“I Was Going Nowhere,” Ensign, June 1996, 52–53
While I was growing up there were many problems in my family. I was lonely and had poor social skills, so I started hanging around the wrong type of people in an effort to find friends and happiness.
When I was eight years old, my grandfather baptized me. But because of many problems and hardships, I justified to myself lowering my standards as a Latter-day Saint to find happiness as the world defines it. During this period, however, I still believed the Church was true.
Soon I began to lose control of my life. I grew my hair long and listened to hard rock music. Other types of wrongdoing became part of my life, and I depended on them to make me happy and to deliver me from all my problems.
Nothing I did helped. Depressed, I wandered the streets at night in search for some excitement. In time, I dropped out of school in hopes of becoming a rock star.
Soon I began to sell everything I owned for frivolous reasons. Once I sold a $500 bike for only about $100 just so I could get concert tickets. I no longer had any close friends my age. One day my mother informed me we were moving again, which discouraged me even more. This would be at least the 13th time I had moved to a new place and the eleventh time I had changed schools. But again I decided not to bother with school at all and instead roamed the streets looking for excitement. I despaired of finding any answers to my problems. My mother, of course, was concerned and told me I was going nowhere with my life. I knew she was right, but I didn’t know what else to do.
I felt like I had hit bottom. I had to do something, try something, but didn’t know what. When I saw the happiness of others who were active in living the gospel, I was motivated to begin a more sincere search for something better. But old habits kept me captive, and I grew very discouraged.
One morning my mom woke me up and told me to come upstairs. I sat down at the kitchen table, and she told me of a place that might be able to help me with my problems. Would I go take a look at it with her? I saw no harm in visiting the place. It turned out to be a hospital for people with problems like mine, and once there I realized I would not be leaving with my mom. I didn’t care, because I had nowhere else to go.
While I was in the hospital, I had plenty of time to think and read. I read the story of a man who had overcome his shortcomings by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in his life, as taught in the Book of Mormon. His story sank deep into my heart and kindled a desire within to search the Book of Mormon in what seemed to be a final appeal to God for help. I read from its pages for hours, and its stories began to take on meaning in my life. From morning until night I spent every spare moment reading and studying the Book of Mormon. In two and one-half weeks I read the entire book and then began to read it again.
As I read and prayed about the Book of Mormon, I felt the Spirit bear witness to me that God still truly loved me. I began to trust in God more deeply. One morning while I was praying, I poured out my whole soul in mighty prayer as Enos had done (see Enos 1:4). With all my courage, I promised my Heavenly Father that if he would show me how to change, I would do whatever he required. I felt a strong impression that I would have to give up the behaviors that were the cause of my problems. Previously I had tried to bargain with God, promising to give up some of my sins while hoping I could leave other parts of my lifestyle unchanged. But I knew that to be reconciled with God, I would have to trust in him and change completely. I came to recognize the Lord’s instruction as stated in Alma 5:57, “Come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things.” Step by step I began. First I cut my hair; then I destroyed all my rock music tapes I had loved so much. Finally I sought help from my bishop. Later I realized that, like the Lamanites of old, I too had to bury my “weapons of war,” or my weapons of rebellion, as a testimony before God that I would not use them again (see Alma 24:16–19).
As I did these things I discovered a new life as described in Mosiah 27:24–29. I began to find joy in simple things, and as time went on I returned to school, got a job, and found a real life through our Savior Jesus Christ. In time I was called to serve as a full-time missionary in Japan.
The Book of Mormon not only changed my life but also gave me my life back again.