When I was very young, I remember my Aunt Chris teaching me how to swim in my grandparents Arizona backyard swimming pool. I remember the fear of her letting go of me in the water. I knew my life was in her hands and if she didn’t pick me up I was going to drown. She would give me little breaks to catch my breath, and then she would set me back in the water again, telling me to swim to her as she backed away from me. It’s weird because more than anything, I specifically remember those breaks—her standing in the pool holding me, as I would lay my head on her shoulder, and wrap my arms tightly around her neck. I would “cleave” tightly to her on those little breaks, nervously anticipating her letting go of me in the water to swim to her again. You would never know from those early swim lessons, but today I have a great love for being in and around water.
Our theme for the Layton Utah South Stakes Women’s Conference this year comes from Moroni 7:28, “Cleave Unto Every Good Thing”. In learning to swim, my aunt was the “good thing”. And boy, did I cleave to her. Sisters, what good things do you “cleave to”? And what are the “good things” Mormon is referring to in this verse? The word “good” is actually used twenty five times in chapter seven. In the same chapter, Mormon teaches us that “all things which are good cometh of God.” And further we read that “in Christ there should come every good thing.” There are so many good things in this world that we can choose to “lay hold upon”, but the things that involve our Heavenly Father and our Savior are the ones that we need to cleave to—they are the ones that will truly save us and help us make our way in these turbulent times.
God’s prophets speak to us and give us divine guidance. They keep us from getting distracted and loosening our grip on the things that matter most. We have received many prophetic invitations from President Nelson. I believe his invitations help us understand more of what God wants us to “cleave” to in our lives. Just as I cleaved to my aunt for protection and safety as she taught me to swim, it is my prayer that we will cleave to God and His great work—the only work that brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. It is a work that can change you and change me.
Throughout my life the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my testimony of His restored Gospel has been an anchor and grounding point for me. As a young child, I remember feeling the truth that my parents taught as they expressed their love and testimony for their Savior and His Gospel. This feeling of truth stayed with me as I grew, and through experiences of my own, I was able to deepen my understanding, faith, and my own testimony. This has been and will always be a continual process for me. As I have gotten older, and the world around us becomes more confusing and in turmoil, I have to hold on to that truth that I know and continue to allow His Gospel and light to be my anchor. Having a living prophet on the earth today is such a blessing for us all. I am really grateful for this reminder that President Nelson gave this past conference, “If you have sincere questions about the gospel or the Church, as you choose to let God prevail, you will be led to find and understand the absolute, eternal truths that will guide your life and help you stay firmly on the covenant path.” So even when I can’t see quite clearly and feel a little in the dark, if I continue to let God prevail in my life, choosing to believe in Him and His gospel, I will be able to feel that absolute and eternal truth that I have felt before and know to be true. So, I choose to believe because truth is truth and I know that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is that absolute and eternal truth.
Why I choose to believe….
I love this opportunity to reflect and to really ponder “why I choose to believe”.
I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to share but it just comes down to one word.
I love the theme, "I Choose to Believe." It’s been so special to read the testimonies before me. I’ve thought about what it meant to me to choose to believe in our Heavenly Father and our Savior. So many times in my life there has been that question, "Am I going to choose to believe in our Savior and what choices am I going to make?" I’ve seen the Lord’s hand in my life. He has answered my prayers as I have needed Him through my trials especially. Sometimes my prayers weren’t answered right away but there were blessings along the path through hard times. I know He is aware of me and who I am. One of my favorite scriptures is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”
There have been so many times throughout my life where my Heavenly Father and His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ have let me know they are there. Sometimes these interactions have been simple like the words of a song lending me comfort, a scripture answering a question or a neighbor dropping by with their favorite cookies on a day I really needed a friend. Other times they have been strong and powerful like guiding words given in a priesthood blessing or a miraculous healing. Always they come in a very personal way that lets me know that They know and love me. This past year has been no different. I admit I was overwhelmed when the first few days of the shutdown were followed by an earthquake. I had been praying to know how to have strength and faith to do all that I knew I needed to do. A few days in a row I kept waking up with the words to a hymn running through my mind. When I finally decided to go and read carefully through all the lyrics, I was led to the scripture Psalm 95: 1-7 that reminded me to be grateful and to “Hear Him.” I knew then I needed to make sure I was looking for His Hand in my life and Hearing what He was telling me so I could navigate my family through the rest of the year. So especially in these crazy and uncertain times I choose to believe because I know my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, that They love me and that They will always be there to help me through it all!
~ Leia Perkins
As I reflect on this past year, even amidst all the heartache and pain that has been felt by many, I see the hand of the Lord. I know that even though I may not have suffered as much as some, my needs and concerns still matter to Him because they matter to me. I know this because I did a lot of falling apart this year and my Savior helped pick up the pieces. My imperfections and weaknesses became very apparent to me at times and even feelings of despair about the state of our world felt almost too much to handle. Looking back I can see each tender mercy that helped pull me through. Sometimes my prayers and pleas were answered through earthly angels, like family and friends. Other times, I couldn't figure out how to overcome it until I remembered to come to my Heavenly Father in prayer. Taking the time to not only talk to Him, but pause and listen. I choose to believe because I feel His love and confidence in me as I do the things that He asks of me. I have more joy in my life when I am living close to the Spirit and following the guidance of the Gospel. I choose to believe because My Heavenly Father and His Son never stop believing and trusting in me.
In the last 3 years we have been through several difficult challenges, including a high risk pregnancy and premature baby, learning a daughter has profound hearing loss in one ear and discovering a son has a rare and severe form of anxiety called Selective Mutism. These diagnoses have resulted in multiple doctor visits, therapy sessions, calling an untold number of people I don’t know, sleepless nights, tearful incapacitating moments and more meetings with the school than I would care to have.
I’ve been thinking about the question, “why I choose to believe” for a few days.
In the past few years as family and close friends have chosen a path away from the church, I have had to really try and answer the question of why I keep choosing to believe. Sometimes it seems easier to move to a different path. But for me, it is worth the wrestle to find answers for myself on topics that feel heavy, and questions that come up that can really shake my faith, because I know that Jesus is the Savior. I also know that he has loving parents who allowed that sacrifice to happen for all of us to return to live with them again. The peace I feel from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when I pray, read scriptures and talks, have uplifting conversations and attend church is undeniable, especially in this time when so much is uncertain. For me, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints offers stability, guidance, community, love and a way back home, so I work and choose to believe.