was that you didn't just go to Heaven or Hell. I always thought that was strange, because some people are REALLY, really good, some are just so so, not good enough for Heaven, but surely not bad enough for Hell. I learned that there are actually three parts to "Heaven." It even talks about it in the Bible.
The Bible. Scripture. Now that was something that was REALLY different about her church. They believed in the Bible, taught from the Bible, but they also had other scripture. Hmmmm, not sure how I felt about that, until I was shown in the Bible where it talks about other scripture. So, I guess there can be other scripture. So, I started reading the Book of Mormon. Wow! That book talks so much of Jesus Christ. As I sat in their church meetings, that is all they talk about...Jesus Christ and His teachings. I started doing some more investigating.
To make a long story short, I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on January 31, 1979; about four years after I first heard of this church. Each year I celebrate that day. No, I don't have a big party and all, but I do celebrate it in my heart.
I know the Savior lives. He loves each and every one of us. Even those of us who are in great sin. I know it saddens Him when we make bad decisions. I think as a parent, I understand more how He feels than I did as a child. I know that Jesus Christ, God our Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals. As I read in the Bible and listen to the Lord's words I can't help but know that. For example...
How can the Lord sit on His own right hand? When Jesus was baptized, and a voice from Heaven said, "This is my beloved son in who I am well pleased." So, is he pleased with himself? Then at this same baptism, there was a dove. So was that him too? And...when Jesus was on the earth as a baby, then a child, etc. Who did he pray to? When Jesus was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, when called out to the Father, who was He talking to? It was His Heavenly Father. There are so many things in the Bible that prove they are three separate individuals. Yes, it talks of them being the same, and they are...one in purpose. Just as my husband and I are two separate individuals, but we are ONE. Mark 10:8 (talking about marriage) "And they twain shall be one flesh; so then they are no more twain, but one flesh."
Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, I have had so many of my questions answered. Sure, I still have questions. I believe there will always be more and more questions, and many of them will not be answered in this life. I'm not saying that all the other churches are bad either. They are not, in fact there are many good things about other churches. The thing is about the church I go to, is that we have more information.
I am grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.