My newfound faith has changed my life, and brought me closer to everyone I love. To begin with, I was a rebellious teenager, who couldnât appreciate or grasp Godâs love. Godâs love is still hard for me to grasp in its entirety, but I know it is there. The story I will share first about my spiritual journey took place on August 24, 2009.
It is important to understand something about me, which will make this story, and the rest of my testimony make more sense. I have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder where people often will have manic episodes.
On August 24, I was having a severely high manic episode and crashed my car, coming within inches of losing my life. I had not slept in three days, because of anxiety. I was anxious about my unknown future. Having just graduated college, I had no real goals and was nervous about the shaky plans I had formulated about what to do after college. The day before the accident, my aunt and uncle had helped me move back to Tallahassee, where I would temporarily stay until I could find a job that involved traveling. That night as I read a history book, the mania started taking over. I had the feeling that if I read the history book I would be so smart I would conquer the world. My goal at 1 oâclock in the morning was to find a place to read the rest of the history book. I got into my car, bought a flashlight and a coca cola from a store, and went to a park. As I read, I became more aware of my mission, and decided the park wasnât a good enough place to read the history book. I jumped back into my car and hurried down to my aunt and uncleâs house on the coast.
During the ride to the coast, I started losing control of my reality. I had taken my seat belt and my shirt off. I started speeding uncontrollably fast. I maxed out the speed of the car, which was roughly 110 miles per hour. Then, all of a sudden, a stop sign appeared. I tried to brake for it, but only managed to slow down to about 100 mph. There was a bump in the road that resembled a ramp. When my car hit the bump, it went flying. In mid air I held onto the car and realized that I was about to die. The car slammed onto the ground, flipped over, and skidded 20 yards. When the car stopped, I was upside down and still conscious. I turned over and crawled out. It was amazing, because I was completely uninjured. I walked away without a scratch on my body. I walked down the road looking for help until a policeman came and got me and I was taken to the Emergency Room.
I was then put into the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Behavioral Health Center. During that time, I scrawled on a piece of paper the question, âWhy have I not found Him yet?â Not knowing what the question really meant, I continued on with my recuperation from the accident. My father and mother visited me, and they were a huge support to me. After 17 days, I was released from the hospital and again confused about what was going to happen to me. My aunt and uncle offered to let me live in their house until I got back on my feet.
After I had spent a couple of months struggling with my diagnosis and wondering what it would mean for my future, my friend, Mike, called me and offered me a place in his rock nâ roll band, called Forsythe. I would be the bassist. The members of the band were also all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their friendship to me would play a pivotal role in my decision to join the Mormon Church.
I was not immediately ready to jump for joy and scream âHallelujah,â the moment that I knew God existed. All I knew was that I was not alone the night of my car accident. I began to get the sense that God had protected me and kept me alive for a reason. I started getting the idea that I should not only know He exists, but that I should love Him. I didnât know how to go about loving Him, or where I wanted to worship Him.
Mike started to take me to Church on Sundays. I liked going and meeting people my age, and dressing up in a suit. I wasnât sure about the theology and hadnât even begun to consider Jesus Christ and what He did for me. All I knew was that the Mormon community seemed to care and love each other.
One night, while Forsythe was on the road, a Mormon boy talked to me. He told me about his mission and explained to me something I will never forget. He explained that nobody else could make me believe, but that it had to come from inside. I had to feel that what the Church was telling me was true. He suggested that I read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I was very moved! As he talked to me, I got the sense that even with my desire for independent thinking, I could still develop my own testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I went home and read the Book of Mormon. I prayed about it. I felt that it showed Godâs love, and it made me aware of Jesus Christ in a whole new way. I never believed that the Bible was the only book that God has given His word in. In fact, I had to first believe in the Book of Mormon in order to believe in the Bible! A fact about Mormons is that we believe that the Book of Mormon AND the Bible both testify of the Savior. The Book of Mormon had a lot of things I was uninterested in, like war between peoples, but the key was its testimony of Jesus Christ. My favorite passage in the book says about Jesus Christ, âHe is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more deathâ (Mosiah 16:9).
I was baptized on May 13th, 2010, 8 months and 19 days from when I got into the car accident and started to believe in God. My cousin Mark baptized me. It was a wonderful experience. All my new friends from Church came to see me, and I felt their love as a sign of Godâs love. Mark and I were dressed in white baptismal clothing, to symbolize the purity of coming unto Christ. It felt like the Heavens opened. It was truly the most wonderful spiritual experience that Iâve ever had.
Why did I choose this Church? It is because I felt I needed structure in my life. I had been rebellious for so long, and the rebellion often put me in serious danger. I wanted to follow the laws and rules of God more diligently then I ever had. I needed the help of a prophet.
Just as Moses was a prophet, I believe that Joseph Smith was. It would have been impossible for Joseph Smith to do what he did without Divine Intervention. Just as God saved me from my accident, I believe He gave Joseph Smith a message. The message was to bring people unto His son, Jesus Christ. God did this by having Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon and by giving Joseph Smith continuing revelation. I also believe that there is a prophet on earth today, named Thomas S. Monson. Thomas S. Monson is the president of the Church and has 12 apostles under him. There is a hierarchy in the Church, which includes bishops for each Church. My Church does not pay the members of the bishopric; they do their work for God and love of Godâs Children.
The Church has and continues to change my life. It helps me communicate with the Heavenly Father, and His son, Jesus Christ. Everyday, I say blessings before meals, and prayers in the morning and before bed. I talk with God the Father, and His son, and tell them I love them and that I will try to follow them with all my heart, mind and strength. I realize that the way that I can show my love for them is to help other people. I am guided by the Church, but am still very much my own person, making my own decisions of what is right and wrong.
When it comes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that, âIf you 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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all thingsâ (Moroni 10:4-5). The Church helps me be dedicated, and I plan to serve a mission for the Church this coming May. I feel like it has helped so much for me to come unto Christ, that Iâd like others who are searching to also find their way.
I wish the best to all those who hear my message. My love is with you.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,