Saturday, September 10, 2011

How I Know.

NOTE / WARNING: This is NOT a typical post for me. It isn't funny. It mostly rambles about how I came to know certain things that mean the most to me. I thought about not posting it once I got done writing it, but since only 4 people will ever read my blog I figured it was ok. Just skip it if you don't like churchy stuff.

So it's now after 5:00am and I'm still wide awake. I've pretty much thrown in the towel on getting any sleep tonight and thats fine. My brain won't be quiet and I'm pretty sure my heart and my stomach have combined into one 'super organ' that doesn't really do either job correctly. Like I can feel my heart beating in my stomach and I feel hungry in my chest. Maybe I'll get that checked sometime.

But instead of lying in bed and not sleeping some more, I thought I would do something productive. I got onto and combed through every talk that was given in General Conference during my mission (2004-2006) that had the word "testimony" in it. It was a lot to look through, but I've been meaning to do this for a couple years now to try and find something important to me. Every General Conference has several amazing talks that stand out and inspire me, but I can only think of 3 specific talks that have struck me to my absolute core. The first was on my mission while I was still in the Dominican MTC. It was given by Elder Holland and directed only to missionaries. I don't remember word for word what he said, but what hit me so hard was when he talked about testimonies. He said that we needed to know the church was true like a literal fire was burning in our soul. And if we didn't have that, we should get on our knees and pray until we did. That night I waited for my companions to doze off, kneeled down on my bed, and begged my Heavenly Father for that kind of testimony. Rarely in my life have my wants and needs become so uniquely focused as they were during that prayer. I've never doubted that God answers prayers, and I think I was expecting my answer to this one to be like a brilliant flash of light. What came was a simple comfort that I was doing just fine, and that my testimony was strong enough to do the work I had been called to do. No big flash of light and no angelic visitations. Feeling that calm was the answer I was meant to receive, but I don't think it made me stop expecting a dramatic ensign-worthy moment of enlightenment. I spent the next year of my mission half-waiting for that big moment, until I heard the next talk that changed my life.

This is the talk that I had been looking for on tonight. It was given in April of 2005 by Boyd K. Packer and can be found by clicking HERE. This talk helped me learn more about the strength of my own testimony than anything else I had ever read. Everyone talks about how certain Apostles seem like they are talking straight to them personally...well this one was mine. Here are the portions specifically that still stick with me, 6 years later, as I lay in bed unable to sleep:
When I first read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, I read the promise that if I “would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if [the things I had read were] true; and if [I would] ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he [would] manifest the truth of it unto [me], by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4). I tried to follow those instructions, as I understood them.

If I expected a glorious manifestation to come at once as an overpowering experience, it did not happen. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I began to believe.
If I had expected in my little-boy innocence some special spiritual experience, it had not happened. Over the years as I listened to sermons and lessons and read in the Book of Mormon, I began to understand.

My experience has been that a testimony does not burst upon us suddenly. Rather it grows, as Alma said, from a seed of faith. “It will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow” (Alma 32:30). If you nourish it, it will grow; and if you do not nourish it, it will wither (see Alma 32:37–41).
Do not be disappointed if you have read and reread and yet have not received a powerful witness. You may be somewhat like the disciples spoken of in the Book of Mormon who were filled with the power of God in great glory “and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

I knew that this talk was given for me. I had spent so much time waiting for a grand vision to prove to myself that I knew this church was true. The reality was that I knew all along. I've known since I was a child. I didn't need to see an angel to know, like a literal fire in my soul, that everything I had learned my whole life was real. Boyd K. Packer, an APOSTLE OF GOD, got his testimony the very same way I did. Nothing wrong with that. Since that day I have stopped waiting for an epic experience to "kick start" my testimony. I've tried instead to build it piece by piece, just doing a little bit every single day. I can say without hesitation now that I know that Jesus is my Savior. I know that Joseph Smith was his prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon is real. It doesn't matter how many internships I don't get, or how many social situations I mess up, or how many nights I lay awake just being mad at myself. God has a plan for me. He loves me despite the fact that I am flawed and He will never lose hope. These last few days have taught me that it doesn't matter what I don't know (which is a LOT). What matters is what I do. It's the things I know that I won't ever be able to ignore. It's the things I know that make me happy. And thanks to talks like these, I know those things like a fire in my soul. And not just a normal fire either. That special magical fire from Harry Potter that keeps growing forever and looks like a dragon. THAT kind of fire.


  1. i bet you were expecting me to comment. of COURSE i'm gonna comment! it's nice to see some robbie insight every so often. reading this makes me so excited for conference (i never knew i would become my parents in that way)! it's always such a comfort...and for you guys, a kick in the butt:) anyway, being one of the 4...thanks for writing this!
    ps. do you think your posts are usually funny? jk! jk!

  2. Hey, thanks for writing my talk for me. I'm speaking in church tomorrow -- ummmm, today -- on this very topic. I chose to go to the D-Backs game tonight to get a World Series 10 year anniversary replica ring instead of working on my talk. Then I logged on the computer to read my blogs instead of writing my talk and BOOM! Already done. THANKS FOR PICKING UP MY SLACK! I'll let you wear my ring next time I see you. And if anyone down here ever asks, I was the one who went to the DR on a mission, not you. Mkay? Thanks. This was truly an awesome post. I loved it.

  3. Make sure you include the part about the Harry Potter demon fire!

  4. Robbie, I often enjoy reading your blog...normally I skim it. But I read every word of this post. Thank you for sharing it. :) Sincerely, Thank you.