So about once a year every member of our church gets asked to talk at sacrament meeting. This Last Sunday it was Michael and I. Can't say I love talking in front of people. But I survived :) Several people told me I should post my talk somewhere and that other people needed to hear it. So here is my attempt to share it with others, enjoy!
Hello for those of you that don’t know me, which is probably a majority of you… I’m Brooke McBride. I have to tell you that every time we have received a calling and met with Brother Smith I have looked at him in relief and said oh good I thought you were going to ask us to talk! Apparently I should have just kept my mouth closed cause well here we are… No hard feelings Brother Smith.
We are somewhat new to the ward so I will introduce our family, this is my husband Michael whom you will hear from shortly and our fury child a miniature dachshund is anxiously awaiting our arrival back home. Michael and I are still considered newlyweds I think, we were married in the Boise temple in March of 2013. Michael grew up in Meridian, Idaho where he attended Meridian High School. He was raised a member of the church by his amazing parents Brent & Jackie McBride.
As for me, I actually grew up in Hidden Springs, my parents’ house was the first home to be built and it has been so awesome to be back here and see how many new homes and beautiful families have joined the community. I attended Bishop Kelly High School and then transferred to and graduated from Boise High School. Unlike Michael, I was raised Catholic by my wonderful parents Greg and Danielle Eisenbeiss. This last May marked three years for me as a member of this church. I love this church and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else today. Except maybe sitting down there instead of standing up here, that’d be nice. This is only my third time being up here so bare with me!
Today Michael and I were asked to talk about our own conversion stories along with a gospel principle of our choosing. First I would like to share with you my path in life that has led to my conversion.
After being raised Catholic and growing up in catholic schools surrounded by Catholics... I’m sure many people would wonder how I would ever wind up here in this chapel talking to you guys about being an LDS convert. And for a while I’m not sure I would have known what to tell them other than "it felt like it was what I was supposed to do and what felt right". But now that life has taken me forward a few years everything is a lot clearer to me now. For me it all started when I began to realize that I was just going through the motions as a Catholic and the only reason I went to a catholic church at that point was because I had been raised in the church. I knew very little about it's history, teachings & most importantly I didn't know that any of it I actually believed and had faith in for myself. I was relying on the faith of those around me. I was like many lost kids that just went through the motions and did what I was told and raised to believe because that’s all I had ever known. Don’t get me wrong, I never felt like it was a bad place to be. In fact, whenever I had a hard time with something my first thought was maybe I should go to church, cause that’s a good place to be right? I watched my parents get through trials in their own life with the support of God. So I always knew it was important to have faith and to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, because of their example I occasionally prayed when I really needed something or was going through a rough time. I went to church when my parents did and never complained, okay I see my mom disagreeing with that statement… maybe sometimes I complained. But in all seriousness I really wasn’t opposed to going to church and to trying to build a relationship with God. But as I started going through the process to be confirmed in the Catholic Church, which doesn’t happen until high school, I realized something was missing for me. My faith wasn't apart of my daily life, it was just something I was raised in and something I knew I could turn to when life got hard. My parents always raised me to believe in God and to live a virtuous life. But when I went to high school and saw so many kids that were raised this same way but then did things that didn't stay true to what we believed, I was confused and discouraged. It frustrated me that so many of us treated faith and a relationship with God as just putting in an hour on Sunday, rather than a lifestyle and something that weighed into every decision we made. I decided I wanted to live my life a little differently. I wanted to live a more virtuous life. I wanted to be abstinent till I was married, I wanted to avoid harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs and I wanted to do more with my life than going to parties every weekend. Yes I’m sure a big part of this was due to my dad being a cop and I knew I would have never gotten away with it, but at the same time I truly never really desired those things. Even before I was a member of this church I just never wanted those things and I really do attribute that to having good parents who were really good example and that made pretty great decisions themselves. Growing up this way and choosing to make these choices led me to seem to really click with kids in the LDS church because they were some of the only people I could find that chose to make similar choices to my own. I found a lot of good friends that wanted these same things and I was blessed to date guys who respected my decisions through out high school. And the more I hung around them the more I realized, that there was something that I was still missing. As I dated a boy who was preparing for his lds mission I learned a lot about the LDS church. Not by him teaching and preaching at me but by his families example and his devotion to his church that led him to want (key word there) to serve a two-year mission. I was amazed that a boy at the age of eighteen wanted to devote his life to serving the Lord and bring others to Christ. The 18 year olds I knew from school were no where close to that. I wanted to understand how someone my age could have faith so deep and so strong that they would want to do something like this. I became more and more interested in the LDS church. As this desire to learn more about the