In recent years, Greg Trimble's blog posts in defense of the LDS Church have been read by millions.
But at age 21, Greg Trimble wasn't an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A spiritual awakening the night before his sophomore season of college baseball changed the course of his life, he told the Deseret News.
"God had had it up to here with me. He was done 'nudging' me. That night … I had what I would consider a Godly beat down. It was almost as if the next day held some sort of cosmic significance in my life," Trimble said. "It was as strong of a spiritual experience as I have ever had in my life up to that point and even until now. The message? Quit baseball. Drop your scholarship. Enlist in God’s army."
Who is Greg Trimble? The blogger's bio on his website is pretty disarming.
"I’m supposed to jot down a bunch of important credentials here that will convince you that I’m some kind of great writer, but really, I’m just a normal guy, leading a very normal life," Trimble writes. "Above all, I love God and my family. I love to write and hope that something I say helps someone have a better day. I just want to do some good in this crazy world."
It’s a simple yet straightforward introduction to a man whose blog has received approximately 7 million page views and attracted tens of thousands of social media followers in just a few years. In truth, Trimble has been told his blog has more digital reach than some news outlets. Not bad for a guy who once got a "D" in high school language arts.
Trimble, 36, husband and father of two, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and resides in Riverside, California. By day he runs two companies: a digital marketing agency that helps businesses do better online, Lemonade Stand, and Yalla, a platform for team, task and collaboration management.
By night he writes primarily about his faith and religious topics, although he reserves the right to share his thoughts on business, sports, life and anything else he finds interesting. It’s why he titled his blog, "Life Through My Eyes" (GregTrimble.com).
"If you don’t like what I write … I hope we can still be friends!" Trimble writes.
Trimble’s motivation to be a digital missionary can be traced back to that life-changing decision that led to a mission, a foundational experience that continues to bless his life. While sending his testimony into cyberspace has resulted in some joining the church, a host of negative comments almost overwhelmed him to the point of quitting. Yet the man behind the blog has continued to write, even recently publishing his first book, with two more in the works.
It’s his "authentic voice" that attracts an audience, his wife, Kristyn Trimble said.
"I get why people love reading his stuff," she said. "He has a great testimony. He speaks from the heart, he’s real. He says things in a way that people can relate."
At the time of Trimble's religious awakening in 2001, he was preparing to start his sophomore season as a team captain for the Orange Coast College baseball team. He had just accepted a scholarship to transfer and play baseball at Hawaii Pacific University and was even talking to some major league scouts. When he wasn't playing baseball, he was surfing.
Trimble hadn't been active in the LDS faith for a few years and had no interest in serving a mission.
"Life was shaping up the way I'd planned," he said. "I couldn't have dreamed up a better situation at age 21."
Then came the sleepless night that changed his life. What actually happened is hard for Trimble to describe. It was like a spiritual operation on his soul, and what he learned was unmistakable. And had he not walked away right then, he might not have had the fortitude to do so later, Trimble said.
"I learned that 'God will feel after you and he will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings,'" Trimble said, quoting the Prophet Joseph Smith. "No, the angel Moroni didn't appear to me in my room, but the visions of my responsibilities and foreordination were clear and as tangible as if that angel were standing above me in the air."
As painful as it was, Trimble obeyed. He handed in his uniform on opening day. His coaches told him he was crazy.
When he called the coach in Hawaii, he was essentially told in colorful and angry terms, "thanks for nothing," Trimble said.
Trimble moved home and began preparing for a mission. Within a few weeks he met Kristyn and they promptly fell in love. The soon-to-be older missionary was tempted stay home and marry her, but knew he needed to serve. In time he was assigned to labor in Michigan.
Ready to serve
People who think Trimble is a great writer laugh when he tells them about his struggles with English in school. He didn’t even like reading or writing until he became interested in the gospel. Before reading the Book of Mormon, he would only "skim stuff and try to get by," he said.
As he prepared for his mission, Trimble read the standard works and as many gospel-related books as he could find before writing a book report on each one. The purpose was to better retain information and create notes he could carry into the mission field, he said.
"I wanted to show the Lord I was sorry for being a bum. From the day I committed to him, I wanted to go full throttle. If I was going to give up my dream of playing baseball and leave Kristyn, I wanted to make sure those two years were meaningful," Trimble said. "Now I see the role that a mission has played in everything that I’ve done and am currently doing. The contents of those book reports became the inspiration behind the content of my blogs."
