I was baptized when I was eight. I remember a few details about the day. I had a new white dress. My primary teacher was there. I was baptized and confirmed by two friends of the family (My father is not LDS, but he was present at the baptism and supportive of my decision to be baptized.) I remember feeling happy and clean. It was special.
Of course, since then, I’ve sinned. And I’ve repented. Many, many times.
As the years go on, and I begin to have a better understanding of the atonement, I better appreciate the covenants I’ve made with Heavenly Father.
Today, a young man (probably around 18 years old or so) spoke in sacrament meeting. He was neither eloquent nor bumbling, but he was admittedly nervous. He spoke about his conversion. About a year ago, his family heard and accepted the message of the gospel. As I’m new to the area, I don’t know about their conversion. However, I admit, I’d never guess they were such “new” members. They are active and involved in the ward. They seem to have strong testimonies. And this young man’s testimony and spirit was so strong and impressive. His testimony was simple and genuine. He expressed that his life has completely changed thanks to the gospel. He has an obvious love for it.
The talk and testimony he gave reminded me of an experience from a few years ago. I was able to attend the baptism of a man and his wife. – Brother and Sister Smith* (Sometimes it is a blessing to be able to play the piano – you get to go to a lot of baptisms!)… His family had joined the church when he was younger, but he never joined. Because of this decision, his life had turned out much different than any of his siblings. It was obvious that his life had been rough and course. He had the tan and musculature of a construction-type worker. He had a few tattoos. His teeth were stained from years of coffee and cigarette smoke. Although young, his years seemed to be heavy on him – as they were probably more eventful than they needed to be.
That afternoon, he was baptized by his brother.
As soon as he came up from the water, the brothers held each other in loving embrace. They were crying. I realized that this was the result of years and years of prayers of his family. I could also see how grateful Brother Smith was to his own brother – for baptizing him. It made me recognize the love and gratitude I needed to have to my Brother – Jesus Christ – as He is the one who has made salvation possible. In Brother Smith, I could visibly see how much we all need the atonement.
I’m so grateful for the gospel. In some ways, I guess it has changed my life. Well, maybe changed is the wrong way to say it. The gospel has been a great preventative measure for me. Because I’ve been blessed to know the Lord, he has been my refuge. He has been my guiding life. I have been saved from so much sadness. Even though I haven’t always chosen correctly, I’m grateful for the guidance and love I’ve always received.
And I’m thankful for sacrament meetings, and the tender testimonies shared by new members. The light is so brilliant when they speak. It is invigorating to hear their excitement for this simple yet magnificent gospel. It is a great reminder to be actively thankful for the blessings and covenants I’ve always had. And it is a great motivator to let my light shine so others can participate in the blessings that I’ve enjoyed.
*Name has been changed.