Before I start, I want to be sure to say that although people refer to us as “Mormons”, that is not actually the name of our church. It is a nickname that has been given to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There are times when I’ve said the full name and people say they have never heard of it…but when I say Mormon.. suddenly it clicks. 🙂
I have been a member of the church my entire life. I was born into a home where my parents were already active members. So I don’t know anything different. I grew up going to church for 3 hours every Sunday, saying prayer before meals and before bedtime, reading scriptures as a family, watching General Conference twice a year, going to Young Women’s on Wednesday night and attending early morning seminary. This has always been my life. As a child, I learned from my parents and I probably relied on their testimonies more than my own…as an adult I’ve taken what I’ve learned from my parents and from church and have gained a testimony of my own. I am so grateful for the testimony I have today. It’s so good to know for myself and to make the decisions I make because I want to and because I know how important it is for me and for my family. I know some people went to church in their teenage years because their parents made them and they had no other choice. I never tested that with my parents because I always wanted to go to church. When I was young it might have been because my friends were there, but I don’t remember it that way. I have always liked church. I didn’t always pay attention and I ditched Sunday School A LOT in my youth. (My best friend and I would go into the bathroom and sit on the counter and talk…when the ladies would come in we hoped they wouldn’t tell our dads…lol) But I always went, and when my teachers thought I was not getting anything out of their lessons, I was. I learned so much at Church. So many amazing things that I hope my children will learn and live by. In the Church there is a pamphlet for the youth called For The Strength of Youth. (You can click HERE to read it online.) It’s amazing. I promise you that no matter how old you are, if you live the standards in that pamphlet you will be blessed and HAPPY! I am so grateful for the standards I was taught in my youth so that I can look back and be happy with the choices I have made in my life.
I was so blessed to have amazing friends growing up. That made all the difference. I was always taught to choose good friends, but it wasn’t even hard. I was blessed with amazing friends. We kept each other strong and helped each other along the way and we are all still friends today. 🙂 I hope that I was a good example to them like they were (and still are) to me.
It hasn’t always been easy. I got made fun of a lot in grade school for being mormon and I definitely got made fun of in High School for the choices I made. I wasn’t cool. I didn’t go to parties, I didn’t drink. I was a “mormon” and at my high school that wasn’t the coolest thing to be. But I had a lot of friends that weren’t mormon and they respected me for my choices and beliefs and never made me feel bad and never pressured me to do things I didn’t want to. I am grateful for those friends. The ones who stood up for me even when I wasn’t “cool”.
I wouldn’t change anything from my experience growing up in the church. I am who I am today because of the way I was raised and because I was raised in the Gospel. I still have so much to learn and so much to work on, but I am grateful for the knowledge that I have that helps me get through my trials. This past week I was visiting my family and when my Dad was dropping us off at the airport he asked, “Are your testimonies strong?” I was happy to be able to say yes and really mean it. He said “Good, because that is what will help you get through the trials that will come.” And they will come. I just hope that I am strong enough to handle them when they do. I am a daughter of God. I know he loves me. It might not always be easy to remember in the midst of a hard trial, but I hope I never forget it.
I am so grateful I was raised in a home where prayer was normal and the spirit was strong. 🙂