Last week I spent the best week on the BYU campus in Provo attending Education Week classes, meeting with friends, and having “thinking” time in little nooks all around campus. I came home excited to share some of the things I learned.
While I was in Provo, I spent a morning with a friend who asked me a question. I was grateful that I had spent time thinking about my answer and was ready to respond to her question.
Her question was about the church and was simple – Why do I stay?
I was reminded of the scripture in 1 Peter 3:15. Here it is, paraphrased a little:
“Be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, and do it with gentleness and respect.”
I was so grateful that just weeks before she asked this question that I had settled down with a journaling page titled “Why I Stay.”
I had a page full of answers that made sense to me. I love our doctrines – of the temple, the baptismal covenant where I promise to come into the fold and stand as a witness of Christ, and for me, the biggest reason is “The Plan”, because I’ve rarely met a plan that I don’t love. I envision “The Plan of Salvation” or “The Plan of Happiness” as an eternal round starting and ending with Heavenly Parents who love me and want to help me become like them.
For people, like me, who have a spouse or children who have left the faith, being able to answer the question, “why do you stay”, and being able to explain with honesty, gentleness and respect, is a great exercise to think about before the question is asked.
Be Ready – Find a quiet time and sit down with your journal and ask yourself the question. “Why do I stay?” Write out your answers. Don’t take a lot of time, but do think through all the aspects of life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What things do you love? What things ring true?
Answer – I find it an absolute joy to be asked, and an even greater joy to be ready with reasons that I am able to share honestly and directly.
Asks – I am not asked very often, but I have been asked by my friend, my daughter and my husband, what I find appealing about the gospel. The key for me has been to wait until asked. When I try to tell my friends and family about how I feel about the gospel, before they ask me, they often are not ready to hear me. When they ask, I am able to share.
Reasons for the hope inside of you – I have spent time really thinking about the things that I love, that bring me hope and fill me with overflowing love. Those are the things that I think about, concentrate on and make central to my life. They are the thoughts I think about on purpose and I am prepared to share when asked.
Gentleness and Respect – With many things it’s not about what you say, but how you say them. Being able to share with gentleness and respect leaves my relationship with my favorite people – my friends and family – ongoing and undamaged. I want to be in a relationship with them forever. I try to say what I want to say simply, genuinely, directly and centered on what it means to me.
It’s a good journaling exercise to answer the question – Why Do I Stay?
Think about making this question the focus of your morning devotional time. As you think about the gospel, and what it means to you, write about your answers.
What? You don’t have a devotional time? I can help with that. If you are struggling with developing your spiritual health and well-being, I can help you learn to pray with a little more focus, ask questions and learn to listen to answers from the spirit, and use your scripture time to find joy in spiritual learning.