On April 19, 2014, I married the love of my life in the Los Angeles temple. It was the most beautiful spring day spent with family and dear friends. We walked out of the temple, hand in hand, and were greeted by quiet cheers and enthusiastic hugs. It was the best day of my life. We had worked hard to be worthy to enter the temple and make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father and with each other. On that spring day we completed the highest ordinance in the temple. The final box had been checked off.
When we returned from our honeymoon, we fell into a groove of work and settling into married life. The grind of work life coupled with navigating marriage became our priority. Slowly, I noticed reading our scriptures became more of a chore than a joy. All too soon it was rare if we ended the night reading our scriptures together.
It wasn’t long before other aspects of my spirituality started to slowly weaken. I realized as the months and years passed that I became less and less willing to bear my testimony in church. I went from actively sharing my testimony on fast Sunday, to just sharing it once in awhile in Relief Society. As time wore on I stopped sharing it altogether. I became less excited to fulfill my callings and to go visiting teaching. I became withdrawn from church and stopped feeling guilty if we missed a Sunday here or there.
It was not that I was falling away from the church, but I had become apathetic towards strengthening my testimony. As I have reflected on this slow and steady digression of my testimony I have pinpointed what caused my apathy towards the church.
Simply put, I let my faith become stagnant. I pushed aside promptings to get up and bear my testimony until it became easier to just ignore them completely. Then, I replaced reading my scriptures at night with scrolling through Instagram as part of my bedtime routine. I replaced kneeling to pray with lying in bed half asleep mumbling a quick prayer. My sincere desire to grow spiritually was gone. Keeping my testimony strong had become too much work, so I simply stopped putting forth the effort to grow it.
I have since realized that after I was married in the temple I felt less accountable for my spiritual actions. I foolishly thought, I’ve completed the highest ordinance, the rest of our lives will be smooth sailing when it comes to the church.
It was not a quick digression. I still went to church. Still said my prayers. I still had faith in the gospel. I attended the temple and paid my tithing. In short, I went through all the motions without putting my heart into it. My faith was not my top priority. When I did have moments where the Spirit worked in me, I felt refreshed but also guilty and unsure how to have a real conversation with my Father in Heaven about my spiritual complacency. I knew it was all on me. I had to choose to take action and make good spiritual habits again.
I began to feel a change in me while I listened to my husband give our baby girl a name and a blessing. I watched as my husband cradled our infant daughter in his arms to be surrounded by some of the most important and influential men in her life. The spirit testified to me of Heavenly Father’s love for His children.
After the baby blessing the meeting moved through the sacrament and onto testimony meeting. I felt a familiar feeling of dread spread over me, my heart began to pound, and tears welled up in my eyes. Normally, I would have pushed this to the side, ignoring the strong feelings to get up and speak. I didn’t feel like I would know what to say anymore, it had been too long.
To my surprise my legs began to move and I found myself at the pulpit. I took a deep breath and let my heart do the talking. As I spoke I realized how deep our Father in Heaven’s love is for His children. I spoke of how deeply I loved my daughter, and that becoming a mother has helped me glimpse the vast love our Father in Heaven has for us.
I sat down with a renewed energy. Spiritually, I felt stronger than I had in a long time. It dawned on me that I was the one who chose if my faith grew or dwindled. I realized that all of those “primary answers” are actually the very things that can make or break our faith and testimony.
Making Joyful Habits
This gospel is not a checklist gospel. It is not a steady climb of receiving ordinances that suddenly flat lines once you reach the temple covenants. This gospel is a choice of supplying yourself with comfort and love through the tools left to us on this earth. Our Father in Heaven is so loving and so forgiving, and He yearns for us to return to Him someday.
One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. One line in particular has played through my head as I have begun the process of nourishing the roots of my testimony, it reads, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it/Prone to leave the God I love/Take my heart/Oh, take and seal it/Seal it for thy courts above.”
Even those of us who think we will never be “prone to wander” are not safe from the slippery slope of stagnant faith. This gospel is a gospel of growth and personal revelation. We are not meant to reach a point where we can no longer grow our testimony.
If we want to grow we must be active in our own spiritual growth by doing the small and simple things on a daily basis that keep us close to the spirit. If you have found yourself feeling stagnant in your faith, take heart, you are not alone. Your Father in Heaven loves you and longs for you to come to Him with your worries and struggles.
Remember, it takes 21 days to make a habit. Pick something you want to improve on: kneeling while you pray, reading a verse or two a day, or whatever it takes for you to make your way back up towards the light that gives your spirit sustenance.
The 1st verse of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” ends with these two lines: Praise the mount/I’m fixed upon it/Mount of thy redeeming love.”
Choose to be fixed upon the mount of the gospel. Do whatever it takes to ensure you do not become passive in your spiritual well being.