Turning My Life Around

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    I was raised a member of the Church in a branch in México. But as a teenager, I rebelled, like Alma the Younger. When many of my friends left on missions at age 19, I never asked for a missionary interview with my branch president. I always justified myself, since my mother was a widow and we had a lot of financial problems. I became less active. The next two years filled me with anger; they were the worst time of my life.

    During this time, I dated a young woman in my branch. I was amazed at her closeness to God. Something inside me began to stir. I wanted to come back to the Church, but I had a lot of pride. That was the beginning of my fight against the Lord. I went with my friend to church sometimes, but I always said something against Church teachings to spoil the spirit of the meetings for her. Time passed, and my girlfriend, who had become my fiancée, finally left me, thinking I would never change. I began to feel desperately lonely.

    A few months later, I felt encouraged when I opened a Church magazine and found a Mormon Message: “No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future” (Tambuli, September 1989, 47). But still I was so depressed and full of anger that one day I decided to try to be happy by living my life the world’s way. That very day I had an experience that changed my life. I felt as if something or somebody touched me on the shoulder. I looked back, and nobody was there. I felt a little bit afraid. A little while later, I felt the same thing again, but this time the force on my shoulder was so powerful that I fell to my knees. I began to cry. For the first time in years, I prayed. I don’t know how much time I spent on my knees, but I eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, my mother asked what had happened. I told her I felt as though I had been asleep all my life and had only now opened my eyes.

    I found the Book of Mormon and began to read. When I finished reading, I prayed with all my heart. I felt a warmth in my heart and a burning in my chest.

    My life turned around. I began to pray, fast, bear my testimony, preach the gospel to my coworkers, pay tithing, and read and study the holy scriptures. I felt happy and close to my Heavenly Father. One day I talked to my branch president about serving a mission, and he eventually sent in my mission papers.

    The members of my district were happy when they learned I had received a call to the México Chihuahua Mission. Some people were amazed.

    The last Sunday before leaving on my mission, I bore my testimony. I said that everybody can change. Alma the Younger changed; the sons of King Mosiah changed; Zeezrom changed; Paul changed; and I changed.

    While serving my full-time mission I witnessed the power of love and had the privilege of bringing souls to our Heavenly Father.

    After returning, I married Erika Mendoza in the Dallas Texas Temple. We are both busily involved in callings in Sunday School and Young Women.

    Whenever I see a picture of Peter walking over the water to reach Jesus but falling into the deep sea, I put myself in Peter’s place (see Matt. 14:22–33). Sometimes I feel myself faltering, and I pray that—just as he did for Peter—the Lord will reach out his hand to catch me so that I can keep walking toward him.

    I will never forget what the Lord has done for me in healing my soul. I know he loves all of his children, and I’m grateful knowing that no matter what our pasts have been, our futures are spotless.

    [photos] Photography by Daniel Palmer C., except as noted

    [illustration] Background illustration: Christ Walking on the Water, by Robert T. Barrett

    [photo] Photograph courtesy of Juan Antonio Flores