Remember forever ago when I said I wanted to do a post about President Nelson’s challenge and reading The Book of Mormon in less than three months? And remember how I never actually wrote that post?
The thing is that I’ve thought several times that I should still do that post and every time I sit down to write it I just think, “Everyone is so over that challenge. It ended forever ago.” But I keep feeling the need to write about it, so I guess I will. And I’ll feel better having done it even if no one reads it 🙂
So. Guys. That challenge meant so much to me. I feel like it gave me actual power and peace in my life when I most needed it.
This past year has been so hard. It’s still hard (here’s to hoping things will ease up a bit…). Our cross country move felt inspired but settling into life here has been filled with struggles. I consider myself to be a pretty positive person and especially when writing my blog I try to be positive because there is just so much negative out there. So I haven’t written about all the stuff we’ve struggled with over the last several months, but there have been so many doubts and fears and so much confusion. As President Nelson gave this challenge I was quick to think about how hard it would be. But I feel like President Nelson gave the challenge with so much confidence and so much love that, for me, the underlying message was: You can do it. You can do hard things. Even just the receiving of the challenge gave me strength and empowered me.
Sometimes things work together in such a way that I feel like Heavenly Father orchestrated it just for me. While I’ve heard too many other women talk about their spiritual growth because of this challenge to actually believe that’s the truth, I can say that the timing was absolutely perfect for me and was further testament that God had me in mind when he impressed upon our dear prophet to give this challenge. About a week or two before conference I finished reading The Book of Mormon and instead of starting it again right away, I decided to read vol. 1 of Saints. That book was so interesting to me and I found myself reading so often that I challenged myself to finish it before conference. I finished it the day before women’s conference and so I was able to start The Book of Mormon challenge immediately as well as right at the beginning (it seems like in past challenges, I’ve just decided it was okay to start where I was currently reading).
I feel like it’s difficult to identify what exactly changed in my life because I committed to completing this challenge. In a way, nothing changed: there was still confusion, fear of the unknown, unrest at not having a unified goal in mind. But on the other hand, everything changed: I had more faith that everything would work out. I felt more strength and patience in my day to day. I felt more direction in my role as a mother and wife. I felt peace.
I also think one of my biggest gains from this challenge was my increased knowledge of Christ, both of who He is and of His role as my Savior. The Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ. His grace and power and love is there on every page.
It was about two months in to this challenge that our area experienced a large earthquake. The earthquake itself was scary but the aftershocks have been terrifying, producing their own brand of fear and anxiety. I’ve always been a bit of a worrier and normally I can turn to Ben and he is able to rationalize and help me work (most of) my fears away. But he lived through that earthquake too and knew as well as I did that another could come at any time. Anxiety was constant and unrelenting and finally I took my fears to Heavenly Father. I remember telling Him that normally Ben was able to help me through my worries but that lately it hadn’t been enough. A distinct thought came into my head that promised that there was a source to which I could turn that could always offer peace. As I thought of Christ I felt a tangible weight lift from my body as peace flooded my heart and mind and every piece of my being. It was such a powerful feeling that it stayed with me for weeks, even though we had several more aftershocks during that time. I know that this experience would not have happened, I would not have found that peace, if I hadn’t been reading The Book of Mormon daily and with such fervor.
This woman in my ward bore her testimony and said that when she heard President Nelson’s challenge she decided not only to do the 10 day social media fast but also to complete The Book of Mormon in 10 days (she had to read during her baby’s nap time to finish!-that’s a true sacrifice!). She said that the scriptures came alive to her like they never had before. Those words really resonated with me. Not only did I learn more about Christ, I felt like I was able to understand more about the people mentioned as well as the authors of the various books. Each person seemed more real to me, with their own fears and their own strengths. It seemed that every few chapters I’d think, “This has got to be my favorite scripture story.” But only a few chapters later I’d think, “No, this is my favorite scripture story.” I really felt immersed in the stories and felt like I was able to draw more applications to my own life than ever before.
I am so grateful for The Book of Mormon and I know that it is a true account. It testifies of Christ. I know that we are given literal power when we listen to the words of our prophet. He gave several other challenges during that talk and I’m working on each of them (not perfectly, but I am mindful). I feel a difference in my life when I read The Book of Mormon every day…so I’m just going to keep on reading it.