“A Wonderful Gift for Me,” Liahona, May 2002, 32–34
I have been asked many times why I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I have always told the story of meeting the missionaries at the house of a dear friend who had just been baptized. But with the passage of time, I have realized that before that first meeting many things prepared me to accept the gospel.
I was an active and energetic young woman, and my life was divided between spending time with friends and working out at the gym. Nothing else interested me. I had a passion for martial arts. I lived for the sport; it had become a way of life for me. In effect, it was my religion. I was very good and had acquired much skill. My pride increased as I became more and more recognized by others, especially since I was a woman in a sport dominated by men.
As time passed, I began to feel an unsettling sensation after each day’s workout. Often I felt out of breath, and my heart would race.
I soon learned that the continuous pressure of such a strenuous sport had aggravated a genetic predisposition toward irregular heartbeats. The pain intensified, and sometimes I could not even stand. Almost overnight I lost my self-sufficiency. A series of unfortunate medical decisions worsened my condition, and twice I came close to cardiac arrest.
Over a period of five years, I had two operations and made many visits to doctors and hospitals. Eventually I needed constant care from my parents.
While in the hospital I saw much suffering and pain, and I learned the necessity of loving others. I began to understand what was really important in life.
My soul had been changed, and I felt that someone was giving me a second chance at life. I started to wonder about God, who until then, I believed, had played no part in my life. I began to study various religions, and I was impressed by their common denominator of love. Then a friend told me about the missionaries who had brought her such happiness. I met with them and was baptized one month later.
Now I am thankful that I suffered, because suffering opened the way for me to hear the gospel. God truly has unusual ways of preparing His children.
Since accepting the gospel, I have had the privilege of sharing the truth with others. I have also been to the temple and have been greatly blessed. I am thankful to God to be able to work for Him. His gospel is truly a wonderful gift for me.