"As I was packing to go home early from my mission, I saw my Book of Mormon on my bed. I jumped on top of my bed and I clenched the Book of Mormon with both hands. I remember calling out to God "Is this book true or not? I need to know!" The next thing that happened was a wave of the spirit hit me, and then another wave, and another wave. For about two minutes the strongest spiritual wave just kept hitting and every wave was getting stronger and stronger and stronger. Right then I was told by the Spirit, you have been led here. Like D&C 112:10. That scripture is one of my favorite scriptures because I realized I had been led to that point. And that is when I knew I could never deny that experience at that time. I knew it was true and I could never deny that moment that happened in that little trailer."
Come Back Podcast
Listen to Come Back Podcast on Spotify. Sharing stories of coming back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have a story of coming back, email me at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.
‎Come Back Podcast on Apple Podcasts
‎Religion & Spirituality · 2022
Come Back Podcast
Sharing stories of coming back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have a story of coming back, email me at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.
Come Back Podcast on Stitcher
Sharing stories of coming back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have a story of coming back, email me at ashly.comebackpodcast@gmail.com.




I want to introduce you a little bit.  And so, Chris, you reached out to me, and you mentioned that this is something you're really passionate about.  You have a lot of friends that have left, and you've watched kind of their process, and I am in a similar boat: I have a lot of people that have left that are close to me.  And it kind of makes you evaluate your own experience and why you stay.  And so, you have a really awesome story – just what you send me was so incredible – and I loved it.  And so, I'm excited to hear the “live” version, I guess. 


But yeah, I'd love to hear if you want to just start from the beginning and share kind of where it started, and what all of that looked like? 




The reason I was so drawn to your podcast was because I actually had the same idea four or five years ago.  It dawned on me as I was listening to a very close friend go on Mormon Stories, and kind of just pour out their experience, and just kept saying over and over, like, “Why didn't anyone tell us this about history?  And why can't the Church answer all our questions?” And they just went on and on, it was four hours.  And by the end of it, I just was lost, I was just left sad and empty and uninspired.  And I said, “There's got to be another solution, rather than people that just pour out their soul, and what are they left with?  They have no foundation anymore.” 


I can understand if you leave and go to another religion and find a different faith in Christ and find more truth.  I'm a truth seeker.  But to just leave, avoiding your life, and you just walk away kind of bitter, it doesn't sit well with me. 


And so that's why I was passionate.  My full podcast would actually be about somebody that went through the refiner’s fire and, like you describe, why do people come out stronger?  Just like when I'm at the gym, and I work out and get muscles sore, and cause pain and suffering to my muscles, that's the only way to get those muscles to grow.  So spiritually, in that same sense, if we have to tear down our testimony, and really dig in deep, and I try to ask as many questions and be curious, and to not think I have all the answers.  I feel like that's how we do the tearing down, and we're able to put down roots that can withstand the storms that come because they are coming, we've seen it.  


During COVID in 2020, when the prophet said, “Hey, your spirit will not be able to survive from what's coming, unless you have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.” That word “constant” resonated with me.  As I look back on my life, the thing that's kept me grounded, it's consecutive, consistent spiritual experiences.  Those are why I'm here today.  And I feel like I'm not an anomaly.  I feel like God's not a respecter of persons.  But I feel like every single individual will have those spiritual experiences if they're looking for them, and they understand how to feel the spirit.  


And you kind of figure out what your batting averages, and mine was really low.  But I started figuring out how I can act on these promptings, and things were happening in my life where God spoke to me more.  And I just kept acting on and getting my batting average higher.  But during the COVID, especially, I saw that prophecy fulfilled as I saw family members, friends, just looking at a sample size for my ward and stake, we've lost about 10% of the church during COVID.  And this isn't like, politically.  Like, my right friends decided, “hey, this vaccine, the mask mandates, we're not on board with it.  The Prophet went way too far by encouraging us to get a vaccine.  We're not okay with that.  He went too far.”  And they maybe use Sunday as family time, they do other things, but they're not interested in coming back, that put a bad taste in their mouth. 


My friends and family on the left, decided, “Hey, why is the prophet opening the doors for COVID?  It's not safe yet.  Why are they opening temples?”   I just see this contrast of “if you don’t have your roots down, it doesn't matter what side of the aisle you are on, the prophet will offend you eventually.”  So, you need to have those consistent, consistent spiritual experiences.  That's my testimony in that because that's how I've gotten to be where I'm at spiritually to continue to ask questions, and continue to have those really cool experiences that keep me grounded in the gospel. 


