I cherish my testimony of my Savior and of God.
As a brief background, I was born into a well-educated, large, lower middle class Mormon family and was faithfully raised in the church. As I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, many of my good friends were not LDS and I had ample opportunity to interact with individuals from other faith traditions and backgrounds. As a kid, I definitely remember many occasions of feeling God’s love for me, but I mostly just believed because of my parents and because I felt that was what was expected of me. It wasn’t until I was later into my teenage years and preparing to serve a two-year LDS mission that I starting examining myself and my faith. It was at this time that I was exposed to challenging issues in the church. For a time, I questioned not only the truthfulness of the church, but whether or not there really was a God. This was a very difficult time for me, as I felt that everything I had learned my entire life, even my very identity, might be false. However, during all of this, I continued attending church, reading the scriptures, and saying my personal prayers (more fervently than ever before in my life). I just wanted God, in some way, to make himself known to me and to reassure me that I was loved by him.
At first, things started slowly. I often felt I was praying to no one at all, but with continued study, prayer, and self-reflection, I came to accept that despite the concerns I had with the church and some aspects of its history, culture, and the imperfections of its leadership, I knew that overall the church was a good institution doing good things for millions of people around the world. As I continued to pray earnestly, over time I developed my testimony and belief that my Heavenly Parents are real and that they do love me. At this point, I decided to serve a mission (though I had not yet determined for myself whether or not I believed the church to be “True,” I knew either way I would be serving God through serving others).