Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Testimony Tuesday: Kelly B.

Today is our second in the "Why I Believe" Series dedicated to humans, sent to Planet Earth from a loving Heavenly Father, trying to retain their true identity amidst Earth-like chaos abounding on the nightly news.

My guest today is Kelly. When Kelly was in college, she drove a restored classic car that was baby blue. I remember because I was a missionary, biking and walking in my 3 mile radius in Gainesville Florida and couldn't go anywhere else. That was okay, but my spontaneous nature was constantly grumbling to drive, find an alligator, climb a palm tree, and discover the Florida beaches outside my confined mission boundaries. When my mission companion and I needed to get a ride to Jacksonville for mission business, we hitched a ride in a baby blue 1960-something car that allowed me to reminisce my former life of road-tripping wind-in-my-hair happiness as our new friend, and newest convert to the Church, Kelly taxied us past roadside jungles and swamps.

There's no doubt Kelly was the cool girl in college. She was funny and had all the boys drooling over her natural curls, and her baby-blue wheels.

When you grow up in a church, and all your neighbors believe the same as you, there's the risk you will take some of this stuff for granted. I think anybody who leaves "Zion" to be a missionary amidst a new culture, language, or religious majority will rightly be amazed at the religious vigor, faith-in-action miracles, and major life changes that you witness when someone is a new convert. Such was the gift that Kelly gave to me.

Let's check up and see how Kelly's been doing since she made "the switch".
Over to you Kelly.  By the way, sweet eighties threads.  Gag me with a spoon you look rad!

I am fortunate in a way to be a convert, because I 'got' to experience life out there without the benefit of the Gospel, and was able have the contrast without rebelling.

I remember very clearly what I was like back then: smart, beautiful, witty...and unhappy. Okay- the rest may be an exagerration, but I was very unhappy. I had gone through a very hard few years- my three remaining grandparents died in a few short years- after long and just depressing illnesses. My parents had gotten divorced, and remarried, and it took me a long time to adjust to that. I was left with some very deep insecurities, and abandoned my faith during that time.

It's not that I ever doubted that God loved me, because I believed in the power of love, and that 'it' existed even after death....but I did not understand how a loving God could condemn people who had never heard of Him (ie- China, people in past ages with no chance to glimpse a Bible even.) So, I kept the idea of Love, and said so long to God. What did I need some old man for?

I ran off to school, and met a boy- I mean boy- he was only 17! What a baby! And he would make me so flustered. He seemed so sure that God was real, that our spirits were male and female even before we were born, and would be after we died- where was he getting this stuff from? I loved him, but we didn't talk much about God. I was a little busy.

So, I went Home for the summer, and My mom insisted that I meet with missionaries, because she liked this boy, and wanted us to agree on things spiritual, if we were so serious...and for me to take him out of the mormon church. I sat through the lessons, and kindof prayed, but not expecting anything. Mostly I was trying to get my mom off my back, I guess.

After the summer was over, I went back to college, and started meeting with the missionaries there, this time for me. We started over- which I didn't like, but fine. If we have to... I began to seriously read, and to wonder- could it be true? After nine months, I got my answer. I was walking home from class, not even praying, and I just knew. It was like taking off sunglasses- I hadn't even realized everything was so dim. I am not kidding, the sun has been brighter ever since.

I had to call my mom and tell her what I was going to do, and it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Worse than getting married, having kids- any of that. She was very upset, and boycotted my baptism, but I knew I was doing the right thing.

Joining the church has given me hope- hope that families can be together forever, that my own kids won't have to go through the divorce that I was subjected to. That I could be a good mom, and love my kids, and treat them with kindness. That I could be in control of my temper. The Temple is the foundation of our family.

Have there been times that I have questioned if this is the true church? Yes. I don't believe that our faith is stagnant, and when we try to broaden our testimonies, sometimes we have to step out into the dark. But, it doesn't feel like the dark anymore, because I already have such a trove of blessings. It seems ungrateful to me to say "tell me now, or I'm out of here!" when I consider all of the goodness the church has introduced me to.

I could never go back to another church. I have been there, and was not fed. It is a choice for me of either this is the true church, or there is no god. I know that there is a God. I know that He loves me and my family. I know that he can call prophets whenever and wherever he chooses, and that His ways are not My ways. I know that He answers prayers, and I know that Jesus is my Savior. I have felt the sorrow of sin, and could not remove it myself. I love the Savior for saving me, and I know he loves me too. I have felt the gentle assurance in times of sadness that He is with me, and the proddings of the Spirit to improve, to continue, to hang on...

When our son broke his leg severely at age two (actually a week before his birthday), my husband and I learned a little of the Savior's love for us. I had never been in a position where I felt so strongly to take another's pain, but I would have done it then. My heart was drawn out to him, and I loved him so much...I felt so humbled to realize the great love Jesus Christ has for all of us. He would bear our afflictions because of His love...and he will if we ask him.

When it comes down to it, Faith is a choice. We decide to try the Lord, to test Him at his word, or we don't. We decide to hang in there until we are answered, or we give up. It is up to us what we do. The timing of His answers and blessings are up to Him, but His love is constant. I'm trying to be constant, too.


Cresta said...

Thanks Kelly (*sniff*sniff*)

jennaloha said...

I love that story. I think it's funny, Kelly, that your mom was shocked when she actually initiated the whole process with the missionaries.

What's happened since with your mom? Has she realized that Mormons aren't entirely all weird and accepted the fact that she has one for a daughter?

KayKayBe said...

Well, she actually has two daughters that are wierdo mormons. My family moved up to Pennsylvania from '02-'08, and were the closest family when my sister Jenny, then in Baltimore, was trying to figure out her life. She came to stay with us several times, and insisted she wasn't interested in church...until she decided to meet with the missionaries. Later that day, before actually meeting them, she decided she wanted to be baptised. So, on that Sat. she took all of the discussions, and on Easter Sunday in '07 she was baptised. This past Dec we all went out to Salt Lake when she was married in the temple.
To answer the question, Mom has come to terms with it...mostly. It has been very difficult for her to have two daughters who have been married in the temple, but her heart has softened tremendously, and she isn't worried about my eternal salvation anymore. She believes me now when I say I believe in the Savior, although it took 7 or 8 years. It has been really amazing to watch her come to terms with it, and I hope one day (soon) she'll want to join in the fun!

paula said...

I loved her analogy of "taking off the sunglasses." Although my religious beliefs are different, I have had moments where I have experienced this as well.

Bridget said...

That is such an amazing story, and path. I have to agree that the sunglass moment is an incredible description of moments that simply defy words.

Lee Family said...

thank you to your friend for sharing this! I'm glad you're doing Testimony Tuesday. Gwen likey.

Wade and Marilyn said...

That was beautiful.