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February 06, 2015
Lessons from a Sacrament Talk: "The Day I Realized that I Had Been Deceived as a Youth"
by Jeff Lindsay

In spite of the lack of professional ministers with finely honed public speaking skills, I frequently find powerful content in the talks given in sacrament meetings. Sometimes I feel that listening, or pretending to, is an act of charity, but more often I am the recipient of charity if I make the effort to listen and learn.

There's a great Chinese saying for this: If three people walk by, surely at least one of them will have something to teach me. I think we have even better odds in sacrament meetings.

One talk recently given in the U.S. by a woman whom I greatly respect teaches us some of the dangerous deceptions in our culture. She discusses what she had learned from the world as a young woman and how precious the teachings of the Church were to her in helping her to find greater happiness in life and avoid some of the disasters the world encourages.

Parents may not realize how strong and pervasive some of these influences are, and how important it is to feed our children with truth and guidance to give them intellectual and spiritual tools to see through the deceptions of our era.

This excerpt is used with her kind permission:

I have heard the saying, “I do not know where I would be without the church,” and for me this is mostly true.  I can’t look at my life in parallel universes, but I do know that I faced some tough choices that I resolved through having faith in God, and had I not had that foundation I would have chosen very differently.

I was taught through popular culture to devalue womanhood and family living.  As a youth I bought into a lot of the hype, and had determined (like many of my friends) that I wouldn’t marry or have a family. 

I learned at school and through media that modesty was old-fashioned and for generations past.  I observed that casual relations with multiple partners was a way to be a feminist, and hook-up culture was freedom and fun. 

These same sources taught that life was cheap both for the unborn and the infirm or elderly.  Things were all about me, and what I wanted, what I needed, right when I demanded them.  My generation is frequently called ‘the me, me generation,’ and I think that is a fair description of what I would be without the Church.

A lot of you have known me for a long time, and while I have a lot of faults, some of the ones I mentioned above are not and never were a part of my behavior.  And that is because of the gospel.  I knew there was a God and because of that, I could not violate his rigid commandments.  So I didn’t participate in the hook-up culture that surrounded me. 

I had been taught at home and church that modesty showed respect for Heavenly Father and myself, so I refrained from buying clothes that at the time I thought were more attractive.  I learned to participate in service projects and focus on people other than myself, and was surprised when it made me feel better than when I was selfish. 

I chose to date and limited myself to only those whose standards would allow for a temple marriage.  As I aged, I followed promptings that led to marriage and family.

Sometimes I made these choices without understanding the long-term consequences.  As a teenager, I felt isolated by some of the requirements that following the Lord entails.  I remember telling myself that I would be really, really angry if in 10 years I wished that I hadn’t listened to church teachings.  

President Eyring in his April 2014 conference talk, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope,” said:

Every person born into the world receives the Light of Christ, which helps us see and feel what is right and what is wrong. God has sent mortal servants who can, by the Holy Ghost, help us recognize what He would have us do and what He forbids.

God makes it attractive to choose the right by letting us feel the effects of our choices. If we choose the right, we will find happiness — in time. If we choose evil, there comes sorrow and regret — in time.

Those effects are sure. Yet they are often delayed for a purpose. If the blessings were immediate, choosing the right would not build faith. And since sorrow is also sometimes greatly delayed, it takes faith to feel the need to seek forgiveness for sin early rather than after we feel its sorrowful and painful effects.

I love how he tells us that the blessings and consequences are often delayed so that we build faith as we choose righteousness over time.  I can testify that this is true in my life.

One of the most powerful moments in my life was the day I realized that I had been deceived as a youth.  It was the day I gave birth to my daughter.  I didn’t have a testimony of motherhood at that time, and it would be a few more years in coming, but when I held her in my arms, I knew that I had been lied to about abortion.  

I expected a parasite or a lump of red mass — not a baby.  I had been told that fetuses do not become babies until months after they were born.  I was shocked to see that she was a person, a baby, and so perfectly formed with fingers and toes.  And that she already wanted me more than anyone else. 

She had to go back into the hospital when she was three days old over a high fever, and during her fussy time, I wanted my mom to take her and make it better, but [my daughter] wanted me because I was the mom that for her was supposed to make it all better.  So I knew she had emotions and thoughts. 

I reeled for months at the implications of this deception that I had bought into.  I thought of all the girls I knew that so casually threw away life either through their own experiences or in the way they advised others. 

It was that moment where truth from Heaven bore powerful testimony that there were many more things that I didn’t understand and know, but that the Lord knew and understood.  That moment made me so grateful that I had listened to the commandments in my youth.

The deception from the abortion industry and its supporters has been particularly offensive and deadly, in my opinion. Terrible harm is also done by the many factors that promote casual sex and many other behaviors contrary to the teachings of Christ.

There is calculated deception coupled with abundant ignorance and foolishness, much of which is dressed as wisdom and coolness. Thank goodness for the moral bearings we are given in the Church. May we help our youth better understand the wisdom of what they are taught and help them be able to think past the deceptions and temptations they will face.

Helping them learn from great examples who give great sacrament talks is one step in the right direction. May we have more speakers reaching our hearts and our minds to help us grow.

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