“Happiness” is defined as a state of well-being and contentment. Some people search and search for happiness their whole lives, wondering why they feel like something is missing. They know they have wonderful lives with a great family and friends and they don’t understand why they just feel like there is a hole that needs filling. So why can’t these people find happiness?
I was one of these people up until about two years ago. I grew up with very loving family and friends. I loved school and I wanted to be a teacher. I played several sports and was involved in girl scouts. I went to a Methodist church and had a great church family. What’s not to be happy about? I was very blessed, so why did I feel like there was something missing?
As I came to realize this emptiness, I searched for answers. None came. Nothing I did made me happier than I already was. Nothing I tried changed a thing. That nagging feeling was still there. Finally, I decided I was trying too hard and over-analyzing everything. I convinced myself to be happy with what I had and to stop searching for something to fill a space which shouldn’t be there in the first place. I put it in the back of my mind and didn’t think about it again for a long time.
My sophomore year in high school I met someone special and we became close friends. As we got to know each other, I learned that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I did not know much about Mormons at the time and was a little afraid to ask him about it, so I asked my mom. To my surprise, I learned that I have extended family members that are Mormon. In fact, my grandmother was a member of the Church. I asked my mom a lot of questions and although she did not have all the answers, what I did learn caught my attention. Later that year, me and my Mormon friend became a couple. After dating a little while, he asked me to come to Church with him. I was super excited because I was finally going to be able to learn more about what it meant to be Mormon.
I will never forget the first time I went to Church. The feeling was indescribable. I just knew that I was where I needed to be; I knew that I would find the answers I had so long searched for. I would finally fill that hole. My boyfriend and I went to Church for a few more weeks and we discussed the gospel and he answered several of my questions. The more I learned, the more certain I became that this church was where I needed to be.
The Mormon missionaries talked to me about hearing a few of their “discussions” to learn more. I want to go…I had to go. However, at the time I had just turned seventeen, therefore I needed my parents’ permission. So I decided to ask them. I was nervous because I did not know how they would respond, but I asked anyway.
Not surprisingly, my parents thought that the only reason I wanted to learn more about the church was because of the guy I was dating. They wrongly assumed that he had pressured me into it and that I was blindly following him into something I didn’t know anything about. I tried to explain to them that he had nothing to do with it and that the whole point in the discussions was to learn about the gospel so that I could make my own decision, but they would not give me permission to go to the lessons.
I was very upset, but I kept trying. I kept praying, reading from the Bible, and writing in my journal and didn’t miss a night from December 12, 2009 on. I knew that if I kept doing all that I could do, Heavenly Father would soften their hearts and would help me to get through the situation. He would help me get to where I knew I needed to be. I tried for several months to continue to talk to them, but they never understood and wouldn’t give me permission to meet with the missionaries.
My junior and senior year of high school passed and I still couldn’t get them to change their minds. Eventually, I quit trying to convince them that I knew more than they thought and that I wasn’t naïve. Pressuring them only strained our relationship and made things more complicated. After applying and being accepted to several colleges, I decided I wanted to go to Appalachian State University. All along, I kept church in the back of my mind. I knew that at college I would be able to go to church and meet with the missionaries in order to learn more. So I stayed patient.
I learned that a close friend of mine from middle school who was Mormon would also be at my university. I immediately sent her a message on Facebook asking her if I could go to church with her the first Sunday after we had moved in. She and her roommate were so excited that I wanted to join them at church.
So, the three of us and another girl went to church that Sunday. Once again, that indescribable feeling flooded over me confirming this was where I needed to be. That Sunday I approached the missionaries and asked them if they would teach me. In my heart, I was already committed to being baptized before we even started the discussions. I had also already asked a close friend from home to do my baptism and he agreed. Soon after that Sunday I met with the missionaries for the first time. They asked me to pray and ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true during the first lesson and I did.
The next day, I had a wonderful experience. My roommate and I were in our room talking. After a short while I pulled out the Book of Mormon to read a little before I went to bed and my roommate started asking me questions. I was a little taken back because not only had I just met this girl but I had just started to learn about the gospel myself and I didn’t know if I could answer all her questions. Surprisingly, the answers I gave her seemed to just form themselves. I was able to answer her questions. My roommate, looking at me skeptically said, “I’m just the type of person that needs proof to believe.” I wasn’t sure how to respond to that but in that moment, an overwhelming feeling came over me. I knew that I should read to her what the missionaries had read to me from the Book of Mormon. So I read to her. She listened intently but she still seemed very skeptical and we quit talking about it.
The next morning, I woke up thinking about the conversation I had with my roommate the night before. As I got up to get ready for class, it hit me. That experience was just as much for me as it was for her. I had prayed that I would know whether or not the Book of Mormon is true and Heavenly Father and supplied the answer. It was an absolutely amazing feeling -knowing that God has so many children and that He heard and answered ME was the best feeling in the world.
From that moment on, there wasn’t a hole to fill. I had found my answers! I didn’t feel empty anymore! The only problem at that point was my parents, because even though I had broken up with my boyfriend, now they thought I was going to church for my friends. I was so scared. I didn’t want to make my family mad and I didn’t want to break up the family. I loved and respected them so much but I knew that I couldn’t just ignore the fact that I had found the truth. So with the support of my friends, I told my parents about my decision to be baptized. They weren’t very happy about it but I continued to pray and read every night and write in my journal and go to Church and do what I knew I should do. I knew that if I did these things, Heavenly Father would take care of me. I knew that He would soften their hearts help them to understand. I knew that if I did my part God would help me through it.
It was THE hardest thing to stand up to my parents and tell them that I was doing something good for myself and that I knew I was doing what I needed to do. It meant I was telling them that what they wanted for me was not only not what I wanted but not what I needed. I knew that it would pass eventually, so I kept doing what I needed to and I kept moving forward in preparing for my baptism, which I had decided would be on November 12, 2011.
Through this whole process, my close friend supported and helped me focus on what was important when I was upset or down. He gave me encouragement when it seemed like I had none. Through this process, we became really close and eventually started dating. Because of this I knew that my parents would think I was getting baptized for him, especially since I had asked him to do my baptism. But I had already asked him six months before we started dating and hoped this would help them understand. They didn’t and decided not to come to my baptism.
I was very upset about this, but I knew that Heavenly Father was proud of me and that He would be with me, along with my Church family and close friends. I knew that I wasn’t alone and that I would be taken care of. I continued to pray that even though they weren’t coming, my parents’ hearts would be softened. I prayed that they might finally understand that I was doing something I felt was the right thing to do and that I was doing it for me and only me.
My baptism and confirmation were amazing. I remember the complete peace, security, and joy I felt. I had never felt that before and I knew that the hole I once had was filled; I was whole. I didn’t have to search anymore. I had found everything I needed to be happy. I know that my decision to be baptized and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the right one.