Member Testimonies of Jesus Christ
...on what felt like the darkest and most dismal night I had ever faced, I forgot the many blessings I had received from the Lord. I thought only of the sorry state of my life. My negativity engulfed me, and I began to doubt all I had been taught about my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. A loving God, I rationalized, would not have left me alone to face this nightmarish reality. Worst of all, no one knew what I was going through. My family felt a portion, but they did not fully understand how painful my experiences had been. No one did.
I was about to voice these thoughts in prayer when I heard my name. Through my anguish I recognized the voice of the Spirit, carrying a message to my soul from my Savior reminding me I was not alone. Jesus Christ knew what I was going through. He had felt my pain.
As the message resonated in me, doubt was replaced by shame. In my self-pity, I had forgotten about Jesus Christ. I had been taught much about how the Savior suffered for our sins. I had forgotten that in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the Lord had also borne my grief and carried my pain (see Isaiah 53:4; Alma 7:11). This reminder forever changed the way I look at the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
One of my most sacred moments was when I was able to reconnect to the Atonement and Jesus Christ. It was a very personal experience that showed me just how much the Lord knew me individually, and how I would learn. How real the Atonement is, and His ability to heal. It rebuilt my crumbled foundation stronger than ever and I began to hold onto Jesus as my lifeline. It was the hardest healing journey I have ever gone through, but I had miracle upon miracle that lifted me up and quite literally molded me into a completely different person.
I began reading the scriptures differently, actually understanding and applying them. While I was doing everything “right,” I still felt a great burden of guilt. Then I started to focus my studies on Christ and His Atonement, how He could be my Savior and how His infinite Atonement could redeem my soul. One night while meditating upon all I had learned from those prayerful studies, I felt the Spirit touch my heart, heal my soul, and comfort me. I felt secure and loved, and my guilt left.
When my parents got divorced, I felt that all my hope of having an eternal family had ended. It was a very hard moment in my life. However, even though it wasn’t easy for me to recognize, that trial brought unforeseen blessings to my family. For one, my mom got baptized!
I also was able to get to know my Savior better. To get over my sadness, I chose to visit an aunt in Peru, where I met a new friend who strengthened me greatly. That friend and I often studied the scriptures together and during one special occasion while we were discussing gospel topics, I felt the love of my Savior for me very strongly. The feeling was like the voice of my Savior telling me, “I have always been with you; you just couldn’t tell.”
Feeling powerless to change my feelings, I cried out in prayer, “Father, please help me forgive—through the power of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of this world.” A feeling of peace swept through my body, and I felt renewed in every part of my being. In amazement, I thanked Heavenly Father for the gift He had given me. My hurt was swept away, my pains were erased, and love beyond description filled my heart. I was experiencing the power of the Atonement. I recalled Alma’s language, “There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains,” but on the other hand, “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (see Alma 36:21).
I remember feeling the weight of years of secrets lift as my bishop listened. I recall his pure tears as he heard my story. I felt the love of Heavenly Father, and I felt reassured that the abuse was not my fault and that I was still pure and virtuous. This was the beginning of my path to healing, a path that would continue for many years.
Ruth, On Fire in Baltimore:
I really, really wanted to know the truth. So it was the first time in my life I ever prayed like this, with all the faith I had. I prayed for two weeks. Then one night I went to sleep and received a vision of the Father and Jesus Christ. I mean, I actually seen them! They were standing there and their feet weren’t touching the ground. When I looked upon them I could see the fire of eternity burning within them!
Sheera, On Fire in Baltimore:
Well, let me tell you; let me tell you what I saw…The street was like glass, and it looked like God was sitting on a throne. It was so beautiful, so beautiful to see! He had on red—well, I guess it was Jesus with the red—so he had on white and it was amazing! So, so amazing that I had a dream like that.” Sheera pauses and moistens her lips, and I’m expecting her to tell me the significance of the dream; instead, she moves on. “So I’ve just had strange things happen to me before I joined the church. A lot of things I hear now in church are things I heard before. It was like, preparing me—even when I was a kid in South Carolina I was preparing, preparing for the Church.
When Sage was first wheeled into the burn unit, the medical staff had little hope that she would make it through the night. “They gave her a 10-percent chance of living,” Michael remembers. She had third- and fourth-degree burns on her face, arms, chest, and legs. Her nose and one ear had been melted off. Her fingers were so charred that they would have to be amputated. She lost 35 percent of her eyelids. One lung had collapsed, and another was barely functioning; a quart of soot would be extracted from them.
