How I feel about Jesus Christ

I mentioned in my last post how a talk by Sister Eubank has compelled me to 'turn on my light,' to share how the Light of the World has influenced my life and why I strive to follow Him. I encourage everyone else, especially covenant keeping women, to ponder their own answers to these questions and share/record them in some way (or multiple ways). Here is my answer to one of the questions.

How do you feel about Jesus Christ?

I love my brother, my friend, my Savior, Redeemer, and Exemplar, Jesus Christ. I was taught about Him growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and can certainly say that I had "goodly parents." Yet if I'm to be fully honest, I don't remember believing exactly. I don't think I dis-believed, I just didn't feel that I could say I did believe, if that makes sense. I do remember, though, making a decision when I was about 18-years-old that I felt the church taught good values and did good things and that seemed reason enough to attend and one day raise children to attend as well.

Of course, our minds are meant to wonder and have questions and that certainly came up for me. I would never say I left the church or even became terribly rebellious against its teachings, but my uncertainties became bigger than any convictions for a time and I found myself on the fringe of the gospel center. I had so many experiences that instigated deeper inquiry and insisted that I learn for myself what I truly believed, but let me share just two.

My best friend who had been my roommate for years had just got married and I was living with a new roommate. She was a return missionary and much more, shall we say, "straight laced" than myself. I just loved her, though, and she didn't seem to judge me too much :) Well, we were chatting about deeper subjects, the meaning of life and eternity, you know just everyday chit chat with new friends ;) and I explained to her how I just didn't know for sure what I believed and how that had been frustrating me for many years. I'm telling you, when I think of this experience, it is as if it happened 10 minutes ago because it is that crystal clear for me. She said, "Well, how could you believe what you haven't lived. If you want to know if you believe or not, just live it for 30 days." I'm not sure how this is coming across without knowing her or her tone, but to clarify - this was said and received with love. She wasn't judging, she was simply stating the facts that I had already explained to her about my life. I hadn't lived in the gospel center because I didn't believe. And she was simply inviting me to find out by leaning in rather than dangling where I had been. Also, I am a very matter-of-fact person and so was she so this relationship and this specific conversation worked for us. (What I'm trying to say is, I get that this might not be an appropriate way to have a conversation with just everyone, but it really was okay with me). Alright, so the ground work is laid here and I tell you what, it just made so much sense to me that it was almost laughable that I hadn't thought of it before then. I had just decided it was unknowable and I, not wanting to be inauthentic, wasn't sure I wanted to 'pretend' in the unknowing. Yet she was saying, quite simply, you can't know if you don't try to know, but you can know if you try. And I thought, hmmm, well I've given it this many years, what's 30 more days, I'll do it! So I agreed then and there. All three hours of church, prayer three times a day, reading the Book of Mormon every day, participating in the ward, keeping the commandments... I think that was it, but we set some ground rules and I was on board. Now, I'm not suggesting this is THE answer for anyone else who questions, but at that time in my life for the questions I had, this was the answer for me, or led me directly to the answer(s) I sought. To try to be concise, I'll say only a few things about that "30-day all-in" experiment. Within one week, ALL of the questions I had about the gospel before that time disappeared within the first week. I believed the Book of Mormon was the word of God, as in it I found Jesus Christ, not just conceptually, but I truly did find HIM. And I discovered that sincere prayers really were heard and answered by a loving Heavenly Father. At the end of 30 days, I was a completely different person. Every habit, every goal, every priority, every thing in my life had changed because I had changed. I can honestly say, that was a turning point in my life, and I had crossed over a threshold of uncertainty into the life of a believer striving to follow Jesus Christ.

If only this were a fairy tale and that could be the happy ending where I lived happily ever after as a devoted, humble, righteous disciple of Christ. Well, that's not what happened. Sins and weaknesses were real trials for me and then as a believer who was sincerely trying to choose the right, those mistakes became the cause of great shame and emotional turmoil. And many hard questions had to be faced. Yet the foundations of a testimony of Jesus Christ, a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and a testimony of my identity as a child of a loving God who I could communicate with in prayer carried me, literally. I found I could take every challenging thing to prayer or the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon) and find enough clarity to get me through. Through those many years of struggle after I let go of uncertainty, when I approached my Savior, I almost always felt Him reaching out to heal my ear. You know the scene following the magnificent event that occurred in Gethsemane:

