Originally published September 3, 2017, on Jepsonfiles.com
This summer has been an important one for me and for my development. I have had more experiences that have helped me to understand how God knows us and is watching out for us as individuals. First, I had another opportunity to speak in church. That is always something that brings a lot of growth because it is so hard for me. Second, my brother Ben got home from his mission. It was awesome to see him and to see how much he has grown spiritually. He really has the light of Christ with him as such a recent full-time servant of God. It is always a bitter-sweet feeling for me to see people come and go from their missions. My church is a missionary church. We have a message that is an important one to share about the gospel of Jesus Christ and about the restoration of the fullness of God’s plan of salvation that is meant for all of his children. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, most young men that are my age are leaving on missions somewhere in the world for two years. If circumstances were different and I didn’t have autism, I would be on my mission right now. But, instead, I am going to find another way to share my testimony. So, I hope that you all will bear with me and not be offended if I use some of my blog space to share what I know to be true.
I did not always believe in God or that he loved me. I didn’t think that a loving God would give his children the kinds of challenges like autism, or cancer, or losing children to illness, or a hundred other really hard things that people face every day. My parents taught me that I was a child of God but it just didn’t make sense to me. I love my parents, though, and I trusted that they knew more about it than I did and so I just tried to rely on their belief for a long time. But, I was getting frustrated with my life and not being able to function at most basic levels. I wanted to not continue living on some days. I was in a pretty dark place and couldn’t see my way out of it. I decided that I had two choices. I could give up or I could do something different to try to make my life better. I decided that I needed to figure out if what my parents had been teaching me was true or just a good story to make me feel better. So, I resolved to start praying–not just going through the motions, but really praying to God with all of my heart to see if he was really there and if he loved me. It took many months of earnestly seeking an answer. One day, my dad showed me a video produced by our church called The First Vision. Here is the link. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2008-06-01-the-restoration?category=topics/joseph-smith&lang=eng. It is about a young boy named Joseph Smith who had some questions about God and which church he should join. When I saw that video, I felt a very strong spirit. The things that I had been questioning seemed to suddenly make sense to me and I realized that I had a purpose on earth. I made up my mind that I was going to stop feeling sorry for myself and that I would start working harder to strengthen my faith in Heavenly Father. I could feel His love for me and that He had a plan for me to be an instrument in His hands to touch other people by his spirit and somehow, my disability was part of that plan.
As I continued to pray for strength and guidance, my conviction became stronger and I now know without any doubt that I am following the path that I was meant to be on. I continue to study and pray so that I can be an effective communicator and hope that as I put in my best that Heavenly Father will see fit to loosen my tongue and allow me to speak more freely without having to write it all down first. Then, I feel like I could truly make an impact with so many more people. But, I will try to be patient and let things happen on Heavenly Father’s timeline. That is my hardest challenge. I hope that my experiences as a disabled person will give me the kind of Christ-like love that will enable me to see people the way that Heavenly Father sees them. I know that as I do my best, he will fill in the rest. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sept 3, 2017