Nearer My God To Thee. - For the Joy of Life.

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Nearer My God To Thee.

June 14, 2012
I entered the waters of baptism, I am now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Yes, I'm a Mormon :)

 
Two of my very best friends, Jordyn Michelle and Audrey Johanna

Elder Wright and Elder Thacker, my awesome missionaries.

Friend! 

So here's my story. It might be kinda long so bear with me if you will. I was raised in a Christian background. My grandfather was a pastor, they in fact lived in a house right on church grounds for many years. I grew up knowing and hearing about God, knowing that he exists and watches over us in heaven. I understood that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I was told that by accepting Jesus into my heart, I would make it to Heaven to return and live with God eternally. I believed that sinning was bad, I most definitely knew right from wrong. I had a stable home life. Other than the occasional sibling bickering, my family got along quite well. I was happy for the most part, but in my heart I felt the spiritual yearning for something more. I had this desire to understand the concepts of heaven and to live my life the best I could.
Middle school rolled around all to quickly. I remember my first day so clearly, I was terrified out of my mind. I ran to my first class and throughout the whole period my stomach was in complete knots. I was sure I would use all my bathroom passes within the first week... As the year went on I felt more comfortable at this school, but more importantly in my own skin. I made some new friends. They seemed nice and we got along great. Their social life was intriguing to me. These were the girls that got all the boys, had the cutest clothes, and did all the fun stuff over the weekend. Within a week, as a sixth grader, I had my very first boyfriend. I still kept in mind the religious background I had, but it seemed to slowly get pushed away as my interests started to fall upon my cell phone, my new friends, and the latest gossip. This progressed until 8th grade, until I became the little fish in a big pond. 
After being promoted to high school, I felt so excited. I couldn't wait for a new adventure. Not to mention, as a freshman I made varsity cheer.  Things looked like they were gonna be pretty awesome in this new school, I couldn't wait. That summer I went over to my boyfriend at the time's house. Ironically this is where I met Hunter for the first time. We spoke a little, not much, but enough. Something about him drew me in. He was funny, really sweet, and not to mention incredibly good looking. I had broken up with that boyfriend about a month later and remembered Hunter. Ironically again, that old boyfriend is the one that gave me Hunter's phone number...  must have been fate ;) As somewhat of a rebound, but mostly as an attempt to get to know new people at the school, I texted him. Then again, and again, and again until he probably thought I was super annoying but he always replied. I was in deep and he didn't even know it. My whole first sememster I spent trying to get to know and figure Hunter out. Some days he seemed like he liked me and others he didn't. I always got super annoyed because for an entire 3 hours he wouldn't reply to my texts on Sundays. I knew he went to church, but seriously he had to have been ignoring me. This sparked questions, I wanted to find out more about him and his faith. I considered myself religious and thought it would be a cool topic to address. Each Sunday I would ask new questions, he would answer them and I found myself understanding better why he was such an awesome person, it was because of this church. 
Meanwhile, I met my future best friend. Audrey Johanna deBruyn. I hadn't known it at the time, in fact I never could have guessed it.Audrey and I actually met in our elementary school days, but freshman year we really got to know each other. We had PE together where we spent many days laughing and joking about the silliest things. One day I brought up some questions I had about their church. We talked about missionaries, the Book of Mormon, and the priesthood. One day, after class we met in the shower stall. In that stall, Audrey and my other best friend Samantha taught me the restoration. They explained Joseph Smith's role as a prophet. I was smiling the whole time, and saw tears roll down Sam's cheek. I told them I felt overwhelmed... with happiness, it felt good. And that my dear's, is the beginning.
Within the next semester I found myself intrigued with this church. I researched and did my investigating, I asked many more questions, and I found myself yearning for answers. I started hanging out with Hunter a lot more and I went over to his house quite frequently. I noticed how loving their family was, i loved them right from the beginning. I started talking to Hunt about the Book of Mormon, he had told me how much it meant to him and I wanted it to mean something to me as well. He gave me my first copy of the Book of Mormon, he bore his testimony in it and told me his favorite scriptures. I treasured that book. I got home and locked myself in the bathroom, I flipped through every page and couldn't wait to begin. Hunter told me that if I would read it and ask my Heavenly Father if it was true, he would tell me and I would understand its truths. I felt like I needed the Book of Mormon for dummies or something, I could hardly even pronounce the names of the people. However, I just kept reading. I loved it. I craved it.
Hunter's brother Jensen came home from BYU and was soon leaving on a mission. I saw his love for the gospel just like Hunter. After hanging out with him, I grew close with him. I couldn't believe he would be leaving for 2 years and that Hunter would be doing the same. Hunter invited me to his farewell talk, and I wanted so badly to go. I asked my mom and she said yes. I spent the night at Audrey's house and went to church with her. As I sat among the congregation, I truly felt a special spirit. It was my first time being there, and the first time I felt the spirit. I remember going back to Audrey's house and watching the other side of heaven. I felt so happy, I felt like I was exactly in the right place. I got home and my mom asked me how it was. I told her how great it was and how nice everybody was. She told me that was what she was afraid of and that I wouldn't be going back. I was confused and hurt, how could something that felt so good to me be so wrong to her?
That summer I went to Europe for a month with my family. I kept my Book of Mormon hidden under all of my clothes in my suitcase. I would read a chapter right before I took a shower, then I would hide it underneath my towel as I walked back to my room. I knew I needed to find out for myself if this church was true and if that burning inside of me would last. I read and prayed as often as I could and began feeling my life change for the better. My clothing changed, my language, and my desires. I was away from the church for an entire month, I hadn't seen any of my friends either. When I got back they were having a ward youth conference. I was able to go to the last day and was so excited to be a part of church activities again. After a long day at the La Jolla cove we showered and returned to the church. There I experienced my very first testimony meeting. I saw my friends go up to the stand one by one as they poured their hearts out about how they knew the gospel was true. As tears streamed down their cheeks, I noticed my eyes welling with tears as well. I wanted a testimony. I wanted to be able to go up there and share that I knew the church was true as well. I knew that I was the only person that could make that possible. So, I made sure that I gained a testimony in every way I could. I experienced a complete change of heart, and I really liked it. I was so much happier, I knew I had a reason for being on this earth, and I felt so much closer to my Heavenly Father.
