Why I’m Still Here

    March 6, 2020
    “Lord, to whom shall we go? . . . We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68–69).
    I recently read an article about religion written by a millennial. With many young adults forsaking church and religion, he asked himself, “Why am I still here?” It made me think, and I’ve been asking myself ever since, “Why am I still here?”
    Here, religious. Here, Christian. Here, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    It’s not a popular choice, and it’s not convenient, but here I am. Why?
    Why am I still here when the moms I meet at the park turn down my invitations to church and say things like “Oh no, we’re not religious”? Afterward, things get a little awkward. Is it so terrible to want to share my faith?
    Why am I still here when my longtime pen pal writes asking me about my religion’s stance toward homosexuality? I worry that our differing views will end a friendship.
    Why am I still here when admired role models have left? They seem happy. Trendy. Unbothered by strict modesty standards, dietary codes, or sexual boundaries.
    Why am I still here when the local Christian bookshop stocks literature that attacks my beliefs? In a world that offers little support for my religious convictions, would it be easier to just live by my own conscience?
    I’ve been musing for months, and slowly the Holy Ghost is answering my questions. Why am I here?
    “I am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I believe that this is His Church. And I rejoice to belong here.”
    I am here because:
    This is the Church of Jesus Christ, and I want to be wherever He is: His name, His message, His kindness.
    Isaiah wrote that “mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed,” but His kindness will not depart from us (see Isaiah 54:10). I need that kindness! Because while I am sinful and prone to belittlement and judgment, He compels me to show kindness toward myself and others.
    I am here because:
    Repentance isn’t easy or comfortable, but it is the invitation that I need most. I don’t find that invitation in self-help books or social media nearly as often as I find it from God. I can always trust that the Holy Ghost and my Church leaders will invite me to become the finest version of myself.
    I am here because:
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has unpaid clergy and a council-led congregation, which means that I am needed here—we all are! Whether it’s teaching Sunday School or accepting a new ministering assignment, I’m grateful for opportunities to practice loving my neighbor as myself (see Matthew 22:36–40).
    I am here because:
    I have seen devoted scripture study soothe my social anxiety and marital grief and motherly angst. I can’t say that the Book of Mormon or the Bible are the easiest things I read, but they are the only things I’ll never stop reading. Most of the books I read are current and earthly, but scriptures are eternal and heavenly. I need more of that in my life.
    I am here because:
    Joseph Smith’s experience grants me permission to ask big questions. To answer my doubts with prayer. To believe in great vision and divine enterprise.
    I am here because:
    The priesthood, rightly honored, makes benevolent men and women, kind husbands and wives, and gentle mothers and fathers. As a woman, wife, and mother, I couldn’t be more grateful. I don’t bless the sacrament or lead a congregation, but I am cultivating priesthood powers that enable angelic ministrations (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:20). I believe that it is priesthood power that animates my best attempts to ask inspired questions, mourn with those that mourn, and advocate for the well-being of others. At a prophet’s behest, I am trying to “draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help [my] family and others [I] love” (Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 77).
    I am here because:
    We have a prophet and twelve Apostles. And unlike most celebrities or social media influencers, their whole purpose is to influence me to become more like my Savior (see Acts 10:43). Their words inspire my daily walk.
    I am here because:
    My family is here. My children, my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, and my great-great-grandparents. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is my heritage. I feel at home here.
    (Not everyone can claim the faith of their parents. Grand applause to all you pilgrims of faith!)
    I am here because:
    My faith in Jesus Christ and His prophets has contributed to the goodness of my life: my education, my children, my marriage, my love of neighbors. If I am at peace with my life, it is because I am committed to the Savior, His gospel, and His Church.
    So why am I here?
    The answer, in verse, came first from Peter. In John 6 we read that other disciples were leaving the faith, so Jesus put the question to Peter: “Will ye also go away?”
    Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? . . . We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67–69).
    Simply stated, I am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I believe that this is His Church. And I rejoice to belong here.
    So no matter what my millennial peers decide to do in their respective religions, you can plan on seeing me at church. This week and the next. And every week after that.
    I’ll stay here. Here, with religion. Here, with Christ. Here, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Jenny Harris

    Jenny loves writing, bookclubbing, and stargazing. Her favorite occupation is parenting two beautiful little girls together with her husband Andy.