So, now a question as I conclude: What if you learned that the Savior had already returned to this earth—that He, as part of His Second Coming, had already met with some of His true followers in several marvelous, large gatherings (See Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man (1982), 575) —gatherings about which the world, including CNN and the blogosphere, knew nothing. If you found out that the Savior was already on the earth, what would you desperately want to do today, and what would you be willing and ready to do tomorrow?Wendy Watson Nelson
I pray that this year you will have some moments of anguishing desperation that will propel you further along the path to becoming the man or woman you were born to be. Your true self is spectacular! Never settle for less. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
© 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 11/15. “Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be.”
Tag: Return to Christ
Modern and ancient prophecies fortell 2nd coming of the Lord
Biblical and modern prophecies give many signs of the Second Coming. These include:
The fulness of the gospel restored and preached in all the world for a witness to all nations.
False Christs and false prophets, deceiving many.
Wars and rumors of wars, with nation rising against nation.
Earthquakes in divers places.
Famine and pestilence.
An overflowing scourge, a desolating sickness covering the land.
The whole earth in commotion.
Men’s hearts failing them.
(See Matt. 24:5–15; JS—M 1:22, 28–32; D&C 45:26–33.)
In another revelation the Lord declares that some of these signs are His voice calling His people to repentance:
“Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you. …
“How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, … and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (D&C 43:23, 25).
These signs of the Second Coming are all around us and seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity. For example, the list of major earthquakes in The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 shows twice as many earthquakes in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s as in the two preceding decades (pp. 189–90). It also shows further sharp increases in the first several years of this century. The list of notable floods and tidal waves and the list of hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards worldwide show similar increases in recent years (pp. 188–89). Increases by comparison with 50 years ago can be dismissed as changes in reporting criteria, but the accelerating pattern of natural disasters in the last few decades is ominous…
“In modern revelation we have the promise that if we are prepared we need not fear (see D&C 38:30).”Preparation for the Second Coming
Dallin H. Oaks of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Last year, I met with my dear friend Jaqui (name change). She’s married, has two sons, and has her own business. “Coincidentally” (remember I don’t believe the Lord does coincidences), Jaqui and her husband moved up close by me. They use to live about two hours away, suddenly they were a 15 minute drive. We met up several times and chatted, and each time she would discuss surrogacy. I remember once learning about surrogacy three or four years ago. I read that many celebrities opted for surrogacy, so they could maintain their physique. I thought it was a great idea, but I also had a different perspective on life during that time.
As I’ve returned to the restored Church of Jesus Christ, I’ve come to learn that family is vital to God’s plan of Happiness (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”), and that the Lord commands us to raise our children in “light and truth” (D&C 93:40). From the scriptures we understand that “whatsoever is truth is light, whatsoever is light is Spirit” (D&C 84:45), meaning, The spirit teaches us truth. We also learn in Alma that “whatsoever is light is good” (Alma 32:35). This would make sense. I would rather know the truth than follow after the “philosophies of man.” (think about Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor- these philosophies presently exist; see also “Modern-Day Korihors,” David J. Ridges, New Era, Mar. 2013, 20-23; “Countering Korihor’s Philosophy,” Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, July 1992, 16).
In my parenting class at BYU-Idaho, we were asked what other questions I may have after studying the importance of gender, and what we were going to do to seek an answer. I wondered how surrogacy fit into marriage and family, for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. I said I was going to search, ponder, and pray to find the truth. I wrote, “This is a very controversial topic right now with a very dear loved one, and I don’t know what to do.”
I never thought surrogacy should be advised against, until after conversing with Jaqui. I remember as she spoke, I felt confused. I thought it was wonderful she wanted to give this family a baby. I praised her for her unselfish desires. She then confessed it wasn’t all about the family not being able to have children. Of course her heart ached for them, and she wanted to help them, but she made it clear that the surrogacy would benefit their family financially too.
I still felt confused as I drove home that night. My husband greeted me as I walked through the door, and we began discussing our evenings activities. As I brought up surrogacy, I asked him if it was “wrong.” He instructed me that the church “strongly discourages” against surrogacy. Today, was the first day I looked into this teaching. In the Church’s handbook it states, “The Church strongly discourages surrogate motherhood. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them (“21. Selected Church POlicies and Guidelines,” Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2019). As I read this I thought,” this is a responsibility I don’t want, nor would I want to answer to in the next life.” This is my own opinion! If you’re considering surrogacy, search, ponder, and pray. If it is good, the spirit witness the truth of it to you. If it’s not, the Lord will let you know, I promise (D&C 9:9).
