(Warning: There's a huge difference between the gospel and church. The Gospel always is and will be perfect, the church on the other hand is made up of many imperfect people, please understand the difference as you read this, because no matter how I feel about the church sometimes, I very much love the gospel.)
As a child I didn't have much of a testimony. I went to church, because that's what I was supposed to do. I had no concept of the difference between the church and the gospel, they were the same thing to me. I had a September birthday so my whole class at church were older than me in school. Needless to say at a young age, I wasn't a favorite. I was young, and honestly I was annoying. It was really hard to keep friends as a little girl, because I felt older than the kids IN my grade and the kids at church felt older than me. And they weren't the nicest kids.
As I got a little older and was able to go to church dances (you had to be 14), I realized there were so many more kids I could be friends with! I didn't just have to be friends with people in my ward. But as time went on I realized that wards stuck together, cliques. Who can blame them? We were kids! So I started bringing kids from school to church dances. And we had so much FUN! These kids were nice to me! They wanted to hangout with me! I had FRIENDS!
So I left the pursuit of church friends behind and found new friends. Time went on and I eventually left church all together. I made choices that led me so far away from the Gospel that I WAS the bad influence. I started enjoying the bad reputation. My life became was bad decision after another. I had officially lost who I was.
Years later Heavenly Father showed himself to me through my son. When I was lost I always thought that God was this idea that people clung to when they needed someone to blame or to grasp to when they needed comfort. But through Austin I felt so much light, the spirit was so strong. I didn't cling to him because I needed to for sanity like I thought was the case in these situations, the miracles around that time, the blessing, the spiritual experiences…. there's no denying. After that I decided it was time to repent and to come back to my Heavenly Father. Although I had had amazing experiences of my own, I still wasn't sure on my faith. So I decided to read the Book of Mormon by myself and to pray. I have never looked back. My testimony of the Gospel and my conversion is so strong and no one can take that away from me. I found who I was. I am a child of god and he knows me personally!
Now let's fast-forward to now. When I moved back to my childhood state I knew I was going to have to leave some old friends behind. I had changed a lot since the time I was living there as a child and the friends I had chosen as a child wouldn't be the friends I'd choose now. I only kept a few that uplifted me and made me a better person. But it didn't matter anyway, because the second I moved back I was thrown back into the same childhood trial I had ran away from.
I am so grateful for the Gospel and that I have a testimony of it. I am so glad that the church has no power over my love for my Heavenly Father. I am so glad that every time I go to church, I feel like the lessons are directed at me. Seriously, I LOVE church and the spirit it brings. I just wish so much that in a church that is supposed to be to accepting and full of service, I have been in my church for two months and no one has sat my me in class once. I feel so alone there. I just want a friend. I want someone who enjoys spiritual conversations. I want to have girl talk. I want someone to share laughter with. As a imperfect mortal, I have considered just making friends elsewhere. But I CAN'T go down that road again, I just can't. And I won't. I know that that is the adversary talking and I'm still not in a place in life where any friend will do. I NEED uplifting friends who will be my example, and hopefully I can be one for them.
As I've pondered my recent trial, I have realized something. I am a pretty social person! I have a testimony of Heavenly Father! I'm a fun person to be around! I just don't get it! If I'm having all these troubles, I wonder who else is. Are they strong in the gospel too? Are they going to take the road I did as a kid? Fellowship is one of the most important acts of service us woman can do! We should not be sitting with our friend at church. And no a simple hello does not count! We need to take these girls in a BEFRIEND them! Be an example to them! Cliques are NOT okay in a church setting. Or in any setting! Befriend people who are different than you and don't get complacent!
We all have different experiences! And we ALL need to feel welcomed and even loved! Who knows where I'd be if I had a friend at church growing up. I have free agency and I made my own choices growing up. But I'll tell you what, having friends help.