Betty Hollowell didn’t grow up LDS. She converted to Mormonism as a young adult. She told a bit of her life story in the July 2010 Ensign (69). Beginning when she was a young child, she always wondered, “Where did I come from?” Betty wrote, “Deep within my heart I knew I had lived somewhere before I became who I am now, but I had no idea where.”
This question frightened Betty. She thought (and still thinks) most people would regard such a question as “crazy” to contemplate. As a teen, Betty got up the courage to ask a pastor of a non-LDS church, “Where did we live before we came to earth?” Confirming her fears, the pastor told her she shouldn’t think about such things. “I was afraid he was right and that I was crazy, but I still could not put these thoughts out of my mind. I kept searching, but no one had any answers,” she wrote. A few years later Betty asked her question of another pastor, with similar results.
Though Betty insisted “no one had any answers,” in her story she actually included one answer that she received. One pastor told her that people do not exist before they are born. But Betty didn’t like this answer – it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
It wasn’t until Betty met LDS missionaries that she found someone who would give her the answer she desired. And because she liked the answer (i.e., she enjoyed a premortal life with Heavenly Father), she joined the Mormon Church. She wrote, “I am grateful that the missionaries were able to answer the question that no one else could.”
I have often heard Mormon stories similar to Betty’s; people with deeply held convictions or questions for which they can never find answers or confirmation – until they discover Mormonism. I conducted a limited and informal study of this common Mormon experience a few years ago. You can read about the entire process and my findings on MRM.org, but I will post my conclusion here as, just like the three LDS converts in my MRM article, it also fits Betty’s experience so well.
What do these conversion stories have in common? None of these three people who later converted to Mormonism were just searching for answers; they were searching for someone who would tell them what they wanted to hear.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about this phenomenon: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
These LDS converts (and I daresay others as well) did just that. They searched until they found teachers who would confirm what they hoped for. In due course, they turned their ears away from truth and were turned aside to fables.
Mormonism claims to have answers. Scientology claims to have answers. Islam and many other religions claim to have answers. But having answers isn’t the key. What matters is the content of those answers. There are plenty of religions willing to tell people what they want to hear; but an appealing answer is worse than worthless if it isn’t the truth—no matter how well it fulfills our desires or soothes our itching ears.
If the truth is what we really want, there is an unfailing source for answers to all questions of eternal significance: The Holy Bible. It is a two-edged sword dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). It speaks the truth despite what we hope to hear. And this is what it tells us: If we want lasting peace and inner contentment, to find meaning and purpose in life, we need a Savior. In truth, Jesus Christ is the only answer for the deepest longings of our souls.