I was born into the LDS Church. Mom and Dad were as active as humanly possible, my siblings, too. We even had giant glass decorative grapes on our living room table, and Mom put shredded carrots in the Jello – proof positive that we were stalwart. There was never a time in my childhood that living an active LDS lifestyle was not just part of my normal existence.
Fifty years later, I am still rock-solid in the Church, my wife is as active as humanly possible, all the kids are active too. (Fortunately we have abandoned the traditions of giant glass grapes and shredded carrot Jello. (Score one for my generation.)
I have never had a time in my life where I have not been a regularly attending member of the Church. It is all I have ever known. It is part of my DNA, part of who I am – part of who I have always been.
I don’t know why.
I don’t know why Heavenly Father sent me to the home He did. An LDS home, with righteous parents, where I was immediately set on the correct path. I mean what are the odds for that? (Rough calculation of active LDS members to world population: A million to one.) Why me? I figure I will just put that on the list I have of questions to ask God when I see Him. Although I don’t know, I have thought through a couple of possibilities:
1) I was just so incredibly awesome in the pre-mortal life that being born into these privileged circumstances was a well-deserved blessing. That’s me, “Mr. Extra-Valiant Spirit Man.” Or…
2) God knows me well enough that He felt that if He left it up to me, I would never have found the Gospel. (Yeah, a bit sobering.)
I tend to lean towards the the second. By nature, I am a questioning, often cynical guy. The kind of guy that some a pair of fresh-faced missionaries would dread. I fear I would also be prone to many different addictions and distractions that might discourage or prevent me from embracing such a demanding faith. And I am stubborn.
Either way, it was not required of me to find and embrace the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was nicely arranged on the buffet table of my life – and I partook. And it is great. I know someone will comment and say “But at some point you had to be converted and find your own testimony.” True. And I did. But it was not hard. It was a natural progression through a life filled with constant exposure to the love of God, the Spirit, the truthfulness of the Gospel, and the miracles that come with it. Yes, I was converted, but it was really, really easy.
Because I have had it so easy, I have this sense of awe towards those who came to the Gospel and joined the Church as converts. You could say that I am a bit star-struck. Partially because I question if would have ever made that choice, and partially because I know the struggles some go through to make the conversion.
To any of you readers out there that are converts to the Church: You are amazing.
Over the years I have been deeply involved as people have joined the church, as a full-time missionary, a friend, and a priesthood leader. I know that sometimes the decision to convert can have a devastating impact on one’s life. Some are disowned, some are shunned, some lose their jobs, friends, families – all in exchange for the opportunity to enter into the Lord’s KIngdom on the earth. A Kingdom that is highly demanding, wrapped in a confusing culture, and different than any other religion on the earth.
Like I said before: Converts are amazing. I hope you understand how much I love and respect you for finding and embracing the truth. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone, but I think you are deserving of our thanks and praise.
Converts to the Church bring an excitement and a vibrancy, with them. They serve as a reminder to those of us who have been at this a long time that it is more than just a way of life. It is a wonderful decision that rains blessings down on us every day of our lives. Sometimes we just forget.
Everyday, my FB friend Barbara reminds us what day it is. For example, yesterday was “Heimlich Manuever Day”, and “Doughnut Day.” Now I don’t know who comes up with these ideas – many of which are stupid, but some are good reminders of really important things – like “Doughnut Day.”
So, I have taken it upon myself to make the following declaration:
The first Sunday in June will hereafter be known as:
It is a world-wide Church, after all. Now I’m not just being silly. I am going to celebrate this day – and I invite you to join me. I intend on honoring the day by doing several things:
1) I am going to seek out the people at church who I know are converts, hug them, and thank them.
2) I have had the privilege of being involved as some people have joined the church. I am going to write a letter to one, or more, of them to see how they are doing, and to express my support.
3) I am going to look at our family history with my kids and try and pinpoint who the convert was in each of our lines that made the choices that resulted in the blessings that we enjoy.
4) I’ll do this one right now… A “digital hug” to all my awesome readers who are converts.
My heartfelt thanks to those of you who found the truth, made the sacrifices to embrace the Gospel, and joined the Church. I am grateful for your faith, your example, and your testimonies.
I am in awe.
A couple of housekeeping things:
• I would LOVE to hear comments from those of you who converted to the gospel. Share as much as you are willing.
• Please don’t make comments that aren’t supportive or instructive today. I don’t want to debate this. But I will delete.
• Feel free to pin, share, or steal any or all of this. I would like to see it circulate.
• Sorry I didn’t announce this earlier…