I was born into Mormonism. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my great aunts and great uncles, my cousins, my second cousins, my neighbors. All Mormon. I really didn't have a choice in becoming a Mormon. What else was I going to do? Respectfully decline to have my name put on the record when I was a baby? Refuse baptism when I was 8 years old? Of course not. Like all children, I was raised to believe in what my family and community taught me. I was taught that the church is true, and I had no reason to believe that it wasn't.
My parents taught me that I am a child of God. They taught me that my family loves me and that being together as a family is important. I was taught to use the atonement of Jesus Christ to repent of my sins. I was taught that I can feel God's love and find answers to life's questions when I read my scriptures, especially the scriptures revealed by modern prophets like Joseph Smith. I was taught to pray to find peace, and to seek counsel from priesthood leaders. My patriarchal blessing says that trials in my life will be resolved through the gospel of Jesus Christ and tells me twice to listen to "those who preside". I accepted these things as truth. I felt good living in line with the values of my family and my community. The teachings felt true to me. I prayed about the Book of Mormon and felt a confirmation that it was true, and I did find peace when I prayed for help during hard times. "By their fruits, ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) I saw all the good things around me as the good fruits of the LDS church.
I believed the church brought happiness to people because the ultimate goal of the religion was to have faith and find truth. I treated my doubts as trials. Did God really ask Abraham to kill his son? Was I supposed to believe that Noah's ark really happened? I followed the directions in my patriarchal blessing and tried to fix my doubts with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the counsel of "those who preside", who counseled me to pray and read my scriptures. I often found myself reading the story of the man who pleads with Jesus, "help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24), and then I would turn to prayer with the same request.
When I needed direction in other areas of my life and felt that I wasn't receiving answers to my prayers, which was fairly often, or that my leaders weren't answering my questions, which was very often, I could turn to my scriptures. My go-to scriptures were the ones that talked about how to make righteous choices:
"For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil" - Moroni 7:16
"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things" - A of F #13 "The Lord looketh on the heart" - 1 Samuel 16:7 "It is not meet that I should command in all things" - D&C 58:26 "O be wise; what can I say more?" - Jacob 6:12 "Behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind" - D&C 9:8 "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" - D&C 93:36
These scriptures taught me that I am able to know right from wrong for myself, that I can know truth for myself, and that I can trust myself to make righteous choices because my heart is striving for the virtuous, the lovely, the things of good report, and the praiseworthy. They taught me that I can be a good person without being told what to do every step of the way. I gained the confidence to stand up for my decisions and for the truth I found without fear of what other people thought and without fear of asking questions because the truth is never hurt by questions. In fact, the Mormon church exists because a 14-year-old boy asked questions as he was searching for truth. I had faith in the Mormon church, and it felt true. I knew the right thing to do was to keep learning and studying because that's how I would gain more light and truth. Ironically, it was learning and studying that eventually led me to find that not everything in the church is light and truth, and it was my ability to trust my inner moral compass that led me to resign from the church.