When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. -Luke 22:49-51

I want to testify that this truly occurred. It was shown to me and I experienced something similar, time and again, personally. The Lord who suffered for the sins of the men who were coming to scourge and crucify Him, loved those men. He knew they didn't understand what was actually going on or the horrific injustice they were inflicting. He had personally experienced the elements of their life that had brought them to believe and act as they did and He only wanted to reach out and heal them. That is the case with all of us. He loves us with a profound and infinite and perfect love. His grace fills the spaces between where we could be and where we are and it fills the spaces between what we think is true and what is actually true. And that grace is sufficient, always and forever. I know this because if anything else were true, I would have been a lost cause, I couldn't have made it through. But He just kept reaching out and healing my ear, even though I had caused Him to suffer in Gethsemane, even though He had spilled drops of blood for me, HE was the one helping ME. It didn't make any sense from my mortal perspective, yet it continued to happen, simply because I kept trying to lean on Him and believe in Him and do my best to follow His example. If you ever don't know what to pray for yourself or someone else, if you aren't sure what is needed in the current circumstance, pray that the Lord will heal the ear or ask what you can do to help heal the ear (and perhaps a question might be if its your ear or their ear that needs healing). Can you think of a moment in time filled with more love, forgiveness, mercy, or grace? I cannot. It is beautiful. In the moment we are hurting Him, He is reaching out to heal. He is the Christ and any attempt to believe or follow Him will lead to peace, love, and a multitude of eternally precious gifts, if we have eyes to see or, perhaps, if our ears have been healed so we can hear the truth.

I went through a phase during a time of painful repentance, when the broken heart and contrite spirit I felt nearly consumed me. I honestly can say, like Alma,

I was racked with eternal torment for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments. -Alma 36:12-13

During that time, I was filled with true anguish and though I managed to maintain a job and friendships, when I had a moment to pause, I simply cried. One night, I remember feeling the song, 'I know that my redeemer lives' play in my heart. That might seem like strange phrasing, yet that's the only way I could describe it. And it just kept playing, forcing me to ponder the words in depth. I looked them over in a hymn book and I remember thinking it wasn't helping, I knew He blessed people with love and pled for people above and fed hungry souls and blessed in time of need, etc., etc. I just remember thinking it wasn't helpful as I sat on the couch continuing to cry with a broken heart. And a word was told to me: "MY." And I read the hymn again. And again. And again. And the tears changed from tears of deep sorrow to tears of true joy. And by the next morning, I felt healed.

What changed?

I had known that Jesus Christ was the Redeemer. I had such a testimony of that fact.

But that night, I allowed myself to see that He was MY Redeemer. He invited me to see that He wasn't just those things conceptually for all of mankind, though He certainly is. But that He was those things and did those things and does those things for ME. When the atonement of Jesus Christ moved from my mind to my heart, when HE became MINE, my broken heart was healed.

I know that my Redeemer lives.

What comfort this sweet sentence gives!

He lives, he lives, who once was dead.

He lives, my ever-living Head.

He lives to bless me with his love.

He lives to plead for me above.

He lives my hungry soul to feed.

He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.

He lives to guide me with his eye.

He lives to comfort me when faint.

He lives to hear my soul's complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears.

He lives to wipe away my tears.

He lives to calm my troubled heart.

He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise heav'nly Friend.

He lives and loves me to the end.

He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing.

He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.

He lives and grants me daily breath.

He lives, and I shall conquer death.

He lives my mansion to prepare.

He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives! All glory to his name!

He lives, my Savior, still the same.

Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:

"I know that my Redeemer lives!"

He lives! All glory to his name!

He lives, my Savior, still the same.

Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:

"I know that my Redeemer lives!"

When I was able to see and begin to believe that Jesus Christ wasn't just an amazing being for all mankind, but an indescribably loving brother who was desirous and abundantly capable of delivering ME, I was able to move forward in my life filled with a light, hope, and confidence that had previously been unimaginable to me. Certainly, there were (and there still are) additional challenges and questions and weaknesses, but all things, no matter how heavy or dark or hard, are insignificant in the light of the Son. To gain unshakable faith in Him truly set me on the pathway of peace and joy. I love Him and truly thank my Heavenly Parents for the sacrifice of Their only begotten Son.

©2018 by Truth Shines.

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