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…

June 28, 2008
July 2, 2008

24 Comments

  1. Dalene

    July 1, 2008

    You are not the only one who struggles with expectations. My family is still plodding along. We will be the last wagon, but we are determined to complete our journey through The Book of Mormon together before Luke leaves on his mission (he puts the rest of us to shame–he’s read it eight times already and will finish it again before he goes).

    As for bribery, in my younger years I could be bought. I read The Book of Mormon for the first time while I was enrolled in Seminary for a mere steak dinner. But later I wanted to read it for myself and put Moroni’s invitation to the test. I will always treasure the answer I received, “You already know this is true.” And I did.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I touched me the first time I heard it and I know it strikes a chord with others who struggle, specifically some of my other kids. It inspires me to keep trying but to also be patient both with myself and with my kids.

  2. elizabeth-w

    July 1, 2008

    You are not alone. I did it for the first time this past year. It was myself and two daughters (n preparation for older daughter’s baptism). It took us 54 weeks, but the only words I skipped were “whoredom” and a couple other salacious things I didn’t want to have to explain.
    Thanks for sharing your story, and I look forward to next week.

  3. Wendy

    July 1, 2008

    Lynne, this was great! I love that the Bishop was inspired to ask you how your reading was going. And I love how you confess your little rebelliousness. We’ve all got a little of that in one area or another, don’t we? Looking forward to next week, too!

  4. Michelle Glauser

    July 1, 2008

    Way to go. I always try to let people know how awesome it is if they’ll only try. I’m proud of you. Now make it a habit and stick with it no matter what.

    I was saddened to hear that one of the old ward mission leaders told the missionaries that they would never continue reading their scriptures after their missions–they just wouldn’t have the time. Personally, I can’t find the time not to. Yes, I have a billion other things to do, but if I don’t study first, it’s all a loss.

  5. Mommom

    July 1, 2008

    Thanks so much for sharing that! I read the Book of Mormon the first time when I was in Seminary and I used those scriptures for years. I had a lot of scriptures marked in those scriptures.

    Recently I bought new scriptures and it’s been so much fun to see what scriptures I will mark now. I’m rediscovering them all over again.

  6. m&m

    July 1, 2008

    I actually am one who usually reads topically rather that straight through, so I can relate to your experience. When I did read it cover to cover when Pres. Hinckley challenged us, it was a unique experience that I wasn’t really expecting. Your post reminds me that I probably ought to do that more often.

    I love your willingness to share here. Thank you for this post.

  7. name witheld just for this post

    July 1, 2008

    I’m not brave enough to admit this to another actual human being, but maybe the Internet can help me. Last year I too read the book cover to cover for the first time. I’m in my thirties and come from a very active family and have held lots of leadership positions and thought I had a strong testimony. I did the piecemeal thing before and felt like I’d read the whole thing, just not straight through.

    Only I had the opposite problem. I read, I prayed and my testimony was not strengthened. I won’t go into details, but I was left with an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t sure it was true.

    So what happened? I didn’t go looking for all the things that didn’t add up. I wasn’t surfing anti sites, or apology sites. And logically I can come up with an explanation for everything that bothers me. But the lack of faith is in my heart.

    It has been more than a year and I still don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to read it again. I’m working on the New Testament right now, hoping to shore up my testimony of Christ, which remains intact.

    Has anyone had anything close to this experience? Can you offer any insight? I swear I tried to approach it just as Moroni suggests and was shocked that it didn’t work for me. I want what you got. I want what I heard in testimony meeting when Hinkley issues his challenge. Help me.

  8. Justine

    July 1, 2008

    I have had that experience, anon. I spent a long time unsure if I was withdrawing from the Lord, or if He was withdrawing from me. I found, through continued study and prayer, that the Lord had withdrawn from me and was beckoning me to follow. It was a very difficult time in my life, as I acutely felt all my uncertainties about the church.

    I spent months pressing forward, sometimes quite determined, and others quite ambiguous. I have, however, really found a renewed and immensely strengthened relationship with the Lord and with his restored authority on the earth.

    It was neither easy or something I wish for again, but I have strengthened my testimony in ways I couldn’t have done without this experience. It took me over a year of pain over this very issue. I really abhor offering advice so I won’t. I’ll just say that the Lord loves you. It might take time. But the Lord loves you. That I know.

