Growing up LDS was pretty normal to me. Most of my friends were LDS. We went to Primary together, played together, and then moved on to Young Women and Young Men together. I had my future planned by the age of 15: get married in the temple, go to college and become a fashion designer, start a family, and continue to live the teachings of the gospel. I was obedient to the Church standards.
But when I was 17, I started questioning the Church and became more relaxed in keeping my standards high. By my senior year of high school I had stopped going to church. I thought I was in love with a boy and felt that he was all I needed. I tore up my relationship with my family. That fall, after graduation, the boy and I split up, my heart was broken, and I fell in with the wrong crowd. I thought drugs and alcohol could fill the emptiness in my heart. For the next three years I wandered, spiritually blind. Occasionally I would have spiritual moments, but I either ignored them or was too proud to recognize that the Lord was there for me.
About this time my younger brother was preparing for a mission. I started to feel that something was missing in my life, but I couldn’t figure it out. I was still very lost until the night he was set apart as a missionary. That night as I sat in a room full of close friends and family, I could feel the Spirit’s presence. I started to feel the warmth of my Savior, and in my heart I could feel the fullness I had been missing. I felt a whisper in my ear as if to say “This is what you need.” I knew in that instant that the Church is what I needed.
Since then I have repented and firmly held on to the iron rod. It isn’t always easy, and I am often tempted, but because I feel closer to the Savior, I recognize the temptations now and shun them. Never have I understood the promptings of the Spirit so clearly in my life. The Spirit speaks so clearly when you’re listening. The Lord will always be there for you as much as you are willing to let Him into your life. And if you have strayed, He will still be standing near to offer a hand to help you repent and get back up and onto the right path.