“Why I Didn’t Want to Go to Church … and Why I Want to Go Now,” Liahona, June 1998, 34
As soon as I was old enough to really begin to understand the gospel, I began to have doubts about it. I often wondered if the gospel was true. But my parents insisted that I attend our ward in Germany with them each Sunday, even though I had little desire to be there. I figured I already knew everything that would be said, and I was bored by the routine.
Not wanting to be there, I was critical of the Church and Church members. I assumed members should always live perfectly what they said in their talks and testimonies. However, I noticed that some parents and children fought, some people gossiped, and some young people drank and smoked. Blinded by my prejudices, I noticed only those members who didn’t rush to help the homeless people who occasionally came into the church building. Where is that famous charity mentioned in the scriptures? I wondered. Somehow I missed seeing those who did reach out to help others.
While I was caught up in this spirit of criticism, my nonmember friends offered me cigarettes and alcohol, and I tried them. But that was not all. After a while, I stayed out at night longer and more often, and I always got home late on weekends. And then, of course, I had no desire to go to church because I was so tired.
These friends—combined with the hypocrisy I thought I saw in some Church members, the temptations I succumbed to, my boredom in church, my pride, and my disobedience—led me to not want to know anything about the Church.
Then I made a mistake that forced me to go to court. The prospect of suffering legal penalties forced me to think, and I decided I needed to make some changes in my life.
I went to a trusted Church member and talked with him about my problems. The Lord prompted him to say the right words to me. He helped me recognize that I was at a crossroad. I had to return to the Lord’s way, or I would sink in the mud and go under. This realization was difficult to come to, but it was so clear that I could not misunderstand it. My friend then spoke to my father and asked us to kneel and pray together. My father prayed, and I felt tears in my eyes because I felt such a strong spirit.
I realized then that if my parents had not insisted that I attend church with them, something worse could have happened. I could have fallen completely away.
I have learned that friends outside the Church are okay if you look for good friends with your standards. If friends offer you something and ask you to do something that is not in accordance with the gospel, you should say no. If they continue, it is best to part with those friends, even if it is difficult. It was difficult for me.
I still don’t like hypocrisy, but I now recognize that I have faults of my own to work on. The talks at church are still similar and the meetings the same—but I’m not critical of that anymore. I realize that Church meetings can be interesting in spite of that. It is not easy for me, but I try to listen. I do not want to stray away.
I am developing a greater interest in going to church and in keeping the commandments. It is difficult, but with the help of the Lord and my parents, I can and will do it. It feels good to have loving parents and friends who are active in the Church. It is good to be understood, to be taken seriously, to be loved. It is good to know the Lord is always there.