  9. Emily M.

    July 1, 2008

    Wow, I loved this post and the honesty in it. Thank you so much, Lynne!

    Name witheld, if my long-winded answer feels too preachy or not at all helpful, just go back and read what Justine said. 🙂

    I also know the Lord loves you. One thing that helps me when I read the scriptures or go to the temple is to look for truth in a slanted way. (Emily Dickinson, “tell the truth, but tell it slant.”) For example, once I was really frustrated with my messy house, and I went to the temple with that in the back of my head. And the Spirit taught me about order through the temple ceremony. Did I understand the whole ceremony? No way. But I did understand something about order a little better.

    I have found the same thing to be true with the Book of Mormon: when I read it seeking an answer to a specific issue, the Spirit teaches me in ways I did not anticipate. It’s not so much the words themselves, it’s how the Spirit helps me apply them to my current needs.

    I love what Justine has said. I wonder if maybe it might help you to set aside the Grand Question of Truth for now, and instead look for things in the Book of Mormon that are true for you right now, in your life. As I think about it, my own testimony of the Book of Mormon has been formed more by individual answers to specific problems than by large manifestations. It’s the cumulative effect of years of answers to small prayers.

    I know that there is great nobility in continuing to keep the commandments through dark times. I know this because I have felt the Lord’s love for me when I have persevered, even imperfectly, through my doubts. God is more full of love for us that we are aware of.

  10. m&m

    July 1, 2008

    I thought I would share something I wrote a while back. Hang in there. For some of us, it’s a longer process, a drop-by-drop thing.

  11. Sharlee

    July 1, 2008

    Dear Name Withheld:

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience with us. Justine’s wonderful comment to you reminded me of this quote from C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. I hope it might be helpful to you. Screwtape is explaining to his young nephew, Wormwood, what he terms “the Law of Undulation” as it applies to mortals:

    “Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. . . In His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, [God] relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks” because “it is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that [it, the mortal] is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be.”

    Screwtape then continues: “He [God] cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause [that is, the cause of Satan and his devils] is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

    Powerful stuff.

    Yes, as Emily writes, there is great nobility in continuing to obey and follow even in dark times.

    One last quote from C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity this time):

    “But the one great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.”

  12. lynne

    July 1, 2008

    To Name Withheld – I was too unsure to share my story so my name was changed for this post, mostly because of what I will write next week. I too have had many leadership positions, and I felt like I had a testimony of the gospel, I knew Christ lived, and that carried me through the guilt I always felt in leading others when I didn’t really think I knew what I was talking about.

    I think a big change in the way I looked at The Book of Mormon came to my mind when I wondered to myself if I could actually share it with anyone. I look at it as a history of that ancient time and that seems true to me. When I was done reading I really didn’t have a lightening bolt experience (beautiful link m&m). I just felt like I knew it all along. It solidified my choice to be an active member of the church.

    Justine – I loved what you said. I think everyone comes to a time in their life when they need to decide if the church is for them, and why. I know I have definitely had my ups and downs. Things make sense for and against.

    I love Sharlee’s post. Isn’t C.S. Lewis awesome!

    God loves all of his children on this round planet of ours, whether we reciprocate is up to each of us, but his love does not waver. I take comfort in that.

  13. Sage

    July 1, 2008

    Dear Sisters-I feel so grateful for this place to come and share in our faith and our doubts-with faith that someone will extend the hand of sisterhood. To anonymous-thank you for your honesty. I have read the Book of Mormon many times. And have sometimes felt greatly inspired and other times not, mostly depending on the state of my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I have felt those dark times that I just have to plod through, knowing that somehow I would make it to a brighter place if I could just hold on. It has been a pattern I can recognize, and yet it still burns my heart and confounds me that I feel so alone sometimes on my journey.

    I think the answers above provide great insight about how to overcome a lack of answer to Moroni’s challenge. I especially appreciate the suggestion to look for small answers-not for the grand manifestation. My 7 yr. old told the missionaries that she had prayed to see God and Jesus like Joseph Smith had when we visited the Sacred Grove last summer (she never told me this). But nothing happened. So often that disappointment can make us feel unloved by our God. But, I told her that she didn’t need to see them to know for herself. The quiet whisperings are harder to hear, but are every bit as real and can comfort our hearts and help us know God does love each of us.

    Sorry this is long and rambling. I hope something worthwhile came across.

