I Felt Understood

“I Felt Understood,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 7

I Felt Understood

When I was a child, we always had the Church magazines in our home. Every month I would grab the fresh new copy of the Friend from the mail pile in the kitchen and devour the entire magazine in a day. I would spend many other days rereading it, doing the crafts, trying the recipes. For years I carefully saved every copy, often going back to read past issues.

Years later, as a missionary in South America, I again found myself waiting with anticipation for our magazines to arrive. When the Spanish Liahona would finally come, my companion and I would hunker down in our apartment for a blissful hour of reading. The messages always lifted our spirits. We used the articles in our companion study, and we found our work moved along more effectively.

After mission and marriage, I continued to read the Ensign but eventually began to take it for granted. Then, for a variety of reasons, my husband and I failed to renew our subscription. At the time, I was struggling spiritually. I was still active in the Church but found myself withdrawing. I felt that I just didn’t fit in. Although I realized that many of my negative feelings were self-generated, I felt powerless to stop.

While I was dealing with those feelings and working to regain my footing, I stopped by a friend’s house one day, and on her table lay a copy of the Ensign. I began to read and found it difficult to put the magazine down, so I borrowed it and stayed up late that night reading it from cover to cover. I don’t recall specific articles, only the feeling that the topics were relevant and that almost every article seemed to apply to me personally. I felt understood.

Later, one of my visiting teachers left me a copy of the Ensign and the Friend. She continued to shower me with the latest copies until I finally picked up the telephone and ordered my own magazines.

Now, when the mail comes and I see that thick packet, I get excited. I know I will gain valuable insights into scriptures and doctrines and that I will grow from hearing the experiences of others. But most of all I know that I am connected to people from all over the world. We may come from varied circumstances and have vastly different life experiences, but that is a strength and one of the reasons we all need each other. What we share—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is more than enough to see us through.

I am so happy that the Church magazines are now back in our home to stay.

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  • Karen Van Alfen is a member of the Hingham Ward, Hingham Massachusetts Stake.

Illustrated by Richard Hull