What My Mormon Friends Taught Me: Highlights From Four Years of Notes

I just moved recently, which has been a big change for me and my family. As I transition to life in a new town, I thought I’d look back on the past few years that I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and what I learned while living there. While living in Cambridge, I attended church every week to worship God, learn how to better follow Jesus Christ, and to commune with other believers. Over the years many people shared wisdom that touched my heart and helped me change for the better. Here I share insights that I gained from listening to my peers’ talks in church, specifically in sacrament meeting. These are only a few highlights, a tip of the iceberg of amazing insights I have gained from my faith community.

What is a sacrament meeting?

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (people often call us “Mormons” because in addition to the Bible we also study the Book of Mormon). If you’ve ever wondered, “what do Mormons talk about in Church?” This is your chance to take a peek into one of our significant meetings of the week: sacrament meeting. This is where we take the bread and water in remembrance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We also bare our souls to each other in testimony and unity. We share our beliefs and stories with each other to strengthen each other’s faith, support each other in hardships, and help visitors feel welcome. What I like about the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that it is open to anyone who would like to attend Sunday meetings and learn more.

Four years of notes

Each week I attend church and take notes on what I'm learning so I remember what I want to work on and the speaker's advice for how to do it and how to think about it. It has been helpful to keep a spiritual journal because I can refer back to things I've learned and continue to apply them.

Editorial note: I was able to capture many direct quotes (which are in quotation marks below), but other insights I paraphrase (as close to the quote as possible, not in quotation marks). I include only first names for privacy’s sake.

The insights

  • “A miracle is the supernatural overcoming the natural. Conversion is a miracle, then.” – Josh B., November 17, 2013
  • “Being a representative of Christ means putting your heart on the line.” – Aubrey B., January 19, 2014
  • “Grace raises us to do the good works we could not do alone.” – Tracy G., February 16, 2014
  • “The important factor in peace is that they understand the other’s opinion.” – Justin D., March 9, 2014
  • Anyone can come to Christ, and anyone can change. – Elder Orton (first name not known), March 16, 2014
  • “It takes courage to act without instructions. And it takes faith to do something that is difficult… when things seem dreadfully ambiguous, lonely, and unclear.” – Chris P., March 30, 2014
  • “When He asks us to change, he’s not talking about our personality. He’s talking about the personal debris and clutter that keep us from being who we truly are.” – Megan P., April 13, 2014
  • Seeing another person do good motivates the observer to do good. – Winston L., May 18, 2014
  • "Gratitude is the enabling mechanism to nurture us in the Atonement.” – Lis H., May 18, 2014
  • Some of us are pioneers in sharing the gospel online. – Marcus D., July 20, 2014
  • Bring all things in our lives into control and be master of our situations—this is how we often look at balance—but we must yield control to the Lord. We just negotiate the demands of life in a balanced way. – Mike B., August 24, 2014
  • “Your journal can help your posterity, yourselves, and even entire nations.” – Amber T., August 31, 2014
  • “The role of those who preside in the Church is to do the will of the Lord and to know the will of the Lord.” – Gordon L., September 21, 2014
  • If life gets crazy and hectic so we don’t have time for scripture study and prayer, that is the time to stop and just do it. Set everything aside and read your scriptures. - Alison P., September 28, 2014
  • “Learn to be patient with the things of the Spirit.” - Daniel P., September 28, 2014
  • “How much time per week do I spend relieving the hunger of the poor?” – Alex D., October 19, 2014
  • “The decision to get married is an act of faith.” – Christina C., October 19, 2014
  • Prayer doesn’t change God’s will; it changes me. – Sarah T., October 26, 2014
  • “Gratitude can be the flip side of pride.” – Dan S., November 23, 2014
  • The absence of conflict isn’t enough for us to experience peace. It is harmony with oneself, God, and man. – Morgan D., November 30, 2014
  • “If we read the scriptures and go to church and stop there, it is like reading the recipe again and again, and not baking the bread.” – Dan T., December 28, 2014
  • Repentance is a daily, personal decision. – Aidan T., January 25, 2015
  • “How can I ‘up my game’ as a friend?” – Rodnick B., February 1, 2015
  • “If we really believe something, it changes us.” – Isaac P., March 15, 2015
  • “The beauty and the inspirational, reckless quality of children." Intelligence, kindness, goodness of children. - Aleida I., March 15, 2015
  • Remembering is an important part of retaining faith in God. When we remember, we look upon past scenes of our lives. – Austin W., October 18, 2015
  • When we repent, we change with the help of God. – Grant A., November 15, 2015
  • Endurance isn’t suffering through challenges. It is a process of coming to Christ and being perfected in Him. – Morgan D., February 14, 2016
  • Feeling the spirit is easy, but knowing what the spirit is saying is different. – Scott R., March 13, 2016
  • “I know we’ll all be resurrected just like Jesus.” – Penny M., May 1, 2016
  • “It is hard to ignore someone once you know their story.” – Lisa H., May 22, 2016
  • When someone is living a Christlike life and because of that they naturally answer your prayer. Someone has devoted their life so much to God that they have helped you without being told directly from God to do so. – Grant A., May 29, 2016
  • “A burning desire is critical in obtaining a spiritual gift.” – Emily R., June 26, 2016
  • “Your Windows 7 testimony will soon not be compatible and you will have to upgrade to Windows 10.” – Alex W., July 10, 2016
  • “It shows true courage and faith when we defer to Him [God].” – Madison P., July 24, 2016
  • “Never stop learning, because that is when you stop growing.” – Teresa R., August 14, 2016
  • “We judge with severely impaired vision.” – Amelia S., August 21, 2016
  • “All worship practices have elements of praise and sacrifice.” – Lauren W., August 28, 2016
  • “Becoming one does not mean becoming the same.” – Rachel R., October 23, 2016
  • Acknowledge how much of our suffering isn’t just suffering, but expectations that aren’t met. – Lant P., November 20, 2016
  • “If I have been trying to live as a disciple of Christ for the last few months, what do I have to show for it?” – Kim B., December 3, 2016
  • “The Atonement provides personal power and collective power.” – Morgan W., January 1, 2017
  • "Be a peacemaker by creating an atmosphere of love, harmony, and helpfulness.” – Mark J., February 26, 2017
  • “Reserve headspace for God so you can be spiritually minded.” – Haley T., March 12, 2017
  • The gospel is like a perfect chocolate cake, but if I take a fistful of it and hand it to you, will you be as willing to accept? How we share the gospel matters. – Kari T., March 18, 2017
  • “We must prepare our children to be strong, courageous, and full of faith. […] Start, and then you’ll get there.” – Jennifer S., March 18, 2017
  • “Go [to the temple] so that the Lord can reveal Himself to us.” – Steve W., March 18, 2017
  • We can write anything online; do we mock others or troll? Social media isn’t the problem, but the dialogue or lack thereof. – Matt C., March 19, 2017
  • “Repentance is the most encouraging word in the dictionary.” – Adán M., March 19, 2017
  • Purposes of personal revelation: uplift, comfort, inform, restrain, confirm. – Keara W., May 28, 2017
  • We are all sinners. We perpetuate, even if in a small way, the drug-addicted, impoverished world. […] "An unwillingness to connect deeply with people is an unwillingness to forgive. It is an unwillingness to forgive their humanity.” – Zach D., July 15, 2017
  • “Exposure to your fears is a great panacea.” – Payton J., July 23, 2017
  • Cultivate experiences with the spirit to prepare for living through upcoming experiences without fear. – Brenda H., July 23, 2017

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