Trial By Fire: A Conversion Story
Back in the fall of 2010 I was engaged to a lovely young lady needed Marissa. While we were together, I met her good friend Spencer one night while we were out on a date. Spencer was invited to take a seat and catch up with Marissa and meet me. Shortly after the conversation started we decided to discuss religion. Spencer, as I found out, was a Mormon. We discussed our views on faith and next thing I knew it was almost 2 hours later. Marissa and I decided to head home to our house and Spencer went on his own way. A couple days later Marissa and I decided to go see a movie and ran into Spencer and his wife Ashley. We talked for awhile and then exchanged numbers after planning a double date. From that moment on we probably hung out a couple times a week for awhile. The hangouts were always the same, dinner, conversation, a game, then Spencer and myself on the patio talking faith, me smoking cigarettes, and Marissa and Ashley hanging out inside discussing whatever it is women discuss, probably about how good their men looked. Spencer and myself quickly grew to have a very close friendship and he easily became one of my best friends. He made me see things about the Mormons, that at the time I wouldn't admit, made sense. I remember one conversation where we laid out our plan for a private society. One were no one was in charge but the collective was supporting the collective. Everyone would be in it for everyone else. No money, No crime, no poverty, etc. It was such a great idea. I later learned this was pretty much the Law of Concretion. Fast forward a couple months and my engagement to Marissa ended. It wasn't the easiest thing for either of us but I knew it was for the best. Spencer and Ashley were there for me during this time and the spirit definitely started to work in my life. Spencer invited me to the Baptism of a lady in his ward and I was not interested. But I told him I would go just to make him feel good, But had no real intention of going. Spencer called the day of and I tried my best to get out of it. I finally gave in but made it clear that I would not be dressing up or participating. After the Baptism occurred, the Missionaries gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. One of the Elders posed a question, "What does it feel like when the Holy Ghost comes into the room?" As soon as he said this I was hit by a jolt of electricity. While this happened a gentlemen across the room answered him and said, "Its like getting hit with a bolt of electricity!" My hairs stood on end. Could it be possible that this really just happened. Was all this real? Instantly I spoke up and objected. After sharing my disbelief in what had happened I was ready to head home. Spencer and I discussed more what had happened to me at that Baptism and I remember telling him, "Spencer, if that feeling was real, I want to feel it all the time!" He proceeded to tell me that I could and that if I prayed and read The Book of Mormon I could and would feel the Spirit confirm the truthfulness of this Church. That night I sat in my room, The Book of Mormon in my lap, and began to pray.
I prayed for our Heavenly Father to reveal the lies this so called Testament of Jesus Christ was, because I knew that it was a lie. So I prayed and prayed that the first verse I would open to would be the verse that showed me that the Mormons were wrong. I finished my prayer and careful flipped the pages randomly. I found myself stopped at 2 Nephi 33. I threw my finger down on the page and read verse 10. Wow, I was in shock. The spirit I felt confirmed that what I had just read was the truth. I started to rage. I was so mad that it was true. I had done so many things in my life that I knew were wrong. I felt this fear and knowledge that I wasn't good enough for his church come over me. Why had the Lord allowed me to be born in a family where the Church of Jesus Christ wasn't the center. I mean I was raised in a Christian home but this was different. I screamed out at the lord. Told him that what he did to me wasn't fair. I would never be accepted into his kingdom or into his church. See at this point in my life I was covered in tattoos, smoked, and drank booze. I saw the looks that Mormons gave me when they saw my tattoos. I must of looked like some sort of devil to them. This church had no place for me. But again I did what I did best. I prayed. I cried out to the lord, I told him that I wanted to be in his kingdom. I wanted to be in his presence. All I wanted was for him to take my life now so that I can just be with him.
