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"O how ye ought to thank your heavenly King!" (Mosiah 2:19)

When I was fourteen, it was my freshman year of high school. I was really struggling to get good grades and make friends. I was also beginning to have doubts about participating in church activities. Life was miserable and I wished for a change but I didn’t know how to make it.

One day in my math class I heard that if you write down three things you’re thankful for every day, you will get better grades. I thought why not give it a shot? So I started to write down three things I was thankful for every day.

At first I didn’t notice but I began to get gradually happier. Although I was getting better grades, I hardly noticed because everything else around me was going so well. I began to have better relationships with my family members and my Father in Heaven. I did so by studying my scriptures, not just reading them. I also started to make my prayers more meaningful. I would talk to my Heavenly Father and express how thankful I was for the many wonderful things he had given to me. I would talk about how life was going and asked for help with whatever struggles I was having. I also asked questions. I learned that prayer is a powerful yet simple way of connecting with my Father in Heaven.

As I continued this pattern I became more happy every day. I was sooo thankful for all that Heavenly Father had done for me. I gradually started making regular trips to the temple.

Although at the time I had not read the scripture verse I have quoted above, I now know how powerful its words are, because thankfulness had such a huge impact on my life for good. Before, I would never have realized how doing one little thing could be such a blessing in my life. Now I am sixteen, and I keep a small notebook by my bed in which I write things I am thankful for every day. I feel that being thankful is a powerful way to become happy in life. I’m so thankful for my Heavenly Father and that He blesses and cares for me every day. I love this gospel, and I’m thankful I’ve continued to attend church meetings through all my doubts. I invite others to “experiment upon (the) word” (Alma 32:27), and come to know of its truthfulness.

"Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things." (Jacob 4:7)

I believe that the Book of Mormon is a true book. I know that Heavenly Father has put us here for a wonderful purpose in these hard times. I know that most think that our mistakes will last forever, that we can never be forgiven, and that Heavenly Father has turned his gaze from us.
However, I know that God loves us. Whatever we do here, despite our mistakes, or being judged or bullied, God will stand by us and love us all the same.
He loves us and watches us, and he forgives us, and I know that with every fiber of my heart.

"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.

"And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me." (Alma 36:27 )

Let me start by saying I believe God and Jesus Christ are two separate people, and they love and care for us and will help us through our trials. The above scripture is my favorite in the Book of Mormon. This last year has been one of the most trying times of my life. When I read the Book of Mormon it seems to give me a push in the right direction and inspiration to go on with my day. The Book of Mormon has touched not only my life, but the lives of people around me. I never learned the true meaning of the Book of Mormon until I had gone through the trials of my life. I know that when my dad was 14, he knew the Book of Mormon was true. I am now 14 and I know that the Book of Mormon is true and it touches the lives of so many people around me. The Holy Ghost touched my heart and told me these things after I had prayed about them. My favorite religious teacher told me that when we search and understand something in the Book of Mormon, we understand something more about God. I know that we can grow closer to our God in heaven if we read the Book of Mormon.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people . . . and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh. . . ." (Alma 7:11-13)

This past year I have really gotten to know my Savior Jesus Christ on a deeper and more personal level. I have never felt so much pain and sorrow as I have felt my last years of high school. I struggled through though, because I know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. While I was reading the Book of Mormon, I came across the above passage of scriptures that has changed my life forever. Christ could have just asked the Spirit what it was like to feel all this pain and suffering, but this scripture suggests to me that Christ wanted to feel what we’ve felt, to go through what we experience, so that he can better extend the hand of mercy to us. He didn’t want to just sympathize with us, He wanted to empathize with us. What greater show of love could Jesus have given us? He didn’t want us to walk alone in these trying times; He wanted to be there with us, every step of the way, so that He could better understand what we need. He will never leave us comfortless and alone, He will always be there for us. I know that He will always be there for me, and He will never leave me to bear my trials alone. I know this with all my heart. I am thankful to have Jesus Christ as my Savior.

I know that Jesus Christ is always there for us, and He never leaves us to bear our trials alone. I know this to be true with all of my heart, and I’m so thankful to have Jesus Christ as my Savior.

"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 as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do, because of your afflictions; and he hath spoken somewhat unto you to prepare your minds; yea, and he hath exhorted you unto faith and to patience . . . ." (Alma 34:3)

In college I was terrified of messing up big decisions. I would get really worked up about what boys to date, what job to take or what major to pursue. I had a strong desire to do what is right, but fretted over what was the best route.  I remember one night I was particularly anxious about a decision and I had a thought to look to my scriptures. I opened the Book of Mormon to the above verse.  Even though this was written hundreds of years before my time and the man who wrote it was facing trials totally different than mine, I felt like God was speaking me. I had felt lost and unsure and this scripture offered a plan and a promise. I have always felt it important that it tells me to do my part by preparing my mind, not just wait around for an answer.  Adequate preparation combined with both faith in God’s love for me and a little bit of patience has become the equation that helps me resolve any problem I come across. I truly come back to this scripture whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and it simply gives me peace. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the feeling of comfort and peace I get when I read this scripture. I am so grateful to feel God’s love and guidance through the Book of Mormon.

"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer" (Enos 1:4-10)

My soul hungered. My legs were burning from the climb. A moment’s rest at the top of the mountain was a needed reprieve. Beads of sweat pooled where my bicycle helmet met my forehead. Behind me I glimpsed the hair pin curves and twists of the narrow asphalt road exposed between the openings in the dense pines and oaks.

The view was spectacular, but my mind was elsewhere. During the arduous press up the incline, the words I had read were stirring deep in my heart. A seventeen year old boy raised in the Mormon faith, I had often heard my parents speak of the joy of the saints. I wanted to know with greater surety of the things of God. My heart was filled with desire for assurance and conviction of what I had been taught and what I hoped and professed to believe. I had felt God’s love for me and felt he cared when I prayed to him. Jesus’ teachings in the Bible were profound and brought out the best in me. My desire was to ask God about something else: the Book of Mormon.

I remembered the story of Enos, a hunter. He had been out hunting in the forest. Like me, he reflected on what his father had taught him and was filled with desire. Like him, I decided to pray. Climbing a large boulder and kneeling in the moss, I vocalized my desire to know what I believed to be true. I cried out for help. I pleaded for God to help me be a better person. I wrestled with the intensity of my soul, a wrestle that did not fully begin that day or end that day. I felt the love of God. My faith in Him and His Son grew. I trembled with the distinct knowledge of his love for me.

Like Enos, I turned my thoughts to others, and I knew of God’s love for all mankind, for each of his children. I felt strongly that God loves each one individually and I prayed for my family, my friends, and then for those I did not know, and finally for those I didn’t even like.

My conviction of the Book of Mormon solidified. I felt the truth of that book. God had given answer to the desire of my soul. I did not see angels, I did not hear a voice, but I felt deeply of God’s concern for me.

My journey that day had been a hunt that brought me nearer to God. Life is full of twists and turns and mountains to climb, replete with highs and lows, pain and joy, and sorrows and happiness. I still have much to learn and I still make mistakes. I know better that God cares about me, and that the story of Enos’s hunt in the Book of Mormon brought me closer to Him. My journey in life remains a hunt that draws me nearer to God.