Everyone has a faith story to tell, regardless of your religious background. It could be you believed there was a God from as far back as you could remember. Maybe coming to faith was gradual, or maybe you had a defining moment that you distinctly remember. Perhaps events and circumstances in your life led you to believe that God doesn’t exist at all. Whatever the case, how you came to your conclusions is “your story.”
When I was a child I believed in God. I didn’t know much about hell and can’t say that I ever thought about it. In my mind God lived in heaven, and when people died they went there to be with him. I never considered that beliefs mattered; all that mattered was being a good person and doing good things to and for others.
I was introduced to the concept that what people believed mattered by the Mormons. The missionaries (and later my LDS leaders) explained that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the only true and living church upon the face of the earth and the only organization authorized to administer the “saving ordinances” of the gospel.
I was quite zealous in trying to convey that message to others as a new convert to Mormonism. I remember when I was about 15 and a door-to-door insurance saleswoman came to our home. Before my mom could tell her we didn’t need insurance, I invited her in, asked her what she knew about God, and then for the following 20 minutes or so shared my testimony of the Church with her. I told her how to get in contact with the missionaries and gave her our phone number in case she had any questions.
Years later when Ezra Taft Benson became the president of the Church, he gave a talk on the importance of making the Book of Mormon the cornerstone of our lives, and he urged members to spread the gospel by sharing the message with non-LDS family, friends, and neighbors. I took that to heart by buying a couple dozen paperback Books of Mormon, meticulously underlining key verses, and dispensing them out wherever I saw opportunity. For Christmas each one of my husband’s piano students got a plate of homemade cookies and a Book of Mormon. I even gave one to our mailman. I was nervous about the whole thing because I didn’t know how people would respond; but I wanted to do what was right and “follow the prophet.” Eventually, I began to focus most of my efforts on strengthening members of the Church, although it was in my heart to use my singing ability in the Christian community to bring people into Mormonism.
As you’ll see when you read my book, I didn’t successfully convert people to Mormonism; rather, I left the Church after 26 years as a devout believer. One of the things that the missionaries got right as they taught me the basic doctrines of Mormonism is that what a person believes matters. The LDS Church is either true or it is not. Either Joseph Smith was a prophet of God or he was not.
Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), 188-189)
My “faith story” is about how I discovered what the gospel is, and what it is not. It’s about my life as a Latter-day Saint and why I left the religion I so fervently believed to be true. Your experiences with Mormonism might be very different than mine. I’m not telling you what to believe or what not to believe; I’m just inviting you to let me share my story with you, and if you so choose after weighing the evidence and coming to your own conclusions, to take the journey from Kolob to Calvary.