WHY I BELIEVE
By Charmaine Anderson August 2003
My patriarchal blessing confirms that I have a gift of faith. I know this. It made it easy to be a social Mormon most of my life. I didn’t pray much. I rarely studied the scriptures. I thought I was doing fine because I attended church every Sunday and felt the spirit on occasion. When my mother died in 1989 I knelt and promised God that if he would keep her from suffering any more that I would pray daily and diligently—that I would be a better disciple. I realized the importance of such a promise and I have tried to fulfill it daily. I began to study the scriptures. I have attended the temple weekly. I have been blessed and buoyed up for my efforts. Now I have confidence in Why I Believe.
I BELIEVE because the scriptures have become a part of who I am. I memorized the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 and say it most every day. The 4 years I taught Gospel Doctrine in Sunday School I spent 1-3 hours each day studying. I learned to love the Word. Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah when he said: “…his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (20:9)
I BELIEVE because I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost directing me and giving me “sudden strokes of ideas,” as Joseph Smith said it would.
I BELIEVE because I have been captivated and taught by the spirit of the Book of Mormon. I believe as someone has said that a bad man couldn’t have written it and a good man wouldn’t have tried.
I BELIEVE because the temple has become a wonderful weekly experience. I have gone fasting and praying many times over the years and when I look back I see answers to those prayers. There are 4 winged vases in the Celestial room of the Bountiful Temple. They have become a symbol of the hope I have for my 4 children. Each week when I enter the room I say this scripture from Psalms: “Be merciful unto me O God. Be merciful unto me. For my soul trusteth in thee. Yea in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast.” (57:1)
I BELIEVE because I have learned the power to love comes from Christ and I want to have that power. In Moroni 7:48 it says: “…pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.” I try to include this heartfelt plea in my daily prayer.
I BELIEVE because I have learned that God has sent many good men to the earth to teach who don’t have the fullness of the gospel. I have enjoyed reading many Christian writings by C. S. Lewis. He was an atheist for many years of his life. He studied and read thousands of books in his conversion process. This is what he said about the day he realized he believed:
“ You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is the most shining and obvious thing: the Divine humility, which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape? The words…compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation. (Surprised By Joy p.228)
Another favorite religion writer is Rabbi Harold Kushner. What he said about church services I can testify is true:
“In congregational worship, regularly scheduled services on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I have come to believe that the congregating is more important than the words we speak. Something miraculous happens when people come together seeking the presence of God. The miracle is that we so often find it. Somehow the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. A spirit is created in our midst which none of us brought there. In fact, each of us came there looking for it because we did not have it when we were alone. But in our coming together, we create the mood and the moment in which God is present.” (Who Needs God, p. 149)
I BELIEVE because my heritage gave me a gift that was precious to them and I know I have an obligation to open it and see it’s beauty for myself. The first member of my family to join the church was Jacob Hamblin. He knew Joseph Smith. His reaction to the Prophets death touched me:
“We was often presented with public papers with different accounts of the death of the Prophet. We did not consider ourselves under any obligation to believe them. I know I felt very melancholy and my spirits depressed. July 14, I ascertained from a private letter the truth that the Prophet and Patriarch were martyred. My feelings I will not attempt to describe. For a moment all was lost. I was on my way to Bragore and was under no obligation to in as much as they had killed the man God had sent to restore all things. I could not refrain from weeping. I turned aside to give vent to my feelings. As I was about to leave the road I met two or three persons. One of them observed, ‘I wonder what will become of Elder Hamblin’s Mormon President?’ I could hardly restrain myself. I felt that if I could be annihilated it would be a great blessing to me. I thought it would crush me to death. At length, believing it must be the power of the devil and knowing that there was something wrong, I prayed to my Heavenly Father for the Holy Spirit. After a little all was right.” (From his journal)
Knowledge, prayer and the workings of the Holy Ghost are the basis of my belief. In Isaiah 53:11 it says of Christ: “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” If knowledge is important to Christ it is so for us. I began by acquiring the knowledge of Christ in the scriptures the rest came along naturally. This is
Why I Believe.