She had been inactive for many years. Many times I would try to visit her, but I was often unsuccessful in my attempts. On the few occasions when I was able to visit her, I came to know that she had a strong belief in a Heavenly Father but had been offended many years previously and had difficulty with some of the teachings of the Church. When I felt impressed that I should go to her home, my first response was, “Not tonight. I am so tired. It can wait until tomorrow.” But, as is often the case, the impressions continued to come more strongly.
Finally I drove to her home, thinking, “Why am I doing this? She probably won’t answer the door.” I knocked on the door, and soon the door opened. I could tell she was extremely distraught. She invited me in. Her first words were, “How did you know to come?”I responded that the promptings had been there. For the next several hours we talked about her desperate family situation, her suicidal feelings, and her sense of hopelessness. I prayed that I might know how to comfort her as the Savior would do.
The words came, the promptings came, and I began to see a calm come to her. That night forever changed my relationship with her and forever changed my relationship with the Savior. Now I never have trouble getting into her home or making contact with her. I no longer question the Spirit’s promptings when they come, for I recognize them more clearly. We have had many opportunities for gospel conversation.
What did I learn about the Savior that night? I learned that He loved this dear sister regardless of her current standing in the Church. I learned how He comforted as I listened to the promptings I received as I talked with her. Did I know my Savior better after that night? Yes! I learned the Savior trusted me enough to let me participate as He met her needs.
That day I was silent. I looked at my four-year-old brother and my mother, so young and alone, and I did not cry. I didn’t think it could be true, so I went to the window and stared at the street. I began to feel an unbearable force pressing down on my shoulders, a weight that would not let me breathe normally, a pressure that oppressed me.
Not long after my father’s death, I went into my room alone at the fading light of sunset and, as I had been taught, prayed to my Heavenly Father. I pleaded with Him to let me see my beloved father again, just to hug him. In my heart I was certain that Heavenly Father could give me this miracle.
That day I didn’t get to see my dad or hug him, but I was given much more. It was as if I felt the hands of the Savior on my shoulders. His presence was almost tangible as He removed the weight that pressed down on my chest.
Now, over 20 years later, that relief has never left me. At times I have felt sadness but never emptiness at the loss of my father. I can look back and see how many times the Spirit has come to console me, help me, and show me the way to follow the Savior’s precious steps. I can feel His presence in my life thanks to that first trial, which helps me see everyday trials with an eternal perspective. I know it is the gospel in our lives that allows us to feel the invisible caress of the Savior’s hand.
I still had yet to fully confess, but I felt the weight of the world lifting from my shoulders. I also felt a renewed hope of freedom, finally, from this burden.
I spent the next weeks praying, reading the scriptures, and creating my inventory to present to both my bishop and my Heavenly Father. First I took my list to Heavenly Father, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, to let Him know I was sorry and sincerely desired to change. I set another appointment with the bishop and shared my list in its entirety. He didn’t frown, yell, or chastise me; instead, he gave me a big hug. He let me know of his love and the Lord’s love, informing me that I was now on the path of true repentance. I knew it was true.
Confessing my sins, formerly my biggest fear, became one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was the first step for me to truly understand the gift and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Little by little, mistakes and decisions made me deaf to the whisperings of the Spirit. My scriptures ended up in the deepest part of my trunk and I even stopped praying.
I turned to the scriptures and found hope, strength, and understanding in the Savior’s words. I reflected on how his words had already blessed and lifted me. I wrote in my journal: “The tides of self-pity, self-reproach, and self-destruction rage against my shore. And at my shore the Savior is ever there, building—shoring up—protecting against the onslaught—telling me I have value—telling me to believe in myself. His is the voice I prefer to hear, the voice I must heed.”
Opportunities came to rebuild belief in myself. Priesthood counsel and blessings offered me divine comfort. Through the Savior’s great love, my strength and courage were bolstered.
Perhaps I didn’t fully understand then, as I sang “Amazing Grace” with a fully mended throat at the festival, that I was singing about the very power that had healed me just the day before. The Savior’s Atonement had blessed me that day; His grace was the source of my healing.
But my perspective has changed as I have embraced motherhood with one arm. I once thought I was one of the people who most looked forward to the Resurrection and the idea of being made whole. But now I am not in so much of a hurry. Increasingly, I feel the Atonement working in my life now. I have realized that the healing power need not begin only when the Resurrection occurs. The wholeness has already begun when, every night, one of my children tenderly holds what remains of my arm and slips into slumber. This realization has been just as meaningful to me as any miracle of physical healing.
