Being an Example

At the beginning of my cross country season, my team went to an invitational. An invitational is a very big race where hundreds of runners meet to race. As I prepared myself for my race, I noticed that the younger girls, mainly the freshmen and first-years, were watching me intently and asking all sorts of questions. They asked about why I always wore a headband in my hair. At the next meet they all had headbands! Then they noticed that I had an energy bar I would eat before my race. Believe it or not, at the next meet they all had energy bars, and they were the exact same flavor! At first it caught me off-guard because I wasn’t used to being the experienced one, and not too long ago I was doing the watching, trying to learn from the older kids who seemed to have so much knowledge and wisdom. This was a really interesting experience for me, and it was really quite cool. I felt like a celebrity.

To a large majority of the world, we are considered a different kind of people. We live a clean, mellow life in contrast to the partying lifestyle. I had the opportunity to travel to several different colleges throughout the United States on recruiting trips. While this was an extremely fun and exciting experience, it was also a huge eye-opener for me. The girls on the teams I was being recruited by had never even heard of Mormons. On every single trip, I ended up explaining my beliefs. They were shocked by some of the things I told them, but this was a real testimony builder. As I told them what I believe, I felt an even stronger testimony growing inside me.

It was on one of my last trips when I had a really neat experience. I was just reading my scriptures before going to bed, and my host (the girl on the team assigned to me for the recruiting trip) asked me about what I was reading. That opened up an incredible conversation in which we ended up talking late into the night. After that, she thanked me and explained how much she had needed to hear what I had to say at that time. I know without a doubt that the conversations I had on my other trips had helped me prepare for this time, and since I was ready, I was able to say the things I needed to by inspiration.

Being an example is so vital to spreading the gospel. Many times in my life I have been surprised by how much people really watch me, like with my experience in cross-country. I know that people watch us a lot more than we realize, so what can we do but live the gospel and be an example in our daily lives. Just by living the right way and upholding our standards, people will notice that and respect it. On my visit I refused to go running on Sunday and was extremely surprised when they just respected that and didn’t give me any more hassle. By being an example, we can be models to those who might be looking for direction in their lives. Just like those younger girls in cross country, people will often imitate the qualities they want to attain that they see in us. After that experience I have always tried to be a good example in all of my actions.

Illustration by Bjorn Thorkelson

My Testimony of Joseph Smith

I wanted to prepare for my mission and was pondering some things that would strengthen my testimony. I knew that building up my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith would greatly strengthen me and prepare me for my mission in the future.

At about this time I heard Elder Glenn L. Pace speak at the Cape Girardeau Stake and then at general conference. His words went deep into my mind.

He challenged everyone to prayerfully read and study the Joseph Smith story. I had read the story before but had not read it prayerfully. I decided now was the time to do so. After general conference I found myself with some free time, and I was inspired to prayerfully read the Joseph Smith story. I desired a testimony of Joseph’s story so that my faith would be unshaken and so that the Book of Mormon would mean more to me.

As I prayerfully read the holy scriptures, I was filled with the Spirit, and after I read, I took Moroni’s challenge found in Moroni 10:3–5. I prayed to Heavenly Father asking if what I had read about the Joseph Smith story was true. I felt a burning within my bosom that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and I knew that the things Joseph Smith told were true.

I am so thankful for my testimony of Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith did see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and that Joseph, through the ministering of angels, did restore the only true Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. I am thankful for my testimony because I know that this is a good start in preparation for a future mission. I am also thankful for my testimony because now I am certain that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that no one can shake this testimony. We can all gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith by prayerfully studying the Joseph Smith story with an intent to gain a testimony, and this knowledge fills my heart with joy.

Joseph Smith, © Dee Jay Bawden