Note: Last week I received an email from my son, Dan. He is the freshman at BYU, and is taking a Mission Preparation religion class. One of their recent assignments was to write an essay about how each one of them gained their testimony. To us as parents, this letter was a gift. After I read it, I felt like it should be shared. Dan agreed – especially since he is getting ready to be a full-time gospel sharer.
How I Gained My Testimony
By Daniel McBride
I’m quite convinced I was raised like a great deal of my fellow students here at Brigham Young University. I was born of goodly parents who had faith that could move mountains. I was raised with a white shirt and a tie, piling into the family car every Sunday morning rushing to get to church on time. I was raised learning how to pray and bear my testimony with my mother whispering what to say next in my ear. Now, of course, this is not all: my father was the bishop of my ward. Talk about your average Mormon boy.
I grew into a teenager. I never had any legitimate problems or issues with the church, but like anyone else, I had doubts. One of these moments came as I observed my brother, a fantastic young man who – at the time – was serving a mission in the Dominican Republic. Four months prior to his return date, I witnessed him come home urgently and saw him being pushed though the Phoenix airport in a wheelchair, with an enormous bandage wrapped around his head. The previous day, he and his companion were walking to the church in Santo Domingo when the enormous iron gate that guarded the church collapsed and fell on his head, cracking his skull on impact, along with another crack from his head hitting the concrete. I watched him go straight to the hospital, practically unresponsive with a serious brain injury. I watched doctors puzzle over the fact that he wasn’t dead by then.
(Note: A frightening, yet miraculous story, for another time.)
After I gave my brother an awkward wheelchair hug, I went home that night and sat in my bed thinking: “I’m supposed to go on a mission too?” I wondered whether the church and the Gospel was worth it. For the first time, I was scared to serve a mission.
About two years later, in the middle of sophomore year, I came down with one of the worst cases of shingles that my doctor had ever seen. I had thought that shingles was just something that some old people get, but boy, was I wrong. Immense pain and a dark mental state came along with this sickness. I periodically checked my grades on my phone and saw them plummeting due to my extended absence from school. Being in too much pain to really do much, I missed my school’s volleyball tryouts and a good chunk of the season. My grades were bad, my volleyball career was essentially over, and I was in more pain than I had ever been in.
(Dad note: If anything, Dan under-plays how wicked this bout with shingles really was. It was devastating. He missed over 40 days of school that semester, and suffered physically ands emotionally. As he said, several doctors said it was the worse case of shingles they had ever seen – and it was on his face! Like teenagers don’t have enough to worry about. I included a picture, just to gross you out.)
My parents, of course, were concerned. I felt the love of my mother as she comforted me and continuously served me and loved me while I was down. I witnessed my father expressing genuine concern and love for me.
I decided to pray at 3 AM on one of the worst nights. Then, something changed: I felt the Spirit, and I felt the love of my Heavenly Father. I didn’t receive a prompting that ‘everything was going to be okay’ or that ‘you don’t need good grades and it doesn’t matter if you get into BYU or not’. All I felt was love. I felt the love of a Creator that loves me enough that He wants me to come live with Him again. An outpouring of love and a waterfall of tears occurred that night, and suddenly, I was renewed with a vigor and a determination to fight through whatever was happening to me, because it wasn’t that bad. Nothing is, really, when you choose to take an eternal perspective and remind yourself that Christ went through more than you could ever know.
That night, I laid the foundation of my testimony through prayer – God loves me. With this simple statement, this one idea, so many doors of faith and Gospel principles were opened up to me. I found that He loves me so much that He sent His only Son to atone for my mistakes. I found that He still cares about His people as much as he did in Bible times, and sends Prophets and Apostles to the Earth to guide me back to Him. I gained a testimony of my family, and finally saw it not as a group of random folks to live my life with, but an eternal group of the best friends I could ever have. I found trust in the Lord as my high school career turned out just fine without volleyball and that I was accepted into the school of my dreams against all odds.
Now here I am, sitting in my dorm at Brigham Young University, still feeling that same love that I felt that night at home in Arizona. And now, because of this testimony that was planted then, my faith in the Lord and His Gospel continues to grow and flourish every day as I strive to serve him. I couldn’t be more thankful for the rough patch that I went through.
And now? I am earnestly awaiting a mission call that could come in the mail this week. I can’t wait to serve a mission, despite any doubts and fears I may have. I just want other people to experience the same love that I did, still do, and will when I wake up tomorrow.
(I appreciate Dan’s willingness to share his story. We could not be prouder of the man that he has become. Wildly talented as a musician, he is also hilarious, loving and deep. THREE WEEKS have come and gone, and Dan is still awaiting his call. I’ll let you know when it comes.)
