Up until a few years ago, I had always considered myself to be a faithful person. In fact, I truly believe that faith is one of the gifts God allowed me to have for whatever reason. But as a result, I never felt the need to ask questions. If the prophet asked, I followed. For instance, just days before my 16th birthday I had planned to go get my ears pierced for the second (and possibly the third:)) time. For months I had wanted to have multiple piercings and I was just giddy with excitement at the thought of finally doing it. You can imagine my absolute astonishment when the very day before I was to fulfill said dream, President Hinckley spoke in General Conference and asked all young women to stick with ONE piercing. What?!? How? I could not believe what I was hearing. I was a GOOD girl. To the core good. I wanted nothing more than to be a good person but I found myself momentarily lost when I sat contemplating what the Prophet of God had just asked of me. Would I follow something so simple and seemingly inconsequential as not getting more than one ear piercing? While stunned and truthfully really sad, I did not waiver and I decided that even though I didn’t understand I would trust President Hinckley and move forward with faith.
Fast forward several years, a husband and a few babies later, and there I sat again facing a test of my faith. Only this time the stakes were high and the outcome terrifyingly uncertain. My parents had just told me that my older sister, along with her husband and 8 children, had chosen to leave the church. To say I was shocked would dramatically understate the emotions that came from this news. My sister, who is 6 years my senior, has ALWAYS been a source of light and strength for me. She was my lighthouse growing up, always constant and true regardless of the storms that came her way. She emulated Christ in every word and deed for as long as I could remember. I had watched her in awe and aspired to be her. My mind and heart in that moment could not conceive of the possibility of someone so strong, and full of light walking away from truth. The months that followed that news were so painful. The weight of the grief I felt extremely heavy. But none of those emotions could compare with the fear I felt at this one thought: “If the Adversary could get to someone like my sister who was so full of light he could certainly get to me”. And so from that moment on, I began to ASK THE ONE who knows all truth and is the source of ALL LIGHT. I spent hours everyday reading and studying the scriptures, listening to conference talks, and praying until my knees felt as if they couldn’t stand the pressure anymore. I sought priesthood blessings and went to the temple as often as I could. Her loss of faith had caused me to pause, shift and refocus. I had to figure out what it was I believed. What it is I KNOW. I had to really find my faith…for possibly the first time ever.
I wish I could say that after 2 years I know all the answers to all the hard questions out there, but to be honest the more I learn the more I realize how very little I truly understand. What I do know is this…God is our Father. Our actual Father. He knows us inside and out and our happiness is at the very center of everything. Jesus Christ lives. And despite His perfect existence He was willing to come to Earth and make the ultimate sacrifice so we can be with those we love, including our Heavenly parents, forever. I don’t know how He did it, or why He would, knowing that soooo many would not accept this gift. I just know He did it and that I am forever grateful He did. I know that living the gospel brings me joy. It brings me peace. It lifts me up when the responsibilities of mortality weigh me down. It makes me a better person. A kinder, more compassionate human being.
Sometimes the world will tell us that when our faith, or testimony is faltering it means that we are going down the wrong path. But in reality when your faith falters its a chance to ASK the one who knows all with the intent to.be.changed forever.
I know I am forever changed. I have much to learn and understand in the ways of godliness. But when the storms of faith come, (and they will always come), I know where to turn and in whom I can trust.
And so I issue a call for the conviction we all must have burning in our hearts that this is the work of God and that it requires the best we can give to the effort. My appeal is that you nurture your own physical and spiritual strength so that you have a deep reservoir of faith to call upon when tasks or challenges or demands of one kind or another come. Pray a little more, study a little more, shut out the noise and shut down the clamor, enjoy nature, call down personal revelation, search your soul, and search the heavens for the testimony that led our pioneer parents. Then, when you need to reach down inside a little deeper and a little farther to face life and do your work, you will be sure there is something down there to call upon.[i]
Elder Jeffery R. Holland