Each year I set goals for myself. They always seem so achievable in January. Goals such as exercise more regularly, or lose a certain amount of kg (I shall NOT mention the exact amount!!!), be more patient with my children,…
For the last 20 years I have challenged myself to read the Book of Mormon every year. It started out as a once off challenge, but soon became a yearly goal for me to see if I could make this a real part of my life.
Normally I reach THE END of the book in December, but this year was a special year for me. Being the 20th time around, I experienced it more intensely, and managed to finish about a week ago. As I was thinking about why I read this book each year, and all the comments I get on this challenge I set for myself each year, I decided to share with you the reasons for this goal and the importance it has had in my life.
Let’s start at the very beginning 🙂
I was born in 1981 in Deinze, Belgium. (I know I am getting on, if my children aren’t reminding me of it on a daily basis, the faint, and i do mean FAINT wrinkles appearing on my face remind me I’m not 18 anymore!) My father was Belgian (he past away when I was 16), My mother is Sri-Lankan (hence my dark complexion 🙂 ). I am the youngest of three, I have an older sister Saskia who lives in London, and an older brother who lives in Utah. My parents did not have the fairy-tale love story I so love to read about, and at the age of 13 my dad left my mum.
Let me tell you about my mum. She is a woman of faith. She was born a strong Catholic, and went to mass twice a day. Yet she had questions, real questions. She became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before I was born. She was strong in her conviction, and instilled in me a real desire to know the truth. As she taught us well, there was never a real reason for me to doubt what she taught. It all seemed to make complete sence.
Then when I was 13, and having a daughter who is getting close to that age now, I am once again reminded of how young you really are at that age, yet how grown-up you think you are. Now I thought I had all the answers. Going through my parents break-up, made me question many things in life.
I remember going to a youth camp that summer. I hated it. It was camping in tents, no indoor plumbing, need I say more?! I am not a huge fan of the outdoors. I can handle a night or two at the most, but I prefer the comfort of the indoors, warm showers every day, proper toilets, you get the picture. I was NOT a happy camper (pun totally intended!).
Anyways, there I was, sulking, as only a 13-year-old can, and my leader comes to talk to me in my tent. I can’t remember all she said to me, but I remember her telling me I could go home if I prayed about it, and felt that that was what I needed to do. She must have seen the sheer relief on my face, because she stressed it needed to be a heartfelt prayer, and she really challenged me to make it count. Now I try to never back down from a challenge, so I got on my knees, and I prayed. I thought to myself, I’ll pray, get this over with, and go home. I remember praying, and feeling this great sense of peace come over me. I distinctly felt I shouldn’t leave, but stay at camp. I was really perplexed. How could this be?
Firstly, that God could hear my prayer? I had always heard my mum teach me that prayer was important, that God hears and answers prayers, but I had until then never really had such a profound answer. I had prayed for as long as I could remember, and I’m sure He answered my prayers, yet I could not quite remember such a clear and immediate answer.
Secondly, I could not believe, if He was answering me, He was telling me to stay!?! Clearly He didn’t understand that I don’t like camping!!! Luckily, I learnt to deal with it, and returned again for 6 more years of camping after that. But to this day I’m not an outdoors-camper kind of girl 🙂
After that specific experience in my life, I realized that there was more to what my mum had been teaching me all my life. It was not just great values and standards to keep, but real truth and keys to finding happiness.
I had started reading in the Book of Mormon by then. I decided if God could hear my prayer, a silly little teenage girl of little importance, and answer me, even for something that was so unimportant as that, then He really was there, looking out for me, and He did know and love me. I decided to finish reading the Book of Mormon, and after reading it through the very first time I prayed to find out if it was true. I once again received a clear answer that it was true. But saying that, just by reading it, you can feel it is full of value and truth!
So began my challenge. At first silently, and for myself, to each year reread the book, and feel the truth that is written in those pages. Now it has become a bit of a given, people who know me on a more personal level, know I read about a chapter each day from this book. Why, you would ask yourself, do I read it each year? I have had people suggest I move on to a new book. I read many books, but I start off almost every single day with reading a chapter and thinking about what I read (if I for some reason don’t get my chapter read in the morning, I’ll make time throughout the day). Even after 20 times I discover new lessons, that in previous reads did not strike my attention. To say I love this book would not be strong enough, it has become a part of who I am, and how I live my life. The teachings found in it have shaped me to be the mother that I am, the wife that I am, and help me be the mother and wife I want to be. I cannot express what it means to me to have the knowledge that there is a God out there who loves us all, who knows us all, and who is willing to listen if we pray. I know not everyone out there believes that, and I respect that. Believing in God means living according to that faith. And at times that can be challenging. Still I find it is the best choice I have ever made, to search for myself, and find out! If you want to find out for yourself, I challenge you to read, pray and ask. If I can find out, so can you!
What is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Find out here.
This song expresses what Christ means to me: Video Perfect Love