Consider the following questions taken from the “Lesson 6: ‘I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost’” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 29–34.
Why is it important to submit our will to God’s will when we seek personal revelation?
How can we recognize when God answers “no”? (Answers could include that we will have negative feelings, confusion, feelings of unrest and uneasiness, or a “stupor of thought” [D&C 9:9]… [think] of experiences you’ve had with receiving such feelings.)
How should we respond when a sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want? How can such experiences help us?
Let me share a story with you that happened to me yesterday. Disclaimer: I am not sharing this to boast, nor brag, but to glory in the Lord’s work as Ammon (see Alma 26:10-12).
THE MOST AMAZING THING JUST HAPPENED
Heavenly Father is aware of me, miracles are possible.
I just got out of the temple this morning. I woke up at 5:35am and knew I needed to go to the temple…I kept getting fixated on little things like house cleaning and tidying up. Long story short, I didn’t leave my house until about 8am and arrived to the temple close to 8:30. I did initiatories (ordinance performed in the temple) and walked out of the temple just before 10am. Usually I walk straight to my car, but instead I chose to sit on a bench near the reflecting pool. I focused on the beautiful landscape, the sounds of the fountain, and observed one of the gardeners working in a nearby flower bed.
After 20 minutes, I knew I needed to study. I thought I could go to a local library to study, but as I looked up the location and thought more about it, I thought about the institute building nearby. I kept shooing the thought from my mind. “Why would I study there?” I thought. I continually fought the thought, but my next thought was along the lines of, “I have so much homework, I need to get going.” I stood up and walked down the sidewalk. A nice older gentleman greeted me with a, “Good morning.” I smiled and greeted him back, and he responded again, “Enjoy the rest of your day.” “Thanks you too!” I was somewhat thrown off [by his] second response. Usually, if someone greets me that’s it, but this brief extra effort lifted my spirits.
I arrived to the University and parked my car at the free parking on the side of the road. I got out of my car and started walking toward the university. “I could just go to the library here and study” [I thought]. As I continued walking, I started thinking, “What am I doing?” And I repeated the thought several times in my mind, but I just kept walking. I had a subtle feeling in my heart that I was being lead by the spirit, so I just kept going.
I walked all the way up to the front of the institute building, and thought, “Please be open, please don’t be locked.” It’s August 14, 2019, so classes don’t start for two more weeks. I pulled on the doors [and] they opened… I felt relief sweep through my mind. I walked in thinking I should ask one of the ladies at the front desk if it was okay I studied in the giant student hall. (It’s the room with billiards and such). But as I looked to my right and saw the doors [to the student hall] were open and the lights were on, I caught glimpse of the beautiful brown baby grand piano. The room was empty, so I walked in. I knew this was good. I just felt good inside.
I sat down, began unpacking my things, pulled out my laptop with the thought to plug in my headphones and get right to work. My next thought was… “What if I plug in my headphones, then someone might see me and be swayed away from talking to me. Maybe I’ll want to talk to that person.” So, I left my earphones out, and turned on my laptop. Within moments of making this decision, I heard a man’s familiar deep voice. “Is that brother Carter (name changed)?” I wondered. He had been my institute teacher for the Foundations of the Restoration class. I leaped from my chair (literally), grinning from ear to ear. “Maybe it wasn’t him.” I thought, but I had to see.
I walked quickly to the front office, and peered through the looking glass. It was him! I hollered, “Brother Carter!” (I usually wait politely and patiently, but I couldn’t contain my excitement). One of the secretaries, smiled at me, “You have to be louder than that!” I smiled back, “Brother Carter!” I hollered again. These were quiet Hollers. Kind of like a whispering shout. If you’ve ever tried to get someones attention “quietly” without disturbing others around, it’s like a whispered holler. He was talking, so I thought I shouldn’t interrupt, vocally. I walked towards the door, and he smiled when he saw me.
