Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Our Heavenly Father Lives and Loves Us

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage."
-We Bought a Zoo

I began investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints just over a year ago now. I knew immediately what I had been taught was true. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, the adversary got a hold of me and I turned away. I went home from college for the summer and had nothing to do with the Church, or any religion at all.

When I was packing to move back to college in the fall, I had a feeling that I should bring my Bible and my Book of Mormon and my Gospel Principles book (a study book that outlines basic doctrines of the Church). So I did. What could it hurt? Maybe I'd go back. Life was pretty bad.

 Soon after I had returned to campus, my life changed. A friend from the previous year told me about Institute, and offered to go with me the first week (even though she'd graduated the previous semester). I said okay, whatever. The sister missionaries texted me, and asked if I wanted to meet with them (I later learned that this bubbly new girl insisted they contact me after months of no communication. Boy was she inspired!). I met them on a Wednesday. Sister O, my angel, my life-changer, my incredible girl, asked me if I believed that God was my Father in heaven. I said no. I didn't believe that a god existed. Not at all. But they kept talking about God and prophets and the Restoration (click here to learn about all of that) because I said I'd meet with them. We finished, and they asked me if I was going to Institute right after, and I said yes. They said they were going, too.

At Institute, we were asked to take an assessment that would show Church headquarters what we knew before taking the class. The first part was doctrinal questions, testing our knowledge. The second part was faith-based questions - "Do you believe that God is our Heavenly Father?" "Do you believe that Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, came to earth and atoned for our sins?" Things like that. I answered no for every single questions. Because I didn't believe in any of that.

I continued meeting with the missionaries and attending Institute. I remember sitting in a study room of the library one day, hopeless, the missionaries across the table from me. They asked if I'd prayed about what they'd been teaching me. I remember saying that I felt like I was stopping myself from believing. I wanted to believe, but it was too hard. And then my angel shared a scripture with me. Alma 32:27 :
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."
And Sister O said, "Do you have a desire to believe?" And tears started falling down my cheeks and I said yes. She challenged me to do as this scripture suggests - "awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words." She challenged me to try it out. Pretend like God was real, to see if He is.

I remembered learning about the Word of Wisdom, the Lord's law of health. In this law, He asks us to refrain from certain substances, and partake of others. One thing we are commanded to abstain from is coffee. So I decided I'd stop drinking coffee, just in case. And I'd try to pray. I began reading the Book of Mormon daily. I wanted to know.

Within a week I decided that I wanted to be baptized. Just as quickly as I had known before, I knew again. I knew that God lives and loves us.

I know that God lives and loves us. I know that He has a magnificent plan for our lives, currently and eternally. I know that all of our experiences are used to make us stronger and better and more like Him. I know that He wants us to know Him, He wants us to go to Him and ask Him for help. I know that Heavenly Father reveals Himself through prophets, and that His words are recorded in the holy scriptures. 

And this knowledge is so, so sweet. 

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