It was the Savior’s healing power that I felt most throughout my reading of the Book of Mormon. Verse after verse testifies of His grace, mercy, compassion, and infinite love. As I read about Jesus Christ, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for His sacrifice. One of the greatest miracles I experienced while reading was the feeling of complete forgiveness for a series of poor choices made years ago. I felt as though the Savior was speaking directly to me as I read. In my heart I felt the words, It’s time to move on. Christ literally provided the healing I needed.
I witness this peace will come into our lives as we heed the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow His example by forgiving others. As we forgive, I promise the Savior will strengthen us, and His power and joy will flow into our lives.The tomb is empty. Christ lives. I know Him. I love Him. I am grateful for His grace, which is the strengthening power that is sufficient to heal all things.
Fiona has a dear friend who suffered an unspeakable atrocity when just a little girl. Geographically isolated as she was, there was no one to hear her cries or to aid her. In order to survive, as many do, she tucked the horror into the depth of her subconscious mind. Still, the effects continued to haunt her, marring all aspects of her life. She suffered a series of further setbacks and abandonments. Even after she became a member of the Church, she continued to bear the psychological trauma bound up in the hidden memory, in addition to single-mother travails. Still, she remained faithful—accepting callings and attending sacrament meetings week after week and year after year. Fiona marveled at her courage and tenacity. There was no evidence of any respite or healing. Yet, still, she came. Then one day, out of the blue, she approached Fiona with the words: “I have something important to share with you.” Disconcerted, in spite of her earnestness, that she should approach Fiona in a location she would never have associated with the sacred, Fiona was nevertheless roused from her discomfort by the following words—words that often precede revelatory experience: “I do not know if I was awake or asleep, . . . but last night the Savior appeared at the foot of my bed. He was weeping. He called me by my name and spoke: ‘I am so sorry for your life. I am so sorry for your life,’ which, while weeping, he continued to repeat until I awoke the next morning to find my pillow bathed in my own tears.”
At first, I felt, “Okay, we’ve done this before; we can do it again.” I felt his presence with me every day, having many more spiritual experiences with this trial, but something seemed to be changing this time. After about three months, I found myself getting angrier and angrier with the Lord. How could He take another son? I found myself slipping into depression, but even more than that, I was having anxiety so bad that I couldn’t even fall into a deep sleep. It seemed like everything that I had ever been through was haunting me now. There was fear and panic, literally 24/7. This went on for about three months, to the point that now I was becoming suicidal. My husband was begging me to get on some anxiety pills, for fear of what was going to happen to me. I took time to pray about this decision and was told this was not the way the Lord wanted me to handle this. I was to learn my source of strength was to come through Him.
About this time, my husband had given me a book titled The Infinite Atonement, by Tad Callister. I didn’t get into it right away; in fact, it took me about another month to pick it up and start reading it. But once I did, it had such a profound impact on my life. For the first time ever, I realized the Atonement was so much more than a process used for repentance. I realized that the Atonement was literally part of Jesus Christ Himself, with all the enabling powers of His grace that He gives to us in our weaknesses, if we will but submit to Him.
I was in the Pioneer Stake conference when my mother, Sarah Jeremy Anderson, spoke after having been desperately ill for a week previous to the conference. I can remember the power of the administration prior to that when she was promised that she would arise from her bed and fill her assignment. I can remember how quiet the room was at the conference as she spoke and how we could hear the clock tick when suddenly she stopped. I saw my mother look up, turn very pale, and be unable to speak for a while and then go on with a radiance in her face I will never forget. When she returned home she told us that as she looked up she saw the feet of the Savior with the nail prints in them. She was weak but well and bore this testimony in sacred places and appropriate times all her life.
Brother and Sister Willard Bean served a mission in Palmyra, New York, from 1915 to 1940. As part of their assignment, they were involved in the purchase by the Church of the sacred Hill Cumorah nearby. It was there that the angel Moroni showed young Prophet Joseph where he, Moroni, as a mortal man, had hidden the metal plates containing the records of Christ’s visit with his children in ancient America, from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Visitors were constant in the succeeding years, and as the Bean family grew, so did the guests. Sister Bean was responsible for caring for the needs of these important visitors, the proselytizing missionaries, and her own family and the home. She prayed constantly that she might be able to carry forth this heavy burden in a way that would maintain the beauty and sacred spirit of the place, the domestic demands, as well as carry forth as a loving wife and mother.
