“A Text from Tyler,” New Era, Sept. 2012, 24–26
When I first met Tyler, he was the last person I would ever have imagined joining the Church. Even as we became friends, I never really considered talking to him about my beliefs, since I was sure he would never be interested. Thankfully, the Lord had other plans.
As I was sitting in bed one night, my phone buzzed, and a text from Tyler read, “Who is God to you?” Surprised, I answered with a simple testimony, and Tyler responded with more questions about what I meant. Over the next several weeks we continued to talk about gospel questions, and the Spirit worked in Tyler’s life, teaching and testifying of the truth. It was awesome to watch as Tyler voluntarily started to change his life out of a sincere desire to do God’s will. His earrings came out, the profanity stopped, and he started reading the Bible on his own.
That April, I finally invited him to come to church, where he soon became a regular. However, certain doctrines and principles that didn’t match his lifestyle kept him from fully embracing the gospel. He wanted to be a Latter-day Saint; he just wanted other things more. After a few weeks, he started going to a different Christian church.
“Heavenly Father, I know this gospel is true. So why couldn’t Tyler accept it?” I prayed in hurt frustration. This wasn’t the ending I’d had in mind.
Weeks later, a sister at church asked how Tyler was doing and where he was. “Oh, he’s fine,” I answered awkwardly. “He’s going to another church now.”
“He felt something here,” she insisted. “He’ll be back.” I nodded politely, unconvinced.
As the summer progressed and I moved away to attend college, I realized that although things hadn’t worked out as I had hoped, I had to trust that God still knew and loved my friend more than I could imagine and that He had a plan for Tyler. “Maybe in the next life Tyler will accept the fulness of the gospel,” I thought. I resolved that no matter what, I would pray to love as God loves—being patient and kind, always believing, hoping, and enduring.
One Sunday in late January, Tyler texted me, asking, “Where do we go after we die?” I was hesitant to give him a sincere answer because of some of our recent exchanges, but he convinced me that he was asking in earnest, so I sheepishly gave him a better explanation of the plan of salvation. He seemed to accept it, which surprised me. Then he really surprised me by telling me he had been praying about things for a long time and had decided to make some pretty serious lifestyle changes—changes that would open up the possibility of Church membership. I was ecstatic.
Now that Church membership was an option for Tyler, he had many questions. He met with the missionaries in my family’s home, and my parents gave him a Book of Mormon I had written my testimony in years before but had never given away. As Tyler seriously read and prayed about it, and as I and others fasted and prayed for Tyler, the Lord blessed him. The power of the Book of Mormon began to work in Tyler’s life, and his testimony of the gospel grew. Though he brought up some tough questions that I didn’t have answers for, the truth withstood every criticism.
I couldn’t relate to all of Tyler’s individual struggles, but I knew and shared my testimony that there is One who knows every pain and trial perfectly and that by relying on His Atonement we can have the strength to accomplish anything. It wasn’t always easy for Tyler, but while he investigated the Church, his faith and trust in the Lord enabled him to prepare for baptism. As he grew and changed, I gained a new appreciation for our Savior’s Atonement and love for us and how we can be absolutely cleansed of every sin and imperfection.
And so last April, my brother Nathan had the opportunity to baptize Tyler. Since then, Tyler has received the gift of the Holy Ghost, been ordained a priest, and given away dozens of copies of the Book of Mormon. Tyler is an example of strength and faith to those he meets. And although his trials are not over, he is an inspiration to me in the way he lives close to the Spirit by doing the “little things” like reading his scriptures and earnestly praying. His life is a reminder to me of the power of the Atonement and the love of our Savior to help us overcome anything that stands in our way. The Church is true!