He walked through the doors of the office, and we began catching up. As I briefly spoke about my recent schooling adventures, I pictured talking about Brother Bailey (name changed), and next thing I know we were talking about Brother Bailey and walking downstairs towards his office (I have been trying to get in touch with brother Bailey about becoming a seminary teacher for over a year, clearly it wasn’t a priority if all I did was call him). When we arrived, his secretary informed us that he should be back later this afternoon. Brother Carter planned to get in touch with Brother Bailey, so we could meet up and discuss the process of becoming a seminary teacher. I was elated, and I couldn’t believe what just happened; it was surreal.
Two weeks ago, I began studying my scriptures intently seeking further direction, further light and knowledge concerning which direction I should take. This was it. This is what I pictured. I pictured me coming up to the institute. And somehow, someway.. it just made me so happy at the thought of being there. That’s what prompted me to quit my current job. Which inadvertently I quit the position with an offer of another position, just working less hours, which is what I needed to maintain my schedule and sanity.
After this experience, I wrote, “I feel so blessed. My soul rejoices at [the Lord’s] tender mercies.” Several hours later, these feelings would be smothered with doubt, discontent, and confusion. When Brother Carter reached Brother Bailey by phone, Brother Carter found me studying to let me know I could go see Brother Bailey. I was excited and anxious, and I felt like I was going to a job interview.
When I first met brother Bailey, he said something like, “You seem very familiar.” We tried to pinpoint where we may have met, but I didn’t think we had ever met. I had only called him a few times to try to talk to him. That must have been what it was. While we talked, I kept picturing Bridgette, my second cousin. She recommended I take a class for teaching seminary years ago, when I wasn’t active. After meeting with brother Bailey I felt alone. I thought, “Where have I been? I still feel like I’m sinking. I feel like such a selfish person. Like I’ve buried myself form the world. I have lost touch. I can’t describe it. I just feel sad. My brain can’t remember simple things.”
I felt confused. I didn’t have a glimpse of peace. From the moment I left his office I was filled with doubt. He gave me all of the information about the pursuit of being a seminary teacher. I was so excited up until that moment. I remember picturing the kids I would be able to teach, and it slowly felt like this dream was fading into the background, like it didn’t matter anymore. I felt empty and lost. I was filled with dread, sadness, and doubt? Why? How could this be when everything perfectly aligned? From the moment of leaving the temple, everything was about my choices and timing. I chose to follow the prompting to go to institute to study rather than the library. I chose to leave my head phones out, in case I needed to talk to someone. I knew none of this was a coincidence, but it seemed the direction I was suddenly heading, wasn’t the one I wanted.
Brother Bailey asked who my teachers were in seminary. I could only remember one, Brother Gardner (name changed). Until later as I reflected I thought, “Wow I can’t even remember anymore.. sadness feels my soul. Why no gladness…” I prayed for comfort, for hope, for anything. I pictured President Nelson and the word “joy.” So, naturally I googled it (by adding “churchofjesuschrist” to any google search you’ll find topics in the churches website; e.g. “churchofjesuschrist Nelson Joy). Here’s the talk I found. “Joy Cometh in the Morning” by Russell M. Nelson.
The title of my message is taken from the thirtieth Psalm, verse 5 [Ps. 30:5]: “Joy cometh in the morning.” As I discussed this scripture with members of our family, they recalled that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25), but they had not pondered the intriguing concept that “joy cometh in the morning.”
After seeing this I had hope that I would have joy in the morning. I wondered, “If I maintain the growth mindset, where will I be?” and thought, “Maybe this is a tender mercy…”
Later that evening, I was embarking on an addiction I want completely uprooted from my life. I knew I had to leave my home, but I was tired. I continually prayed for the spirit to be with me, so I could finish what I need to for the day. After a good 45 minutes of wrestling with my natural tendencies, I finally left. As I drove, I had that same feeling again. I didn’t want to go to the library. “Where am I supposed to go then Lord?” I prayed silently. I pictured my niece, Madi (name changed). I drove straight to my brother’s home. This choice led to a conversation with my sister-in-law about my day’s events and about Adam and Eve. Eve chose to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge that she would know good from evil. Did she know this was the key to progression?
As we discussed this story I was reminded of a thought I had last summer. Are we going to have children? Are they going to be twins? one boy and one girl? Was this my imagination or a prompting? I felt so sure of this thought that I gleefully told my sister-in-law about it, as if it were a sure thing. Like I knew I would be 8 months pregnant by June 2019. It’s now August 2019. We have no children. Was this because I didn’t say anything to my husband? Was this because I lacked faith? I brought up having children multiple times, trust me. I brought up the doctrine to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, I thought that perhaps God has a different plan for us.
