As a teenager, I liked to speculate about religion with my parents. My general attitude about religion was skeptical; I felt it the responsibility of others to build my faith.
One day when I was nearly seventeen, I was leaning over the counter in the kitchen reading The LDS Church News which ran a cartoon strip that day depicting events from the Book of Ether in The Book of Mormon. I read the passage, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” That admonition struck a particularly responsive chord and I realized that I had things backward. Instead of demanding proof first, this scripture was telling me I should try to exercise faith first; the assurance would then come after my faith had been tried. One effect of reading this scripture was to make me generally more optimistic. It was the start of a conscious shift of direction, a willingness to try first and expect proof later.
The Book of Mormon itself stands for me as a persuasive artifact, because of the many witnesses who speak to the physical presence of the gold plates; the short time in which it was translated; and particularly the chiastic form in which much of The Book of Mormon is cast. This and the power with which it speaks to my soul all lead me to believe the book is everything Joseph Smith said it was.