I have been thinking about opposition. By definition it is, a conflict, a resistance or disagreement. But I have been thinking about opposition on a deeper, more spiritual level. Bare with me here…I remember when I was about 12 years old (I think…it might have been a little later than that…I’m fuzzy on it right now…), I was going through a very tumultuous time in my life. It wasn’t like Joseph Smith whose family was pulling in so many directions as to which church to believe in and attend, but I was feeling like my life was not going the way it was supposed to. My parents were separating and would likely divorce and my grandmother had died recently.
We were on this family trip to visit church history sites back East and I was miserable. I was annoyed by everything. I was angry with my mom and everyone else, because no one seemed to understand that I was not okay, but I didn’t want to actually talk about what was going on either. I enjoyed being around my cousins during the trip, but more than anything I liked listening to my angsty teenage music – namely Linkin Park. I listened to that CD over and over again the entire trip. And that might have been part of the problem. Not that the lyrics were all that bad, but the Spirit couldn’t be with me,couldn’t speak to me. Probably because I was listening to the CD so loud. Like as loud as my ears could handle…
But at one point in the trip, we went to the Sacred Grove.
If you don’t know anything about the history of the LDS church, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), the Sacred Grove is in Upstate New York and it is the approximate location of where Joseph Smith knelt to pray after being prompted by scripture to ask God which church was correct so that he might join it. It is also the place in which God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph in order to answer his prayer.
Anyway, when we got to the edge of the grove, there was a sign that talked about how it was a holy place and I stopped to think about what happened there. I purposely separated myself from my family. I wanted to be by myself and I realize now that I was searching for an answer. I was having my own Joseph Smith moment… I was trying to understand why all these things were happening to me if the gospel was true. Somehow I felt that because my family was going through a crisis that the church must not be entirely true. How could it be when families are supposed to be together forever and my eternal family was broken? As I wandered behind my family, listening to the rustling leaves, the squirrels under the fallen leaves, and in the branches above me, I had a thought.
It was as if someone asked me, if the church, if the gospel isn’t true, why was there a force working so hard to keep one 14 year old boy from saying a prayer? Why was there a darkness seeking to destroy this one boy with a simple but important question?
It occurred to me that if Satan was working that hard to keep something from coming to this earth, then it must be true. I started to understand that if Joseph hadn’t felt confused, he wouldn’t have felt the clarity of the answer he received. If he hadn’t been assaulted by darkness, he would not have felt the peace of the light of Christ and our Father in Heaven. If he had not experienced those things, he would never have had the strength, the faith, and the ability to move forward and endure the trials he would face as a witness of God, a prophet of God, and the man who would translate the Book of Mormon.
Then I started to understand that if I believed all of those things really happened, then I must believe in the Book of Mormon, if I believe in the Book of Mormon then I must also believe in its teachings. If I believe in what the Book of Mormon teaches, then I must also believe in the gospel and the doctrine it teaches.
And while this answer didn’t explain why I personally was dealing with what I felt like was the end of the world, it did reassure me that if I would just continue to be faithful and try to do the things the Lord asked me to do that I could eventually come to understand the hardships that I was asked to endure and would continue to be given to test and shape me into the person He needs me to become.
I have a testimony of opposition. I know that without opposition we are less likely to succeed. We are less likely to value the blessings in our lives, that we are less likely to be grateful when we are blessed and humble and repentant when we have made a mistake.
I won’t claim to have a perfect understanding of my trials or why I have been asked to endure them, but I continue to gain understanding that they have purpose, that Heavenly Father fulfills his promises when I keep my covenants.