Sunday, December 13, 2015

Would You Have Stayed?

My hands tremble a bit in creating this post, as it treats upon the very difficult week that preceded it.  Quite recently I have found myself in a situation that has ravaged my confidence, strength, and emotions.  Already many know I have been weighed down by much trial and grief, and in the midst of those overwhelming pains, a person from my congregation with greater, shall we call it "rank?" than I, a lowly nursery worker enjoy, found it advisable to confront me with an eye of terrible suspicion.  Apparently others had informed this leader that I was meeting a man secretly in the park in order to pursue an immoral affair.  I found my words taken out of context, twisted, and placed before me accusingly.  I understood that some people I had trusted, though their identities were not made known to me, were agreeing that I must be doing quite wrongly and my worthiness to maintain a temple recommend was challenged as it has never been in my life.

Not knowing their identities, but recognizing that this rumor must prove widespread indeed, I did not know which of my friends I could trust, and which people in my congregation had heard and believed such ideas.  Which of them had confronted this leader with the apparent desire to destroy my standing in the Church?  Not surprisingly, I felt I had not one good reason to set foot in that building again.  

Stifling tears I took my daughter to the church Christmas party and as soon as possible excused myself to an empty classroom, where sobbing came more readily.  Where could I go?  Who could I trust?  And for one tear streaked moment of sheer desperation the idea occurred to me that several good, generous people I know attend a different church.  They clearly have a wonderful time and accept each other with open arms.  Could I possibly rest my weary heart in their pews instead?  But I shook it off and opened The Book of Mormon, which I carried in my purse.  

Hands shaky and randomly scrambling, I happened upon a passage that describes a company of very young soldiers who have the choice to run to certain safety or to turn back to help their countrymen in what might very well be a trap.  Their leader leaves the question to them.  Shall we move on or return?  This was their answer. "Behold, our God is with us, and He will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of [our countrymen]." These young men return, and though many of them are wounded in the battle that follows, they win the day and miraculously not one of them falls to his death.  As our prophet President Monson said, "I read the words, but God turned the pages."  I decided to stay.

Walking numbly back into the crowd, I found myself almost immediately greeted with an amazing amount of sincere kindness, interest, affection and respect.  People I barely knew approached me and demonstrated that they considered it an honor to call me a friend.  Even the person who had rebuked me sought me out, admitted that the rumor was not so badly or maliciously spread as they had unwittingly led me to believe and all but craved my pardon.  

What had kept me there?  I had nothing to cling to socially, my reputation unjustly tainted, my standing and moral position unjustly questioned.  I had endured altogether over two hours of this suspicious questioning on top of the other burdens I carried.  What had kept me from walking out that door?  

Because I know that this gospel is true.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true and it is the church that most pleases the Lord.  He is at the head of this church.  I know perfectly that the Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God.  I know perfectly that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and I know that those appointed as apostles are called of God.  I know that the temple blessings are real and in these sacred edifices families can be sealed together forever and not just until death do us part.  This is not just a nice idea.  It is real.  It is vibrant.  And it rings so truly to my soul that I could never have been complete without it.  My friends, look into your hearts.  Do you know with perfect surety that your denomination is the true one that most pleases God?  If your social status, your moral standing and the warmth of your religious family were taken from you, would you still return because you knew it so completely to be true?  Human mistakes do not change the reality of this gospel.  Human weakness does not compromise the fact that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God who translated the Book of Mormon by divine direction.  It is true; it is a fact.  If my gentle reader cannot say with perfect conviction that their doctrine is completely true, perhaps it is time to work on his testimony, for we do not know when it will be put to the test.  And of course, if my gentle reader finds that she cannot reconcile herself to her own denomination so completely, hey, the blissful doors of Mormonism are always open.

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