Receiving My Own Witness… Again

This week was tougher than usual. We all get to those points in life where we just feel like things keep piling on top of us faster than we can get through them. That was my week. And unfortunately, it seems that the most important things are the ones we always neglect first. I had an experience yesterday that reminded me that I need to keep my priorities straight. I need my scripture study and prayers to be the first thing I think of when things get overwhelming. I need charity, patience and diligence to be the attributes I remember rather than anger, frustration, and selfishness. I was getting so tired of feeling like I was the only one trying – trying to be better, trying to keep myself spiritually stronger, trying to be friends, and tired of feeling like that because I know it’s not true. All I wanted was a break. Time where I could forget about everything. Time to read a book for however long I wanted. Time to watch movies without feeling like the most unproductive person on the planet. Time to play the piano without worrying about wasting time when I should be doing homework. Just… time to not worry about anything.

When I got home last night, I just planned to call a friend, talk for a while, read some scriptures then go to bed. Well… I thank my friend dearly for not answering the phone because it blessed me so much more than I anticipated. I learned a powerful lesson… for probably the hundredth and definitely not the last time – The Lord needs to be the first person we turn to, ALWAYS, no matter what is going on. He loves us, truly He does. He’s aware of our needs before we ever are and He gives us what we need to get through the tough times. It’s unfortunate that I forget that so often, but very fortunate that Heavenly Father knows I forget it more than I should and reminds me of it often.

So, instead of talking to my friend, I decided to study my scriptures. I needed to prepare my lesson for young women’s anyway, so might as well. About five minutes into that study, I realized I hadn’t prayed… NEVER start a scripture study without praying. When I stopped to pray, I just was going to make it quick so I could continue where I was. Just a “please bless me with the Spirit so I know what to say tomorrow” prayer. Those are never good enough. Thankfully, my mission taught me a lot about prayer and the fact that if it’s not sincere, it’s not real. At least, it doesn’t feel real. Within a few seconds of starting my prayer, I knew there was more I needed to say and ask my Father in Heaven before I was done talking to Him. It’s amazing and sounds kind of weird since Heavenly Father is the one you’re praying to, but the Spirit can play a rather huge part in prayers and guiding you to know what to ask, what to say and what you need. Like I said, Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need before we pray for it. So why do we pray? Because WE need to pray. We are the ones who need to develop that relationship with Him. Not because Heavenly Father needs us to. He is always wanting to improve our relationship with Him, but WE are the ones who have to do something about it, otherwise, it compromises our agency.

Anyway, questions that I needed to ask during the lesson, questions I needed to ask myself as I studied and ideas of what to study immediately started flowing into my mind once I’d realized that prayer was exactly what I needed right then. What I needed, what Heavenly Father knew I needed most at that moment, was to forget myself and do what I’ve been called to do, not just as a Young Women’s leader, but as His Daughter. I’ve said it once, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again: I love my life so much more when it isn’t about me. I’m happier when I serve and I learn so much more when I stop focusing on what I need. It’s wonderful the way that works. 🙂 So my so-called five second prayer turned into a five minute prayer and I felt immensely better when I returned to my studies. And as I studied, I felt the Spirit more abundantly than I have in a while. I knew that what I was studying was what I needed to share with the young women, but almost more importantly, I gained a stronger testimony of this beautiful Gospel and what it has done for me in my life. As I watched a video about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how one, Wilford Woodruff, came to know of it’s truth, I was overwhelmed with such gratitude to my Savior for allowing me to be born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for allowing me to finally find my own personal testimony and witness of its truth when I was 17. And I am so grateful that I can continue to strengthen that testimony as I teach others what I know to be true.

Last night, that experience humbled me. It taught me again that I can’t give up. It taught me again that I’m not alone, nor am I ever. It taught me again that I am important and a tool in the Lord’s hands. He is using me to strengthen and beautify others, who they are, their knowledge and their testimonies. Through my diligent, humble, kind and loving service, lives will be changed and the world will become a better place. I know that I have touched so many lives throughout the years I’ve been privileged to live on this earth, but just the same, those lives have touched me. They have been tools in the Lord’s hands as well, to shape and change me into who I am today, and to continue shaping and changing me into who I can become.

