I still remember my Kindergarten graduation. My class acted out a play about Jesus calling his disciples. And this might seem crazy, but I actually remember my line in this play. I had the opening line, and I was to speak it right after a brief intro narrative. I was given the role of a mother because of my height. I was bitter about it at the time because it was way cooler to be one of the kids that got to sit next to Jesus in the play, but now I am appreciative of my role and the meaning I can pull from this memory. I had to be brave enough to walk into the church in front of all of the parents and grandparents and friends and start the play with my line, “Look, there is Jesus!” I was a timid little six-year-old in charge of directing that entire audience’s attention on Jesus. I was terrified! If I failed, the play wouldn’t start. But I delivered my line as bravely as I could muster, and the play was a success.
I’ve grown quite a bit from that tiny, timid six-year-old child, but that line has always stuck with me. I was an actor in a play then, but my prayers now are that I can be that character come to life every day - always aware of, always finding, and always KNOWING my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, are with me. And with you. And in creation and in the eyes of strangers on the street. My story of faith is that I want more than anything in the world to still be that character today– to be a person who can and does recognize Jesus and then goes to Him, all the while pleading with everyone I know to walk that way with me, but knowing and trusting and believing that regardless of who comes, the path to Jesus is the one that I absolutely must walk.
The summer after I finished my second year of college, I was directing the prayer and service group of a high school retreat called Teens Encounter Christ. I was outside at dusk one night with my team setting up candles that we were going to light after a reconciliation service. It was going to be so beautiful – the retreat center is in the middle of nowhere so the serenity was palpable. We had guitars and talented vocalists to sing soft church hymns during the time of reflection and repentance. And then afterwards, we were going to light the candle walkway so that the retreat attendees could walk back inside the building through an illuminated path – turning the darkness of the night, and of sins and regrets we could leave behind because of faith in Christ, to a new, soft and beautiful light literally surrounding us and shining in our countenances.
Well shortly after everything was set and the ceremony started, we felt a few sprinkles. And then the first streak of lightening came. What ensued was a chaotic transition inside. Everyone was looking to me for direction. And what I remember about that experience was shouting to my team, as the attendees and other retreat workers ran towards the building, “Get to the chapel, now!” I’m not a demanding person at all, but in that moment and in the chaos, it came off absolutely demanding. And later we all laughed about it.
My wonderful prayer and service crew
But the awesome thing is that once inside, we had a ceremony whose beauty I’ll never forget. There were a great number of people in that little chapel, but what was even more impressive was the greatness of the spirit that was there. And I remember sitting in there in the silence, listening to the music of the rain on the simple wooden roof and watching the lightening through the little sun window in the ceiling. The light was brilliant, constantly casting shadows across the walls.
And this was happening as the ceremony of reconciliation commenced. As we were all reflecting on the life of our Savior and the ways we had failed to love him and to show our gratitude to him. As we prayed for his love to heal regrets and failures and pain and pride and every manner of sin. We were releasing the storms of our hearts and our lives as we sat safely inside the chapel. And it felt as though Heavenly Father was crying with us. Taking our storms away from us and allowing them to rage outside as we sat safely in his chapel – safely in his arms. And the lightening was his illumination, the candles in the storm.
And I’ve thought of that often when I’ve felt my life is falling apart and I’m caught in the storm of it all. My faith has told me that in those times especially, I need to look for Jesus and to go to Him – to “Get to the chapel, now!”
I grew up in the Catholic faith. I was blessed to be born into a family of tremendous faith and blessed to find friends to share my faith with. My story of faith has been a quest to learn of Jesus and to find the paths that I must walk to know him better. Two years ago I found that that path to Christ led me to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Walking that path was something I had never anticipated doing and something that required more faith than I knew I was capable of. I had to walk ahead without the support of many people I loved, but all the while, know that Jesus would walk with me.
My story of faith is a continuing journey. I love and cherish the Catholicism that has formed me, love my friends and family more than ever, and live for the faith that I found in Jesus Christ. And I am so grateful for the continued growth of that same faith, added to a more complete knowledge of my Savior, that I have found as I’ve walked this new religious path.
My biggest fear today is not that the play will never start, but that I will forget my own six-year-old voice and its beautiful instruction. My biggest fear is not that I lack faith. It’s not that I’ll be asked to do hard things or that trials will come. My fear is that I won’t listen to, or that I’ll fail to hear, Heavenly Father’s sweet promptings and perfect guiding direction telling me always to come to him.
I want to forever hear with my heart and be walking with Christ so that I’m able to say, “Look, HERE is Jesus!”