But going back to my story, I'd like to kind of start in high school.  That was kind of a pivotal time in my life, because I was moving around a lot.  My family is from California, and we moved here like in middle school, and I went to a few different schools.  And then they ended up in Draper when I was 15.  And I was really an insecure little kid.  I looked like a kid, I was super young, baby faced, 16-years-old, and just really, really insecure.  So, looking for friends, I was trying to find people that accepted me.  I gravitated to kind of a little bit of the rowdier voice. 


And really, I just love making people laugh.  If I could make you laugh, I would just do about anything to. Humor was kind of my way around my insecurities.  So, I use humor a lot to make friends, not good friends, but friends that were kind of a little bit on the fringe of the Church.  We’d go to church, but we'd go to McDonald's during Sunday School, we just kind of checked out, we weren’t that engaged. 


I did alcohol.  I started drinking at about 16 years old.  I would go do the weekend kind of stuff.  Not too serious.  But we kind of started there.  And then when you are a young 16-year-old drinking, you have to shoplift.  And so, I kind of got into shoplifting and got into just little stuff, juvenile stuff, that a lot of high schoolers do.  When I was getting towards the end of high school, I needed a break.  There was a fork in the road, and I had to choose a different path, because I saw the way my life was gonna go if I stuck with these friends, and it wasn't going to be the life that I wanted. 


And so, as I kind of evaluated the people that went on missions, or didn't go on missions, I just felt like, it was the time when I probably needed to decide pretty quick, and I kind of jumped in with no testimony at all, but like, “Hey, I'll start this process.”  I was turning 19 that summer, and so I started down the road of applying, putting my papers in, meeting with my state president. 


And so, as I started this process, my Stake President – and my dad was on the high council—, so he knew me pretty well.  But he also knew who my friends were, and who I was hanging around with.  And he knew I wasn’t scot-clean either.  So, he kind of dug down and really tried to put the fear of God into me, and it worked.  I broke down and just told him everything and laid all my cards out.  And I said, “Do I qualify or not?”  And when he got to the Word of Wisdom question, I just bawled like a baby, because it just hit me that these choices have consequences and we were all just having a good time in high school.  But the people that I brought to these parties and introduced to drugs, alcohol, and stuff like that.  I wasn’t addicted to that stuff, I just did it socially.  But I didn't know the consequences of somebody that has that addiction in them, that could take them on a totally different path.  So, it really started to set that those choices not only had consequences for me, but I had friends that became alcoholics, got hooked on opioids, all those different things that started with that little party in high school. 


So, all these people that say, “Oh, it's just innocent,” or “it's not going to kill you to do once.”  You don't know what kind of path it's going to take someone on.   When I saw the fork, I knew I had to take that harder path.  And it was awkward.  And a lot of people when they're coming back to the church, they're just like, “this doesn't feel natural.  This feels really awkward.”  That was exactly how I felt as I started going down this path, because it wasn't me.  I was in this group of people that parents would like pull me aside and be like, “please stop hanging out my son, you're not a good influence.”  I was not a good kid, in any sense.  But I knew that if I can hang around the right people, that my chameleon-like personality would come through, and I would gain some of those attributes.  So, I kind of caught hold on like, “if I can just surround myself with better friends and better people.  I could become somebody different than I was currently.” 


So, I get my papers in, get through the stake president, and I get my call to the West Virginia Charleston mission which is where Terryl Givens lives who you just interviewed.  So, it was cool.  I never met Terryl, but he was a very prominent member in our mission, and the way he describes that mission field of very hostile, that was it.  It was the Bible Belt to a tee.  And so, when I get out into there, that was a big eye-opening experience.  Because I thought we were just really strict Christian denomination.  I had no idea that people like literally hated our guts, and would go out of their way to dust their feet on us and tell us “You will burn in hell for what you believe.”  And so that was a shocker.  These people really don't like me and what we stand for.  So, that was kind of a big eye opener.


For all the things that I didn't do in high school spiritually, I had to kind of play catch up during that time.  I get to the MTC in October, and Elder Ballard say, “hey, we're gonna raise the bar on missionaries.”  I'm like, “Great.  I made it under the bar.”  It was perfect timing.  I get out there, kind of find my way through the MTC, and people kind of get that I'm not like them because one I didn't look like them, I look like I was 13-years-old.  They're like, “how are you 19?” “I don't know.  It says it on my birth certificate.  I promise I am.”  


The second thing is I had no testimony, no knowledge of the gospel, very little.  And so, people are like quoting scriptures, quoting doctrine and General Authorities, and like calling each other “Wow, this guy's like Bruce R. McConkie.”  And I remember saying, “Who's Bruce R. McConkie?”  And everyone just laughs and like, “Are you kidding me?”  And I was like, “No, I don't know who that is.”  And he's one of my favorite apostles now, but just the knowledge that I didn't have, I just felt like, “Man, I lost all that opportunity.  And I'm gonna have to figure out how to catch up to these guys because they're so far advanced spiritually than I am.” 


