Why should I bother with the Book of Mormon?

I have a goal this week to spend more time actually studying my scriptures instead of reading a verse here and there and claiming I don’t have time to do much more. Because that’s definitely a lie. Especially now that it’s summer and I only have one class plus piano lessons. Elder Richard G. Scott (one of my favorite apostles) in his October 2014 General Conference talk titled Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority said:

“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”

So my goal this week is to do that – make the spiritual things my first priority, even if it means missing an hour of practice or sleep or whatever. So far, so good! And today, I wanted to share a thought I had while I was studying in 2 Nephi 31 (Book of Mormon).

I have many family members and friends who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (AKA Mormon). It is not my goal to push them to believe the same as I believe, nor is it my desire to make them annoyed with every spiritual post I have. However, whenever I do share my testimony and spiritual experiences of what I’ve come to know as truth, I do it out of love and out of a desire to help them come closer to Jesus Christ. Elder David A. Bednar actually addressed this very topic in October 2014 when he spoke in General Conference (Come and See) and said:

“‘Why are Latter-day Saints so eager to tell me about what they believe and to invite me to learn about their church?’… Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries… The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church.

“‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).’

“Our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us.”

I’m willing to listen to what their beliefs are and consider seriously ways that I can integrate their thoughts and experiences into mine – I truly believe that there is truth everywhere, not just in the LDS Church. So to my family and friends who are not Mormon, will you listen to what I believe and seriously consider that it is truth? Will you seriously consider integrating it into YOUR life?

Now that I’ve introduced WHY I’m writing today, let me tell you WHAT I’m writing about (though it’s rather obvious from the title): Why should I bother with the Book of Mormon?

First let me ask a few other questions: Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that He is the Savior of the world and that He suffered for all mankind so that we may all have a chance to be forgiven of all our sins and saved by His grace? Do you believe that Heavenly Father (God) knows and loves you? Do you believe that you can change and become like Christ as you strive to follow His example as He commanded and live as He did?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I can tell you this: You will LOVE the Book of Mormon.

You’re not convinced yet? Alright, here’s another question or two: Do you believe the Bible to be the word of God? Do you believe that it teaches truths and brings you closer to Jesus Christ? Has the Bible helped you become more like your Savior?

If you answered yes to any of THOSE questions, then I’ll tell you this: You will LOVE the Book of Mormon.

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Now I should probably tell you a little bit about the Book of Mormon. First off, it is a record of the people in the Americas, though it begins in Jerusalem in about 600 BC during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar with a prophet named Lehi. Lehi is eventually commanded to leave Jerusalem with his family in order to avoid destruction. Lehi’s family journeys through the wilderness and eventually crosses “many waters” to the promised land, which we now know are the Americas. This record follows the descendants of Lehi and keeps a spiritual knowledge of what they were taught concerning God, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel. At one point (in the book of 3 Nephi), Jesus Christ visits the Americas after His resurrection and teaches the same things he taught in Jerusalem (John 10:16 “other sheep”).

I also want to say this: The Book of Mormon does NOT replace the Bible. Not in any way shape or form. It does not add to it or take away from it. It actually is a COMPANION. Think of this: When you’re single, you’re you. You are whole, complete and wonderful. You were definitely created by God, and therefore are unique and full of good. What about when you get married? Does your spouse change the fact that you’re you? Do they change that you were created by God, are unique or good? Do they take away from you or add to you? Does your spouse replace you? NO! Not at all. Your spouse is you COMPANION.

Keep this definition in mind: Companion – one of a pair of things intended to complement or match each other.

Did you know that the title of the Book of Mormon is actually this? The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what the title page says about this wonderful book’s purpose: “…Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever – and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations…”

Mmmm… I love reading that. It gives me chills almost every time. But you can see that this precious book is all about testifying of Jesus Christ and bringing any who read and study it closer to Him. Would you agree that the Bible has that same purpose? In other words, would you agree that based on this information, the Book of Mormon actually complements and matches the Bible? Would you say they are companions? I would.

Now, I could probably go on and on and on for days about this one topic. The Book of Mormon is so precious to me. I KNOW that it is true. I know that it teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the most important book I’ve ever read because it supports the Bible and adds a second witness of Jesus Christ (it follows the law of witnesses; see also Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; Ezekiel 37:15:20; 2 Corinthians 13:1). The Book of Mormon also testifies to me that God is no respecter of persons (see Acts 10:34) and therefore teaches his Gospel to ALL nations (see Daniel 2:35; Isaiah 52:10; Psalms 22:27; Matthew 24:14). Luke 24:47 actually says: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (emphasis added), which implies that Jerusalem is where it started, but not where it ended. So where else has His Gospel been preached? Would you say it’s probable that wherever else it’s been preached, those people ALSO kept records? I highly doubt the Jews (the Bible) are the only ones who kept a record of things that are so important and sacred. I also doubt the Book of Mormon is the only other record out there.

I hope that you can see, by these few points I’ve made, just how remarkable this book really is. If I haven’t convinced you of just how good this book is, then stop reading what I have to say and read the book yourself. I’m just human, so instead of me, I plead with you to let the Lord and His Spirit convince you. Read a little of it every day, compare it to what truths you know about Jesus Christ and His Gospel and then pray to know if what you’ve read is true. Let the Spirit be your guide. I promise you that if you truly are seeking for truth with an honest and sincere heart, the answer WILL come.

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Remember that I share these things with you not because I want to prove that I’m right and you’re wrong. Not even close. Instead, I want to prove to you that we’re both right in searching for truth and that we both have so much more to learn. I share these things because I love you and because I want us both to find our place in the kingdom of God and I truly believe that the Book of Mormon is one way that can help us both to do so.

