“You Might Want to Read It,” Ensign, Aug. 2000, 64–65
College should be a happy time, but years ago I was a miserable sophomore at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. I was breaking the Word of Wisdom and sinking into depression and long bouts of crying. Although the testimony I had gained as a child was still with me, my life was bringing me no happiness.
In an art history course I was enrolled in, the professor lectured: “Art is about learning who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. We will never be able to answer these questions.” Those words ran through my brain and woke me up. I found it odd that a smart professor didn’t know what any Primary child knew—and what I knew. The thought came to me: Then why don’t you act like it? I knew why: I wasn’t keeping the Word of Wisdom.
I resolved to shake the habits of smoking and drinking and return to church. By an act of willpower, I would straighten out. I was sure I was strong enough. Drinking was no problem to stop, but smoking was impossible. I tried gum, I tried not buying cigarettes, and I tried working out twice a day to clear my lungs. But nothing helped, and I couldn’t bear to return to church smelling like tobacco smoke.
Late February became a crisis time. My girlfriend broke up with me. My roommate left school. The weather turned gloomy, and it rained all the time. I spent hours crying in my lonely dorm room. One night during a rainstorm, I sank to my lowest point and wallowed in my woes: no girlfriend, no roommate, no church, no love, no willpower. Thoughts of killing myself crossed my mind.
As I imagined how my family would take my death, I remembered the last time I saw my mother. I was finishing packing my car for school, and she came out holding a copy of the Book of Mormon. I saw another argument over my inactivity coming.
“I don’t want it,” I said.
“Just take it,” she said. “You might want to read it.”
I tossed the book into a box and forgot about it.
Now, I stopped crying as I thought of the book. I went to the closet and pulled out my odds-and-ends box. I was sure I still had that book. I tossed out shoes, a shirt or two, and several of the previous year’s textbooks before I finally found it.
I opened the cover. “Love, Mom” was all that was written inside. I started to cry again. I opened to the first chapter and read, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,” and I cried even harder. The Holy Ghost bore witness to me that I too was born of goodly parents and that this book was true. My tears washed thoughts of suicide out of my mind, and I felt loved for the first time in a long while.
I read the entire book in a matter of weeks. I found enough strength in my daily reading of the Book of Mormon to quit smoking and return to church. Did the Book of Mormon save my life? Perhaps. But I can say for certain it saved me from a spiritual death.