September 19, 2013 by FHElessons
This is the first essay in my new Why I Believe series. To find all the essays in this series, please click on the “Why I Believe” link in the top menu. To read my lesson “Questions and Answers About Gaining a Testimony”, where I explore this topic in depth, click HERE. In this series different people will be telling us why they believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in His Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They will be telling us how their testimony of this truthfulness evolved and what experiences in their lives led to their belief.
I love Why I Believe essays! I think they are so inspiring! I love hearing about how the Hand of God has touched people’s lives. Thus, I have decided to make it a lifelong quest for myself to collect Why I Believe essays. If you would like to give me the gift of your own story, please e-mail me at FHElessons@aol.com. If you are willing to allow me to share your essay on this blog, please give me permission to do so in your e-mail. Please also include your first name and a photo of yourself to go along with your essay.
Even if you do not want to share your story with me (or with the world on the internet), I encourage you to take time to write your Why I Believe essay just for your own benefit. Writing your testimony can be a very spiritual experience, and having your testimony written down will be enormously beneficial to your family and to your posterity.
If you would like to write your own Why I Believe essay, here are some writing prompts to get you started. For a printable PDF of these questions, click HERE.
- Answer the question, “Why do I believe?”
- How did you feel about God when you were young?
- Write about the first time you questioned whether the church was true and how it was resolved.
- Record some specific spiritual experiences you’ve had throughout your life.
- Record the evolution of your testimony.
- Write about what you’ve learned from other people about faith.
- Things you’ve learned from the scriptures
- Experiences you’ve had with prayer
- How you feel about the Book of Mormon
- Prophets whose lives & works or words you appreciate or have helped you
- Why it is good to give service
- Mention some of your favorite scriptures and why you like them.
- List your favorite hymns and why they are special to you.
- Remember things you’ve learned during General Conference.
- What you feel about missionary work
- Specific experiences you’ve had with missionary work
- Times when you have heard God’s voice
- Times when you have felt the hand of God touch your life
- Miracles you have witnessed or been a part of
- Why you appreciate the Atonement
- What you believe about Creation
- Your ideas about pre-earth life or the world to come
- How your testimony has evolved over the years
- What does it mean when you say “I believe”.
- Answers you have received to specific prayers
- Ways God has directed your life for good
- What blessings you have been given in your life
- Whether you think Joseph Smith was a prophet and why
- The differences between faith and knowledge and what it means to you and your testimony
Now, on with the first essay. I will be sharing my own story with you. I actually feel pretty apprehensive about doing so, because a lot of it is very personal. While reading through it, I have been agonizing over whether I am doing it right. I have been worrying about whether the parts I am sharing are too trivial or too private, whether there are other parts of my story that I am forgetting about but would be more important, whether I should keep working on it and refining it before sharing it.
In the end, I have decided to just share it as it is. I can always change it later. I can always continue working on it and improving it. But I have decided to give myself the same advice that I have given others: Don’t let the seeming enormity of the task deter you from getting started. Just begin. Just write. It is better to have something written than nothing. Do your best, and let the Lord make up for the rest.
One more note before I begin. Of all the Why I Believe essays I have collected so far, none of them are the same. Everyone’s experiences are different. Everyone’s testimony has evolved differently. And everyone presents their story differently. Your story doesn’t need to be anything like mine. Although everyone’s testimonies have come to them in different ways, in the end, all testify of Christ. That is what is important. So, please, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just take inspiration from other’s stories and let their voices add to your own. Here is my story:
I was born into a family that lived and practiced the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not only this, but, on my father’s side, there was an LDS heritage dating back to Joseph Smith’s time. Because of this, growing up I was surrounded with a life provided by gospel living and by chances to learn the gospel and to feel of Heavenly Father’s Spirit. I was also surrounded by people who had strong testimonies of the gospel and who tried to live their lives by its principles. Even so, there were times in my life when I felt that I believed and had a testimony and times when I did not. Like the ocean’s waves, there were times in my life when I felt that awareness of the Spirit and surety of God’s presence flowed freely and times when it seemed to ebb and melt away from me. Throughout my life, even with this intermittent ebb and flow, my overall testimony has continued to strengthen and grow and continues to do so today as my experiences contribute to greater understanding of this life and to how God guides and directs our lives to help us return to Him.
