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Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Religion of Personal Relationships

Since the time my children were small I have always taught them about the gospel from the perspective of a man that grew up in darkness. I explained that my conversion to the church was my introduction to the Light and that distinction has been extremely evident for me from the day I felt the gift of the Holy Ghost. As I have raised my children in the gospel they have had the Light surround them from the moment of their individual births. This has had a number of inherent challenges that I want to address.

As children born under the Covenant they have been surrounded by people who know the truth about the restored gospel. In a sense they have always been in the Light. Because of this they have had significant challenges in developing a personal testimony in the way that I did and this type of life has its own set of very serious issues. These issues are apparent in the lives of many people who grow up surrounded by Temple worthy and faithful LDS members.

The testimonies of people that grow up as children born under the Covenant develop in a very different way. Like my wife, my children have a testimony that grows not in floods and torrents like mine did but in very small increments like drops of rain. Because of this slow growth they face very different trials that are incredibly difficult for me to relate to and extremely complex for me to help them with. My heart breaks for them as they struggle to understand the gospel and develop a testimony.

In examining the problems that my sons face I have asked them to borrow my testimony and believe that I love them. I have explained that as their father I would never lie to them or attempt to deceive them. As we have discussed their concerns I have pleaded with them to turn to God and ask Him to provide the witness that they require. Sadly, they have returned to me with the same questions and lack of understanding.

April explains that the way for members who grow up in the church to develop their testimony is to find it in many places and not simply wait for it to be revealed. The Spirit is waiting to touch each of us when we study the scriptures, when we provide service, when we pray and when we do all of the many things that God would have us do. Even in the seemingly small acts of obedience there is a testimony to be found. Following the prophet's counsel against seeing rated R movies, choosing our language carefully and surrounding ourselves with uplifting and positive influences are all essential steps in helping to build one's testimony. It is in these small acts that each drop of water comes and by looking for God in all of the many places that He waits for us that we become filled.

In this style of life the fact that the gospel is a religion of personal relationships is never more important. It is important to remember that the gospel is not only defined by God's love and plan for His people but is defined on a personal basis by his love for each individual child. As God waited patiently for me to come to Him and encouraged me throughout my tumultuous upbringing I have seen His hand in all aspects of my life. I know He loves me and I know He has intervened not only when my strength was waning but when my life was in jeopardy.

Unfortunately my sons have not had this experience. Part of the reason is that they have never had the need to cry out for help in the ways that I had to. In many ways I was lucky that I had such a desperate need for help. Perhaps the road that is always lighted is more of a challenge than the road that is entombed by darkness. I pray that my sons will find a way to discover for themselves the deep and abiding joy that comes only from a loving Heavenly Father and open their hearts to the endless joy that comes form living in His embrace.


Momma Ballou said...

Your wife sounds very wise. I'd like to meet her someday. Good post.

JAB said...

Not just wise - but hot. A lot of people say that you shouldn't have a trophy wife but I say don't be jealous.