As those of you know, Evan and I are speaking in sacrament today. Here is my talk: (I'm not offended if you choose not to read this---it is long. I was tasked with speaking 15 minutes :)
When the Bishop and Brother Brain came to our house to ask us to speak Tuesday night, they asked me if we wanted a topic. Of course, I wanted a topic, I did not want to be paralyzed by trying to decide first what topic I wanted to speak on and THEN what I was going to say. Just deciding what to say is bad enough. We sat there as Bishop thought and finally he said, “What has the Church brought to your life?” At first I thought he was asking me that question right there and then. I started to rack my brain for an answer---and there was nothing. Then I realized that was to be our topic---I got even more panicked. I knew that Evan would not write his talk until Sunday morning, maybe Saturday night if he stayed awake long enough. I really don't blame him, he has a lot on his plate. However, I never thought this topic would keep me from finishing my talk until late Saturday night, or if we are honest early this morning as well. I just don't work that well under last minute pressure. But I honestly had a blank mind for days and days.
Then I realized that there is NOTHING that the Church and since the Gospel is why the Church itself exists, the Gospel itself does not bring to my life. We are told in Mosiah 2:21
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
So if he is giving me life, breath, and agency, then I know and see from my life that he is also giving me a mighty long list of other blessings in my life. I know we were blessed with a flexible job for Evan which providing food, shelter, amenities. If you start to really think about it, the gratitude becomes overwhelming.
However as I thought, I was reminded of a scripture that Evan reminded me of gently several weeks ago:
28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
While I just used the scripture as found in Matthew 6:28-30, this scripture about lilies of the field appears in both The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants---meaning that apparently the Lord very much wanted all dispensations to remember this sentiment and I would suggest take comfort from it.
That is what the Church brings to my life comfort. You could also use these words to describe the same feeling: hope, faith, fortitude, trust, or peace.
During the October 1999 General Conference Elder Holland gave an address entitled, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come.” They have made an except of this talk into a Mormon Messages movie on YouTube. He gives a story about radiator trouble when he and his wife were moving cross country, broke, with two small children the youngest 3 months.
On a Tuesday last September I was following my sister up Big Cottonwood Canyon to have a picnic at Silver Lake. She was leading because I'd never been there. It was a gorgeous day, my windows were down and both my boys were in the back seat. Aiden was 2 months old. A few miles from the top of the canyon, the car started to slow. I pushed on the gas, nothing. I changed gears thinking it was the incline, nothing. Then smoke, I was able to pull three feet off the road at the only restaurant up that part of the canyon at the end of that parking area before the car just died.
My sister was ahead of me so she was gone. She had no cell reception. Evan was at work, I had our only car. We had just put $800 in that Volvo in June. I thought it might have something to do with the rear ending we had received two days previous—Sunday night. I had not called our insurance company because we did not think the damage to be worth it. However, after calling the tow company and had it taken to our trusted frequently used mechanic. I also called our insurance company to get the car assessed for the damages from Sunday's accident. My sister, had her husband who works at the base of the canyon drive up to met us. My mother and I continued in my sister's car, while Heidi took her husband back to work and met us at Silver Lake. We were able to have a wonderful afternoon enjoying our picnic and a beautiful walk around the lake. Then Heidi graciously allowed me to borrow her car that evening until I could get a rental through our insurance because of the accident and pending assessment.
On Thursday, the shop finally looked at the car. We were told at 4 pm, the engine had seized. The engine had no oil, but because we'd been having electrical problems with the Volvo every warning lights on the dash about over heating and oil never came on. We had no idea. I called Evan who was supposed to work until 8pm that night that he need to come home. We had to buy a car that night because our rental needed to be returned the next day. We said a prayer on the way to CarMax, we walked in at 6:30 and walked out at 9:15 with our 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan. We were afraid we would not be approved for financing, not a problem. We even received a rate half of what we expected. Our meager down payment was more than what was asked. What the insurance payed out for the damage from the accident on Sunday plus what we got for selling the Volvo covered what we owed on the Volvo. This example is one of hundreds that have occurred for our small family over the course of our marriage.
That situation worked out perfectly for us. It actually could not have been better planned. But of course those days were not without stress—I was dealing with insurance companies after all; however, I never feared that we would not be taken care of. It is definitely not an easy task to hold onto the peace the Gospel can bring when facing daily life, as Elder Holland in his talk says, “Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better.” But he also states, “Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—“
It is common knowledge among members of the Church as stated in the 4th Articles of Faith: We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Nephi speaks of these principles but adds in 2 Nephi 31:15 “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” The first several of these principles are taken care of in quick succession before becoming members of the church: repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. While faith is required to embark on that journey and the missionaries are involved, enduring to the end is where leaning on and gaining strength from the Church becomes vital---that is when that faith is tried and refined. The high that occurs during the initial investigation into the church and from the new baptism does fade. It has to be nurtured and nourished through the Church.
The Church brings me that strength and desire to hold on, keep walking, trying and persevering. The Church is what tells me over and over and over again that there is happiness and better things ahead. It also provides the help. I do not believe that it is single thing the Church does be it nursery, primary, young womens or mens, relief society, visiting teaching, elder's quorum, high priests, home teaching, the list goes on. It is a combination and a consistency that builds faith, protects faith, and rekindles faith.
In February of this year, I realized that I'd been to church 5 times in the last 10 months. It was due to a new baby, a sick toddler, and a husband who was Elder's Quorum President, meaning I was charged with staying home with sick children. I also realized at that same time that despair was becoming an integral part of my life. I knew that was because I was not partaking of the sacrament and filling my cup at Church and through corresponding activity.
Although there was nothing I could do---sickness does not listen to reason or desire. And sometimes the Church often feels like it is a battle, get every one ready, get them there on time, wrestle children through sacrament, deal with the meltdowns from missed naps and meals. But there is something more offered here, often even when we are not paying attention. I had to be removed from Church to realize all the benefits I gain from attendance and active participation. I do know that as Elder Bednar said at Women's Conference this year, “faithfully, diligently, and consistently doing simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.” For me, those extraordinary results are the peace and comfort of knowing as Elder Holland tells us: “I testify that God lives, that He is our Eternal Father, that He loves each of us with a love divine. I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh and, having triumphed in this world, is an heir of eternity, a joint-heir with God, and now stands on the right hand of His Father. I testify that this is Their true Church and that They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”
Although I've already shared Elder Holland's testimony, I'd like to add my voice to his. Christ lives. He and a loving Heavenly Father care for us and take care of us. We are not alone, the Church is here to help, to support us, to build us up, and to nurture us. We gain so much from the Church that will not come otherwise. We need not fear. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
P.S. If you made it this far, you should be rewarded, we went to the zoo today!!! And I have pictures. I promise cute pictures of chubby legs in the sunshine soon. :) Really!!! I mean it this time.