church was growing inside of me, I made a decision to give my catholic faith one last shot as I took off for Florida to go play soccer for a private catholic university. My time in Florida was amazing and I do not regret ever making the decision to go there. In Florida I met some of the most amazing people and got to be apart of a team I will never forget. However, it was in Florida that I realized all I wanted to do was go home and learn and explore more about other religions. When I returned home that is exactly what I did. But the LDS church kept sticking out to me and I kept meeting people who were members of it. At the time I thought it was just a coincidence but now I know it was far from that. It was apart of Gods plan for me. Soon, I began going to the LDS church to see what it was all about. I attended sacrament with a family I was really close to and started reading the book of mormon. I started to apply the principles that the church taught and I loved the way it made me feel. I can't say I had any big aww-haw moment, I just liked how I felt when I went to church there and I liked the person it was encouraging me to be. Although I had this great feeling every time I went to church I really still didn't know much about the LDS church. So I spoke with members and people I knew to learn more about the church. I even had deep conversations with one of my mom’s coworkers who had left the church. I wanted to hear different views because I knew it was a big decision for me. As I searched and prayed for guidance I eventually decided to meet with some of the lds missionaries to learn more. As I met with them several times a week I kept desiring to learn more and I was on what I like to call "a spiritual high". Every time I left our discussions I always left feeling so happy and good. I knew that there was no way that if this was wrong and wasn’t a decision I should be making Heavenly Father would not let me feel this way and that he would give me some sort of feeling of uncertainty. It would have been very easy to feel uncertain it was the first time I was ever going to make a decision that I knew my parents would be unhappy about and I knew it would be a lifestyle change. But Heavenly Father never game me a bad feeling about the choice I was about to make. I found the concepts of the church made so much sense and I really believed everything my missionaries taught me. I didn’t know the things they taught me to be true. But I believed it, I had faith in it all. I didn't really have to think about it much I just had a really good feeling inside that it was good and that the decision I was about to make was approved by God. When I chose to be baptized I still really had a long ways to go. But I knew it was where I wanted to be every sunday and I knew I felt good when I went to church there and I liked the person I was becoming when applying the principles they taught me to my life. So with that being said, I was baptized. Since that day I was baptized did I question my conversion? absolutely. Converting to another religion despite what your family feels is right or wants for you is really hard. Especially when you are as close to your family as I was and still am to mine. But it wasn't about what my family wanted for me or what my catholic friends thought, it was about what made me happy and what made me a better version of myself. And everything about me wanted to be a Mormon. Although a lot of times I didn't really know exactly why besides the fact that it felt like it was the right place for me to be and the right thing for me to do. What I can tell you three years later, is that over and over again I have had experiences in my life that have confirmed to me why I was baptized into this church. Every time I go to the temple I learn more about the church and receive personal revelation that confirms to me I made the right choice. The Lds church has taught me gratitude like I've never felt before, it has shown me guidance in my life and in my daily decisions that I never knew I could have from my heavenly father & most of all it has shown me how to love others and how to serve others like I never have before. I've never felt the spirit so much in my life and have never had so many prayers answered. The organization of this church is perfect in every way. I respect and appreciate all religions. But the LDS religion has changed my life and I'm so glad my life is based on the principles it teaches me because I become a better version of myself every time I work on applying them to my life. I'm so glad I made the decision I did three years ago.
So now my question for you is where are you at with your testimony? Have you become converted to the gospel or are you still building your conversion story?
The principle I want to focus on today is pretty simple but at the same time pretty complicated. The principle I want to talk about is Faith. Which I believe really goes hand in hand with our testimonies and what we believe.
What sorts of things do we as members of this church have faith in?
Well lets look at all the attributes that we consider to be apart of a testimony of our church.
#1. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.
How can we come to know this? What things can we do to really learn and know for ourselves that this is true? For me it was a matter of establishing a relationship with God. Growing up I never really thought of him as a father. I remember one time lying in bed thinking about what the missionaries had talked to me about that day and I remember being very conflicted about the fact that I should talk to and love Heavenly Father like he was my own dad. It blew my mind that these people were able to love someone they couldn’t see or touch at the same level that they loved their own earthly fathers. But over the years the more I have prayed and seen heavenly fathers hand in my life I have come to understand this more. So I believe one of the best ways we can come to know that God is our heavenly father and that he loves us is simply by praying and recognizing his hand in our lives. The more we talk to God and recognize all the things he has a hand in everyday the more we will come to love him and develop a relationship with him and truly understand that he is our Heavenly Father and he loves us and knows us individually.
#2. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.
