December 10th marks the 9th Anniversary of my Baptismal Covenants in to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
This is my story as told straight from the pages of my personal Journal.
Growing up I was not raised belonging to one singular faith. I remember having a Precious Moments Bible and occasionally attending church with the neighbors across the street. My Father never spoke of anything religious and my Mother was spiritual, but I wouldn't say religious. I would talk to God sometimes. Most of the time I really didn't know who I was speaking to, but I would find myself in prayer-like situations. Sometimes I would get annoyed by people strong in their faiths. What do you mean "don't take the Lord's name in vain?", I would think. The "G" words was a frequent term in my home. It bothered me when people told me not to say it. It didn't mean anything to me. I didn't understand the respect that surrounded that word. In time I began to look into different religions and attend different churches. Some of them I felt were weird, some of them freaked me out, and some of them made me feel like I needed to get the heck out of there. Nothing was feeling "right". Sub-consciencly I always new I wanted God in my life, but it wasn't until I was surrounded by a religious culture that it was brought to the forefront. I had no idea how much I needed "HIM".
|My Mother, Father, and Me August 1992|
My Awareness of the Mormon religion started when I moved to Utah in February of 2000. Although, my interest didn't really peak until 2002. It was the time when dating was more frequent and I was getting more exposure through the families of my boyfriends. Some good and some bad. Unfortunately it was common for boys parents to not approve of me because I was not a member.
I started dating one particular boy and his testimony was very strong. he was not perfect by any means, but his love for his faith was evident. One night we were sitting in his car in the driveway of his home talking about religion. I had my own beliefs, but none of them were really taught in any church I had come across. He began to tell me about some of their beliefs such as the different kingdoms, the pre-existance, and matters of the Spirit. This was the first time I had heard familiarity to what I had grown up knowing to be true. In the midst of our conversation, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of warmth, comfort, and truth. I began to sob as for the first time in my life I recognized the feeling of the Spirit. I felt my Saviors love.
We eventually stopped dating and the memories of how I felt that night went with him. I stopped inquiring.
Soon I found myself surrounded by negativity towards the LDS church. People were expressing their opinions and whether true or not, I began to believe them. I wouldn't say I lost my interest in the church, but I for sure had lost my faith.
In January of 2004 I found myself in another relationship with a church member. His family was devout and I started to feel that burning desire once again. His testimony wasn't as evident but his family attended church every Sunday. I soon found myself attending along with them. I was struggling with the teachings I was receiving because the boy I loved was attending but not living it. I didn't understand why he was going but not necessarily living lit and it made me uncomfortable attending his church. It didn't make sense. It was then I started to feel the pressure of being a non-member and dating a "member". Words were exchanged between his parents and I that left me with a hardened heart. All my interests in the church, or any religion, had been for myself. It was at that point I started to wonder if I really wanted to be a part of the church, or if I just wanted to feel accepted. My interest in Missionary discussions was always met with this reply "It has to be for you Sheena, not for him". So with that, discussions were never offered. I realize I could have set them up myself, but I wasn't in a place to make that sort of jump on my own. I needed support.
Time passed and so did my relationship with this boy. Our road had split so he went his way and I went mine.
I was no angel. Let's just lay that out on the table. I had experienced some unfortunate family circumstances that left me with little to no self esteem or morals. It was around October of 2005 that that lifestyle began to take its tole one me. I didn't want it. I had seen enough in my family's history to know exactly where I would end up if I didn't make a change.
Let me give you a little back story.
In 9th grade I had dated a boy, Kyle. We were good friends but for some heartbreaking reason we broke up. Can you believe that? Three months of our life completely wasted! After all, 9th grade relationships are serious. After we broke up we stopped being friends. We attended the same school for 4 years and I never remembered seeing him. I do remember being extremely annoyed with his existence though.
|Kyle and I in Jr. High. We both were suffering from braces and bleach|
Jumping forward to October of 2005. One night while hanging out at a friend's house I was informed that Kyle was coming over. (We had the same group of friends all throughout high school and we STILL never saw each other. We were now 20 yrs old)) I was bugged to say the least. "Why is HE coming over?" I exclaimed. That kid is soo annoying." My objections were ignored and I found myself sitting across the dining room from this EX of mine while he just sat there and ate vanilla bean ice cream like it was nothing. NOTHING. He noticed I was staring and held up his pint of frozen goodness and said, "Umm, do you want some?" "uh, no thanks." I quickly said and kicked myself for being so obvious. My thoughts quickly faded back to our 14 year old selves and I began to wonder what happened. I couldn't even remember why we broke up. Why do I hate this kid so much? It was 9th grade Sheena! Get over yourself! After I did just that, all the animosity I had for him dissipated. I instantly saw him in a different light and he was beautiful. In a matter of minutes I went from being extremely put off by him to extremely attracted.
Later that week we had a late night with our friends watching movies at Kyle's parents house. We had all talked about going to Denny's afterwards to eat. Back then Denny's was where it was at! By the time the movie was over people were tired and wanted to just go home. Everyone but Kyle and I. We did all but beg our friends to come. We quickly realized that if we were going to go to Denny's, it would be just the two of us. Something that hasn't happened in 6 years. Just he and I. Alone. In the most awkward car ride in the history of ever, we made our way to the restaurant. It was so uncomfortable. We sat across from each other in a booth and the as we began to converse the awkwardness began to fade. Like in most conversations about life, the topic of religion came up. I knew he was LDS but he had been going through a rough spot. As he spoke of his faith, no matter his transgressions, there was a light that was impossible to deny in his eyes. His testimony was all but shining through his body. I could feel it clear across the table. Something I hadn't felt in a long time. He spoke of his goals and where he saw himself headed in life. I found myself longing to to be headed there with him. I wanted what he wanted and I wanted it with him. I didn't know how or when, but I knew that he and I were meant for each other. That was was when right then and there, he popped the question.
