A Journey to Repentance
I am 27 years old and was born and raised as a member of the Church. For the first 17 years of my life, I attended church diligently. I prayed, I read the scriptures, and I passed the sacrament. I did everything that I was told to do, but I did not have a testimony.
Without a belief in God and the gospel, I soon fell away from the Church. I saw the standards that I was taught to follow as arbitrary rules. I wanted to do and experience all the things that these standards forbade me to do. At the age of 17, I began wandering toward the great and spacious building.
It was exciting at first—I could do everything that my nonmember friends did. I began taking painkillers for fun and an escape rather than for pain, and I became addicted. As I immersed myself in this lifestyle, I found that I was not any happier than when I had started doing these things. In fact, I only felt empty inside. The parties and the substances did not bring me any real joy or happiness. They distracted me for a moment, but the emptiness inside me persisted.
At the age of 22, the consequences of my sins were catching up with me. My relationship with my family was crumbling, my body was suffering, and my mind was deteriorating. I failed out of school and became horribly depressed.
In June 2010 I hit rock bottom and fell to the lowest point of my life. I had just returned from the hospital after a drug overdose, and I felt the combination of drug withdrawals, severe depression, and extreme side effects of medication. It was not only physically and mentally excruciating but spiritually agonizing as well. I felt that I had no future and that there was no hope for me. Although I had thoughts of giving up, I didn't.
After experiencing this rock-bottom moment, I began searching for truth. Since I realized that no amount of worldly pleasure would ever make me happy, I looked elsewhere for the joy and fulfillment that I craved. I explored all sources for truth. I read books, conversed with others, and questioned everything. I wanted to know why I was here and what I should do. However, while I searched hungrily for truth, I still did not believe in God.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I gained a testimony. I had been in Taiwan for about two years, working as an English teacher. I developed a habit of memorizing maxims, or sayings. I would repeat these sayings to myself on a regular basis to encourage a disciplined mindset. On this particular night, as I repeated these maxims to myself, I was reminded of how I used to pray as a youth. I remembered a time long ago when I closed my eyes before bed and said a prayer. It was a vague memory, but it stirred something inside me. It opened a door that had been closed for so long.
I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I closed my eyes and simply asked, “God, are you there? Do you hear me? Do you exist?”
As I said these words, I felt something. Someone was listening. Though I did not have a vision or hear clear, distinct words, I felt the subtle, yet real presence of God. He responded to my prayer. He had been there all along. He had been there with me through all those difficult and painful times.
I opened my eyes and took a deep breath. I was overwhelmed by the Spirit. I wasn’t alone. God was there. He exists. He was waiting for me the whole time and knew that I would someday come back. He had sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to love, help, and guide me on my journey of progression.
I’ve made many mistakes in the past. But despite my mistakes, there was always Someone who loved me no matter what. And because of His boundless love, He sacrificed Himself for me. He endured absolute pain and agony so that I could repent and become clean again. Jesus Christ is my Savior, and because of His atoning sacrifice, I can someday return to my Heavenly Father.
It’s been seven years since I hit rock bottom. My life is completely different now—it’s a life I never believed was possible. I went back to school and finished my bachelor’s degree and later earned a master’s degree. I got a good job. I cleaned up my lifestyle, and my mind fully recovered.
It’s been a long and difficult road. There have been numerous times when I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I kept moving toward the light, and that has made all the difference. With the love and support of God, His Son, and my fellow brothers and sisters, I’ve repented and become clean again.
If you’re dealing with your own struggles, or know someone who is also struggling, just keep trying. Keep moving forward, and trust the Lord with your soul. Everything will work out in the end.
*Name has been changed.