First of all, I’d like to thank my brother Tim for that awesome photo. He was very proud of it and I want to give credit where credit is due.
I’ve always been a reader. I devoured books as a child and teenager, and while I still love to read, I don’t often have hours to dedicate all of my attention to it. As a teen, I used to be able to read an entire young adult novel in a day. Now that I’m older, I’ve become very selective about what I choose to read and absorb into my mind. I have a few favorite novels that I like to re-read every couple of years, but most of my new reading consists of inspirational books (HEYO Brené Brown!) and the classics AKA the ones that bored me to tears as a kid that somehow thrill me now.
But there is one book that still feels new every time I read it, yet so familiar that it’s become a part of who I am. I have read it multiple times a year for as long as I can remember. As soon as I finish it, I turn back to the first page and start again. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning to start my day, and the last thing my husband and I read together before we sleep at night. This book has provided me with more knowledge, inspiration, and comfort than any other book I’ve read. My favorite book of all time is The Book of Mormon.
A companion to the Bible, The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. It documents the rise and fall of several civilizations that lived in Ancient America, Jesus Christ’s appearance to the people after his resurrection in Jerusalem, and is full of some of the most beautiful stories about family, faith, and miracles I have ever read.
When I was in the fourth grade, I remember my Dad would get up at 6:00 AM for work. Before he did anything else, he would first sit in the same chair in our living room every day and read his scriptures. I wanted to be just like my Dad (and still do!) and so I followed his example by waking up early and joining him for scripture study. That was the first time I tried to read the Bible all the way through. I remember struggling through the Old Testament (Leviticus as a 10 year old was ROUGH), barely understanding the words printed on the page, but getting excited when I’d come across a familiar story I’d learned about in church. I gradually worked my way through the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I’m so grateful for my Dad’s example that inspired me to gain a testimony of the scriptures for myself. Though I didn’t understand everything I read (and still don’t), I loved the peaceful feeling I gained when I read. Both books talked about Jesus Christ. Both books inspired me with stories of people who loved Him and made great sacrifices to obey His commandments.
Since that time, I have rotated through books of scripture and spend time each morning studying God’s word. That’s not to say that I have a perfect record, I definitely miss days here and there, but spending even just a few minutes reading and pondering about the truths of the gospel always fills my heart with peace. Ideas come to me about things that I’m struggling with, or I find answers to questions that have been on my mind. Most often, the challenges in my life are somehow relatable to those experienced by the ancient prophets and followers of Christ, and I feel comforted knowing I’m not alone on my path of discipleship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened my scriptures to find a verse that speaks directly about what I need to hear, or something I’ve been yearning to know more about. The scriptures are how God most often speaks to me in my life.
We learn about Jesus Christ, His life, His ministry, His atoning sacrifice, death and resurrection through the Book of Mormon, just as we do in the Bible. The Book of Mormon has planted the knowledge in my heart that my Heavenly Father loves me, knows me by name, and is watching over me. That testimony has solidified into a conviction that He truly is our Father, our creator, and He is in the details of our lives. I can more easily see the tender mercies that He blesses me with in my daily life when I’m consistently reading the scriptures. My love for our Savior has also deepened and grown, and I feel that love most when I read His word and pray to my Father in Heaven for help to understand and put His word into action in my life.
One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:4, which gives me hope and a renewed desire to anchor my soul to God:
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”
I love the words of Ammon, a great missionary who found success when working alongside his brethren to bring people to Christ. There have been times when his words felt like my own, and his praise my praise:
“My joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (Alma 26:11-12).
One of my favorite accounts of Jesus Christ was recorded during his short time on the American continent when He ministered to a crowd of thousands, taking time to heal and bless them one by one. Every time I read this story about His compassion, as well as all of the miracles He performed for so many, my heart is full and I’m brought to tears.
“And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
“And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
“And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought. So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.
“And he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again;
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones” (3 Nephi 17:9-12, 21-23).
Because of this account in the Book of Mormon, I know that Jesus Christ knows us individually, and can minister to our specific needs. Through His atonement, He offers us the emotional, physical, and spiritual healing that only He can provide.
Through my study of holy scripture, I have learned more about who I truly am and have felt empowered to be who God wants me to be. I know that the Book of Mormon is evidence that God loves His children, and that He is continually speaking to us and revealing additional truths that are meant to bring us joy and help us return to His presence. The Book of Mormon makes every day of my life better. No other book has made me more feel protected, powerful, confident, loved, and closer to the people that I love. Though I love to read all kinds of inspirational books and can’t resist a good love story, nothing can compare to the The Bible and The Book of Mormon. If you would like to read this amazing book that has added great meaning to my life and the lives of everyone in our family, you can learn more by visiting https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon.
I wish those of you that are headed back to school the best this year! I encourage you to dedicate time every single day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to draw closer to the Lord by studying His scriptures. I promise you that your daily study will help you with your school work and your relationships, and it will equip you with the wisdom and knowledge you need to make good decisions and to improve your character, little by little! I would love to hear from you about how the word of God has helped you in your life, too.