As a small child, I remember having to sit still for a very long time in church. I remember frequently looking at the clock and waiting impatiently for the long service to be over. However, I also remember having small spiritual experiences such as losing something, praying for help in finding it, and then being able to find that thing quickly after that. I also remember the day I was baptized. I remember the feeling afterwards of being perfectly clean. I remember wanting to be able to preserve that cleanliness forever.
When I was old enough to attend Young Women’s, I remember many, many church lessons during which I felt the Spirit. I especially remember feeling the Spirit strongly during talks given at Youth Conference and other special meetings. I remember feeling a difference in my own attitude between times that I had the Spirit with me and times when I didn’t. For example, when I did not have the Spirit, I would look around at other kids in church with me and notice all their flaws. When I did have the Spirit, those same kids would all look beautiful to me in every way. When I did have the Spirit, I would also have greater love in my heart for my family, so much that I would want to go out of my way to hug them or tell them I loved them or serve them. I remember one time when I felt particularly full of the Spirit and a little part of a scripture kept running through my head over and over for days which was, “And now, behold, my joy is full.”
During this time when I was a teenager, I also had many times when I doubted the truth of the gospel. I sometimes doubted that the LDS church was the only true and complete church on the earth and I sometimes doubted that God even existed. During this time I spent many nights on my knees, pleading with Heavenly Father to let me know the truth. I hoped for some kind of miracle, like to have an angel appear to me and let me know the truth – something that would be easy to understand and irrefutable. Many nights I prayed and felt like I received no answer. I never received any grand vision and can point to no specific event that cemented my testimony. Rather, my testimony grew slowly over a period of time until I no longer felt to doubt. There were, however, some things that I can specifically remember that helped to reinforce my belief that God exists and that He has given us His gospel to help us live our lives in a way that will allow us to return home to Him.
One time when I was wondering if God even existed at all, I prayed for the answer to that question. I suddenly felt an emptiness, an absence of something that I usually felt. I understood that in answer to my prayer, God had withdrawn His Spirit from me. I then knew that I usually felt God’s presence with me always, but didn’t necessarily take notice of it because I was used to feeling it and having it with me. When He withdrew His presence, it was as if my oxygen was suddenly taken away. Something that I was used to having all the time and something that I desperately needed was taken from me, and with its absence I came to appreciate that it was usually available. The absence of God’s presence lasted only a minute or two – just enough for me to realize the feeling that I usually had with me all the time. After that I never again doubted God’s existence. I know that He is there, and I crave His presence.
Another thing that really helped to develop my testimony was the trial of depression. As a teenager, and actually, throughout my entire life, I have frequently been depressed. If you have never felt this, depression is the total absence of happiness, the absence of the ability to feel happiness, and it feels like you will never again be able to be happy. Without happiness or the prospect of happiness in the future, you feel like you would prefer not to have to live. It’s more than that, though, it feels like you would prefer not to have to exist. Many times when I felt suicidal as a teenager, the thing that prevented me from taking my own life was the knowledge that doing so would not end my existence but would rather remove me to a place where I might suffer even more because of my actions. Many times as a teenager I fervently wished I could cease to exist. In addition to this suffering, because I am a fairly reclusive and shy person, I never felt that I had a friend or even a family member that I could turn to for comfort. Logically, I know that I had quite a few people in my family who would have been happy to comfort me if they could, but at those times I never felt that I could express myself to them or let them know how I was feeling. When I was thus in the depths of despair and in need of someone to help me, I turned to the Lord. Always, He was there for me. Always He comforted me, helped me to bear my burdens, helped to strengthen me. I remember one time in particular when I felt very alone, and in answer to my prayer, I felt as if the Lord wrapped His arms around me and encircled me with His love. That time, I immediately went from extreme loneliness and sorrow to instant release from pain and instant comfort. When I hear the story told of the person from the Martin Handcart Company saying that people should not wish away the trials that this company faced in their journey west because that was the price that they paid to know God, I feel the same way about my own life. Although depression is difficult to bear and can be a hard trial, I feel that it was a small price to pay in order to come to know God. I feel that I am lucky to have had those experiences when I was young in order to be able to have a good relationship with God.
