In the night, before I lay down to sleep, I read an old discourse from the sweet smelling ancient pages of my Journals of the Discourses, while Nathan writes in his prayer journal. It is a quiet and sacred time. It is a time of soft revelations and tender feelings and the presence of the Lord in our temple space of a home.
Except sometimes I snort, because those guys back then just said it as it was, and I love that.
Tonight I read an old Brigham Young discourse in which he was asking the Saints why they had begun bickering with each other and stopped caring for the poor. He reminded them of how powerfully they had once felt the Spirit, and asked them what happened to this Spirit that was once in them?
Someone from the audience shouted out that the Devil had gotten the better of them.
Without missing a beat (I can hear their voices when I read their words, as surely as if I were transported back in time and a live witness myself), Brigham shouted back, “then perhaps you ought to quit doing business with him.”
That’s when I snorted, because of course we want to blame others or our circumstances or the devil himself, but our choices are the consequences can be laid nowhere else.
He went on to ask them to remember life just before their conversion.
I remembered days of chaos and noise, an insatiable hunger of searching, and exhaustion from falling into one mess after another. I remembered the path of destruction I had caused that had left me very much alone. I remembered the burden of grief I carried, leaving me crying in the closet every night.
I knew there was a God. I remembered Him from long ago, somehow. I knew He was my Father, and that He had promised not to forsake me.
Brigham went on to ask the people to remember their conversion.
I remember finally laying down my pride, submitting the disaster that was me, and humbling myself to finally not just think about God, or cry about my miserable state, or remember that I knew He was my Father… but to actually talk to Him, and ask for help.
That’s when the missionaries showed up.
That’s when my friends told me about their religion.
That’s when I began to ask questions.
That’s when I began to breathe again.
Long before my baptism, before making changes to prepare for baptism, or even admitting I was ready. Long before that, there was the day at the river. There was a soft cover Book of Mormon in my hands. There was an acknowledging that my ways had not worked (and worse).
I remember the last scent of summer. I remember the way the sun sank behind the clouds. I remember the green color of the river reflecting back the dark blue of an evening sky. I remember the sounds of music in the distance, with the laughter and clinking of bottles I would no more drink. I remember the lightness of my shoulders as the heaviness began to be lifted, and I remember the catch in my breath when I realized it was real. I remember when I began to choose.
It’s been four years now, and a lot has happened, and I know this is just the beginning.
I needed the reminder of what I chose, of how I chose, of how I felt when I chose.
I needed to be stirred, to find my words again, to breathe in that fresh Spirit air.