The last several months have been a time of transition for me. I started college and I felt I was on my own, to make my own decisions, for the first time in my life. Regarding church, my attitude was, “My parents aren’t around to tell me I have to go. My school friends aren’t around to drag me to Young Women’s anymore. Relief Society is for old people. I am now free to do whatever I want on Sundays and define the church for myself.” I decided I was going to be a rebel. I thought , “I already have my own testimony and I’m strong enough to do everything by myself.”
Oh boy was I wrong. I thought I was “being myself.” I never wanted to go to anything more than sacrament meeting when I was in high school so I stopped attending the other meetings my church, the LDS church, provides for its members. Once classes at the college started my life fell apart. I was stressed, overwhelmed, and I hated going onto the campus. I felt judged by all the students coming out of the Institute of Religion building. My new neighbors (who happened to be returned missionaries) wanted nothing to do with me. I wasn’t making friends, I was struggling in my classes, and I felt alone. I let two months go by attending church only three times. I thought I would adjust to ‘college life’ and that I just missed my family.
One night, one of my new super cool returned missionary neighbors invited me to church, thinking I wasn’t a member. I told him that I was indeed baptized and I’ve been active most of my life. He was surprised and told me I didn’t seem like the type. That really offended me. The type? I wasn’t the type? The type to what? Go to church? What type was I? People used to tell me that they could see the spirit in my eyes. They could tell by looking at me that I had my Savior with me. Now what did they see? I was trying so hard to be “the real me” and in doing that I lost the biggest part of myself. Maybe it wasn’t home that I missed. Maybe it wasn’t a new school that was making me feel so lost.
So I went to church. I sat in my new Young Single Adult Ward next to my new friends but I felt alone. Instead of feeling full and warm, I felt lost and confused. I felt like an outsider in my own church. I didn’t want to go back. It’s a good thing my friends were so persistent. The more I went, the easier it got. I know so little compared to all of the returned missionaries in the ward but I was starting to feel the spirit again. I started praying at night again. I felt silly for letting myself get so far away from it all.
It’s been a month since my neighbor invited me to church. I still feel lost a lot of the time but now going into the church brings that familiar warmth I was missing. My grades are starting to improve and my roommates have mentioned how much happier I’ve been. I have never worn my testimony on my sleeve or been super excited about sharing the gospel. I never thought it would be something that helped me define who I am.
I can confidently say that I now LOVE my singles ward. The friends I’ve made there are some of the best people I know and I look forward to Monday night family home evenings. I’ve learned more about myself this past month then I ever have. I’m developing my own testimony. I wasn’t wrong when I wanted to define my faith for myself. However, I was wrong when I thought that not attending church would help me.
I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask questions. I know it’s okay to not have all the answers. I know the Holy Ghost is with me all the time and he is the best comforter. I now know how important the small things are. I know that attending church can give you a peace you can’t get anywhere else. The church is where I find my true friends and it is a very big part of who I am. D.L. Moody said in LDS church news, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple, as a transfusion of rich healthy blood to a sick man.” I have felt the truth of this statement.
I want to be the type of person others see and feel the spirit. I know that attending church can help me become that girl again. I challenge all of you to attend your church meetings regularly. I promise that the awkwardness of feeling alone will go away as soon as you open your heart and let the spirit in. If you already attend church, then I encourage you to invite others. I didn’t stray very far but I was so lucky to have friends that cared enough to bring me home.