Like many women who attend BYU-Idaho, Amanda Gardner, a freshman studying biology, attends weekly church meetings, and participates in Relief Society and the visiting teaching program.
However, unlike many other women, she does so with no example to follow but the Savior’s.
“I joined the church before I turned 20,” Gardner said. “I met an LDS girl in January of 2012 and we started getting really close. She introduced me to the church.”
Within four months, Gardner was committed to baptism, but she pushed her baptism date back two months to give her family the opportunity to attend. However, she said many in her family chose not to go to the baptism.
“I lived with my uncle and aunt at the time, and they were pretty mad,” Gardner said. “My aunt was disappointed in me. I think she would have been more comfortable if I spent more time investigating.”
Gardner said her uncle was unhappy as well when she chose to join the church.
“It was the first time I’ve ever broken off from what my family said was best,” Gardner said.
Following the reactions from her aunt and uncle, Gardner said she was terrified to tell her grandparents.
“When I went to tell my grandparents, I started crying,” Gardner said. “They asked me what was wrong and I told them that I wanted to be baptized in the Church.”
She said that they were pleasantly surprised and encouraged her to be baptized.
Gardner said that she was relieved at their reaction.
“My aunt getting mad at me is one thing, but my grandma and grandpa? That’s a different story — I couldn’t handle that,” Gardner said. “Grandparents are never sposed to be disappointed in you.”
Gardner said her grandparents sported her decision by encouraging her and by attending her baptism.
“My great-aunt and great-uncle came to the service along with my cousin,” Gardner said. “Thirty minutes before the baptism, his parents actually tried to talk him out of coming to sport me but he came anyway.”
Gardner said that as she became more open about her new religion, her other family members began to accept her decision in their own time.
“At first, I was almost ashamed of the Church, but once I started talking about it and introducing my church friends to my aunt and uncle, things fell into place,” Gardner said. “My aunt even sported me going to BYU-I because it was a Christian school.”
Gardner said that in spite of the challenges that accompanied joining the Church, she sees the positive outcomes of her family’s reactions.
Gardner said although telling her aunt first resulted in her being shunned and getting her feelings hurt, it wasn’t a negative experience.
“Her actions were motivated by love and concern for me,” Gardner said.
Gardner said the experience helped her become stronger in her testimony and more prepared for challenges.