June 6, 2018
“Mom, what’s that?” I pulled at my mom’s shirt and pointed at a musician playing in a symphony on stage.
“That’s a cello,” she said, glancing down at me with a smile.
I clutched my armrests and sat completely still in my seat, staring in awe at the instrument. At that moment, my main goal at five years old became playing the cello.
I eventually achieved that dream, but my interests evolved quite a bit throughout the following years. After the cello, I began playing the piano, bass guitar, and then electric guitar as I started high school. Music became my obsession.
Unfortunately, as my passion for music grew, my interest in the gospel dwindled, and I began falling away from the Church. Thankfully, when I enrolled in PathwayConnect, my whole mentality switched again.
Jake experienced a big culture shock when his family moved to Utah
Moving back to Utah after 10 years living in Washington was somewhat of a culture shock for me. At 16 years old, I was used to being one of only four other members of the Church at my high school in Washington. In Utah, however, it sometimes seemed like everyone was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Attending church became a habitual thing for me to do, almost like I should be programmed to do it.
It didn’t take long for me to make new friends who invited me into their lifestyle — however unstable it might have been.
I embraced the party scene, becoming a lead guitarist in a band in high school. Soon after, I was introduced to the world of producing hip-hop and electronic music. Creating and mixing sounds became my new passion, so I invested all my money into building a small music studio, spending countless hours making beats on my computer.
Although my music provided a lot of joy for me, the gospel became non-existent in my life.
An unexpected event led Jake to change his perspective
Hitting my “rock-bottom” a few years later caused my feelings toward the Church to change.
In the summer of 2012, a few friends and I stopped in Las Vegas, Nevada, on our way to our vacation spot. We soon met a few locals who asked to hear a sample of my music.
“This is some great stuff you’re creating,” they said. “You should come by our place so we can hear more.”
Minutes after I arrived at their house, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I put it to my ear and heard my friend’s shaky, nervous voice informing me of a serious problem that they needed help with right away. I sprinted out the door, leaving my suitcase and duffel bag sitting in the middle of the living room.
I returned a few hours later to see an empty wooden floor where I had dropped my luggage. My computer, backpack, wallet, headphones, and my external hard drive that had over 800 of my songs had disappeared.
After years of darkness, I felt like a floodgate had finally sprung open, and personal revelation began pouring into my soul.
Losing my hard work that had taken me years to develop pushed me into a deep sense of hopelessness and depression. I needed positivity in my life more than ever, and deep down I knew that there was only one place I could find it.
In October 2016, I made a life-changing decision to return to Church. After years of darkness, I felt like a floodgate had finally sprung open, and personal revelation began pouring into my soul.
Through PathwayConnect, Jake learned something he hadn’t realized
In December 2016, I heard about PathwayConnect from my grandfather, a service missionary assigned to BYU-Pathway in Salt Lake City, Utah. Eight years after dropping out of college, I decided to give it a shot.
Before I began the program, I told myself that if I got bad grades, couldn’t complete the courses, or spiraled into debt, I could easily withdraw. After receiving good grades in my Life Skills course, however, I realized that higher education truly was an attainable goal for me.
The more I move forward in the program, the more I see how everything I’ve gone through in my life has led me back to the gospel and to PathwayConnect. I’ve reached a level of confidence I haven’t felt in 11 years, and it feels great.
I’ve even made another 800 songs since my first ones were stolen from me. What I’ve learned in PathwayConnect helped me gain the courage to start my own record label and release a full album. After completing PathwayConnect, I plan to pursue a degree in business administration to help me build my label.
The example of Jesus Christ helped Jake overcome his challenges
Studying the Savior’s life in PathwayConnect has taught me that my experience being inactive in the Church is something to be learned from.
When Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, bleeding from every pore, God’s spirit briefly left Him to suffer alone. However, it was necessary for the Savior to experience this feeling of complete loneliness in order to perfectly atone for our sins — and understand the struggles I would face.
Although we might feel alone at times, trials are necessary in order for us to grow stronger. Moments of loneliness can help teach us to be satisfied with where we are and what we have.
Throughout the better part of my teenage years and twenties, I liked to be a thrill seeker and search for happiness in places that only provided fleeting moments of joy. But those short moments of happiness could never provide my soul with the everlasting joy it constantly yearned for.
Now I’ve learned that I don’t have to do something irrational for me to enjoy myself. True happiness and joy stems from living the gospel and putting the kingdom of God first.
Jake plans on earning his degree in business administration to help him move forward with his record label. See what online certificates and degrees are available to you at byupathway.lds.org/degrees.