10491_000_006We are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort. It is individual. It is the process of a lifetime.
I am inspired by the examples being set by the righteous members of the Church, including the noble youth. You courageously look to the Savior. You are faithful, obedient, and pure. The blessings you receive because of your goodness affect not only your lives but also my life and the lives of countless others in profound but often unknown ways.
A few years ago, I was in line to make a purchase at my local grocery store. Ahead of me stood a young woman, about 15 years old. She appeared confident and happy. I noticed her T-shirt and couldn’t resist talking to her. I began, “You’re from out of state, aren’t you?”
She was surprised by my question and replied, “Yes, I am. I’m from Colorado. How did you know?”
I explained, “Because of your T-shirt.” I made my accurate supposition after reading the words on her shirt, “I’m a Mormon. Are you?”
I continued, “I must tell you that I’m impressed by your confidence to stand out and wear such a bold declaration. I see a difference in you, and I wish every young woman and every member of the Church could have your same conviction and confidence.” Our purchases completed, we said good-bye and parted.
Yet for days and weeks after this random everyday moment, I found myself seriously reflecting upon this encounter. I wondered how this young girl from Colorado came to possess such confidence in her identity as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I couldn’t help but wonder what meaningful phrase I would figuratively choose to have printed on my T-shirt reflecting my belief and testimony. In my mind, I considered many possible sayings. Eventually, I came upon an ideal statement I would proudly wear: “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.”
Today I’d like to focus my remarks around this bold, hopeful statement.
The first part of the statement is a self-assured, unapologetic declaration: “I’m a Mormon.” Just as the young woman I met in the grocery store was not afraid to let the world know she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hope we will never be afraid or reluctant to acknowledge, “I’m a Mormon.” We should be confident, as was the Apostle Paul when he proclaimed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”1 As members, we are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort. It is individual. It is the process of a lifetime.
The next part of the statement affirms, “I know it.” In today’s world, there are a multitude of activities, subjects, and interests vying for every minute of our attention. With so many distractions, do we have the strength, discipline, and commitment to remain focused on what matters most? Are we as well versed in gospel truths as we are in our studies, careers, hobbies, sports, or our texts and tweets? Do we actively seek to find answers to our questions by feasting on the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets? Do we seek the confirmation of the Spirit?
The importance of gaining knowledge is an eternal principle. The Prophet Joseph Smith “loved knowledge for its righteous power.”2 He said: “Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. … Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.”3
All truth and knowledge is important, but amidst the constant distractions of our daily lives, we must especially pay attention to increasing our gospel knowledge so we can understand how to apply gospel principles to our lives.4 As our gospel knowledge increases, we will begin to feel confident in our testimonies and be able to state, “I know it.”
Next is the statement, “I live it.” The scriptures teach that we must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”5 We live the gospel and become “doers of the word” by exercising faith, being obedient, lovingly serving others, and following our Savior’s example. We act with integrity and do what we know is right “at all times and in all things, and in all places”6 no matter who may or may not be watching.
In our mortal condition, no one is perfect. Even in our most diligent efforts to live the gospel, all of us will make mistakes, and all of us will sin. What a comforting assurance it is to know that through our Savior’s redeeming sacrifice, we can be forgiven and made clean again. This process of true repentance and forgiveness strengthens our testimony and our resolve to obey the Lord’s commandments and live our life according to gospel standards.
When I think of the phrase, “I live it,” I am reminded of a young woman I met named Karigan. She wrote: “I’ve been a member of the Church for a little over a year. … For me, when investigating, one sign that this was the true Church came because I felt I’d finally found a church that taught modesty and standards. I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens to people when they disregard commandments and choose the wrong path. I made up my mind, long ago, to live high moral standards. … I feel so blessed to have found the truth and to have been baptized. I am so happy.”7
The final phrase in my declarative statement is “I love it.” Gaining a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and diligently living gospel principles in our everyday lives leads many members of the Church to exclaim enthusiastically, “I love the gospel!”
This feeling comes as we feel the Holy Ghost witnessing to us that we are children of our Heavenly Father, He is mindful of us, and we are on the right path. Our love for the gospel grows as we experience the love of our Father in Heaven and the peace promised by the Savior as we show Him we are willing to obey and follow Him.
At different times in our lives, whether we are new converts to the Church or lifelong members, we may find that this vibrant enthusiasm has faded. Sometimes this happens when times are challenging and we must practice patience. Sometimes it happens at the peak of our prosperity and abundance. Whenever I have this feeling, I know I need to refocus my efforts on increasing my gospel knowledge and living gospel principles more fully in my life.
One of the most effective but sometimes difficult gospel principles to apply is humility and submission to the will of God. In Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He expressed to the Father, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”8 This should be our prayer as well. Oftentimes, it is in these quiet, prayerful moments that we feel encircled in Heavenly Father’s love and those joyful, loving feelings are restored.
At a Young Women leadership meeting in Eugene, Oregon, I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Sister Cammy Wilberger. The story Sister Wilberger shared with me was a witness of the power and blessing of one young woman’s knowing, living, and loving the gospel.
Sister Wilberger’s 19-year-old daughter, Brooke, was tragically killed several years ago while on summer break after her first year at university. Sister Wilberger recalled, “It was a difficult and dark time for our family. However, Brooke had given us a great gift. We didn’t recognize this as she was growing up, but every single year and moment of her brief life, Brooke had given us the greatest gift a daughter could give her parents. Brooke was a righteous daughter of God. … Because of this gift and especially because of the enabling power of the Atonement, I have had strength, comfort, and the Savior’s promised peace. I have no question where Brooke is now and look forward to our loving reunion.”9
I have a testimony of our Heavenly Father’s great plan of eternal happiness. I know that He knows us and loves us. I know that He has prepared a prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to encourage us and help guide us back to Him. I pray that each of us will put forth the effort to be able to confidently declare, “I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.” I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
George Q. Cannon, in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 261.
Teachings: Joseph Smith, 265; see also Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, notebook, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
See knowledge value experience number 1, Young Women Personal Progress (booklet, 2009), 38.