I've pondered a bit on how to explain my feelings about the Book of Mormon to people who have perhaps only heard of it and know nothing about its origins, content or purpose. I've decided to share with you instead, how this book changed my life. I'll be happy to link you over to some of the other information about the Book of Mormon -- but only I can share my own personal experience of having read and embraced what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider holy scripture.
I should tell you that Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, as we do the Holy Bible. We see no conflict in these records, as they both testify of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, that He is our personal Savior and Redeemer. One does not replace the other. For me personally, I enjoy studying these two books side-by-side. Together they are a powerful witness of the birth, life, ministry, mission, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I'll begin by sharing a little bit about me... Although my mother was raised a member of the LDS Church, I was not. However, I was baptized into the Church when I was 10-years-old, but our family rarely ever attended Church. I was exposed to the teachings of Mormonism mainly through other family members and my hit and miss association with the Church. I credit my grandmother and one particular aunt for their religious influence in my early years. Because of their teachings, I knew what the Spirit felt like -- although I didn't realize what it was at the time. In some interesting way, although I rarely attended, I felt that I belonged to the Mormon Church.
I was still 17 when I graduated from high school. During this time the Mormon missionaries had found our family when they were out walking the streets. My mother started going back to Church and my step-father was converted. In fact, most of the family started attending the LDS Church -- everyone living in the house, except for me. By this point in my life I was looking to be independent, live my own life, doing what I wanted -- finally, and ready to move into my adult life.
But something kept nagging at me, not to ignore the Mormon Church. Like I said, growing up I felt like I belonged somehow. Mormonism was a part of me and I realized that I needed to reconcile the feelings that were stirring inside of me. I made an abrupt decision to go to Church one Sunday, which shocked my entire family. I'll confess, that prior to this I had been quite rebellious about going churchy! My heart was softening. It felt good to go into the Church and feel the love of the Mormon people. Seriously, these are the nicest people!
I had a decision to make. If the Mormon Church was really true, I had to change my life and commit to live the teachings of Mormonism. For a cute 17-year-old-girl, this was a serious life change at a very critical time in my life -- or so it felt. I knew about the Book of Mormon, but I had never read even a page of it. I became aware of the promise that is given by God to those who would read it and sincerely inquire if it were true. The promise is that the Holy Ghost will testify to you that it is true, if you will read it and pray to know.
At night, before I went to bed, I began reading the Book of Mormon. I did't understand everything that I read, but I couldn't deny that I was feeling something. One afternoon I decided to gather my courage, get down on my knees and ask God if the Book of Mormon was really true? I knew that if I received an answer in the affirmative, that this also meant that Joseph Smith -- who produced the book, had to be a true prophet of God. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, but something inside of me urged me to continue...
To this day I have never forgotten, nor can I explain, exactly what happened to me when I knelt to offer up that prayer. But I can tell you this, a sensation of light began at the top of my head and radiated throughout my entire body. I had a feeling as if I were filled with warmth and light. This manifestation remained with me as the thoughts in my mind confirmed with certainty that the Book of Mormon was true. I'm not sure how much time passed before I was able to rise from my knees and acknowledge that something life changing had just happened to me.
I felt no fear. On the contrary, I was completely peaceful and felt as if I had known this all my life. From that moment forward it was simple to accept everything I was learning about Mormonism. I looked forward to following living prophets and living my life the way I knew God wanted me to. No longer did I feel that keeping the commandments was going to be difficult.
For the first time in my life, I knew without a doubt that I had a loving Heavenly Father that heard my prayers and loved me in a way that I had never previously understood. I began to learn more about the purpose of life. Being a child of divorce, having my family torn apart and not having much of a relationship with my father, this was very comforting for me. I became determined to make the kind of choices that would bring the happiness that I so desired for my future.
As I continued to attend Church, read the Book of Mormon and continue my study of Mormonism, I knew that my life had taken a dramatic turn -- and definitely for the better. That was 35 years ago. I'm at a point now, that I can look back on my life and see what a blessing my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been for me personally, and for my entire family. It gets better though -- I'm now seeing my grandchildren being raised with the teachings that I embraced as a 17-year-old girl! The knowledge that God desires His children to know, is intended to bring us a happiness and peace that is not known by the world at large.
Everything good about my life, and there's a lot of it, goes back to that prayer when I came to know that the Book of Mormon is true! I've lived my life abiding by the principles and doctrines taught in that book. The Book of Mormon has brought me closer to Jesus Christ, has given me a desire to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God -- and to strive to raise a family where there is love, security and the knowledge that we will be together forever!
My life has not been without its challenges. Being married for almost 34 years, and raising five children, has stretched me beyond what I ever thought possible. It's hard to imagine doing all of this without the guidance that I received from the Book of Mormon. It is filled with powerful teachings that are intended to help us become more like Jesus Christ. I've learned that the more Christlike we become, the better our life and relationships become.
That simple act of faith, to open the Book of Mormon and start reading it, to the courage that compelled me to then pray to find out if it was true, came a result that is not too much to claim -- literally changed my life!
Note: If you've taken the time to share your own testimony, online, I'd love for you to share the link in the comment section...