And so, we go through this MTC experience, and really, I'm kind of like, “okay, I think I'm gonna do this” but self-doubt is creeping in like, “Hey, you're in too deep.  And you've kind of taken all the steps in the gospel.  We went from deacon to teacher to priests.  Now you're a missionary, you may be in too deep.”  The thought kept saying, “This might be too big of a jump.  You don't fit in.  This is a big leap for where you were.  This isn't just another step in the gospel.”  And so, that's kind of how I viewed it.  And so, I'm sitting in a room meeting my MTC companion, and this missionary, we're sitting in this room alone with this missionary.  But he just broke down and started crying and just said, “Hey, guys, I'm going home.  This is way bigger than I was expecting.  My parents told me to go out here and try it.  I tried it for a week, I want to go home.  This is not for me.”  And so, the way he described how he was feeling was the exact same way I was feeling.  I just didn't have the guts to verbalize it and actually say, “Hey, I think I'm in too deep.  I think I'm out.”  So, my companion drops down to his knees, and he says, “We're gonna get you a testimony right now, right here.”  So, he drops down to his knees, and says, “we're gonna pray about it.”  And I just sit there frozen.  And this guy sits in his chair.  And we sat there for like 10 minutes, and he's begging us, “Please, get down on your knees and pray.”  And I'm like, “No, I'm not going to do that.”  And this kid’s like, “No, I'm not either.”  So, he just gets up, and it was so awkward.  And I just felt so bad because I was like, “I never prayed.  I don't know what's going to happen.”  And so, it was just super awkward.  And he gave the guy a hug, and the guy ends up going home.  And I was like, “Wow, that happened really fast.  I was not expecting that.”  We're all just having a good time in the MTC, and then you start seeing people go home that starts to hit you.  And you're like, “Wow, we're in deep here, Chris.  So, you've got to figure out what you're doing out here.  Why do you really believe this stuff?” 


And so, I remember saying a prayer that night, asking if the Book of Mormon was true.  And I get nothing, no confirmation, just a stupor of thought.  I need it.  I really need a witness right now, and it didn’t it come.  So, that night, I have a dream.  And it's a very vivid dream, and I can still remember it to this day.  I was actually a fox running from a bunch of dogs.  And these hunters are on their horses, and they're chasing me, and I'm just running and running and running.  And I kept hiding behind logs.  And I kept running more.  And by the time I had gotten miles down the road, I just couldn't outrun them anymore.  And finally, I just sat behind this log, and I said, “Why are they chasing me?  What did they want?”  I look down in my lap down, and there's the gold plates.  And I had them in my hand, and I said, “this is what they want.”  And it gave me the feeling of knowing what Joseph Smith went through, how hard he fought to protect those plates.  And at the end of the day, as a person that wasn't very honest, I got very used to lying.  We all have a breaking point.  We all know if we're telling a lie, whether you attack me personally, or my family, or for his case, you start killing his kids off by mobs attacking him, you're going to have a breaking point where you say, “Stop, I've made it up.  I'm sorry.  Just leave me alone.”  And he never had that point, with all of the hostility and everyone that was attacking.  And that gave me a little perspective of what he was going through as he fought tooth and nail to protect those plates.  So, I thought that was cool.  It was a dream, it wasn’t a burning in the bosom, but it's something. 


So, I finished the MTC, I get out in mission field, we're knocking doors in the Bible Belt, and we're just getting hostile people.  There have been no missionaries in the area for like five years.  We get thrown into this area and word started to circulate in this little town of like “Mormon missionaries are in this town; we're going to drive them out.”  So, literally we're like knocking doors and so many people just greeted us with a smile, and then say good luck.  And then they'd be like, “Actually, I take it back.  I don't wish you good luck.  You guys are so evil.  I know you don't believe in the same Jesus.”  I was not expecting this much animosity towards the Church.  That was that was the biggest shock, that I started realizing what am I signed up for?  What is this church that I joined and I’ve been part of my whole life. 


I been out about three weeks, and I see this church and a house.  Well, I'm thinking, “Okay, we're gonna go knock on the door.”  If you ever see a church and house, it means there's a preacher that lives there.  Everyone knows that, but I have no idea.  So, I go up, and we're starting to walk to this house, and right when we get next to the church, this guy comes down on his porch.  And he started screaming at us.  And the first thing he said, is, “Boys, stop right there.  I cannot believe that my church didn't fall on you and kill you both.  I'm that shocked.”  And right when he said that, I just froze, I just could not speak.  And I just remember my whole body was shaking because I was just in shock.  And I was like, “Oh, my gosh.  What?  What does this guy know that I don't know?”  And so, him and my trainer just start going at it and just start yelling at each other.  And just say all this stuff about the Church and Joseph Smith, and it was so much that I couldn't even speak.  I just stood there, and my companion’s trying to testify and fight off this guy's attacks, and I could not help him at all because I was such in shock, and I'm just shaking. 


