Many dark nights I remember my father coming home, drunk and screaming at my mother. Terrified, I would run and hide, close my eyes tightly and not open them until he had gone.
I grew up in a violent home. My father was a drunk, unfaithful to my mother, and very abusive; he would often would hit me and my mom. The atrocities I witnessed there left my heart bruised and scarred. As a girl, I was timid, frightened by practically everything, and very bitter about the things I had lived through. Nevertheless, underneath the wall of pain, I had a good heart. In my dreams at night I was always a hero, the defender of the poor and oppressed. I felt great compassion for others, and tried to be a peacemaker among the other children at my school. I wanted to be a good person, but I felt that the injuries of my past limited my potential.
That was, until the day I met some missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Honestly, I didn’t want to learn much about their religion because I was angry at God for all the things that had happened to me. Even so, I kept accepting their visits because I wanted to know if there really was such a person as Jesus Christ—if He really existed.
At that time I was a somewhat rebellious teenager with a dirty mouth. The missionaries, however, would not let me cuss during their visits. With patience and love, they would ask me not to talk like that, reminding me that it wouldn’t invite a good spirit. Little by little, they helped me break the habit of swearing.
This was my first experience with repentance, the process through which we put our thoughts, beliefs, and actions in harmony with the will of God. My manner of speech was the first thing that changed, but it was not the last. As I continued to learn about the teachings of Jesus Christ and tried to live His commandments, the bitterness and pain from my past began to disappear, uncovering the good person that I always wanted to be—the hero of my dreams, now in real life.
Through living the teachings of Christ and keeping His commandments, we can experience a great peace in our lives. I cannot change the past, but with faith in Jesus Christ my future is bright. Now I know that Christ lives, and that He can free us from our pasts in order to reach our full potential. He wants us to love one another, and above all wants us to love Him with all heart and mind. He wants us to follow Him because if we do, He will help us and take us by the hand so we can become all that we want to be.