By Elder M. Russell Ballard | October 2016 General Conference
There was a time in my life after I was baptized, that I began to “falter” in my faith. I expected that going to church meant that I would feel constant peace and have no problems with members…because after all, we are all supposed to be perfect as a member of the Church, right? Instead, during that duration of time, I felt judged, left out, insulted, accused, and even slandered.
So I left…for six months. I convinced myself that I felt the Spirit more at home than I did going to church on Sundays. And that was definitely true for me for a while. But still, I knew something was missing. After a few months away, I realized that I needed to adjust my attitude and see things for what they really were. I could only control me…I couldn’t control anyone else. Therefore, I had to change my perspective of how things should be at a place of worship and learning; otherwise, I’m the one that would have lost out on the blessings I knew were there for me if I but endured to the end.
After many years, challenges still arise from time to time…for me and probably for many others. But as a result of the simple adjustments I have made in my life, I have grown spiritually. My testimony of the truthfulness of the Church has been solidified. I have found peace, acceptance, and love. I have learned how to forgive without allowing others to hurt or bring me down. I have made long-lasting friendships in the gospel that have strengthed me. I am never alone even though there are times I may feel that way. The callings I have served in faithfully, my scripture study, and my diligence in keeping the commandments has increased my relationship with my Saviour. As I continuously strive to apply Jesus Christ’s atonement to my life, I am filled with gratitude as I am reminded of all the ways that the gospel has blessed my life. Where else would I have gone to be richly blessed this way? ~Emilia Julian
Several years ago, my family and I visited the Holy Land. One of my vivid memories from our trip was a visit to the upper room in Jerusalem, the traditional site of the Last Supper.
As we stood in that place, I read to them from John 17, where Jesus pleads with His Father for His disciples:
“I pray for them … that they may be one, as we are. …
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”
I was deeply moved while reading these words and found myself praying in that sacred place that I could ever be one with my family and with my Heavenly Father and with His Son.
Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured.
One of the most heart-wrenching stories in scripture occurred when “many of [the Lord’s] disciples” found it hard to accept His teachings and doctrine, and they “went back, and walked no more with him.”
As these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”
“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In that moment, when others focused on what they could not accept, the Apostles chose to focus on what they did believe and know, and as a result, they remained with Christ.
Later, on the day of Pentecost, the Twelve received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They became bold in their witness of Christ and began to understand more fully Jesus’s teachings.
Today is no different. For some, Christ’s invitation to believe and remain continues to be hard—or difficult to accept. Some disciples struggle to understand a specific Church policy or teaching. Others find concerns in our history or in the imperfections of some members and leaders, past and present. Still others find it difficult to live a religion that requires so much. Finally, some have become “weary in well-doing.” For these and other reasons, some Church members vacillate in their faith, wondering if perhaps they should follow those who “went back, and walked no more” with Jesus.
If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now. There may be some doctrine, some policy, some bit of history that puts you at odds with your faith, and you may feel that the only way to resolve that inner turmoil right now is to “walk no more” with the Saints. If you live as long as I have, you will come to know that things have a way of resolving themselves. An inspired insight or revelation may shed new light on an issue. Remember, the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold.
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