And so, we go home, I can't get this guy's words out of my head.  They just kept repeating over and over.  Everything he said about the Church, I couldn't get him out of my head.  And so, I go back to our little double-wide trailer.  And I was mad.  The emotion that flooded over me was anger.  And I was angry at my parents.  I remember thinking, “Why did they raise me in this church and not tell me all this stuff?”  And I was so ticked off at them.  And I realized, “You know what?  I'm just embarrassing myself out here.  I didn’t come out here to embarrass myself.  I'm not doing this anymore.” 


And so, I started packing my suitcase and just decided, “You know what, I am in too deep.  And I didn't sign up for this.  And I'm done embarrassing myself.”  So, I start packing a suitcase.  And as I'm packing, I see the Book of Mormon on my bed.  And I jumped on top of my bed.  And I clenched the Book of Mormon with both hands.  And I remember calling out to God and saying, “Is this book true or not? I need to know.”  And the next thing that happened, there was a wave of the Spirit that hit me.  And then another wave.  And another wave.  For about two minutes, the strongest spiritual wave just kept hitting and every wave just kept getting stronger and stronger and stronger.  And right then, I was told by the Spirit, “You have been led here.”  The Doctrine & Covenants in Section 112 says, “Be thou humble, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answers to thy prayers.” 


That scripture is one of my favorite scriptures because I realized I had been led to that point.  As awkward as it was and uncomfortable, and I didn't belong there, I was led there.  Something led me out there for that experience at that time.  And that's when I knew, and I could never deny what I experienced at that time.  That was the moment and I was like, “Wow, it all is true.  Everything He says, I don't care what the critics are gonna say, I know it.  I can never deny this moment that happened right here, right now, in this little trailer.” 


From that point, I decided I have a testimony, I still have a knowledge of the gospel.  So, at that point, I just became a sponge, and I soaked up and I studied my butt off.  Every morning, I’d get up early.  Every night, I'd stay up about an hour late.  And I would just study and study and study until finally, I really got to the point where most of my district was that came out the same time.  I felt like, I learned so much in those six months, and I took it upon myself to catch up for all this slacking that I had done.  I’d catch up, and I was on fire.  And literally that changed everything.  When I felt like I have that testimony, and then I had the knowledge piece.  And then I was unstoppable.  I was probably a little bit too full of pride, and I was pretty cocky.  And so. I kind of, for the next six months, got into a lot of bashing. a lot of fighting with these preachers and these protestants and was just guns a blazing, just like, “I’m gonna prove them all wrong.” 


And about a year out, I had a change of heart when Robert Millet came to my mission.  And he basically talked about what he was doing.  I don't know if you know about what Robert Millet did in the early 2000s.  But he would travel around to different churches, and he would hold these firesides, and he would basically say, “your preacher can ask me any question, and I'm gonna ask them questions.  I don't understand about your Trinity.  I want you to explain it to me.  If you want to know about the Book of Mormon, or Joseph Smith, ask me.  I am the Church; I am the expert on the doctrine.  Ask me.”  And he said, “The point of this, elders, is you think you're going to preach and baptize the world, and I know how you feel about that.  But there are people you're gonna meet along the way that can do far more good outside of the Church than in.  So don't think you have the obligation to just baptize the world and save the world.  It's okay.  If people don't accept the gospel, I want you to take away a misconception, and I want you to replace it with truth.  That's how you're going to help these people repent.”  So that's all I was trying to do. 


And from that point, I had a change of heart.  And I believe I repented because my mind changed.  And that's the definition of repentance.  It denotes a change of mind about yourself and about the world in general.  And so, I saw these people differently.  I stopped looking at it as a fight every single day.  And I started my scripture study with questions, and I started finding questions that I would have.  And I would go tract.  And I would ask these people my questions, “Hey, I read this scripture this morning, can you help me understand it?  I don't fully understand it.”  And all their shields started coming down, and they were like, “What?  You're asking me about a doctrinal question?”  “Yeah.  Can you help me understand the scripture in the New Testament?  I don't understand.  I was just reading it this morning.” 


