Congratulations! You’ve joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have become what is sometimes called a Mormon. Your whole eternity looks different now, but you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about what steps to take next. With the new year just starting, it’s a great time to make some resolutions to help you settle into your new faith. Following are some ideas to get you started:
1. Read the Book of Mormon all the way through. If you’ve never read it, it will give you a strong foundation in your faith. If you’ve already read it, you’ll find new insights now that you’re a member and have the basics of the book under control. As soon as you finish, read the Bible.
2. Put your testimony in writing, and date it. Each year, on your baptism anniversary, write a new testimony. Keep them all together in a notebook so you can see how it grows. In each one, record the parts of the gospel that have the most impact on you and at least one spiritual experience that helped your testimony grow.
3. Start a journal. Record your everyday life, but also record your growing testimony and gospel experiences. Someday all this Mormonism will seem ordinary to you. You don’t want to forget what it was like when it was new and exciting. Remembering will make you a better missionary to others and also help you to remember why you joined when the going gets rough.
4. Prioritize the changes you want to make. As you prepared for baptism, you made a number of changes in your life to qualify for your baptism. Now you may have learned many more things you will need to do in your lifetime to become the person you want to be. This can be very overwhelming. Don’t try to change everything at once. Make a list of ten things and put them in order of most important. Start with those that have the most impact on your spirituality and worthiness and work on one or two at a time. When you feel those are under control, choose two more. In the long run, you’ll make more changes this way than if you try to do twenty things at once.
5. Make an LDS friend. You need someone you trust, besides the missionaries, to turn to when things are spiritually challenging, when you’re asked to give your first talk, or when you don’t understand something. Take your time, and choose wisely. This person can serve as your mentor, so you want to be sure they have a strong testimony and lots of patience. Often people who are also converts have the easiest time understanding how confusing all this is for you.
6. Find a way to serve. Even if no one offers you a calling, find something you can do. Let the bishop know you’d like a church job, but also look for those little things that always need doing that no one is assigned to do. Come early and straighten the hymnbooks. Make a point of greeting visitors. Bring the missionaries a regular treat. Sit by someone who always sits alone. The church is full of jobs that don’t come with callings, and you can assign yourself one or two of them.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.