The author lives in Utah, USA.
Growing up, I always had a plan for how my life would go. I would serve a mission, go to college, get married, and start a family, fully committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This plan, of course, fell apart. I had to leave my mission early because of mental health issues. Those same mental health issues came back and started affecting my time in college. It felt like everything was falling apart. Like everyone else was succeeding—except me.
After a while, I became callous and angry at God. Why was He allowing me to fail again and again? Why didn’t He care about me? I was doing the best I could, I was living the gospel to the best of my ability, but I didn’t think I was getting rewarded for it. Why couldn’t He give me lesser trials?
I decided that God must not care what I did, so in my anger, I said goodbye to the Church that I had once loved so dearly. I wanted nothing to do with anything relating to the gospel or the Church. Deep down I think I knew the gospel was true, but I fought to suppress those feelings and actively rebelled against God and His teachings.
Leaving the Church didn’t make anything better. And in time, I definitely began to feel like there was something missing from my life. Something important. Of course it occurred to me that “something important” might be the gospel, but I tried not to think about that. Maybe my diet was off. Or maybe I wasn’t dating the right person.
And then my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. It had already spread to his bones, and there was nothing anyone could do—my dad was going to die. I remember crying in my car until I felt like a shell of a man. Once again, I blamed God for inflicting so much pain onto me. Why was He kicking me while I was down? For a long time, all I felt was pain and anger.
But not my dad. If anything, being handed such a trial brought him even closer to God. He became a spiritual powerhouse. He never pushed me to come back to Church, but he saw my pain and in his wisdom asked me to watch the general priesthood session of general conference with him and my brother. I didn’t want to, but it’s not like I could say no. So I figured I would sit with them and pretend to listen.
I slept through most of it. I woke up just in time to hear Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles give his message “Learn from Alma and Amulek.” He spoke about how Alma and Amulek had gone away from the Lord, even rebelling against His Church. But the Lord continued to reach out to them. Eventually Alma became a great leader and prophet and came to Amulek and helped reignite his love for the gospel. Together they had become great missionaries and disciples of the Lord. Then Elder Uchtdorf said the words, “The Lord needs you! I need you!” and my soul was lit on fire. I had never felt such a feeling as I had in this moment. I knew the Lord was calling me back to His fold.
The next week, I went to church for the first time in a year. Right after sacrament meeting, I made a beeline to my bishop.
“So I think it’s time for me to talk with you,” I said.
“Yup,” he said with a smile. “I think so.”
I am so grateful that my dad invited me to listen to general conference and that the Lord had opened my heart to be able to hear His voice calling me back to Him.
My father became my Alma. He reached out to me just as Alma reached out to Amulek. He could have respected my wishes to not have anything to do with the Church. He could have avoided doing something that was probably awkward or difficult for him. But instead he listened to the Spirit and invited his son to return to and fall in love with the gospel again. He helped reignite my love for the gospel and saw me return to the temple.
I’m not saying that life has been easy since. I eventually lost my dad, and I’m still unsure what life has planned for me. But thanks to the plan of salvation, I can see my dad again. And thanks to the gospel, I’m happy. From the moment I decided to repent and come back, I have felt the love of the Savior just radiating. The flood of love and peace I have felt since turning back to God is almost indescribable, really. I can’t imagine my life without the gospel. I now know that God knows me. He loves me. I’ve learned to recognize His guidance in my life, even when things get hard. Staying near to Him and living His gospel is the only way to true happiness.