Promises to Elizabeth, Part 2: Elizabeth’s Decision


(Based on the life of Elizabeth Beardall Mower)
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall … inherit everlasting life (Matthew 19:29).

Elizabeth Beardall’s sister Charlotte has recently died of scarlet fever. When Elizabeth falls ill, her parents summon Latter-day Saint missionaries who have been preaching in their town in England. The elders give Elizabeth a blessing in which they make four promises. The first is that Elizabeth will recover, which she immediately does. The second is that she will accept the gospel and be baptized.

Christmas was coming, and Elizabeth could hardly wait. Her excitement wasn’t for the gifts that Father Christmas would bring, nor for her eighth birthday on the day after Christmas. She was excited because on the day after her birthday she would be baptized into God’s true Church.

Grandmother Beardall smiled as the family sat down to dinner. “Look at Elizabeth,” she said. “She’s glowing like a crystal! Is it Christmas or birthday wishes that dance in your head, my dear?”

“Neither,” Elizabeth answered without thinking. She remembered too late that Grandmother wasn’t supposed to know about the baptism.

“Neither?” Grandmother sounded puzzled. “How can it be neither? Tell us, child. What excites you so?”

Elizabeth studied the pattern on her china plate and didn’t answer.

Grandmother frowned and turned to look at Father. “Someone told me they saw you associating with those wicked Mormons, Francis. I assured them it was not true. Can you give me the same assurance?”

Elizabeth thought of Elder Chase and Elder Canon and all the other good people in the Church. “They are not wicked, Grandmother!” she blurted out.

Grandmother turned pale. “So it is true,” she said softly.

“Mother, we have found God’s true Church,” Elizabeth’s father said gently. “We are being baptized at the end of the month.”

Grandmother sat stiff and straight. “The children too?”

“Ellen and Frank are too young,” Mother replied. “But Elizabeth is old enough to decide for herself, and as you have seen, she can hardly wait.”

Grandmother took out her handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. “You have broken my heart, Francis, and brought disgrace on your family. I would rather have followed you to your grave than see you join that despised church. If you join with those people, you are no longer my son, but I would not lose my beloved granddaughter.” She turned to Elizabeth. “If you really have a choice in this matter, I beg you not to be baptized but come and live with me. I promise that you will never want for anything as long as you live.”

Elizabeth didn’t know what to say. She loved her grandmother very much, but she also wanted to be baptized. Later, as Mother tucked her into bed, Elizabeth asked, “Why doesn’t Grandmother want us to join God’s true Church?”

“She doesn’t believe that it is the true church,” Mother said, “and she has the right to choose.”

“But what should I do? If I do what Grandma wants will Heavenly Father understand? Will He know that I still believe the Church is true?”

“He knows your heart, Elizabeth, but sometimes faith is more than just believing. It is trusting God and doing the right thing even when it’s hard. But you also have the right to choose. It’s your decision if or when you are baptized.”

In the busy days that followed, Elizabeth put aside the decision as she worked on Christmas presents for her family. But as she pushed cloves into a pomander ball for Grandmother, Elizabeth knew she could give a gift that would make Grandmother much happier. She could agree to live with her.

On Christmas Eve Elizabeth’s family was enjoying their plum pudding when the doctor came to call. “I have just come from tending Mrs. Beardall,” he told Father. “She is not serious, but asks that you come see her.”

Father reached for his coat. “I’ll take Elizabeth,” he said. “That will cheer her.”

Grandmother was in bed propped on her pillows. “How are you?” Father asked, taking her hand.

“My old body is wearing out,” Grandmother said. “I am in great need of a strong youth to assist me.” She looked at Elizabeth. “Well, dear? What is your decision? Will you come help me in my time of need?”

Elizabeth hesitated. Seeing her grandmother in bed reminded her of the night three years earlier when she herself lay dying.

“I love you, Grandmother,” Elizabeth said, “and I will do what I can to help you. But God has given me special promises and one of them was that I would join the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He cannot keep His promises unless I do my part. So I have decided to be baptized with my parents.”

As soon as Elizabeth spoke these words, joy filled her heart. She knew she had made the right decision.

Coming up in next month’s Friend, read about the third promise from Elizabeth’s blessing in “Part 3: Elizabeth Alone.”

[Following the Savior]

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“We follow the Savior by entering the waters of baptism and receiving a remission of our sins, by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and allowing that influence to inspire, instruct, guide, and comfort us.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “‘Follow Me,’” Ensign, May 2002, 16–17.

[illustrations] Illustrations by Paul Mann