New Era Classic:
When Your Heart Tells You Things Your Mind Does Not Know

By President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973)

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Originally printed in the February 1971 New Era.Let the Spirit kindle the light within you, then share it with others.

President Harold B. Lee

The most important responsibility that you, the youth of the Church, have is to see that you are converted. That is number one. In this sense, all of us should be converts to the Church. We should all be converted to the truthfulness of the gospel. Then we can share this truth with others.

What is conversion? Some clues are given by the Lord. In answering a question as to why He spoke in parables, He quoted a scripture from Isaiah: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isa. 6:10).

One is converted when he sees with his eyes what he ought to see; when he hears with his ears what he ought to hear; and when he understands with his heart what he ought to understand. And what he ought to see, hear, and understand is truth—eternal truth—and then practice it. That is conversion. When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us.

I once had a visit from a young Catholic priest. I asked him why he had come, and he replied, “I came to see you.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “I have been searching for certain concepts that I have not been able to find. But I think I am finding them now in the Mormon community.”

That led to a half-hour conversation. I told him, “Father, when your heart begins to tell you things that your mind does not, then you are getting the Spirit of the Lord.”

He smiled and said, “I think that’s happening to me already.”

“Then don’t wait too long,” I said to him.

A few weeks later I received a telephone call from him. He said, “Next Saturday I am going to be baptized a member of the Church, because my heart has told me things my mind did not know.”

Speaking to persons with a testimony, the Lord has said: “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Ne. 18:24).

When we have a testimony, we are expected to use it for the benefit of others, as Peter was instructed: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

All of us have so many opportunities to strengthen others. It may be our own brothers and sisters. It may be our own friends. It may be a neighbor or a new acquaintance. It may even be our own parents. Now that’s a great concept, isn’t it—parents and youth strengthening one another? Let me show you what I mean.

The president of the Cardston Alberta Temple told me this incident. He said, “A group of young people came to the temple for the first time to do baptisms for the dead. After they had gone through two or three baptismal sessions and were about ready to go back home, I talked to them about their own baptisms. I said, ‘After your own baptism, you were told to receive the Holy Ghost, which means that the Holy Ghost will guide and bless you if you are worthy. If anyone should oppose you, or bring harm to you, you can overcome that opposition by the influence of the Holy Ghost.’

“I looked around and saw a pleasant young girl sobbing. She said, ‘When I was baptized, my mother cursed me. Every time I would go out she was vile and called me wicked names. When I told her I was going to the temple, she profaned and said I was no daughter of hers. I have been fasting ever since I left home that here in the temple I would be given a guide and the power to overcome the opposition of my mother. I was going away disappointed. But now, at the last moment, you have given me the key.’ A smile lit up on her face as she said, ‘I am going to bring Mother within the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost which I have a right to enjoy.’”

Then the president said, “Weeks went by, and a letter came from this girl. The letter said, ‘When I returned home and entered the house, mother greeted me similarly to the way she had when I left, by profaning. On other occasions I had fought back, but this time I walked over and put my arm around her shoulder and said, “Mother, I am not going to quarrel with you today. I want you to come over on the couch and sit down beside me. I want to tell you something.” This surprised Mother. As we sat down, we touched cheeks so that in actuality the Spirit would emanate from me to her, and I bore my testimony. I told her what a wonderful experience I had had in the temple. And to my amazement, Mother burst into tears and begged my forgiveness.’

“The girl closed her letter by saying, ‘We are now preparing Mother to be baptized a member of the Church.’”

“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” said the Savior. That is my message to you, because it is the Savior’s message. Our number-one responsibility is to see that we are converted, and then to convert others.

I would pray that you could feel the love flowing from my soul to yours, and know of my deep compassion toward each of you as you face the problems of today. The time is here when each of you must stand on your own feet. Be converted, because no one can endure on borrowed light. You will have to be guided by the light within yourself. If you do not have it, you will not stand.

May the Lord bless you and clothe you with the armor of righteousness, that you might be able to stand steadfast through whatever trials may be yours in the days that lie ahead.

Photography by Robert Casey. Posed by models