As a 16-year-old convert to the Church living in New York City, I knew that becoming a Latter-day Saint would mean making lots of lifestyle changes.
But making these changes was a lot more difficult than I expected.
For one, New York City is such an exciting place full of diverse cultures, languages, and beliefs, and so different from the small city I grew up in back in Colombia. I was surrounded by so much pressure to act and live a certain way, even though I was still figuring out who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. I was faced with many options of where my life could go, but really I just wanted to fit in and belong. I was more focused on wanting to look, speak, and act like everyone else.
Suddenly I was also navigating changes like attending church every Sunday, reading scriptures, praying, and giving up coffee. And while some of these changes were easy, others were more complicated—especially the principle of modesty. It was difficult for me to balance my desire to follow Jesus Christ with my desire to express myself the way I always had with how I dressed.
I felt a little overwhelmed as I tried my best to be modest. I worried that I was going to lose friends and that I wouldn’t fit in anymore. But I relied on Christ to give me the courage and faith to keep moving forward.
I studied the principles of the gospel more deeply, prayed for help, and sought greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s laws, which helped me better understand the why behind modesty. And as I was willing to let my heart be converted, I changed not only internally but in the way I carried myself and in my outward appearance as well. As I further embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, my love for Him and my Father in Heaven grew, and making changes became so much easier.
I’ve realized that Heavenly Father wants us to be modest not just in the way we dress but also in our thoughts, language, and personal conduct. And now I look, talk, and act differently—I carry myself like a disciple of Jesus Christ does, just as President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us to do.1 And my friends and even strangers notice something peculiar about me. I get questions about why I am the way I am. People recognize the joy I have and the Light of Christ in me.
Every time I go back to Colombia (or anywhere, really) to visit, I don’t seem to “fit in” anymore, and it’s great! It’s been amazing to see how simply being modest gives me the opportunity to tell others about the gospel and why I live the way I do—why I follow Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the most precious gift I have been given the opportunity to accept. As I have come to know my Savior better, my desire to truly be like Him has increased. And He continues to give me courage in my journey to find the beauty in being different from the world.
It’s been 10 years since I joined the Church, and I now see that I don’t have to “fit in” with the world, because I am a child of God. I get to experience the beauty of being part of “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) and the blessings that come with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I love Him, and striving to follow Him, especially through modesty, has strengthened my relationship with Him.
Because my appearance and behavior reflect my inner commitment to Him, the gospel and its teachings have become the center of everything I do, which brings me so much joy. I love being different, being able to share the Light of Christ with others, and focusing on what really matters most: my faith in Christ and moving toward Him on the covenant path.