Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Personal History Group at church

With the change from a monthly Enrichment Meeting to quarterly Enrichment meetings and optional "groups", I think a lot of Relief Societies have struggled to figure out how to best go about doing things. Our ward recently revamped our "groups" and one that was created was a "Personal History Group". Once a month, we are given a topic to write about and then we meet and take turns reading out loud what we have written. Last night, I attended the first one where we all took turns reading out loud. It was very fun to hear what people have written and I feel so much closer to these wonderful ladies. Anyway, our Relief Society President said something about the importance of being more open about our beliefs. In the spirit of what she said, I am posting what I wrote for last night's meeting. The theme for this month was "testimony." So, here it is.

I hated early morning seminary. Being raised in Boulder, Colorado, all we had was early morning seminary and it started every weekday morning at 6:15 am. I tried every excuse with my mother about why I should not have to go. "Teenagers need their sleep." "The teacher teaches false doctrine." "My life is too busy to attend." "I am too tired to pay attention, so I don’t get anything out of it." But, nothing worked. Every morning around 5:45 am, my mom would wake me, push me in the direction of the shower, and get me out the door for Seminary.

This was the pattern all four years I attended until something happened in the late fall of my senior year of high school and my last year of Seminary. The Seminary teacher that year was a law student at the University of Colorado. He was married, had a little boy and worked a night shift at a hotel to make ends meet. He was a super nice man but I know it was very hard for him to get up early and teach a group of relatively apathetic high school students.

One day, in late fall, I showed up at Seminary and the teacher had not shown up. A good friend of mine, Jeff Jones, stood up in front of the class and said, "Since the teacher isn’t here, I think we should just take turns reading out loud the assigned reading." We were studing the Book of Mormon that year and were at the end of 2 Nephi. Someone started reading 2 Nephi 33: 10-11. It reads, "And now, my beloved brethren and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye–for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness."

As I listened to those words, I thought, "I believe in Christ. If I believe in Him, then these words are true." As that thought completed, the Spirit touched me more profoundly than it ever had before in my life. I was so struck by it, that I remember looking around the room at the other students to see if they were feeling the same thing. They didn’t seem changed or to appear as if they were feeling something different. For some reason, this was a lesson that I was learning privately, just for me. The feeling didn’t go away. I carried it with me for the rest of class and the rest of the day at school. And, it was the first time that I could honestly recall a profound, life-changing spiritual event and it was the beginning of a strong testimony for me.

I have often since reflected on that event and contemplated the act of diligence. I had been attending Seminary for almost four years. It was often dull and unfullfilling. But because I was diligent (or my mom was diligent in making me go), and being where I was supposed to be, I was taught by the Spirit. If I had been at home in bed sleeping, I would have missed that opportunity. Many times since, as I have sat through Sunday after Sunday at church without feeling much of anything, I am struck by the need for diligence in doing the right thing and being where I am supposed to be and where the Lord expects me to be. It is often when I least expect it, when I have been being diligent day after day, month after month, year after year, about doing a spiritual activity (reading the scriptures, visiting teaching, attending the temple, praying, etc.) that the spirit whispers to me and confirms the truth of the gospel. I am glad I learned that lesson at a relatively young age of 17 attending early morning Seminary.


ash said...

Thanks for sharing. Wonderful to read. Sounds like a great Enrichment group.

love.boxes said...

What a great post Janice! I really enjoyed reading through that experience. I think it's very true.

Paige said...

That's a great experience, and it sounds like a great Enrichment group.

Jane Anne said...

I was going to do the same thing but mine isn't quite ready for the real public yet. I have to say I am realizing I am really looking forward to this group...You did such a great job with yours I wanted you to email it to me, but now I don't have to ask! Thanks

Kristin said...

Janice, this sounds like a great Enrichment idea. We're always looking for good ideas and I mentioned this one to my Enrichment counselor. She wondered if you'd be willing to share the other topics. Feel free to just email Diane (or call her and she can pass on to me if that's easiest). Love reading about your cute family.