“Alma 32 Changed My Disposition—and My Life,” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 23–24
I had a chip on my shoulder. Some bad experience, in my youth had left me quite bitter and untrusting of humanity in general, and since I was always complaining, people didn’t take to me readily. As far as religion was concerned, I felt it was a crutch for the weak. I was intensely proud of my own abilities, and I simply didn’t care whether God existed or not.
Then a new secretary came to work at our office. A happy, cheerful, outgoing individual, she was everything I wasn’t. She wasn’t conceited, but she didn’t seem to need everyone’s acceptance to sustain her. She had some inner strength, and something very special radiated from her as if from a light. She was a Latter-day Saint.
We became good friends, and as I came to know her better, I began to realize how empty my life was. I also realized that religion was a very big part of her life. Could this somehow be related to the “something special” about her? She didn’t talk much about religion to me because, as I learned later, she never in her wildest imaginings thought I would join the Church. Certainly my attitudes and life-style didn’t give her reason to believe differently. But what little she did say about Mormonism intrigued me.
I would conduct my own investigation, I decided. Priding myself on logical thinking and objective research, I went to the public library and checked out four books on Mormonism, two for and two against. (I wanted to be sure to get both sides of the story.) But as I began to read, something strange happened. All the things I hadn’t been able to accept about religion were not a part of Mormonism. Also, while there were new concepts and doctrines in Mormonism, these seemed true, vaguely familiar.
To my dismay, I began to feel that perhaps I could accept this Mormon philosophy. A lot was said about the Book of Mormon in these books, but most of it was either in defense of the book or attacking its origin. Very little was revealed about its content. One anti-Mormon author said it was a very peculiar book, because people who read it either felt that it was the basest, most obvious kind of a fraud, or else that it was divinely inspired. I decided to read the book for myself and see what was so peculiar about it.
As I began to read, something else strange began to happen. I had some experiences I didn’t understand, but I felt good about them. Later I realized the Holy Ghost was testifying to me of the truthfulness of what I was reading. I read on, until I came to Alma 32—a very special chapter for me. In verse 17 I read: “Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.” [Alma 32:17]
Right on! I thought. That’s just the way I felt. If there is a God, why doesn’t he just come down and show everybody! And then I read Alma’s reply:
“Now I ask, is this faith? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (Alma 32:18.)
Wait a minute. What was that? I read it again and again. I had never thought of it that way before, but this was such an obvious truth. I had the strangest feeling that this was going to have far-reaching implications in my life. The next significant verse for me was 27:
“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words [I love experiments. They give you firsthand knowledge—something really tangible], and exercise a particle of faith [not a whole lot of faith, just a little particle], yea, even if you can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” (Italics added.) [Alma 32:27]
In spite of everything I felt and the life I led, I really wanted to believe. Alma went on to explain his experiment. He likened the gospel to a seed. If you will plant the seed in your heart and nourish it by trying to live the gospel, it will grow and swell within you, and you’ll know that it is good.
Well, I finished the Book of Mormon, and knew I wanted a copy of my own. I phoned the missionaries, and they were more than happy to come out and talk to me. I took the six lessons. Then I had to make a decision. I had a testimony, but it was very weak. I didn’t know if it would sustain me, but I decided to take Alma at his word and try his experiment. I would be baptized and try to live the gospel completely for one year. If the experiment worked, that would be fine. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be out that much.
That was six years ago. After I began to keep the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing, and grow in the gospel, people began telling me things I’d never been told before—how happy I seemed all the time, how friendly I was becoming, how people liked me, and how they respected me. All of a sudden it seemed as though everyone was my friend, and I began to grow in ways I never thought possible. Within three years I got married, and we began to raise a family and eventually to build our dream home.
I know that the gospel changes lives, and if we will strive to live its principles, our Father in heaven will bless us abundantly.