I have had a prompting lately to record my testimony about what I believe, and I figured what better place to do it than on my blog. Throughout my blog, I'm going to refer to 3 books of scripture listed below, so those of you who aren't LDS can look at these definitions and know what I'm talking about when I refer to them :)
Book of Mormon: On the cover of the Book of Mormon, it states that it is another testament of Jesus Christ--that's exactly what it is. This record begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem around 600 BC and crosses the ocean to the Americas. The book is passed down from generation to generation and is a record of the history of those people living in the Americas. Christ comes to visit them after His resurrection, and this record was buried in a hill by a man named Moroni (around 421 AD) and was later translated by the power of God through Joseph Smith.
Doctrine and Covenants: This is a compilation of revelations that Joseph Smith received from God during his time as the prophet.
King James Bible: Many claim we aren't Christians, but we also believe in the bible. As stated above, the Book of Mormon is ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ--the first one is the bible. We believe in both.
Recently I have been thinking about an experience I had in High School. It was my Sophomore year, and I was taking Biology. We got to the subject of evolution in our class, and while I don't believe humans evolved from monkeys, I do believe that all species (human or otherwise) develop different characteristics to help them adapt to their environments. I was fine accepting this part of evolution, but then my teacher made a point of bringing in a religious aspect. Since class was running out, he said "We can't discuss the implications evolution has on the belief that a higher being created this world and humans (as he scoffed), but if you'd like to come discuss your viewpoints with me I'd be more than happy to." I knew I was signing up for a possibly heated discussion, but I felt like I had to defend what I believed. I told my good friend, Andrea, about what happened, and she decided to come with me during our lunch hour to talk to him. We discussed each of our different viewpoints, and agreed to disagree, as he openly admitted to being an atheist. I didn't say anything to this, but inside felt compassion for him, and a sense of pity. I pitied him that he led a life thinking that there wasn't a Heavenly Father who cared for him, loved him, and wanted the best for him. A Heavenly Father who wanted my teacher to return to live with Him forever. I can only imagine how lonely it must feel to not know or even believe in an afterlife.
As the years have gone on and I've thought about this conversation, my mind keeps going back to different truths I've read in the Book of Mormon. There was a prophet named Alma, and he had a similar discussion with a man named Korihor. Korihor went around preaching to Alma's people that they couldn't know that a God exists, or couldn't know that Christ would come (the timeline was BC). Alma says to Korihor, "All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
This reminds me of a primary song in our church called "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." The words read this:
Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky
Whenever I fell the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me
He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart
I thank Him reverently
For all His creations, of which I'm a part
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me
In all the beauty around us, it seems impossible to me to deny that Heavenly Father exists. Who needs proof that God exists when there are so many evidences around us?
There have been too many experiences in my life where I knew that someone was looking out for me for me to deny that God exists. He has led me through my darkest days, He has been there to celebrate my happiest moments, and all things good in my life I have because of His tender mercies and love for me.
Some people might argue that "If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen?" This is something that I've been pondering for quite some time, and have realized a few things. First, Heavenly Father would cease to be God if He took away our agency. People choose how to act. So if someone chooses to commit acts of terror, tease someone else, or any other bad thing you can think of, that is their choice, and eventually they will suffer the consequences. Secondly, I firmly believe that trials make us better people. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that states "I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." In Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord is addressing the early saints of the church who had to deal with much persecution, and He states "They shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried." This reminds me of how diamonds are made. Coal is put under intense heat and pressure (sometimes for a long amount of time), is chipped away at and buffed, until a beautiful, sparking diamond is made. Heavenly Father has the ability to take coal and make diamonds, but we will only become diamonds if we put our trust and faith in the Lord, and trust that trials are for our good, and we become stronger.
You always grow from a trial. You always learn something. If we didn't have trials, we wouldn't learn anything. If this life were easy and trial-free, that would be like taking an exam without questions on it. We have to prove that we have learned how to put our trust on God. When my water broke 6 weeks early with Andrew, I choose to put my trust in the Lord. It was the hardest thing in my life to have Andrew in the hospital for 20 days. I think I cried every day or night for a good half hour while he was in the hospital. It was so hard, but I also had an immense amount of peace during that whole experience. I grew closer to Heavenly Father through that experience, and as a result I have a closer relationship with God, I have learned and grown so much from that experience, and have developed more faith in God's timetable.
Sometimes our trials that we're asked to go through might seem unbearable or too much for us to handle, but God doesn't leave us hanging. He hasn't left us out in the cold. He has given us prophets and apostles, scriptures, the power of prayer, families, wards, stakes, and so much more to help us through this life. We are never alone. Sometimes it may feel that the windows of Heaven are sealed and our prayers aren't being heard, but I know that dealing with trials or uncertainties in life require us to have an eternal perspective and to trust in the Lord. I have also learned that God's timetable is what is best for me--even when I thought my timetable was best for me.
As my dear friend, Andrea, and I were leaving from our discussion with my science teacher, he said "You know, I thought I had everything figured out when I was 15 as well." I just turned, smiled, and said "I'll see you in class tomorrow. Thanks for talking with us."
He was right about one thing: When I was 15, I believed the church was true. I believed what I was being taught in church, seminary, and at home, but didn't yet know it was true. 8 years after that experience, I can say with a surety that I know the church is true. I know God lives. I know the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Doctrine and Covenants are the word of God. I know God lives. I know Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, that through
Him we can become cleansed, we can become better, and we can heal and
become whole from hard trials in our lives. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that Christ will come again to earth. I know that I can live with my family together forever. I'm grateful for temples, and for the peace that I feel there. I know that the atonement is real--it can help us repent, become better, and heal from spiritual wounds. It is never too late to use the atonement. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each of us, and that we are never alone. I'm grateful I'm a member of this church and for the peace, comfort, and joy it has brought into my life.