When I was a young boy going to school, I thought that learning had to do only with school. I must admit that I did not like to go to school very much. Maybe this was because the teachers did not give me what I wanted to learn, and maybe it was because I did not try hard enough to hear what they had to say. Now I am fifty-three years old, and I have learned that there is no other lasting joy to compare with that of achieving understanding after a struggle to learn.
There are many things to learn, but the most important thing for everyone to know is that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. Nobody is so small or so young that he is not noticed by Him.
When I was about eleven years old, I gained an understanding of our Heavenly Father’s love. My parents were not then very religious, but they were good people. They loved me and taught me to be good, clean, and honest, and they helped me to develop righteous desires. Although they were always interested in questions of truth, they did not know God, so they could not tell me about Him. I had an undeveloped hope for the reality of God, but never seemed to find anyone who knew Him and could tell me about Him.
I remember seeing a person killed in an accident. Faced for the first time with death, I was so shaken that I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days and became ill. No one could tell me what happens after death. A great fear developed within me that some accident would happen to my father and nobody would be able to explain where he had gone.
Later, during World War II in my home country of Germany, I lived with my mother and four sisters far away from home in southern Germany in two very small, humble rooms. We had fled from our home because of the many air attacks that had destroyed our city and threatened our lives. My father was separated from us because he had been drafted into the army. And I was too young to understand the dramatic events happening around me during that terrible war.
Lying in bed one night in the room I shared with two of my sisters, I remember an intense feeling of loneliness. My mother and two other sisters slept in the next room, but I still felt lost in our temporary home and strange surroundings. The people even spoke a different dialect than I was used to. I had a most frightening thought: What is the purpose of my being here on this earth? I could not answer this question, and it led right into another one that was even more frightening: What is eternity?
I looked into my heart for the answers to these questions. But the more I thought about eternity, the more lost I felt. There was nothing to hold onto, nothing to stand on. I had the feeling of falling, falling, falling without stopping. It scared me terribly.
I can still remember the details of that room—the pale light of the moon and the sound of the church clock bell ringing every fifteen minutes. I was awake until early in the morning, and I was so overcome with despair that I began to cry. I wept and wept.
Suddenly something changed. A comforting power enveloped me, and a small voice said to my soul, “You are My child. Have trust in Me.”
Immediately joy and happiness filled my heart. All my fear, loneliness, and despair were changed into feelings of warmth and comfort. That night I learned for the first time that there is some unseen but loving Person who is concerned about me. Especially is this true when I feel despair and need help.
I still had a long way to go to gain a better understanding of Heavenly Father’s concern for His children, but from time to time in my life I had other spiritual experiences. I tried to read all the books about God that I could find. I went to many different churches. But not until about eighteen years later, when the elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on my door, did I begin to really understand. I came to know our Heavenly Father, how to make a covenant with Him, and how to receive the right to speak with Him always. I learned to feel accepted and welcomed by Him.
We can all feel at home in His true church. It is for everyone who seeks Him and wants to live with Him again someday and is willing to be guided by His servant, a living prophet.
I know that there is nothing as important in this life as learning to know our Father in heaven and to follow His teachings.