One very difficult day, her prayers were answered in a dramatic way that forever after secured in her heart, mind, and soul a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following report was recorded when Rebecca Rosetta Peterson Bean revealed this experience in a talk given in 1964, at a Salt Lake City fireside.
It was a hot summer day and we had a lot of visitors that day It had been a hard day for me. I had a baby just a year old, and I had carried my baby around on my arm most of the day to get my work done. It was too warm. Everything had gone against us. We had had lunch for our visitors, and we had had supper at night, and I had put my children to bed. Dr. [James E.) Talmage was there and some missionaries, and we had really had a wonderful evening talking together. They all seemed tired and I took them upstairs and showed them where they could sleep, and I came down and thought, Well, I’ll pick up a few things and make things easier for in the morning.
But I was so weary and so tired that I was crying as I went straightening things around a little. Everybody was in bed and asleep but me. I looked at the clock and it was eleven o’clock. I said, “I’d better call it a day.” I went into my room and… it was peaceful and quiet. I got ready for bed, and I was crying a little. I said my prayers and I got into bed and I was crying on my pillow. And then this dream or vision came to me.
I thought it was another day. It has been a wonderful morning. I had prepared breakfast for my visitors, and my children were happily playing around, and I had done my work and cared for the baby, and he was contented and happy. I prepared lunch, and I called my visitors in to lunch and we were all seated around the table, my little baby in the high chair. Everything was peaceful and wonderfully sweet. There was a knock at the front door, and there was a very handsome young man standing there. I just took it for granted that he was another new missionary come to see us.
And I said, “You’re here just in time for lunch. Come with me.”. As I walked through the little hall into the dining room, I noticed he laid some pamphlets down on the table there. I introduced him around, and then I said, “Now you sit right here by Dr. Talmage, and I’ll set a place for you.” I thought he was strange to all of us, and yet he and Dr. Talmage seemed so happy to see each other, and they talked about such wonderful things while we were eating. Some of them we could hardly understand. But the spirit that was there in the meal was so peaceful and nice, and everyone seemed so happy to be together. After the meal was over, Dr. Talmage said to the missionaries, “Now let’s go outside and just linger here and enjoy the spirit of this wonderful place, because we’ll soon have to leave.” I put my baby to bed, and the other little ones went out to play, and then I was alone with this young man.
He thanked me for having him to dinner, and told me how much it meant for him to be there, and he told me he thought that the children were so sweet and well trained, and I felt happy about that, and then we walked in the hall together. He said, “I have far to go, so I must be on my way.” Then I turned from him just a moment to pick up these little pamphlets that he had laid on the table, and when I turned back to him it was the Savior who stood before me, and He was in His glory. And I could not tell you the love and sweetness that He had in His face and in His eyes. Lovingly, He laid His hands on my shoulders, and He looked down into my face with the kindest face that I have ever seen, and this is what He said to me: “Sister Bean, this day hasn’t been too hard for you, has it?” I said, “Oh no, I have been so happy in my work and everything has gone on so well.” Then He said, “I promise you if you will go about your work as you have done it this day you will be equal to it. Oh, remember these missionaries represent me on this earth, and all that you do unto them you do unto me.”
And then I remember I was crying as we walked through the hall onto the porch, and He repeated the same thing: “These missionaries represent me on earth, and all that you do unto them you do unto me.” Then He started upwards. The roof of the porch was no obstruction for Him to go through, nor for me to see through. He went upward and upward and upward, and I wondered and wondered how I could see Him so far away. And then all at once he disappeared, and I was crying on my pillow like I was when I went to bed.
I bear humble testimony to you that never again was there any frustration in my soul. Never again did too many missionaries come that I couldn’t find beds for them to sleep or enough food to give them, and the great love I had for missionaries even then became greater after what the Savior had said to me. And how I wish that every missionary that went out in the world could feel that his love and his guidance is only a prayer away. They teach his gospel, and how much they mean to him.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
I froze, not from the icy outdoor temperature, or from the snowflakes resting at the tip of my nose, but because of the chilling waves of warmth and light and truth that penetrated my body, from top to bottom.
How could I rejoice? At a time like this?
I stood there, on the sidewalk, in the snow, alone. But I didn’t feel alone.