This story is part of our Book of Mormon Testimonies collection. It is also available to read in Spanish. Haga clic aquí para leer este testimonio en español.
“I open at the close.”
I remember being 12 years old and reading that in a Harry Potter book. When I read it, it felt pretty profound to my 12-year-old brain but the funny thing is that through my teenage years and adult years the Spirit has used that phrase to communicate peace and love through some of the hardest experiences of my life.
It’s been a reminder that when something ends, it can be made new again through Christ.
The testimony I have of the Book of Mormon now came at a very, very high price. And it took time to get. I had spiritual experiences with the book before and I loved studying it at BYU, but somehow the challenges to faith that it would later cause me completely flew under my radar.
You see, my testimony only really opened to me when my husband closed the door on our church and organized religion.
For a couple of years before my husband’s exit, I believed my husband needed to be my spiritual partner. I come from divorced parents and I had thought that a spiritual partnership was what healthy, strong marriages should look like. But it didn’t happen for me. I was spiritually waning for about two years until one night the spirit woke me up.
“Go to the kitchen.”
I was so tired. I wanted to sleep because I had work the next morning. I stumbled into my kitchen to find my husband on his computer. He looked at me and said, “we need to talk.” Over the next month, he proceeded to spew all of this information he had spent months accumulating in an effort to both explain his exit from the church and the reasons why I should leave too.
I should add that my husband is an incredible person. He was acting on the information he had and I know that his actions were out of concern for me. We are still married happily, years later.
In the weeks and months that followed that night, I was in full faith crisis mode. Not just about the church, but Jesus, religion, my existence, and every decision I had ever made as a result of the church. One night I was feeling particularly tormented and I tried to pray.
“Dear God, help. What is the next step?”
I had been trying to devote time to listening to the Lord and recognizing the spirit and I distinctly felt that I needed to read the Book of Mormon. I put aside all of my inhibitions and said “okay.”
I began the next evening.
It was hard. My husband and I had talked about the perceived problems with the text; lack of female voices, the curse of the skin, anachronisms, etc. I felt so terribly overwhelmed reading each chapter but there was an inner voice that kept saying “You have to know.” And I did. I had spent so much time not knowing, if I was wrong I was willing to take that risk.
It took me three months to read and I had to force myself to try for the first month but then the second month I felt like bucket after bucket of personal revelation was sloshing over me, reviving my spirit. I finished the book in the Spring and I cried as I finished the last verses. There were more than problems to this “problematic book.”
So I read it again. And this time I filled up my study with commentaries and insights. I didn’t read just one book, I read three at the same time. I also read dozens of articles and listened to many podcasts. Suddenly, my questions started to be answered.
In this second reading, I found messages about Heavenly Mother, my family, my mental health, political fanaticism, my covenants, healing from all kinds of abuse, Faith, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. One day I was sitting in the temple and I was reading the 30th chapter of 2 Nephi and the most personalized revelation I had received in years poured into my brain. The Savior knew who I was. He knew my name. He knew my husband. He knew our situation. And He loved and supported us. I couldn’t breathe because the feelings and thoughts came so clearly and so intensely.
Reading Jacob 5 used to be a chore and now it was a poem about the Grace, Infinite Care, and Mercy of my Heavenly Parents and Redeemer.
I had a similar experience reading 3rd Nephi 18 where the Savior repeatedly tells people to not cast out the unbelievers. Just as surely as he encouraged the Lamanites to refrain from writing those people off, he encouraged me to not cast out my husband for different beliefs. I should hold him tight and let the atonement do the rest.
I realized there were no perfect families or prophets in this book and yet the Lord keeps using them, anyway. What a sweet feeling.
I want to be clear, I still have questions about the Book of Mormon that are important to me. Some questions have been resolved only in theory. I do believe it is a historical record, I do believe the Lord commanded Joseph to bring it forth, and I do believe it to contain the word of God. But like all scripture, it is much more complex than that.
Knowing what I know now, I can’t see the book as anything other than a love letter from Jesus Christ. A message of hope for the downtrodden (and it does have some incredible messages about hope). It is a message for covenant-keeping women like myself, living in an imperfect world and trying to follow the Fisher of men and women.
He fished me from the depths of the sea and sorted me as His own.
He opened the door when I closed it.
He opened my heart when it was closed.
He let in the light.
I love the Book of Mormon because the Spirit clearly uses it to speak to me. The book was written by the God-touched, and now I am God-touched too.