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

(Moroni 10:3-5)

You Are Loved

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I’ve changed since I was in high school, since I was in my first couple years of college, even since last year. Honestly, I have to say that the biggest difference is that I’m more confident in myself. Now, people who know me might be surprised and think I’ve always been confident. While that may be true on the outside, I’ve always been pretty insecure about how others think of me and whether or not there were very many people who enjoyed being around me. My mind has always gone into overdrive when analyzing people’s reactions to what I say or do and, unfortunately, it has most often come in negative ways. I generally have felt as though my personality isn’t funny enough, good enough, smart enough or that is too spiritual, too weird, too different or too annoying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never struggled to know that God loves me or that my parents were proud of what I’d accomplished. I had a few close friends I’ve always been comfortable around and have rarely felt judged by them. I have never hated myself or anything like that. I’ve just always worried that I would never have as good of a time going to parties or church functions or whatever else I might want to do simply because I almost always ended up sitting by myself on the sidelines watching everyone else have fun. If I was even invited to those kinds of things in the first place. Again, don’t worry – it only bothered me occasionally, and I understand that often friends come when YOU reach out rather than wait for them to come to you. I just struggle to be social and enjoy it. I just wanted to feel accepted by the people around me – at school, at church, wherever I was. But at the same time, I refused to change who I was just to be accepted. So it usually ended up that I had the perspective not many people cared for who I was/am.

That being said, I honestly don’t care what people think of me. Like I said, I didn’t change who I was just to be accepted. But it hurt to know that there were (and are) people who weren’t very fond of me. Everyone wants everyone else to like and accept them (it’s a simple fact – nobody likes to be hated). And that made it difficult to allow my entire personality to be out in the open all the time. It was uncomfortable, discouraging and awkward for me as I grew up trying to figure out my testimony, who I was supposed to be, what my life was supposed to be about and where I was going to go with my goals, hopes and dreams… all while feeling as though I didn’t always belong in very many places.

So why am I telling you all of this? Not for pity or for praise. Not for anyone to feel sorry for me. Not for people to tell me that I am cared for and valued. None of that. No. I’m saying these things because I know I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. I’m actually probably part of the majority of humankind. And my message for those who are feeling like I’m describing them is this: You are loved. YOU. ARE. LOVED.

I currently live in a singles ward at BYU-Provo and it is the first ward I have ever felt comfortable in. But guess how long it was before I stopped really thinking that other people didn’t care for me because I’m not the prettiest or because I’m not the smartest, the most talented or because I share my testimony too often or am constantly talking about the Gospel. Guess how long it was before I stopped thinking about those things and started to realize how much these people aren’t even thinking anything like that but instead are recognizing how talented I am, how strong my testimony is, how much I have influenced their lives. Go on. Guess.

Before I tell you, let me say this: I’m really not trying to get on my high horse and tell you how great I am. Because I’m not that great (*disclaimer: don’t confuse worth with greatness)… I’m just a normal girl like anyone else who simply knows who God is and who I am. So I’ll tell you. It took me until the last week or two to realize how much I am loved and cherished by the people who know me. It’s easier to see that with those who have known me longer. But for the people in my current ward, especially those I haven’t talked to very much, it took me about 9 months to see that they’re not judging me. They’re not calling me crazy or weird or strange or whatever. Well, maybe they are. But not in a degrading and negative way. They aren’t thinking about how awkward I am or how much I am different from them. Not even close. They simply are taking me as I am and loving me despite my flaws and weaknesses. They look at me the same way I know my Savior would if I could see Him – with love and acceptance and kindness.

How do I know this? Well first of all, because I’ve stopped assuming everyone is judging me. But also because I can feel it and I can see it in their eyes. I firmly believe that the eyes are truly the windows to the soul. People can see the truth when you look eye to eye with them. And there was one particular instance where I was changed and overwhelmed by the love and appreciation the people around me have for me. It was two weeks ago in Relief Society. It was the last Sunday of the semester and the last Sunday our ward would be together before it got disintegrated and everyone put into a new ward for the summer. I had been asked to conduct the music and as I stood in front of those sweet sisters and looked around the room at each of them, I saw how many of them were smiling up at me. I looked a few of them in the eye, and though I quickly looked away, I felt their love and Heavenly Father’s love for me. And I knew that I had made some sort of difference in at least a few of those girls’ lives simply by being me.

So if you didn’t get the message earlier: YOU. ARE. LOVED. I promise you with all the fiber of my being that there are people around you who appreciate you, love you and want you to be a part of their lives. Maybe there really are some people who judge you based on looks or based on what you do that annoys them. But I can tell you right now that there aren’t very many of those people and I can also tell you that they’re wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. You may not be perfect – we’re all human. We all make mistakes and do or say things that we probably shouldn’t. We might dress in ways that others think is socially unacceptable or open our mouths a few times to many in others’ opinions. But I can’t tell you enough that it doesn’t matter because you have at least three people who care about you and love you enough that they want you to stick around and those people are Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and me.

You ask how I could care for and love someone I probably don’t even know a single thing about? Because I DO know your worth. I know the way Heavenly Father feels about me and about each of His Children, no matter what they do or say. I know that you are worth EVERYTHING to Him. I know that you are important in completing His plan. And I know that YOU. ARE. LOVED. If I, a stranger to you, know this then I plead with you to come to know it for yourself. Because it’s truth and it isn’t changing. Ever.