Backpacking and Testimonies

When my oldest two children were 6 and 7, we decided they were old enough to take on a backpacking trip.

We planned our trip with cousins, planned food, talked about how hard it would be but how awesome it would be all at the same time. They knew we were excited about it. Our enthusiasm helped them to be excited about something they had never experienced before.

The time finally came and off we went.

And it was HARD.

There were tears, lots of candy breaks and cousins helping cousins. It was an 8-mile hike to base camp. We set up camp, fished, ate, fished some more, hiked some difficult trials to higher lakes and when the day came to leave, hiked out another 8 miles.

By the end of the trip, their little legs had made it over 20 miles of difficult terrain. It was not completely what they expected. It was harder. But what they got to experience was greater then they expected.

The beauty was unimaginable. The fishing was phenomenal. They got to experience and see things that most people in the world will never see, because they were willing to put forth the effort.

Fast forward four years; our same two children had gone every year since, loving it more and more, and not letting the hardness of it stop them from going. Now it was time to take our younger two girls.

They had heard the stories for years; heard how hard it was, but mostly the great stories. They were convinced that they could do it and they wanted to. And yes they experienced the same things as our older children: harder then they thought; the hardest thing they had ever done.

But guess what, they went back and did it again the next year.

I look back to all those many years ago when we went out for our first time, our kids went out because we helped them see what a great expereince it would be. And they felt good about it. They had their own experience with it and had become converted to the outdoors and doing things that challenged them.

The many miles they traversed up and down mountains, blistered their feet, shed tears, all of it has led to their love and desire to spend time in the mountains and doing things that can be harder then you think.

I tell this story to compare it to our testimony of Jesus Christ. Someone can initially light a fire in us about Jesus Christ. They can teach us about Him and take us to church.

But our true conversion comes from actually experiencing Jesus Christ in our lives. It comes from asking the hard questions and being willing to doubt some of the things you have always believed.

And let me be clear, there is a difference between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and many of the things that people in the Church of Jesus Christ do. They are not the same.

Often times people will say that their testimony has been shaken because of something that a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has done. It is more accurate to say that their beliefs about that particular person have changed.

Your testimony about the Savior can not change by the actions of someone else. You either believe in Christ or you don’t. You either believe that the Church of Jesus Christ is true, or you don’t. But you have to do the work and experience it and have your own conversion.

Will it be hard?

Yes. Harder than you ever thought. But believing is a choice. It is a choice you have to make every day.

Every year my children had to make the choice if they would go backpacking again. We have to make a choice every day if we are going to believe in Christ.

Conversion is a journey, not a destination. Sometimes it may seem hard to believe. But in my experience, my belief in Christ has helped me feel and experience things I could not have felt any other way. I have felt the peace and comfort that many people don’t ever get to experience because I have made the choice to believe.

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  • Kim Chapman

    You rock! I want to be you when I grow up!

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