…recognizing the truthfulness of the gospel is easy.
It’s living it that’s hard.
And enduring to the end? That’s the kicker.
I was raised Lutheran and joined the church when I was 18. I had a lot of friends growing up who were LDS—a best friend in 6th grade, who took me on a church father/daughter camp out. Another best friend in 7th grade, who took me to what I guess were mutual activities—one, anyway: learning to dance the foxtrot. (I still remember the sweaty palms of the boy I danced with…)
I had other LDS friends in high school, too, but none of them invited me to any church activities. One was a stake president’s son. The other was a bishop’s son. Neither lived the gospel.
The bishop’s son had a wild reputation. He’d get blamed for any prank pulled at our school. But then, more often than not, he’d done it.
He went off to college at BYU-Hawaii the year I was a senior. When he came home the next summer, he’d done a complete turn around. He was preparing to go on a mission when we started dating.
I was really interested in knowing what had made him embrace his religion, and after the conversion experience he’d had while away at school, he was eager to talk about it. Everything he told me about the gospel rang true for me. And his surety in his beliefs was really appealing to me. I wanted to KNOW who God was, the way he did.
I was baptized about 5 months later, and a month after that, we were married. By his father, the bishop. (Daniel never served a mission. An interesting aside: His Patriarchal Blessing specifically talks about him being in the mission field. His mother was very disappointed, I think, when he decided to marry me rather than go on a mission. But a few years after we were married I noticed his blessing says that his days will be long upon the earth so that he can serve a fulltime mission. I have no doubt he’ll serve one later in life.)
I’m a creature of habit. I live by routine. When I leave home, if I’m not thinking about where I’m going, I’ll automatically start driving to work. I’ve gotten on the freeway going the wrong way more than once, simply because I’m used to getting on going one direction.
It can be really hard for me to introduce new things into my routine. Daily prayer, scripture study, these are things it was hard for me to remember to do. My husband had never really done them himself. We moved around a lot when we were first married, worked long hours. We went to church but weren’t good about going regularly and getting involved. I wanted to, it was just hard.
We managed to get sealed in the temple two years after getting married, and my husband had a bad experience there. He ended up going inactive because of it for several years.
I think it was the best thing that could have happened for me.
It was hard, don’t get me wrong, really hard—and I agonized over it. We had small toddlers, and I had to take them to church on my own. But because I was forced to do it all on my own, it made me do it. No one else was going to. It was up to me.
You know how everyone always say Nephi was so amazing for remaining faithful, when even Lehi was murmuring? I always think, “You know, it’s easy to be faithful when everyone else is bailing on you. Because you can’t rely on anyone else to make things happen. It’s completely up to you. It’s you, or nothing.”
I didn’t get much out of going to church those years my kids were small. But I decided early on I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for them—and that made all the difference. Took all the pressure off. So what if I didn’t hear much of the Sacrament Meeting talks? My kids were there. I was there. They were learning the habits of the gospel.
Amazing things happened to my testimony during those days. I learned how to pray and receive answers. I learned about the companionship of the Holy Ghost that comes from reading the scriptures daily. I learned the blessings of paying tithing. I saw the Lord’s hand working in our lives all the time. I saw his intervention and protection many times. And when my husband came back to church in time to baptized our oldest son, it was the direct result of faith and prayer.
Now, I don’t have to do it all on my own. I can ease back a little and let my husband pick up the slack. Which he does, very well. It’s easier. But it’s harder, too. This enduring to the end was easier when it was only me. I’m not forced to live the gospel because if I don’t do it, no one will.
…Although that’s probably not true. If I stopped going to church, I bet the whole family would too. Not because they don’t believe it, but because, you know—things fall apart if Mom isn’t around.