The Work of Restoration Didn’t End with Joseph. It Continues with You and Me

    January 31, 2020
    On my way to serve a full-time proselytizing mission, my Grandma Baugh told me I was still alive because I had important things to do. Years prior I had been minutes away from death in an operating room, and now here I was about to leave for the former Soviet Union. I was scared. Her message helped. And though it came in an unremarkable moment in a minivan on the freeway, her encouragement has rolled through my mind many times since.
    My late grandma’s words have had staying power because they are true. Every soul is special and has a unique contribution to make in God’s work. As Pamela Druckerman, a writer, said, “somewhere in the world, there’s a gap shaped just like you. Once you find it, you’ll slide right in,” (“How to Find Your Place in the World After Graduation,” New York Times, May 29, 2015).
    The work of restoration is as much ours to continue as it was Joseph’s to begin.
    And yet half the time I do not believe this is true—at least for me. Quashing the voice of self-doubt is like getting rid of a housefly. Self-doubt is small, nagging, elusive. Sometimes he shouts, other times he whispers, but he’s always sending messages. Sure you are unique, he tells me with an eye roll, just like everybody else.
    Yet we believe, thanks in large part to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that each of us matters and has a work to do. In Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the founding event of that Restoration, the prophet tells us that the Father called him “by name” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17). If you have ever had someone important address you by name, you will know something of the deep value and trust that this servant of God must have felt in that precious moment.
    The Restoration, as we see, began on a very personal note. And while Joseph Smith was indeed the man destined to “[bring] to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 3:24), another tremendous truth God gave us through the Book of Mormon is that the work of the Restoration is as much ours to continue as it was Joseph’s to begin. Nephi said this restoration will occur “among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (2 Nephi 30:8). Every one of us, Latter-day Saint or not, can help make this happen.
    How do we do it? Perhaps we start by studying the work of Restoration through Book of Mormon scriptures. Some verses speak of God restoring His children to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Others teach of our Father gathering His scattered children. These are things happening every day before our eyes. You and I are those children, brothers and sisters in the global family of God.
    The work of the Restoration requires our willing hands, hearts, and minds actively engaged in bringing wholeness to our world (see 2 Nephi 25:17). This can happen in a multitude of ways. We know, for example, that many societies and families are riven with rancorous discourse and tragic mistrust. So many hearts have turned cold, in part, because so few listen. 
    This is not the way of Jesus Christ. He counseled early Saints to “let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man [and woman] may have an equal privilege” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:122). To give someone the respect of speaking, of sharing their feelings, while we listen instead of step on their words as we consider what we want to say next, is a key ingredient to create a world bound by charity. To do our part in the work of Restoration, followers of the Messiah should be the world’s models and guides in the delicate art of civil discourse with and loving interest in our family and neighbors—to say nothing of living and preaching the gospel generally.
    The voice of self-doubt is strong. The temptation to overlook others’ needs is real. But my Grandma Baugh’s immortal words to me as I embarked on a long journey to Ukraine stand firm as a mighty mountain as a witness of what is possible. Each of us is needed. We can begin restoring beautiful moments of love and grace to the world now. We must listen to and learn from others. Oneness and wholeness cannot come without these skills put to regular use. If Enoch and his people could build a “City of Holiness” (Moses 7:19) thousands of years ago, why can’t we create similar cities of holiness in our time?
    In this bicentennial year of Joseph Smith’s grand theophany, or vision of Deity, consider the work of Restoration God is calling you to do. You will never be fully aware of how far the ripples of your good works will reach. But make no mistake—in the years or decades to come, one of your family members or friends will be eternally grateful that you tried.

    Samuel B. Hislop

    Samuel B. Hislop is a writer from Utah. He and his wife, Melissa, are parents to three little girls.