I decided to copy my first church talk i gave Jan 1st 2012, i read it word for word.. here is the first half.
Be Thou an Example of the Believers, in Word, in conversation, in Charity
1st Timothy 4:12
There is a story of a boy walking on the beach collecting sea shells. His hands are full of shells, when he sees a large starfish on a rock. Instead of running toward the starfish and grabbing it, he simply looks dismayed. When his parents ask what is wrong and why he doesn’t go get the starfish, he begins to cry, “My hands are full of sea shells and I can’t pick it up.”
Many times we are too busy picking up shells or those meaningless tasks or things in our lives that when we come across a divine opportunity, we may hesitate or miss it. I missed my starfish opportunity many times throughout my life because my hands were full of shells. What I was filling my life with, and what my priorities were, were keeping me from the truth. For me, my starfish was finding the true church on the earth today, therefore I was able to become an example to the people around me. But if it wasn’t for the example of my friends who I have met throughout my life, I may not have ever gotten the opportunity to do so.
The verse or topic I was asked to speak on today was from 1st Timothy 4:12. Paul writes to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” This is just as valid for us as it was then, we should all be good examples as the believers of Jesus Christ.
Being the oldest child of 4 I heard my whole life that I needed to “be an example” to my younger siblings. When I was younger I didn’t quite understand the truth or responsibility that comes with this, and after my parents said it I’d probably let out a big sigh and rolled my eyes. As an adult I now see how important it was to be a good example to the people around you. For me, right now it is even more important to be an example to my family.
My family are not members of the church, and quite frankly I don’t see it happening anytime soon. My mom and dad are the most hurt by my decision, which is very understandable. They have done a lot of research, and considering the resources they use, which used to be the ones I did, of course they would be a little freaked out. They attended a conference a couple months back called, “Should we be afraid of the Mormons?” I remember the stack of take away stuff they had, books and DVDs and they spent 3 days learning from someone how the Mormon religion was wrong.
Shortly after the conference my car broke and I remember sitting with my parents discussing my options when my dad looks straight at me and says, “Now Katie, I know that you car is an issue and you need a new one, but we need to talk about a bigger issue, and that’s your salvation.” Now, I get a nice little chuckle out of it, because let’s be honest, it sounds a bit dramatic. I remember I had tears in my eyes looking straight at my dad’s eyes and I told him that “I am not worried one bit about my salvation because I know what I believe is more true than anything. And that right now although the topic of my salvation is important to you, I know where I stand with my heavenly father.” Then my dad asked me to say the words out loud that I believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet and the book of Mormon was real. I looked him dead in the eyes again and said those exact words. You could see the panic in my father’s eyes. I think whatever was said at the conference scared him, but not as much as those words did.
The worst feeling is knowing those words, ones that are spoken so freely here, really hurt my dad. It is believing in something so strongly and loving and knowing it’s the right choice and the greatest thing in my life and not being able to share it with my family, and them finding what I know to be the greatest disappointment to them. But this is what I know, no words I say will ever make my father happy with my decision, but I hope that every single day as I grow stronger in my faith and the way I live my life, that will be the real testament I have for my family. By being an Example.
I was baptized this past Feb, on the 26th. I am coming up on my year anniversary and I can’t believe how much of my life has changed this past year. It is incredible how Heavenly Father works, and how fast. This time last year I was very frustrated with the bumps in the road in my life that were starting to make me question what I believed. I was working at CCV a church here in the valley that I attended for 13 years and was growing very unhappy and frustrated with the holes in the beliefs that I had. I had this thought: God had been putting a certain type of person in my life consistently throughout my life. My LDS friends, my LDS roommate in collage, my LDS boyfriends, My LDS childhood best friend, my LDS boss... and I had this question was God putting these people in my life to show me the truth, or was the adversary putting them in my life to make me question my beliefs?
I was thinking about that question daily. One day I was talking to a friend about the church and for the first time I was really listening to what he said. He was talking about if there could be Prophets on the earth today, and he said, “Why can’t that be true?” For the very first time in my life, and if any of you know me I need the last word and I can be very stubborn. But I did not have a single word to say back. I echoed the question in my head asking myself, “Why can’t this all be true?” Right then and there I knew that this was going to be the start of a wild ride. I am not sure that he knows the impact his conversation had on me but I am forever grateful for it and for the example he was to me that day.
Shortly after that I fasted for 24 hours to make a decision on whether to further my investigation in the church, and after that day I knew that I needed to take the lessons.
Going back a bit I remember my first conversations about the church starting my senior year of high school where I met one of my greatest friends. We used to sit on the phone and talk for hours about nothing and then on rare occasions we would have talks about the church and the different things we believed. If I am honest I don’t remember too much about those conversations other then they lasted hours, and that is where all the myths I had heard like “Mormons cant drink soda” where set straight. Through him I had met some of the greatest people I will ever know. It would be these friends, who had been the greatest example of the church and love, that I would turn too when I needed them most!
I remember calling a friend of mine when I decided to take the lessons. I knew he would be the one to turn too because he is the kind of guy that gets things done. Within an hour I had my first lesson set for that weekend. We decided to have it at my friend’s parent’s house, this same friend I used to spend hours on the phone with in high school 7 years earlier. Although I had now known him and his family for years, I’m quite sure I had never spoken more than a couple sentences being the very shy girl I can be to his parents, so this was going to be a brand new experience on many levels for me! I was nervous, but also very excited.
Every single lesson I was in a room surrounded by my friends and some of the greatest missionaries ever. For the first time this church was starting to make sense and I was starting to get scared. This for me was a life changing decision and I didn’t even have the guts to tell my parents I was taking the lessons. I remember when I finally told my parents I was taking the lessons it was a battle. My father said if I was learning about this religion I might as well learn about them all, because that was only fair. We obviously didn’t see eye to eye and I kept going to my lessons, all the while still working at CCV and trying really hard to avoid my parents. For awhile we tried to keep my lessons a little under wraps. It was very important to me that whatever decision I made was for myself because I knew it was the right one.