My eyes were closed and I was just lying in bed, half asleep talking to Heavenly Father. Asking his son, "Lord just let me into your presence, let me into your divine place. I just want to come near where you are and be near you." The scriptures came to mind and I heard him say, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice all you have to do is open up and let me come to where you are." Then all at once I was swept up out of my bed, out of my body. It felt like every worry, every frustration, every weight that had been on my shoulders had been lifted off. Like I had just broken through the physical world and entered into true freedom for the first time in my life. This place was brighter than anything I had seen before. It was like I was standing on a star. It was more real then I could ever explain, and although Ive never been to this place before I knew I was home. There was white light all around me and it took my eyes a minute to adjust but as I finally began to see clearly I saw one man standing before me. It was Jesus, the one who sacrificed and made it possible for me to even come to this place. But he had scars, he had deep scars all over his face and neck from where his flesh had been torn and shredded by the crown of thorns and the whip that had struck him for our sins. He had scars on his hands, deep wounds from where the nails had torn through him. He said, I am so glad your here finally, I have prepared a place for you. Come let me show you. He held down his hand for me to take hold of and to follow him. Just as my hand touched his I gently brushed my finger across the hole on his palm. He paused and I looked up, and looking at the scares on his face I asked, "Why? Why would you do this for us, for me, I am dirt! We are dirt." He turned toward me, smiling knowingly and looked me up and down and then all around at the place we were standing and he said sincerely, "You were worth it." I proceeded to tell him that it was to late for me. I had ruined my body, the sacred Temple he had entrusted me with. I would never be looked at with love in his Church. All at once there was a flash of light and when he came into view again there he stood, no scars, just pure beauty and grace. He looked at me and lovingly said, "In my Fathers house everything is made new!" I still cant get over the honesty in his voice. I awoke with the most amazing peace from this.
To think that the son of Heavenly Father, the prophesied Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would look at me and think I was worth the death he suffered. That with every blow, as the nails dug deeper into his hands and his feet, he was crying out, This is worth it. That with every crack of the whip as it tore flesh from his back he was crying out, This is worth it. That as the rod struck his head each time, driving the crown of thorns deeply into his skull and as the guards mocked and spit at him, he was looking steadfastly at the big picture. With eyes focused and mind made up simply declaring, You are worth it.
As I laid in bed that morning, having just been through the most spiritually intense experience ever, I began to weep. I spent the entire day in quite meditation. I needed to record this. I needed to write my dream and thoughts down on paper before I forgot. I wrote the dream down and went to the first person I could. I remember telling Spencer that I needed to be baptized and that it needed to happen asap. Little did I know the journey that was ahead of me.
Shortly after learning of my desire to be baptized, Spencer found me the Singles Ward that would be in my boundaries and found the Missionaries serving in that ward. The Elders were young kids. Boys 6 years my junior with no life experience. Needless to say I wanted nothing to do with them. I disliked them right off the bat. These young servants of the Lord saw me as a number. To this day I believe that. My love and trust for spencer allowed my heart to soften just enough to give them a chance. On the 2nd lesson I brought up smoking. I asked the Missionaries what would happen of I didn't stop smoking and this elder replied, "oh we WILL find out, you won't be able to keep it from us!!!" I was creeped out. Spencer was in disbelief. He looked me straight in the face and interrupted the Elder and told me that that was not true. As I look back this young Elder was just socially awkward. I don't think he ment it how it sounded but truly at that moment I was done. I told Spencer and the Bishop at that ward that I would no longer be taking the lessons cause the Elders annoyed me. I'm not sure how it came to be but they somehow got permission for Spencer and his lovely wife to teach me the lessons. Spencer had served a faithful mission and with our close relationship I would be more open to hearing the things he taught.
The next 2 months we just hit the lessons. Spending tons of time on each lesson. Which was so much better then doing one lesson a week for 45 minutes. We dove into it. Talked forever. Spencer spent countless hours teaching me truth. Writing me long letters explaining things. There were set backs along the way. Nothing crazy but things that put off my baptism some. When you live a certain life for 25 years old habits die hard. My friends weren't supportive, and my family told me I would be dead to them if I really went through with it. Those things didn't stop my determination to seek after baptism. Finally after what seemed like months we set a date for baptism. March 12th 2011.
Stay tuned for part II