And so, it brought down the barriers, and we were able to connect.  And I was able to meet and befriend a lot of these preachers, and still to this day, some of the great honors in my life are preachers that still call me up.  And they'll say, “Hey, somebody in my congregation was telling me about one of the doctrines of the Church.  I wanted to call and verify it with you first.”  I am the authority.  That's cool. 


But then they've gone as far as like, defending our church, and they're nowhere near getting baptized.  But they trust me and know that I'm the source of the Church, and if they want answers from the Church, they call me.  And these friends that I have that are lay ministers and different Protestants, they've invited me out to come preach at their pulpit.  “Will you speak at my church?”  I haven't done it yet.  But just the invitation is an honor.  That doesn't happen, to go from how much hatred and animosity they had to me to at the end, like we became friends and we're still friends, we still talk.  That's the reward.  It’s not about the baptisms.  It's about these friendships that we have.  And we're able to build bridges of friendship.


It proves Jesus Christ is divine, He is the Son of God.  And that gave me that strong witness and the aha moment of “okay, this is why we have the Book of Mormon.  It's for him.  It's for these brothers and sisters that missed the mark on Jesus Christ.”  So, that was kind of how I finished my mission.  And it was a really cool experience, I learned so much from that.  And coming back into it, I just kept studying, kept being a student of the scriptures, kept having questions. 


And when this technology wave came of all these people learning new things about Joseph Smith, it was familiar to me because these same tactics they're using on the internet, this isn't new information.  You can go find this information in the library, but no one was gonna go research back in the dark corners of the library to find it.




And I think it's interesting because you said that he said, “Use your mind, not your heart.”  And that's something that is a common theme with people that have been on the podcast.  They're debating online, and that's a common thing that they say is “you can't trust your feelings.  You can't trust your heart.”  And so, I think that's interesting that you experienced that on your mission a long time ago.  It's the same tactics,



The antis and the critics, they take away your foundation by shooting it.  Their main target is Joseph Smith, they don't forget the Book of Mormon as much as Joseph Smith, I think we'd all agree on that.  They know that he's a flawed man.  And if they can take him down, they evaporate your foundation. 


But the sad thing is that they’re not replacing it with anything.  It's like, “Tell me about how this is bringing me closer to Jesus Christ?  Help me understand what you found.”  I believe that Robert Millet was right, when he said, “You're gonna meet people that can do more good outside the church than in.”  The best example I can give you is Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow was one of the most incredible human beings ever.  And his platform, and his reach, is so much more effective of bringing people to Christ outside of the church.  That's fine.  I would love to have the opportunity to meet him.  And we talk about our testimony of Jesus Christ.  And I feel like we can bond with that.  And we wouldn’t tear each other down or attack and be like, “you have to see things my way.”  And that's okay. 


But I believe even if your road doesn't come back to the church, when you come back, you need to tell me about what truth you found that actually brought you closer to Jesus Christ.  Really, that's all I care about.  If your road doesn't lead you back to Jesus Christ, I might have a problem with that.  There's a lot of ways we can be deceived, and that's the best test that I can tell is “Can you become better?  Were you brought closer to Jesus Christ?”  That's all I care about.  At the end of the day, I used to be the judgmental person that just said, “You know what, you couldn't hack the church.  Sorry, it just wasn't for you.”  Now, I've kind of progressed in my thinking and, in meeting really good people in the last year that have left the Church and still found something that brought them closer to Jesus Christ, brought them closer as a family, and great, I'm all for it.  I'm going to be their biggest fan.  And I feel like that's where we need to get and realize that the power of the Book of Mormon, in my mind, it's not to bring the anti back to the Church. 


I'm kind of done with casting pearls before swine, and getting into the weeds.  As Terryl Givens says, “I can tell very quickly, if somebody's sincere, or if they're bitter, and they're looking to just destroy my faith.  I'm just not going to waste my time with it.” 


But the last thing I wanted to share, I did have an experience with the Book of Mormon about six months ago, that I feel like I wanted to share.  It was a spiritual experience that helped keep me on this path.  And this was just another one.  And I was going through a really dark time, dealing with some depression and anxiety, just a lot of things were going on in my life.  And there's a General Authority that came to stake conference, and his name was Elder Becker.  And he was talking about the people that had left during COVID.  He was talking about social members.  And he said, “I need you all to get your roots deeper, and your foundation needs to be stronger than it is right now if you're going to withstand what's coming next.”  He said, “I need you each to commit to read the Book of Mormon for five pages each day.”  That's a lot.  I was like, “Man, that's a lot.  That's a big commitment.”  But as I look back, I really hadn’t read the Book of Mormon straight through in years.  So, I'm like, “alright, I'll take his challenge.”  So instead of reading it, I actually listened to it.  I just started listening to it in my downtime; when I was at the gym, when I was driving.  Instead of social media, I just plugged in the Book of Mormon. 