Something I heard in seminary also helped to strengthen my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I was told about an experiment that a person could do, and the experiment was that for one month, a person should spend 30 minutes each day in prayer. I understood that to mean that the 30 minutes should be all in one block of time, not spread out throughout the day. I decided to try the experiment. For one month, when I said my nightly prayers, I looked at the clock and made sure to pray for a full 30 minutes. At first it was difficult to find enough things to say to fill 30 minutes of time. In order to fill those 30 minutes, I began to expand the kind of conversation that I had in my prayer. Thanking the Lord for blessings and asking for what you want can only take up so much time. I began to discuss my day with the Lord – to tell Him about things that happened (even though He already knew) and to tell Him my feelings about those events. I began to talk to Him more as you would talk to a close friend – sharing events, feelings, concerns, hopes, wishes. I also began to counsel with Him instead of just asking for blessings. I would discuss the pros and cons of the decision in question and go over possible options. I would listen for His counsel. By the time my month was up, I found it difficult to pray for less than 30 minutes. I’m not sure how long that lasted. Certainly my personal prayers today don’t last anywhere as long as 30 minutes. But that experience really helped bring me closer to Heavenly Father. It helped me develop a relationship with Him that was different from what I had previously experienced.
Some other things that helped to build my testimony: One of these occurred at Girls’ Camp. During the testimony meeting, I bore my testimony and told about the afore-mentioned experience where I felt lonely and that was comforted by Heavenly Father encircling me with His love. As I told about this experience, I felt so consumed by the Spirit that I felt almost as if my body was surrounded by fire and as if I stood not on the ground but above it. To feel the Spirit so strongly while testifying of previous spiritual experiences further confirmed to me God’s presence and the truth of His gospel.
Not everything that helped to build my testimony was a spiritual experience. I also thought about things logically and rationally. One Youth Conference or EFY talk laid out a very rational explanation of gospel principles. It is kind of like Alma’s talk about experimenting on the Word. The person giving the talk made a kind of chart. He listed different actions and showed how each action has a consequence. This consequence is something that will definitely happen if we complete that action. For example, if we choose to cheat on our homework, what will the consequence be? There could be several different consequences. In the case of cheating, the consequences could be (1) getting a better grade on that assignment but also (2) not learning the material we were meant to learn which would mean that (3) we might to worse on a test in the future. There is also the possible consequence of getting caught and being punished. If we establish a habit of cheating, the consequence might be that we are unable to learn or think on our own and eventually unable to compete in higher education or the work force. There are some actions in which the consequence will be immediate and other actions where the consequence might not be experienced for many years. In the chart the speaker made, once he filled in the actions and consequences, there was a third column where you could decide if the consequence was pleasant or unpleasant, whether it made you want to complete the action in the first place. For example, the consequence of bearing your testimony in Sacrament Meeting might be an increase of the Spirit in your life and a stronger testimony. Thus, because the consequence is desirable, you will want to complete the action of bearing your testimony.