July 23, 2019 I woke up with the word a certain word on my mind, I didn’t have a pen or notepad by my bed, so I kept repeating “Sophie,” until falling back to sleep (always keep pen and notepad by your bed). Here’s my journal entry on the experience.
When I woke up I couldn’t even remember “soph” at first, but then I did. So I hopped out of bed, went to find my phone and began typing in “sophie lds” into google search. Then “sophistiory” and something about the missionaries popped up. “No, it’s a real word.” I thought. “I have to find it.” I was determined, so I kept searching. But nothing. I came across something about “Is God Mormon?” and other questions about the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For some reason I typed in “mormon” and that brought up the topic of contraception. Then I became curious…. “What is the church’s stance on contraception? What about condoms?” I searched “birth control” and I ended up on an article from ldsliving.com titled, “Birth control: What the prophets have actually said” by Jannalee Sandau Nov. 29, 2017
I read “Presient Gordon B. Hinckley, 1984” in bright blue bold letters and continued reading his quote which stated, “ I am offended by the sophistry….” I paused, “Wait…. What???? This is the word!!!!” I thought, so I continued reading.
His teaching stated, ““I am offended by the sophistry that the only lot of the Latter-day Saint woman is to be barefoot and pregnant. It’s a clever phrase, but it’s false. Of course we believe in children. The Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity, and there is no greater joy than the joy that comes of happy children in good families. But he did not designate the number, nor has the Church. That is a sacred matter left to the couple and the Lord. The official statement of the Church includes this language: ‘Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have the greater responsibility not only of bearing children but of caring for them through childhood, and should help them conserve their health and strength. Married couples should exercise self-control in all of their relationships. They should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel’” (see also (General Handbook of Instructions , p. 77)” (Cornerstones of a Happy Home, 6).
When I look back to this moment in time, I know I will be grateful for what happened yesterday. I feel my answer to being a seminary teacher may be, “not yet,” or “I have something else in mind for you.” The reason I feel this is because toward the end of mine and brother Bailey’s conversation he made two statements. They were along the lines of a: After going through the classes and the training they will pray about it, and if it’s right I will be in the program, or b: if not, Heavenly Father has a different plan for you. That’s when I felt nothing. But… I remember before going into meeting with him, I had Elder Dennis E. Simmons words go through my mind, “But if not.” I remembered the story Elder Bednar taught in That We Might “Not … Shrink” (D&C 19:18; CES Devotional for Young Adults • March 3, 2013 • University of Texas Arlington). A man with cancer, called for Elder Bednar to give him a blessing and Elder Bednar asked him this question,
“[John,] do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?”
I know Heavenly Father has a plan. If we trust Him, if we follow Him, if we keep His commandments we will be blessed.
“We glory in tribulations … knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed”(Romans 5:3–5).
Do Miracles Still Exist?
Growing up, my mom would often say, “There’s no such thing as luck, There’s no such thing as coincidence,” and my dad would remind us that, “This life is a test.” I didn’t believe it was true, but sometimes I wondered. The image that first comes to mind my mind is a memory from when I was age 24. It was dark and very late, as I rode the bus home that night, exhausted from a long day of work and school. The fluorescent lights glared down, as I leaned against the window and stared at my reflection through the darkened glass. I was filled with a feeling of complete emptiness and loneliness, but for some reason, I began wondering about those phrases I thought were ridiculous. “Are there coincidences or not?” “Is this life really was a test?” “Is there really a God?”
I grew up in a home that taught the true doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and my mom sang songs to me when I was 4 years old about being a “Child of God,” and “Yes, I know Heav’nly Father Loves me” (Children’s songbook p. 2; 228). In this memory, I’m in my second home, it’s dark, and I can’t see anything. My mom is holding me and singing these two primary songs. In my second home as a child, I lived there until I was about age four. I remember after moving, my mom through me a party for my 5th birthday and invited all the neighbor kids I didn’t know, but that’s how my mom was. Even when I turned 16 she somehow got a hold of all my friends and neighbor friends and they all came to surprise me. That is part of the gospel of the Savior. I was living how I shouldn’t, and my mom did everything she could to show she loved me.
