Since my childhood, I’ve always felt happy as a passenger on the back of the motorcycle, carefree and just enjoying the ride. My husband Anthony, however, insisted that he knew I would love riding by myself. “How could it be so different, really, from riding as a passenger?” I wondered.
One day I grew tired of his prodding, so with a little trepidation, I swung my leg over the bike and fired it up. He gave me a quick lesson on shifting and braking and then I set out on the country road by our house.
I enjoyed testing out the steering along the bumpy road. The bends were conscious decisions rather than merely yielding to physics. I felt keenly aware of the wind on my face and through my hair. The air temperature played with the hairs on my skin as I neared irrigation sprinklers and then again as the air dried out. I determined which road to take and at what speed. Driving the motorcycle was completely different than being the passenger, and I loved it!
In seeking truth, I followed a similar path. Initially, I learned from others and I was content. I felt comfortable riding on their vehicles of knowledge until one day I realized that teachers, friends, and family could not completely answer questions burning in my soul.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently called the Mormon Church), I believe in Jesus Christ. His words to ancient and modern day prophets taught me how to become His disciple. He taught the truths that can and do make us free through His perfect Gospel. My parents taught me that true answers come from God through the peaceful assurance of the Holy Spirit, who as a member of the Godhead, teaches and testifies of truth.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).
My prayers became more meaningful as I sought to know truth. As a Mormon, I had been taught, and believed, that all mankind are the spirit children of Almighty God sent to earth to gain bodies and choose to follow His commandments or not. After our opportunities on earth, I believe that our spirits and bodies will be resurrected—to live eternally. Knowing these truths of God’s plan of salvation gave me confidence in making decisions to remain pure and chaste, to avoid alcohol and drugs, and to maintain integrity in my schoolwork against tough peer pressure as a teenager. In High School, I realized that keeping God’s commandments does bring true freedom!
While knowing the truths about God’s grand plan for mankind, sometimes it was still hard to know that He had a specific plan for me. Studying the scriptures opened amazing avenues of learning to me. Almost every major trial I’ve experienced in life has been identified and answered by someone in the scriptures. The mechanics of the my story and his or her story were often different (no mention of High School Choir trips or car accidents), but as I saw the hand of God in each scripture story, I began noticing His hand in my life as well. I gained faith in His purpose and in miracles.
What Is Truth? And How Can I Find Truth?
While reading the scriptures, I learned that “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. … And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth [God’s] commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24, 27-28).
A college friend took me for a motorcycle ride up a canyon one evening. I love riding in the coolness of evening time. As he maneuvered the motorcycle, my thoughts wandered and I looked around aimlessly. I carelessly looked too far over my shoulder and the wind caught my glasses and blew them off my face. My friend turned around and we quickly retraced our path. The glasses were already smashed beyond repair by a car. I was left in near-sighted blindness.
An aimless, wandering approach to truth would not produce the effects I sought! The truths and freedom the Savior promised does not cross the careless, haphazard path of righteousness. But, the promise is sure, “He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light…”
Clarity of vision comes through the Holy Ghost. He is the Comforter, whom the Savior promised, “the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all thing to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
He testifies of the true nature of God. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
Joseph Smith’s Search For Truth
To have faith in God and Jesus Christ, one must have a true understanding of their characteristics. The reestablishment of The Church of Jesus Christ in modern times began by an event known to Latter-day Saints as The First Vision. After studying the tenets of religion and wanting to follow God’s commandment to be baptized, Joseph Smith read James 1:5 stating, “If any of you lack you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” Emboldened by God’s promise to answer his sincere prayer, Joseph knelt alone in a grove of trees to ask God which church he should join.
I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him! (See Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17.)
God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith! The First Vision revealed God the Eternal Father and the Lord Jesus Christ again to mankind. Their personal visitation corrected erroneous beliefs about the nature of the Godhead. God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct personages. Knowing truth about the basic nature of God enables me freedom to build a true and lasting relationship with Deity.
How To Be Happy
In the record of the Savior’s people on the American continent called the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi taught his children about truth and choice. I’ve pondered a part of one verse for many years: “and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Joy in this world of hardship and depravity? Yes!
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27).
We are free to choose happiness or misery. We are free to choose truth or remain in darkness. We are free to be changed by what we learn—internalize and repent of sins—or study truth without every coming to a knowledge of the truth.
I invite you to seek, and be changed, by the Savior’s truths! He truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Light!
I learned the truth that because of the Savior’s redemption of mankind joy is a choice. I can enjoy this amazing world and my life because I know that Jesus Christ truly lived and died for me and all mankind. I know that His commandments provide safety and freedom. I know that according to God’s merciful plan for us, we will live again after we die. Truth brings His peace.
Almost nothing captivates me more than riding towards a glorious West Texas sunset. The entire western sky blazes with heavenly fire. The reds, yellows, oranges, and purple hues blend together in a perfect harmony of Divine majesty. The truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ blend together even more gloriously, for they proclaim our divine nature as children of God and His eternal plan for us. How can I keep from rejoicing?! My insatiable appetite to continue learning the truths of God compels me forward into that beautiful sunset.