Blessed by Seminary in Spite of Myself
August 2017

“Blessed by Seminary in Spite of Myself,” Ensign, August 2017

Blessed by Seminary in Spite of Myself

The author lives in Utah, USA.

I struggled with seminary, but my parents and leaders didn’t give up on me.

man with thought bubble showing various drawings

Illustrations by Jaymie Johnson

I was the kind of kid who spent most of his time in early-morning seminary with a hoodie over his head and his head on his desk. My early-morning seminary teacher was the bishop’s wife. She put up with a lot from us students. And even though I didn’t want to be there, she wasn’t pushy, and her patience made me feel safe. Still, the only reason I graduated was because my parents made sure I attended.

After high school graduation, I went to college. My only real goal was having fun. After about a year, I woke up one morning following a late-night party and had no idea where I was or what had happened the night before. I wondered what I was accomplishing with my life. Where was I going? At that moment I realized how far I was from living what I had learned in seminary and church. I was making mistakes and filling my life with meaningless and even dangerous activities. I had failed my God and my Savior. I had failed my parents and was a bad example for my siblings. I concluded that I was going to hell.

Picking Myself Up from Rock Bottom

A few days later I parked my car in a deserted area of town and poured out my heart to God. I was there for a couple of hours. I apologized for my failures and mistakes and let Heavenly Father know that although I was likely lost forever, I would do the best I could to be a good example to my brothers and sister. I committed that I would not drag my siblings down with me.

That next Sunday I went to church to set the example. My mother was shocked when I arrived in a white shirt and tie, wearing socks. At that moment, and perhaps because I had met there for seminary every morning during high school, it felt like a safe place. Before long, my bishop was pulling me into his office to talk and soon after asked me if I had received my patriarchal blessing. When I told him no, he suggested I get it. I agreed. Even though our discussion was difficult as he interviewed me, I felt such relief as I realized I wasn’t beyond help and that I could repent of my mistakes. I was so happy as I felt the Savior and His Atonement at work in my life. I thought back to my lessons in seminary and tried to understand how it was possible for someone like me to be forgiven. As I recalled the lessons, I felt the Spirit confirming that it was possible.

A Mission and Marriage

Receiving my patriarchal blessing gave me a desire to serve a mission. Surprisingly, I remembered more from my time in seminary than I had realized. That knowledge blessed me on my mission. I was grateful to my parents and seminary teacher for their encouragement.

After my mission, I remained active in the Church. I met my future wife. On one of our visits to get to know her family, they asked me a lot of questions to learn about me and my priorities. One of the last questions they asked me was, “Did you graduate from seminary?” I was so grateful that I could say yes!

Hope for Parents

I look back on seminary as a place where I learned so much, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Just being in class allowed me to feel the Spirit, even if I didn’t always recognize it. It helped change me. But it never would have happened if my parents had caved in to my complaining about having to go. And today, as a parent, I can look my 14-year-old and 16-year-old in the face and tell them it’s worth it—even if they don’t get it yet.

I am grateful for parents who didn’t give up on encouraging me to do what was right. I am grateful for a seminary teacher and a bishop who loved me, guided me, and taught me, even when I didn’t want to be. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, seminary helped change my life.