When I was living in Arizona, missionaries invited me to join in on a lesson they were having with an investigator through video chat. This man’s journey started a bit ago with the desire to know what to do with his life, what to do with God and what church he should attend. I felt the spirit so strongly and my testimony strengthen this whole lesson as I saw the elders teach with the spirit with such perfect responses to this man’s questions.
Yet regardless of our best efforts, he decided he had given up on his quest and no longer wanted to learn about this Church because of his lack of answers he wasn’t receiving. He said it wasn’t for him. Only to find out find out after the closing prayer he hadn’t prayed in several months and hadn’t even made it through a chapter of the scriptures ever.
I wish so badly I could have asked him right at the beginning of the lesson, “Are you praying? Are you reading the Book of Mormon?” And when he had said no, I could have easily said, with a smile yet with confidence, “that’s your problem.”
How can we expect answers when we aren’t turning to God? How can our doubts get taken care of when we don’t do anything about them? How can He answer us when we do not speak to Him? When we do not ask Him? When we don’t read His words and counsel in the scriptures? How can we expect anything to help us when we aren’t doing anything to receive that help?
How can we think the gospel isn’t for us if we aren’t learning about it and actively living it? How can we make that decision if we don’t actually know what it really is? We can’t.
Guys, I get it. I was a 21 yr. old stubborn New Yorker who thought I could conquer the world by myself. I didn’t need help from anyone or anything, especially not religion. It was then that I met the missionaries and only lived what they taught me, those simple things of the gospel, just to prove to them nothing would happen. That those ‘blessings’ of living a certain way was all in their head. I was content with my life, I didn’t need God. Religion is only something people turned to when things were going wrong in their lives as some sort of emotional comfort…right?
No matter how silly and uncomfortable and foreign it was to me, I prayed and read the Book of Mormon daily. No matter how awkward it was and no matter how much I felt like I didn’t fit in at first, I went to church every week. You know, to prove them wrong. And I made sure I was going to do those things long enough to allow room for contrast and change to happen. It couldn’t be a one and done deal.
Despite my motives, despite how I felt about religion, despite feeling content with how my life was, despite feeling confident and happy with the direction I envisioned for myself, I was wrong.
I changed. Not because someone told me I had to. Not because I was unhappy. I changed because that is what happens when we live the simple things of the gospel. That is what happens when we act. When we try. It is a promise to us by God that when we do those things, we become better. We become stronger. And that happiness I thought I felt before doing those things couldn’t begin to compare what it actually is and feels like when you’re doing the things God asks us to do. I may have thought I was happy before but it was only because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I didn’t know any better. Happiness is fake and fleeting without God and His ways. I know that because I went 21 yrs. of my life thinking it came from somewhere else. It doesn’t. Heavenly Father knew what I needed before I ever did.
Is the LDS church for you? Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you may currently feel and believe, whatever you may or may not be doing, already baptized or not, the gospel is absolutely and profoundly for you. Personally and individually. These blessings and promises are for you. You belong here. You belong a part of this. And if you aren’t already, now is the best time to give it a real try and allow your God to show you how incredible things really can be.
To those of you with questions or doubts, are you actively doing something about them or do you let them linger and hold you back? Are you remembering and doing the simple things of the gospel? Whatever you do, not doing anything is making things worst. No one can do it for you except you. It is through those simple things we have been taught first, whether in primary or by missionaries—prayer, scripture reading, church…—That we can know and stay strong throughout our lives. Why are we taught them first? Because the power that we are told that comes from doing those things is not wishful thinking, it’s real. Make taking care of yourself a priority.
Life without God is life without real happiness. But we won’t know until we act. We can’t know what it can do for us in our lives if we don’t let it into our lives. He can’t help us if we don’t give Him anything to help us with. If it weren’t for giving the gospel a real try, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have what I do. I would not truly be happy. I would not truly be me without it. Without Him. And it breaks my heart to imagine my life any different than what it is now.
Just because you may not believe in God does not mean He isn’t always there and always loving you, ready to help and bless you if you just turn to Him. I hope that we will always allow ourselves to be changed by the gospel every day by doing those simple things because truly, it is ELECTRIFYING!
We are given everything to succeed. We are given a God. Don’t deny yourself the best things by putting off talking to Him or reading scriptures. This is real life, guys. Real life strength. Real life promises. Real life God. Do not lose sight of the simpleness of the gospel. It’s beautiful.
Trust God with your life. After all, He’s the one who gave it to you.
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