I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for part 5 of this story. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’ve been sharing about how I came to Christ. If you’re interested, the other “pieces” are linked here.
When I was in 11th grade, and on the hunt for the man of my dreams, I sat across the aisle from a very cute red head named Darren. I liked him a lot; he was funny and charming, and I thought he liked me. The only thing was, he was Mormon, and most Mormons I knew did not date non-Mormons. This seemed quite opportune to me. I had questions about God, and here the object of my affection was very involved with a religious group. Why not investigate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Prior to this, the only “investigating” I ever did was to spend Saturday afternoons and occasional spare periods at St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church which was conveniently located across the street from my school. I was very intrigued with the big crucifix which hung at the back of the church. I would sit there, often for hours at a time looking, wondering, waiting for a big bolt of lightning of spiritual illumination. Well, the lightning bolt was a little slow in coming, so this Mormon opportunity seemed timely indeed.
The girl across the street from me, Cindy, was Mormon. We had sort of been friends on and off, but once I asked her about her church, we began spending a lot of time together. I began going to the Mormon dances every Saturday night. I must say, that despite all that eventually happened, those dances were the most fun I ever had. They were well-chaperoned and clean, a perfect place for teenagers on a Saturday night. After the dance, we would end up at McDonalds or some other fast food place. My parents had absolutely no idea that these dances would lead to what they did.
Eventually, I wanted to go to church with Cindy. My parents put their foot down; no way. My mother said that I had my “own church” and that I should go there. After a tearful and acrimonious dispute, I had to give in. If I checked out my own denomination, then perhaps I could check out the other. There I was, a total ignoramus in spiritual matters, wanting to go to the Mormon Church, but being dragged to the Catholic Church.
I continued to go to Mass with my dad, but on the side, Cindy and I attended clandestine meetings with two Mormon Missionaries. Cindy introduced me a Mormon family who was more than happy for us to meet at their house. The Mormon Missionaries were hugely impressed with their student. I was a genius; I understood everything; I answered their questions; I didn’t need to have things explained more than once. They said I was “golden.” I was a sponge. I wanted truth and here was one placed right at my feet. Of course I didn’t question it. I wanted so badly to believe something – anything - that I soaked it all in and never questioned it. I was a perfect little potential convert. Let me just say here that I think that everyone is born with an instinct to search for truth. They may search for it in all the wrong places, but it’s there. No one told me about knowing truth when I was a little kid, yet I longed for it. Where did this come from? Who else but the God of the Universe. This is why I have often told unbelieving parents such as my brothers that if they don’t help their children discover truth, they’ll simply find one on their own, and the results could be disastrous. This is also why I think it is so crucial for Christian parents to make sure the spiritual, doctrinal foundations that their children sit on are sure and solid.
The thing that I liked was that the Mormons actually used the Bible. Of course, they eventually veered away from this, but I had never had someone explain the Bible to me before; this was revolutionary to my experience. On top of that, the Mormons had an extra bible. I was in scripture heaven. They also talked about repentance. This was also something new to me. They talked about the need to be converted. They didn’t really use the words “be born again” that I remember, but the idea of leaving one’s past life behind and embracing a new one was definitely something they taught, and it was very eye-opening. Well, I’d do whatever I needed to do to become Mormon whether it was believe in Jesus or Joseph Smith himself. When everything came to a crashing halt, it was the name of Jesus Christ that would stay with me. Even though what I was taught about Jesus was not consistent with the Bible, learning that He had suffered some kind of torture for me was something I did learn, and that fact stayed with me.
This was not a great time for my relationship with my family. I was lying to my parents about where I went so that I could be tutored by the Mormons, to go to Mormon events. Talk about rebelling in reverse. My brother Chip was out getting stoned on Saturday night, and I was hiding the fact that I was reading going to church from my parents. The lying part was wrong, absolutely dead wrong. The bishop of the church where I attended told me it was wrong, but I didn’t care. This lying was for God. Wasn’t this an exceptional case?
I was also incredibly self-righteous and judgmental. Mormons believe in baptism for the dead, and I told my mother that some day I would be baptized for her after she died. You can imagine how well that went over. The tension was very thick, indeed. My oldest friend, Suzanne, was fed up with me. She couldn’t understand all this religious nonsense I was going through. She wanted me to just go to Mass with her and shut up about old Joseph Smith and the “second bible.” She stopped calling, and I stopped calling her. I had a new group of friends. I was the church favorite: the girl whose parents would not let her follow the path God had laid before her; the eager “golden” student. They loved me. I had lots of friends now. In May of that year, my dad came home from work one evening and had a piece of news: we were moving from
Next time: decisions