I was baptized when I was 8 years old and I went to church because my Dad used to take my brother, sister and me. When I turned 16, I became inactive. I made new friends in College. They were not bad but they had different standards. At that point, I felt more wanted among my friends than at Church. I didn’t miss church. I was happy.
After eight years I was miserable and searching for happiness. I had gone back to my old faith because all my family and friends belonged to the old faith. A young mother from my ward, Sujatha Karthikeyan, started to visit me at the beginning of 2016. At first, I avoided her. She would come to my house early in the morning. She knew I worked and was not available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. so she used to come at 7 a.m. I avoided her calls. I think God knew that I was having a tough time. He knew that I was miserable so he inspired her to come and visit me. I knew I had lost my happiness but didn’t know where to find it.
At first, I didn’t feel much change. I avoided her but she continued to call and message me. “Call me, any time. I am available,” she would say. I wondered why she was always calling me and felt annoyed. And then I started to feel lonely. I could not share things with my family. One night I called her and said, “I feel like crying.” She came to my home around 10 p.m. I just fell on her lap and started to cry. I said, “I am not a good girl, I have made bad choices.” She did not say a word. She did not ask me to come to church. She just listened. She said, “you are a good girl. You will be fine.” I cried for an hour and she just listened. And then she said, “I don’t know what you are going through, but I know your Heavenly Father loves you. And I know that you are not bad.” I felt a mother’s love from her.
That was a turning point. I started talking to her like I would my mom. I told her about my wrong choices. She never asked me to come to church. She asked if I ever tried to talk to Heavenly Father.
I said, “ I don’t’ think Heavenly Father will listen to me because I went away from him, I betrayed him. He doesn’t love me. I am a bad child.”
“He will always love you,” she said. “He wants to talk to you.” So, I prayed. All this took nine months. She still never asked me to come to church or why I had stopped.
Finally, I thought maybe I should go back to church. I was cleaning my room and found an old group photo of a Young Women’s birthday celebration. I looked so bright in that photo because I was so happy at that time. “This is what I am missing,” I thought. “I want this brightness and happiness to come back.” I knew where I should be to be happy.
After I started coming to Church, I met my friends from Young Women who were now returned missionaries. I wished I could have gone on a mission like them but thought I was too old. I told Sujatha about my desire to serve a mission.
In October 2016 I attended a YSA conference and there was a workshop just for me called “Serving 2 Masters.” That workshop helped me so much. I felt God’s love. When I returned from the conference, Sujatha called me and said I could still serve a mission. I decided to fast and pray to know if I should. Sujatha fasted and prayed with me. After our prayer, she said, “I think God wants you to go on a mission. While praying I could see you in missionary attire.” That boosted my confidence.
That same Sunday I told my family that I wanted to go on a mission. Initially, they did not accept the idea but I finally convinced them. I was called and left for my mission to New Delhi in 2018. It was an amazing experience. I am happy and my family is happy that I served.
I will be eternally grateful to Sujatha for her love and support.
Nithya Srinivasan currently serves as a counsellor to Sujatha Karthikeyan in the Bengaluru Stake Primary Presidency.