When looking at actions and consequences in this logical manner, one can see that the principles of the gospel are those which teach us how to be happy. God gives us laws because He knows what the consequences of our actions will be. He gives us laws not to restrict us or to make life difficult but to let us know which actions will eventually bring us happiness. In the case of bearing one’s testimony or cheating in school, the consequences may be easy to foresee. But there are other actions in life where the consequences are not so simple and foreseeable. God knows what they are, however, and He gives us laws to help us to choose the actions which will bring us happiness in the future. He gives us laws to make our lives on earth easier and to help us become the kind of people who can return to Him.
The scriptures were another thing that helped to cement my faith. Reading the scriptures daily gave me a power in my life. The language of the scriptures is beautiful and many times I would be filled with the Spirit when reading doctrine contained therein. While in high school, I began a project of reading the entire collection of scriptures and marking them with color coded marking pencils. I found many, many scriptures that I loved and which contained doctrine that rang true to me. I never felt that I had to specifically test Moroni’s promise to see if the Book of Mormon is true, because I could tell the truth of it and of the other scriptures just by reading them. I agree with what they say. I know the doctrine contained therein is true doctrine. Many times when I have prayed for an answer to some particular problem, a scripture has come into my mind that has answered that problem.
One time, I remember feeling very tired and overwhelmed. As I prayed for help, the scripture, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” At the time, I felt the meaning not to be the usual meaning of the scripture where the gospel makes life easier to bear. I felt the meaning coming from the Lord to me at that time was that He was there for me, He would take care of me, He knew I was overburdened but He would lighten my burdens.
Another time when I felt some doubt about whether the gospel was true, I came across this scripture in D&C 6:22-23: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” I knew that the Lord was telling me that He had already answered this question. He already told me about the truth of the gospel. I just needed to remember it and let my mind think back to those spiritual experiences.
Some other scriptures that are meaningful to me:
Moses 1:18: “I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of Him.” This is kind of my basic philosophy of life.
Mormon 9:14: “He that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.” This is the basic logical philosophy of the gospel that I was describing earlier. If you choose good actions, you will experience good consequences. By making this a practice in your life, your life will be happy overall and you will be the kind of person who is progressing to become like God. If you have progressed to this state at the time of your death, you will still be that way after your death. You will still be making good choices, experiencing good consequences, and feeling happy because of it.
Alma 5:45-46: “And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true.” This is why I didn’t receive any angelic visitation or grand vision in answer to my prayers asking for a testimony. This was not something the Lord would give to me in one event but would give to me gradually, over the course of “many days” of fasting and prayer.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” This scripture was given to me one time when I had a trial that I was beseeching Heavenly Father to remove from me, and He was basically answering “no.” From this scripture I understood that the Lord would give me trials for the purpose of making me stronger and that the trials were a blessing that could bring me closer to Him.
Of course, there are many, many more scriptures that I love. Those are just a few that had special meaning in my life. Here is one more experience involving help from the scriptures: I first started college at my local university. College students love to debate philosophy and challenge current and traditional thinking. Because of this, I frequently felt that I was always having to be on the defense and that the only place during the day when I could relax was when I walked into institute on campus. One crisis of faith I experienced was when someone at college told me that religion was made up as a way to control the masses – to keep people in line so society will run smoothly. This worried me for a while because it seemed reasonable to me. Then one day I was reading my scriptures and came across a scripture in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” I felt that this scripture was speaking to me. I shouldn’t listen to the people at school who preached the “philosophies of men” to me. I shouldn’t let them spoil my testimony.
When I got to BYU, I, of course, had many chances to learn and to feel of the Spirit. The Tuesday devotionals were a great opportunity since the apostles frequently spoke to us there. One time I remember being there when President Ezra Taft Benson was scheduled to speak to us. He was the prophet at the time. I was sitting in the Marriot center which is an enormous basketball stadium, and it was completely full of people. I was nowhere near the front – maybe halfway up in the stands. When President Benson entered the room, I immediately felt the room fill with love. I felt the Spirit testify that Pres. Benson was the Lord’s messenger on earth. I could feel Pres. Benson’s spirit all the way from where I was back in the stands. I felt that he was full of love for all of us. I knew that the prophet is a special person and is filled with the Spirit of the Lord.
