For the past couple of months, I’ve thought a lot about what the gospel of Jesus Christ means to me, and wondered if it is something I can make work in my life. And I’ve got to be honest, I never saw myself as one who would try and find an alternate way when it got hard, or someone who would ever doubt the experiences I had in the past.
The truth, which was bothersome to me for a short time, but is now something I’m grateful for, is the fact that there isn’t an alternative way. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to find true happiness on this earth, and in the life to come. There are no “easy way” outs, and no shortcuts to eternal happiness.
Robert L. Simpson once said: “It is only this `living water,' the gospel of Jesus Christ, that can and will bring a happy, a successful, and an everlasting life to the children of men."
So how can we strive for, and partake of the Living Water? The main thing I want to talk about, is the difference between testimony and conversion. The two words have made a lot more sense to me lately, and I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had.
First, testimony. A testimony is what a person claims to believe to others, it is something everyone needs to have. I always thought when a person had a strong testimony, it meant they were the most spiritual person they could be, and it was more of an end result. I felt like conversion was just what happened after you had a testimony for so long and kept it growing; eventually you would just always know that what you believed was true.
Elder David A. Bednar has said: “Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.”
The two important words of that statement to me, are the words knowing, and being. What I’ve come to understand, is that a testimony is something we let others know. It’s an outward expression of what we know to be true. Conversion is what results inside of us when we act on those truths, it’s something we choose for ourselves based on what we’ve felt and learned, and it’s not going to be something people will see right away.
What I’ve learned is that it is so important to gain a testimony. You always hear it, and how it’s important, but IT REALLY IS SO IMPORTANT. Because your testimony is what your conversion will stand on, as you continue to experience, learn, testify, and do the things the Holy Ghost guides you to do. I’ve realized more now, that before I graduated, I was still building my testimony, even when I felt I was “doing” just fine. But just learning and testifying isn’t ever going to be enough. We need to really ask ourselves: " Why do I want to live the gospel?" and then choose to make the commitment.
Our loving Heavenly Father has given us everything, literally everything. But one of the most important gifts He has given us, is our decision to choose. There is so much power that comes when we choose to follow Christ and His teachings, because our decision is really the only thing we have to give back that will be our own.
“…anything else we give is something that God already gave to us. When we give tithes or offerings, we are simply giving back to God what He first gave to us. Any money we earn in this life, for example, comes to us because of God’s creations. If we give our time, we are giving what God already gave to us—our days upon the earth. But when we give our will to Him, this is a gift that is uniquely ours to give. When we give our will, we are giving ourselves totally, withholding nothing. If we gain a testimony, and then make the conscious choice to change and live our lives as Heavenly Father has said we should, think of how amazing and powerful that choice really is, and how dramatic the impact will be in your life.” -Russell T. Osguthorpe
I’ve noticed since returning home from school, the change that’s already started as I’ve made the decision to try again. There really is something so special that I feel when I actually wake up, and go to church in the morning. I feel like I’ve got the chance to show Heavenly Father that I’m trying, and I’m so grateful to have the chance.
I’m so grateful for the Atonement that makes it possible for us to try again when we stumble, make mistakes, and have doubts. It’s so amazing, and it’s so special. I know that it is real, and it can and needs to be a part of our lives constantly. It’s a sweet experience when you humble yourself, and allow yourself to be His child, where you can tell him anything in complete honesty, and He works with you to make things right, telling you how much love He has for you along the way.
It’s a lifelong process, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to have this learning experience. I’ve learned so much already, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds when I never let myself give up. I knew once that it would be worth it, and I need to have faith and jump until I can know that again.
Trials really are amazing, they are a gift, and we should be thankful for them. They are painful, and unbearable at times, but it’s the perfect chance for Him to show us what we are made of when we can’t see it ourselves. They help us grow so much. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.