Today’s guest post is from Lynne. Lynne is the mother of three vivacious and beautiful girls. She is a talented artist. And you really must see her house sometime. This girl eats lives and breathes color! Thanks, Lynne! –Dalene
March 12, 2008 Journal entry: I finished the Book of Mormon! First time ever read through from cover to cover. I am so proud. It’s a very interesting book when read all the way through. I really do love this gospel!
Here’s the backstory: I am 42 years old. I was born in the church and raised well by wonderful, strong LDS parents. Dad has always been in a bishopric or stake presidency and it seems like Mom is always in a Relief Society presidency. Dad was even a mission president while I was in high school.
I had a fairly “normal” LDS upbringing. We usually held Family Night and my parents tried over and over to do scripture study with us. We moved many times so our home was often where we found “church.” I read the Children’s Book of Mormon before I was baptized. I was the only Mormon in most of the schools I attended. I never had a Mutual or Seminary experience because we lived overseas and my siblings and I were the only Mormon kids at our International School. Still, I feel I was given a fairly strong gospel background. I knew the gospel was important to my parents, and it seemed to make sense to me too.
I remember my Dad pleading for me to read The Book of Mormon. Finally, he tried bribing me: first $50, then more and more till it got up to $500. I still wouldn’t finish it. I must have read 1st Nephi about 20 times. There is this stubbornness in me that just won’t let me do things if they are expected of me.
A few years ago when President Hinckley issued the challenge to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the year I decided I would read it. I got our family reading together every Sunday and I did okay until people started standing up in testimony meeting and sharing how much they’d read and telling about how good they were doing. That got to me. I would then spend our family reading time just jumping around to different stories. I just couldn’t bring myself to do what everyone else was doing. (I know. I know!)
Then, this past year, my oldest daughter’s guy friends all started to leave on missions. Most of these boys have spent a lot of time at our house in recent years. I love them all. They have been like my boys (I have 3 daughters). We have been so happy to see them go on missions. One of these boys has truly been like a son to us ever since his own father died a few years ago. At some point while he was in the field, he began to wonder why he was on a mission. Did he really believe this was the true church? That made me stop and think. It occurred to me that if these boys were willing to go out and preach the gospel and find their own testimonies as they taught about the Book of Mormon, then maybe it was high time I read it myself. It felt like the time had arrived for me to finally read it cover to cover.
Then something terrible happened. Our bishop issued another challenge in January for everyone in the ward to finish The Book of Mormon by General Conference in April. What?!? My stubbornness resurfaced. I just couldn’t do it. I kept staring at The Book of Mormon in the living room and I just could not make myself open it!
Finally one day I realized the only one I was hurting was myself. I started reading in late February of this year and finished on March 12th. I’ve always been familiar with a lot of the stories and I’ve grown up loving The Book of Mormon, but I’ve read it very piecemeal. I’ve always used it as a reference. I discovered there is a power in it that comes from reading it from start to finish. It actually reads very well. And as I read it seemed a lot of questions and comments came to my mind that my husband and I would then discuss on our morning walks. I really enjoyed reading it and I learned a lot.
I truly believe it is the word of God to our time. Those histories were kept for us to have now. It only makes sense to me that the histories and teachings in The Book of Mormon are true. Of course there would be more people on this earth keeping records of their lives beyond those recorded in the Bible. What a marvelous book!
A few days after I had finished reading, I was asked by a member of the bishopric to share in church how I was doing in my reading. I got a little defensive and said, “How in the heck do you know I am even reading it?” Then the tears came, and I humbly told him how I had just finished reading it cover to cover for the first time in my life. He was surprised and he told me he just knew he should ask me. It is amazing how the Lord knows us. (Of course I still had to make sure it was quite clear that I didn’t read it because of the bishop’s challenge.)
That was on a Friday and I decided right then to read it again before that Sunday by reading through all the scriptures that I had highlighted over the years. I read the introduction and witness accounts and Joseph Smith’s account in the front. Then I read all my scriptures. What an awesome way to read the Book of Mormon! It felt like my own personal book of scripture. It only took me a couple of hours, but it was so enlightening.
Second Nephi 32 is my favorite chapter (pray always) and I really liked Alma as well. I feel like I’ve always had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, now it is just a lot stronger. The stories make a lot more sense now. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how Nephi could be present throughout the book. Now I realize there was more than one Nephi. (I know…Duh!)
Now I am trying to help my children want to read the Book of Mormon, but I will not push them. One of my girls has finished The Book of Mormon, The Bible, D & C, and is now reading The Pearl of Great Price. I am so proud of her. Two of my girls struggle with reading daily, but who am I to fault them? Hello? – here I am, 42, and I only just did it myself.
Way to go, me!
Lynne didn’t just keep her newly strengthened testimony to herself. To be continued next Tuesday…