Despite my parents telling me otherwise, I still attended church every now and then, I went to dances whenever my friends wanted to, and I went to mutual when it was possible. Anything kept the spirit alive inside of me. I wanted to be at anything affiliated with the church, I felt such a strong love for the gospel. I knew so early on that I believed it was true. I couldn't deny it to myself, but I felt like I had to keep it a secret. I couldn't imagine the best thing that has ever happened to me being taken away. So, I just kept everything under the radar. I would spend the night at my friends houses on Saturdays then go to church in the morning with them. After, I would go home and not say a word. My friends knew my parents weren't fans of the church, but I had never told them I wasn't allowed to be going to activities or church meetings on Sundays. My best friend Jordyn's dad was the bishop of the ward at the time. One Sunday he came up to me and asked if my parents knew I was there. My heart skipped a beat when I had to admit that they didn't know. He told me he didn't want me to come back until I told them. I was heart broken and conflicted. More than anything I just wanted to be a member of Christ's church, is that so bad?
It became an ongoing battle with my family. It was so hard because I knew they didn't approve and couldn't stand even the thought of me converting. It became the elephant in the room that was avoided at all cost. I knew my family's thoughts and feelings which was what caused me to think the only way it would work is if I kept it a secret. I knew I wanted to convert since I was a freshman, but knew it wasn't even possible until I turned 18 years old. That meant I would have to keep quiet for 4 years. I knew it was worth it though.
I somehow survived all four of those years. My heart ached, there were tears, and so many tried to convince me it was wrong but my testimony kept me alive. I read, prayed, fasted, and did all I could to keep myself consumed in the church rather than the evil in the world. Hunter was an amazing influence on me. His love for the gospel really helped me along. Yes I did say influence, but I never said this decision I made was for him. It was completely my decision and always has been. My friends were such an amazing support system through it all, their example helped me become who I am today. I have such a full heart and so much to be thankful for.
As my senior year rolled around, I found my 18th brithday inching closer and closer. I was so nervous for the outcome. I started to prepare myself for the worst, but I tried to keep my fear inside. I went about my daily life as usual, but in May things started to change. The elephant was let out of the cage one night as I told my parents that I do believe this church is true. Tears were shed and my stomach was in knots. I felt things become more tense and awkward. I decided to meet with the missionaries for the first time, not even for discussions but for their advice and input. They told me something that I found so much truth in. I had been waiting for my parents to be ready to accept this, but would they ever? I had been waiting for their approval or desire to learn and understand so that we could take the discussions together. That just wasn't within reach. So they told me I was ready, and had been ready for quite some time now but they aren't. That decided my next move, I took that leap of faith. We set up my first discussion. As I took them, I noticed my testimony sky rocket even more than I thought was possible. It felt so right, not telling my parents on the other hand didn't. We set up a date for me to be baptized. I couldn't believe how quickly it approached. I had every intention to tell my parents and even to invite them, but the courage I had been hoping for never came. No time seemed like the right time to break their hearts. John Mayer said it best, "Bad news never had good timing". Ain't that the truth. I felt overwhelmed and my stomach was always uneasy. My testimony never disappeared though, that fire was still bright as ever. The night before my baptism, my mom had found out what was to happen the next night. That night felt like an eternity as I saw my mom's heart break. I longed for the elephant in the room again... I had told myself so many times before that it truly is my decision and that no one should be able to interfere with that. I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father more than I ever had before and felt such a spiritual confirmation that I needed to get baptized. Why put off what is going to happen in the end anyways?
This has been one of the hardest things in my life thus far. I never could have prepared myself for the heart ache I would experience. Nobody ever wants to, or intends to disappoint their parents but I did entirely. The day of my baptism I felt like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest. I just wanted it to be over, I wanted to be a member of the church. I had no thoughts as I went under the water, every thought was erased from my mind. As I came up I found that not only was all of my sin washed away but my fear was as well. I was baptized. I was clean, pure, and perfect. Not to mention, happier than ever before. I'll remember that night for the rest of my life and the feeling I had when I walked out of the font. I'll also always remember my confirmation that following Sunday. I have received the greatest gift that anyone could ever give me.  The Holy Ghost dwells within me, I find so much comfort in that truth. Nothing will get in the middle of my faith, I have a sure and true testimony that cannot be broken. It hasn't been easy, in fact it has been really really hard, but I know I am where i am supposed to be. I know without a doubt that I will be so blessed for this decision and that even though it may be ridiculously hard right now, the road ahead has great things in store for me. I know this church is true with all of my heart. I firmly believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that he was able to restore Christ's true church on earth today. I know the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible are true. They walk hand in hand together and contain the fullness of the gospel. This is my testimony, that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father who loves me dearly and that his son Jesus Christ lives. I cannot wait to return to them. My heart is so full with happiness, there is no greater love than the love of the gospel.

