I'm Kim Brinton, and I'm a Mormon
The last few months have felt a little strange to me. I'm reminded again at what a personal journey all of us go through in overcoming life's challenges and remaining faithful until the end. Of all things I am grateful for in my life, it is my testimony of Jesus Christ. All other beliefs I have hinge upon this very truth. I wonder why I have never doubted it. Sometimes I wonder if my testimony is as strong as others because I haven't really questioned it. Do they know something I don't know? Am I just believing what I have been told since my very earliest childhood? Can I be sure of this without going through this difficult wrestle with the Lord? For a long time I wondered this. I also wonder why others around me find it difficult to believe in a loving Heavenly Father. I have had more siblings fall away than believe and it weighs very heavily on me every day and has given me a lot to be sad about. Quite frankly, it makes me very upset with them and I am recognizing that I don't have as much patience with them as I should but it is just like you're in a very crucial game, with seconds left and rather than stepping up and giving it their all, they are deliberately dribbling out of bounds. So today I wanted to write down my thoughts just incase, for whatever reason, I'm not able to tell my children what I believe in and hope that they find this is a comfort in their lives. My family has had their share of hardships. I don't think my parents could have ever been prepared for the curve balls life threw them. Even though they are not "perfect" parents I have to say that growing up in their house, I had very many opportunities to feel of the spirit. We weren't always the family to hold 6 am scripture study, family night or prayer, but we tried to grow up just trying to be good people, knowing what was expected of us. I think at a very young age I realized that I had to have my own testimony to grasp onto because I wasn't being spoon fed one. In short, I think more people would have a testimony if they gave themselves frequent experiences to feel of the spirit. It leaves little room for doubt and dissuasion to creep in. I am by nature a very logical person. Seeing is believing. I am skeptical and cynical of anything new. I question pretty much everything, even about myself. I always think that if I were not born in the church, I don't think I am the type to ever give a testimony legs, and therefor don't think I would have ever joined. Scott on the other hand is very believing by nature. Very optimistic and trusting. It is this quality in myself that I feel I had to overcome in order to gain my own testimony. I remember, at a very young age, attending sunday school and, of course, hearing the story of Joseph Smith and the first vision. I came home feeling this huge desire to do as was taught in the scriptures which was "ask of the lord, with nothing wavering" and see for myself what Joseph Smith had seen. I was bound and determined to have my own first vision. A thought that now looking back on, surprises me. I don't know that I have that same kind of faith that I did when I was younger and I dearly miss it. Well for months I prayed very intensely and purposefully asking to see my Heavenly Father. On the conclusion of my prayer, I would sit looking out my window staring at a lit street lamp, sure that out of this light he would descend and appear. I still remember the cold window glass on my nose those nights. I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that no vision came and after a while I came to a crucial question I needed answered. Did I still believe in Joseph Smith? I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that actually, me not seeing Heavenly Father meant I hadn't seen Heavenly Father, but in my heart I really did feel like Joseph Smith saw Him and I had enough faith to believe in his words. I realized that a testimony is something not often seen, but felt. Not in your head, but rather your heart. I'm grateful every day for that faith. I think that has stuck with me all this time. I do think that if you ask Heavenly Father that communication lines are open. He is not like a long lost friend who is offended when you call and wonders why it has taken so long. He is loving your faith and wants to reassure and answer any question you have. When or if you ever begin to question your testimony please go directly to the source. Men do not have all the answers and sometimes it is up to you to seek your own relationship with your Heavenly Father. I believe he gives his love freely and makes it rather easy to gain a testimony if we but live as we are told and ask in real and sincere faith. I hope to have taught you to pray so that you will know who to turn to in times that I am not there to comfort you. That you know what source to look to. That has always been my experience and always feel a great comfort when praying to my Heavenly Father. He loves us and can make more of our lives if we submit our will to him than we could ever do with ourselves on our own. My other advice is to remain humble and teachable. What the church refers to as "Child-like." I want you to think of yourself as my great grandma always put it..."You are just as good as anyone else, but no better." We love all of our brothers and sisters, don't for one minute think yourself better than them. This is where we create a separation from us and our Heavenly Father. He loves us all equally, and it is a foothold I have seen Satan use time and time again. We are the ones to thank for our success, we are the ones who have become so intelligent we don't need to listen to others telling us how to live, we are so much better than that person that what do they know about giving advice, bishops don't know what they are doing, I could do it better than them. In these instances, it is very dangerous ground, treading on the thin ice of Satan who tries to find our weak spot where we can fall through. I think it is our pride that too often misleads and guides us down a path of its own. I am reminded of my little nephew Tyson. At a very young age he was allowed to sit in the driver seat and "drive" the car around a parking lot. He said so happily "Look, I am driving!" He was very proud of himself, but had failed to do one thing. He did not recognize me stepping on the gas pedals, shifting the gears and nudging the steering wheel every now and then so he didn't run into dividers. Yet to him, he truly believed he was in charge, calling the shots and driving the car. We might drive our own life vehicles, making our own decisions, but I think we often fail to see the other helping hands around us making it all possible. We are blind to our own shortcomings and think we do not need anyones help. Just like the vision Nephi had, people that were holding firm onto the rod begin to "feel" their way along the path while still holding on. This is an attempt to serve both Heavenly Father and Satan at the same time and it doesn't work for long. People begin to think that they are capable of finding their own way and don't need or care for the lifeline safely guiding them on their path. Please just remain humble and soft hearted and while you will accomplish much to be proud of in your life, don't let it be your stepping stones of accomplishment that become a millstone around your neck weighing you down. It should feel uplifting and gratifying to see others around you falling short, but still trying and if there is any way to help those less fortunate than yourselves try to find a way to help them like you would want to be helped. Lastly, I would encourage you to read the book of mormon. It will shape and change your life in ways you don't even recognize at the time. Just like I told people working at the dental office about fluoride. They would come in wanting a big dose to last them for the next six months and I would often let them know that smaller, every day doses are much more effective for our teeth and have a much better impact than one high concentration dose. The book of mormon should be approached in a similar manner. Just like you don't wash your hands once and they stay clean and free of germs, we can't expect to read the book of mormon all at once, say we've read it and now we're good. An every day small amount will have the greatest impact on our lives. Know that I do believe in a Heavenly Father that created us. I don't think for one minute we were just a product of matter colliding and evolving. And if we are, well then Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he created those molecules and made them collide together. Don't give up on anyone, including yourselves and the church Ever. I love you and hope you are somehow able to get a glimpse of how much our Father loves you. Satan would have you never believe that. That is his tool, he likes to operate out of fear and doubt. Just like we need to believe in the apostasy to believe in the restoration of the church, we also need to believe in not only Christ and his truth, but our brother Lucifer who is the father of all lies. I think as long as you recognize the origin of what is presented to you, it will be easy to decipher your own path and build your testimony strong enough to get you through lifes trials and qualify yourself for the celestial kingdom.