I also felt the Spirit testify to me when it came time to make the decision about who I would marry. I was dating two boys at the time, and I knew at least one of them was thinking about marriage. I prayed about what to do, and I read my Patriarchal Blessing. As I read about events and blessings promised to me in my life, I felt the Lord telling me that one particular boy would be a good partner to me to help me obtain those blessings and to help me fulfill my mission in life. I felt the Lord confirm to me that I had His permission to marry that boy. The other boy inspired no such confirmation.
While I was preparing for marriage, I was told by some of my roommates horror stories about the temple. They told me about people who went to the temple for the first time and were turned off by the ceremonies there and subsequently lost their testimonies. Because of this I was nervous about going to the temple for the first time. I received my temple ordinances on the same day that I was sealed to my husband for time and all eternity. Throughout the entire temple ceremony I felt the Spirit very strongly. Usually the feeling of the Spirit is a kind of a warm, comfortable feeling. And then there was the time at Girls’ Camp when I felt consumed by the Spirit, as if on fire. During my first temple experience (other than baptisms for the dead), I felt more than warmed by the Spirit. I felt kind of like there was a fire inside of me. The feeling was very definite and irrefutable. The Spirit strongly testified to me that the temple experience is given from God, that the things taught therein are true, that it was the right place for me to be. It was an intensely religious experience that stayed with me until I walked out of the doors of the temple that day. As soon as I left the temple, the feeling left me as well, and I was back to earth, back to everyday life.
These are some of the main events that stand out in my life as contributing to my testimony. Of course, there have been countless times in church or other meetings when I have felt the Spirit testify to me. I still frequently turn to the Lord for comfort when I am sad and for counsel when I have decisions to make. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the answers I’m getting are truly answers from Him or just my own desires coming through as answers. Sometimes, though, the answers I get are not what I desire for myself but the opposite. It is those answers that truly confirm to me the presence of God and His wisdom in knowing what is best for me. I have found that if I ignore the answers to my prayers and do the thing that I wanted to do even though Heavenly Father counseled me against it, then I am sorry later. I am trying to learn to surrender my will to the Lord. I have had enough experiences that I should rationally know that if I listen to Him I will be happy, but if I listen to myself I will not. Somehow, it’s not always that easy. I am willful and sometimes just want what I want. I hope I am learning my lesson and will be able always to follow His counsel.
Some events that stand out in my memory where I have found that the Lord’s answer was the one to bring me happiness even though it wasn’t really what I wanted for myself: When I was in high school I ran for class president. I prayed fervently to win the election but received a “no” answer every time. I was frustrated with that and kept praying for the opposite; however, I did not win the election. Later in the school year I found myself so overwhelmed and overburdened with work that I was very glad that I didn’t have the additional constraint on my time of serving as class president.
Later, after I had two children, I was anxious to have a third. I wanted to be pregnant almost a year before I actually was. I continued to pray that I would be pregnant immediately, but it didn’t happen until just after the beginning of the year. After I found out I was pregnant, I also found that my maternity insurance with my husband’s new job didn’t kick in until the beginning of the year. If I had gotten pregnant any earlier, it would have been a very expensive baby at a time when we had very little money. I was glad the Lord made me wait a while.
When we were shopping for a new house when I was pregnant with my last child, we looked at a house that we really liked. We made an offer on the house but they didn’t accept it. In fact, they refused to come down on the price at all. It seemed that we would not be getting that house, but all day I kept having the line from the hymn that goes, “Victory, victory, through Him that redeemeth” come into my mind. I know it seems kind of silly, but against all odds I felt that we would be victorious in our bid for that house. I felt the Lord telling me that the people would relent and accept our offer after all. A couple months later, they did call us and offer us the house at the price we had originally offered them. By that time I was about to give birth, though, and was no longer in the mood to move, so we didn’t buy it. However, it was a testimony to me that the Lord was letting me know what would happen in the future.
