I know now more than ever that the doctrines of the LDS church can be seen one of two ways: either it’s the most miraculous, life-changing message here on the earth OR it’s a complete fraud. There is no middle ground, no picking and choosing the areas that fits our lifestyle. Its black and white, true or false, all or nothing.
I happen to believe the doctrines of the LDS faith are absolutely true. How do I know this? Me, a 27-year-old girl born and raised in the LDS Faith, how can I really prove from an objective standpoint that what I believe is true. Well, truth is I can't. For a long time I have been sitting here thinking of all these different quotes and scriptures and even life experiences to try to add credibility to what I have to say. But I've decided to just be completely raw and open about my feelings (even if “feelings” aren't acceptable proof or justifiable evidence).
I know as fantastic or outlandish it may sound to some, I know in an answer to a simple prayer that Joseph Smith, an uneducated farm boy, did indeed see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ on a quiet morning in upstate New York. I know he was the instrument in God’s hands in restoring the gospel on earth today. I know that the Book of Mormon is not a fictional storybook conjured up to mislead over 13 million followers of my faith. I know that the people in that book really lived and died so that we make profit from their words in our day. I know that if we allow it to, “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” I feel the power and incredible peace in my life when I read from both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. And I know it’s not a diluted, make-believe, brainwashed, happiness that I've convinced myself of. There is a REAL power in those books unlike any other. I am a better mom, friend, sister, daughter and wife when I have opened my heart and drank from its truths and strived to profit from its archaic verses. The best way to sum of my feelings about the Book of Mormon is a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland. He puts it like no other:
“For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so."
I know that we are literally spirit children of a Father and Mother in Heaven. I know that we lived before we came to this earth and that life does not end at death. How incredible to know that life has meaning and purpose and value and that it’s not just a temporary, pit stop to a dead end. This road in life never ends; the people in our lives can stay with us beyond the grave!
I deeply know the power of prayer. I have witnessed its effects in the most menial of instances and in the most heart-wrenching and desperate situations. God is real, He knows us by name and knows all the worries, the joys, the sorrows, and the absolute thrills this tumultuous life brings us. I believe He is in the details or our life more than we are willing to believe or conceive. He knows us and wants us so badly to know Him. I readily believe that all that we have been given, all the beautiful and God-send people we have crossed paths with, are evidences of His love for us and I know that the only true gift that we can really give Him on this earth is our will. Our decision to do right or wrong every day, our ability to let Him into our lives and make us better people is the thing we can truly give Him. If only it were so simple. I am reminded of words in the Hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
And just as I know God exists, so does His antithesis. Never in the history of mankind have the powers of good and evil been so well coordinated. Just like I know that good people are evidence of God’s love and existence, I know that those who harm, abuse, tear down, and destroy others are evidences of a darker existence in this world. My only defense and fight against such evil is to choose to live a good life. To choose to care, to love, serve, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to expose myself to a life of music, movies, literature, that uplifts, inspires, and edifies. Am I perfect at this? Not even close. It’s a daily battle. But I refuse to add to the increasing dark regiment of he whose sole purpose in this life is to make man miserable as he is miserable. I choose to give my allegiance and will to God’s army of righteous warriors living in these latter days on this earth.
Lastly, I know that as great as a man Joseph Smith was for his works and sacrifices during his short time on this earth, I do not worship him. My faith is placed in He who is at the Head of our church: my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have felt the cleansing and healing power of the atonement in my life again and again. I know that only through and by Him we are saved and can be truly happy in this life and for the eternities. Although in my finite mortal state it is difficult to comprehend all the implications of the Atonement, I know that Christ truly did suffer the pains, the anguish, the hardships, the guilt, and all the horrific acts of man, so that He might bring us back to our Heavenly Home and also so that He may know how to better give us the comfort and peace and hope we so badly need in this life.
In closing, I just want to say that words cannot adequately convey the real meaning of these truths in my life. The only reason for me to share my beliefs so openly is because of the incredible blessings and joys I personally have experienced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in hopes that you too may profit from it. I also cannot emphasize enough that just because I have this knowledge in my life does not make me immune to trials or hardships. I make stupid mistakes and have many weaknesses just like everyone else on this planet (just ask my husband).
In the end, I know all these doctrines are true because when they are absent from my day to day living, I begin to view life more as long stream of a never ending “to do” list instead see life as an incredible gift and adventure. When I have distanced myself from God and have times of self-pity or even times of plenty and feel capable of living “on my own strength” I find myself feeling empty, more prone to anger and cynicism – things much too prevalent in the world today. I know how all of this must sound to someone looking at my faith from an outside perspective. It must seem crazy that a person could be happy or content in life from such simple things as reading scriptures, kneeling in daily prayer, and devoting their life to serving their family and God. In fact, many of my beliefs are in direct opposition to what most of society claims to make a person happy.
To me though, I feel that my happiness and sense of peace in life is in fact a testament and evidence that what I believe and strive to incorporate into my daily life is real, powerful, and of more importance than anything else on this earth.
If you are interested in learning more about my beliefs, you can go to this website.