So, I was listening to it for about two to three hours a day, and in that time, I actually finished it in three weeks.  So, I would call it like 30-Day Challenge.  If you want to just take this challenge, just try it.  I'll tell you I found two things:  First thing, was there's patterns in the Book of Mormon that I wasn't aware of.  There's language in there that keeps repeating itself.  Every time that people fall into apostasy, I hear the words “awake”, “arise”, “shake off the dust.”  It kept happening.  But those were the words I kept hearing over and over, I thought that was kind of interesting. 


And then the second thing was my depression, my anxiety, my stress level, the way I dealt with my kids and my family.  It was different.  And I realized, when you're feasting on the word of Christ, hours during the day, two to three hours a day, you will swim in the spirit a lot easier.  And so, I just looked at the fruits that came from that three-week experience.  And for me, there's a lot of people that I talk to, I go to lunch with, and they've taken Moroni’s promise, and they're just like, “Chris, it didn't work.  Like I got nothing.”  I say, “Try.  There got to be more roads than just Moroni’s promise.” 


And so now I tell them, try this.  Try this 30-Day Challenge.  See if it works.  See if you can see the fruits of the Book of Mormon.  Did it bring you joy?  Did it make you a better person?  Did it bring you closer to Christ?  Those are the three questions you can ask, and how did these fruits affect you in a positive or negative way because —as Elder Callister said — this book either came from God or from Satan, and you got to figure out what the source was.  And so, for me, it's a very easy thing:  why I believe the way I do, and what the Book of Mormon really should do, the fruits of it should either make you a better person, or – if they're making you angry and bitter and less like Christ— then it's probably not something that's worth your time.  And something that's not inspired of God.  But you have to find the source.  And so, that was that second reminder to me, and I've had many reminders and spiritual witnesses.  But that was something I needed at that time to bring me out of that funk and be like, “Wow, the Book of Mormon continues to amaze me because there's so many different ways that we can tap into it.  And I feel like we're just barely scratching the surface at this point.”  I mean, we've had it for almost 200 years, and I feel like we're just barely scratching the surface still on the power of this book.




I love that.  That is amazing.  And I just wrote down the 30-Day Challenge because I just had this thought that we're doing this book club, and it's every month, we have a new book.  And I think it would be a good idea to do the Book of Mormon as a book club book and do the 30-Day Challenge.  I love that.



I don't like reading, I like audiobooks.  So, I prefer listening.  So, listening to me, I just realized I have a lot of downtime; in the car, at the gym, social media.  And I’m just going to the Book of Mormon, every single time I have a down moment, I'm going there.  And you'll be amazed how fast you can get through it, and how much the right message sinks in because it was different messages.  I've read the Book of Mormon probably 10 times in my life.  Those messages were different when I listened to it in a three-week span.




I love that so much.  So, I have a couple of questions for you, if you're open to it.  So, you went through this faith crisis on your mission where you're like, “These people are saying all these things about the Church.  They’re horrible things.  My parents duped me.”  You're going through this crisis of faith on your mission.  And it's interesting that you said that because I actually have somebody really close to me in my life that just shared with me that they went through a similar experience on their mission with wondering like, “is all of this even true that I'm preaching?” 


And I'm really curious to know, what is your advice for somebody who maybe is in the MTC or maybe they’ve been on their mission for a year or whatever.  What would your advice be to somebody that is going through that and they're just questioning?



Good question.  I would say, first off, there's no real bad reason to go on a mission.  There's good, better, best.  I didn't really have a great reason.  My reason was, I wanted to get out of my parents’ house.  And I wanted to go have some cool stories out there like that.  I wanted to think about my life like “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”  I went out there to think.  I didn't go out there to save people and serve people, that was the last thing on my mind.  I knew I probably would be doing that, but my motivation wasn't the most pure.  I just did it kind of for selfish reasons.  Like, “I need to think.  I need to figure out life.  I just need some space away from mom and dad at this time.” 


So, I would tell people there really isn't a bad motivation.  Just go.  Jimmy Rex outside of the Church just encourages like, “just go.”  I've never met anyone that regrets like, “Man, I really wish I wouldn't have gone on a mission.  I lost those two years.”  The skills and the things that you learn about yourself and the talents -- I learned so many of my spiritual talents that I had no idea what they were.  But I was able to start figuring them out on my mission.  I was able to see myself the way God viewed me.  And I was able to really see those talents.  And see, “this is my purpose.  This is how God's going to use me when I get home.”  And had it not been for my mission, I probably never would have realized that.  But just that time of just thinking and dealing with and just being in the Spirit and just testifying until you're blue in the face – even if you don't fully know if this is true or not – just that over and over and over, that resilience, it builds that discipline and that work ethic. 


