Thing I Believe Number 1: There is a God. He is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us.
I was blessed to have a father (of the mortal variety) who, from the way he lives, taught me what God is like. God loves us not because we are smart or funny or charming, but simply because we are His. At times in my life when I’ve felt so very distant or disconnected spiritually, it has been the greatest blessing to me that I can think about myself the way my dad does, and know that if he loves me that much- unconditionally- despite all my flaws and weaknesses, then my Heavenly Father does, too- and then some.
An illustrative analogy:
Now that I’m in my twenties, I realize I’ve never been much of a swimmer. (At this point, I’ve abandoned it completely because my real gift is napping in the sunshine beside the pool.) But like most kids, I still went through years of swimming lessons and lots of summers playing in the water.
I liked it a lot better when my mom would teach me to swim. She would stay fixed in one place and I would fling my body out to reach her as fast as possible.
My dad was different. He would stay in one place with arms outstretched, but as I approached, he would slowly move back a little bit at a time. The closer I came, the more he would walk back, forcing me to go farther than I wanted to. Finally, just when I would think I was about to drown, he’d scoop me up, turn me around and say “Look! You just swam the whole pool!”At this point, I’d be very upset because I had not even wanted to swim the whole pool. My expectations were much lower- and I had narrowly escaped with my life.
Yet how similar is this to the way that Heavenly Father directs our lives. It’s not a hard sprint to the finish- “Come back to me as soon as possible!” Instead, (cliche alert!) most of our lives span like long journeys. Along the way we have to learn to trust Him- because He is going to take us a lot farther than we ever thought possible. At times, we may feel alone- simply because we cannot see His guiding hand, arms outstretched and ready to catch us should we fall.
And inevitably, fall we will- which leads us to:
Thing I Believe Number 2: Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
I believe that Jesus Christ is real, and that He knows. He knows what it feels like when your heart is broken or when you think you have gone too far and are out of second chances. He doesn’t leave. He isn’t concerned with how long it takes, but He has literally been there and He knows. He knows, with a love and a power and an empathy like no one else can.
Perhaps most importantly, I believe that Jesus Christ lives (present tense.) I believe that he came into this world- was born in a barn, walked the roads of Palestine, performed miracles and ministered until His crucifixion, all of it. I believe He was and is the literal Son of God. I believe He came to Earth to save us, because He loves us and He wants us to be happy.
That’s it, really. The heart of the heart of it is that He lives; He loves us; He saves us. He has saved me in ways I never anticipated I would need to be saved. I believe in the power of an infinite atonement.
I believe in grace. I believe that just as much as there working against us, (ie. I am among the spiritually paranoid who believe that Satan IS real AND is out to get us!) there’s a lot of power from the across the veil- on the good side- helping us out with favors and blessings we don’t deserve. I believe in angels and tender mercies and I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’m done believing that anybody doesn't have huge problems I just don't know about.
I believe in the scriptures. I love reading the Bible and I love the Book of Mormon. I know they are true not just because a) that is what my church doctrine states, but b) because I feel them bring peace to my mind and love to my heart. Actually, I think anything and everything uplifting comes from God. But I believe in prophets- ancient and current- who testify of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit touches us in different ways at different times, but I know that by reading the scriptures I draw nearer to God. I do not read them because in my religion I “have to”- but because I genuinely want to. Honestly, in order to feel the way I like to feel, I can’t afford not to.
I believe in a future of light- that things are all going to work out. That they will be SO good, if someone laid it out for us now, we wouldn’t believe them. I believe in hope and I believe in miracles. I believe that people can change COMPLETELY from what they were before- if we will open our hearts and let them. I believe in trusting God and trusting His timing. I believe that He doesn’t forget about us or put the course of our lives on autopilot. I believe that if we put the Lord first, He will provide.
I believe that after we die, we will live again- forever. (Oooh! How cool and also kind of scary!) What this means is that right now, our souls still have a lot of growing up to do. In the eyes of God, we are still His precious little baby children trying to figure things out- what we’re supposed to do and where to go and who to be. But that is what He wants for us. And I believe He will help us get there-
wherever “there” is.