Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conference Thoughts: You don't know everything, but you know enough.

Today's thoughts come from Elder Neil L. Andersen on Saturday Morning. You can watch, listen, or read it to review if you'd like.

Early in his talk, Elder Andersen shares the story of a struggling missionary who has decided to return home:

"We sat together in the mission president’s home. The missionary told me about his challenging childhood, of learning disorders, of moving from one family to another. He spoke sincerely of his inability to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. Then he added, “Brother Andersen, I don’t even know if God loves me.” As he said those words, I felt a sure and forceful feeling come into my spirit: “He does know I love him. He knows it.”

"I let him continue for a few more minutes, and then I said, “Elder, I’m sympathetic to much of what you’ve said, but I must correct you on one thing: you do know God loves you. You know He does.”

"As I said those words to him, the same Spirit that had spoken to me spoke to him. He bowed his head and began to cry. He apologized. “Brother Andersen,” he said, “I do know God loves me; I do know it.” He didn’t know everything, but he knew enough. He knew God loved him. That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith. He found the strength to stay on his mission."

I've watched and listened to this talk multiple times, and every single time a sob catches in my throat at “He does know I love him. He knows it.” I spent a lot of years believing that because God didn't answer my prayers the way that I wanted, that he didn't love me. And yet, like this struggling missionary, I have known all along that God does love me. I gained a sure testimony of my Heavenly Father's love at 19 years of age. But somewhere along the way, I somehow forgot that lesson.

:Licks pencil and adds to the already long list of things to repent of:

Elder Anderson continues:

"Brothers and sisters, we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty."

Ahh... how true that is. Those powerful moments of witness have been frustratingly rare in my 39 1/2 years of life, especially when compared to the seemingly endless times of trial. However, remembering what I do know has made all the difference during the difficult stretches. Because, as Elder Andersen said, "Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision." A decision to continue attending church meetings even when it seems pointless; to continue praying even when it seems that no one is listening; to obey commandments that make no sense to my mortal mind and seem to benefit me not at all.

It is during times like that I think of the words of C.S. Lewis:

"[The devil's] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do [God's] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

I wonder if maybe that's the major part of this test of mortality--to see how we will react when things don't go the way we planned. Like my husband said the other day: "We've already proven in the pre-earth life that we will obey when in the presence of God. We are here to demonstrate that we will obey when we're out on our own." Or something like that. It sounded much more profound when he said it.

Life is not so dark now as it once was. And while my challenges are certainly not over, remembering what little I do know (and that it is indeed enough) helps me keep my perspective while I wait for the day when I will see things as they really are.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this talk. Please discuss.


  1. I enjoyed this talk also. I can think of times when I have needed to be reminded of the "enough" I already knew. And knowing that God loves us is such a fundamentally important knowledge. How much easier is it to have faith when life doesn't seem to be fair or it doesn't make sense when we know that God loves us? For me, it has been the difference between life and death and then later, surviving and living fully.

  2. Uh, hey, it's me... the misquoter.

    My oh-no-I-hope-I-didn't-offend-someone-I-really-like gear kicked into overdrive and I've been feverishly checking and rechecking over at CTDD to see if you've responded to my I'm-sorry-I-was-a-meanie comment on yesterday's post.

    And not only do I have guilt, but Crash Test Dummy now believes she's being stalked by Sarah Palin. Doh!

    What a mess I've made!!

  3. Oh, and also, I loved loved loved that talk! I know that He loves me, too. It's so hard to remember some days, but I do know.

  4. Hey, I really like the trying to be all spiritual side of you.

    What a beautiful and powerful post. Thank you! I needed that.

    I'll be back to discuss after I put this on simmer for a while. (And after I grade a few more essays.)

    :Tender waves

  5. Why is remembering so hard to do? I guess that is why we are suppose to write things down, huh? The scriptures are chuck full of people who forgot the Lord loves them. Thanks for the reminder, I needed that as well.

  6. I like your thoughts on this talk. I didn't pay much attention to the talk when it was given, so it's good to hear someone's take on it.

    The missionary says he doesn't know God loves him, and then later says he does. I think of the times I've denied knowing that God had a hand in my life. Sometimes I honestly think he wasn't involved at the time, but I always spot him and his love in hindsight. I love that God loves me even when I'm throwing a temper tantrum and shouting at him, "you don't even love me!" Wow, yeah, immature behavior. Good thing God is patient.

  7. For some reason I felt like I had already read this post? Weird...maybe I did and forgot to comment? I'm losing my touch. But I love that you are doing this...I love to review conference talks...and I loved this one, because it's always nice to remember that GODS love is always out is us that has to make sure we are doing our part! :) Thanks for the reminder! :)

  8. Hi again!

    Be back later. Just commented on your other post.

  9. This was a talk that struck home for me in many ways.

    On one level, there is the struggle to remember that the Lord loves me and the times when I have felt that witness. I know that all I need do is even contemplate for a moment and the reality of his love is right there around me once again. And yet, I do struggle. Perhaps it is also necessary to realize that even with powerful experiences one must nurture them and the testimony that goes with them to keep help when the struggles build? Or to help make them seem smaller? Hmm... I need to do more to nourish them I think.

    On another side the phrase, "You know enough." has so many implications. Thoughts of my own inadiquacies have been on constant parade lately and I need to know more in order to be able to accomplish something.

    Maybe on some things I need to either be shown the way to accomplish it - and then allow the Lord to make up the difference.

  10. When I listened to this talk I realized that it is the very core of our testimony. Someone I love has left the church and it was becuase he did not feel that the Lord loved him becuase his life was not perfect. I never could understand how he could doubt, since I was taught this truth in the cradle. I think that this is the most important thing that we need to teach our children.

  11. Thank you for your insights on this (and other) talks from Conference. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and how the Spirit witnesses to my heart the truthfulness of what you have said as I read it. It helps my testimony to grow adn feel nourished again.