And so, really, there's so many skills that you can acquire.  It would be really hard, I feel like especially stateside and in the Bible Belt, to come home and not have the spiritual experiences and not have a testimony.  But, at the end of the day, I feel like it's the best time that you can use those two years. 


I mean, I think they've done studies and to gain that knowledge and the things in a two-year span, it would take like 20 years outside of that little container that they put you in.  So, what a cool social experiment it would be.  And just look at people that did go, and that didn't go, and just compare them.  That's all I did.  And people that went seemed like they just had it more together, life comes a little bit easier.  They just sort of better problem solving.  Where sometimes the people that did it, they have a little bit harder time and then their lives are a little bit more challenging.  It's not to say you go on a mission and the rest of your life is going to be easy.  But you're able to just deal with things in a better way.  You're able to deal with adversity, because you deal with it day in and day out.  And it builds that resilience for life.




I love that.  My husband came home early from his mission.  He was Episode Two on my podcast.  And he talks about that – just pours his heart out – about how he wishes he would have finished his mission.  And he got home from his mission, and there were a lot of things that were a struggle for him: addiction and all kinds of things. 


And obviously, God works all things to the good of those who love Him.  And all the horrible things that him and I both went through; I feel like are a gift in our life today to be able to relate with people and help people.  But I love what you're saying, going on a mission shapes you for the rest of your life.  I've heard similar things from my husband and his experience with coming home early. 



And he doesn't need to carry that label anymore.  I feel like there is that stigma that needs to stop.  They need to stop saying, “Yeah, I went on a mission, but I came home early.”  You served a season.  My dad served 18 months in Japan, but that was all that they serve back then.  There's times and seasons for everything. 


COVID was a weird time.  I talked to a lot of kids that came home early and never went back out after a year.  And they're married, successful, and doing amazing things, but they're like, “Gosh, I really have this regret.  I feel like I need to go finish.”  And I’m like, “No, you're done.  You served your season.  Stop putting that asterisk by serve: ‘But I came home early.’”  We need to get that out.  And I feel like the Church in general is doing a better job with these young men and young women that come home and maybe go back out.  But they were ostracized when I was serving.  The people that came home, no wonder they really never came back to the church because really, you were ostracized.  And it was really awkward for people that came home early.  So, during that time, I feel for them. 


One of my companions got bit by a tick and got Lyme disease.  He had basketball scholarships, he lost everything.  And it's like, “Man, was he really cursed?”  And he's like, “No, it's fine.  It just happens.”  But at the end of the day, it happened for a reason.  And he came home and got married, and he's been doing fine.  He had to do a year of physical therapy, and it sucked.  But at the end of the day, he wouldn’t give up that time for anything. 


So, I really feel like I hope someday they take that word out of their mouth of “but” with missionaries that come home early.  That bothers me.  I just feel like you served, whether you served a month or your two-year time, doesn't matter.  You served, and you just need to take those nuggets that you learned and apply them.  And really the test is “What are you doing now?  Are you having the same spiritual experiences now?”  I don't care.  Elder Bednar once said, someone said, “Tell us a cool mission experience.  Tell us a mission story.”  He said, “I'm sick of people going back to the mission well to draw on spiritual experiences.  I'm going to tell you a spiritual experience that happened in the last week.”  So those are the people I look to.  I should have missionary opportunities way more frequently.  I'm not going to go back to that well over and over again.  Because the well is going to run dry.  Have new experiences.  Have spiritual experiences.  Experiences like that's what you need to be doing.  That's how you test it.  Am I really convicted of this gospel or not?  That's the true test.




There's a quote by Elder Uchtdorf, and I'm gonna completely butcher it, but it says, “You cannot continuously draw on experiences from the past, you need a steady flow of spiritual experiences.”  And it's so true.  And we have to seek those spiritual experiences, we have to be open to them, and we have to look for them.  And so, I love that. 


Okay, I have another question for you.  So, you have this friend group, and I'm familiar with them.  And I've seen a lot of people leave, not in just that group, but in many groups.  It seems to be kind of the “cool and edgy” thing to do.  And I could get a lot of hate for saying that, because everyone has their own spiritual journey, and I completely respect and understand that.  But that is kind of how it appears, if I am being honest. 


And I'm curious to know, you know a lot of these people.  And I think also another thing is the mid-singles scene in Utah, it can be a challenge to be in the mid-single scene.  And I've seen it with a lot of people in my life that are in their 30s, and they're still single, and they struggle to keep their testimony, and they really go through it.  And I'm curious to know, what is your thought and what is your perspective on staying strong and staying true to the faith?  And just any advice you have for people that are surrounded by people that are leaving?




