Yesterday in Relief Society
, we talked a bit about baptism. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people must be at least 8 years old to get baptized. We believe that 8 is the age of accountability, or as I understand it, it's the age when we become responsible for our reaction to the temptation to sin.
I find that many Church members who were baptized at age 8 are apologetic. They may say something like, "Oh, I grew up and was baptized when I was 8, but I 'converted' to The Church when I was older." "Converted" in that sense means they gained a personal testimony of the gospel and didn't lean on their parents' testimonies anymore.
In my experience, each age has a different level of accountability. I can say with conviction that when I was 8, I had a personal testimony of the gospel. I knew without a doubt that getting baptized was good. I knew the Godhead
was real, and I knew The Book of Mormon
was a divinely inspired record.
I suppose I understand what people mean when they say they were converted later, but even that kind of statement strikes me as sort of . . . odd. It seems to imply that there is a point when we finally "get it." That there is some point when we are completely intelligent beings. Lately, I feel like an intellectual and spiritual child. The more I grow and the more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much I don't know. There is no point where we are completely intelligent beings. There is just no end to learning.
Certain periods of my life are filled with more spiritual learning than others, and now is one of those periods. I can tell you how old I was each time I had a spiritual awakening, so to speak: 8, 14, 17, 18, 21, 23, and 26. The later "awakenings" are typically preceded by a "trial," as Mormons like to say.
I can now add 28 to the list of of years. This has been a difficult year for me in a few ways, but just yesterday, I realized something that has made all the difference in my outlook today. That is, I realized that I have had an attitude of entitlement for the last year. I felt like I deserved certain things -- that it was my turn for Heavenly Father to bless me with the things I want. I don't deserve anything, really. Put another way, what makes me so special? Sure, Heavenly Father loves me because He created me, but He doesn't have to show his love by giving me everything I want, nor should he. Everyone recognizes the problem with spoiling a child.
More and more, I am learning that this life is supposed to be filled with service and selflessness. I shouldn't be so concerned about what I get in the world, but what I can give to it. True, a life of service is a life of sacrifice and patience, but it's sprinkled with happy moments that give joy to the journey
—moments of laughter and incredible bonds of friendship and love.
I can sense things changing in my mind. I sense that I am reaching a new level of accountability, and I am converted to the gospel in a different way than I was at ages 8, 12, 20, or 25.
This post probably seems too serious, and maybe it's boring, too. (And maybe you're tired of reading about Mormons.) But I wanted to share it, anyway. I wanted to tell you what I'm learning, and what I learn in church on Sundays. It's the day that keeps me going during the week, and it's the thing that fills my soul with happiness and light.
Thing I'm thankful for: berries. Any kind of berry.