Spencer Grubbe, a senior from Oregon studying music, shared his experiences on why he came back to the LDS Church after he fell way from the church at the age of 17.
Born as a second child of five to his parents, the Grubbe family was active in the church. Both his parents had callings, and his father was in the bishopric.
They all attended ward activities and knew almost everyone since they moved to different wards within the city.
Grubbe said when he was in the eighth grade, his parents decided to end their marriage, which led his dad to become less active to the point where he decided to take his name off the church records.
Grubbe said he and his brothers began to be less active even though their mom stayed active in the church after the divorce.
When he was 17 years old, he thought, “Maybe, the church is not for me.” He said he thought about how the church split his family apart and how his other relatives, who are not a part of the church, were fine.
Grubbe said after his decision, he started distancing himself from the beliefs, and his church friends.
When Grubbe first came to BYU-Hawaii he considered himself a non-Mormon with his disbelief of church doctrine. He said he didn’t attend church.
But after his arrival to BYUH, he said wonderful friends welcomed him. Reflecting on the experience, he said, “I was really lucky to find really good group of awesome friends.”
He said his friends and he were “all connected well,” and they hung out all the time.
Makyla Goudie, a junior from Utah majoring in hospitality and tourism management and business, said, “Spencer is a fun, very intelligent guy. We automatically became best friends because he was so friendly and sociable.”
Although Goudie had fun with Grubbe, she began to notice he was always “looking for more.” She said, “He constantly is looking for the deeper meaning behind everything, and I think that included spirituality and the gospel.”
Grubbe said he felt a good influence through the interaction with his LDS friends, which paved the way for him to rediscover the meaning of what he was seeking in his life.
“After I hung out with my close friends, I understood they wanted to keep being with me, regardless of what my beliefs were. I believe they learned that from the church. The gospel is very inclusive and it teaches that we must be kind to others.” He acknowledged this as the No. 1 reason for returning to the church.
Goudie said, “I remember the day [Grubbe] called me and told me about the prayers he had started up again and how it felt all so different this time. I know that Spencer was feeling the Holy Ghost and that the void he runs into occasionally was being fulfilled on his journey coming back to church.”
Grubbe said, “They were perfect examples of loving people unconditionally even though they thought I was not a Mormon. They just thought that doesn’t matter. It’s all about loving people and doing what you can to make them feel included. So that was really cool.”
Isaia Mafi, a sophomore psychology major from Colorado, said Grubbe and he were roommates and used to hang out every day. “He was really respectful of the church. Even though he didn’t claim himself as Mormon, it was obvious he knew a lot. I accepted that, but he was always willing to go to church. He even made sure I went too.
“I remember the night he told me that he was actually a member, and I think it was something he had been pondering a lot. I was of course happy to hear that he wanted to become closer to the church again, and I can see that today still.
“I will see him at church, and other meetings on his own accord because now he knows how he feels about it. He is the type of guy you would want as a Young Men’s leader. He’s fun, understanding, and generally just a good guy.”
Since Grubbe came to BYUH, he said he has been a part of the Concert Choir and has been a beneficiary of other social and spiritual influences through the music he was involved in. Grubbe said the spirit he felt while singing various religious songs as a part of the choir was “undeniable.”
“[Having] been in the choir and seeing the amazing effects the music has on people’s lives spiritually, I think that was a really big factor, feeling the Spirit.” He added, “Choir Director Brother Belnap is the coolest guy ever. He was another example of loving people and just being awesome.”
Reflecting on his experiences on coming back to church, he shared advice on those who are not Mormons or have fallen away from the church.
He said, “To those who are not Mormons, believe what you want to believe. I’m not going tell you what to do. If you’re interested in the church, sure, learn about it.”
“For people who may be falling away,” he said, “[The] gospel is perfect, but people in the church are not necessarily. So that experience can stink, and maybe you have had a few bad experiences that really turned you away from the church.
“If you decided that you don’t want to participate in the church, I mean that is your choice, and that’s totally fine. But I guess for everyone, even people who have fallen away or still active in the church, my biggest piece of advice is to stick to what you believe.
“If you do that, you will know what is right for you and you will know what you have to do to live a good life.”
After going through these experiences and counting the blessings he has received from coming back to church, he said, “I’m a strong believer in integrity. People in my life have been the greatest example of that, sticking to what they believe. I think the strongest example of that has come from people in the church, and I think it’s a big part of what we believe.
“If you’re ever in doubt, you can go to the Book of Mormon or pray, and [there are] other things you can do to search for that. I like that there [are] a lot of resources and people you can talk to. That’s something I really like about the church.”
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Nov. 2017 print issue.