Yeah, great question.  I was thinking about the different groups of people during COVID that left, and I've been really concerned with it.  And that's why I go to lunch with a lot of my friends and just kind of see how they're doing, how's your testimony doing.  And so that's something I'm very used to talking about.  It's something that always comes up, just because if I'm prompted to just check up on them, and I try to do it in a very non-judgmental way because I feel like you can definitely turn people off.  And really, I just want to love them and listen, and whatever promptings I receive, follow up on those. 


But during COVID, I was saying, I saw people on the right and on the left leave for different reasons.  But I also saw neighbors and people that had been on the Church for years –I mean, we're talking 5-10 years.  And during COVID, they started coming back after COVID.  And I was like, “What happened?”  And they just said, “We just saw this crazy stuff happening.  And we just felt like this might be the end.  What's going on here?”  And so, they just said, “We just decided we need to get our house in order.  We want our kids to be raised in the Church.  We never stopped believing it.  But culturally, we just had a bad taste in our mouth” or whatever reason.  There's thousands of reasons people leave.  They're just like, “That didn't really mean anything anymore.  We thought it was like a big deal.  But it became less of a deal during COVID.  And we just said when this is all over, let's get back.” 


So, something drove them to come back.  So, I know we all want to focus on “Wow, it's just a mass exodus of people leaving,” but I don't think we're giving enough attention to the people that have come back.  And really, there's all the reasons that you can leave that the commonality of the reason they come back is the Spirit just moves upon them and is like, “Hey, you've been gone long enough.  It's time to come back.  We need you back here.” 


And so, I feel like letting people come back with “we need you, warts and all.”  We don't need these perfect people that have never done anything bad in their life.  This is a hospital for sick people.  We're not a country club for perfect people.  And so, people that left that I've talked to, they often say, “I thought I had to be all in or all out, Chris.  If I wasn't a full tithe payer or perfect with the Word of Wisdom –sometimes I drink with my spouse, and I'm really not going to commit to paying tithing.”  I say, “Great, I don't care.  I need you.  I need you back.” 


If the Lord says, “come back,” come back where you are.  Don't try to be 100%.  I’m not 100%.  So, jump in where you are.  If you're 10% on tithing, 50% on Word of Wisdom, you cuss like a sailor.  Great.  I'm going to love you.  And I guarantee I'm not the one that's going to convert you back.  The spirit will start working on you.  And slowly you'll do one or two things at a time.  And you'll get there.  We're all swimming our own race.  Instead of this comparison of like “I'm never going to be as good as this person.”  If I can be a better version for myself than I was last year, I won.  I don't have to worry about any of the other contestants in this race.  I'm just running against me.  Just jump in.  Start swimming. 


And that’s the beauty of the Atonement and the Church, that as you start swimming as fast as you can, and if you’re like I can only give 10% effort, great.  Christ makes up the rest.  And that's the beauty of the gospel.  And I feel like that would be my biggest encouragement is you need to have more spiritual experiences.  And for the people that are like, “I've never had a spiritual experience, I'm just ultra-ready to leave, this makes sense.”  You're not going to make it.  I need you to have more spiritual experiences.  And that that really makes the biggest difference.  I can't emphasize that enough of trying to pinpoint what is it that has people stick and committed to the gospel and its spiritual experiences. 


So, I just will repeat that until I’m blue in the face because I'm a very big advocate that really nothing else sticks.  And at the end of the day, when I look at God in the eyes, and I tell him about those spiritual experiences, I know and He knows, that's all that matters.  He gave me diamond truth and spoke to me directly.  At the end of the day, I don't care what all the critics say, God told me, “This is where I need you to be.” 


And so, until it tells me otherwise, I'm here.  I'm going to build up his kingdom, I'm going to serve as hard as I can.  I'm going to be totally imperfect and inadequate, but I'm going to give it my best shot, and He will make up the rest.  He’ll make up the difference.  And He continues to blow away your talents and magnify you, and you will do amazing things far beyond your natural capabilities if you just trust Him.  I know it sounds cliche, but you really just have to trust Him and swim as hard as you can, and not be so timid, and stop looking at everyone else.  Because you're going to feel like “I'm never going to measure up.”




Yeah.  I love that so much.  Well, we are just right at the top of the hour.  So, I am so thankful for your testimony and just your experience.  It's so incredible and so needed, and I just love that you are a warrior for truth amongst all the things that are crazy happening in this world, and you want to stick up for what's right, and I just love that, and I appreciate you reaching out to me and being on the podcast.  I'm so happy that we got to have your story.  So, thank you.