I hadn’t lived the true gospel of Jesus Christ since childhood. When I was younger, I would sneak into my mom’s room to make her bed or spend 2 hours doing dishes and hide when she came home. I’m not bragging to say “what a wonderful child was”, I’m only painting a picture of what the gospel did for me, even as a child. I wanted to show my mom love the best way I knew how, and my mom showed me that when you love someone, you serve them. As I grew older something changed.
Through my adolescent years, I wasn’t kind, and I didn’t love anyone but myself; In short, I broke nearly every commandment before middle school, and only continued that lifestyle through the majority of high school and college. Most of my friends didn’t go to church, and if they did, it was for their parents. So, I refused to go to church because it contradicted who I was (which, if you study the doctrine on this, we’re all children of God, and “refusing to go to church” because I felt like I didn’t belong is either the natural man at work or one of the adversary’s tools). If I was going to party then I most certainly wasn’t going to church on Sunday unlike many people I knew from school. Eventually I graduated high school, and I noticed the majority of my friends no longer went to church.
My church activity somewhat changed after a trip to a local correctional facility for underage drinking. I remember sitting in the cell singing, “Heavenly Father are you really there?” (Children’s Songbook p.12). I felt pathetic. Despite the warm summer night, the cell I was in was freezing, and I had goosebumps up and down my arms. It was a long night. I remember for breakfast they brought me boiled eggs, and possibly pancakes with syrup. All I ate were the eggs because I believed pancakes and syrup would make me fat (I had also been battling multiple eating disorders for several years). I was released sometime around 10am that morning. I spent less than 12 hours in the cell, and I never wanted to go back there again. All I remember, was my dad and uncle walking down a long hallway toward me as I walked toward them, and my dad embracing me.
I had to pay a hefty fine and was court-ordered to go through some kind of program. I went through the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) at the age of 18, began seeing a psychologist, and tried going back to church. I remember wanting to change and going to church because I wanted to, not because someone was making me. But I remember the singles ward being a very uncomfortable experience. I felt surrounded by creeps. My first Sunday there, around winter 2009, I was wearing boots and some bald guy sat in front of me and began petting the boots I was wearing, commenting how soft they were while staring at me. Thankfully I was with my cousin, and we laugh about it to this day, but as an 18 year old, I was terrified. Regardless of my countless interesting experiences, I continued going to the singles ward.
After reconnecting with a another girl from high school at the singles ward, we began talking about moving out together, it was spring 2010. By the end of summer we moved out. We were going to church, and I was still trying to learn who I was. As I tried to return to church, it seemed more and more of my friends were leaving the church. Some described their first intimate moments with their boyfriends, their first time smoking weed, or the roommate drama they were experiencing. I had three wonderful roommates, but what I didn’t realize is one of them had a drank often and tried to hide it. We all went to church together, but I began seeing that same pattern in my student ward where the same people who were partying on the weekend were the ones going to church on Sunday. “Sunday Mormons” is what they were called or “Jack Mormons” at the time (I strongly dislike the latter term).
I think I lasted about 9 months without drinking. I didn’t realize I was still vulnerable to it, but I was mad… about something. I can’t even remember what it was. Perhaps it was the incident of me kneeling in the living room of my apartment, vocally praying for God’s help to make me a size “0,” but then a response along the lines of, “What if that’s not what I want for you,” came to my mind. I remember being enraged. I wanted desperately to model and be beautiful, so I thought, “Fine.”I’ll show you. If you’re not going to help me, I’ll do it on my own.” So I did. I was 20 years old. I was sick with an eating disorder. I had been suffering for over 7 years at that point. Sometimes I’d stay up until 3am binging and purging, or I’d wake up at 3am to go exercise in our gym. I remember protesting to the managers to keep the gym open 24 hrs (you could only get in if you had a FOB key between certain hours). Eventually, there must have been enough requests, because by the time I was experiencing a full fledged eating disorder, I was there every morning, religiously working out before I had work at 4:30am. I did the HCG diet and was consuming 500 calories or less per day. I was taking diet pills and doing everything I thought was right to be thin. I began listening to the same EDM again whenever I worked out. I began remembering old habits and soon was desiring old habits but I didn’t recognize what was happening. This mental battle that has existed for as long as I can remember.