UPDATE: Call received- Mexico, Xalapa mission. Reporting in February. Sweet
Congratulations Dan and Father! I loved reading about Dan’s conversion to the gospel. I remember the point where I had to decide for myself whether the church was true, and not just blindly follow my parents. I dabbled in life outside the church but quickly learned that something was missing. I know that despite the hard work and high expectations of living the gospel, I wouldn’t want my life any other way. I am happiest when I am actively engaged in service, even when enduring trials of my own.
I am giving a talk this weekend that touches upon how suffering and pain often ends up providing us with blessings, in particular, spiritual strength. In preparation for this talk I have reflected over some of my toughest experiences and realized how happy I am to have had them.
As I read Dan’s testimony, I felt so much sympathy, especially when the story of the older brother was shared. How amazing you are to be able to go forward with faith despite such an experience.
Thank you for sharing such an intimate testimony in this medium. I benefited from it greatly.
Wow–how cool! BUT I don’t think the shingles pic was necessary…Have fun in Mexico, Dan! Good luck!
Pat on the back deserved for you and your wife! However, something I am noticing now as my kids are reaching the teen years is that they are their own individual spirits and I have just been blessed to have the privilege of raising them. Children truly are a blessing, especially when they grow up following Christ. Beautiful post, thanks to you and your son for sharing.
My favorite line of the whole post “I couldn’t be more thankful for the rough patch that I went through.” That shows some serious spiritual maturity and an understanding that hard times are times for huge amounts of growth!
Sooooo ironic. I’m currently waiting for a data analysis to finish running that predicts the occurrence of shingles (I’m a biostatistician). Hmmmm. Must be a sign. Time to pray, I s’pose.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I got a lump in my throat as I read your son’s heartfelt words of testimony. It’s all worth it and I’m thankful for that reminder this morning. Best wishes to you as you go out to serve the Lord and His children, Dan!
That was wonderful. It is always uplifting to hear or read the testimony of others; it’s even better when the testimony is from your children. My oldest has now been in the mission field for a month and the letters we are receiving already show us growth in his testimony. As parents, we do all we can to prepare our children for life, but they need these soul stretching experiences that we cannot give them to help them solidify such a great foundation.
What a good kid…and those shingles, oh man, those shingles. I say he goes to #TeamBulgaria, right?
BeautIful testimony, thanks for letting your Dad share….MMM a chip of the ol block there, huh! You and your EC done good!
Thanks for sharing! (Do I remember correctly that in one blog post you hinted at the shingles that your son was going through?) how horrible to have to go through the shingles like that…glad he’s doing much better now. It’ll be so exciting to hear where he will serve. Wherever it is they’ll be lucky to have him.
BEST blog post of the month! And it ain’t even mine! (And, yes, I’ve already blabbed this all over Facebook.)
Great experience. I’m especially glad that he proved that the Holy Ghost doesn’t go to bed at midnight.
Really special, thank you and a big thank you to your son for sharing his testimony gaining experiences. I can’t wait to hear will he will be serving and how is your son who came home with a cracked skull? We send these young kids out with faith, in fact I think just having children takes faith…probably on both sides of the veil.
What a treasure!
simply wonderful! thank you for writing so honestly and from the heart-we will all be waiting to see where the Lord needs you 🙂
What a beautiful post. Traumatic brain injury is no joke, I have personal experience with that one, I hope it all worked out…something tells me it did. Same with the shingles, that picture looks so painful. I love how your son puts it all into perspective so well, he sounds like a great person and I am sure he will be a great missionary. Thanks for sharing this!
At the moment all of my children are active believers in the church. It is precious to hold a new child. It is just as precious to have a child return to belief after a period of wandering. One of them, when asked why she had returned, said she could not deny the truth of what she learned before distractions and doubts took her away for a season. Your son’s testimony, founded in suffering, is a gift to all who will hear.
This brought tears to my eyes. There is nothing sweeter than to see your children grow in the gospel and develop a testimony for themselves. Good luck, Dan! I am sure all your dads followers wish you the best!
What a great treasure to have his feelings in words. For now, and for generations to come. Well done Dan!
I agree with all of the above. So hard to watch or babies going through tough times but worth it for outcomes like this.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m also looking forward to hearing the story of your older son. .holy scary! !
Thanks for sharing this beautiful essay.
Knowing your children have strong testimonies is certainly one of the sweetest blessings in this life. Thank you for sharing. It builds my testimony every time I hear about someone else’s. A lot of people think children raised in the church have automatic testimonies. Their conversion comes as well as a new convert’s.
My son is a Freshman at BYU also! What an incredible boy you have. My testimony is strengthened by his.
thank you! What’s your son’s name?
Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony.
Oh,how I loved this! And I hope you will share his letters from his mission on the blog!
How beautiful! Thank you for sharing your testimony with all of us, Dan.