When my oldest daughter started seminary, she was placed in a class with teachers we didn’t know. We went to the open house and liked her teachers when we met them and liked the classroom she would be meeting in. But then we found that a friend of mine was also teaching seminary that year. This friend offered to ask to have my daughter transferred into her class. My daughter and I discussed it, and thought that we would just have her stay in the class in which she was originally placed. We really had liked that class at the open house. But then we decided to pray about it to make sure. We both prayed about it separately and both felt the Lord telling us that she should move to my friend’s class. We both kind of argued with the Lord about it because we both liked the class where she was and, with our own minds, thought it would be the better choice. Then we discussed the answers to our prayers, and since we both felt the Lord telling us that she should move, we did have her moved. She was actually kind of mad about it at the time because she didn’t want to move. Later in the year she found that she was very glad she had moved. She loved her seminary class, learned a lot, and had a great year in seminary. She also found that many of the kids who were in the class in which she originally had been placed did not like their teachers that year.
There have also been a few times when I have felt prompted to take one of my children out of public school and homeschool them. Sometimes I have received severe criticism from other people for doing this, especially from teachers and staff at their public school who didn’t want me to take them out or thought that it would be in my child’s best interest to stay in school. Sometimes I also felt worried about whether I would be up to the additional time and energy that would be required from me in order to homeschool them. But because I felt prompted by the Lord to do this and because I trust His judgment, I did take them out. I found at those times that homeschooling was something that was beneficial to them, and I also enjoyed the extra one-on-one time I had to spend with that child. I am especially grateful to the Lord for His counsel in helping me to raise my children. I plead for that help every night in my prayers. I plead for Him to make me worthy of this task and to help me to succeed. I know that He has answered those prayers through many, many experiences where I have felt prompted to do or say something specific to a certain child, and it has turned out to be the right thing to do or say. I also feel that the Lord has helped to protect my family both physically and spiritually.
A few years ago I was walking around the track at the gym and contemplating planning a church history trip for my family for spring break. I felt the prompting that I should not take them on a church history trip but should take them to Hawaii. I was surprised by this since a church history trip seemed like a good and righteous thing to do and since the prices for flights to Hawaii were always about $500 apiece whenever I checked them. I went home and checked the computer for flights to Hawaii. Lo and behold I found flights to Maui at the time we wanted to go for just over $200 apiece! I went ahead and scheduled the trip, and we went on it and had a ton of fun snorkeling and seeing the sights for a few days. The next day we were thinking about whether to go south to a new snorkeling sight or to go north to look at the cliffs and things. I prayed about it and immediately felt that we should go south. However, some of us were very sunburned and everybody’s swimming muscles were extremely sore, and I logically thought that everyone was too sore to do any more snorkeling. So we chose to go north instead. I made this decision against the answer to my prayer but with good intentions of trying to do what I thought was best for my family.
We drove north and stopped at a few places to explore some cliffs and rock formations that were pretty. At one place I noticed a ton of dead crabs on the rocks and thought that was strange. We watched the ocean crash against the rocks in great sprays and thought it was pretty. The next place was one suggested by the guide book as a nice place to wade in the pools created by the lava formations and the ocean. There was a sign at the top of this place that said not to play there. It said with pictures that that place was dangerous. But because the guide book had recommended it and because there were lots of other people playing there already, we ignored the sign and went ahead and played there. After a while all of us except child #3 were sitting in a pool formed where the ocean had filled a pit in the lava rocks with water. This pool was at the top of a cliff about 6-8 feet high. I was sitting on the edge of the pool to take a picture of the others who were submerged in it. I saw a very large wave approaching and I thought, “Oh, no. We’re going to get wet.” We got a lot more than wet. We got washed out of the pool and over the side of the cliff onto the lava rocks below. We all got banged up pretty badly. We were covered with scrapes from the rough rock, and I ended up having stitches. Our youngest child’s wrist was broken, and two of us had back injuries. One son had a broken finger. We had to spend the rest of the day in the emergency room and were in pain for the rest of the trip. Additionally, we were not able to do any more snorkeling, which we had really enjoyed. Furthermore, because of our oldest daughter’s injuries and the medication given to her by the doctor, the rest of her running season was basically ruined.
