The following has been reposted with permission from brittanylynnbrownsblog.blogspot.com.
Can you think of a time in your life when you have been truly happy? A time when you've felt like you were going to burst because you were exploding with so much joy and happiness? That's how I feel when I think about my Savior, Jesus Christ. That's how I feel when I share my knowledge and testimony that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us. We are never alone. We are all sons and daughters of God and each of us has a divine potential and infinite worth. BUT, I did not always know this. In fact, there was actually a time in my life when I didn't even believe in a higher power.
I've never written a blog post before so it's safe to say I have no idea what I am doing. But it is my hope and prayer that I can share some of the joy and happiness that has come to me because of my decision to follow Jesus Christ.
For the first part of my life, I lived by no rules. I did whatever I wanted without a care in the world. I even considered myself an atheist; after all, if God existed bad things would not happen to good people. Growing up, I faced a lot of challenges. I lived for 17 years following the ways of the world and doing whatever I could to try and conquer with my depression. From eating disorders to rehab to always trying new depression medications, I was looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. I was living a very worldly life and I was miserable.
Going to Church for the First Time
I went to rehab for an eating disorder during my sophomore year of high school. I was at an all-time low in my life and was struggling with a lot of different things. The rehab that I went to was a Christian-based recovery center. (I only went to it because it was literally the only one I could get into right away.) Every Sunday we had the option to go with the group to church. I never went. I chose to stay behind and do absolutely nothing instead. After all, doing nothing was better than going to church.
Over time, I made a friend in rehab, Tori Lilly. Little did I know that this friend of mine would help me change my life in so many positive ways. Tori invited me to go to church one Sunday and explained to me all of the reasons why it was such a great thing to do. Despite having nothing but an old pair of jeans and an even older t-shirt to wear, I decided that I would give going to church a try.
I will never forget the experience I had when I walked into church that day. It was a non-denominational church with a live band, one motivational speaker, and a lot of people with their hands in the air praising their Savior.
This was the first time that I felt the Holy Ghost. This was the first time that I felt like God existed. This was the first time I felt like God loved me. This was the first time that I felt like I wasn't all alone. This was the first time I realized my individual worth. At the time I didn't know it, but this day changed the course of my entire future.
I continued going to that non-denominational church and continued to learn more about my Father in Heaven. The church I went to was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my "atheist days" and help me realize the error of my ways. However, the more I learned from going to this church, the more questions I had. I started to wonder: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why are there so many different churches? Why am I here? What's the real purpose of life? While this non-denominational church helped me to believe in God, nobody there knew the answers to the questions I had.
After I got home from rehab, I went to multiple different churches searching for answers to my questions. Every Sunday I would drive myself to a different church in my small hometown in search of finding answers. However, it felt like every Sunday I would go home crying because no church could answer all of my questions. I felt alone. I had so many questions and knew so little about religion and Christianity; I actually bought the book Christianity for Dummies. (Side note: I have always excelled in academics and never found it hard to learn any subject in school.) BUT, I opened that Christianity for Dummies book and began reading and I understood nothing. And I mean nothing. It was supposedly a book for dummies and I could not understand it! Having absolutely no religious background every word in that book seemed to be written in a foreign language.
It seemed like no church and no book could satisfy all of my questions: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why are there so many different churches? Why am I here on this earth? What's the purpose of life? I was lost and did not know where to turn. Maybe religion was not what was missing in my life.
Finding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Looking back now, I can see how God has put certain people in my life to help lead me to where He wanted me to be. During my search for religion, my good friend Laurel Turley invited me to go to seminary with her (seminary is a religious class for high school students taught by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) I accepted this invitation and woke up before high school started to attend a 6 a.m. seminary class. When I walked into that church building, I was overcome with the Spirit. I felt like God was hugging me and telling me that I was in the right place. From my first day in that class, I knew that I was never going to miss a day of early morning seminary. There was just something about being there that comforted me and helped me to feel like God really did love me, as imperfect and flawed as I was.
Looking back now, I can see that seminary is really where I learned about God and His Son Jesus Christ. The feelings that I felt, the joy, the happiness, and excitement about religion that I gained from going to seminary lead me to meet with missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missionaries are usually young men, young women, or older couples from the Church who voluntarily choose to put their lives on hold so that they can share their faith with others. It was in these lessons that I drilled my missionaries with the list of questions that I had. . . and to my surprise, they had answers to every. Single. Question.
As much as I loved learning from the missionaries, I knew that I had to get a confirmation from God that the things I was being taught were actually true. Was the Book of Mormon really another testament of Jesus Christ in addition to the Bible? Did Joeseph Smith really restore the EXACT church that Jesus Christ established when He was on the earth? Was the Priesthood power real? I prayed for a confirmation that all of these things were true and. . . nothing.
I prayed and studied and then I prayed and studies some more. Again, nothing. No answers from God. I was waiting and expecting a huge sign or some sort of spiritual proof that the things the missionaries were teaching me were true. One night, as I was reading from the Book of Mormon, I started to cry. And I thought to myself, "Why am I crying?" It was at that moment that the Spirit whispered to me as clear as day, "It's because you know that these things are true."
I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He paid the price so that we can all be forgiven of our sins. I know that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets and then translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I LOVE the Book of Mormon and the Bible because they each testify of Christ and teach me how to be a better person. It is so comforting to know that families can be together forever because of holy temples.
Needless to say, at age 17, I chose to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Looking back on my life it is easy for me to see how different I am. The light of Christ is real and it radiates from me; I glow with happiness because the spirit of the Holy Ghost is real. God changes hearts and He changes lives for the better. How grateful I am that God put people in my life to help me come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of all things.
Since my baptism years ago, I have graduated from the University of Arizona (Go Cats!), am now working full time, and best of all—I got married in the Gilbert Arizona Temple to the love of my life! Shout out to Ben Brown for being the best husband ever!
I do know the gladness that comes from following the Savior Jesus Christ and I have a sincere desire to share that with the world. I know that no matter what we have done in the past that God loves us with a perfect love. That love is never ending and unchangeable.
All images courtesy Brittany Brown
From atheist to Christian, I have come to know that God is real, that He lives, and most importantly that He loves us. I recently started blogging because I love sharing my testimony that happiness exists, it’s real, and it comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to help fill everyone with the light of Christ. Be sure to stay connected with me by following my blogbrittanylynnbrownsblog.blogspot.com and my Facebook page facebook.com/LDSThoughtsWithBrittanyBrown.