“What I Was Searching For,” New Era, June 1997, 49
I shut the little black book. A feeling of success surged within me. I actually had finished it. I had read the whole book. Now what was supposed to happen? I recalled the words that were written in one of the book’s last chapters. “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4).
Okay. I knew that I was supposed to feel a burning in the bosom or an overwhelming knowledge of truth. At least that’s what other members of the Church said in their testimonies. They all felt it when they knew that the Church was true. They were sincere. So why wasn’t I feeling anything? Why wasn’t God appearing to me? How will I know if it’s true? How will I know if it’s not? How did they know?
I looked at the little black book. It was torn and tattered, the once-white pages now a stale yellow. The black leather cover bore ugly creases running up and down the length of it. The binding hung limply by the little glue that was left. I opened the cover and read the inscription. “To Michelle Glenetske, from Mom with love.”
When my mom first gave me this copy of the Book of Mormon, I treated it as a souvenir from her visit to Utah. I was too young then to really understand what it meant. Little did I know the true meaning behind those hard-to-read words. Little did I know the faith and courage it had taken the authors to record their day-to-day lives, their revelations, and their spiritual knowledge, even during times of pain and suffering. At that time I did not see, or care to see, the value of this little black book.
During early-morning seminary my freshman year, we read the Book of Mormon together as a class. We had read most of it, and now I had finished all of it—on my own. I did it without my parents or Church leaders pushing me. I did it to fulfill that unknown prompting that wandered within my soul. It was a quest for knowledge and understanding—and now I had finished the race. So where was my reward? Why wasn’t I feeling the way the Church leaders said I should? Was it really not true? I didn’t think I could bear the thought of the one thing that I based my life around not being true. I had to know.
I stepped into the warm spring air and wandered slowly to the big oak tree behind the shed. There I sat on the mossy earth, looking at the cloudless, blue sky. I silently put my little black book next to me and stared blankly into the large branches of the beautiful tree. I saw and felt nothing. I heard nothing except for the unceasing pounding against my chest. I began to pray in my mind. Is it true? I asked.
A few minutes later, a loud chirp broke me out of my reverie. I shook my head and then looked up. I saw a faint rustle among the leaves. But I heard a chirp of a mother robin, and soon heard many delicate cheeps. A feeling of total peace overcame me. “God made all these wonderful things for us,” I said in a whisper. “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small.” I remembered the song I was taught in Primary. “All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God, made them all” (Children’s Songbook, no. 231). Tears formed in my eyes, threatening to spill at any moment.
I was finally realizing what God had done for me. I began to understand who I was. But more significantly, the knowledge of what I had been searching for had finally come. I wasn’t sure how it had. All I knew is I had experienced a feeling of peace that I had never felt before. I knew.