[… continued from this post]
I move to Utah
When I was 19 I decided to follow in the steps of my three older sisters, and go to live with my dad for a while. He had moved to Utah with his new wife when I was around 7. I had heard that he let my sisters do pretty much whatever they liked when they lived with him, and yet, after having stayed with him they each managed to get their lives together (I have omitted the serious trouble my sisters got into in their wild teenage years). Since my mom was insisting that I do unreasonable things like clean my room, and I couldn’t afford a place of my own, I thought it might be nice to see a new place and be free to live as I pleased. Besides I liked my dad, or at least what I remembered of him from the time before he jettisoned his own kids and took off with this new lady and her daughter (by the time I got there his second wife was long gone too).
I arrived in Utah and my dad got me a job moving furniture. It was grueling work, but it paid better than any job I had had to that point. And it got me in shape.
While hanging around a truck stop waiting for drivers to hire me to load or unload their trucks, I spotted a motel maid with curly brown hair and big brown eyes. Making a long story short, I asked her out and she accepted. It turned out she was a Mormon. A convert, and a devout one.
For myself, I was still in a state of indecision concerning religion. But I had had further experiences of God’s grace, including the moment that I now consider my actual conversion from disbelief to faith: Basically I had hit “rock-bottom” in many respects, and made a decision to surrender myself to God’s will. I would stop kicking against the goad, complaining about what life handed me, and demanding that God make things right. I knelt with my head on the ground and made that act of surrender, and could feel the rage flowing out of me, replaced by something which I now recognize as peace.
So I had become what I guess you would call a theist, but not yet a Christian. I had a definite belief in God, but about Jesus I wasn’t so sure. I considered it quite likely that since the Christians were right about God, they were right about Jesus too. But I hadn’t seen the evidence which I felt justified actually believing in Christ. However I was open to it, and planned eventually to look at the evidence to the extent it presented itself, and hoped to come to embrace it so that I could have a definite religion and not be merely a “follower of God” who in reality does as he pleases.
In other words, I wanted to do as God wanted me to, and therefore wanted to know what he wanted of me. And it seemed that it was the purpose of a church to tell its members just that. I don’t know that I formulated it so precisely at the time, but I believe that was at the root of my desire to belong to a church.
Anyway things got serious with this cute little maid (who, it turned out, was embarrassed to be working as a motel maid, but she had moved to Utah on her own in order to experience a predominantly Mormon city and state, and that was the only job she could find. She eventually found one she liked better). It got to the point where we wanted to get married. But guess what? She wouldn’t marry me if I weren’t a Mormon. Something about a celestial kingdom or something…
So I said heck, I believe in God, and am trying to believe in Jesus. I have no objection to learning about the Mormon religion. I have been wanting to join a church, I just don’t know which one to join at this point (that rings a bell somehow). So yes, by all means I’ll give Mormonism a try. So she set me up with the missionaries.