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"Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed." (3 Nephi 18:21)

When asked about my Mormon Faith, my initial response is always the same. I passionately embrace the concept of an Eternal Family. Many of our beliefs are taken on faith. That is, I do not have a perfect knowledge of their validity, but I strongly believe them to be so. While I may not have a “perfect knowledge” of a family that lives on eternally, I do have such a knowledge of the temporal impact in my life.

The Book of Mormon teaches and reminds me to be a more loving, supportive and understanding spouse and parent. Love for my family is not just something in which I “believe,” but rather a tangible emotion I can grasp with certainty and conviction. Love for family drives my hope and bridles my selfishness. Family brings love, faith, joy and fulfillment into every aspect of my daily life.

While I may not have a perfect knowledge of Heaven, I am blessed to have a perfect knowledge of Family here on Earth. For me, it is everything.

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." (Ether 12:41)

Reading this scripture comforts me. It reminds me of the power of God. It tells me that with belief, hope, and faith I can anchor my soul, be steadfast, and make a difference with good works. When I am discouraged, it reminds me that by trusting in God we can all with surety hope for a better world.
I love the Book of Mormon. The stories tell me how to live and love. They bring me hope beyond the moment. The stories testify of Christ, his redeeming power, and his great love for each individual. The teachings of the prophet remind me not to judge. They convince me that it is never too late for me or others to turn to righteousness, and therein find light and happiness. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, our Heavenly Father loves each of us and desires our happiness.

"I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever." (Ether 12:41)

Beautiful art hung on the walls of my home when I was growing up. However, it was a small framed print placed on an easel that captured my attention almost daily. Carl Bloch’s ‘Nativity’ sat in a prominent place in our dining room where I chose to do my homework. The dark rich colors surrounding the golden glow highlighting the focus of the painting, baby Jesus in the manger, enhanced its importance. An unmistakable reverence radiated from it, and I felt it in a powerful way. I believed in Jesus Christ. I believed that he was the Son of God. I was taught that he came to atone for the sins of men. I remember thinking as I looked at the painting that I wanted to be a follower of Christ.

When I left home for college, my desire to know Christ became stronger. I wanted to know what he meant to me personally. I read the New Testament. I read the Book of Mormon. Everything I read and studied brought the same warm peaceful feelings I felt as a young teenager.

My desire to know Christ and be his follower is still my greatest desire. I now have hanging in my home my own copy of Carl Bloch’s ‘Nativity’, and it still occupies my thoughts and beckons me to seek him. The scripture I have quoted above from The Book of Mormon about Christ has deep meaning for me. I believe that as we seek to know Jesus Christ we will feel his love for us personally. And when we feel his grace, we will try hard to live a life that is reflective of his teachings.

"And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people; for the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled. For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him. And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed. And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you. I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:57-62)

Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I never felt I really needed to be “converted” to the teachings that I had grown up learning. It wasn’t until my Junior and Senior years of high school that I really felt like my belief in the Church was being tested. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of sixteen. Being told that not only did I have a serious pain condition but that it would also stick with me for life, led to my developing a serious case of depression. I allowed myself to become bitter and angry with God, and got myself mixed up in a crowd that wasn’t conducive to the standards the Church had in place. However, I began to feel empty inside. I was happy, but I didn’t feel whole. I began to wonder if having the Lord back in my life would help me to feel complete again. While reading the Book of Mormon, I found many verses that talked about abandoning sin, and coming unto Christ, but Alma 5 particularly stood out. Not only did it encourage me to abandon living the life of frivolity that I was currently participating in, but it compared all of us on earth to sheep being watched over by “the good shepherd”. The line, “the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; . . .that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” was the tipping point in turning from the life I was currently living, and coming unto the Savior That was the best decision I have ever made. I have never felt as peaceful, jovial, and simply content with who and where I am in life, as I have since I decided to make the decision to abandon the person that I was and become a member of the fold which is actively watched over and protected by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"And if there be faults they be the faults of a man" (Mormon 8:17)

“And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing . . . .” (Ether 12:23)

“Condemn me not because of mine imperfection . . . .” (Mormon 9:31)

So writes Moroni, one of the principal editors of the Book of Mormon, as he struggled with his weakness and perceived deficiencies. As a physician, I too have struggled as I have looked at the abyss of my ignorance, and the words of Moroni have spoken to me as a familiar spirit from the dust. This is a man whose struggles in the distant past have resonated with my soul and increased my resolve to follow my Savior Jesus Christ. A man who had a resolute belief in his Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered untold difficulties in his life, a man whom I esteem greatly, was a man who had weaknesses and imperfections. This is a man of God that I can relate to. I have felt his spirit speak to me and sensed his anguish as I have read his words, and I have been inspired to become a true follower of Jesus Christ.