At the end of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni gives a challenge (Moroni 10:3-5) where he admonishes the reader to ask God if the things written in the Book of Mormon are not true. What a great opportunity—a chance to ask God a specific question, and receive a specific answer. What better way can there be to both prove the existence of God and determine His true and living church?
While in high school, I wanted to find out if this was real, and if I really could find out for myself that the Mormon Church was true. So I read, prayed and waited. But nothing happened. Concerned, I thought I must have done something wrong. Maybe I had sinned and wasn’t worthy for an answer yet. So I repented and tried again. Still nothing.
At the end of high school it was expected of me to go on a mission for the church. My family expected it; my quasi-girlfriend expected it; even my non-Mormon friends expected it. Just before my temple endowment, my older brother came home from his mission and raved about how amazing it was and how much stronger his testimony had become. Ah ha! This was what I needed to really get an answer. What better way to know God than to serve Him by going on a mission and preaching and serving others? Surely, God would reveal himself to one of his servants. Surely, God would answer the prayers of one of his children concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, if that child was humbly spreading His word.
I do not regret going on a mission. It was a great experience, and so much more than just a two-year "vacation." I grew as a person, as an American citizen, and as a man. But I never received an answer to prayer. Still, I tried. There was no choice but to keep with it. My family and social ties depended on this. Perhaps going to college and starting a family of my own would show my commitment, and then, yes surely then, God would make it known to me.
So I went to B.Y.U. and earned a degree; all the while, feeling depressed for not knowing, like those around me, of the Church’s authenticity. Every time I would sit in church and hear someone say that they “know the Church is true,” I would asked myself: “How? Your faculties are the same as mine. The promise, the requirements, the whole experience is the same. For over a decade I have tried to know what you claim, but I do not. How do you know? How can you know, what I cannot?”
Spiraling into ever-growing despair, I decided to try a new approach. Perhaps it isn’t true. Perhaps I haven’t received an answer to a single prayer because no one is there to respond. But if this is so, then why do I feel so depressed and unworthy when I sin? Then it hit me. This could be a conditioned response to my upbringing. Maybe, I feel bad because I am told that I must. Once you remove the threat of eternal damnation, there is no reason to hate yourself or feel condemned for not meeting the standards imposed upon you by a “loving God.”
Numerous times I have heard stories of those who accepted the atonement of Christ for their sins and felt as though “a weight had been lifted” from them. I felt the same thing when I acknowledged my doubt. My sins no longer have power over me. I no longer feel unworthy, depressed or condemned. I no longer feel burdened by fleeting perfection. Instead, I embrace my imperfections as part of who I am. And I am fine.