One morning, when I was four-years-old, I awoke earlier than usual and said goodbye to my daddy when he left for work. It was six days before Christmas and that was the last time I ever saw him. He died in a car accident that night. A few years later, I went to bed and woke up the next morning to find that my mother had passed away during the night. My sister and I went to live with my mother's parents who raised us to adulthood..
As a young child, I was left with some very deep questions. "Where were my parents?" "Would I ever see them again?" "What happens when we die?"
Before my mother's death, she'd investigated many religions looking for her own answers including the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and Unity Church. While at Unity Church one Sunday, I asked about Jesus. I wanted to know more about him and who he was. I was told he was everywhere. "In my hair," I asked.
"Oh, yes," the lady said.
"What about in my fingernail?"
"Yes, he's there too."
Well, I looked at my fingernails and clearly, Jesus was not in them.. Her answer made no sense to me. Though I'd had very little religious training at this point, I did pray. And when I prayed at night in my room, I envisioned a man with a white robe with bare feet, listening to me. In fact, when I concluded my prayers, I quickly opened my eyes each time because I was sure I'd catch Jesus in the room with me. I was certain that Jesus and God, were separate people, real people with bodies. Like I said, I had no real religious teachings. My parents were not religious at all. We'd never gone to church before my father's death that I can remember. Yet, I was certain that the answers to my questions from the lady at the Unity Church didn't jive with what I knew in my heart.
Thus began my search. I wanted to know where my deceased parents were. I knew their bodies were in the cemetery that overlooks the ocean in Santa Barbara, but I didn't think that was it. I felt like they were actually somewhere else. Somewhere that I couldn't see.
One day, we drove past a large white building and I asked my grandmother about the building. She told me it was a Mormon Church and that she was a Mormon. I'd been living with her for some time and we hadn't ever been to church so I asked her if we could go.
The next Sunday, my sister, my grandma, and I all attended church at that big white building.
And you know what? When I asked the hard questions about my parents, these people had answers. Real answers. Answers that felt right in my little-girl heart. Answers that made sense to me.
My parents' mortal bodies are in that cemetery, but their spirits are not. Spirits do not die. Of this, I am sure. Many experiences in my life have proven this. There have been times when I knew my mother was so close, I could almost reach out and touch her. Times when others who have died have been near enough for me to feel their presence. Life does not end with death. And if it does not end with death, it cannot begin with birth. We are eternal beings.
For every hard question I've posed over the years, I can find answers. The teachings and beliefs, based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make sense to me. They resonate with me. And, most importantly, I've prayed and received my own answers from God.
I have a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. That he once lived on this earth with a mortal body and took upon himself my sins and suffered for them before he was crucified on a cross. I know that he rose that third day and was resurrected. And because he was, so will my parents. Just as Jesus saw his disciples and those he loved after he was resurrected, I will see my parents and those I've loved and lost over the years. Because Jesus then returned to live with His Father, I may also return to live with Him.
I am Mormon because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have found the answers. I have found peace and joy in living the gospel. My life has had its share of trials, but through them all, I have had comfort and peace from my Heavenly Father who knows me, loves me, and cares what happens to me.
That's why I am Mormon.