As you've probably noticed, I dedicate much of my blog to reflecting on my past. I think I do it because it is interesting for me to analyze myself, and also because I plan on having this blog serve as my personal history of sorts. That being the case, I feel like the following will be an important inclusion.
As a youth, my testimony--and the way I interpreted the gospel, was almost entirely borrowed from my parents. And it wasn't until after Scotty died that I started realizing it. Suddenly my parents' understanding and application of the gospel seemed to be changing and it was very hard for me. It was hard because I had come to accept and trust that their previous ways were correct and now I was being forced to question it all and try and sort things out for myself. Let me clarify. It wasn't like my parents had testimonies before Scotty died and not afterward or vice versa. It was just that their understanding of different principles changed, and as a result, the way they were raising kids changed as well. So I was left trying to figure out which way was better--the old way, or the new way, and I found myself being frustrated with my parents for causing me to have to go through this. (In case you care, the old way was good, but the new way is even better.) What I came to realize, though, was that I was really frustrated with myself for never having really developed my own understanding of the gospel.
So anyway, since then, I have been working hard to figure things out for myself and more importantly, I have been earnestly seeking for the Spirit to testify to me of truth. And I still struggle with some things. Specifically, I don't have the testimony I want of Joseph Smith and his prophetic mission. I believe he was a very important prophet and that he was the most important catalyst in the restoration of the gospel, but I don't think I've had the Spirit seal that testimony in my heart yet, as it has other things. And most importantly, I have not yet developed the relationship with the Savior that I want to have. And as hard as it is for me to say, I think it is because I am just now BEGINNING to understand and apply his atonement. In all my life, I have not sought forgiveness so much as I have the last three years as a mother. As a mother (and as a wife), I am being made painfully aware of all of my weaknesses, and I desperately yearn to be forgiven and to become more the mother and wife that Heavenly Father wants me to be. And despite how hard this has been, I feel so grateful to finally be recognizing a need for dependence on the Savior. And while I was visiting Sarah, she shared some of her insights on the atonement that I really appreciated. She said she feels like it is Christ's suffering for our sins and sorrows that allows him to give us the gift of Charity. In other words--Charity is a GIFT that only the SAVIOR can give because only He has suffered for all of us in a way that created such a perfect and pure love. (Man, I hope I got that right.) So anyway, don't get all worried about me, because I am working on it, and I am confident that my understanding and testimony of the Savior and his atonement will grow as I continue to work on it.
In the meantime, let me just say this--that I do know and have never doubted that Heavenly Father loves me and that I am his daughter. I know that he is aware of me at all times. I know that he listens to and answers my prayers. I know that he expects a lot from me, but that he is proud of my efforts and has great hope in my learning and becoming better. I know that he is a God of miracles. I know that he is a just God, but I swear I experience his mercy so much more often than I do his justice. I know that living righteously brings happiness. I know and have experienced the power of the Holy Ghost and I am SO grateful to enjoy its companionship when I am worthy. I am so grateful for the example of the Savior and for his perfect love. I know that it is his eternal mission to bring all of us back to our Heavenly Father. And I know that I feel the closest to Him when I am serving others.
And you know what else? I love the Book of Mormon. When I was growing up, I was super fortunate to have parents who both loved studying the scriptures. They were great examples to me. I saw them reading and studying the scriptures often and I knew that they loved to do so. They STILL do. And I've always trusted that the scriptures--particularly the Book of Mormon--contain the gospel and are very important, but it used to be difficult for me to comprehend how my parents could actually enjoy them so much. You know what I mean? So I went a lot of years wondering if I'd ever be able to say that I love reading my scriptures the way my parents do, and guess what? Now I can. I take that back. I can't say that I love reading them as much as my parents do because my parents even love Isaiah and Exodus and all that stuff. But I can say that I have really come to love and enjoy the Book of Mormon. Right now I'm not perfect at reading it every day, but when I do, I really do enjoy it. I've always appreciated the gospel gems, but now I recognize and enjoy the stories, I love noticing new details, and I love the power that comes from reading. The Book of Mormon even makes me laugh sometimes. So that's cool.
And I love General Conference now, too. It gives me the spiritual feeding that I really do hunger for now that I am a mom and my opportunities for Spiritual feedings are harder to come buy and usually interrupted by noise or needy or hungry kids. (Sorry for the run-on.) And it just feels so good to hear truth.