I went out with someone from work, who I wasn’t even interested in. The only thing I liked was that his family did family history work. I knew he smoked weed, and I thought I knew where I was going, but without sleep, and without food, I was in no place to make decisions about dating.
My roommate and I met someone older who would buy us liquor, and once I started drinking again, I went to church less and less. I began seeing the person I went out with from work, the one I didn’t like because of his lifestyle. We dated off and on for over 5 years, and at one point we were living together. That may seem to have escalated quickly, but I can tell you, I didn’t become Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah (before their conversion) overnight (see Mosiah 27: 8-10). I didn’t suddenly try to convince members of the Church, to reject their doctrines and beliefs, including members of my own family. It was gradual, and it started when I young, perhaps elementary school. My complete 180 may have started in 2nd grade, and ended when I was 21.
What happened in 2nd grade? What didn’t happen in 2nd grade? That was the year other students would tell me awful stories about my teacher like putting glue in a kids eyeball. Aside from teacher horror stories, everyone played kissing tag, and didn’t everyone get married? Everyone except me. Maybe the kissing and “getting married” didn’t bother me as much, but I’d have thoughts like, “Why does Jake want to marry Stacia and not me?” I remember sometimes having this lonely feeling, that was similar to sadness, but different. Looking back, I wonder if these feelings may have been a result of consistently comparing myself to others.
By fourth grade I remember the sadness being somewhat tangible, heavy, and overbearing (though I wouldn’t have had the words to describe it as such). I just remember feeling like my entire body was filled with sadness, like I was in physical pain. I cried and I remember praying one night, begging Heavenly Father to take me away. What was so awful in fourth grade? What changed? I had many friends and we were all “popular” together, but then fourth grade hit. A new girl moved in, and the boy I liked, liked the new girl. I guess I had to find a new “muse” which seems so odd at such a young age, but my best friend and I decided we were going to like these two brothers, and she was going to like one and I was going to like the other. Fourth grade was when Sam moved in. He was different, so everyone talked about him. I remember walking in from recess, and Sam was holding a chair up to his throat, threatening to kill himself. I don’t know if I understood suicide, but I wanted to be his friend.
5th grade came, and Sam moved away. More new kids moved in and things got worse. Students would tell me the teacher gossiped about me when I was gone. The one boy I liked, liked another girl, and my friends started leaving me out. I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me because it seemed that all of the boys liked all the other girls. Was I that ugly? I would get picked last in soccer often, and I just felt like an outcast. Sometimes I wonder if my insecurities stemmed from my exposure to pornography around 2nd grade and my inability to communicate what was going on inside my mind.
I didn’t tell anyone about it until many years later. To this day the images are still etched in my mind, and I remember the experience well. I was with my friends little sister, Jenna (name changed), and we came across a stack of magazines in their old shed. It was likely left there from the previous owners. We began flipping through it, out of curiosity. She was the one who stopped, but I wanted to keep looking. Eventually I went home and Jenna may have told her mom, and her mom may have told my mom, but all I remember was my mom walking in my bedroom, saying she talked to Jenna’s mom, and my mom may have asked if I wanted to talk about it, but we didn’t talk. I just remember silently sitting in the corner of my room, playing with my toy ponies. But afterward, I became obsessed with intimacy. I remember feeling different, like I had a big ugly secret I couldn’t talk about. I remember my friendships deteriorating, and I was being left out more and more at recess. I felt like I was alone.
I would watch movies like Princess Diaries, Miss congeniality, She’s All That, and soon, I became enthralled with how beautiful these girls looked after they had a makeover. There was an episode of Boy Meets World where Topanga gets a makeover, and the transformation was stunning. I had this idea in my head that if I looked beautiful, I would be happy because these girls seemed to be missing something, but everything came together once they were “updated.” I watched The Swan and Dr. 90210 because the women all looked happier and more beautiful after their transformations. In 6th grade I started connecting what you ate to your level of popularity. If you bought ice cream from the student store or candy or chips from the vending machine, you were cool. By 8th grade, I learned that the popular girls ate celery at lunch, or didn’t eat lunch at all. If they ate anything it was from the student store or the vending machine, not the cafeteria. After purchasing your food, you’d hang out in the “commons.” All the cool kids would sit and stare at everyone that walk past and laugh, joke, or sometimes make fun of others. They all looked happy and I just wanted to be happy. I thought that being popular and accepted by my peers would undoubtedly bring me happiness.
