Our First Article of Faith reads: We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
I don’t remember the first time I felt God’s reality. I remember coming home from Primary (the organization for children up to age 11), and telling my parents what I learned at church that day: “God loves me.”
My father asked me how I knew that. The answer to my five-year-old mind was clear, “Because my teacher told me so.” My dad, always pushing his children to develop their faith further, even when we were so young, said something to the effect of “That’s good that you listened to your teacher, but how do you know?” He then told me I should pray to feel it myself. This I did and learned for myself that God is there and loves me, personally.
Many years and experiences later, I had to learn that lesson again. I sat across from my mission president while he asked me the question: “Sister, do you know that God loves you? Really know it?” Even now, a lump comes to my throat thinking of that moment. At the time, I had forgotten the lesson my father had me learn when I was five. I no longer knew in my heart that God loved me, though I still knew He was there. I was fighting my way through my mission, thinking I had something to prove, that somehow I had to earn His love and approbation. It was several days before I could bring myself again to kneel and ask Him to show me how He felt about me. He did. I have never been the same since.
These experiences taught me that I had Father in Heaven, the Father of my spirit.
As I ponder what it means to come to know Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God, I think that can be both easier and more difficult. Christ follows our Heavenly Father in all things. He, Himself, has been delegated the role by God to be the Father of this earth, and the Father of salvation. He, in essence, is the Father of our third life, that life where spirit and body become inseparably connected. He has become so by obeying and following our Heavenly Father in all things.
After my experiences with God the Father, knowing I could ask Him all things, I could pray about them and ask for a confirmation of their veracity in my heart.
These facts about Christ, and even a conviction of them, have not been enough to fully come to Him. For that, I have had to pore over accounts of His dealings with past people in the Bible and other scripture. I have read accounts of His life and teachings. I have had to listen to others’ accounts of His dealings. In the end, I have had to live. It is only through life—through experiencing the pain and evil of this life that Eve and Adam’s choice set into motion — that I am coming to know and understand my Savior.
In raising a child, I have learned what it means to love someone enough to do anything for them, even give life. In learning compassion for others — even as they may inflict pain on me — I have learned what the Savior feels that has led Him to forgive all the pain I have inflicted on Him by my imperfection. And, in learning to forgive myself, I have learned to forgive others in humility, gratitude and deep caring for them, rather than just out of indifference.
The Holy Ghost is an even more intimate relationship for me in many ways. I feel He knows what’s in my heart, both the ugly and the beautiful. He is the one who ties me together with my spiritual siblings. All my convictions rest in his incorporeal hands. I been trained as a horse is trained, with love and firmness, to rely increasingly on His guidance. His presence is like a cozy down comforter on a cold winter day. I am deeply grateful for His guidance.
The Holy Ghost has also given me a witness of Joseph Smith, who saw God the Father and Jesus Christ standing side by side. I am convinced in heart and mind that his account is honest and true. I’m glad for the surety and solidity of our doctrine on this matter. One in purpose, though separate in being, my LDS view of the Godhead to me is a model for how I should strive to unite with my fellow man, my spiritual brothers and sisters. Like a family, we each fill a purpose to contribute to one great whole. May we, mortal children of God, and potential heirs to His glory, also achieve such unity. Together in God, our power is limitless.
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