I am so happy and grateful for the things that I learn and re-learn every day. I will forever be grateful to those who have touched my life, even if it was only briefly and I will be forever grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who has made it possible for me, for all of us to change and become as He is. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom established once again and for the final time on the Earth today. I know that through Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ has restored all the truth we need to be able to live again with our Heavenly Family forever. I confidently and forever stand behind the Lord’s prophet, seer and revelator today, Thomas S. Monson. I proudly stand behind President Monson’s two counsellors, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I know that they, and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and other leaders throughout the Church, are all men (and women) of God. They have been called of God to lead us in these latter days, and I know that when they speak, they speak the truth. They speak the words that Christ would say if He were here, physically, today.

The Lord, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is wonderful. He is the center of my life, and I plan to never look away from Him. Only good things come from following Him, and ultimately, only the best comes from doing as He has done.

He Is Risen!

Christ the Lord is risen today! Allelujah! And the best part this year? We get to listen to the prophet and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ on the same day that He rose from the dead 2,000 years ago. The talks that have been given have given me a lot to think about, study and find ways to apply in my life. They are inspiring and full of love, faith and hope. I fully sustain President Thomas S. Monson as Christ’s chosen servant to lead us today, as well as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, President Henry B. Eyring, each of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and all other leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you’ve missed any of the sessions, you can watch them here.

So… Today, 2,000 years ago was a very special day. Why? Because our Savior, Jesus Christ, was resurrected. And why is that so important? Well, there’s a reason why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t have the cross as the symbol we love and revere. We acknowledge it as a very important event in history, yes, but it doesn’t hang in our chapels, on our jewelry or in our homes. This is because that was not the point of the Savior’s life. We also like to remember Him as He is, not as He was. He came to suffer and die for us, true, but had He not been resurrected, there would have been absolutely no point to the suffering or death He endured. Without His overcoming death, there would be no hope of us returning to live with Him and our Father again. Without His resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to live again ourselves. The resurrection of the Lord was the final step of completing the Atonement. It is what makes it possible to fully over-come our weaknesses, to change and become more like Him. Our Heavenly Father and our Brother, Jesus Christ, both have bodies of flesh and bones. We are not to live forever as spirits. We need our bodies to fulfill our great and divine potential. We need bodies to become like God. And yes, we CAN become as God is. He is our Father, after all.

There’s not much more for me to say, except that I know He lives. I know that my Savior and Redeemer loves me so much, more than I will ever know. Throughout the years as I have studied the Atonement and the life of Jesus Christ, I have come to understand and know Him. I am changed because of Him. His example is always in my mind and it drives me to recognize my faults and weaknesses and to become better. I strive to improve myself each day because I know who He wants me to be. I know who I can be – I can be a joint-heir with Jesus Christ if I only study His teachings, incorporate them in my life and become as He is. Every day brings something new that I need to work on, or at least, gives me greater insight to what I need to be better at. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be in this life. I make a lot of mistakes or do a lot of things that I know could have done much better even if they weren’t necessarily wrong. But because of Jesus Christ, I know I will be perfect one day. This life is a time for us to prepare ourselves to meet God. It is a time of learning – we make mistakes or do things weakly because that is the only way we will learn, change and become stronger. Because of the Atonement – His suffering, death, and resurrection – I know that one day, I will stand in the presence of my God, my Father, and my King and I will be able to smile with wonderful joy as He welcomes me Home.

Matthew 28:1-10:

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”

I have never seen my Savior, but I have felt Him and I see Him in the people around me – in the simple acts of service and love given to me, my family and others. I see Him in the beauty of the Earth. I feel His love and His desire to comfort me and lift me up no matter what I’ve done. Because I have seen and felt Him in my life, I am not afraid and I want nothing more than to praise His name and share with the world all that He has done for His brothers and sisters. Every day, I see the mark that He has made on mankind. Some people choose not to believe, others only partially believe and many believe whole-heartedly in their Savior. I am proud to say that I am one of those who will never deny Him. I would die rather than say I never knew Him. Too many things have testified to me of Him that my soul would be totally lost if I ever chose to deny it. But more than that, I don’t WANT to deny Him. Ever. Because He is real. And He is here – past, present and future, He is ALWAYS here.

Happy Easter! Watch this video called “Because He lives”, found on mormon.org. Look for and remember what your Redeemer has done for you, not only today, but every day of the year.

I testify of these things in the Savior, Jesus Christ’s sacred name, amen.