If only I had listened to the Lord’s counsel instead of following my own counsel we would have avoided injury and been able to enjoy the rest of our trip. We would have saved a lot of money in medical bills and ourselves a lot of heartache. I felt very sad about our trip being ruined, but mostly I just felt incredibly grateful to the Lord for preserving the lives of my family. The place where we were injured was dangerous and was even marked so with a sign, but the place where we had been previous to that with all the dead crabs, I now think was even more dangerous than that one. I am so, so, so grateful to the Lord for preserving the lives and health of my family even through my own stupidity. Any of us could have been washed over a cliff and drowned in the ocean. We could have been dashed against the rocks and had brain damage. It could have happened so easily, and I feel I was such an idiot to take my family to those places and not see the danger. Even as I was being washed over the cliff onto the rocks, I felt the water wrapped around me and cushioning me. I know that the Lord protected us. I am so grateful to Him for it.
Sometimes I think, “Why did Heavenly Father prompt me to take my family to Hawaii when he knew what choice I would make and how it would end?” I hope that in the future the lesson we learned at being washed over the cliff after ignoring the danger sign posted will help my children to know to never ignore danger signs in the future. I hope that learning that lesson will help them to follow danger signs, both physical and spiritual, and will protect them from something even worse in the future. I hope that it will also help us to remember to follow the Lord’s counsel and not our own.
I know that many people have trouble hearing the answers to their prayers. I know that I am very blessed to be able to hear God’s voice and to usually be able to tell what He is saying to me. I think to some extent that this is a talent that can be developed. I think I began developing it as a teenager when I prayed for 30 minutes per day for a month. But I also know that it is a gift of the Spirit. I am excessively grateful to have this gift. It is something I rely on every day of my life. I ask the Lord’s help in absolutely everything I do – whether it is something very small and trivial or something big and important. I hope I don’t pester Him too much, but I completely rely on His advice to help me live my life. I would never be able to make things run smoothly otherwise. I also know that gifts of the Spirit are something that can be asked for and perhaps the Lord will grant it. I really hope the Lord continues to grant this gift to me because I seriously don’t know how I would live without it.
So, in bearing my testimony, I guess the keystones of it are my reliance on the Lord to direct my life and also the logic that the gospel principles are those which will bring us happiness. I am grateful for prayer, and I rely on it. I am grateful for the scriptures which also reveal God’s word to us and help us to remember it. I know that if we live the gospel, its principles will bring us happiness and will make us into the kind of people who can someday return to live with God. I very much want to return to live with God someday. I frequently feel homesick for my heavenly home. I am grateful that Christ atoned for our sins so that they will not prevent us from returning to that heavenly home. I am grateful for the perfect life He led and for the sacrifice He made to atone for our sins. I am grateful for the prophets who have also sacrificed to lead our church and to bring God’s word to us, and I am grateful to be part of a church that has a living prophet. I am especially grateful to be part of an eternal family. As my husband and I drove off on our honeymoon after our marriage, we began to sing songs together to pass the time in the car. One song that we sang was “Families Can Be Together Forever.” As we began to sing this song, the Spirit testified to me that we had now begun an eternal family by being sealed together. I have always been happy for this blessing in my life. I am grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who provides us with so many wonderful blessings, who allows us to live our lives “more abundantly.”
I write these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
For a (much condensed) version of this testimony that you can cut out and paste into the front of a Book of Mormon for giving to your favorite person, please click HERE. (Please note that when you view it, some words may be missing or it may look funny, but when you download it, everything should work fine.)