What Does it Mean to Me?
In my walking on the treadmill every morning, I read from the Ensign. This week I've been reading from the May 2006 issue, as I've already gone through the ones for this year and am eagerly awaiting May's. This morning I read a talk by President Hinkley's son, on what his membership in the church means to him. I thought that was interesting, and that I would like to address that.
When I was growing up, I loved going to church. I don't have lots of memories, but I do have one of going to primary in an old brick building in Hayward, California. I can still remember a song I learned there: Give Said the Little Stream. I was baptized by my brother since my father died in the spring of my 8th year, and confirmed by my new foster father. I have vague memories of my baptism -- I remember someone gave me a coloring book about it and sitting in a chapel.
As I grew older, I remember giving my first talk in sacrament meeting. It was on the Book of Mormon, and I remember relating the story of Nephi cutting of the head of Laban with a sword. I can still remember the laughter as I pronounced it sw in stead of so. I had no fears in that talk...only excitement.
As I went through puberty, and the struggle of my early teenage years...church became habit. Eventually, I was the only one who attended from my family because my foster father died and my foster mother was too ill to go, or had stopped going. I still don't know -- we never talked about things. My foster brother had gone the other way, drugs, alcohol and partying. Most of the kids on my street were LDS, so it wasn't as if I did anything unusual by attending meetings, but for some reason I kept going.
Eventually I made poor choices, and good ones and ended up going to a different home. That decision saved my life, I think. The new family were active in the church, and it strengthen my testimony. I spoke to the bishop there and straightened my life out and discovered seminary. I loved seminary! I also met kids from other faiths and actually talked to them for the first time about religion. It was interesting to hear how other people did things, what they believed in. It was a good education for me, to see how strong my own beliefs were. I remember listening to conference over the radio, and they only did one session. I wanted so bad to hear all of them...
When I moved to Utah, I was active, but I'd become a little bitter about life in general. I still believed in the gospel, but my heart was sore and it took a while for my new home to ease the pain -- which they eventually did. After going to college, and being on my own for a while, I realized that my greatest joy would be to serve a mission.
While they were some of the best and worst days of my life, it was the best thing I ever did. I still have some regrets -- I don't think I served with my best every day. I could have done better. I look forward to serving with my hubby so that I can make up for some of those times -- but repentance is best.
I have known from the time I was able to understand my situation in life, that without my membership in this church, things would have been totally different. I shudder to think of where I would be right now. I like to think that my soul would have sought for and found the gospel, but fortunately, that is not required to worry about. My parents found it, and it saved me.
There have been so many times when it was a comfort to me, a strength when all else has failed. I know my Father in Heaven loves me. He has watched over me so many times in my life and protected me and forgiven me. I know the Savior loves me, and is always there. I have been so blessed. I am so very thankful.