I remember the first time I read the Book of Mormon cover to cover. I was a freshman in high school. I loved the Church, and it was a time in my life when I wanted to feel more spiritual. It was also a time when I felt a need to convert the world and wanted to talk about Mormonism with everyone. That is why I read the Book of Mormon at school for all to see. It was a deliberate declaration of who I was.
The only problem with reading a book like the Book of Mormon in school is that when the book touches you, you can’t do anything about it cause you never want to let someone see you cry. Heaven forbid they think me feminine. My solution was to go to the bathroom where I could sob in a stall anonymously and somewhat romantically.
The Book of Mormon really did have that kind of an effect on me. I have always been a sensitive person (ironically it’s hard to keep the ladies off you when you’re sensitive) and so scenes like Alma 14 (when Alma’s Christian converts are burned and Amulek wants to save them) and Mosiah 27 (when Alma has a change of heart and character) made me cry. By the time I had finished the book, I had completely enjoyed it. That wasn’t enough, though. I thought about it all day long. It consumed me.
That night I remember distinctly kneeling next to my bed. I remember everything about the room. I prayed, seeking confirmation that the Book of Mormon was indeed true. I felt the biggest spiritual rush I could have imagined. I was overcome with a feeling of excitement and passion. Inside and out I felt the reality of God and of Jesus Christ. I felt forgiven of my sins. I felt vindicated. I felt warm and secure and sure that the Book was true. I let myself experience the euphoria all night. I don’t know when I fell asleep. It was enlightenment. It was ecstasy. It was catharsis.
That feeling is what it means to be LDS.