  14. elizabeth-w

    July 1, 2008

    Dear Name Withheld–I was always afraid to do the cover to cover thing precisely for fear of your outcome. No lighting bolts at all. What had been really helpful for me was reading Rough Stone Rolling. I think my testimony of Joseph Smith had to be stronger first, before I did the Book of Mormon reading.
    In April Conference, Elder Christofferson said in his message ‘Born Again’: You may ask, Why doesn’t this mighty change happen more quickly with me? You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical. For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality. At the same time, let us not justify ourselves in a casual effort.
    That was incredibly powerful for me. It relaxed me somewhat. I don’t have any answers, but if you find any, email Dalene and make her let you do a post here about it. Best of luck to you!

  15. Dalene

    July 1, 2008

    Anon, thank you for your frankness. I can only echo what has already been so beautifully expressed: God knows your name. He loves you.

    I feel I should clarify what happened to me with Moroni’s promise. I really am the type of person who kind of has to get struck by lightening. But that’s not at all what happened. There was no voice. It wasn’t anything spectacular. It was if all the drop-by-drops m&m so beautifully described (there weren’t a lot, but there were a few) came together to quietly remind me, “We’re here. We already told you.”

    Best–

  16. Wendy

    July 2, 2008

    Anon–ditto to the words above. I don’t remember a single “yes, it’s true” experience myself, but the reality of the BoM and it’s truthfulness has come to me as I read at times. Our testimonies come to us in many different ways, not always the “burning in the bosom,” which I don’t think I’ve ever felt. Another thought that came to mind was what the scriptures say about spiritual gifts: To some it is given to know . . . and to others to believe on their words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and take care~

  17. S.Faux

    July 2, 2008

    I loved reading about your thoughts and reactions, and I related to many of them. I too do NOT respond well to challenges and demands. I am too self-driven and determined to lead my own way — for better or worse. My boys read the scriptures, not because I demanded it of them, but because they have seen me do it, and then because they learned to love the scriptures on their own. The scriptures do NOT need a lot of high pressure sales pitches. They sell themselves with just a little encouragement and direction. In home lessons or on my blog, I try to make the scriptures the center of attention. It seems to work.

  18. Carrie

    July 2, 2008

    I recently had an epiphany about Moroni’s promise. I had always thought that Moroni says to ponder the Book of Mormon and then ask if these things are not true. But, I think we’re actually supposed to ponder the mercies of God (10:3 “how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men…” and then ask.

    Because of many small experiences with the Holy Ghost, I know the Book of Mormon is true. But, there are so many things that can act as stumbling blocks to our faith. And I definitely have my own stumbling blocks. But, when I ponder on the mercy the Lord has shown me personally, and the blessings he has given me, my faith is shored up in the things I don’t know. My peace is restored.

  19. name witheld just for this post

    July 2, 2008

    thank you for your kind, sweet, sincere words. m&m’s post was incredible and the many comments about continuing to obey in harder times. i continue on my journey.

  20. Angie

    July 2, 2008

    In the long, six-year process it took for me to gain a testimony, I found that Institute classes were a great help. Diving into the depth of the scriptures was/is such an amazing experience.

  21. Jia

    July 3, 2008

    I too had trouble reading the Book of Mormon until this year. I have read First Nephi a million times and normally I can make it through 2nd Nephi but then I just give up or get out of the habit. But wow, once you finish it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I’m determined to read it at least a few times each year now!

  22. m&m

    July 5, 2008

    I just wanted to echo Carrie’s comment about pondering God’s mercies. The more I do that, the more my heart is open to the Spirit. Ironically, if I am stressed about not getting an answer, I’m usually not focused on God’s mercies. 🙂

    It’s sort of like Elder Eyring said in his talk O Remember, Remember.

    “I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

    “More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened….

    “My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies.”

    Really, even as I read that, I think that maybe this is a key to really coming to know and trust God better. I have noticed this theme of remembering God’s mercies all through the Book of Mormon. It starts with Nephi telling us that that was a key purpose (1 Ne. 1:20) of his writing. It is woven throughout the book. And there the book ends with another reminder that that is a key to really knowing truth. Remember.

    Awesome stuff. Makes me feel drops in my bucket even as I write and think right here. 🙂

  23. Justine

    July 5, 2008

    I loved that talk, too m&m.

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