Women's Conference Talk by Lynda Hansen
In December of 2011, my former husband went out to replace the brakes on my daughter's car. When he came back in, something in him had changed, and that day began the twelve-month death of our marriage. He had wanted something to listen to while he was doing his project and had searched and found a podcast that promised to "enlighten him about the Mormon church."
Our marriage had always been difficult. He was an addict, and we had spent years and thousands of dollars in counseling. Now his dive into anti-Mormon literature and podcasts became his new and favorite addiction.
He quickly became angry and disrespectful toward Heavenly Father and Christ in our home. He tried to get me to listen with him, but the negativity flowing from those podcasts immediately told me that I wanted nothing to do with them. SO MUCH ANGER. Instead of casting their burdens on the Lord and asking Him for healing, the people on the podcasts were telling the world how they had been wronged and they deserved revenge.
Despite the fact that I had told my ex-husband that I had experienced too many sacred and beautiful experiences with Heavenly Father and I would never turn my back on God, he began trying to corner me and force me to listen to his "new information."
What ensued was feelings of confusion, fear, and panic. I felt like I had to hurry and find the truth about what really happened ... what did the Church say about this topic?
He flung issue after issue at me, and after researching and looking constantly for the truth I realized two things:
1. I could spend my entire life chasing all these issues down an infinite number of "rabbit holes"... this guy claimed this about Joseph Smith and this woman had recorded in her diary such and such. Through exhaustive searching, I did find that SO MANY of these issues had been resolved years ago, yet numerous people kept bringing up the same things, never seeking to find the discovered answer, just jumping on the bandwagon of confusion and fear.
2. I also realized that even though I had not sought out these issues or listened personally to all of the anti-Mormon stuff, I could not feel the Spirit. Why had this happened? I had not left the path or let go of the iron rod. WHY could I not feel the Spirit?
During a particularly heartfelt prayer when I was pleading for Heavenly Father to fix this horrible mess, protect my kids and save my eternal marriage, and please-oh-please let me feel the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost, I just made a decision. I had my free agency, and I decided to choose to believe. I decided to do the things that I had been taught that bring us close to Heavenly Father and His Spirit.
Despite my ex-husband being very difficult, I chose to read the scriptures and pray every day. I chose to have family home evenings and family prayer and go to the temple. I kept teaching my children the gospel and attending church. Sometimes I just felt that I was going through the motions, but eventually, slowly, I came out from under the "mist of darkness," and once again I could feel the glorious feelings of peace, love, and joy.
As I read the Book of Mormon, what I had been through was described perfectly by Lehi in 1 Nephi 8:23: "And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness, yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost."
As I mentioned, the Holy Ghost did not immediately return. But as I read the Book of Mormon, I began to see the things I had experienced in my life, explained in the pages of scripture. I saw my ex-husband get harder and harder and more angry and difficult.
1 Nephi 19:7: "For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet-- they set him at naught, and harken not to the voice of his counsels."
I read the story of Alma the Elder, who was one of the priests of Noah, how he believed in the words of Abinadi and repented, changed his life and began preaching those words and baptizing others. I read how he and his righteous followers fled from King Noah and established a righteous community.
I will share scriptures from this story that have taught me so much. In my own life, during all the turmoil of becoming and living as a single mom, my only son decided to serve a mission. As he got ready, attended the temple and left for the MTC, what should have been a special and beautiful time felt like a daily battle against evil and his father. Finally, he left for his mission, and in his weekly letters, I could see his personal growth and the growth of his testimony.
Mosiah 23:21 reads, "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."
Just as I felt I was getting the hang of being a single mom and being the breadwinner and my girls were starting to experience some healing, I got a call from my son's mission nurse.
My son had been hit on his bicycle by a drunk driver. He had been examined and re-examined and he was fine. For the next three weeks, I had the sickest feeling in my stomach. He was not "fine," and I knew it. I contacted the mission nurse twice more and twice more she reassured me, but the feeling wouldn't leave me. Then I got a call from my stake president. He told me that my son had gotten discouraged and reached out to his father, who began immediately sending him anti-Mormon information. He told me he was losing his testimony and was coming home.
That pain in my soul I will never forget. Despite me being able to connect with my son and all my best efforts at addressing his confusion, he left his mission and came home.
Back in the Book of Mormon, I read that even though Alma and his people were trying to follow the Lord and obey His commandments, the Lamanites still came upon them, and put them under bondage. Mosiah 23:23 reads, "For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham, and Isaac and of Jacob."
Heavenly Father helped me and my daughters. Through Heavenly Father's guidance, we were able to keep our testimonies growing and still maintain a relationship with my son and their brother. Slowly, life began to get easier again, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, we were going to be all right. We kept choosing to believe. We kept having family prayer, gospel discussions, attending the temple and keeping our covenants.
Mosiah 23:22: "Nevertheless--whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people."
The next step came a year and a half later when I asked my brother for a blessing to help me get over the flu. In the blessing I was told that "it was time." The Lord would have me begin dating. Aaaahhhh! All I wanted was to get over the flu!
I met my husband Doug in January 2016, and we were married November 30, 2016. That was a wonderful and terrifying experience. Anyone who has had their marriage crash and burn knows how absolutely overwhelming it is to think of getting married again. I had so much fear! But through it all, the Lord gave me direct and undeniable answers to my question of whether this was right for me and my children.
The day before I was sealed to Doug, I almost called it off. I spent the day fasting in the temple, and once again, the Lord used the Book of Mormon to answer my pleading. It was one of the most sacred and personal experiences of my life.
So what are the results of my choice to believe? Now I am sealed to my best friend. A man with integrity and a generous heart who loves God and Christ and LOVES our family. He is loyal and loving and fun. Together, with seven grown children, we are creating a beautiful family culture of love and support for one another. This journey has not been easy, but it's oh so worth it!
I remember hearing people speak or give their testimony and talk about the hard trials that they had been through and how they wouldn't change a thing. It had given them a strong, personal, and tender relationship with their Father in Heaven and their Savior, Jesus Christ that they would never have gained any other way.
Mosiah 24:14: "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."
I stand here as a witness today. A witness of God's love and that there is power in the Book of Mormon. I testify of the tender mercies of the Lord through the trials and afflictions of life, just as Nephi testifies of His tender mercies at the beginning of the Book of Mormon and Moroni testifies of His tender mercies at the end.
Why do I choose to believe in the prophets and the restoration? Because I have seen the fruits that come from being in a covenant relationship with God in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because my Father and my God have used the teachings of the Book of Mormon to teach me, to reassure me, to comfort me and to direct me.
I see the fruits of love, joy, and peace not just in myself but my children and my husband's children as they embrace their covenants and remain faithful. I see in them, as well as myself, the enabling power of Jesus Christ lifting them and making them better people with more love in their heart.
This is my testimony. That the Book of Mormon contains the word of God, that the words of the prophets keep us on the path even though "mists of darkness" may come upon us, and that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church, offering all the chance to "choose liberty and eternal life." I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.