Teaching by Example
During my first year away from home, I roomed with a girl named Joanne [name has been changed]. She insisted that she did not believe that God existed. Our beliefs could not have been more different.
Everything I did amazed Joanne. She wondered how I could fast on Sundays and sit through hours of Church meetings, why I dressed modestly, why I studied my scriptures, and why I woke up early to attend early-morning institute classes. She asked me lots of questions, and we had many late-night discussions about my beliefs.
Joanne started to change. She started dressing more modestly whenever she went with me to a Church activity or out with my friends. She didn’t swear as much. She started attending activities with my singles ward. She talked about how welcome she felt and how kind my friends were. She wanted to know everything about their lives and our beliefs. She loved how we were able to have a great time without alcohol or drugs.
Joanne, however, still didn’t understand my faith in God. One night she suddenly spoke up and asked, “What would you do if someone came up to you with absolute proof that God does not exist?”
No one had ever asked me that before. I said, “No one could prove to me that God does not exist any more than I could prove to you that He does. That is what faith is for.” I told her that I feel strongly that my Father in Heaven is there and that I can never deny my faith. As I bore my testimony to her, I felt the calming spirit of the Holy Ghost come over me. I also shared some of my spiritual experiences with her and read her some scriptures.
About a week later Joanne asked if she could go with me to family home evening. I agreed but informed her that we were having a testimony meeting and that she might be uncomfortable. She insisted on attending. That night, Joanne listened intently as my friends and I bore our testimonies about our faith in Jesus Christ. When we talked about what life meant to us and talked about the sacrifice that Christ made for us, I saw that she recognized that we were speaking the truth. Her eyes filled with tears, which she quickly wiped away.
I wish I could say that this story ends with her baptism, but it doesn’t—at least not yet. Joanne never talked to me about that night. In fact, she avoided the subject of religion altogether for the rest of the year. However, I know I planted a seed in her heart by living my standards, bearing my testimony, and letting the Holy Ghost work.
To commemorate the beginning of another year of early-morning seminary, a friend and I decided to extend a challenge to the eight students in our seminary class. The challenge was for all of us to wear our youth conference T-shirts on the first day of school.
Our youth conference theme had been S.M.I.L.E., which stands for “Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal” (see 2 Ne. 9:39), and the youth conference leaders had given us yellow shirts with smiley faces on them. We knew that wearing the T-shirts would be difficult for some of our seminary classmates because they would really stand out.
With six of us wearing those shirts in the same school, we got odd looks. During the day many teachers and students asked questions about the shirts, which gave us an opportunity to explain our values and beliefs.
By the day’s end, I think we were all standing a little taller. After spending a whole day of standing up for what we believed, we all had smiles on our faces—like the ones on our shirts.
Learning to Pray
I was raised in a family of 11, including my mom and dad. We were well disciplined and religious, but we often fell short of praying as a family.
When I was seven years old, my aunt took me into her home. There I was taught the gospel because she and her husband were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One night I was invited to pray with them before we went to bed. At first, I was a bit offended because prayer was not part of my life, but I found it easy to pray with them. After the prayer, my uncle taught me how to pray and helped me to understand the importance of praying. He explained that prayer is communication with God and that a relationship with God is impossible without prayer. He taught me that God knows our needs, but we need to ask first.
Talking to my uncle really gave me the desire to learn how to pray. The first time I prayed, I learned that I am a child of God and that He cares about me and wants me to talk to Him always. After that, I knew that when I am looking for God, I must keep calling on Him, even if I am not sure how He will answer.
I know that when we pray to God, He will make Himself known to us. If He answered me, He can likewise answer you.
Every night my family and I have a family prayer. This has helped me to stay close to the gospel and the Savior. When we have challenges to overcome, we talk about them before our prayer and then pray about them.
Messages of Comfort
A scripture that I use for comfort is Isaiah 53:4 [Isa. 53:4]: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins but for our pains as well. If we cast our burdens on the Lord, He will sustain us (see Ps. 55:22). These two scriptures have never failed to comfort me.