Turning My Life Around

By Juan Antonio Flores

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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.

    Photography by Daniel Palmer C., except as noted

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

    Photograph courtesy of Juan Antonio Flores