So friends, wanna know a little something about Mormons? Go to the true sources, mormon.org and lds.org or find a Mormon on the streets. Want a Book of Mormon? Contact me and I'll make sure to get one for you. This gospel has worked mighty miracles in my life, I know it can do the same in yours.

Now take a listen to this song, I found so much comfort in it through the hardest times.



All my love,

-Aleigh Joy





7 comments

  1. you are amazing..your story needs to be shared!

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  2. aleigh thank you so much for sharing this. i had heard tid bits here and there from aunt diane of your story and when i heard that you were going to be baptized i was so happy! you are such an amazing young lady and you just shine when you are in the room. you have a light about you that is special and i am so thankful to know you! reading this made me get really emotional and was a huge testimony builder for myself. you are an incredible example and i just can't thank you enough for sharing this story and for being who you are. you are so brave and strong and you will be blessed for your decision, i promise! thank you thank you thank you again for sharing your story. it was what i needed to hear. you're amazing. :)

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  3. Hey Aleigh! Thanks for sending me your testimony. I'd like to share it on my blog if that's ok!

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    1. Most definitely!! I would love that :) Thanks for taking the time to read! :)

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  4. So wonderful! Thank you Aleigh :) You are so strong and I look up to you so much! Even though I have never met you in person I can really feel your sweet spirit! I am so glad I took time to read this and thank you for sending me the link. I am so excited to get out there and share the gospel on my mission and to be able to change lives for the better :) Thank you for your testimony! Hang in there, you are a daughter of God and so special to him :)

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  5. It's crazy how much we have in common. I found your blog recently and have read a few of your posts. The first thing I noticed is that we both have a Mormon boyfriend named Hunter (he will be leaving on his mission in a few months), me and one of my best friends became close in our PE class sophomore year (she is Hunters cousin who is also Mormon), I was raised in a Christian background (my grandpa was a chaplain), but have been interested in the Mormon church for a while. At first I asked my Mormon friends a million questions, then had a few missionary discussions but stopped a while ago because my parents didn't know and I felt horrible about not telling them. I began going to church with my friend every Sunday about 5 weeks ago, and I have never felt closer to God than I do now. I love it so much, and I can't wait to have more missionary discussions soon. I have prayed about it SO soo much. I just don't know how to talk to my family about it!

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  6. Hi Aleigh! I'm a new follower of your blog :) I'm so glad I found it~ thank you for sharinf your conversion story and testimony. It's amazing what you can do by sharing it with others! You are wonderful!

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