As the years went on, and my innocence began to fade somewhat, I slowly came to grips with the fact that the world was not as sunny and bright as I thought it was. I also realized that not everybody thought that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) was as wonderful as I did. I was shocked to learn that some even hated it. As I processed this information, I contented myself with the knowledge that everyone has their own viewpoint, and they had the right to choose that view. One of my best friends in grade school was not a member of the Church, and had had some bad experiences with it. After a couple years of friendship, he told me about how the missionaries had visited his family and one of his sisters was considering baptism, but was turned off by the pushiness of the missionaries, who kept asking her to set a date. That experience, seemed to shape his opinion of the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Church as a whole. We stayed friends for many years and I we didn't really broach the subject much. When we did talk religion, we both did our best to be respectful, but I could tell he was a bit cynical of the whole thing, which I didn't mind too much. I mostly labeled the subject as a "sore spot", something we ought not get into. We eventually drifted slowly apart, our lives taking different detours and both of us finding different groups of friends. We hung out on and off, but it eventually tapered off. We still occasionally say hello every now and again, and reminisce about the "good old days", but those encounters are far and few between.
Throughout middle school and high school, I kept the Book of Mormon on my nightstand, reading a verse or two before going to sleep. In those days, I knew on some level that it was a special book, but the words seemed so stale. My teenage brain just couldn't concentrate on the "thees" and "thous" for longer than about a minute before putting it down. The thing was, I was a great reader from an early age, but I didn't have the patience for long, archaically written books. I couldn't relate. At the time I was only reading to form a habit of study.
Sadly, it wasn't until recently that I truly started to study the Book of Mormon. A few months ago, as I became a Missionary, I realized, that if I wanted to truly understand this book, I would have to read it more actively, not just skim a couple token verses and drift off to sleep. My study has become more in depth, I pray before each reading session, and sit at a desk, taking notes. Since I've incorporated this beautiful book (in conjunction with the Bible) I have noticed a difference in my life. I feel a deep love for my fellow man. I have more of a desire to share this beautiful Gospel with others. I wish I had discovered the Book of Mormon's real power sooner. I have always had a fondness for it on some level, even if I found it boring, but for the first time, I really understand the sweetness of its words and have more of an inclination to act upon its teachings. I hope in the future I can be more willing to share it with those who want it, those who need it.
I hope that, if you haven't, you can also experience what this book has to offer. I offer you these humble words in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ--Amen