What I Did When Someone Close to Me Challenged My Faith
April 2024

Digital Only: Young Adults

What I Did When Someone Close to Me Challenged My Faith

Amid questions and doubts, I realized that I could trust my spiritual experiences and rely on the Spirit.

a young woman cries while kneeling under a dark cloud

When I was a teenager, my family moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). My high school was an international school where people from many different cultures and religions attended. There were hardly any members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in our area, and I was the only member in my grade.

After a while, I started dating a classmate who was Christian but not a Latter-day Saint. As we got to know each other better, he became interested in my beliefs and started doing his own research on the Church.

Unfortunately, the sources he consulted were against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and what began as curiosity for him soon grew into confusion and concern about my faith. I did my best to answer his questions, but I didn’t always know what to say. It was difficult and painful to have someone I cared deeply about challenge the things I held close to my heart. He was my boyfriend, and his opinions and perspectives were important to me.

As time went on, the questions and criticisms he had about the Church seemed reasonable, and I began to have doubts about my faith too.

A Challenge to My Faith

The things I believed in seemed uncertain to me. I questioned whether Joseph Smith was really a prophet of God and if he’d really translated the gold plates. Had I been accepting made-up stories as truth? Being surrounded by so few Church members made me seriously question the legitimacy of my and my family’s faith. I felt lost and scared.

But I kept coming back to one thing—the examples I had in my life. My grandparents and my parents have always been faithful members of the Church. Every time I felt tempted to step away from the gospel, I remembered them and the goodness of their lives.

In Matthew we read:

“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. …

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:18, 20).

I knew that my parents and grandparents were good people and that the fruits of their lives were good too.

I reminded myself that there must be a reason why they raised me in the Church. So I decided to trust their judgment and faith when I was unsure whether I should trust my own.

Not the Answer I Expected

I held on to the faith of my family members for a while. As time went on, my boyfriend lessened his scrutiny of the Church, but I continued studying the scriptures and praying to receive answers to the questions he had brought up.

And then one day, I had a big realization: I don’t need to answer every single question someone has for me about the gospel. I just need to tell them to follow the Spirit. I cannot give someone else my testimony.

I already knew this, but the reminder of these truths hit me with force. I couldn’t convince my boyfriend of the reality of the gospel if he wasn’t willing to listen to the Spirit, study, and pray. Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “We do not have the authority to bestow a testimony upon someone else, because a personal testimony is granted by the Holy Ghost.”1

After some time, I worked up the courage to tell my boyfriend that I couldn’t answer all of his questions. But I invited him to pray and read the Book of Mormon if he wanted to know the truth. I explained that although my testimony wasn’t the strongest, I’d decided not to step away from my faith—it had helped mold me into who I was and had brought amazing people into my life who were good examples to me.

I would stand by my faith.

Holding On to My Testimony

After talking with him, a huge weight came off my shoulders. I knew I had made the right choice in holding on to faith.

Having my beliefs challenged wasn’t fun, but I’m grateful for that experience because it helped me strengthen my own testimony. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them.”2

In hindsight, I can see that standing up for my beliefs helped me strengthen my faith. Although my relationship with my boyfriend eventually ended, he and I have remained respectful friends, and I’m glad I learned how to protect my testimony while respecting his questions and beliefs.

If others are questioning what you believe, I encourage you to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “take charge of your testimony.”3 Trust in your spiritual experiences, and don’t let the opinions of others sway what you know to be true. As we respond to others’ questions in Christlike ways, we can maintain our faith and, in many cases, have positive relationships filled with mutual respect.

I still have questions about the Church. But I know that as I follow the advice that President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then the Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gave to “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,”4 I can stay close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and they will help me as I try to connect with Them. I know They will do the same for you too.