I Couldn’t Get Rid of the Book
January 1992

“I Couldn’t Get Rid of the Book,” Ensign, Jan. 1992, 53–54

I Couldn’t Get Rid of the Book

When my infant son died, I lost what little religious faith I had and became completely inactive in the church I had grown up in. I felt that I was being punished in some way I could not understand and that God was being spiteful in taking my baby from me. As a result, I would not allow religion of any kind in my home.

But my life became increasingly unhappy as the months went by, and even though I was blessed with another son, neither he nor another son born to us a few years later seemed to compensate for the loss I had sustained. When my six-year-old Rodney prevailed upon me to attend church services again, and when he was granted his First Communion at age eight, I returned to my church. To my surprise, I enjoyed it.

Still, I seemed to be searching for something, and finally I realized the cause of my unhappiness. While I was terribly good on Sunday, I gave no thought to religion the rest of the week. Often I prayed, “Please help me to get closer to thee, to be a better mother, a better wife, and a better Christian.” Although I felt a deep urge to better my life, I just didn’t know where to begin.

Then one morning in January 1977, two LDS missionaries knocked on our door and asked if they could have a few minutes of my time. Begrudgingly, I gave them fifteen minutes to say their message and leave: missionaries were definitely not on my guest list. They came in—and left two and one-half hours later. I invited them to come back to discuss the literature I had agreed to read; but I would not take a copy of the Book of Mormon at first. The ideas, though plausible, were too far out for me.

When the elders returned later, they discovered that while I had read the literature, I had not prayed about it. So we made another appointment. I read more material, but found it hard going. Eventually, I asked the elders not to return.

Then something strange happened. They had prevailed upon me to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon, and although I did everything possible to get that book out of my sight, it kept popping up. The maid would find it and place it on top of the bookcase, or the children would bring it out. Because it was precious to the Mormons, who obviously believed in it, I didn’t want to destroy it.

One Sunday when I went to church and knelt, as usual, to say my prayers before the services began, I suddenly felt the urge to pray about this strange book. Gradually, as I prayed, I realized that I was not asking any more if the Church and the book were true. I was asking my Heavenly Father to give me the courage to accept this new way of life, to accept the fact that I was going to have a lot of opposition, possibly even rejection, from my family.

When I had finished praying, I felt as though all the strength had drained out of me, yet I also felt completely new and strong—as though I’d been scrubbed with a brush and had come up shining like a new penny. Tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t wait to get home. My younger son was concerned about me, but I couldn’t explain to a five-year-old what I was feeling. I told him I was just happy—ladies sometimes cry when they are happy.

The next morning I went to the only Latter-day Saint I knew, an old friend of mine, and asked for a layman’s point of view about the Church. As we talked, the Holy Spirit was strong in our midst. I cried all the way home, and then rushed to the telephone and asked the elders to come and teach me immediately. Their enthusiasm was as great as mine.

Despite all the opposition I received from my husband, he gave his permission for me to be baptized just five weeks after I started the lessons. My oldest son, Rodney, convinced his dad that he was happy in the Church and never wanted to change. Eventually, my husband consented to Rodney’s baptism, and later he agreed to allow our younger son, Brendan, and our daughter, Sharon, to be baptized also.

I want to shout my happiness from the rooftops. I want to rush out and convert everyone in sight. I don’t want them to lose out on anything. If my testimony sows even one small seed of goodness and light in someone’s heart, then I shall be eternally grateful.

  • Elisabeth Carol Flanagan serves as a visiting teacher and as a ward music chairman in the Durban Berea Ward, in the Natal South Africa Stake.