A year ago I shared some thoughts with my local congregation and close friends and family after suffering the loss of a briefly held but long-cherished and promised pregnancy. In my anguish and confusion, I testified of my faith in the love of God and of His patience with my growth and understanding. In the throes of that grief, tinted with hope, we entered a year where our little family, my body and my spirit have been challenged in ways that have required more of us than I could’ve imagined. Sustained by a beautiful tapestry of heavenly grace, personal strength and loving support, I can stand here today with a different kind of faith and knowing. There is something about being nearly undone that makes one realize where true sources of strength can be found. I would like to testify of these true things.
I know that because I chose to follow the Savior in the pre-existence that He has blessed me with a body. This body is mortal and is subject to all sorts of influences in mortality, some self-imposed and some beyond my control. Cultivating attunement between my spirit and body has given me beautiful insight regarding my work on earth and the specific things I can learn and offer. I know that Satan does not have a body and that many of the ways he tries to influence me have to do with the use and care of my body. I believe if he can thwart, interrupt or distract me from my connection to my body or put my in a position of opposition to my body that He can disrupt a measure of my growth. I know that whatever gifts I have been given or whatever talents I have cultivated can be used for good, unifying, growth-promoting things or for destructive purposes. If Satan can offer the primary influence in my life, those gifts, talents and skills are put to use for his destructive and divisive purposes, whereas if I am constantly and humbly seeking to obediently follow the Savior, I am in a position to grow and my growth is multiplied exponentially, along with the peace that I have access to. I can also serve as a resource to other souls who are seeking growth.
I know that the Savior Jesus Christ is the author of peace which passeth all understanding and that He offers us that peace in the very moments we sincerely chose to follow Him or at the very least hope to believe in Him regardless of where we have been in the moments before. I know that through His atonement, the ashes that we either find ourselves in or create in our lives can be transformed into unimaginable strength and opportunities for growth. However, the ashes have to be recognized as such in order for the cleansing relief of the atonement to be truly felt. I know that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price all have powerful and true insights regarding the atonement, the Savior and the ways to integrate those two things into our personal lives. Through study of the scriptures and my efforts to see the hand of God here on earth, I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and each of you. I know that there is incredible strength that can be derived from our collective faith and our unity. Like one of my local leaders taught a few weeks ago, I know that the roots of our faith are intertwined and in the midst of fierce storms, the strength that we can draw from each other can literally be life-saving. I reiterate that I know this.
I know that the strength, goodness and truth that I enjoy today in my life, my home, my chapel and our local temple was set in motion by a 14-year-old boy who was confused and wanted to communicate with Heaven. I have been in the grove where he offered that first prayer, and I know that Joseph Smith was graced with a view of heaven, particularly of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, that few people experience in this life. I know that he received further revelation and that that revelation led to the re-establishment of a beautiful religion with Jesus Christ’s robust doctrine, merciful and insightful answers to mortality’s questions and a clear authority to teach from heaven. I believe in the power and efficacy of that priesthood authority from Joseph Smith to our prophet Thomas S. Monson today. I know that my local bishop is a man who receives revelation for our little group of believers here and I am profoundly grateful to be led by someone who seeks the guidance of the Spirit as much as he does. I testify of the grace and mercy of a God who wants to continually reach out to His people to offer them glimpses of heaven in this life. It is hard for me that these glimpses aren’t permanent but that they come and go and that there are times of wandering and confusion that naturally result from trying to access heaven from a fallen world but that doesn’t change the veracity of those true moments when we experience them. These are things I know. And while the path to this knowledge has been at times seemingly unbearable, I am so grateful for the knowing because that’s why I’m here.