Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have always believed in God. I attended Primary, was baptized at age 8, and advanced into the youth program. I always felt that it was right. But my parents and leaders seemed to see a faith in me that I didn’t quite see myself. Eventually, I knew that I would have to know for myself that it actually is right.
This is something everyone in the Church is expected to do. No one can truly progress without their own testimony of Jesus Christ. For me, this time came when I was in my teens.
There were no grand miracles leading up to my personal conversion. I saw no angels, I wasn’t saved from some terrible tragedy. For most, this is how it will be. I made the decision to study the scriptures daily. I prayed frequently. Every Sunday, I went to church. I listened to every session of general conference every six months. And somewhere along the way, my life changed for the better.
I learned for myself that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are real. The Holy Ghost is a genuine influence in my life. At times, I have thoughts that I know don’t originate with me, because I know myself pretty well. I know that the Lord is directing and helping me. When things are hard, I may doubt myself, but I never doubt the Lord. I still make mistakes, but He is always there to lift me up and help me to move forward.
One of the greatest keys in my life is the word of God. Looking at the world, I often despair and wonder how to solve all of its problems. (I have the terrible weakness of thinking that I actually can solve all of its problems.) I’ve come to realize that the solution is actually really simple. It’s the same thing that restores my peace when I feel overwhelmed, that gives me faith despite my doubts, and teaches me to love when I feel hurt. One of the many scriptures I often turn to in the Book of Mormon is Alma 31:5, which says: “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.”
If I could share one thing with everyone, it would be the word of God, in all its purity. It encompasses everything, including the many ways in which Jesus Christ affects our lives.
Of course, I’m not likely to reach everyone I hope I will. I will still make mistakes and errors in judgment. My pride will flare up at the worst possible moments. But God will be there. Jesus Christ will be there. Their words will bring me peace and help me to step back onto the safe path and move forward again.