Another future blogging lesson came to Trimble as a missionary in Michigan. A turning point came when he realized people don’t respond positively to confrontational Bible-bashing or doctrinal arguments. A more effective method is to listen, love and share truth, he said.
"The first half of my mission I thought I had to win with the gospel," Trimble said. "I learned to stand for truth, make your point heard, and leave it at that. Don’t argue if someone has a difference of opinion. I’ve tried to carry that over to the blog."
Trimble started blogging in 2014 with zero online presence and fully aware of his writing woes. But he was determined to share what he knew to be true. Within a few months, his blogs were going viral. He remembers taking a phone call from a man at a news website who wanted to know his "strategy." What strategy?
"I don’t know. I was surprised as anything. I just wrote a few not-well-written blogs about gospel stuff and people liked them for some reason. They got shared a bunch, and that energized me to write more," said Trimble, who serves as the high councilor over missionary work in his California LDS stake. "He was telling me you get more traffic than a lot of news stations get."
Trimble wrote about his "10 Most Read Blog Posts" on his website, displaying page views and shares to date.
As he continued to post his thoughts, opinions and impressions related to gospel topics and current events, Trimble began receiving messages from people around the world who had read his words and felt guided to meet with missionaries, to get baptized or return to activity. This both fascinated and fueled him to keep writing.
"I looked at the blog as an opportunity to be a missionary," Trimble said.
But along with the golden experiences came tremendous opposition in the form of brutal, mean-spirited comments. His most viewed post, "Quit Acting Like Christ Was Accepting of Everyone and Everything," drew more than 500 comments, some of which were especially vicious. His wife told him not to read the comments, but he couldn’t resist. It got so bad that Trimble almost gave up blogging, he said.
"You think you can block it out, but it was depressing and affected me in all walks of life. I had experienced opposition on my mission, but never how vocal and mean people can be on the Internet," Trimble said. "My wife told me to 'Man up' and deal with it, that I was doing a lot of good. So I started writing again."
Part of Trimble’s success might be attributed to how he tackles tough topics and fearlessness in sharing his opinions, Kristyn Trimble said.
"Come what may, I guess. I think so many people get sick of hearing from entities. But to hear a personal opinion from a real person can sometimes be more meaningful and touching,” she said.
Lessons and tips
What Trimble likes most about blogging is making friends with people who are critical of the LDS Church.
"My goal has been to reach out, be kind and try to make friends with them. I like getting to know them, hearing their thoughts," Trimble said. "It’s actually helped to strengthen my testimony."
His three-step approach is to first, recognize he doesn’t know everything, so be open to what others are sharing and listen. Second, don’t lose your cool; maintain an open dialogue. Third, show love and find common ground, regardless of differences or disputes.
"What it boils down to for me is I haven’t found anything that can give me a brighter hope than Mormonism," Trimble said.
When it comes to writing a good blog, Trimble has shared these five tips.
First, ignore what others say about your writing; Second, don’t be so technical, write as if you are having a conversation; third, record thoughts and impressions using available technology; Fourth, don’t give up so fast and write consistently; Fifth, be passionate about your topic.
It’s been exciting for Trimble family to see its husband and father be a pioneer in digital missionary work, Kristyn Trimble said.
"I wish so many people would pick up what he is doing, because of the success and people he has helped," she said. "How many more could be reached?"
Champion of fatherhood
Trimble recently released his first book, "For Dads Who Stay and Fight: How to be a Hero in Your Family." It was published by Cedar Fort and comes with a foreword by Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad. Trimble hopes to publish two more books with Cedar Fort in the coming year.
The idea for this book came to Trimble as he and his family were driving across the South Dakota plains on a vacation. He realized it was their first real family outing in nearly eight years. This turned his thoughts to the importance of fatherhood and the millions of American children who grow up without fathers. It also reminded him of several general conference talks on the topic by LDS Church leaders.
Trimble’s book offers information, inspiring stories, insights and ideas for seasoned fathers, future fathers and women who are looking for the right man to marry.
"The reason I wrote this book was so men, women, boys and girls would read it and that it might inspire a dad movement across the globe," Trimble said.