This story is part of our Book of Mormon Testimonies collection.
My journey to gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon has been a roller coaster of fear, stubbornness, backbreaking trials, and ultimate peace and direction, all at a young age.
I grew up in the church, yet from an early age my struggle with mental illness and subsequent isolation, loneliness, and fear led me to having a hard time knowing what was true and believing my life had value. I strayed from praying and grew more and more skeptical. In middle school, I went from being angry at God for giving me such hard trials to not praying to Him anymore. I stopped reading my scriptures. I started reading anti-Book of Mormon literature. I turned my back on God and convinced myself it was Him who had turned his back on me.
During one girls camp as a teenager, my fellow campers and I were asked to pray to gain our own testimonies of the Book of Mormon. I had spent the week poring over the scriptures, marking every reference to Christ, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was so scared that it would turn out to be true and that I would have to change my ways, my desires, my direction. I was terrified that I was messing everything up. I prayed, and I remember crying my heart out. “I’m trying, I’m praying,” I said, “But I don’t feel a thing.” The truth was that my heart was too hard. I didn’t want to feel the Spirit. I didn’t want the Book of Mormon to be true.
Finally, during my junior year of high school, harder and harder trials built up until I felt like I was completely broken. I painted myself into a corner–I was struggling with mental illness, with church, with politics. I was in the wrong social groups, making the wrong choices, and believing the wrong things. I felt completely lost and alone.
When I felt I had nowhere else to turn, I began praying again. I told Heavenly Father how scared I was. It wasn’t immediate, but I began to feel hopeful again. I began to feel safe. My heart was finally starting to soften.
A few weeks later in my seminary class, my teacher encouraged us all to read the end of the Book of Mormon and go to a private place in the church to ask God if it was true. My classmates split up into the chapel, other classrooms, and hallways. I went outside the church, knelt in the grass, and asked fervently if it was true. I was overcome with peace. It was a complete contrast from when I had asked from a place of fear. I wanted to know the truth, and I felt the Spirit testify to me that because of the truth of the Book of Mormon, I could change and make more out of my life. Because of this book, I could come to know my Savior better, believe in Him, be saved by Him, and love my life.
I testify that it is okay if your testimony takes time. It is okay if it is scary, if it doesn’t come all at once. It is okay if you do not believe immediately. But you have to keep trying. Keep hoping. Keep persevering. This Book of Mormon, and this Gospel, are so worth it.