Now this part of a testimony was new to me. As a previous catholic I had always been taught to view them as one being and not to think of them as separate beings. So because of this you think I would have had a really hard time with this. But surprisingly this has just always made sense to me. I think even as a catholic visually in my mind I always still saw them as separate we just never talked about them as being separate beings. So how do we come to know this is true? And how do we come to know that Jesus was God’s son and that he is our savior and redeemer? For me it is in the scriptures that we can come to know this. When we read the stories and the miracles that Jesus performed we can better understand what he really did for us. Lately I have been following a story of a local woman who years back went through something that no one should ever have to go through. Long Story made short, Her husband had been having an affair and ended up being killed for it. So one night not only did she learn of the death of her husband and the father to her five kids, she also learned that he had been unfaithful to her. She has recently started a blog recounting the feelings she felt and how she continued to raise her five children and rely on her faith to get through this experience. While Reading her blog I really felt for her. I felt just a glimpse of her pain and I really hurt for her as if her pain was my own. And as horrible of an example as this might be it made me think of what Jesus went through in the garden of Gethsemane when he experienced every pain and sorrow we would go through and bled through every pore. And just getting such a little taste of what that was actually like made me realize the sacrifice he made for us and how amazing he truly was. He is our savior and our redeemer.
#3. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.
I will be honest this is part of my testimony that I really struggled with for a long time because for me our whole church relies on this being true so I wasn’t going to accept it half heartedly. But I want to share with you something that was explained to me in a talk given by a previous ward member. He posed a question to the congregation, he said the following, “The restoration of our church is based off one boy’s revelation being true. What would you as members think if you got to Heaven and found out otherwise? Would you still be happy with the way you lived your life? Or Would you have wished you had lived your life differently? The only response this church member joked was sometimes I wish I had an extra day like sunday to mow my lawn and do laundry… but besides that nope, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!” And that brothers and sisters is so true I know that this church would not be as perfectly organized as it is and would not teach us to do such good things if it was founded on false doctrine and restored by a false prophet. There is nothing our church teaches us that makes us a bad person. Everything we “give up” persay is good for us. Not Drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco or becoming addicted to coffee is something our bodies thank us for because they aren’t good for us, everyone knows that, even members not of our faith. Not being in control of your body whether it’s a caffeine addiction or an addiction to a harmful drug is a scary thing. Waiting until marriage to be sexually active and not partaking in pornography is good for our marriages. These are principles that are true and right. Every one knows that, but a lot of people still do it regardless. Focusing on being clean from these things is righteous and it is true. This church is based off good principles and is organized for the success of its people and such a perfect church could not have been restored by a false prophet and once we come to realize these things there is no way we can deny the truth of this church and the prophet who restored it. I believe that Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon by the power of God. When reading the book of Mormon on a daily basis it is so evident to me the power of the book. My days are so much better and my choices so much easier when I am actively reading the Book of Mormon. I know that it was written through the power of God and that it can provide us more guidance in our daily lives and I know if you haven’t already you can strengthen your faith by reading it daily and praying to know the truth of it.
#4. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today.
Like I just mentioned this church is too perfect to be anything other than the Lord’s church. Yes the people of the church will never be perfect but the church itself is perfect. It has organizations for young women to learn and prepare to be good wives and mothers. It has organizations for young men to be taught to be good worthy men who know how to work hard for their family and to avoid the temptations of the world. It has relief society for the woman of the ward to learn to serve each other and raise righteous children. It has priesthood that’s authority is traced all the way back to Jesus Christ. We have a numbers of programs the church provides us such as taking care of the poor and helping those struggling with addictions, the resources the church has for us are endless. We are so lucky to be apart of this church. I know that this is the Lord’s Church.
#5. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.
This has always been one of the things I have loved most about this church. I know that Heavenly Father would never leave us without guidance to an ever-changing world with constant new temptations. We are so blessed to have a living prophet that can receive direct revelation from God to help us understand how to stay righteous and how to get through certain trials that this day and age brings us. We can come to know the living prophet is true by seeing him guide us to avoid temptations that haven’t even happened yet. The prophets led us to avoid tobacco before the rest of the world even knew it was harmful. They instructed us to have food storage to prepare us for the natural disasters we didn’t even know were coming. They encouraged us to prepare for a bad economy when everyone else thought we still had many years before a downfall. The constant guidance given to us from our prophets is something we should always count twice in our blessings. Thomas S. Monson has been called by God to instruct us at this time and every time he addresses us our testimonies grow of this truth.
Having a testimony is what faith is all about. It is believing in things and knowing they are true even when they can’t be seen. I hope if anything my talk today at least testifies that I do have faith and I have a testimony of this church. I encourage all of you to not be complacent and to not sit here and just go through the motions. I encourage you to go home tonight and right your own conversion story and reevaluate your own testimonies so you can see where you are strong and where you are lacking and start strengthening the areas you feel weak in because it is with a strong foundation of faith that we can get through the hard times that may come. I will leave you with my favorite scripture, Helaman Chapter 5 Verse 12, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Brothers and Sisters I leave with you my testimony that as we build our own testimonies and strengthen our faith in the foundation set by the Lord that we will be able to withstand any whirlwinds the devil may set forth and that this church gives us the principles and foundation that we need to be better people and more like Christ and to have faith that can get us through life’s toughest obstacles. Whether you have been building your faith and your testimony since birth or are just starting now, I encourage you to always strive to strengthen it, and to never stop progressing and I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.