With the elders before my baptism

One year ago today I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It was a decision that surprised many least of all me.  I was raised Jewish.  In fact, I was Bat Mitzvahed, Confirmed, and even taught religious school while I was in High School.  And although I always felt a strong cultural connection to my Jewish heritage, I never felt spiritually fulfilled.  I wanted to feel close to God, but didn’t know how.  So I in my mid-twenties, I began to search for a faith that would help me find what I was looking for.

At the same time I was battling a serious physical illness.  I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases that kept landing me in the hospital.  And among other symptoms, I had joint pain so severe I had been in a wheelchair full time for over a year.  I also had lost a lot of my independence due to my illness, and required a full time caregiver to help me with basic things.

My caregiver and I change into all white for my baptism.

My caregiver was a girl about my age and she was a member of the LDS church.  We would have lots of discussions about faith, and she taught me a lot about the church.  As a result, I decided to start praying.  I had never really done so before.  But at first prayer didn’t make me feel any closer to Heavenly Father.  So I decided to do an experiment.  I decided to try adding the words “in the name of Jesus Christ” to the end of all my prayers.  Suddenly I started to feel connected to Heavenly Father in a new way.

Around this time my caregiver invited me to attend church with her and get a blessing for healing from the missionaries after church.  From the moment I entered the church building I was filled with a sense of happiness and peace.

But the true miracle of my conversion occurred during my blessing.  The missionaries placed their hands on my head to impart the blessing, and I was overcome with an overwhelming feeling of connection to Heavenly Father.  I felt His love so intensely I nearly passed out.  It was so strong!  Up until that point I had no idea that it was possible to really feel God.  And from that moment on, I KNEW that Heavenly Father lived and that Jesus was the Christ.  I started taking the missionary discussions that week.

That week another miracle occurred.  I suddenly had a lot less pain in my joints.  I decided to try and start walking again for the first time in over a year.  By the time of my baptism six weeks later I was able to walk for the whole thing!

Wet hugs after the baptism

My baptism was an amazing day.  My whole ward at church attended it, and my dad and his girlfriend were also there to support me.  What I remember most was the feeling of pure love I felt.  The love that Heavenly Father has for me.  I felt it so strongly that day, and I was just so happy I couldn’t stop beaming.

Since then my decision to become Mormon has been confirmed many times over while doing things like reading scripture or attending church each week.  I have also found an amazing support network in the church.  I have made amazing friends who have been there for me through some really difficult times and really wonderful times.  My decision has brought me so much peace and joy in my life.  I have never been happier.

My friends and I gather after my baptism