I did my first makeover during 6th grade (new clothes, new wardrobe, new hair (my best friend gave me highlights). I felt happy, but it was short-lived elation. As time progressed, I was exposed to anorexia, and something inside of me wanted apart of it. About 8th grade I saw this movie about girls who were getting all this attention from the guys. They snuck out, did drugs and drank alcohol. They obtained an array of piercings over their face, ears, and body, and they looked happy. I remember watching the thirteen year old girl do self-harm, but somehow all of the happiness outweighed those little moments of agony; I still wanted that lifestyle.
I started my first diet in 7th grade with a friend. I don’t recall eating breakfast or lunch. I’d come home and have a few Totino’s pizza rolls for a snack and maybe a Chimichanga for dinner. I remember at one point bragging that all I had eaten for the day was an orange when I was a sophmore in high school. I showed my best friend Ally (name changed) and her sister Kirsten (name changed) how flat my stomach looked, and they both reacted with astonishment and praise.
I cycled through anorexia and bulimia throughout junior high and high school. I’d have a slim fast shake for lunch and a salad when I got home. I had no idea what I was doing to my body. I just thought if I stopped eating, I’d be thin. I didn’t know my metabolism would slow down, I didn’t know my beautiful hair would turn to toddler wisps, I didn’t think I’d grow cilia all over my body and turn into a wilder-beast. I didn’t anticipate long nights of no sleep, or the mental havoc I would experience later, I had no idea how this was affecting my body, mind, and spirit. For over 13 years I filled my mind with thoughts of how disgusting my body was, and that I must be skinny an pretty.
I chose to surround myself with people who constantly bad talked their body. Whether media, friends or family. Some of my loved ones would make remarks about women in the family who needed to lose weight. One family member made the comment, “nobody wants a fat wife” as we were about to go on a hike. I was about 13 years old. Another family member would say, “she’s as big a a house” if we saw someone who was obese. I vaguely have a memory of seeing a construction worker, pointing to him, laughing and saying, “look at that fatso!” My mom snapped back a quick scolding and taught me that we never point and we never talk about anyone in that way. I was about 5 years old.
Do you know what anorexia does to your brain? Did you know Depression and anorexia are correlated? I was starving, cutting, drinking, and spinning out of control. Did I just need food and sleep, or was there something else going on? After 13 years, it wasn’t just food, it was many things. It was relationships, it was hobbies, it was sleep, but it was especially my relationship with Jesus Christ.
I can assure you, that from my experience, the 180 flip doesn’t happen overnight. These kinds of changes may be rooted in childhood or adolescent trauma. It may have been abuse, mistreatment, a broken home, the culture, the environment and choices made. I never once asked for, “help.” I never once asked an adult, “why?” I always turned inward. I always turned toward my peers, never my family, and I rarely turned to my Heavenly Father. I still struggle immensely, but I have learned that we are not meant to suffer alone. We are here to bear one another’s burdens, experience pain, trial, and affliction, so we can learn to turn to Christ and help others along the way. I know miracles still exist today, and I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. If these doctrines weren’t true, I wouldn’t be here today. There are no coincidences. If it wasn’t for the love of the Savior, the gift of the Holy Ghost, my family, and true friends, I wouldn’t have remembered who I was. I know I am a child of God. I have an Eternal Father who loves me. I know family is central to to the great plan of happiness. I know this life is test, to see if we will do all things God commands us, and I know that if we follow Jesus Christ, we will have everlasting happiness.
Sing-a-long for primary video: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/video/2018-03-0050-the-miracle?lang=eng
Test Moroni’s Promise.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
I add my testimony to the truth of this principle. I promise if you pray, with a sincere heart, asking in faith, Heavenly Father will bless you in the most beautiful unimaginable way. Write down what comes to your heart, this is the spirit. It will be hard to make changes, I know you may lose friends and relationships, but you will progress and experience complete joy, peace and happiness. I know of no fuller joy or peace than from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
“James 1:5-6,” Liahona, January 2017. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/liahona/2017/01/youth/james-1-5-6?lang=eng
“Moroni’s Promise,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 12. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1994/04/moronis-promise?lang=eng
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