What better time to restart my blog than in the new year! I decided I would share my testimony to the LDS church as my first few posts to ring in 2016, so here we go! I'll break them up into parts 1, 2, and 3 all shared throughout the next few days. Enjoy!
My path to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began years before I even realized it had. Isn't that so absolutely incredible - being able to look back and see Heavenly Father guiding you along the road He wants you to be on to get to a certain specific stop on the eternal journey we're on?
I guess I'll begin by saying that my foundation was lain by growing up in the evangelical born-again church my whole life, raised by two great parents who loved God and Jesus Christ and who taught it in the home; my faith was my identity - it was all I knew and everything that made me who I was. Because of this, during my junior year of high school, I went to Michigan to visit a small Bible college called New Tribes Bible Institute to see if it was for me. Their goal was to ultimately send students to their MTC (ironic to LDS missionaries, right? It even stands for the same thing!), to prepare and then send those students off to "the tribe" (hence New Tribes Bible Institute) to translate the Bible into the language of those people so they could then share the gospel with them. This was my goal. This was what I believed the Lord was calling me to do. (Aren't we crazy how we think things are forever, when we really should take things as they come: one day at a time, and for a season? Anyway...) I believed I would be a tribal missionary, and immaturely believed everyone else should be too (which is another story for another time), so
I went to Bible school for my first year and learned so much about the Bible, so much about the truths of the Old and New Testaments, and started having some health issues come about that couldn't be explained. Joint and muscle pain were the worst, as they were deep in my bones and distracted me from class, took me from prayer, stopped me from sleeping: it was horrible and I could barely live my life because of the pain, so I began going to doctors in Michigan, away from my family back in Pennsylvania, which was really hard as this was the first time I was away from home. When I went home that December over Christmas break, I met with a reumotologist and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and was told that 19 year olds barely ever get it, that mostly women in their 40's get it, so that was rough to hear. It was also rough to hear that there's no cure for the disease; I wanted a quick fix so I could go back to living a normal life again - but Heavenly Father had (and continues to have) other plans. So, I didn't change any meds or diet or anything yet, but I did go back to school in the spring, then started school early that following summer, as well as the third semester, but things started getting worse health-wise.
I couldn't ignore it anymore. Having a diagnosis didn't change the pain. The sleep was still lacking, I could barely exercise or move, couldn't sit through class, so by October I began to feel faced with a decision. That decision was: do I leave and take care of myself or do I stay and suffer through this? So I sought counsel from many people that I looked up to and trusted, I prayed a lot, and I kept getting the same answer: it's up to me. Which was very very difficult for me, as this was the biggest decision I had ever had to make in my life thus far on my own, and I was scared to make the wrong one, but I just kept getting the strongest impression that the decision was mine to make. During that time, I was taking a Romans class, and we had just made it to Romans 12:1 where Heavenly Father tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, and I read that in a new light as I never had before. God was asking me to present my sick body as a sacrifice to Him, in the condition that it was, and by going home to take care of myself, I would be doing that. So on October 20, 2009, I left, and moved back home to Pennsylvania.
This was the first big way that I look back and see how God protected me and kept me on the path of finding the LDS Church. If I had not gotten sick, and followed through going to school all the way to the end, I might be in the tribe and wouldn't have found the fulness of the Gospel. I am so grateful for being saved, for being found. I am so thankful for the restoration in these latter days.