"Do you want to take missionary discussions?" he asked.
I had been waiting for what was literally my whole life to hear those words. "Yes" I exhaled.
In a matter of days he had my discussions set up to take place at his home. November 13, 2005.
My first discussion was memorable. My missionaries couldn't have been more opposite. Elder T was blonde haired, blue eyed, short in stature, and very soft spoken. Elder B on the other hand, had fiery red hair, tall, and an unforgettable laugh that could fill a room! They went over the basics and then at the end of our discussion I was asked to say the closing prayer. It was my first time ever saying a prayer aloud. After three discussions my baptism was set for December 10th, 2005. I was 20 years old.
|Elder B // Me // Elder T|
The morning of my baptism nothing seemed to be going right. I was in a rotten mood to top it off. Kyle's bishop was out of town he needed his permission on paper to perform my baptism. Thank goodness he was able to get it an hour before. After I got out of school ( I was still in cosmetology school at the time) I rushed home to get ready. Kyle and his Father were no where to be found. My baptism was at 5pm and it wasn't until 4:30 pm rolled around that I finally heard from Kyle. He and his father had gone to the movies! Ha ha typical LaRose!
I was extremely nervous. My stomach was filled with butterflies and knots. Despite all the emotions that were running through me, I was able to stop and marvel at how beautiful I felt dressed in white. In staying true to myself, I was not going to be baptized in a jumper. I wanted a dress. When we all arrived at the church we realized that Kyle didn't have white clothes so one of my sweet missionaries went out to find him some. He looked amazing. It was more than just seeing myself in white. It was also him and his journey. His preparation to be worthy to take me down into the baptismal font and exercise his rights to the priesthood. We had both made it that day.
|My Ward Missionaries|
|My Father and I|
Walking down the stairs into the font my legs began to turn to jello. That focus was quickly redirected as I turned the corner and saw Kyle standing there. I immediately felt peace. There were plenty of people in the room but for that moment it felt like it was only him and me. We got into position and I looked up at him for reassurance and he held onto me with a gentleness I'll never forget. He then raised his right hand and flawlessly said the baptismal prayer. As he lowered me down into the warmth of the water everything went completely white. I felt a comfort and an ultimate peace. I could physically feel my sins being washed away. I was pure, spotless, and worthy.
When he pulled me out of the water I was disoriented. I didn't know where I was. They ushered me out of the font where Jill was waiting for me with a towel. She wrapped me in it and I began to sob. I was completely overcome by emotions. I pulled myself together and returned to join everyone. When the time came for me to say the closing prayer I felt the words pouring out of my heart. There was no way I was making it through that prayer without wet cheeks. And I didn't.
I am grateful for my memories of that day. I am eternally grateful for my Heavenly Father that brought two wandering sheep back together so they could find their way home. Missions are important. The Gospel needs to be shared. If you ever find your son or daughter in a place where he or she does not go on one, do not be upset. Heavenly Father works in ways we sometimes do not understand. Kyle's mission was not in another country, state, or directed on a piece of paper. He served his mission valiantly when converted me. His work was here. Although his baptism number isn't as high as a full time missionary, that single digit number was just as important. It has saved two souls and allowed 3 beautiful children to be born under the covenant. I love my missionary. This isn't meant to lessen the importance of Missionaries, it just bothers me that there is some what of a stigma that if a boy didn't go on a mission, you could do better. A good man is a good man, Mission or not.
I am thankful for Joseph Smith who had the courage to find the truth in the midst of confusion. Having been a searcher myself, I identify with him more than most. I know what he was feeling.
I am thankful for all of the influences involving the church . Good and bad. Even though I had exposure to the church much earlier, it was not the right timing. As upsetting as it was when I wasn't offered missionary discussions, it wasn't the right time. Our Father in Heaven sure is a meticulous one. Looking back I can marvel at all the events that took place in my life preparing me for my time. It truly is a magnificent piece of work. Do I wish I would have had the Gospel and the Holy Ghost to guide me throughout my teenage years? Of course! But then again I have lived and seen much. I feel it a blessing to have been on both sides of the fence. It has given me a compassion that only comes with having been there. I can say to my children, I have been there. I feel like I endured what I did so they wouldn't have to and I am 100% okay with baring that burden.
No matter what your religion, the most important thing is that you find your way back to God and accept Christ into your life. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints allows me to be the best version of myself. It gives me boundaries that I , on my own, would not be able to uphold. I believe that whatever faith you are, it should give you those qualities . It gives me a soft place to land when I struggle. And I do. My goal is the same as yours. To be a woman of Christ. We all have a path so tailored to us it is unreal. This just happened to be mine.
|Getting our Endowments|
|December 15th, 2006|
Not only is this month my baptismal anniversary, but it is also my wedding anniversary and this hunk's birthday. Happy Birthday and Anniversary babe. Forever and Ever.
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints