I believed the Church was true, but when did I receive that witness?
You Already Know09246_000_004
One day at school, a classmate and I somehow entered into the topic of religion. My classmate became a little antagonistic and started to criticize what I believed.
She looked me in the face and said, “You believe in your Church only because your parents raised you in it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t believe.”
I don’t remember what I said to her, but I kept thinking about her comment and wondering why she would say that. I had been raised in the Church, and, really, I had never questioned the Church’s teachings or doctrines. Ever since I was little, I felt the Church was true. Before I was even baptized, our family read the Book of Mormon together, and I knew it was true. I didn’t just believe; I knew it and had no doubts. But I couldn’t define a particular moment when I had received that witness. For some time that bothered me. I wanted to have a particular experience when I would pray and immediately the answer would come rushing to me. It never happened.
But what I could define was a moment when my testimony was confirmed. After my first year of high school, I went with some other youth on a tour to Church history sites. When we arrived at the Sacred Grove, our tour guide invited us to seek a personal confirmation that what had happened there was true: that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and initiated the Restoration. I found a quiet place in the grove and read the account of the First Vision. Then I knelt down and prayed. I already knew the First Vision had happened and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. But I asked anyway. I finished my prayer, and nothing happened. No grand feeling, no vision, no angels. Nothing.
I found a rock and sat down and opened my patriarchal blessing and started to read. My blessing mentioned the Restoration of the gospel, and in my head the words repeated: “You already know. You already know.”
If I could go back to that moment when my friend challenged what I believed, I don’t know how I would describe how I know the Church is true. But I wish I had told her that while my parents had taught me what they knew to be true, I had to find that answer for myself. And I did.
I didn’t need to go to the Sacred Grove to know the Church was true. I didn’t need any great experience to know the Church was true. I just needed to be reminded, “You already know.”
Photograph by Tim Taggart, © IRI