Returning to Faith: Sacrament Talk
Introduction: Speak on Sister Wixom’s talk “Returning to Faith”
I like the title. I have the special privilege of being with the Primary children and they are great examples of humble and true faith. They know who they are and they believe with all their hearts. We were all like that once. As we grow we experience life and some hard things and we get questions and concerns. Everyone does at times in their lives. We all have our trials of Faith that is part of the plan.
Sister Wixom shares the story of a sister in the gospel who had a trial of faith. This sister was a young mother and had been raised in the church. She had always been an inquiring person, wondering the “Whys” behind everything. As a adult she had some questions that she didn’t feel she got answers to. She became inactive. She came back too! She talked about her journey and others’ responses to her journey.
Individual returning to Faith:
Trials of faith are part of the plan.
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Elder Ballard at Women’s Conference. As members of the Church, we should not be critical of those who have sincere, heartfelt questions or concerns about their faith. Remember, the Restoration in all of its glory and wonder was launched in response to a spiritual question of a 14-year-old young man. Such questions can be a catalyst to real conversion if they prompt us to seek truth in the light of faith.
In our time the whole world wants to answer those questions. You can google anything. But how much truth do we get?
Elder BallardToday we live in a world in which people don’t ask of God—they seem to want to ask of Google. Even when it comes to questions of faith, there are many who trust the Internet to provide accurate, fair, and balanced answers to their questions more than they trust the ultimate source of truth, our Heavenly Father. It’s as if they believe that the scripture in James actually says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of the Internet.”
Please don’t misunderstand, sisters. I am not saying that we should never search the Internet for information about the Church’s history, its teachings and doctrine. What I am saying is that we need to be prudent and careful about seeking answers to spiritually important questions online. We’ve all heard people make jokes and sarcastic comments about how you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet. There’s a good reason for that. It’s no wonder that many people emerge from their online search for religious truth feeling surrounded by the same kind of “darkness and confusion” that Joseph Smith felt after talking to the various religious teachers of his time.
So what can we do if our own faith is being tried?
In Alma 32, Alma teaches about our Faith being like a seed that we have to plant.
Seed is the positive desire: I believe that God hears and answers prayers.” Or “I believe the Book of Mormon is true.”
Heart is the ground and needs to be fertile=teachable
Elder Russell M. Nelson has said, “The Lord can only teach an inquiring mind.”
Plant it with some plant food=desire
Nourish it=daily practices
Allow the roots to go down way deep, scorching, freezing, wind=trials, tribulations, questions, pondering. Prepare for them, but allow them, those things deepen roots.
103:12 For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing.
Building Faith contains the same principals as building muscles, the repetition of simple steps to get the muscle to the point of shaking and trembling. All trainers and body builders will tell you, that the true muscle growth comes during that time of trial. When you want to give up, it hurts and you think you can’t keep going. You have doubts! Doubts that you can really do this, doubts of can this really be the answer. This trainer doesn’t know what he is doing, this just doesn’t work for me, I am different. In the pain is the growth.
President Ucthdorf: Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.8 We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just keep going! Finish that rep and give it one more. That is the only way that muscle will grow and develop.
We are all infants and toddlers in the gospel. Our faith being built is like learning to walk. It starts with desire. It is a slow process, lots of wobbling and falls. More we try and practice the faster and stronger we get.
President Ucthdorf: We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.
Sister Wixom’s friend:
She learned that when she came up against a statement that caused her to doubt, she “could stop, look at the whole picture, and make the gospel personal. She said, “I would ask, ‘is this the right path for me and my family?”
Sometimes I would ask myself, ‘What do I want for my children? I realized I want them to have temple marriages. That’s when belief came back to my heart.”
Family members returning to Faith:
During this confusing time, some of those around her said, “Just lean on my faith.” But she thought, “I can’t. You don’t understand; you’re not grappling with these issues.” She explained, “I was willing to extend courtesy to those without doubts if they would extend courtesy to me.” And many did.
Many of us have family members who have struggled with their faith and have left the church. What is the Lord asking us to do for them?
“What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost , until he find it?” (Luke 15:4)
On our mission to find them what should we do to get them back?
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Elder Nielson quote: “Waiting for the Prodigal”
Elder Nielson’s sister had doubts that overcame her faith; this is how they evolved into helping her. They made sure that her place in their family was sure. That they loved her unconditionally and that she was still an important member of their family.
“Although we could not embrace all of her choices, we could certainly embrace her. We loved, we watched, and we waited.”
She said, “My parents knew my heart and allowed me space. They chose to love me while I was trying to figure it out for myself.”
I was in the temple with my 5 sisters for the first time ever in the Fall. After 15 years of inactivity and bad choices, they came back. I asked Heavenly Father, “What was it? What finally made them come back? Many fasts, many counseling sessions, many prayers, many things we did to try and bring them back, Did any of that help?
I felt like the Lord answered me. I felt the answer was-that All of it helped. Their spiritual journey was like a huge 10,000 piece puzzle, that each effort to love and help them was one of those pieces.
Helping Ward members return to Faith:
While our immediate and extended family is who will have the most influence on us or us on them. Our ward family is often who we interact with on a daily basis.
Our role as a ward family is to nurture and love. Only the bishop has the keys to stand in judgement.
The Lord has referred to the members of the ward as the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
We need the strong and the feeble! We are all necessary. Even the strongest parts of the body can be wounded. If you are wounded, how do we care for that member of
the body? If our finger gets broken, what do we do? Do we cut it off? Ignore it? Be angry at the finger for getting wounded and talk to others about how weird it was that the finger did this?
No! We wrap it, nurture it, have it rest and heal in safety and security.
We need the strong and the feeble!
Sister Wixom’s friend:
Likewise, this young mother’s bishop often met with her and spoke of his confidence in her.
Ward members also did not hesitate to give love, and she felt included. Her ward was not a place to put on a perfect face; it was a place of nurture.
With permission, I want to share a story about my sister and her husband. If you were to just see my sister and her husband at a grocery store, you would feel to make an immediate judgment. You would see their bodies covered in tattoos, you would maybe smell some cigarette smoke coming from them. You might feel like you knew that they were not members or that they don’t care about God. What you would not see in the first impression is that they are would give their last $20 to a homeless person or a friend in need. You would not see that they have 3 children under 3 years old AND have taken in their 12 year old niece who has some trauma from her childhood, and they are great parents! You would not see the mental illness demons that they both battle everyday just to function, and they do function! Luckily their ward family chose to see past the first impression. They have embraced them and loved them and served them. My sister made it to the temple this fall, after 15 years of inactivity. My brother-in-law is more open to the gospel than he has ever been.
Every person is on his or her own journey. Our Father and Savior are the travel guides for each person. They are exactly aware of where they are and what they need. We are allowed and encouraged in our own journeys.
And, oh, how I want to be like those who surrounded this young mother, loving and supporting her. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “We are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.”10
Whether we are the individual struggling with our own questions or doubts or we are trying to help loved ones. We can attain peace and hope in the same way. We will rejoice as we stay close the things we know to be true, we remember what we really want, and we counsel with the Lord.
We too may wonder, “Is Heavenly Father really there?” only to rejoice—as my friend did—when the answers come in quiet, simple assurances. I testify that those simple assurances come as His will becomes ours. I testify that truth is on the earth today and His gospel is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.